Monday, March 30, 2009

Healing Words

When I heard the news it was as if a black sticky cloud began to invade my insides. Paralyzing me and throwing me to the ground. The very moment the news entered my ears and continued to the very insides of my soul I fell to my knees. I clawed my way into the carpet of the hallway of the Bangkok hotel where I was attending a conference. I then crawled back into my hotel room like a wounded animal- finding solace underneath the porcelain sink of my bathroom. I wrapped my arms around my knees and began to rock myself. I was raw and I became animal. The Peace Corps doctor came into my room, feeding me mashed up medication to calm myself enough to bath myself and prepare myself for the lonely journey to Israel -a journey that still continues four years later with a ring on my finger. At that moment I became a widow- except I was never married.


Let me introduce myself. My name is Susi Doring. Excuse me- Susi Doring Preston. I am the glowing wife of a charming Englishman who bakes muffins and helps me with the laundry. I am the daughter of the late Fred S. Doring, a man who lived the American Dream with an Oldsmobile and cowboy boots. Forget the German accent he managed to keep even after 45 years in America, I am the proud daughter of a man who had herring for breakfast and who would fall asleep watching black and white westerns from his lazy boy. A man who remembered his past by playing the accordion in the dimly lit living room of our suburban Oklahoma home, who would sip on brandy while a tear fell when he remembered the old country.


In 2005 my body and soul experienced the sudden and unexpected deaths of my father and my love Tsiki Eyal. Four years later I sit in my Jerusalem apartment staring at the green foliage outside- and I remember. Because how could you forget a time like this only four years earlier.


I write this because words heal me. I write this because time has jumped forward in so many ways and I am so happy that I can’t help but be so sad. You see, this week marks the remembrances of this time - twins in my heart of painful memories that my fathers memorial kicked off just yesterday. I am reminded of paralyzing fear four years ago that consumes your body when you realize that for the first time in your life G-d took something away instead of giving it to you.


I hold my breath and I let myself remember.


I remember how my group of fellow volunteers lined the Bangkok hallway sitting with their backs against the wall as I packed my one bag to get on a plane to Israel. Israel- I knew it. How could I fall in love with a boy from such a degenerate place? The wild wild middle east- people carry guns- a place that hasn’t seen peace for thousands of years. I get on the plane- my soul is freshly bruised from my father’s death only a month earlier. It was only two months earlier I was visiting Israel with love in my heart and standing under skies so blue that you could tell G-d painted them himself. I came back to the same blue skies but my eyes changed and so did my heart. I was walking and talking but I no longer could breath, I no longer lived in my body.


The following months I received cards and little trinkets that padded my pain and made me feel loved. I wrote often and I cried often. I ate food but I no longer tasted it. I went out and let whiskey burn my throat but it did not heal me. I retreated in so many ways and this is when I began to grow. I began to see birds sitting on window sills and leaves quiver in the wind. I noticed how the fisherman’s lights on the Mediterranean Sea would dip in and out of the waves and it felt like something more than what I was seeing. Music moved me in ways I never knew possible. I read a lot during this time. I read every book on grief and healing- I acknowledged my newly found sexual desire as a Freudian reaction to intense grief. I welcomed the waves of happiness in between my tears.


I became inspired. I ate falafel and studied Hebrew. I would listen to the lectures of Aviva Zorneberg at the Pardes institute and I would place myself in the history of the first testament and understand my fortunate of having a warm roof over my head and people who truly cared. I played basketball and let my body become stronger against the boys I was in Hebrew school with -guys from Italy and France, South America, and London. I would lock myself in my bathroom- applying Dead Sea mud to my body and making faces in the mirror- hoping that the healing agents in the mud would speed up my recovery time.


Tsiki came into my dreams often. He told me secrets about how the world worked and I would update him on what he was missing out on. Sometimes in my dreams he wouldn’t speak he would just have this sadness in his eyes and I would wake up holding on to his dog tags, placing the cold metal on top my heavily beating heart. At that time his clothes still had his smell on them- at that time I still had his cell phone number in my phone.


My father- he is on a farm somewhere wearing a flannel shirt. He is farming a piece of land and sitting on a rocking chair. When he comes to be in my dreams, I am a seven year old sitting on his lap and steering the big white oldsmobile he drove. He told me four years ago in my dreams that everything would be ok. And it is. Everything is ok I am here and they are with me.


These days I am rich- not because I have forgotten the pain or taken for granted the life I had before with Tsiki and my father. I am rich because without them there is no possible way I could have become the woman I am today. You know- that nutty girl with the Cabby hat. The one who blatantly admits she should have been a rockstar, a doctor- and a chef. The woman who gains more freckles instead of them fading away. The girl who can’t pass a math class for the life of her but can come up with words like online trepidation and overanalyze the words to Meatloaf lyrics.


I suppose what I am trying to say is: this is who I am. I am a sentimental girl with a weathered soul. I write because it heals me and for now- I feel healed.


Thank you for taking the time to let me share this with you.


At 3/30/2009 5:23 PM, Blogger Lauren said...

you have such an affinity for writing. i love that i can feel your heart when i read this. i love you and miss you.

At 3/31/2009 8:38 AM, Blogger Tommy said...

Hello, I am Tommy from Omaha, NE. I found your site through the Jerusalem Post or something like that. I like your writing alot. I have been to Israel a few times on volunteer trips workin with the IDF. It is nice to read about healing. I lost my father in 2006 so umm I don't want to say I can relate b/c in a way I can't but for me the healing as begun.

At 4/02/2009 8:35 PM, Blogger Jenny.Lee said...

this is an amazing post. thank you for sharing.

At 5/04/2009 11:34 AM, Blogger A Mad Hatter with Rhinestones said...

Thank YOU, Susi. I haven't visited your blog in a while, and today, I'm terribly glad I did. Your words were just what I needed: I was reminded of my strength and all the past that has made me the woman I am now. Thank you SO MUCH.


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