Letter from 73-year-old Erika

by erika

Dear Erika,

What do you need to hear today that you don’t already know?

That it works out in the end?

That it doesn’t and you survive that, too?

Here’s the thing, from here, all those things you “didn’t get” only matter in that they help you get what you need. And oh how you want to carry the world and all her hurts–especially her people’s hurts–but it just doesn’t work that way. You are so close to stepping into your full voice and ending this karmic cycle of over-taking care of others and under-taking care of yourself. Don’t be your own undertaker. You’ll get buried alive.

And another thing: on grieving. Remember what you learned in that beautiful and haunting storage unit art installation that held the artifacts of the dead yesterday:

1. That when you peer inside the rough cut hole in your heart, those you love are always there. Whether its someone you lost to death or to life, they are there and they have stories for you, lessons that even they didn’t know.

2. That it’s ok to still have grief, and to sit with it. Sometimes you only get 30 minutes, sometimes you need a year.There is no hourglass for this work and it comes when it pleases, comes when it pains.

3. Your sadness doesn’t need an ocean to float away on–not an ocean of busy or booze–sit in its salt. It has its own sea inside it. See inside it.

4. When you open the heavy, clanking door of your heart to return from the faint light of grieving and back to the too-bright world, meet those on the other side with compassion and awe. They are grieving, too, even if you don’t know it. Everyone is grieving and we are all trying our best to be human peopleĀ  (some better than others), but everyone is trying. Remember, even if they’ve been here before, this is their first time in this body, in this “storage unit,” in this story, in this loop of loss and found. Compassion and awe. Compassion and awe.

5. Look up. Not just to the blue skies or the imaginary flowers overhead or to optimism. But look up to someone who you believe is doing somethings right and maybe to a higher someone or something (dare I say power) that holds some sway with you and allows you to let go of your ego just a little. That ego has served you plenty, gotten you into rooms that only she could imagine, but she, too, needs a little R&R. “Holds some sway,” mmmmmmm…sounds like a slow dance with god. Maybe try that.

I love you so much. And I’m not worried about this little sad patch at all. Or if you are building enough strength to get through the next one. So strong you. So kind. Lean into what holds some sway. 1,2, 3, 1, 2, 3….

Love Always Always Always,

73 year-old Erika

“hat-shaped hole” from Ondine Geary’s “Radius of Transmission” project. My father’s flat cap.