A labyrinth walk
To say that the past year or so of my life has been the worst season of my existence is a gross understatement. So, while I am on my healing journey, self-care has been a huge priority.
A month or so ago, my hairstylist/friend, recommended the book, “The Artist’s Way,” by Julia Cameron. The book is an exercise in tapping back into the creativity we all have, and using our art – in any form – as a building block to healing. A great way to self-care.
Ordering the book, I was struck with the thought, “I know I heard about this book before,” but I couldn’t remember why. An email reminder that I received the next day re-engaged my brain: I had signed up for a workshop at our local library, based on this book – and it was being facilitated by a friend of mine.
There are no coincidences.
One of the many exercises in this book is an “Artist Date” with yourself, taking an entire day or just a few hours to visit a museum, a garden, stroll through a park, take photos, wander through an art store – basically, anything that brings you joy and fuels your creativity.
As we went around the room discussing ideas for these “dates,” a woman shared that there were a couple of labyrinths in the area. She used them for prayer and meditation. Asking her where they were located, and not too long after that conversation, I found my way to the labyrinth. Though it was mostly covered in snow, I did make my way to the center, and had a feeling of peace and warmth, even though it was a very cold day.
Return to the labyrinth
Promising myself to return when the snow melted – which, in Michigan, where we can experience all four seasons in a 24-hour period – meant that I could easily plan a trip back a week later.
After clearing it with our daughter, Rachel, I invited our 12-year-old granddaughter, Sarah, to join me.
“She’d love it,” Rachel texted.
And by 3 p.m., Sarah and I were on our way.
We first stopped at the car wash, and as we sat in the car being blasted with soap and scrubbers, I told Sarah that when I was a kid, car washes freaked me out.
“I don’t know if it was the noise, or the giant brushes or the flashing lights or claustrophobia, but man, I did not like going to the car wash,” I explained. She said that she wasn’t a huge fan of them, either, when she was little. I enjoyed sharing that vulnerability with her.
As we were driving to the church where the labyrinth is located, I explained that it wasn’t a maze; that it was a path to walk at your own pace, praying and/or meditating until you get to the center. I shared that if others were there, you can smile as you pass them, and most people walk in silence.
Before we started walking, I took a photo of the labyrinth, and the center of it, too. I told her I was going to blog about it – and she liked that. In fact, she was a big fan of my blog.Following my gut – which I believe is the Holy Spirit – I felt such an urge to have her join me that day. #SarahStrong Click To Tweet
We began walking, and Sarah was following me. We met in the center and just enjoyed a time of silence together. I was feeling overwhelmed by emotion, and I’m not sure if I broke the norms of the labyrinth, but I leaned over, hugged Sarah, kissed her head and told her I loved her. It was very Spirit-led, just as inviting her on this outing was. Following my gut – which I believe is the Holy Spirit – I felt such an urge to have her join me that day.
On our way back to my freshly washed car, we stopped and signed the guest journal the church provided. I asked if she wanted to come back again, and I got a resounding “Yes!” I said, “Cool, we will. And I want to do this and experience all four seasons and take pictures.” She was nodding and smiling and we were on our way.
On our drive back, she laughed when I called someone an expletive for cutting us off. “Oh Mema, don’t worry about that!” We talked about art, music, her anime club and when she could take driver’s ed and about her turning 13 in a few weeks, and just connected so much on our way home. It was cool to watch her transition to a teen – growing from movies and happy meals to more out-of-the-box adventures. Topping off the day, we took my dog for a walk, and then she went home because she wasn’t feeling good.
A few hours after Sarah went home, she developed a low-grade fever, and it looked like she was fighting a virus. Her biggest concern was being sick for Thanksgiving, which was just a few days away.
Life has shattered
The low-grade fever came and went, leading to a trip to the emergency room on Thanksgiving. This was followed by a second trip to the emergency room two days later; followed by an ambulance transport a few hours later to the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, where she was hooked up on to life support… followed by the ultimate tragedy a few days later – our family lost this beautiful, precious child at 09:52 a.m. on December 3, 2019. The cause of death – myocarditis, a virus that attacked her heart.
The week I had planned to write about our trip to the labyrinth, I just couldn’t. This writer had no words. I was overcome with grief and attending a visitation and funeral for my precious Sarah.
I wanted her to read the blog and relive our day, because I told her I would write about it. And the reason I wanted to write for her is this:
Three years ago, I received a Christmas letter from Sarah. She shared, “Last of all, my grandma is important to me because she inspires other people. For instance, she inspires other adults with her blogs…”
Sarah was reading my blogs! Here’s to keeping it family-friendly – LOL. In all seriousness, I wanted her to read, see and feel how much that day meant to me. I was looking forward to getting an email or text from her, telling me she read it, which she had done in the past, especially when she read my “going green” posts.
Like the rest of our family, I can’t articulate the unimaginable, unbearable grief and pain we are feeling over this unexpected, untimely loss. Sarah’s death goes against the natural order of life. There are no answers. There are no words.
A promise is a promise
But I will make good on the promises I have made to her. So, Sarah Boo, this blog is for you. I know you can read it from the other side. I promise you, I’ll keep writing and doing my art. And, I’ll be taking you back to the labyrinth – all four seasons, with pictures. You’ll travel in my heart instead of in my car. You’ll be in the center of my heart instead of the center of the labyrinth. And I’ll whisper “I love you,” knowing that you can hear me – whether in the labyrinth or in my heart.
Love you, sweet girl xoxo
9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9 (NIV)
© Lynne Cobb – 2019