And then there are the dark times, the weak times. During the light of day, walking in an old orchard, exploring the winding paths made by deer and bear, sitting quietly in the sunlight, I was fine. That evening, listening to a story my host was telling me about a young child at her school from a troubled home and how difficult it was for him, I began to feel it. That deep sadness for suffering I could do nothing about. Suffering I could relate to.
Then the conversation wound around to her own past, a story of family interactions, and the melancholy deepened. Tears formed, with the sense of loss and longing, regret and resentment. That great toxic stew of vague memories and unanswered questions, the void that can never be filled. A miasma that thickens like an internal fog. No specific thoughts I can identify, hold gently and then let go. Emotion, welling up like oil, blinding, choking, impossible to control or suppress. My mind can’t get a grip on it; my hands come up black and oozing.
All evening it bubbled just beneath the surface: a poisonous petroleum that I can barely keep my nose above. And when I left to go back to my cabin, I could hear coyotes in the distance yipping. We’d seen their tracks in the mud behind the cabin, mingled with the tracks of moose and deer. Coyote the Trickster, grinning, waiting to trip up the over-confident, the unsuspecting. The night sky spread vast and cold above me. Black, brilliant, infinite, filled with things my mind will never comprehend. I am so small, so unimportant, and will die, fading into oblivion. All I have ever done, my actions, my words, my works, will slide away with me into the indifference of eternity. Desolation thick as mud overwhelmed me and by the time I reached the cabin I was weeping uncontrollably. Great, gasping, choking sobs like a hysterical child. Reduced to groping among the items half-seen in the waving illumination of the flashlight, looking for my anxiety medication. I guess I’m not there yet. The sickness still has a grip on me.
I miss home so much. I find myself thinking about it more and more. In absence, I appreciate just how much it means to me. How much I love my boys. How much I love my husband. I needed this separation to test how I would feel. Now I know. I still have a week before I return home. In that time I have a great deal of work left to do.