Well, it’s July.
July is my death month, as many of you know. But it’s not just me: July is loaded with death days. More than any other, this month feels packed to the rafters with death.
Many of my fellow water widoweds became widows in July. One after another, my friends, clients, students, and allies tick off the years. One year, three years, five years, ten. While others are off enjoying the water, there are leagues of the water-death initiated who no longer have that freedom.
Water is no longer a safe, enjoyable place. It holds much more than that. What is benign for so many is – complicated, to say the least.
Last week, I was swimming with a close friend. We were horsing around in the water, playing tag. We raced from one end of the pool to the other. At one point, my friend took my hands and dunked us under the water together. Coming up, they said, “you trust me.” I said, “I trust you, even in water. That’s saying something.”
The reality of what water means to me never leaves. That I can enjoy it at all is rather bizarre to me. I think there’s a certain compartmentalization that happens, some way that my native love of water – my need for water – exists in its own separate sphere, affected, but not entirely destroyed. Meh. I don’t know.
There is space inside me for all these things – love of water, distrust of water. Healthy respect for the power of water.
7 years ago, I would not have thought that possible. 7 years ago, water and I went our separate ways. Now, as I circle close to the first days of year 8, I’m confused by the parts of me that have survived, but I think I’m okay with that.
As one of my oldest teachers used to say – you’re trying to hold onto the shore, but there is no shore. Push off into the river. See who else is there with you. See who else is there with you, stick together, and swim.
If you’re one of many people facing a death day this month, know I join you – many, many of us join you. It doesn’t change anything. I know. And we’re here anyway.
How about you? How has your experience with death colored or changed your experience of what others might see as purely “recreation”? As you’ve lived in your grief, have you experienced a “compartmentalization” of sorts? Let us know in the comments.