seven years

Science tells us that most every cell in our body will be replaced with new cells every seven to ten years. Not all, just most. Not all at exactly the same time and not in a way that reverses the aging process. For years I have heard the expression that ‘every cell in the body will regenerate within seven years’. It’s kind of imprecise, a broad stroke of an idea. Seven years. A good clean odd number to hold onto. An idea that is easy to like and believe in. And adopting this idea of cell life by analogy, it has been easy to apply to other aspects of life and growth as well.

Facebook put one its randomly selected memories in front of me this morning, a post I made seven years ago today. A picture of me and my children and our family dog at the time, Yankee.

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It was taken the fall of 2006 as I was in the process of divorce. This photo was so symbolic for me as much needed visible and tangible evidence of a happy family without the husband and father. That I could be present in the fierce love I felt for my children and Yankee while simultaneously feeling such grief. I know the smiles on our faced belied the turmoil we were all experiencing. It was not an easy year. Now, coming up on the ten year stretch of that time, I realize how significantly everything has changed.

This new family portrait was the first picture I posted when I joined Facebook seven years ago. Only two years divorced, I entered the year 2009 with promises to myself to open to love in new ways. Still living in the center of my children’s lives, it was a daunting prospect and I had no idea how truly difficult it would be to reconcile who I was a mother with who I imagined myself to be as lover. It turned out to be an amazing year, full of growth, new connections, and challenging relationships. Regeneration had begun.

But the grieving never ended, all these years since, until just recently. I just never wanted to admit it. I never wanted to succumb to the deep sadness that still rattled around in so many of my cells still. It didn’t mean I wasn’t growing and learning and experimenting and shedding what I didn’t need anymore. It just meant I was still grieving the loss of something that was dear to me, a partnership with a man I loved. Accepting this truth could only happen at the root, at the deepest level where my life force lives. And so I let myself cry and purge the sadness as much as I could over these years, even when it felt like too much, confident for the most part that this was exactly what I was supposed to be doing.

Then magically a few months ago, a complete release of this sadness occurred. You never can see it coming, these moments that offer liberation if you are ready to take it. I had driven my ex-husband to an eye appointment that morning. We have gratefully been able to do things like this for each other over the years. Driving back he launched into a story of a radio broadcast he had heard recently of an old married couple who had made a comedy routine of many aspects of their lives together. I didn’t get it. Why was he telling me about this? When I asked him, he responded with something about the humor they were able to make from their forty-five years together. Before I could stop myself, I reminded him that he had promised ME forty years but was only able to give me twenty. It was after just the slightest pause, one so significant that I felt the energy in the car shift into a higher vibration and he said, “Yeah, but they were twenty really good years.” And there it was. The smile inside I had been waiting for all these years. Seeing the light shining on what had been so right for us at the time. Being able to feel the love that is still there without thinking I had to be in relationship with him a certain way. What a gift of a moment. Reflecting now on the few months since that morning, it is clear we have been able to find our way back to an authentic way of sharing who we are with each other again and celebrate who we are as parents to our amazing children. It’s taken these seven years since setting the intention to open to love in new ways.

A few mornings ago the sun rose in a clear blue sky after days of gray, freezing rain, snow and ice. It was a crystalline world out there and as the sun came up and hit the frozen surfaces of trees and ground, everything lit up like a giant chandelier.

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It was breathtaking. Beauty so glaring that I could feel my heart expanding to combustion point. This feeling followed me down to the brook,

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and into the morning as I drove through these gorgeous hills I live in, scenes so spectacular, one after another. Just when I thought I couldn’t take it anymore, another scene would present itself and I had to consciously choose to stay with the intensity of this feeling that I might be engulfed. I wanted to cry. I simply realized, I am feeling love. And this is letting myself stay open to love, even when it feels like too much.

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