All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware. Martin Buber
Yes, I thought my journey today was a short circuit around the Smith College campus, lovely and well groomed. This was what I knew.
But there were wild eruptions beneath the tended beauty.
Dark-dot tadpoles with their manic tails swarmed the pond’s edge. Above them, surely mountainous in their small view, a full grown frog. Hind legs mucky grey to match the mud from which it rose but from the back starts a new-leaf green that smooths the whole of this frog’s head. An unblinking eye; the stillness in which it wants to hide.
So much life in this small spot. I could encircle the whole of it in my two arms. But, of course, if I tried water, tadpoles, frog would all flow out. They are beyond my grasp and move on in tune to spring’s quick beat.
Buber also invites me to look at my journey through grief. The start in tidal waves that overcame my boat of self: swamped and treading new-strange waters.
I was not the first to go on this journey, though it seemed I was because I hadn’t heard about this pain. How could anyone else have felt this way and not have spoken of it? Of course, this journey had been spoken but I didn’t know to listen below the words; this first grief can be described but it cannot be captured. You know it when you know it.
And once I met grief, I thought I was on one kind of journey: all full of pain with the instructions to be brave.
But the secret destination of grief is not pain.
The waters do calm, become like the edge of the pond. I can be like the frog then; rising from the muck but new green and listening. I am listening for my dear departed one. The messages can dart in from any direction.
I no longer listen for words. We don’t have words together anymore – and even in life words failed us, probably more often than not.
But I feel the rise and fall of my chest when I remember breakfasts followed by walk down the street and how he cheered me and all my projects on.
I feel my feet sturdy when I stand in the room where he painted the window’s key stones purple.
I feel energy enter my left hand and move up my body when I dare – yes, I dare – to receive what I can only call love flowing from my beloved in his new place.
And that’s it then: the secret journey of grief is not pain. The secret journey of grief is love.