The Act of Letting Go

Well, I did it. I released him.  I won’t call it “saying goodbye”, as I had previously written;  I will simply say I released him.

I went to say goodbye.  I walked his ashes down to the water with the intention of saying goodbye, but as the ashes scattered in the wind and drifted down to the waves below, I knew it was just me releasing him, and that he would always be there whenever I wanted to visit and say hello.

A few weeks ago I went on a trip to Europe.  This trip was planned as part of a personal quest to get to know myself. This trip was something I wanted and needed.  Something to push me outside of my comfort zone, test my character and give me the time alone to explore who I am, what I want and where I want to go in my life. And to have some fabulous adventures along the way, of course!

I knew the trip was going to be special. It was not going to be be just an average “holiday”, but rather a turning point. A new chapter.  Perhaps even the beginning of a new story all together.

With this in mind, I knew it was time to let him go. The morning before I boarded my flight to Stockholm, I took the small wooden box containing his ashes down to the water.  With my black leather boots protecting me from from puddles and my polka dot umbrella shielding my face from the rain, I rounded the back of the pier. Luckily there were only a few fisherman out that day, so it didn’t take me long to find a corner to be alone with him.

I stood there in the rain. I had my ear buds in and listened to a sweet, slow melody as I reached into my purse and removed the small box. The wind calmed and the rain slowed to a drizzle. I collapsed the umbrella, resting it against the metal guard rail and held him in both of my hands. Then the tears came. But these were new tears, not the same I had shed for him time and time again.  This time, the tears were letting him go – releasing him. The tears leaked out, rolling down my cheeks, salt kissing my lips and continuing down to pool around my neck.

let-gooooo

I held him tight it my hands. I felt the box, the ridges and grooves where the inscription was carved. I slid back the cover and removed the small packet of ashes.  I snipped the top with a small pair of scissors, looked inside and saw the pale gray dust start to move in the breeze. I held the bag out over the railing, tipped it upside down and watched as he caught the wind and gently floated to the waves.

***

I returned from my trip this past Monday.  It was everything I had hoped it would be and more. Still basking in the glow of time spent reading on the beach in the South of France, meeting a psychic in Amsterdam, meditating with Deepak Chopra in Paris and all of the people I met and realizations I had along the way, I spent this week slowly integrating myself back into daily life, trying to carry with me all that happened while making sense of some of my personal reflections.

Today was the first Saturday in three weeks that I woke up in my own apartment.  Instead of rushing to get out into the world to explore or be productive, I took it slow. I savored the morning, just as I would have if I was on holiday. I declined an invitation to meet up with a friend and opted for a day of solitude, choosing instead to read, write, stretch my legs in the sunshine, take a long afternoon nap and have a quiet night at home.

Outside, the sun beat hot upon my face. San Francisco is known to be overcast, with autumn-like weather the majority of the year.  Today was unusually warm. On a day like today, the water beckons and you must obey.  Heeding the siren’s call, I made my way to the Bay and stood there thinking Do I go left or right? Left or right? I chose left.

I chose to go and say hello to him and see how his new spot was.  Today it was bright and sunny and hot – the pier filled with people.  There were men fishing and families picnicking.  There was a man sitting on a bench, playing his guitar and getting lost in the sound.  A couple leaning against the building, taking shelter in the shade and giving their dog a bowl of water to drink.  And right in front of where I spread his ashes, two men sitting on a bench drinking beer out of glass bottles – no brown bag. Proud and happily defiant. He would have liked that.

I squatted down to look at the aqua water and snap a picture of the beautiful day. The woman standing about twenty feet behind me, watched me closely.  When I turned to leave, she didn’t even attempt to avert her eyes, she just watched. Her observing me, me observing the others, and him floating along the water, watching it all with a smile. There were no tears today, just peace.

This is the first time I have written about him without crying. I have finally let him go. I have let him go both literally and figuratively, evidenced by my sense of peace and lack of salty tears.  He will always be a part of my past.  Knowing him and loving him has shaped who I am today which will certainly impact who I will become in the future.  But this next chapter is mine. Mine to write as I wish, carrying with me all that I have learned and all that I wish to experience.

And should I ever wish  to say hello, I will simply walk my feet down to the Bay and watch the waves lap against the pier, where he dances on the water and observes the passersby – just as he always has.

Your truly,

Erin Terese

P.S.  Thank you for taking this journey with me. Your readership, friendship and support makes all the difference in the world. xo

 

How Do You Say Goodbye Without Saying Goodbye?

I wish there had been a funeral or a memorial service.  Something. Something ceremonial or commemorative.  I feel like maybe that was the plan at one point, but the way that everything unfolded was too unpredictable and bizarre.  I don’t think anyone knew how to handle it, or wanted to handle it, or wanted to really face what happened and how much was left unknown.

I think that there is something to be said for communal grieving.  Funerals are not something that anyone looks forward to or wants to attend, but there is something about the gathering of loved ones to help usher and acknowledge the end of ones life.  I remember my grandfather’s and grandmother’s and uncle’s and cousin’s husband’s and friend’s brother’s funeral all vividly. I don’t remember what I had for breakfast two days ago, but I can remember those days like they were yesterday.  They are significant and something I know now to never take for granted.

The thing about my ex boyfriend is that he had been missing for two months.  You can’t have a funeral or service when you don’t know if someone is dead or alive. You have to hope and pray and wait. And then when his body was found, it was so badly decomposed that it was shipped from coroner to coroner throughout the state, each one trying to determine the cause of death.  I don’t think any of us expected it to take so long and everyone was hoping to find out why he died.  To know for sure.  Maybe that would offer some closure. But alas, it came back unknown.  Almost 8 months after he was found and 10 months from when he died, his remains were finally released.  Perhaps there should have been a funeral then, but there wasn’t.  And it wasn’t my place to push.

My most vivid memory is the day after his body was found. I took the day off work and went to his mother’s house.  I sat with her as she made calls to friends and family and as she spoke with the local coroner about next steps.  We drank tea. We went for a walk and sat on a bench under the elm trees in a nearby park.  We shared stories with his grandfather, and we also sat in silence. So much silence.  Later in the evening, his aunt, uncle and cousin came by the house with dinner. We all sat out on the patio, trying to make sense of everything and watched the sun slowly slip below the horizon.  Spoke logically about next steps and reminisced on when he was a boy and all the things we’d wished for him.  I didn’t cry much that day. Perhaps the hours of crying the day before or the countless hours to come kept them at bay that day. Or perhaps it was too real.  I left feeling exhausted, but at peace.  It was nice to have the warm embrace of those that loved him and to share our sadness and confusion.

But that was the only time we gathered in his name.  Nothing formal was ever planned.  When his remains were released, they were divided among his family and his sister graciously offered me some as well.  So now I have this small packet of ashes to spread. And I don’t know what to do with him.  Selfishly, I want that damn ceremony with his friends and loved ones where we can laugh and cry and share stories until the wee hours of the morning.  But we don’t always get what we want.  And I suppose it’s fitting, since I never knew what to do with him when he was alive.  Makes sense I wouldn’t know what to do with him now.  Keep him close or let him go, free to dance on the wind and the waves.

I will never again take for granted the opportunity to grieve together.  To know what happened.  To have a large group of people that want to celebrate and mourn you and mark the end of your brilliant chapter on Earth.

And I don’t mean to sounds angry or resentful that he didn’t get a life celebration or memorial or funeral, I just mean to highlight how beneficial it is in the grieving process.  It helps to look it in the face, feel it in your bones and share the experience with others.  There is a reason you find these ceremonies in most cultures and civilizations across the globe and throughout the centuries. Major life events deserve to be acknowledged.  This was just too bizarre and too painful and unfolded in a way that made it easier to put off, and off, and off. And so the grieving has been long, and drawn out, and long.

sand

I normally tie my writing off with a nice little bow and “here is the takeaway”, but there really isn’t a nice bow on this.  It’s still not closed.  I still have his ashes on my shelf in a box that says Love, waiting to meet their final destination. Now where-oh-where do I take him?  Where-oh-where do I lay him to rest?  Where-oh-where do I choose to take my tiny piece of him and say goodbye, in my own to-be-determined ceremony of my own?

This is life.

Beautiful. Messy. Real.

Yours truly,

Miss Erin Terese

 

 

 

 

Shooting Star or Soulful Encounter?

The world slows to a single breath. It lingers hot on my tongue and slow on the exhale. Time ceases to exist and our eyes lock across the crowded room.

There are few people in this world that draw you near, making your pulse quicken and your stomach leap into your throat; but he is one of them.

I remember the fist time I saw him. It was nothing special, really.  Well I suppose it was, but I didn’t notice it in the moment.  My friend noticed him before I did. I was facing away from him when he entered the room, so she leaned close to my ear and whispered that the guy walking in was “just my type.”

I turned on my heels to see him. No. Wrong. Not my type.

We made introductions and he quickly became part of our group for the night. Still thoroughly unimpressed, I made small talk with him, trying to be polite. He was interesting. Arrogant, but smart and could weave a captivating story with nothing more than confidence and carefully crafted body language.

Engaged but underwhelmed, I entertained the banter, trying my best to feign interest, all while scanning the room for a more interesting and like-minded person I could talk to.

I started to zone out.  We had just taken our seat, settling in for some performance art. He babbled on, about what I cannot remember, and I drifted into my day-dreamy world, thick with wonder and curiosity. As the lights dimmed and the music began to lift, our knees touched. Gently. Barely.  So slight he may not have noticed, but just enough to make my world come crashing in.

I lit on fire.

In the matter of a moment, the world stopped on a dime and he was all I knew. I could feel every piece of him.  Every fiber of my being and cell within my flesh, stood at attention. This man. Who… Who was this man?  I was hooked.  It no longer mattered that only moments ago I was mostly disinterested. My body knew something I didn’t.

I needed to know him. I needed to know more. I needed to who he was and why he unlocked something in me I never knew lay dormant.

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Years later, this moment stays with me.  It is still palpable. I can remember the feeling of surprise and longing and sheer wonder.

What is it that draws us to people in such a way? Chemistry, pheromones or a soulful connection, perhaps? Maybe. Maybe all of those things. Maybe none.  Maybe it doesn’t matter.

It is rare to experience people in such a way.  Extremely rare. I don’t think you can lump this kind of interaction into a one-size-fits-all meaning or definition, but I do think these moments are important.  You are meant to bend a knee.  You are meant to pause and explore within yourself why you might be reacting in such a way.  And if you are self-aware enough, and the other person is open-minded and communicative enough, perhaps you can discuss it with them as well.

People that strike us like a lightening bolt enter our lives for a reason.

Because they are so strong and unique and awe-inspiring, we want to bottle them up and store them away and keep them forever, but we can’t. That’s not how it works.  What you can do is be as genuine as possible and explore what is it about this person that lights you on fire.

It’s beautiful.  And if you get to keep them, great.  If not, set them free like the comet and shooting star that they are – burning quickly, fiercely and brightly through your life. A beautiful memory to cherish forever and a small mystery to awaken the wonder.

Yours truly,

Miss Erin Terese

 

When My Hands Find Their Way

When my hands find their way to you, they are instantly home. Words cease to matter since I can feel you now. Your words are beautiful though.  When you speak, they hang thick in the air and wash over me like the fog pouring over the bridge in the crisp dark of night.

They envelope me.

They seep into my pores and come to rest within my soul and every piece of light that shines within my darkest corners. And yet, even with the force with which you bring me to my stillness, the words are unnecessary, really.

Once my hands are on you, I know everything I need.

Your breath and warmth speak more into the soft of my palms, than your syllables upon my ears ever could.

I feel you. I hear you. I understand.

You are home.

hands

Yours truly,

Miss Erin Terese

Unarmoring My Heart

It wasn’t until the death of my ex-boyfriend that I realized how strongly I had been guarding my heart.

It should have been evident from my inability to find another partner, but I couldn’t see it. I had grieved the death of our relationship, the future we planned for ourselves, and his presence in my life…  But when I grew weary of mourning, I shut it down – and the remaining pieces that needed examining, laid quiet within me.

unarmored-heart

The past few months have been a blur for me.  From the moment I was notified of his disappearance, I felt it inside me – he was gone.  But with lack of a body and no evidence to support it concretely, I had hoped for the best and went through the motions of searching for him and discussing all the possible scenarios with his family.

Never in my wildest dreams could I have envisioned myself spending so much time with his mother and the conversations we have had.  She and I have been a support to one another in ways that words cannot begin to describe (but of course, I will try).  The stories we have shared with one another have shed light on parts of him that neither of us saw.  It has helped to connect the dots.  To answer unanswered questions. To see the man we both loved so dearly in a much broader sense.

When I received the news that his body had been found, it was as if the whole world stopped and came crashing in. There was a reckoning. Every thought and feeling and emotion that was left unaddressed came bubbling up and pouring out. I was unleashed.  Consumed by feelings of loss and regret, I knew I had to sit with it.  I had to allow it to surface and to acknowledge every tear and fear as it arose.  And I did. And I grieved the loss of him – heavily.

And it didn’t take long before the truth came to me and looked me square in the face: ever since our breakup, I have been dating with a guarded heart.

In some ways I had known it all along, but I hadn’t realized how strongly I had it guarded until that moment.  Yes, I have learned to embrace life and friendships and my passions in life with a kind of fierceness and unbridled sense of adventure that is easy for myself and others to see. How confusing then, for men who try to date me, when they can see how open my heart is for the rest of the world, and how armored it is for them.

How completely unfair of me to expect that I should find a patient and open-hearted Knight in Shining Armor to unlock the chains I placed, when I wasn’t even willing to hand them the key.

So now I must remove my armor.

In order to receive the love I so greatly desire to feel again, and to build the family I long to have, I must remove the barriers I have built, and allow space for love to enter again.  I must be willing to place my heart into hands that promise to hold it gently, and trust that it will be cared for and tended to, the same way I will tend to theirs.

And so begins the next chapter for me, of unarmoring my heart. Of learning to love again, unbridled, without fear of being broken.

I can only hope, and try one day at a time, to allow my tender-heartedness to be my greatest strength and not my weakness.  To remember that love is worth the risk and that it is always good to have it stretched open, even if it has to close back up for mending.  Like a beautiful flower, it can always bloom again.

Here’s to unraveling the chain, one link at a time!

Yours truly,

Miss Erin Terese

Listen to your Heart

There is so much talk about paying attention to your breath.  Your life force. The way your feet hit the ground when you propel yourself down the path. The way you react when someone or something triggers you.

You must pay attention to your thoughts.  Pay attention to your verbal response and to your initial instinct.  Pay attention to what triggers you, why it triggers you and how you consciously choose to respond – then change the course of your conditioning.

But what about listening to your heart?

listen to your heart

Can you feel it open when you are with someone that makes you feel safe and understood?  Can you feel it flutter when you have stumbled upon something that excites you?  Can you feel it constrict when you feel threatened or misunderstood or wronged?

Have you ever placed your hand over your heart when something moves you?

Have you ever laid your hand over your lover’s heart as they share their story with you?

There is a power there.  An answer. A blessing.  A key to understanding.

I do agree that we must pay attention to our breath. To our body.  To our mind.  To our word choice and to our actions.  Absolutely.

But, I also think we must be aware of the rhythm and the state of our heart.  I am beginning to feel as if it is our greatest compass.  The ultimate litmus test. Our advocate. Our confidant. Our guide.

From my heart to yours.

 

Yours truly,

 

Erin Terese

A Request for Your Honest Story

One of my favorite things in the world is stories.  I have an affinity for words, novels, short stories and tall-tales.  But more than that, I love to hear people’s real stories.  I am that friend that you mean to have a quick coffee with and somehow end up amazed when five hours have past – filled with moments of laughter, tears and a deeper friendship-connection.

I believe that we grow stronger and more compassionate with each story that we hear and with each that we share.  My plan is to gather a collection of life-stories.  Real stories.  True-blue experiences that have happened to you.

Yes, there are many sides to a story, but the side I want is yours.  What it was like for you. Include the “facts” of what happened, but more than that, how did you grow from this and how did/do you feel?

Now, I know you may be thinking that you aren’t a writer, but that doesn’t matter.  That isn’t the point.  The point of this is not to collect flowery, poetic, eloquent tales – the point is to hear what you have to say.  Plain and simple.  The world wants to hear your words and so do I.

Here is what I am looking for!

The Prompt:     Select one person that has greatly impacted your life.

  • What impact did/does this person have on your life?
  • How has knowing them changed you?
  • When did you realize the impact this person had/has on your life?
  • How specifically did you meet? What are the details?  (Follow the bread crumbs backward)
  • How did you feel about the person then versus how you feel about them now?
  • What was going on in your life when you met them?

This person can be a best-friend, significant-other, boss, stranger, neighbor, mentor, family member, lover, ex-friend/ex-lover/ex-significant-other, teacher, rescue worker, etc. 

one in million_193915

I want to know how this person came crashing into your life like a ton of bricks, or slowly making their way in, like the last drop of honey from a jar. Tell me the good stuff. How did it happen? When did you realize this connection was special? And more-over, how has knowing this person changed you?

Here’s what it should look like:

  1. 500 to 1,500 words
  2. Honest story telling.  Less perfect grammar and more genuine expression!
  3. Choose a title.  “Meeting Mr. Right,” “Me and My Mentor,” “The Day That Almost Didn’t Happen.”  Whatever you like! (I advise selecting the title at the end)  Or you can always select “Untitled.”
  4. Author Info: Name, Age, City, State, Country.

I am casting a net far and wide, to my loved-ones and theirs.  My plan is to gather your tales, weave them together with my words and insight into life and publish a collection of TRUE LIFE STORIES.  Not from formal writers and poets, but from the romantic souls that often leave their stories untold.

My hope is that through publishing these stories, people around the world can open the pages to words that sound much like their own and feel connected.  That through the telling of your stories on paper, eyes may find them and hearts may open to the beauty and magic that lies just around the corner.

I know that this will require a fair amount of effort, self-reflection and vulnerability.  But what a lovely thing to share!  Please take your time in crafting your tale.  You can write it to me in the body of an email or attached in a document.

There is no financial compensation for this, however, should my hope come to fruition and a collection is published – your name will be printed by your story and a grateful dedication printed in the first few pages.

Thank you.  From my heart to yours!

Yours Truly,

Miss Erin Terese

P.S.  Please email submissions to misserinterese@gmail.com . Thank you and I look forward to reading your story! xo