I stared out my window at the bare trees and the railroad tracks just beyond. My living room seemed empty sans Christmas tree and stockings and cards, but then I didn’t want them back. The reminder of another holiday come and gone would have wrapped me up in heavy emotion and I was trying desperately to let go. Holding on, though, was a notorious habit of mine.

My friend whistled and hummed in my kitchen as she brewed some coffee. I liked mine creamy and sweet. She preferred hers black.

Simple pleasures were something I searched for these days. And I was grateful for them. Another layer of grief and sorrow had peeled away this past month and I was left now with an aching numbness that I hardly knew what to do with. I was becoming sick of myself and my own sad story. I wanted to feel better. I wanted to be a joy to be around. I no longer wished to be that friend who was “going through a hard time”. Screw that. I wanted to be fun again.

But I wasn’t.

“Here you are sweetheart,” she said as she handed me my favorite mug. “Isn’t coffee such a treat?” she beamed. And I breathed in with a smile hoping to take on her lightheartedness by osmosis.

“It is,” I replied. “Thank you.”

She settled herself into the loveseat across from me and followed my gaze to the window. “Winter is truly something, isn’t it?”

“Hmpf,” I uttered, involuntarily.

“The darkness and the stark beauty of it… They make us go within.” Her voice was barely a lull, almost as though she was speaking to herself. “We’re forced to let go of that which must leave and we’re given time to grieve so that come Spring, all that is left is what is meant to be reborn.”

I continued to look out at the trees. They seemed dead, but they weren’t. And the grass beneath the snow was merely frozen…stagnant. The trains on the track moved more slowly, on account of the cold. And I…I took it all in.

“My dear friend,” she said. “You have got to be where you are.”

I looked down at my hands holding the mug of coffee. I still had yet to take a sip.

“You will heal. This will get better, but not by avoiding all that swirls inside you. Healing happens in the present moment. Always. It happens right here, right now with your willingness.”

I found my voice, but only to further plead my case. “No one wants to be around me. I just bring everyone down. People want to talk about fun weekends and granite countertops, not rebuilding your life….not grief.”

She laughed at me. “You don’t want to be around you! Don’t put this on other people.”

I winced at the truth of her words and wanted to throw them back at her. But she was right.

“There is nothing wrong with struggling. It’s part of life. It’s where you are right now. Stop fighting it and the struggle eases. Solutions appear. You feel better.” She put her coffee mug down and rose to sit next to me. “You’re not alone in this. Keep talking to Spirit. Ask what Love would do. Spill your guts in prayer. And reach out to loved ones who ‘get it’.”

I leaned into my friend wordlessly and took a sip of my coffee. It was warm and earthy and sweet. And in that moment, I understood that I deserved it. I deserved a simple pleasure despite the chaos of feeling within me. I was worthy of care even when I was sad. The sadness would pass and a temporary feeling could never alter what remains.

I was ok. I was safe to be me…to be where I was.

And I was loved.

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