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After the Rain

The older I get, the more I believe the earth is begging to heal us. The way she moves, the way she rages, the way she is constantly trying to show us purity, in an effort for us to surrender what we know about humanity, and why we are here.

She has had it rough. She holds us all as we walk about and use our feet to make traction, and our fears to guide our realities.

The earth. Bigger than we can know. Or able to take in. And her wanting to heal us, and us be close with her. Someone that sees her power and respects it.

I have been sick for days. Covid. My biggest fear during the early days of the pandemic because I’ve dealt with weak lungs for years.

I tend to surrender to shame when I think I have done something wrong. I have been sicker than I could have imagined. And, I don’t know if it was because covid is a mean son of a bitch, or because I had a past life where I was a heavy smoker. Or some other combination.

I started smoking when I was 11. And, I loved it. I loved having something that was mine that no one could take from me. It was self-harm in my own way. My little “fuck you” to take my body back from the abuse that started around five.

I think that is what so many survivors long for after the pain of those dark hours– some sense of control, empowerment. The ability to say, if I can’t be happy inside my mind and body because of what someone else did, then I get to have a say in how that body is treated.

The earth sits back, grieving. Over and over, because she has so much to offer us, and we keep hurting one another and ourselves. We deny her, and while she sets a blaze, we demand she keep up with the ways we treat her. “Give us what we want and when we want it!” As if to say, “We were here first!”

She needs us and we need her, but it is our surrender that matters. She has no ill will, only suffering and moving through survival mode the way she knows how.

My illness increases day by day. I think of life differently, as I cough until one, two, three AM. And, I question what my body needs in order to heal.

After multiple calls with my Dr. I look after all the home remedies. I am willing to take a lethal dose of anything to get the coughing to stop.

And, I tell myself I have not done anything wrong. That life is happening, and this feels terrible because it is terrible, and there does not have to be a greater meaning.

I need to see water as often as possible. I sit by the rivers in Philly on a weekly basis, and somehow no matter what heaviness I take, I leave lighter.

How does she do that? She allows me to come and bring sadness, fear, stress, and by sitting with her, and just observing her movement, my confusion turns to clarity. The heaviness lessens. By sitting, and observing.

When you are sick all your freedoms are taken away, because healing is the only option.

With Covid, I can’t go for my walks, and I can’t sit by the river.

With trauma, I can’t show up the same, because part of me is living in a series of events that are unresolved.

I hate toxic positivity. And, I hate how invalidating people are about others in pain. But, I also think we swing too hard into shame and survival that we don’t make peace the goal.

Peace is always the goal.

It’s interesting that as healing as water is, in the form of rain, it can be deadly. It can flood. It can break mountainsides, and tear away roads. And in that same form, it can put out fires, and save land.

As rain comes in and out, I have days where it is the perfect aftermath to my morning walk. The rest of my day is spent cozily walking around my apartment, with soft music, and the sound of rain hitting the window.

We all have a different reaction to the rain. It can be welcomed, and it can be the bearer of bad news that our mental health does not need right now.

There is a lot of waiting during rain.

For it to stop.

For it to tell us its next move.

For it to leave.

For us to move.

There is a lot of waiting during healing.
For the pain to stop.

For it to tell us its next move.

For it to leave.

For us to move.

There is a lot of waiting.

I suppose it will always be a different experience based on what each person needs. How we wait, and live in the holding pattern or getting our freedoms back.

On day seven, I could breathe again. Not fully. And the cough was still tickling my throat and coming around for no reason.

On day eight, it felt like I was going backwards.

On day nine, it turned to pneumonia.

On day ten, I rested.

Each morning, I wake up to see what my lungs’ reaction to air will be.

On day twelve, I knew I was healing. I tested negative. I knew I needed to keep resting, but I had evidence that the worst was over.

The waiting. The uncertainty. The planning of what I will see again.

I planned a late-night walk to the river. My body laughed. I made it four blocks and knew I needed to stay near home.

But, I got a calm walk in. It had rained for days. And more rain was coming. I needed this time outside.

I walked on the cobblestone near the square. It was me and a few others. I removed my mask and felt fresh air for the first time in awhile.

No one here knows that I have been coughing for two weeks. They do not know that I smoked for 21 years and quit 12 years ago. They would not know much about me from walking alongside the similar square.

But, it was the pausing that told me something that night.

The alarms in my body that said “Nate, you will have to see the river another day.”

But, to be ok with that because I knew the worst was over. The impacts of fresh air on sore lungs. Slowly, I walk my way around the square.

I knew to go slow. And this was different from healing my past, because I wanted my body to return. I wanted to feel fresh air, and freedom without the restrictions I had put on it many times before.

Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia

The rain limits us sometimes. When it comes on too hard, we are not able to move about with the same freedoms.

When the things we need are removed from us, it can be hard to know what the next step is, or how to respond.

In the waiting, we learn that something needs change.

Sometimes, there is suffering there, and sometimes there is reprieve from life moving too fast.

Rainy days can be the very thing that takes away what we were most looking forward to, and the very thing that helps our heavy heart feel cozy.

I knew I could not get to the river. It was too risky, and I would not dare put myself in a position where that was at play.

I know it will come soon.

The rainy days will keep coming. And they will challenge what I want and what I need.

And on some of those days, it will be the welcomed gift from all the unpredictable in the world, and some days it will feel like I am being punished.

But, I have to work with this. I can’t be the person who tells the earth I will only respond on my terms. She is moving about and helping me observe my humanity in a way that makes the trauma have less impact.

Because she is magic, and she holds so many traits that by observing them, I feel like she is my healer.

Of course I could not get to the river. The body is looking to be one with the earth, not ahead of it. Not so tired it can’t take it in.

There is much calm when you know a season of hardship is coming to a close.

Gratitude that the worst of something is over, and you can think freely again.

The trappings of all the things that have taken our freedom away.

The lies. The blame. The wrong directions.

The world is full of them.

But in the stillness, when air alone feels better than medicine, there are reminders that there is a lot of good waiting for us. People who know our realities. Places that want us to feel our beauty by seeing them. Pain that subsides because the combination of these things outweigh the chapters we spent hurting.

The streets look like mirrors, the rains reflection.

It is quiet, peaceful. A break, and invitation to re-enter with new eyes.

It is coming. Through time. Through growth. Healing.

The ability to accept things or people or circumstances that will not change, and challenge ourselves to see beauty around us anyway.

To accept the extraordinary gifts of healing offered to us in places we have not nurtured.

When the unknown feels like a thief, always remember, the answers often greet you after the rain.

I’m so glad you’re here!


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