It is October of 2008. My lover has left me, I have started graduate school, and my mother has cancer.
My entire world has been turned upside down in a matter of months. Three years prior, I had moved from Chicago to Pittsburgh to be with my lover, and though the relationship had the usual ups and downs of partnership, I had thought it was solid, and stable, and a forever thing – at that time, I still believed in forever things.
In April 2008 he told me that he wasn’t sure if he wanted to remain in the relationship, and we officially ended the relationship in July. In August I took our tiny Yorkshire Terrier puppy and rented a small apartment near the universities – I had been accepted into a graduate program and didn’t want to run away home to Chicago, beaten and licking my wounds.
Graduate school began in September and it was a rough re-entry into academia with a full-time job. Work and school and taking care of a tiny puppy, that was my world – that, and curling up on the floor, crying in big, heaving sobs about lost love, lost dreams, and my strange and overwhelming new life. Then, in late September, my mother phoned to tell me that she had been diagnosed with endometrial cancer; as she was already dealing with heart failure and uncontrolled type 2 diabetes, this was a severe blow to her…and to her daughter, hundreds of miles away and barely hanging on herself.
The one constant: Porky, my puppy. She needs to be fed, needs to be walked, needs to be loved and cared for. It is October, and I am taking her for a constitutional in our new neighborhood one morning when I notice how powerful the wind has become – this autumn the air is especially wild. I am buffeted about by strong, cold gusts as I walk the dog, my hair flying into my face, tangled and wild, my small dog struggling to keep her eyes open in the fast, chilled air. We return to the apartment, and I notice that, for a moment, I don’t feel as empty or as despondent. Instead, I feel exhilaration. It doesn’t last through the day, but for a moment, there is relief from the heaviness of my life.
After this first noticing, I feel lighter when the wind joins us on our walks. I even look forward to being blown about, feeling slightly out of control and out of breath, pink-skinned and disheveled. I come to believe the wind is meeting me, befriending me, cleansing me a little bit each day. This is the type of friendship I so desperately need right now, never asking that I keep my chin up, never recommending that I persevere, never persuading me to see the bright side of things. The wind simply is, and through my encounters with it, I am given a break from feeling so incredibly broken.
November comes, and with it the deep chill of mid-autumn. Porky and I take shorter walks due to the cold. I begin to find my footing in school, begin to make new friends, begin to laugh more easily. Mother has surgery and begins her radiation treatments.
The wind dies down a bit, or perhaps moves on to assist another in need of its services. The spell is broken, but not forgotten.
Thank you, Air. Thank you, Wind.