I carried many worries with me as I sat down at my computer that day. Taking just a few moments for myself, I quickly glanced through my emails deleting those which were not worth my time to even open. With so much on my shoulders … so many demands which became both stressful and isolating … I could at least rid myself of the unnecessary messages that were beckoning me from my computer screen. An email from Chester County Night School? Hmmm. My fingers hovered over the delete button. Thoughts began to snake through my mind. The responsible Denise berating me for even considering leaving Jim alone for hours so that I could do something for myself. The selfish Denise crossed her arms and announced that she was tired of living her life for someone else and began having a tantrum so that she could get what she wanted. Truth be told I had begun to recognize my feelings of resentment along with those of stress and isolation. I loved and cared for my husband, but there was more to ME than being that loving caretaker. With a show of rebellion my hand moved from the delete button and to the one that would open the email.
Habit had me first looking through the classes offered for photography. My world was a happier place when I had a camera in my hand. Yet somehow it didn’t seem enough. An intuitive voice whispered, “Not quite. Keep going.” And then, Centered Writing - Mindful Memoirs. Oh. The memory of friends’ voices echoed in my mind. “Your words are powerful. Find a way to use them.”
How was this going to work? I can’t leave Jim to go that far for a class. Especially at night. Yet there was a whispered tugging, and with a simple trust I shrugged off the reasons why it could not possibly work and registered for the class. Heart strings began to form.
A few weeks later I began the class as a widow. Life had become surreal in its grief and uncertainty. “Centered Writing,” yes, but my center had become shock and grief. How could I bring that heaviness into this group of people? It seemed unfair to them. However, those heart thread connections reached out across my fears. The first bit of foundation was laid so that trust could be built. Throughout the following weeks my written words helped moved me forward so that I was not stuck in the place of my grief. And the foundation of trust permitted me to speak my written words aloud. Rather than resenting the weight of my emotions the strong, open-hearted women listened in class, thanked me for trusting them with my words, and applauded my courage.
It is said that we exist in the web of life. I taught in elementary school science that a spider does not get caught in the web of her making because she knows which strands are sticky and to be avoided. She also has oil on the bottom of her feet which counteracts the web’s glue. Yet no matter how well prepared or knowledgeable the winds of a storm can tear through her web and destroy it. My web was destroyed as the winds of change blasted through my world with Jim’s passing. As my life was ripped apart I was left overwhelmed and frightened.
Yet those winds of change can be positive. I realized that if a spider’s web is destroyed she simply begins to build a new one. The strong silken strands come from within her. So to can my world, my web, be rebuilt. All that I need is inside of me. The consuming demands of caring for a loved one have been lifted - yanked - from my shoulders. With that I am free to find my voice. I am free to be my web’s center. And as my web building begins I have my first real friends of my new life nearby. These women - my classmates - connected to me through the silken web-like strands of our heart strings.