Permission to Die (Notes from the Broken Heartland Part Two)

(If you haven’t already, check out Part One of the ‘Notes from the Broken Heartland’. It will help this make a bit more sense.)

Looking forward, looking back, looking around

‘I’m not dead yet’

I was just listening to a 2006 Fresh Air interview with Reynolds Price–a southern writer who died January 20th of a heart attack. Despite being a Duke grad and professor, he had some very interesting insights*.

(*If we can’t pick on Duke then what do we have left?)

I caught the portion of the interview in which he shared his thoughts on losing his legs due to a cancerous spinal tumor. He said he wished that someone had come into the room after his surgery to say (I’m paraphrasing here): ‘Reynolds Price is dead. Who do you want to be now?’

This hit home for me in the chill-running-up-my-spine-and-tingling-out-the-top-of-my-rapidly-balding-head way that only ‘Capital T Truth’ can. It also helped me to glimpse into what’s been ‘wrong’ with me over the last few days. You see, I hit this energetic melancholy earlier this week and, no matter what I did about it (sleep more, walk more, stretch more, eat felicitously), I wasn’t feeling better. Two people told me that I looked ‘tired and frazzled’ and I had to concede that I did indeed feel that way. I ascribed my state of being to a combination of coming down from the heavy lifting necessary during a move (after being back for over a month now, ‘normal life’ has returned) and the significant increase in my workload. Keep in mind that I was chronically underemployed for the better part of a year so I’m now flexing atrophied muscles beyond their limits of comfort.

Too much work and the end of a transitory phase… that explanation–like any intellectualization–made perfect sense. I also knew energetically and emotionally it was incomplete.

Before hearing the Fresh Air interview, I caught up with my dear friend Catherine in KC. We touched on many topics–updates, expectations, emotions–and our conversation concluded with a check-in on various friends… including the woman I loved. With that conversation fresh in my mind, I realized minutes later, upon hearing Reynolds, that I didn’t know the answer to his question. In part one of this missive, I talk about ‘surrendering the future’ and now I realize I have to wrestle with giving myself permission to die. Continue reading “Permission to Die (Notes from the Broken Heartland Part Two)”