A Soft Smile.


What a difference a year makes. Same place, same retreat hosts, even a few return guests like me, but what a different person I am. Last year Christmas fell only 4 months after Rene’s death. Looking back I almost can’t believe I went on a yoga retreat so fragile and wounded. To be honest I was a fucking mess, I cried at the end of every yoga practice, I was unbelievably  raw and there was no hiding my pain. There was no way I could be discrete, and while I may not have shared my story with everyone there was no way they did not know something profound was going on with me. This year, like last, I was just coming here to run away. I wasn't excited to come, I was almost disgusted with myself at how much I was spending just to escape the 'merriness of the season'. Still, I came. Sad and mad that he wasn’t coming with me, that I couldn’t be happy at home, and that I am the way I am knowing how precious time with loved ones is but so unable to enjoy it. Only it wasn't long before I started to notice how different I am from last year, how much I have healed. I first noticed how much stronger I have become when my plane landed in Puerto Vallarta and I started to cry. Simultaneously as the plane's tires kissed the earth I was overwhelmed with sorrow and tears poured down my face. I could not reconcile that I am vacationing over Christmas without him. The sweet lady beside me, put her hand on my knee and said. ‘Is there anything I can do?’ See, we had been chatting the whole flight and I had been fine so my uncontrollable crying seemed to worry her. I told her of Rene and she told me that her daughter lost her husband and she felt this trip would bring me peace. I wasn’t so sure, but did take comfort in being that far into my trip before my first wave of overwhelming grief.

I have known in my heart that one day I will travel solo and it won’t rip at my heart, and there on my third trip without Rene I almost made it the whole way to my destination without losing it! I was however still just going through the motions, running away from all that these few days in December have become. My enthusiasm for this trip was lackluster. That is until I came up the path to Xanalani resort. Walking in I felt at ease, I knew immediately coming back was the best thing for me and it has given me such insight into how far my healing has come.

This year I feel happy, I feel normal which is a very big deal.  It is so hard to put into words but for the greater part of 17 months I have felt like a veil of sadness has covered most of my days. This year, I am not just surviving the days but am enjoying the days. I have shared my story but selectively when I want, on my terms and not because the grief is written all over my face.

Yesterday was Christmas but for  me it was just another day. Being on retreat in Mexico it was easy to almost skip over, and  I realized I am completely fine with that. I never really understood it anyway. I have no desire to lie to my children (shall I  have them) about Santa,the Tooth-fairy or the Easter Bunny,  but it won’t be an issue because I will show them all the magic that exists in family, in community, in love, and in sharing. I have no time for buying a bunch of crap no one even wants, but I will show up for those I care about wholeheartedly whenever they need me. I have no time for keeping up with the Joneses or living what precious days I have in this life seeking approval of others, but instead will travel the world meeting wonderful people who open my mind to new ideas and awaken parts of my soul I never knew existed. See, yesterday I was fine, but today I begged him to visit me and he did!

I am a skeptic at heart, and  I have been unsure if I have felt Rene around,  if he is with me. There has been moments where I thought for sure he was here, but then almost talk myself out of it. But today in meditation I called out to him and I told him I needed a sign, a clear sign, I needed him to send me something today. I dedicated my day to him and I hoped he would join me. It was a day filled with new friends but the same walk I took last year to get his favourite, chips and salsa. They free pour the tequila so from my one margarita I was drunk, consequently I almost skipped yoga class, but for some reason I felt the need to go (not advising this behaviour). At the end of class, which was a bit rough for me, our teacher talked all about the afterlife, about the shifting of energy, saying ‘ no one ever leaves they just transform, if they were ever with you they are still with you’. Out of nowhere he spoke of this. It wasn't  the theme of class, not anything we have been working on, he just kept going about the love that connects us to those that have come before and those that have died; our teachers. He said, ‘ if you love them and they are in your heart they can always be right there with you, right by your side’.

Right there by my side.

I silently cried, but with the softest smile. What a difference a year makes.