- Cynthia Coupe
Where the Lions are
When Frank and I were married, I walked down the aisle to “Wondering Where the Lions are” by Bruce Cockburn. It reminded me of Frank from the moment I heard it. Like Bruce says “I got my mind on eternity. Some kind of ecstasy got a hold on me…and I’m wondering where the lions are…” I, too, wondered where the lions were.
I found them. They are the grief and sadness in the wake of Frank’s death. They are the fear and the doubt I’ve held inside my whole life.
Sometimes it’s as simple as a song, as delicate as a whisper of a hint of a breeze, enough to throw me off center.
Or the official paperwork…autopsy reports, probate documents, impending bills and yet another account that needs to be managed.
Sometimes it's the realization that I'm changing. That I'm nearing that person I've always wanted to be, the person that Frank always knew I was but he will never get to meet.
Today it was getting a new phone, pairing it with my car and realizing Frank’s name is no longer automatically a preferred contact, so I think about programming other names in, aware that his was the top left button, and I’m not sure if I should put his name back there because…you know…or do I just leave it blank? Because if I put someone else there it’s like a subtle dethronement. He’s supposed to have that position. But he doesn’t need it, won’t be answering those kinds of calls any longer.
And my god, he always used to. He would answer me no matter what. I called: he answered. Didn’t matter what he was doing, from taking a dump to riding his motorcycle to being in an important meeting. I trumped everything. I tried to be aware of his schedule so as not to interrupt, but damn I felt so damn important. Who does that?
I probably spent ten minutes trying to figure out what to do about a screen in a car that’s supposed to be for important numbers. But for now they’re all empty. I can’t program them. Too many choices, too much pressure.
And this happens regularly…some days I’m making important decisions left and right, like a boss. (Well, I am a boss…but like a BOSS-boss, you know?). And I make these choices, and do these things and stay calm under pressure and so much more.
And other days I lose it. I can’t decide what to eat for breakfast, I stare at directions like they are hieroglyphs to discern, and I forget simple things like the name of my best friend.
This was a hard week.
I don’t rightfully know why.
The little things, the big things, all the things in between.
I spend a lot of time by myself now. I rather like it. It’s important for me. In this alone space I find I’m more likely to be friendly to strangers, more likely to interact with them, to reach out and make conversation. That’s new to me.
I’m pushing my own boundaries because…well, I’m no one I’ve ever been before. I get to act on free will and whimsy nearly all the time. If I want fries for dinner, I can have them (and OMG I did tonight, fucking eggplant fries with a honey glaze. Holy smokes I need to figure out how to make those!!).
Sometimes those lions show up amongst the adventures of life. I was thinking today how I don’t mind traveling alone, taking myself out on a date, going somewhere solo. For fucks sake, I romped all over Europe alone when I was 24. I didn’t start out alone. I had a couple girlfriends but we went our separate ways. I ventured off, exploring and meandering…meeting people, doing whatever I wanted…this is a bit like that, right?
I mean, it’s not at all the same, but the sense of adventure and enjoying alone time has some familiarity to it.
I see couples, I see the way they’re weaved together, like I was. I never would have traded that life for this, but I also realize that having arrived here has finally completed me. I feel solvent, able to make decisions and hold my head high…cry when I need to, realize I am enough, and I don't need to compromise.
My mind wanders to times I’ve given myself up too easily, dimmed my own light, sacrificed my inner knowing for a shared experience. With any luck I’ll be faced with that option again, the option of sharing my life with someone…the option of being true to myself while also holding truth for another… and with any skill, I’ll do it differently. I’ll see the lions at the door…not half as frightening as they were before..and maybe once again I’ll have my mind on eternity, with some kind of ecstasy got a hold of me…
And I’ll hold Frank there, in that place of always knowing, always answering the call, always showing up for myself…no matter what. Because I know where the lions are, and I move forward anyway.