About a week before Bob’s birthday (March 7) I knew that it was time to take my “vow” ring off.  It now sits safely in my jewelry box with our wedding bands.  Wearing it or our wedding bands since he died has felt like an anchor; something to keep me out of danger.  One afternoon, I simply had the sense that it was time to lift anchor and put the ring away.  The lifting anchor was not to start a new voyage necessarily, but to start a little tentative exploration of what is to be my new life.

A Qigong class is part of this new life.  I am not sure when, where, or how much, but it is definitely part of it.  I “accidentally” found a local-ish (one state away rather than across the country!) offering of a Qigong instructor course that I have wanted to take for years.  Bob and I took some Qigong classes several years ago and we both loved it.  I wanted to become an instructor then, but the money wasn’t there and the course was across the country, so I put it out of my mind.  But, the thought reappeared and it was now possible.  I felt Bob’s hand strongly in those arrangements.  I was ecstatic when I saw the possibility.  Then I crashed into a pit when I realized that the one year mark of Bob’s death was during the course!  I did not see how my children and I could be apart that day.  Looking for an elevator out of the pit, I thought maybe I could miss one day of the course and go back for the rest of the course.  I asked the course director; he said yes!  So I signed up and paid my money!

The course was wonderful.  The day home with my children and their families was wonderful.  The course hours were crazy long and left little time to think about Bob.  The days were full of meeting new people, discussions about the meaning of life (sort of), doing Qigong practices, planning with other participants, and enjoying a lovely retreat site.

Components of one form we learned were powerful grief work.  Of course, that is not the purpose of the form, but several of us felt it strongly.  In one move as you are standing you turn to one side, gather up something terribly precious, love, nurture, and cherish it as you ever so reverently carry it across your body, and gently and lovingly release it to the sky when you get to the other side of your body.  Wow!  I did not know what I was picking up or releasing, but it was truly important!  I tried to identify what it was and words just escaped me.  But it was wonderful – knowing that it was all part of a whole and the gathering and the letting go were equally loving.

This atmosphere of reverence was always laced with joyfulness.  Those are two qualities I want to embody.  We had our silliness as well as our reverence, and I always wonder why those two are not combined more.  If reverence requires one to be somber, why would anyone choose reverence!

The week there reminded me of my great love of conversation with people who care deeply about “stuff,” who are open and accepting, and who know how to laugh.  I have missed that for a long time!  And all of that busy-ness with the long hours left little time to actively miss Bob, even while I was acutely aware that he was the reason that I was there.

Then I came home – to the house that Bob built, where he is in every beam and post and board.  And I came home physically exhausted.  The past three days have had lots of contemplative moments.  I left anticipating the one year mark and not quite knowing what to expect of that.  I came home having experienced the one year mark with a pretty joyful day, actually, and having experienced a glimmer of a life that is partly defined as a Qigong instructor.  I also believe that this coming year is the year in which I will define my new life.  One moment that feels exhilarating, the next daunting.  And Bob is still ever so close.  And his absence is even closer.