Posts Tagged ‘moving on’

Along with the entire world feeling a bit like a shoe that doesn’t fit these days, the weather here in Northern California has been totally unpredictable. A week ago I was running about in shorts and flip flops and today I have on a sweater, boots and a puffer coat. Thankfully, I had the presence of mind when swapping my winter clothes for lighter weight summer ones to hold out a few sweaters “just in case”. Day before yesterday we were treated to actual rain. I know! I was sure it would really rain because I washed my car the day before. Maybe if I washed my car more often, our rain buckets would look more abundant?

Sunday night I sat down after a very busy weekend to relax and watch the Oscars. “Not so fast”, Susie. I’m watching as Chris Rock takes the stage as a presenter. For those of you unfamiliar with what happened next (if you are I will have to assume you live in either a cave in Tibet or an underground bomb shelter), the comedian told a poorly chosen joke at the expense of Jada Pinkett Smith, poking fun at her hair loss. Smith suffers from alopecia and has shaved her head. Seeing the uncomfortable expression on his wife’s face, Will Smith suddenly launched out of his seat. Smith made his way with determination to the stage and proceeded to to knock the molars out of Rock’s mouth, figuratively not literally. Returning to his seat, Smith then treated the audience present and at home to a string of expletives while a stunned Rock was still trying to compose himself on stage. What was that all about one asks? I thought at first this was all staged, but noooooo. Aggressive males seeming to taking center stage all over the planet right now. Perhaps we need to begin to look at the possibility there is too much testosterone floating about in the atmosphere with all the other pollutants? I don’t know what the answer is, but I’m pretty sure jarring someone’s teeth loose is not the optimum solution. Just sayin. Please don’t misunderstand me, I think there’s plenty of blame to go around. I don’t find anything amusing about making fun of someone going through a health issue. However, comedians have been telling mean spirited jokes for years. I remember going to see Don Rickles in Reno once. He could slice through a steel bar with his tongue. My husband wanted to sit at the front by the stage, but I vetoed that whole program. Personally, I don’t find humor that demeans other people funny, but that’s personally.

When my kids were young, I used to tell them to be careful with their words. Words, to my mind, are the most powerful tools we humans have in our arsenals. Well chosen words can wound often far deeper than the sharpest of swords. Once they have been said, though an apology can be offered, they are never truly erased.

Moving on to other subjects, this week is absolutely flying past me. I can’t seem to catch up. Don’t know if it’s the recent time change, or my life has simply gotten busier of late, but everything feels a bit chaotic. Last night I was in the middle of a particularly unsettling dream when a friend called at the most climatic moment. Why is it when you are woken up from a dream a fog settles over you for the rest of the day? Well, perhaps it’s only when I’m woken up from a dream. In my weekly grief group this morning I was so groggy my head kept flopping from side to side like a recently caught catfish lying on the bottom of the boat. For a moment I was afraid I was going to fall asleep and face plant on the desk in the middle of the presentation.

Being in a group of like minded individuals, or in this case other human beings sharing a common thread, has for me been the bridge to allow me to cross over to the other side in my grief process. Having two men die in a row of the same disease within a four year period has been a large pill to swallow. One thing I will say is, going through the first experience, provided me with a lot of tools which I have used to traverse the second more easily, or at least understand the process better. I feel at last as if I’ve stepped out from beneath the shadow of a massive tree, and can feel the sun shining fully on my face. Now that I am standing in the clearing with nothing before me but space, I must determine what to fill that space with going forward.

Life is such a curious experience, I think, having added some notches to my belt at this stage of the game. It’s not a place where you can really sit down, put up your feet, lean your head back and ever totally relax. It always seems it is at the time I assume that posture, something seems to show up that has me back up and standing on my feet again.

I had lunch today with a gentleman interested in having lunch with me. When he asked to get together, I thought “why not”. I’m not sure what adventures the next few years will promise, but I am open to looking at new faces and learning more about them, or exploring the possibilities of what or who is out there. I found when driving into the restaurant parking lot, I had a flutter (the collective name for a group of them) of butterflies doing a samba in my digestive track. I haven’t “dated”, if you will, since I met Rick in 2000. Things have changed. I have changed. The walk to the front door was dominated by a conversation being engaged in between my head and my feet, with my head telling my feet to continue walking in the direction they were headed and not to turn and run the length of the parking back to my car. When I walked inside and saw him seated on a bench, my mind began screaming at me “run, save yourself”. In spite of the incessant nagging going on between my ears, I managed to say hello. The hostess greeted us, and led us to a booth towards the back of the room. Handing us each a menu and asking about drinks, we were then left to our own devices. After getting the initial “weather updates and how are you’s” out of the way, we began the age old ritual of getting to know one another. He talked about himself, I commented. I talked about myself, he commented. I looked at him over the rims of my glasses, and he, in turn, looked at me over his.

I ordered lunch, because that was, after all, why we were there. I had decided I wasn’t going to be anything but who I am, and who I am likes to eat. After a few moments of awkward conversation the food arrived. As we began to eat and talk, we also began to relax. The time passed easily between us and before long I found I was enjoying myself. When our time together had ended, we agreed it would be nice to get together again. Whether this happens or not remains hidden around the bend, but if it does, I believe I will look forward to looking at him over my glasses once again and learning more of his story.

Anyhow, new beginnings. This does not mean the people left behind aren’t carried with me, but only that I am making room for new experiences and saying yes to new possibilities.

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Today is Rick’s birthday. The 29th of this month will also mark the day he passed away two years ago. For those of you who have lost a spouse you will understand these special days come with a price. Grief is a process most of us will have to face one time or another in our lives. To me it is similar to sustaining an open wound. In the beginning, you are flayed and raw. Then, as the healing process begins, the pain recedes as each day passes until you are left with a barely perceptible scar. Though others may not be aware it is there, you will still touch and feel it from time to time remembering where you got it.

Life has changed significantly since then for me. In the beginning I was like a newborn fawn. I struggled to my feet on wobbly legs, unsure if I could walk. The human spirit is enduring, and eventually I found my footing and resumed my path in the forest still not sure where I was going, but knowing I would continue my journey. These days I have created a new me of sorts, you don’t remain the same. Grief restructures you, adding dimension in some parts, while removing it in others. As you change, you find new parts of you yet unexplored, strong and resilient parts, while sloughing off those no longer serving you.

There are days when I feel the emptiness, but those are less and less. This does not mean I don’t still feel his loss, for I do. I am simply no longer immobilized by it. If anything, I have learned to embrace it along with the memories and love and pain accompanying it. The loss has assimilated into the whole of me, allowing me to smile when a pleasant memory comes up or laugh when remembering a silly moment we shared.

In a way I am glad he is not here to go through what is going on outside the door of late. To be gravely ill and deal with the pandemic and the fires might have been too much for one plate. I feel for people going through that now, some alone with no one to reach out to. Makes me wish I had a bank full of money. Not that money makes everything better, it does not. If it did, there wouldn’t be so many unhappy people who’s pockets are lined with it, but it does provide an avenue for making things happen.

So today I shall remember Rick as I knew him. He was my Egyptian prince, my friend, my love, who though far from perfect as he would often say, was somehow perfect for me. Rick suffered with a lot of demons, but I saw past them to the person behind them and understood why they were there. With me he was genuine and caring. He was intelligent to a fault, and well studied. Always he brought interesting subjects to the table and taught me much about the structure of the world I missed while sleeping through geography class. We enjoyed nearly twenty years together. It is easy when you lose someone to canonize them. I will not do that. He wouldn’t like it, and neither would I. When I pass, I hope people will remember me as I am, not how they wish I would have been.

Looking back as I have said often, goodbyes have been frequent in my life. Being left behind is often an uphill struggle, but if you keep walking uphill eventually you will rise above the clouds to find blue sky and sunshine. Each day offers something interesting to explore, someone interesting to meet, or somewhere interesting to go. When one door closes, I am here to say eventually another door opens. For me I am too curious a being not to want to find out what lurks behind the next door. Keeping positive with all the negative swirling around our heads of late is definitely a challenge. Some days I feel the anxiety closing in on me. When it does, I lean heavily on my reserve of positive thoughts and uplifting reading material to help buoy my spirits. Even if I don’t always win the battle, at least I can say I put up the good fight.

So here I stand after nearly two years firmly planted on both feet again. I don’t want to waste a minute of my time left on this earth filled with guilt, sadness, anger or regret. Instead, I will try to make the best of my allotted minutes, doing something productive that matters if to no one other than myself. The Grand Canyon still calls my name and the Butterflies in Arizona. I am definitely getting there when the getting is again good. I still have Greece penciled in on my bucket list though the writing gets a little paler with each passing year. Zip lining is in my plans as well for next year. Have a lot to do when this gunky sky lifts and the bug is conquered or at least suppressed so no time to waste. As the indomitable White Rabbit might say:

Before going to bed I always told Rick, “Hasta Manana”, so I’m saying it once again to you Rick on your birthday. The Forty-Niners are playing on Sunday, Ducky, be sure to check in. Have a good one. I love you.

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