Monthly Archives: March 2009

I Live In Big Wind Country

Kansas is windy, often, and not just a little. When spring comes, the big wind comes with it, and yesterday was a vivid illustration with gusts up to 90 mph in some parts of the state and ordinary old 45 mph gusts regularly around it. It’s hard not to tilt a little when you walk, and when we did balance poses in yoga — in a room in the country, second story, windows all around — it was hard not to fall over (but then it’s often hard not for me to fall over).

Yesterday, semi-trucks overturned on the turnpike, mailboxes left home, our bird feeder flew the coop, and the top of a hard-plastic child playhouse unfurled itself. It was the kind of wind that made me and everyone around me feel a little crazy, off-balance, agitated, confused and overwhelmed.

It reminds me of a good wind story too — and in Kansas, many of the good weather stories (and most of the good stories do involve weather) are obviously wind-related. When Ken, my husband, was but a lad, his family had a mean attack rooster named Chip-Chip, who attacked (using his nasty spurs) everyone but Ken’s grandpa, who had basically trained him to be a the rooster equivalent of Cruella DeVille. One day a tornado, with accompanying big winds, came to the area, and Chip-Chip mysteriously disappeared. Days later, his wasted body was found a few miles away. When humans didn’t, out of decency, exact revenge from Chip-Chip, the wind did.

So now the wind has settled down, and it’s good to be back in the saddle, crossed over to spring with the grasses seeminly scribbled bright green and the trees budding. Yesterday’s big wind is today’s sky all bright baby blue and pristine white clouds, all the debris blasted free from our minds.

Hanging Out In The Giant Parking Lot of Grief

In the month since my father-in-law died, I’ve revisited the giant parking lot of grief, the one where you can never remember where you parked or even what car you were driving at the time. What I mean by this is that grief seems to be the most unmappable of all emotions. If fear, depression, joy, boredom and other day-to-day feelings we move through are seasonal weather, grief is more like those wild card days when it can change over a long afternoon from a dainty day among to tulips to a blizzard to a thunderstorm with a small tornado on its back end.

My family, like me, tends to not act as I would imagine. Sure, there’s stretches of quiet sadness and that big gaping hole in the center of our lives, what a large meteor would leave once a large yellow crane lifted out the rock. But how grief manifests in us is variable and unchartable. My youngest son goes from characteristically chirpy to sullen and slurring his words when I ask him questions. My husband hurt his back about two weeks ago, and can’t easily shake, work, rest or walk through the pain, which recedes far slower than usual. My teenager daughter goes from one overwhelming sadness to being a cool customer. My oldest son had a long flare up of digestive issues. And I’m struggling with the draw to cozy up with some bad old habits (mostly workaholism, thank heavens there’s not chocolate in the house) that just die hard.

Meanwhile, nothing seems to have changed. Meanwhile, everything has changed. Through it all, I know two opposite things to be simultaneously true: this is a huge loss, and as Theodore Roethke wrote, “What falls away is always, and is near.”