NORA L. JAMIESON
The Widow’s Walk
What is, who is here now. I’ve been struggling to describe this unknown, soft-edged place. Reclusive yet lonely. Is this the space slung between mush and emergence, between sleep-walking and waking? My little world appears at a distance from the eyes of my heart. Out there, out there. Or am I the one out there? Or so in here that I will have to learn a whole new language in this world.
Inside me there is a blank canvas, an undefined territory, edgeless and unshaped by loving hands, words, presence. I rattle around in this bone house of grief that has become part of me. Yet unformed, unshaped, no sculptor called love, called Allan, called Place, called Home.
All the social things I do, feel like separate notations of my life. They happen in a world I don’t occupy, a world I visit. They are like notes with no score.
Deep loss dismembers a life, coherence, something we often take as a given, fragments into pieces that no longer fit together, no longer matter anyway, because the missing piece is so core to one’s being. Who needs an identity anyway? Do we as humans need a sense of Self, separate, occupying a particular shape in space? Do I? Why am I struggling to find a coherent Self. Perhaps this, this edgeless, formless place is the alchemical response to suffering, to loss.
Am I mistaking gold for dross?
Each day I walk the woods a ghost, my Widow’s Walk. Allan and I once fantasized about building a Widow’s Walk on the roof where we could see the stars. I think of those women pacing, their eyes stinging from the glare of sun on water, hearts stretching to meet the lip of the horizon, willing their Beloveds not be lost at sea. And, I’m sure, some willing the sea to take the returning men.
Lost at sea, no bearings, waves tidaling overboard, tightening down the hatches, securing hand-holds, lost at sea. I am lost at sea, but for those moments of deep engagement, with painting, writing, with soul. No one waits for my return. No one watches the horizon for my little boat, and there is no horizon for me to gaze upon for his. No future mapped out.
No, it’s all navigating by the stars now, by the seasons, year after year. I could become a recluse, all the mirrors in the house covered, so useless in their reflection anyway. All they tell me is I am here while he is gone. No longer standing behind me, enfolding me in his arms. He no longer sits on my Grandmother’s frail chair, reflected in the bathroom mirror, naked but for socks, flossing his teeth. Never failed to make me laugh, that.
Now I become lost in the echo chambers of my thinking mind. Point, counterpoint, not even worry anymore, just endless chatter. Until I notice and quiet to meet nothing but in breath, out breath, aching heart, empty heart.
I could become a recluse, preferable to trying to invent a Self. Again. At 71, perhaps I am done with that. Illusions dissolve in this grief storm, like wreckage at sea. All that is left is absence, is invisible. Love, longing, the care of the broken, remembering my Spirit people.
Can one acclimate to no touch, no reflection?
She says, the Old One, stop searching for definition, shape, identity, Self. Call off the search party, declare the Self dead at sea. Lift her shrouded body overboard. Be guided by the stars, by what life, Spirit sends your way. Befriend the hurt, trust the Holy unfolding. You are loved, you are loved, you are loved.