Tag Archives: love

HUMANITY, LIFESTYLE

Slices of Grief

It isn’t easy

I’ve spent much of my life trying to put grief and heartache behind me, sometimes outright ignoring it. This isn’t the best way to heal or the best example to those I care most about, like my children or a significant other. I am a strong woman – I’ve had to be. However, I am learning that there is great strength to be found in vulnerability. That may not make sense to you, but it is starting to make sense to me.

I have lost people close to me to the great and ultimate avenger: death. Many of my friends in the last two months have lost their fathers. These friends’ losses happened during an emotional time for me, as I braced for the annual reminder of my own father’s death, which occurred on the 25th anniversary of my brother Tommy’s death. November 10th presents a double-whammy for me. Each year, I think it will be easier, but each year presents its own difficulties, which allow me to miss my father more than I expect.

How I Faced It

My father died in 2001, exactly one month after my husband, the father of my four children, moved out. My husband’s leaving occurred one-month after 9/11, an event that devastated our country – and though my little family was on the West Coast, it changed our lives as we, the six of us, watched the 2nd plane hit live on television – and everything after that, on that day, blurred. My father’s death two months later was the culmination, as well as the beginning of what I perceived as the worst time in my life.

I was alone. That Christmas, both my father and my husband were gone, and I was alone. Yes, of course I had my children – and they saved me – oh, so many times, but the two most important men in my life were gone.

I don’t know how I faced it. I don’t think I did face it. I think I covered it with new-found joys, with the holidays, with Disneyland (annual passes!), with the love for my children and from my children, and with the busy-ness my life entailed. I was working 3 jobs, taking five classes at the local college, and now raising four children alone. So, no — I didn’t face the grief I felt, the grief that was brewing. I just lived.

The Long and the Short

No time in my life seemed to pass more slowly or more quickly. I am not sure how that is possible, but it is. I jumped out of bed every morning, most days trying not to think where my next dollar would come from and certainly trying not to dwell on what I could have done differently for my dad or for my marriage. My grief was real, but it was shoved to the back burner – tears only came in the shower or in the dark of early morning and they were quickly forgotten at the first flip of a pancake.

I learned to box grief up and only bring it out when no one was looking. There are those who assumed I was a heartless bitch and there are those who worried I might crack. I just had to keep getting out of bed in the morning and somehow put gas in my car.

My Comfort

When my brother passed away 41 years ago, I was just 13 years old. He was 20 and had been severely handicapped since birth. I had no idea how to grieve or what that even meant. I was raised in a very religious home and there was plenty of talk about my brother finally being free – finally out of his deformed body, finally in the presence of God, but none of that helped me comprehend the impact his death would have on me or my life, or my mother, or my family. It seemed like a bandage to cover the pain of his death, not a way to face his death or understand how it would change me, my siblings, or my parents forever.

A Tom Sawyer Trick: Whitewashing

It is a human tendency to whitewash pain, when really we should face it, head on – determined to let it clean us from the inside out: breaking our hearts, cleaning our minds, softening our memories, and planting a new place for that love. My pain found its way on to lined paper, in the form of a poem. And thus, it began – my lifelong quest to heal myself through words.

Many have asked, “Why do you write…, why do you write about your pain, your sins, your weaknesses?” and others have answered by saying, “Thank you for writing how I feel, I thought I was alone.”

We are not alone

Grief is a common denominator for many of us. We know that pain. We know the heartbreak. We know that feeling of catching breaths through sobs that collapse. We know the tender mercies bestowed by love and compassion from others.

Today, I remember my father’s hands on my cheeks lifting my face to his as he tried to comfort my 14-year old broken heart. Today, I remember his finger slowly dragging along the alto line of a hymn. Today, I remember his love of ice cream. Today, I remember his love for anyone he ever met. Today, I remember his love. Through slices of grief, I remember.

HUMANITY

Tearing Down Walls and Discovering The Path

The Challenge of Reality

Contemplation of my own life has kept me quiet for a while. 2016 was an interesting year of learning and change for this old girl. And as I look back on it, I am thankful.

I truly am thankful for the trials presented and the learning that has gone down. How else would I be who I am were it not for the life shifts and professional challenges I have faced? I understand that I am presented with exactly what I need. For if I am unable to do what I need to do to triumph or move past a particular challenge, then it is time for me to go around or leave behind what confronts and confounds me or has slipped through the side gate into my house or has stabbed me in the back.

You see, I am a realist and it is not in me to deny, decry, or lie about what is ahead of me or what my responsibility is in it all. I know. I know who I am, I know what I am. And while I could sit back and say, it’s all good. I know it is not.

Even as I type this, the latest gauntlet has been dropped before me – a chronic plumbing problem which has led to two clogged sinks, a leaking pipe, a cracked toilet and the need to replace a bathroom wall where mold has found a home. Damn. As my neighbor – who is also my plumber just said, “nothing is ever easy.” I have to believe that I may not thrive if it were – if it were easy.

The love

As I look back on my last year and the love that has been poured upon me by friends and family, I can only consider myself lucky. Truly lucky —

December was a time for family and friends and I was able to see and hug those most important to me during this month (most of them, anyway) and I happily said goodbye to 2016 and rang in the New Year with people I love dearly, who have stood by me in times of dread and heartache, who have lifted me and brushed the tears away, and presented me with incredible opportunities of professional growth. And I was lucky enough to witness a testament of marital love as some of my best friends sealed their love in a New Year’s Eve wedding celebration.

I would be lying if I said it was a breeze. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking of my own broken heart and wedding just 19 months earlier. A doomed union, though I never would have guessed. But it was and guess what? Life goes on.

Those who know me, know I am incapable of lying or hiding such things. They are written in the lines on my face. And in the beats of my heart.

Which does beat on. 

The Path

There are those for whom I have built walls. Many of these walls were built upon misconceptions, lies that others tell, or circumstances I, myself, created. 2017 is my year to tear down those walls, deconstructing someone else’s reality to build my own, laying those stones and bricks under my feet which once were walls and creating the new path I choose to walk – a path of truth and light, a path of joy, of love and friendship. A path of well being. Some have asked why, why now and are you not tired of being hurt? Indeed, I am – but far worse than loving and trusting others is loving and trusting no one.

My path is before me. One I happily walk.