It seems I made it to adulthood with a rather enormous stack of self limiting beliefs to shuffle through. For a lot of years, I wasn’t even aware of it. I was so used to these beliefs that, in my mind, they were just truths. I always had all my ducks in a nice, neat row… and they were all well-fed and had an ample security system around them at all times to ensure safety. Drew was more of a “leap and build your wings on the way down” sort of person.
In the years when I met and dated him, I started to become more aware of my negative beliefs, and started to challenge some of them. He was always a big supporter of me pushing past my own perceived limits. He got me to go skydiving, something I never imagined I’d ever do. And fly a plane. And submit my first photographs to an exhibit. He was the first person I truly felt took me under their wing and attempted to nudge me gentle upward and forward.
When he died, I didn’t want that to die along with him. It was a part of myself that I had been with him that I didn’t want to lose. I think, it gave me something that I could choose to keep during a time when so much was taken away without my having a say.
So I kept doing things to push my limits. It was harder without him there, but also, his death made me more determined… more fearless. I quit my corporate job. I moved for the first time in 8 years. I got a job at an art gallery, which had always been a dream of mine. I opened up a shop online to sell my photography, and found that people loved my images. I began a blog to write about grief and loss, and discovered that people actually wanted to read my words.
I met a widower and said yes to falling in love again, and then met his daughter and said yes to the totally terrifying journey of motherhood… only to find I still had an enormous capacity to love and to mother. I was asked to present at a conference on death and dying, halfway across the country, and found healing in sharing my story with a crowd of others. I was invited by Soaring Spirits to present a creative grief workshop at their Camp Widow conference in Toronto. Yet again I was terrified, but I said yes, and found that I could help other people in new ways I never thought I could.
This leads me to now. Almost 7 years after his death...
Tis’ the season for all the things that remind us of what we have and what we have lost. This year, for me, there has been more loss and it’s much harder to shake that feeling as those around me put up lights, throw holiday parties and decorate. I can’t put up a Christmas tree. I can’t decorate. I wrapped one present and I just can’t. So I don’t and I tell myself that there is nothing wrong with skipping the traditions this year. With everything added up, I’ve earned a hall pass to the holiday blizzard we all experience every year. However, there is one thing I can’t control….The mail.
Last weekend I went with David to pick out a Christmas tree for my house. It’s something I’ve been doing since living where I live - first with Mike, then with family and now this year with David. There is a Christmas tree farm 5 minutes down the rode from me and I love the tradition and having a fresh tree.
We walked around the Christmas tree farm and I searched and searched for my perfect tree. David would point out trees and I’d examine it and turn it down. Nope, too short. Nope, too crooked. Nope, too sparse. I would think I found a nice tree to then find something wrong with it. I wanted it to be perfect.
I finally found a tree I liked and I did (what I thought was) a thorough examination. It looked lovely! I was satisfied. We cut it down and with our two dogs in tow, we carried it back to the car and put it up in my home.
I let the branches settle for a day and then went to decorate the tree on my own. As I’m putting the lights on I start to notice all the bare spots. There’s whole sections without anything there! How did I miss that?! As I put my (light wooden) ornaments on the branches they instantly bend and wilt under the weight of it. I press the branches delicately and take note of how frail they really are. I never noticed that; they look strong! As I look at the tree from the side I start to see it is crooked.