A Change in Christmas

So it’s Christmas again (well, Christmas Eve actually as I write this to you). Yet again, I’m here, like we all are, having to deal with it. I would describe my attitude towards Christmas these past 4 years as apathetic at best. The first year, I was terrified, having never before faced a Christmas without him. The entire week leading up to Christmas was a hurricane of anxiety. The second year was better. I didn’t have the anxiety. I knew I would make it through, but I still didn’t really care about any of it. Most of my caring laid with helping Drew’s mom out, who was struggling to make it through the holiday too.

The year after that was about the same. Last year, I was in Texas after having moved to Ohio, and it was incredibly hard on me. Flying over the holidays to begin with, oh, so fun. Returning to Texas to be with Drew’s family brought both comfort and pain. It was comforting to be with them and painful to remember that our lives were beginning to diverge a little bit, as I embarked on a new chapter.

This year has been perhaps a gradual step towards genuinely enjoying Christmas again. I know this because it’s the first year in ages that I have not only gotten presents for everyone done early, but I also got them all shipped off well in time for them to arrive for Christmas. And what’s more, I wasn’t just doing it because I had to do it… this time, there was actually a wee bit of caring there. A small trace of finally wanting to give special presents. It’s not much, but it’s a glimmer of hope for me...

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Not A Merry Month

This time last year I spent wishing my life away, wishing that it was all a mistake. Wishing that people were playing a cruel joke on me. Imagining that this wasn’t my life but that I was living someone else’s life and that the real me was still living a happy and blissful life in love where nothing had changed. Each day was spent running on adrenalin and sleep was non-existent. Spending my nights writing endless letters to him, begging him to come back, writing about our memories. Pleading for him to walk through the door. Driving around late at night searching for him and when exhaustion kicked in I would lay awake in bed and scream for him. The longing I felt and the pain in my chest was so intense I thought it would never leave. So I thought of ways I could join him, ways to try to see him again, to speak to him, to hold him. This time last year was the darkest time of my life.

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Christmas Is Christmas Again

Everyone is different, with this grief path. 

That is what we are all told. 

And it's true. 

For example ...

Some may have chosen to call this a "grief journey."

I call it a path. Or a tsunami, when Im feeling very feisty. 

I hate the word journey. It doesn't represent what this is. 

It sounds too clean. Too organized. Too fun. Almost spiritual. 

A journey involves snacks and maps and adventure. 

Grief is a clusterfuck that invades, like war or disease or a deadly storm. 

It moves on in, uninvited, and takes over everything. 

For awhile. 

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The People Who Stay

It is known to be a common sorrow amongst widowed people that so many of our friends from our "before" lives disappear after the death of our partners. Nearly four years later, I have a deeper understanding of this. Initially, this additional pain is so hurtful that we bear ill will, and I will say, rightly so. If everyone knew what it felt like to lose a partner or loved one, if people were educated on grief and how to behave, this wouldn't, and shouldn't, happen. But...I know now, people do not know how to behave, and this is no fault of theirs. We are not taught this, in our western culture. They only know that they have their own lives. They have children to raise, dinners to cook, bills to pay, and their own troubles to bear. Sometimes, being part of our sorrow can be too much, on top of it all. And today, I forgive. Today, I understand. But it has taken these many years.

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Words in a Book, From the Grave~

St Thomas Aquinas said that Love feels no burden, thinks nothing of trouble, attempts what is above its strength, pleads no excuse of impossibility.  It is therefore able to undertake all things.

To hear your laugh again did wonders for my heart.  I feel so deeply for you and want you to be as happy and fulfilled as you can be.

I know that Betty is now free of pain is with Kysa, and both are celebrating their new life.

I know that love is a powerful emotion and if anything can help, it is love. 

Together, in love and through love, we will get through this difficult time.



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Ghosts of Christmas Yet to Come

20161217_192929.jpgJust before Christmas, in 2002, Megan and I met.  A few weeks later, and I was already invited to her family’s home for Christmas dinner and gifts.  I was accepted into their clan with open arms, and I’ve been a part of their family ever since.  I’ve been at Christmas dinner in 2005, not long after Megan’s brother died.  I was there in 2010, a week before Megan got her lung transplant, where we weren’t sure if she would be there for 2011.  I was there in 2014, a month after Megan died, followed a few weeks later by both her grandmother and great-grandmother.  

I was there last year, where it seemed there were more people missing from the family than were present.  By Christmas this year, Megan’s grandfather has also passed.

One would think that this holiday would become more and more somber each year.  The family is seemingly shrinking, if one looks only at those that are no longer here.  

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You have a choice.

four_leaf.jpgLife is not fair. Some of us get the short end of the stick. Some of us have Tragedy strike us but still see our blessings. Some of us get a perfect life and never any heartache. That's not true at all everyone experiences some kind of loss, it's a matter of opinion who has it worse. 
I have an uncle who has been widowed for 11 years. I see him a couple times a year and every time he pulls me aside to see how I am. I am always very honest with him. Sometimes I'm good. It's easy to smile and laugh. Sometimes I'm sad but I keep it to myself and try to be in the moment. 

Unfortunately he is not the same as me. He is still very bitter and angry. His wife died from cancer. She had been sick for a while and it took her quick. She was the light of his life. He always struggled in life to find his place, with her he was home. And then she was taken away, leaving him alone. 11 years and he still can't sleep with the light off. Her memory almost haunts him. 


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Stumbling Greatly

I recently heard an interview with Pema Chodron, a well-known Buddhist nun and author of the book
When Things Fall Apart. This woman is chock-full of wisdom. And she got my mind turning about something this morning. In the interview, she talks about a graduation speech she gave recently, telling those brave young folks about to embark into the world, that the most important thing is to learn how to stumble well. To pay closer attention to our pain when we are stumbling through it, and allow ourselves to be fully in our losses and our pains so that we can learn what lessons they hold.

As I’m thinking about this idea, of stumbling well, I realize that the walk with grief is really one of stumbling greatly. Because, after all, losing your partner leaves you in a treacherous landscape, am right? Imagine for a moment what your grief landscape looks like. To me, it’s a mountain range. A vast place of ups and downs, with jagged edges and surprises at every turn. For you it may be a desert, or a barren, underwater world. These images of the landscape of grief can hold a lot of value for us.

Grief is not a minor thing in life. It’s not just tripping you up. It’s not just potholes and speed bumps along the road. Losing your partner is not stumbling and hitting the ground in front of you. It’s stumbling and suddenly there IS no ground to fall on anymore. It is falling off a cliff in slow motion… into a whole other landscape that you were not prepared to travel...

Suddenly, everything feels dangerous to you.

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Longing Love

Love, I always believed it was the meaning of life. Are we here to simply wake up each day in routine or have we been programed to live this way? There is no thrill in living a ground hog day. Since December I’ve questioned often, why am I here? Is there a point to it all? Somewhat detached, I crave nourishment, love and excitement again.

Undoubtedly my new impression on life comes from feeling lonely. Fortunate to have always been surrounded with my love, family and friends. What I previously understood loneliness to be was a well mistaken assumption. Children radiate love and life, and there is no hesitation in answering the question of why I am still here. It is solely for them. The love they need from me and the love I receive from them. However thankful and in love with them I am, it is a different love than what I was blessed to share with my love.

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Today is Friday. On Wednesday, December 21st, just five short days from now, my brother and my mom will be driving to NY from Massachusetts, picking up a U-Haul to attach onto my brothers truck, showing up here to my apartment, packing up all my stuff, and me, and my two kitties - and driving back to Massachusetts. I will then be starting a new chapter in my life, living in my parent's house, in small town Massachusetts, and finally taking the time to finish writing my book about grief, love, life, and loss. For the past month or so, my sweet younger brother has been spending almost every night at my parent's house, after his own long work day, to go down to their basement - and literally build me a room down there where I can sleep, write, exist, and have privacy. He put paneling on the ceiling, put walls up, tore down a wall to create a larger space for me, and lots of other things. My dad has been helping with this, and my mom has been doing all the prep-work that is needed to add me into the house. Setting up a litter box area for my kitties, getting a cable box for my TV downstairs, all those little things. And me? I have been spending the past month or so doing the same from here in NY. Changing my mailing address, packing up endless boxes, throwing things away, and saying goodbye to things , and to WAY too many people. It's been emotional. And very hard. I have lived here in NY my entire adult life, and leaving is difficult. 

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