The Joy of Grief

We all have times in our lives that are tranistional. The thing about transitions is that they are often uncomfortable, and lonely, and weird.  No one promised that life would always be easy or happy.

This Christmas is such a transition for me. Because I am not sure where life is heading yet, but I have an idea.  This is the holiday that I will experience the joy and heartache of grief. The last several holidays were spent taking care of Mom and Dad, and making sure they had everything they needed for the best holidays they could have. I have always been taking care of someone at Christmas. Or had a huge family celebration to get ready for and attend. But this year, I am not. And from now on the holidays are whatever I want them to be, with whomever I choose.

This year there will be no big fan fare, no big dinners or baking desserts. There will be no big traditions on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. It makes sense that this would be the quiet year, the introspective holiday, the Christmas of quiet. It’s almost like having to clean your palate after one course of a nice dinner, and before the next.

At first I was terrified of this first Christmas and holiday season alone.  But now I have settled into the acceptance of it.  You cannot outrun grief, or what it brings with it.  So I will face it head on, I will embrace it, invite it in for dinner and drinks and we will have a long conversation. It will be hard this Christmas, and that is OK.  It is the exquisite pain from having loved and been loved. It means that I had my parents for 43 years. Celebrate the love that leads to the grief.

It is a bittersweet right of passage, your first holidays without both of your parents.  You are supposed to miss them, and it is not supposed to be easy.  We were not promised a life that was always easy or happy.  Life happens, and we must experience it all, the good, the bad, the sad and the happy.

And so many people want to skip this part of it, because it’s not pleasant. But it’s just part of the whole process. And if we accept the fact that new, good and wonderful things are coming, that it doesn’t get easier from here, then we must also take time for the transition of grief. It’s the other side of the same coin called life.

It seems to me that this season is the space in between the heartbeats, In Between The Raindrops, in between breaths. It is normal to miss your loved ones who are no longer here at Christmas, it is normal to experience that grief. There is a natural order in nature and this is one of them. I will never have another Christmas like this one (thank God), because after this year, life is going to explode with joy. This holiday season makes the end of an era, and emotionally the end of the grieving period. I live my life for me now.

Many memories this Christmas, as I observe this beautiful holiday.  There will be much love, and friends and faith and prayers.  I will go to Midnight Mass.  I will curl up in a wonderful warm blanket and sleep cozy underneath.  There will be joy as well, as I experience and plan for new love. I will laugh and enjoy times with friends and feel the love they send me.

So let this holiday season wash over me, all of it, all the emotion, all the stillness, sadness, and grief. Because it makes way for all of the joy and happiness and goodness.  I love life, and that means experiencing heartbreak too. You cannot get around it. So experience all of it, and live life out loud to the fullest.  That is more than just the good and wonderful, because life is multilayered and multi faceted.

I will honor my wonderful parents by letting myself feel the grief that comes with this first holiday without them and I will write about it. If you are honest in what you write, you must be willing to spill your guts with purpose. Not only to be cathartic for yourself, but for others who might be going through the same.

Grief is a not a place to live for a long time, it is a place to visit.  But to get through those visits, you must be willing to joyfully feel all the heartache of it, of this part of life. Cry when you need to cry, scream, be mad, be sad, be whatever you need to be…and then you will have that part of it out of you system. And when you go back into the world you will be lighter, happier, better for the experience.

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Failure

I wrote this seven years ago. It is very applicable today as well.  With this year ending and another beginning, with getting over the worst two years of my entire life, I am ready to get back to everything again.  I am ready to build my dreams and to build my life, my dreams.

Failure if Not an Option

In this life, day and age, it seems that somethings are just certain.  Life, death, taxes, a broken heart (or two), laughter, tears, good music, bad days, hot coffee, warm tea are just a few of the things that we are certain to experience in life.  And yes, even failure.  But lately it seems that I have made a decision…that when it comes to my goals and dreams, failure is not an option.  That my dreams will be made into reality, and there is no other option.

 

How can this be, especially now, in “this” economy?  You have to decide that you have a steelframe inside you, you have to decide that where you are now doesn’t matter, it is where you want to be that is important.  And it may take a while, and it will certainly take a lot of hard work, but you just decide that none of that matters.  Only your goal, your dream.  And then you get mad, get stubborn and reach way down deep inside you, and pull up that steel determination, that unbreakable Will and make it happen.

 

Don’t worry about the hard work, don’t worry about the long hours, sleepless nights, blood sweat and tears…you simply decide that failure is not an option, put your goggles on, your head down and do whatever it takes to make it happen.  Because you can beat the odds…after all someone has to, why not you?  You just decide that it will be so, and you have a sick work ethic, and ridiculous determination, incredible perseverance.  Every. Day. because that is what it takes.

 

This year, I will have a great writing career, I will meet my financial goals, I will enjoy a great vacation (notice I did not say I will learn to spell…you do have to know your limits!).  Failure is not an option.

 

GRIT

 

I am determined.

Sweat on my brow.

Heart in my Throat.

I am at the starting line.

 

The sound of my heart

Pounds in my head.

Cheers ring in my ears.

They say I can’t.

But I won’t let them win.

 

I will defy all expectations.

All definitions.

All Doubt.

All Rules.

 

The naysayers will walk away.

Head Down.

My Will silencing them.

 

They don’t know the steel frame inside me.

I am determined.

My will pushing me to succeed

Down the hard

Long.

Rocky.

Road ahead. Ada 5/00

What Brought Me Here

I have had to outsmart life
Struggle with pain and loss
Outwit them all
Be so tough and strong

To get through this life
To get through this year
All the battles I won
And lost and sacrificed

So much pain, so many tears
Never thought it would end
And then I am in front of you
This is what brought me here

And after all of it
In your arms I can be
And I can rest
And I can dream
And find peace

Resting Heart

I’ve sung together with angels
Faught bravely with my anger
Climbed over the highest mountains
Spent time hiding in such danger

I have laughed with the devil
Spent many nights in anquish
Flown magestic with the eagles
And been left to languish

Risked falling from top a highwire
Delicate balance at every play
Fooled the wisdom of the wiseman
Walked a thousands miles every day

I have lied a million truths
Cried enough tears to flood the earth
Crawled up from the darkest hole
witnessed the miracle of beauty’s worth

I’ve risen with the moon
Soared miles above the sun
And kept the secrets of the dead
To see if you were the one

I want to kiss those lips of yours
To breathe in what you breath out
for even a second it’s worth it
Just to hear love lived out loud

I’ve been through every jungle
Slept with sheep in the lion’s den
Fought with the souls of angels
Been to the beginning and back again

I’ve carried the weight of heavy burdens
And of too much pain to mention
Shed all my tears and sorrows
stripped down in the mirror of convention

Seen the weakness of the mind
And the strength of faith and love
The torture of the morning light
And the mercy from God above

I have climbed mountains and valleys
Spent many nights talking to strangers
Made mistakes by all judgements
Traveled hidden and cloked in danger

Standing bare and stripped of pride
Being Humbled by life’s very nature
The are no illusions before me now
Just wanderlust for this adventure

To hold your hand and sing
To be lovers breathing out and in
Take a chance on this course my dear
Now set this amazing journey to begin

What if it is right and real then
all the miles I have travelled
Will be worth it and pale in the end
To the story that is unravelled

Oh I have run with the worst
And bluffed cards with the best
Broken my heart too many times
But now in your heart mine can rest

Ada 12/15/2017

The Joy of the Light

There’s a crack in everything, that is how the light gets in. – Leonard Cohen

When you have had the wind knocked out of your sails and the most difficult things in life happen, and you make it through the other side, it is truly magnificent.  It is as if the air is fresh and new and the world is again a magic place.  Life comes from a deeper and more meaningful place.  When you laugh, it is deeper and much more meaningful.

Not to say that everything is perfect, but you do see the world differently. Getting through to the other side rearranges your priorities.  My priority now is happiness and joy.  But life, as always, is a process.  And you must be dedicated to that process, everyday doing and being what will bring that which you most want, to you.

When you go forward in this manner the things you once took for granted you don’t anymore.  And things that once bothered you, suddenly don’t. You find joy in the everyday. I thought I enjoyed the sunset or sunrise, but they are nothing like what I see and appreciate now.

And there are so many of those wonderful perfect moments to enjoy in life. Everything from the perfect height but the perfect person, to hearing your favorite song on the radio, to enjoying a good movie. I’m finding joy in small things such as painting my fingernails, fixing my hair and even doing sit-ups and push-ups. I’m taking care of myself better , not only taking time to exercise but also taking time to relax and restore my soul. There’s even more joy and cooking for friends, having company over, sharing wine and stories and especially doing small things That Make this House a Home.

To find the joy in the everyday, the mundane, is the key to finding the magic in life.  It is the key to always being curious.  And when the light comes in through the cracks, you can see all the brilliance the sun reveals.

As this year wraps up, a new year and a new chapte start. As there is an end, there must also be a beginning. And I see the cracks and bent parts in the steel frame inside of me and I think of that quote.  I know that my soul has been split wide open from the past year, letting all the light and love flood into the empty spaces that remain. I feel like Andy Dufresne in Shawshank Redemption when Andy is finally out of the prison and feels the rain on his skin and face for the first time in years. And I love it.

Even when you are not quite sure what you are doing, you can still follow what brings you joy and happiness, and maybe that is the key.  Maybe you don’t have to know what you are doing, maybe you don’t have to have everything all planned out, maybe if you just follow the joy and the bliss.

So let the light and love come in. Let them wash over me, in me and through me.  Joy and happiness have never been closer.

 

The Mother of Memories

All families have holiday traditions.  Ours was no different growing up. And my Mom was the queen of holiday traditions.  Every year, it took her 3 days to put up the Christmas tree.  Then there was a big production of putting the ornaments on the tree.  we would all gather and drink hot chocolate, Christmas music playing on the stereo, and all the ornaments that Mom had collected over the years.

Then there was the tradition of hiding Mom’s gift.  She hated surprises and she would sneak and open the gifts, carefully  undoing the tape. We caught her and developed a game.  My sister and I would tell her when we bought her gifts, then we hid them mall over the house.  If she found them, she would get to know what they were so she wasn’t surprised.  If she didn’t we got the bragging rights.  She always found the gifts.  The last time we thought we almost had her…we hid the gifts so well and she said she nearly gave up.  She said she looked everywhere…and finally found them hidden in the decorative pillow shams.

Then there were all the years that we got double gifts.  Mom would always finish Christmas shopping early and hid the gifts…then she would forget where she hid them and have to re buy them.  So every year, about March when she was doing the spring cleaning, she would find the ones she hid, and give them to us.   We looked forward to her spring cleaning every year.

And the wrapping. She wrapped for at least a week.  She would pull the gifts out at night, when we were all asleep. Or if she wrapped during the day, we would not be allowed in the room.  We would have to knock and announce before she opened the door so we could enter.  And the wrapping was always a fun mischievous game.  There was no wrapping a box as it came, no.  The box had to be re-boxed and disguised.  There must be other things added, like candy so that when you shook the gift, you could not actually guess the contents.

She once wrapped a small ring in about 7 different boxes, each a bit bigger in size, until the last box was a giant box about 5 feet tall.  It took my sister a while to open that gift.  It was great.  Then there were all the homemade bows and ribbons.  Christmas wasn’t just about family and love, it was also about having fun.

But what do you do when you don’t have much family to have traditions with?  I am not really sure, but maybe it is not about actual traditions, but the spirit  and tone in which they are carried out. The memories, the smiles, the fun, and the games will always make me smile and warm my heart.  While I am figuring out the new traditions in my life moving forward, this is still the best and happiest of all seasons.

The Unbroken Heart

We all have years where there are not many things to celebrate, and lasat year was one of those years.  Now when I think back to what happened a year ago, or when Facebook shows me the memories, it is a bittersweet reminder of how far I have come, and how sad life was a year ago.

Yesterday was a year ago that was the beginning of the end for my father.  He had been getting progressively weaker as he was taking the oral chemo treatment to give him a few more months with us.  His cancer had gotten to the point where this was the last thing that they could do, as the chemoembalism treatments had gone as far as they could go.

My now ex was supposed to check on my Dad before he left for work, but he didn’t (did I mention the ex was cheating on me with prostitutes and strippers?).  I was leaving for work early, and since the ex had not indicated there was anything wrong, I did not check on Dad.  The One day that I did not go and check on him…

A little after 9am Dad called and left a message.  He said he was one sick puppy and could not make it to the doctors appointment later.  His words were slurring, he sounded out of breath and tired in a way that I had never heard before.

Panicked, I rushed home when I go the message only to find that my father had a terrible fall early in the morning and had severely hurt himself. He fell in the bathroom, was too weak to get up, rolled himself to the couch in his room and crawled up on the couch where he had been for several hours.  He had a Life Alert but had not thought to use it. Had I checked on him before I left for work I would have seen him.

He was rushed to the hospital and was in terrible shape after the fall. A bruised liver, and in and out of delirium , I had to make the decision on the DNR and other such details. If the coded and they tried to revive him, it would puncture his lung, it was cause the bruise on his liver to  worsen and he would not survive the process. and it would be very painful. So I told them to do whatever they had to do to make sure that he did not suffer. I was terrified. I was lost. And distraught and confused and heartbroken. There was no one around to help or consult with or lean on. I prayed to make the right decisions for him.

He never did fully recover from that fall. The entire month of December was spent with him in the hospital and rehab.  It was the start of all of the awful, heart wrenching process of watching my father die over the next 2 months. My then boyfriend was (in retrospect) too preoccupied with prostitutes, strippers and video games to help. Siblings were away and too busy to be concerned about things so inconsequential.

There was no support from them at all, my siblings, my so called family. No emotional support, offers financial support while I paid for everything, no offers to come over and help to give any kind of breaks from being a constant caretaker.  No phone calls, no “Hey, how are you doing? Do you need anything? Can I help in any way?” I had to face the fact that these people were nothing more than uncaring mooches, happy to let their father be someone else’s problem, as long as they were not inconcenienced in anyway – but still kept in contact enough so that they might be included in the will. Which as it turned out, was their only concern.

But I did it, I managed to make the hard decisions, keep everyone informed, be there for Dad, making sure he was as OK as he could be in the circumstance. And I made sure he had the best medical care available. But it was so very hard and exhausting. There are no words known in my vast vacabulary to express the extent of the panic fear and exhaustion. The endless tearful prayers desperately begging God for wisdom, Grace and strength. I can only imagine what it was actually like for my father.

I listened to that voice mail message he left and it broke my heart all over again.  My wonderful, amazing, brave father sounded so frail and weak and scared.  There is nothing like feeling so helpless and not being able to do anything for someone you love so dearly.

And now, I think about this holiday season, this Christmas and New years are light years better than the last. While I miss both of them so very much, I am happy that they are at peace and together. I am not in a toxic relationship with a sex addict, I am not making medical decisions with no support or guidance from family. I am in a great house that is quickly becoming a home, where I am happy, where I love my job and career, where my friends surround me with love and support. Where there are only kind and loving relationships in my life.

I am happy, I have my rhythm back and my hunger for life.  I am back to my sassy self.  The most difficult decision I have to make this holiday season is do I really want to wear matching socks when wearing boots?  I mean, really, no one will see them.

I am thankful for the time that I had and spent with my father.   It was my honor and privileged to rake care of him and be there for him when he needed. And now I carry that with me moving forward, celebrating this holiday season, with an Unbroken Heart.