Struggling to the Surface!

Grief and loss are emotions I would prefer to experience from afar. For now, it hasn’t worked that way. Sorrow has seeped into my cells and attacked my gratitude, joy, light, love, and peace. I find myself struggling to find that place inside me where optimism and hope have always lived. My friend, Pam, recently reminded me that with all my internal struggles and trying to process it all silently, instead she thought I needed to “write it down and put it on the page.”  So Pam, this post is dedicated to you for your faith in me that I have words to say while my spirit broods caustically. You reminded me that I don’t need to have it all figured out before I share it. Maybe just maybe sharing it will release me from the depths of sadness and pain. Here goes.

Losing my aunt, losing period, sucks. I’m not a dark soul so being immersed in pain and shadows disturbs me. I have found in this darkness a resting place for everything I Fear most. In the murkiness and depths of sorrow, I discovered there was a place for me. A place I have chosen to visit but fear I may have stayed far longer than I had anticipated. It’s tentacles which once comforted me in my grief, have now reached out to entangle me in its web. Like swimming underwater, sounds are muted, light is dull, sunshine is hard to find and my breath escapes in small bursts. I have tarried here too long, way too long. It’s time to swim to the surface and let the warmth of the sun remind me of all that I am grateful for and all the good things and wonderful people that have loved and supported me now and always.

I’m sure that most people would be surprised to read this as I do an amazing job of putting on a good face. Underneath it all, I can’t help but remember what I’ve lost. Loss, lost, gone, buried!! These  words reverberate in my head. Why can’t I see all that I have gained instead? When does the hurt subside?

I lost a person who truly saw me, warts and all. A person who helped me laugh at myself and to share who I am without the walls and bravado that steadied me through chaos. A person who I took for weekly, monthly, year after year, (30 or so years), of car rides to nowhere, while I worked out the person I wanted to be and not to be. We would call each other and all we had to say is, “you wanna go for a ride?” I would pick her up and we would ride for hours. No destination, no particular plan, except of course, therapy. Perhaps it was sitting side by side that allowed me to bare my soul. Perhaps because she was a therapist who know how to get under my defenses and let me know failure was a part of my learning curve, not to be deemed a weakness. Perhaps it was because she would laugh with her whole body and the world would right itself for a while. Or perhaps because she loved me and was proud of me and told me so often. She loved with her whole being and believe me, if she loved you, you knew it. Perhaps because she loved me unconditionally and I treasured that and miss it more than words could ever convey.

These are gifts I hope I repaid while she was here on earth. I know she knew how much she meant to me and that she gave me permission to share my love, worries, and hopes with her without judgement. She never judged me. She cajoled, reasoned, and occasionally would yell at me to get it together, and always with a hint of humor and grit.

A month or so after her death, I found a voicemail from her singing me happy birthday. God how I treasure that message. I pray someday I can listen to it without weeping and feeling sorry for myself. I know she’s in good hands now and her body is healed again and strong. I know that she is telling jokes in heaven and caring for all the underdogs who need a champion. I know because she was my champion.

So while I kick my way to the surface, I hear her cheering me on. I am reminded that while loss is a part of me now, so is gratitude, for I had one of the best friends anyone could ever wish for. I know she lives on in me and remains one of the brightest parts of my soul. I believe beyond any shadow of a doubt that she is telling me to get it together and to focus on all the wonderful things we did together and that someday we will ride together again. Godspeed Maureen. I love you to the moon and back again.

 

 

Laughing until I cry!

 

My “Ant Maureen” and me!!

 

This is me and my beloved Ant Maureen and this is the nature of our relationship hysterical laughter until we cried, trying not to pee our pants, and my aunts bellowing belly laugh that made me collapse into uncontrollably giggles. This picture sums us up perfectly and thankfully for eternity. Just looking at it makes me smile and more often than not, burst out laughing and lately it makes me cry. Well sob might be more accurate since she passed away two months ago on her late daughter’s birthday. While it may have been expected, it still drove me to my knees.

The impact she had in my life is impossible to calculate. She was a teacher, a mother, an aunt and my best friend. The person I could talk to without a filter. Without weighing each word and it’s effect. She was a safe person for me to share my demons and my dreams. My safe place to land. She softened my edges and made me empathetic and sympathetic first for myself and wisely she understood it would translate to how I treated others.

She took in misfits and strays and her easy non judgmental ways soothed lost souls who longed for acceptance and peace. Her job as a drug and alcohol counselor was her career but her calling was her ability to listen with her whole body. Leaning in, letting the words wash over her and then she would softly ask, “have you considered?”

This was her gift. Nudging me to look in different directions for different solutions. She challenged me to think deeper and to let my instinct guide me. She never judged my choices until after I’d blunder through one mishap or another. Sitting next to her as we drove all over the Northeast I’d confess my latest trials and tribulations and she would just chuckle, call me a turkey and on we would ride.

I don’t know how many miles I rode with my Ant Maureen. For over 25 years I would call her up and say let’s go for a ride. She never asked where she just said pick me up and off we would go. To nowhere and everywhere. We solved my boy troubles, life’s troubles, her troubles and we laughed until we cried. Miles of road disappeared and on we rode laughing, exploring, sharing and me slamming on the breaks to jump out and take pictures. Miles and miles of love shared in the tiny confines of my car.

I’m still adjusting to my grief. I know she’s crossed over to a better place. She’s no longer in pain, mentally and physically. Above all she’s with her beautiful and beloved children who predeceased her, Ian and Drucilla.  So my tears are for me, my loss, and my best friend. On those beautiful days or lonely overcast ones I’ll look to the sky and ask…Do you wanna go for a ride with me? The wind will shift and in the whisper of the trees I know I’ll hear, “sure let’s go!!”

Godspeed Maureen! I pray you’re home safe, whole and in the arms of your true loves. I’ll miss you everyday and hear your voice in my heart until it beats no more. I love you always. ❤️

Unknown Chance…

Solitary red.
Solitary red.

In the midst of sadness and grief over losing my cousin at the age of 35, I learned again the value of spreading your wings and testing your faith in life.

For some, staying immersed in a life that is comfortable and challenging to maintain, seems like the safer and more obvious choice. There may be missed opportunities, times when going left instead of right, was a chance worth taking. The Unknown.

There are moments that are hazy, hopeful, glimpses into the future of what might be….but the road is scary, blurry and unknown. What if you don’t succeed? Something whispers, “turn back, you don’t recognize anyone or anything here. Turn back.” Fear causes people to retreat, and fall back. There are loved ones surrounding you, encouraging you to leap. But if your fear is deep rooted and intertwined with the fears of others…though they love you mightily, they will not wish for things to change or for someone to grow into a person they don’t recognize.

Perhaps a beautiful and courageous soul cannot soar into the limitless possibility of their own lives when fear runs rampant through their spirit. If unwittingly the voices that are the loudest are also the ones that stifle ones faith in unearthing the treasures within, then it may be impossible for them to even try to vanquish every doubt and fear they possess. There is no recognition, no reconciliation, no expectation of the majesty, mystery and miracles that guide all of us in our daily lives. How can they be convinced to gamble their talents, wisdom, and love and to see what is as yet, unseen? How can they be encouraged  to believe they already came to this earth with all the tools they would need to live an extraordinary and joyful life filled with gratitude, self-love, and triumph? That life is grander and abundant and resplendent with beauty!

You can’t. It’s that simple. The lesson may be to know deep within yourself that God or your Higher Power wants you to emerge victorious. That there are bright colors, friends, family, strangers and magic all around. If you train your eyes to search for beauty, it’s all around us, through us, and in us. If we are open to it, the world isn’t just black and white. We can live in Technicolor.  Godspeed Love!

Abundant green.
Abundant green.

 

 

 

Peaks and Valleys…

Summer has flown by and yet there were achingly slow moments where time seemed to stand still.

The summer was filled with our usual flurry of activities that left us exhausted, drained and planning our next day’s adventure with hopeful anticipation. There were camps, counselor-in-training camps, swimming, scouts, over nights, island living, lunches, brunches, gardens, library trips, movies and baseball which morphed effortlessly into football as we drove from one event packed event to the other. 

We got a puppy, because life just didn’t seem complete or full without the added unconditional love of our beautiful dog, Bella Luna, “beautiful moon.” The boys have been asking for years and I succumbed to the pleas and relented. Turns out Bella is the kindest, gentlest, dog ever born. Her beautiful brown eyes smile gratefully as she settles into her new home with not one but two boys who lavish her with praise, devotion, and affection. Ahh, the life.

It truly has been a memorable and wonderful summer with a view from the mountain top of happiness that I will remember and treasure. I am blessed.

Still, the glory of the summer was interrupted by the sorrow and grief of losing my 35 year old cousin, Drucilla. My beloved Aunt Maureen, has now lost both of her children, a sorrow no parent wishes to contemplate let alone discuss. A waking nightmare. 

I know there are no words to say. No comfort that will ease the hellish and unrelenting despair that has seeped into the crevices of her spirit and etched itself on her face and in her skin. Drucilla’s young children are dazed and lost in a land where solace has no home, no name. Their life’s tapestry, woven since their births, has been forever altered, splintered and shattered into millions of pieces and life will forever be defined as “before and after.”

The summer’s joy for all of us will be shadowed by the finality of her death. While the summer peaks offered magnificent views and gratitude in abundance, the valleys remind us that the “woods are dark and deep,” and traversing the terrain of heartbreak and grief requires humble acceptance that life is a balancing act. Nimbly moving through joy and pain with alacrity and I pray, Grace.

 

 

Falling Down the Rabbit Hole

I think sometimes I am so caught up in my day to day grind that I forget what is happening around me. I complain because a class is cancelled or a check didn’t arrive on time or the damn squirrels are eating all the food out of my bird feeder…and then I am sharply reminded about real pain and suffering.

When someone I love is in unbearable pain, suffering in some way, my hear shatters with and for them. Recently a friend of mine was caught in the quagmire of grief and angst and there was nothing to be done about it. It was not pain of her own choosing but someone she loves more than anything. Her sorrow and palpable grief tore my soul asunder. I could do nothing to assuage her heartbreak, nothing but sit in the shadow of her hurt and to be present and bear witness.

Like falling down the rabbit hole, everyone who loves her is swept away in the torrent of her unspeakable, unshakable, unbearable agony. Down, down we all fall, tethered to her as she tumbles further into the abyss. All that can be done, is to fall silently, supportively, and soulfully into the darkness with her so that she isn’t left alone.

I know that I can’t heal or spare her this wrenching horror. I also know that by sitting in the stillness, the injustice, and sadness, I pray I am helping. It works against my nature to not be able to offer some solace or a game plan to ease her pain. Instead it is in the steadiness and assuredness, and the uncomfortableness, that I can show her my love, my loyalty, and my faith.

I try to remember and to focus on, all I can do is show up and pray that the waters will calm and she will commence sailing on smooth waters once again. Until then, I will weep, hug, laugh, and pray with every fiber of my being that she be free from this immense misery and that there will be a profound and magically lesson learned, after this tragic storm.

#friendship #sorrow