Riptide…

 

It’s been months since I’ve written and I wish I could have been able to express what I was feeling. I confess, my grief just wouldn’t allow me to do much else but ponder, ruminate, and contemplate…the desolation of nothingness and nowhere. I just didn’t have any words or ideas to communicate. My spirit had folded in on itself and I was working on putting one foot in front of the other, and mimicking some version of myself.

Mourning is an all-consuming process and it refused to ebb and flow on my command so finally I surrendered to melancholy and sorrow. I gave myself permission to activate my copilot, but inside my mind, I vacillated between frenzied hysteria and eerie, lonely silence.

For me grief reminded me of swimming in the ocean when I as a kid. I would dare myself to swim out as far as I could, where the water was dark and cold. My teeth would chatter and my skin would wrinkle and prune and with my eyes wide open, I would submerge my head under the mysterious swirling black water and despite the burning from the briny depths of the gauzy green sea, I would open my eyes. Under the misty water, the silence was soothing, aquatic life floated by seemingly oblivious to my anguished presence. There are no human sounds,  emotions are muted, distorted and insignificant. Looking up at the sky through the kaleidoscope of the foamy waves, the sun can be seen floating, glittery and hazily in the distance like a diamond. I felt removed and insulated from life. 

And just like when I was a kid, the need for air would overcome me, and with my lungs bursting, I would be forced, gasping and scrambling back to the surface.  I realize now that grief had clung to my skin, my cells and my heart, and swimming in the ocean allowed the water which had blanked, and for a while sustained me, began to recede. 

When I emerged this time, I found I no longer wished for the fickle darkness of the enigmatic ocean. I decided instead, to let the wind and brilliant sunlight soothe my soul and heal my grief laden spirit. It allowed me to release myself from the riptide of grief that had consumed me.

So with renewed vigor, I am swimming back to shore and to life with renewed energy. That’s the magic of the ocean. Despite its beauty, it can be treacherous and desolate. But if I relax, surrender and float, it’s like a beacon that always leads me home.

The shore…

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.

 

 

Voyeurs or Friends?!

When Facebook first came out it seemed like a cool way to travel through space and time, to reconnect with new and old friends, coworkers and family. Slowly though I wonder if it hasn’t become a venue for voyeurism more than a place to share information, thoughts, friendships and images. I feel like there are times when someone is posting something extremely personal, and I’m uncomfortable viewing it. Suddenly I am engaged an extremely personal conversation with someone I know very little, or only as an “acquaintance.” The level of information being imparted for all to view, is sometimes cringe worthy and deeply private.

Without warning I find myself brought up short by knowing the ins and outs of someone’s IBS, ,(irritable bowel syndrome), their divorce and hatred of the ex, or a photo of…”what is this on my back?” I wonder, is there no one else that can look at that thing growing on your back to decide what it is and more importantly how to treat it? Must I be scrolling through my timeline with my coffee, barely awake only to see a boil the size of a small bird perched on your back, gag a little and sit back and wonder..wth!

Back in the day, there was a saying, “TMI”, too much information. It is my nature to be guarded and less likely to share personal successes and failures with “virtual strangers.” Make no mistake, while we are all FB friends, we are strangers in one another’s daily lives. It’s difficult enough to be talking with someone who is bashing their ex in real time but at least, hopefully you know their back story. On FB, it’s a momentary blurt of information without context. It doesn’t account for nuances, for two sides of a story, or for questions. Instead, we’re left with judgements and I wonder, what knowledge have I gained? Is there value in knowing you hate your ex? What if I like your ex as a person?

Have we reached the point where the “likes” are the driving force behind the posts. Who liked it, who commented, who started trolling to initiate hate and discord? Who is listening?? Is anyone listening? Perhaps that is the problem. In our lives it seems things are moving so fast and now everyone has a way to gauge who is moving faster? Who is traveling, who is getting married, having babies, buying houses/businesses, going to fantastic parties and meeting amazing people? How do I measure up? Am I losing?

In a way, it sets us all up for dissatisfaction with our own lives. Why am I not getting anywhere when everyone on FB is going everywhere? How can we live our lives with gratitude and be in the moment if the moment is only there for the sake of the post? If the motivation for having the experience, is so you can post it, are we really connecting to one another? I have been out with friends and while we are hanging out having fun someone inevitably says, let’s take a picture and post it. Suddenly everyone is primping wondering if they look alright, how do I compare with everyone else and Boom…you’re completely out of the moment. Transported again through space and time as the picture is immediately posted and you pray that everyone likes it, I mean really likes it so that everyone can see you’re doing alright. Is it a validation of who we are or are we voyeurs in other people’s lives, constantly watching, trying to measure up and wondering, am I liked?

If you combine this with the unprecedented hacking of FB, I wonder if we are soaking up hate and division more than we are benefitting from the connectedness of sharing? Have we lost the ability to see beneath the surface? Are we all just creating movie posters of our lives without the story. For me as a writer, the post is the cover of the book but the richness of the person is in their stories. Without knowing the rise and fall of triumph and the agony of defeat it seems less meaningful, less authentic. Almost like we are inviting people to look at us, to judge us, only don’t look too closely. Just tell me you like what you see.

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. ❤️

Pondering…

Let me begin by wishing all of the Mother’s out there, a Happy Mother’s Day. I know being a mother is challenging and rewarding and exhausting and fulfilling, and overwhelming and exhilarating, and that’s all in one minute. So yeah to us! Even if you’re not a mother, congratulations if you’re  a caregiver to someone you love.

I can’t deny I love my sons beyond measure. Being their Mom is the greatest joy and the greatest test I have ever endured. I pray that when they’re in therapy talking about me, and they probably will be, they remember that I tried with all my might to be the best person/mother that I could be. I know I don’t achieve it all the time, (cue the eye roll from my sons), but I’m aware most of the time when I miss the mark. Each night I pray that I can do better and be better tomorrow. Some days I’m fabulous! Some days I bite!

I know that I have dropped out of sight lately. I needed to take some time to mull over the ever-changing landscape that is my life. I’m going to admit something that my family and friends already know, I ponder, deeply. I gather information about whatever I may be going through, the bigger the problem the longer the gathering process goes, and then I go to ground. 

I take all of the advice, solicited and unsolicited and I mull over every inch of every discussion or thought. I write but my thoughts are so jumbled that they’re not fit to share. My ability to see photographs in daily life, dries up. I turn inward and I shut down emotionally. On the outside I am functioning but on the inside it has all turned blue, dark blue. Sounds are muted, light diffused and hazy and I roll through my to do list like a mantra but my brain is quiet, like walking outside after a snowfall, cushioned.

After awhile my synapses start firing again and I reemerge things slightly out of focus, but resolved and undeterred. Recognizing that I need to put the past in perspective, let go of the incessant chatter of regret and embrace the possibilities of now. I’m through hashing and rehashing the old and am ready to turn my attention to what’s new. It’s not all roses and sunshine but the light has shifted, altered in a way that affords me the vision to see the nuances and mystique of my life. This one life that I have.

Change is hard. Ha, who doesn’t know that?! Necessary for sure. Unavoidable without a doubt. Dealing with it is the key. Inquisitiveness, self-awareness, truthfulness, and resilience are an all equal measure, the only way to rise again. Each of us handle life’s challenges in our own ways, unique to the people we are. Hopefully I’ve come through and have learned something along with the pain and sadness.

I think spring is a good time for new beginnings. I’m surrounded by renewal, rejuvenation, resilience and endurance. For me, a reminder that life moves on even when I find it necessary, no imperative, to slow it all down and pause. The earth keeps revolving and luckily my friends and family love me through the brilliant blues of a summer sky and through the abrupt ever-changing storm that arrives on the horizon and rushes through my life-like a hurricane. Destroying and restoring a new balance and order. A new flow and for a change, I’m ready. 

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