Orimligt. This is a Swedish I word I don’t quite know how to translate. Literally it means unreasonable; “o” being negating and “rimligt” meaning simply… Reasonable. But unreasonable doesn’t do the word justice. It’s bigger than that. Something that’s Orimligt is not only unreasonable, it’s unimaginable. Incomprehensible. The closest I can come to translating it is Unlivewithable. Un-live-with-able; adjective meaning; “experience or event you simply cannot imagine carrying on your life after having gone through”. In the dictionary it would go something like that. Orimligt. Unlivewithable.
Today I had an unlivewithable experience. I’ve had many in my life but this time, I was on the outside looking in. We are at the very beginning of our first oneOeight retreat right now and today two of our participants, a mother and daughter, suffered through a huge, completely unexpected loss. Right before afternoon practice they received the horrifying, awful, unimaginable, unlivewithable news that the young girls brother, the mother’s son, has passed away. He was 33 years old. I call their room but I don’t know what to say. “Do you want me to come over?” I ask. The voice on the other line is shaking and I hear wailing in the background. “Yes”.
So I go. On the way there I freeze. This moment is the peak of them finding out that their lives will never be the same. They are standing in the middle of trauma, in the middle of the darkest, deepest, heaviest thing that may ever come their way – and I’m “coming over”? What am I supposed to do?? I panic and start calling people, friends, psychologists, my mom – what do I do. Her son has died and she just found out. She has lost her big brother and it’s happening now. Right now. There is nothing I can do to make this better. There is no fixing, no helping, no words to speak or actions to take that will diminish their pain. My friend tells me “you know what to do. You’ve lived this”. I remember the moment I found out Andrea died and I realize, this is what it was like for the people surrounding me that day. I was lying in a hospital bed when Luigi called and even though I was on morphine and disoriented the words “falleció” echoed in my head the entire night. I speak Spanish fluently but “fallecer” wasn’t a word I’d ever used before. I knew what it meant, fallecer, but hearing it in the same sentence as “Andrea” and “car accident” just didn’t make any sense – I couldn’t understand it. Fallecer, to decease, was just orimligt – an unlivewithable concept – and it would take me another 24 hours before I would even start processing the information. The doctors, Dennis, the participants of the retreat I was about to lead that week… They were all on the outside looking in. And here I am, two years and one month later, wondering what I wish someone would have done for me at that time. Before I’m able to answer my own question I’ve arrived at their door. I open it, and I realize
all there is
Love is all I can do. I can hug them. Hold them. Cry with them. Make sure they are safe. Give them water. Give them space. Let them talk, or scream, or be quiet, or fall apart, or keep it together, or all of the above in less than a minute – there is no right or wrong way to grieve. It’s so intense and it’s heavy and unimaginable I have to remind myself to breathe. It’s not my pain but I feel it so intensely it’s like there is a weight on top of my chest and I can’t escape it. I imagine me and my mother on a yoga retreat somewhere, finding out that my brother… I can’t. It’s absolutely unimaginable.
Somehow we get them on a plane even though there are no planes. It’s late, and the last one to the US has departed already but we don’t give up and somehow we figure it out. We hug goodbye and I know they won’t remember this day at all. Looking back at it later, this will all be a haze. Aruba will forever be a dark place and they will never return. This journey, for them… It’s only just begun. My heart breaks in a thousand pieces just thinking of what’s ahead for this family. The pain. The empty space. The pain. The pain. The pain.
During the afternoon I’m sensible and making decisions and on the phone with airlines and airports; anything to help settle the logistics so they don’t have to. The moment I get home I collapse on the floor. This is how I process – I let myself feel. It’s the only way. It takes a good ten minutes before I finally stop crying and start feeling normal again. I close my eyes and listen to my heart beating. I’m glad I’m alive. I hope you are, too.
Don’t take any of it for granted.