- Gender and Relationships
Yoga and My Ex-Wife's Last Breath
My Ex-Wife Died
It was an hour before my morning yoga class and my daughter called me.
"Mom just died, dad."
There was silence on both sides but I could hear the faint cries and whimper of my daughter on the other end.
I was stunned but ready for it. My ex-wife had been in the hospital the last two months and her condition got progressively worse. She started off with blood clots in her legs, which moved to her lungs and then her brain. She also had ongoing hemorrhaging. The doctors were unsure of the origin of the bleeding and so there was a lot of anxiety for everyone. She needed a series of emergency operations to stop the internal bleeding. With each turn of the knife, my ex-wife grew weaker and sicker and her chance of recovery grew slimmer.
Then she was diagnosed with stage four uterine cancer. She became very depressed and hopeless shortly after, indicating that she's going to die. In fact, she wanted to die at that point.
Then more bad news. She stopped breathing two days ago and was put on a medical ventilator to maintain her breathing--to keep her alive.
My daughter had power of attorney and okayed her being removed from the ventilator if her heart should stop. She said that's what her mother wanted.
Then this morning, my ex-wife was pronounced dead. My daughter was there through all of this while I was looking on over 3000 miles away in California, taking care of my own medical concerns.
My ex-wife had died, I said in disbelief.
Her life and her connection with all of us was over in one, random instant. It was like a plug had been pulled.
Yoga, a Place to Breathe and Deal
When someone who you have known for years and who has fathered your children dies, and who has inhaled her last breath--you hold on to yours. You pause, not knowing what to say or think. Your life sticks a bit, stops for several moments and then slowly starts up again. I wanted to take her last breath with me to the yoga class this morning. I decided to breathe in all the good memories and breathe out all the bad.
Yoga is a place where you can deal with your self and something horrible at the same time. It is a place where you can work through your pain with the help of your breath and the movement of your body. You can open up a story in your head without crying and you can bend your hips, hang your head to the earth, without falling over.
So as I moved into each yoga pose, I thought of my ex-wife and what it was like for me to lose her. Sure, I was concerned about my daughter and what she was experiencing, but here in the yoga room it is about me...and how I deal with the loss.
I set an intention that day in yoga, to honor my ex-wife's memory.
Warrior I to Warrior II
We started slow. There was relaxing classical music playing in the background. My ex-wife was in the room with me, her soul stretching out to the far edges of the clean, hardwood floor. I could see her image in the mirror--her tears, her hard life, and the agonizing suffering in her face. She was breathing, calm but not talking.
I could feel her loneliness, I could smell her despair. She never got what she wanted in life. Her dreams never materialized. She was a talented writer who never got her big break or an opportunity to fulfill her potential. She had a big heart, the size of the lake in her hometown, an ocean even. She wanted things to be different between us but they never could, as much as we tried. There was too much baggage between us. Too many things got in the way.
As I moved slowly from Warrior I to Warrior II, I could see myself glide back and forth in the mirror--then I smoothly moved to side angle, and on to reverse warrior. It was a moving meditation on my life, my ex-wife's life. Together we travelled through the past, recounting many of our experiences and memories like a rickety video of home movies.
Then we came to the part where we separated. We couldn't stay together any longer. The earth and the sky split apart. It had to be. The universe wanted it that way. It was best that we moved on and lived separate lives. Even though we still cared about one another we could not overcome the many wounds of the past.
From Triangle to Revolved Triangle
I learned to be happy while she still suffered. I moved to a place that I dreamed of while she lingered in the cold and bleak city that always seemed to fill her with failure and heartbreak.
We raised two kids together the hard way. We both loved them but it was painful and emotionally draining. We tried to save our son but couldn't. He refused to be saved and refused to change. He tortured us, especially my ex-wife who was unable to say no. So she sacrified herself. She stayed locked up in a prison with him. She stood atop the burning coals of her child's criminal behaviors. Little did she know that it was wearing her down and destroying her health. The toxicity of that relationship infiltrated her body, mine too--but I got help earlier and saved myself. She didn't; she went down with a sinking ship.
It was too late for her.
When I'm in triangle pose, I look up to the sky. I look into God's face and I lift my heart, and give my soul to him. I ask for forgiveness for the things I've done and so he washes me clean with each and every pose.
As I moved into revolved triangle I look away from him and I am humbled. I know that I have him to thank for saving me. I am here today because of him. I stay in that twisted pose, wringing out my body, focusing on my breathing while grateful for this new opportunity, for this new day. I have survived my previous life. He has given me strength and flexibility and so I try to maintain it in my yoga practice.
My Vinyasa, My Soul
Moving with the flow. I see my ex-wife in the mirror as I move through the slow vinyasa flow.
Moving with the flow. I see the years together, one by one, the good times intermingled with the laughter and smiling faces, pleasant memories of packing up the kids and going places.
Moving with the flow. I see the tears, the disappointments, the traumas, the crying, the problems and the attempted solutions to the problems.
Moving with the flow. I see the changes. The kids growing. The kids graduating. Changing relationships. Changing parents. Our children marrying. Our children having kids and moving away.
I try to stay in my last slow vinyasa to get the most out of it. To wring out the memories so my mind becomes clear and free of guilt and free of the what if's and should of's and the could of's.
Moving with the flow. I see us drifting apart, separating, divorcing and moving away from each other like two opposing forces. I see the tears and the sadness and the regret so much so that my body starts to cramp and I go into child's pose to regain my breath.
How do you cope with the loss of a loved one?
I See You Happy and Walking Along the Beach
So my daughter grieves. The family grieves. Her friends grieve. And God grieves.
I will do my yoga and remember my ex-wife fondly; the kind woman with a big heart and someone I once loved and someone who once loved me. I'll think of yesterday and cherish those moments. But I will still live in today and not feel remorseful.
And I'll think of her last breath and her last heart beat and I'll look up at her and smile, look up to the highest mountain where she stands, and thank God that I had the opportunity to share part of my life with her.
I know she is up there. I know she has forgiven me, and I her. I know that the slate is now clean and the both of us can live our lives without regret.
And I know that her heart beats once again and she can breathe freely once more and she's safe and cared for.
Namaste. May the light in me touch and cherish the light in you.
May you finally have peace.