I have a ninety-four year old aunt who is opinionated, stubborn, irritating, and occasionally a bright shining light. When my husband Bill died, I asked her a question. (She had lost her husband some twenty-five years ago.) “How did you do it?” I asked her. “How did you get through it?” She didn’t hesitate. “I had no choice,” she said.
She is one of those still living who are called The Greatest Generation. She was a WAC during World War II. (That’s the Women’s Army Corps for you youngsters.) She never saw combat. Never left the States. But she assisted an eye surgeon in an army hospital who treated returning wounded soldiers. She saw some pretty horrible things, but like others of that Generation, she just got on with it and did her job. Today, she lives alone (near me) and will not do anything she doesn’t want to do. No matter how much it hurts. She has an arthritic knee. It makes walking very difficult. She will not accept a walker, even though walking with a rickety old cane is dangerous. It belonged to her husband and she will not give it up. She insists on driving to the supermarket, the drug store, and Walmart. By herself. She will not let me put out her trash or buy her groceries. She insists that she has to get out of her apartment, and I know she is right. She is smart, has a memory that is better than mine, and knows everything about the 2016 presidential campaigns. But she will take no advice from me whatsoever. She has declared that she will not go to Arizona with me when I sell my house. Period. That is giving me some sleepless nights, and it’s something my brother and I will have to figure out. But there is one thing I have never known her to do. I have never, ever known her to feel sorry for herself.
I don’t know why she came into my mind tonight, unless it’s because I was feeling a bit sorry for myself. On Wednesday, my real estate agent brought the ideal buyer to see my house. She fits our profile perfectly, and that has only happened one other time. I knocked myself out trying to make the house as attractive as I could. I always do that when I have a showing, but this time it seemed a little special, so I cleaned and shined and freshened until I was worn out. I even spruced up the attic. By Tuesday night, I was exhausted, but I was hopeful, something I haven’t been for a long time. She came, she saw, she loved the house. Loved it. Said she could see herself living in it. She also said she wanted her son to see it, and here’s the part where I lost my hope: She said she’s going away for “a few weeks” and will get in touch with us when she gets back. I’ve lost count of the people who have traipsed through my house who “loved” it, but made no move to buy it. In April (not that far away), my house will have been on the market for three years.
Tomorrow, my agent is holding an open house for me. Once again, I went to work. Had the house power-washed. The lady who helps me clean rearranged her schedule to come today. She re-cleaned and refreshed. There are fresh flowers in the dining room and I have bought cookies to set out in the kitchen. Photographs of the garden in summer are on a table in the living room. If, after all the work and effort, nothing comes of it, one thing is absolutely sure. If I am going to sell my house, I have no choice but to try, and try, and try again. I may be disappointed time after time, as I have been. I may be on an emotional roller coaster ride, but if I am going to sell my house, I have no choice but to show it over and over until somebody buys it.
I’ve gone through all the spiritual reasons why my house hasn’t sold, why I am not able to get to my beloved Arizona. I’ve cut my ties to the house. It’s called un-tethering. I’ve let it go. I’ve pictured my husband and I letting it go together. I’ve gone through every room, as I have been advised to do, honoring the memories there and releasing them. I know in my heart that the timing for me to move is not in my hands. I’ve surrendered to that truth time and time again. And I am back where I started. I have no choice but to get comfortable with that. That is, if I want some semblance of peace.
The spiritual path is not easy. The deeper I go into it, the harder it seems to get. But my spiritual teachers tell me that this is progress. That I am learning. Growing. My disappointments have led me to a deeper meditation practice. They have led me to a deeper sense of acceptance, even as I drag myself through the low spots. I am told that we all have them. The greatest spiritual teachers of all time have had them. If I am to return to the light, I must stay with what sustains me through the dark. If I am to learn whatever lesson is put before me, I have no choice but to carry on, as if all will be right in the end.
I think that tomorrow, while “guests” are walking through my house and peeking into my closets, I’ll call my aunt and ask her if she wants to go to Popeye’s for lunch. She loves that place.
Read The Messenger: The Improbable Story of a Grieving Mother and a Spirit Guide by Helen Delaney. Available on http://www.Amazon.com