If you were here now, you would see me breathing in deeply through my nostrils, my shoulders rising with the intake of breath. After this, you would hear a slow exhale and watch my shoulders sink back down again. If I were writing what this was, I suppose I would call it a sigh, though that word doesn't seem like quite the right fit. This deep breathing isn't about resignation or giving up. It is something like acceptance and a little like bracing myself. It's a little bit of residual relaxation from vacation, and a little bit getting ready to get back to the part of my life where I get up and go to work five days a week.
I'm still sorting through pictures of our vacation and recall how it seemed as though little pieces of my heart came back to life when I saw Grace twirling in the sun, when I looked at Impressionist paintings whose brushstrokes were completed over a century ago, when I sat at a table and curled my fingers around a mug of hot coffee and shared in conversation so good I took no thought for how tired I was. In the ultimate act of gluten-free defiance, I sliced through a stack of Swedish pancakes with my fork, chewing and swallowing like I meant it. I curled my toes in the sand, let an ocean breeze from the Gulf of Mexico tangle my hair, and got wet in the ocean. I laughed when the guys talked about the snakes and cried when I talked honestly about how it felt, what I feared, and wondered aloud if the future was just going to hold more of the same.
It feels like I got something I needed and left behind something I didn't. It feels as though I will be in some version of an in-between kind of place for a long time: neither freshly wounded nor fully healed, but in the broad expanse of landscape known as "healing." It's a difficult thing to accept that this is something that will, in all likelihood, never stop hurting and never stop being a question for me. I've said and acknowledged as much before, but I think I accept it more now. Between that and getting a little bit of life back, it seems like this is a good place to be.