Breaking bread with myself

There are places close to home, that become our home too. Pre pandemic, I would come and break bread here at least every other week. Here, I would often sit by the window and watch people go by while enjoying a bowl of my favorite French onion soup, and a glass of rose scented tea. Comfort food they were, and still are.

Today, I found myself in the vicinity of this old haunt. It was a spur of the moment decision to viait and dine indoors, perhaps the intense noonday sun made me do it. I was glad I did.

This place was where I would hold group sessions for the newly bereaved. The walls of the private function room, bad been witness to copious tears, and many moments of healing. It seemed so long ago, and felt like a different life, in the context of the pandemic we continue to live with.

Almost two years have passed. How our lives have changed. Countless lives have been taken by the scourge, but also new lives have been brought forth as well. The pandemic made it so clear that who our tribe was. As many friendahips were rekindled and restored, there were just as many friendships that fell to the wayside. There was love lost, and love found. Countless families were broken open by loss, but just as many families were strengthened by what was lost, and found.

Life is slowly returning to whatever version of “normal” one wishes it to be. Biut are we the same after everything we have been through? I know I am not. Do we want life to return the way it was? Certainly not the traffic at the very least. What have we learned about ourselves within this liminal space where we have let go of many things and people but are not certain too of the life that awaits? How have we been transformed by the losses we have shared?

Ad Astra Per Aspera. D​irectly translated it means “To the stars, through hardship.” Contextually speaking it means “success requires the overcoming of obstacles.” Many times over the last 21 months, I have muttered this phrase to myself while living in the valley of all this change. Our greatest growth in life always takes place in the valley, not in the hills or mountaintops.

Yes, it’s been hard to keep ones focus on the stars. What I’ve found helpful is to practice being mindful about the way I think and talk about the challenges I face, both internally, and externally. Thoughts and words are so powerful. They impact how we sail through the challenges we live through and eventually overcome.

I’ve also always allowed myself time to grieve and reflect on the losses that have come my way. I set a limit, depending on what it is I’m grieving. It can be anywhere from 48 to 72 hours. And then I move forward. Leaving the sadness behind, and always with a lesson learned. This is of course, not the same of a loss due to death, that entails a totally different way of mourning which is a whole subject in itself that merits its own piece.

Today, it was good to break bread with myself in a place that felt like home. I had not done that in a long, long time. The comfort of my happy place, surrounded by familiar and smiling faces (even with a mask one could tell) welcoming me back. The taste of warm bread, and to my palate, the best French onion soup in town hit my comfort spot just when I needed it. The holidays always makes one wistful, and hopeful. I have been changed in many ways, over the course of pandemic. How can one not? The changes, though sometimes sad and difficult, have made us grow in various ways.

Ad Astra Per Aspera. I’ll choose to stay focused on the stars, and look forward to the new life that awaits us all.

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