I Became A Seeker
By Danielle Gault

After my hometown experienced a devastating flood, most of the town’s people were traumatized and feeling the strain of recovery, which was worse than the flood itself. Losses such as photos, family heirlooms, and other memorabilia left them adrift about their place in life. My husband, David, and I were included among those feeling the strain. Ours was an emotional split not caused from the flood, but from housing family members who were flood-victims for several months, including my brother-in-law’s family. Eventually, my brother-in-law's wife and I had words, and my husband took her side. I was devastated. But at the same time, a belief in symbolic messages showed me that our small town and the people in it, including David and me, were due for a cleansing.

The flood made me feel as if it were washing away everything that had kept me feeling safe from the bigger world. But like Jonah in the whale, I was soon to be spit out of what I knew as home, family, and community. The flood was the first indicator of major changes in my life but at the time, I had no idea what else was in store.

Months after the flood, as David and I sat in our living room talking with the kids in bed, he said, I think I’m going to die young. In a matter-of-fact way, I said that I thought so too. We spontaneously rose from our chairs, hugged each other, and continued our lives with nothing else said.

About three months later, David left for a weeklong business trip to Michigan. We were standing at the door awkwardly saying good-bye. I felt at that moment when we paused at the doorway looking at each other, that if I had said something to David to assure him that I still loved him and that we would be okay, he would have come back from Michigan alive. But we both still felt awkward with each other following the bitterness we experienced when our sister-in-law left our house after the flood. Impersonally kissing goodbye for the last time, he went off saying that he would be home again on the following Tuesday.

As the week unfolded, I seem to lack energy, my body felt very heavy and I had trouble making it through the day. At night, after the children went to bed, I flopped on the couch and had little interest in anything. I began sleeping on David’s side of the bed, something I had never done before when he was away. Although I was aware of this being different, I did not think too much about the changes in my feelings or habits. Since the flood, and the breakdown in communication with my sister-in-law, I had new emotions that I was not used to and my lethargy seemed to be more of the same.

There is more. On Sunday night around eight-thirty, I was lying on the couch in my now usual heaviness but had an immediate need to get up to answer the phone. The telephone had not rung. I walked toward the phone and as I approached it, it made its first indication that a connection from outside was intruding into my living room. At the second ring, and without being surprised, I answered saying a simple “Hello.”

“Is this Roseanne Schaller?” a stern voice asked on the other end.
“Is your husband David Schaller?”
“Yes.” I replied automatically as if I weren’t really there.
“Does your husband reside at 22 South Elm Street?” the unemotional voice continued.
"Yes” my automatic-robotic voice came back once again in response to his question.
"Your husband died on the operating table at 8:05 tonight. He had a car accident and crushed his chest when he ran into a stone abutment around six o’clock.”

In the most astonishing way, I replied with the following, “Would you please call his mother for me, as I don’t think I can tell her.” He agreed and I proceeded to give him the number. That was it.

I was just as remote as if the person on the phone had called to tell me David’s tools were found at the bus station or something as unimportant as that. How did I become so capable of receiving this information and so clear headed to know that I could not be the one to inform David’s mother?

Of course, I did not remain clear-headed. After some time went by, I began to cry, then I began to wail with heart wrenching sounds until my five-year-old daughter came down the stairs peeking at me through the wooden slotted railing asking what was wrong.

When I saw her peering through the railing, I was shocked back into the awareness of my role as her mother and I hugged her and eventually told her that her Daddy had left us and gone to heaven.

As if she were now my peer instead of my daughter, we cried together hugging each other. “He said he would never leave me,” she cried.

David kept his word and returned home on Tuesday. His body was delivered and funeral arrangements were worked out. I was now David’s widow. It was the early seventies. Women’s liberation was in full force. President Nixon was going through his Watergate impeachment trial. People were fed up and rebelling violently against the Viet Nam war and against the hypocrisy of the leadership of the country.

One day I was completely enclosed in a safe environment with support systems buffering me against the intense and immediate problems of our world, and within a few short months, I had joined the world in all its pain and confusion. I was raw, open, and vulnerable.

In late March, almost two months after David's death, my parents babysat my daughters and I took a much-needed rest by the Gulf of Mexico with my friend, Debbie. The mind amazes me. All day long she and I were lying between the sand dunes protecting us from the cool wind while trying to sunbathe. I had been listening to music on a portable radio. The announcer reported the date; it was March 28. How many times I heard the announcer report this date, I can’t tell you. It was many times throughout the day, but I didn’t take it in.

Later in the evening, Debbie went to the picture window which expanded the width of the room and which looked out onto the Gulf of Mexico. The ocean waves undulating in the darkness seemed to take on a violent foreboding expression. Then I realized that this day would have been David’s thirty-third birthday. Debbie started pulling on the drapery drawstrings closing off the roaring ocean and foreboding darkness.

“I can’t breathe,” I panicked. “I have to get out of here.” I ran out the door and down the stairs onto the cold sand. I had an instant awareness that this was night, that it was dark, and that there were no visitors yet in the cottages around us. Ordinarily I would have been self-conscious of my next behaviors but this night I only knew one thing: I had to run and I had better not stop to think about it. I felt as if I had to run for my life. So I ran, I jumped, I cried, I screamed against the sounds of the roaring waves and into the mysterious darkness.

Filling the vastness of the space around me with my noise, I pierced the loneliness that I felt deep inside of me. I roared back at the bleakness and at the point of confusion that seemed to be housed in my body and penetrating my mind. I ran, I jumped, I cried, I screamed and then I stopped.

I conquered something -- I knew that I had conquered something. I was no longer feeling pursued by this force that propelled me out through the door attempting to engulf me. I conquered the energy that had welled up inside of me and I stood there as if I were standing in the eye of a tornado. I felt the roaring dynamism around me. I became the dynamism. I became the undulating dynamic meaning of life. I was the meaning, I am the meaning, and I am the point for which the whole planet exists. Me. I was no longer afraid or confused. The darkness of the night seemed to move and breathe. The stars vibrated as if they were not just dots on the black cloth behind them but were ornaments of celebration. The ocean waves were no longer frightening and foreboding but seemed to be trying to obtain my attention and approval. The whole world around me was there for my pleasure, vying for my attention. At that moment, I stepped onto my spiritual path but did not understand the path or what being on a path meant. I knew that this was a beginning for me and that I would make the rest of my life's work understanding the experience. I became a seeker.

Author's Bio: 

Danielle Gault, writer, trainer, and natural healer, delivers workshops, coaching and healing services in Ontario, New York, and New Zealand. She has written articles published in the Ontario Association of Psychological Type, local newspapers, and for the Reflexology Association of Canada. Danielle believes in a holistic approach to living and uses personality theory, natural healing techniques such as yoga and reflexology, and insightful workshops to address issues of life and living consciously. Her websites are: http://www.healingarts-daniellegault.com and http://www.management-training-services.com or contact her via email at dbreflections@cs.com.