My hundred years of solitude
BY KAREN BLACK — By this age, I had hoped to have . . . call it a supportive partner. Call it a soul-mate. Call it whatever you want.
Yet, here I am: single, never married, holding my mother’s hands, whose tips are numb from chemo.
I never planned to do this part of life alone.
I’ve been single for so long that I can no longer imagine how it feels to be with my Beloved, cradled to sleep every night, making love in the morning, celebrating one another’s successes and supporting each other through the natural trials of life.
Instead, I’ve become super self-sufficient.
Instead, the trust I’ve cultivated outside myself is with the unseen.
My road less travelled
Let me back up a couple of paces with some background.
For most of my adult life, I’ve traveled a rather solitary path.
I live in Toronto, but I was raised “up north” in a small town on Georgian Bay, a shimmering ocean-like body of water on the Canadian Shield.
My 81-year-old mom has late-stage inflammatory breast cancer, and she’s sleeping pretty much all the time now. When she’s awake, her voice is strained. Words muddle, punctuated by moments of clarity.
Romantic roads not taken
Now and then, I wonder about previous choices.
I could have married my high school sweetheart.
I could have settled down with the one from university (egad), before I finished my MBA.
Or the one in my 30’s who showed up on my doorstep one night three years after we broke up, totally wanting.
How I handle it all
Deep inside, something has pulled me . . . beyond tradition, money, motherhood and beyond “what my parents have done.”
I choose to believe that every aspect of my life is a reflection of my soul. Me, the energy body, attracts to it people, situations and events that symbolically represent who I am at this time.
My responses to what’s around me influences whether these reflections (joyful or challenging) get stronger, tipping over to physical manifestation, or whether they are released from my field.
When loneliness rises up inside me, I no longer resist: I surrender.
I turn my attention to that which lifts me, my heart resting for a moment, asking for more. In exploring that which surrounds me, I’ve become a ‘collector’ of relationship reflections. Physical cards, flowers, images scents and scenes. Sometimes, moments I witness.
Skin to skin
On shadowy days, I stop “doing”. I appreciate the smallest thing. My health, my breath, the comfy bed in which I nap, my cozy T, the scent of my Butterfly perfume, the healing womb of sleep. The voice comes: there’s no rush here, really there isn’t. Time isn’t what you think.
Lying alone at night, I often place my open palm on my heart, skin to skin.
When I am fully in my body like this, heart open, I can almost imagine myself with a nurturing partner when I’m my most vulnerable. He who snuggles up, holds my hand, tucks me under the covers and strokes my hair, until I’m strong enough to do the same for him. I can almost imagine him — almost but not quite.
Immersed in a big lake
The weather on Georgian Bay where I grew up can turn on a dime. Sailors know this. The Big Lake has power. It can be angry and grey-green. Or it can sparkle radiant blue. It gives life, and occasionally it takes. It commands respect, and it heals, expressing four seasons in a day.
This Big Lake is part of me.
After spending time with my dad and sleeping mom recently, I took a swim before dinner and lingered away, 200 feet from shore.
I was aware that it was the last time I would immerse myself in this Big Lake, until the 2013 spring, and that things would be different then.
As I floated, I was aware that my mother was dying, and that my life was quite unlike I had envisioned in my tender years growing up on this shore.
Buoyed by the water that symbolized my childhood, I rested in solitude. I thought about my father, whose gentle Devotion has blossomed at the end of his 60 year relationship. Then my sister, whose new Love was expanding with possibilities.
One hundred feet from shore, floating, I scooted out of my bathing suit, my eyes on the horizon toward the setting sun.
My heart expanded.
My toes lightly touched bottom.
I felt perfectly supported, one with everything around me.
Karen M. Black earned her MBA at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. She also wrote the award-winning indie novel Moondance, and is the creator of The Soulmate Site, a collection of reflective essays about love.