Category Archives: grief

The Warrior

I have never been one to shy away from supporting the men and women who, not fearlessly, but bravely put their lives on the line every day for this great country. But with age comes wisdom and insight, and I no longer look at Memorial Day as “the end of the school year” and “the start of summer.” It is not a day only for hamburgers and hot dogs, or whatever you cook on the grill in celebration.

Memorial Day should always be remembered for exactly what it is, a day to pause and remember those who sacrificed so much, the very most that they could for us. It’s about the Warrior. For you. And for me. It is a day where we should gather and celebrate these lives which we never knew. And remember the families and friends that they left behind.

There is a line in the movie, a true story, Taking Chance, that honestly kinda drummed this in to me. Lt. Col. Michael Strobl wrote of his experience escorting Private First Class Chance Phelps, saying that “I thought that as long as he was still moving, he was still alive. But as they placed him over his grave, he had suddenly stopped moving.” To hear more of this quote, click here.

It really does not matter to me what country you are reading this in, we all have these heroes, and these days. Whether Remembrance Day, ANZAC Day, Volkstrauertag, it does not matter. We all should pause, and remember why we have what we have. This nation has shed blood all over the world, helping, protecting, guarding anyone who needed our help. Please, remember them this Memorial Day.

 

 

364 Days

Dear Mom,

It’s been a year without you now. People are right, grieving does get easier with time. I have quit reaching for the phone to call you whenever something good, funny, sad, or frustrating happens in my life. I know that you’re not going to be there on the other end of the phone anymore, a habit that took me months to break.  I know that the last thing you would have wanted was for me and Dad to stop living, and to be honest, for a while we did. It took several months for us to start living again in stages.

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My first step was quitting the job that had ceased to make me happy, the one that was slowly draining the life from me. I am so much happier with my current job, and making slow and steady progress there. It had been too long since I was happy with myself at work.

My second step was following one of my dreams and writing a book; I hope to God I’m not done with writing yet…

The third step was travel. I finally made it to Ireland, and fell in love with a country and its people. I am ready to go back tomorrow if I could…

The fourth step was letting Daddy know that its okay to live, to create new memories and (hopefully) make new friends, try new things.

While this year has been a challenge of adjusting to the new reality, I did it, and I know you’d be happy for it.

I miss you. I love you.

–Me

 

Life can suck if you let it

If you’ve been following my blog lately, you know that I have made a choice to live boldly, to take chances that I once would not have because I was too scared or lacked the confidence in myself. While there are several things I want to try in my quest for self discovery, the one thing that I keep coming back to is this art, writing. I never really gave it much credit, if I am totally honest with myself and you,  at being a form of art, or creating anything worthwhile. It started as a collection of my thoughts one day when I stepped on the scale, finally facing the reality of the situation that I was obese. I started to write, journaling my thoughts, my self disgust, and often, my self loathing, opening myself up to those who would take the time to read it, and some did, encouraging me when I needed it most, even if I did not really want it.

Then one day early this year, my world was tipped, my foundation crumbly as my family and I faced an evil with no face, an evil that manifested itself quickly in the form of breast cancer and robbing my mother of her life, robbing my father of his everything of more than fifty years. An evil that took a daughter from her mother, and a mother from her son and daughter. An evil that robbed four grandchildren of one of their grandmothers. Yes, I am still mad at this faceless bastard, but if I allow this anger to consume me, then it continues to win.

I made a decision to leave a job full of people I respect because that job was like another cancer in my life, it had robbed me of the joy and satisfaction that I once had when I would walk in, smiling because I knew I could make a difference; but in the end, I was the one who was different, and it was not fair to the people I saw everyday, the ones who I loved, but a piece of the puzzle was now missing.

Back to the opening paragraph and living boldly. I’m writing a book, I’ve no idea if it’ll be good, or bad, that’ll be up to my readers. One thing that I am discovering while I write the characters stories is they are all me, or pieces of me. The character I relate most closely to is the heroine,  her story seems to parallel mine in so many ways. Her hero is me in that he watches things, he’s very observant before he acts, but unlike me, he takes no BS. But the antagonist… I thought I knew who his character was, and he had nothing to do with me; how could I have any of that dark inside of me?

Today while writing a scene that was specifically his, there were those elements of me popping out, a deep anger rooted in his past that he’s not revealed to me yet, but the anger it turned out of me was at the faceless bastard that is cancer. Both of them have ruined someone, leaving pieces behind for others to pick up.

Like I said, I have no idea if my story will be good or bad, but it is one that I have to put down and tell, a way of purging myself. A way of learning to live boldly, setting an example for myself and my children, and a way to, I hope, make my Mother proud as she watches down on me.

 

It’s like Fonzie jumping the sharks…

I did it. I bit the bullet, and only because I have a new scale in my bathroom.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been practicing getting on it bravely -fiercely- but I would make certain to get on it without my contacts in, thus preventing me from seeing the illuminated numbers. I have been circling around the scale, like a shark circles its prey, only, not really because I knew that once I finally took that step, one molecule at a time until I was standing fully on it, there would be no turning back from the reality of what I have allowed to happen.

 

So there I was this morning, walking innocently into the bathroom, happy because it’s the weekend, and I have accomplished a lot toward my writing goal this week. I’m smiling, I’m singing to myself; there are virtual blue birds flitting around me in my mind, for crying out loud! I’m not paying attention to what I am doing when I pop in my contacts and turn to my right, and then I see it. The it I have been able to ignore, overlook, not see no matter how hard I squinted…

 

Now I have no more excuses to delay the inevitable. My mind starts reeling with possible excuses but there is no valid reason to not take this step. There I am, staring at it; oh, it looks all sweet and loving until you step foot on it and then LIES! or what I wish were lies.

 

Okay, I’m telling myself, if it hurts, it’ll only be for a minute. You know the truth will be hideous. You’ve only yourself to blame for this, so suck it up, Buttercup. It is time to face the music. No more delusions. Reality, and a full dose of it, is due. We’ve had a lot of things thrust at us over the past several months, and we coped the only way we knew, but that time is over. There are better ways to cope than shoving comfort food in your mouth, and you’re taking those steps. It’s time.

 

Yes, I had to give myself a pep talk slash guilt trip, but I did it. I eased up on the sleeping beast, tapped its corner to wake it up, took a deep breath, sucked in my stomach (don’t judge me) and climbed on. The numbers blinked and flashed like the national debt billboard until they finally stopped at 237.1

 

It was /is bad, but I did not fall apart. I fell apart in February and May, and too many times in the months between to count. The reality is I can handle this, and I can take steps to fix it. I’ve had the worst and this is nowhere even remotely close. The amazing thing is, even though it did ding my self esteem and body image, making it a little worse than it already was, I am okay. I’m still wearing dresses, or skirts and cute tops to work, I’m fixing my hair, and I am wearing makeup. I did not self destruct.

 

Women mostly, and men, have a preconceived idea of what we are “supposed to” look like, thanks to film and print media. But the world is made up of such diversity, so many colors, shapes, textures, and even sizes. We (and I am mainly talking to myself here) have got to remember and accept that we are not all the same, and I am learning to love myself as I am.