The Quiet Path to Peace

Father’s Day approaches, as it does every year, and as always, I am filled with both existential dread and riotous joy.

Rather odd how a greeting-card company creation can do that…

But I must say, this year, I’m more joy than dread.  And that has a great deal to do with my therapist, Jasmine, the task she set for me this last April, and the decision I came to as a result.

Jasmine, you see, asked me to celebrate Jon’s birthday in silence this year, to re-evaluate the depths of its meaning and his place in my life.  Her argument: To commemorate is sometimes to forget.  To speak at length is often to pull great loss into the shallows for public dissection.  She wanted to know how I felt about Jon when I was utterly alone with his memory.

At first, must say, I was a bit put off.  I’ve spent all this time reaching a point where I can talk about Jon without breaking down or, worse, fading out into vegetative depression consequent post-traumatic stress disorder.  And now I was supposed to be silent?  Had I not already adopted twice over?  Had I not conquered my guilt over Jon’s death to the extent that I perform well, and deservedly, as a father?  What was this?

But I did as she asked, because I knew she did not ask it lightly, and because I trust Jasmine immensely.  With both my life and my afterlife, quite frankly.

So, on Jon’s birthday—April 8th—I did not post to Facebook.  I did not decorate the house, buy a cake, go through my writings, or look at my recreated ‘photographic’ memories.  I sat, quietly, by myself, in my work shed, and about halfway through my day of silence I realised what Jasmine had wanted me to realise.

I am at peace with Jon.

I am at actual, quiet, exists-when-I-am-alone peace.

It’s not a peace without tears, without moments of crushing loss, without blips of fault.  It’s never perfect.  That’s not what peace is really about, is it? It’s not angels and trumpets; it’s acknowledging and turning down the devil.  It’s about hard emotional work becoming easier, and–for me–seeing that Jon would want me to have happiness.

My peace is Jon.

He is the constant tone—sometimes subtle and sometimes deafening—that underpins all the other melodies in my life.  A lynchpin in so many of my memories of Marion and Geoff.  A driving force in my own self-understanding and self-forgiveness.  A guide to my parenting.  A humbling reminder of what is important, what is superfluous, what is real, and what will pass.

At my next session, I walked straight into Jasmine’s office and right into her arms.  I didn’t know what to say, so I just hugged her for a while, hoping it would express gratitude.  She’s a let’s go running together, let’s have tea, let me hold your hand while you cry sort of therapist, so it worked.

We didn’t discuss it, really.  That was part of the exercise in quietude, the sharing of silent immensity.

I only talk about it now to share two things.

First, the exercise.  If you are in a similar place, do recommend.

Second, the decision.  The Junius-Smiths are going to actively pursue a third adoption.

Because, as it turns out, I am ready to do so.  I am prepared to process a shift in family dynamic.  I am prepared to welcome another little mind into my space, without feeling that I am pasting over Jon’s memory.  I am prepared for the search, the potential joys and heartbreaks, the possibility that this may take years, the necessary conversations.

The first conversation, of course, was with my husband.  If Jon is my pedal tone of peace, them Marc is my vibrant, dancing counterpoint. Yes, he said, of course he hasn’t changed his mind.  He wants another child.  He wants six hundred, with pets for all of them.

And then, of course, we talked to J and Mira, who’ve been asking for a sibling.  They were elated.  Serious about the process, but elated.

So, we begin our search this Sunday.  It’ll be a busy morning and afternoon with my administrative roles at JS Home for Children (always a popular visiting day).  But we’ve carved out time in our family supper and shindig for a slow start–familiarising J and Mira with traditional adoption processes, scheduling some visits at London- and Rome-based homes, planning our family video for adoption profiles.

God help us, three children…I already feel outnumbered.

But so excited.  So so so excited.

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Post the First

How pleasant, I think, to launch a new project on one’s anniversary.

Happy Anniversary, Marcus!

It is true, you can meet and be married, or re-married, in the afterlife, which is nye on the happiest thing I’ve discovered, along with the ability of ghosts to adopt children.  (More on our little devil and angel later.)

There are any number of ways that you can marry post-mortem.  Some couples go into death together, as is the case of our dear friends and JS Charities board members Charles and Rachel.  They drown together in a boat capsizing just before the Titanic and rather wish they had gone out with a bang rather than in a dinghy.  They keep their appearances at round about 80, maintaining that although they made fetching youths, indeed, they much prefer the wizened look of old age.

Our best mates Ed and Jacques–French Canadians–also died together but in a car accident.  They were not married at the time, but have since tied the knot, with their anniversary just two weeks after Marcus and I.

Other couples meet after death, in the same sorts of places one would expect couples to meet.  In coffee shops, on sporting teams, and often in support groups for new ghosts….maybe that last one is a bit unexpected.

My personal assistant, Danny, who is actually one of my dearest friends at this point, not only met his husband after death, but as Danny died relatively young (22) and quite ill, this also means that he met his first great love after death.  He also discovered he fancied men, as well as women.  I find both the ability to meet and marry, and the ability to self-explore, to be encouraging circumstances, giving me hope for other young ghosts who pop up too soon.

Marcus and I are in the re-married camp.  He lost his first husband Aulus at war, and his second, Rufius, at the time of his own death.  He had also been married twice to women–once by force (ending in divorce) and once by friendship.

My own track record is equally polyamorous, but more happily so.  I was married simultaneously to Marion, who I mentioned on my “about” page, and to Geoffrey, my schoolmate who set me up in the ways of romance, stayed close through my church-sanctioned marriage, and then reappeared as husband later on after Marion asked me over breakfast one morning just how long I had been in love with Geoffrey, and did he feel the same way, causing me to nearly choke on my porridge.

Given my utterly happy marriages, I was absolutely astonished when Marcus turned down my first marriage proposal.  Perhaps after just six months I came across as a tad bit unctuous, and perhaps he was surprised I would even ask after I spent about two of those months sulking about and wondering when he would move out of my host’s mental space, leaving me the hell alone.  Perhaps.

But in any case, he obviously came around to the idea.

And now here we are, four years in, and still–most days–relatively…blissful is not the right word.  Energized by each other’s company, comforted by each other’s embrace, and inspired by each other’s efforts.  He is an excellent father, a stalwart best friend, and he makes one hell of a cheesecake, which I get to eat precisely two times a year.  He is also batty for dinosaurs, sharks, Locke Lamora, his horse (Nox, or Noxwell as I call him), Christmas-time, fireworks, army drills, falcons, fast cars, and republics.

Oh, and for me. ; )

This post is dedicated to him–to my Marcus.  Amo, Juni.