Lately, Keeping On

A few things have happened since my last blog post. First, it’s legitimately springtime in Laramie! The seasonal change was much more dramatic and sudden than in the southeast. We had over eight inches of snow on the ground for Mother’s Day, during which time I refused to wear an actual coat. I’d just packed away my bulky ski gear, snow boots, etc., so I was a little upset with yet more snow.

Another thing that happened was my graduation from yoga teacher training. I’m officially a certified yoga teacher, and you can learn more about my approach and where I’ve been teaching here.

Many of my fellow trainees aren’t from Laramie, so it was a weekend of goodbyes as they returned home to towns across Wyoming and South Dakota. Though I’m pleased to be done, I’ll miss our monthly pow-wows and discussions of all things yoga.

During that final training weekend, I learned that my grandmother had passed away. She’d been ill with cancer for a long time, and entered hospice earlier this year. I kept it together for a little while, and then our flow yoga class began. I moved through the first few sequences, and had to stop. Generally my crying is not the silver-screen-appropriate rolling tears and bit lip, but more of the snot-nosed, red eyes, puffy face, constricted wind pipe breed.

The theme of our weekend was “surrender,” and, being a good teacher, Stephanie was incorporating it into this yoga class as well. Unfortunately, I really was not connecting to the concepts “let what is, be,” and, “accept this moment as it is,” so needless to say I sat prostrate in child’s pose breathing loudly through my mouth, waiting for everyone to go into downward-facing dog so I could slip out largely unnoticed.

My Oma practiced yoga regularly before her cancer and, on hearing I was beginning yoga teacher training, mailed me several pamphlets about yoga that she had acquired while touring Nepal, along with a necklace with a silver pendant resembling a figure in tree pose, hands raised above the head, arms extended. During training I had corresponded with her often via email and she avidly read my blog. Yoga, at that moment, was too sad an endeavor for me.

Oma in 2008
Oma in 2008

After retreating to the lobby of the yoga studio, I made myself a cup of tea in hopes it would help to clear my nasal passages. It was one of those tea bags with a quote or saying attached to the string’s end, and this one said something along the lines of, “Live like you’re dying, because you’ll die soon enough anyway.” Least inspirational quote ever. I started crying again, and then laughed. Too good, life. Way to go.

I feel very blessed to have known a woman as incredible, adventurous, and generous as my Oma for 24 years, and to have seen her, hugged her, and said goodbye in March.

My siblings, cousins, and Oma this spring
My siblings, cousins, and Oma this spring

Before she passed away, I sent her a greeting card wherein I wrote in German about my little hopeful garden. The weekend before last, I was finally able to plant seeds outside – a raised bed of kale, and another with golden and chioggia beets, kaleidoscope carrots, sugar snap peas, and zucchini. The sweet pepper and tomato sprouts are in containers so I can move them inside and out at will. I had to look up several vegetable names in German while writing.

I wish she’d been able to visit me in Wyoming. She would have loved our cozy century-old house, its long backyard, the impressive hikes through arid pine forest, the vegetarian restaurant in town that overlooks the railroad. I guess what I’ve been trying to do is carry the memory of her gentle soul with me. So much of her is around me daily – my wall calendar at work overlooking  my desk, my car which belonged first to her and Opa, many of my warm socks and scarves and jackets, the brand of Chai tea I drink every morning, a watercolor painting of spring tulips hanging in my living room. She  has surrounded me with reminders of her love.

Oma on Christmas, 2007
Oma on Christmas, 2007

Oma: wherever your soul now resides, may it do so in piece. Immer Liebe.

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