Updated: Jan 1, 2021
It's been a while. I'm so sorry. Every fall, I start off with the same pumpkin-spice enthusiasm. I grab my favorite boots, don my hand-knit scarf and swap my iced lattes for warm ones. This is also when I start purposely and mindfully stepping on every crunchy leaf I can find; the red ones are my favorite. And then October 28th arrives and I retreat to a quieter space where I can remember without drowning. For those of you who don't know, I was part of a "we" for 31 years. I had a beautiful identical twin named Alyssa—I called her Lys. She was, and still is, the greatest love of my life. Celebrating our, errr my, wait it's still ours, birthday feels like a time-space-continuum crisis meets identity crisis mixed with the biggest sense of gratitude there is. Part of me is so grateful to be alive, here and now, while the other part of me is lost in remembering us—the song that always included both of our names, the double birthday cakes, the way I felt when she wrapped her arms around me.
Before the pandemic no matter where I lived, the part of me that will always belong to her, has needed a lot of care and quiet. At first I thought if I made the parties bigger, made the music louder and dressed up in prettier dresses, that I could outsmart the grief. "You have to let go sweetie", loved ones said. "You deserve to be happy". And of course the logical part of me knows this. But, love and loss aren't logical creatures. They are of the heart. And the heart has its own language. It sets its watch to a universal clock that moves only when we're ready.
My clock seems to move backwards on our birthday. And so, I've needed to be very compassionate with all parts of me as I've taken time to meditate, rest and heal. During the past few months, I've been reminded that sometimes the heart loves stories above all else. And with that in mind, I felt I wanted to tell you the story of how Milo came to be and how he saved me from drowning in sorrow and despair.
About a year after Lys died I had to take a serious break from the world. I felt I could no longer function without her. It seemed like I could sort of "keep calm and carry on", but the acting performance the world needed from me, that I was indeed holding up well despite her death was exhausting. It became a cycle. I'd go into the world, do the things, talk to the people, and then come home and crumple into a pile of tears, tissues and regret for even trying to pretend I was ok. It felt as if my high-functioning self was on auto-pilot at work, and my true self (the authentic part of me) were at complete odds. I realized later that I was more than heartbroken, I had quite literally lost a piece of my soul.
As I began to reach for the light during this interminable night, I had no idea how I would ever feel joy again. Slowly, as I gently became curious about what lived outside of the darkness my soul began to hope for something my mind couldn't fathom. This is when I glimpsed the first image of a fictional orange sea star. I named him Milo. Milo, became my way back to regeneration, joy and wholeness. He reminded me that nature is designed for loss and that all of us are in the continual cycle of becoming, losing, and becoming again. And he helped me make something beautiful and healing out of something tragic and devastating.
And I'm sharing this with you because we are in the thick of holiday season in the middle of a pandemic. And I want those of you who are reading this who have maybe lost someone recently to COVID or maybe for other reasons to know that you're not alone. I am here. Sadly, we live in a society where talking about adversity is great in theory, but seeking to share our pain and loss can be met with fear by others unaccustomed to sharing it. And after all I've lived through, I made a promise to myself and to God that when I was on the other side of the loss and devastation I'd do everything I can to bring comfort and healing to others. Sometimes, the best way to provide healing and comfort is to share your story and to take away the stigma from speaking about something as difficult as loss and grief. So, here I am, my lovelies.
And I have to admit that loving my twin no matter the pain of losing her was worth a million lifetimes of suffering. And I also want to say that the things we are most afraid of and feel unsurvivable can, with gentleness, time, compassion and love become less so. There is hope. There is a way back to the light. And there is Milo :)
Sending you love and many blessings in this new year.