In March 2017, my best friend Heidi died from cancer. In May 2017, my paternal grandmother passed away from Alzheimer’s. In November 2017, my Uncle Greg committed suicide. In January 2018, my maternal grandmother passed away also from cancer. It’s been a year of dealing with death and grief. A crap year. But that’s only part of the story. I unknowingly set a standard for the rest of my life the day Heidi died.
Heidi was at home under hospice care before she passed. It was a heartbreakingly difficult time for her family and friends. Something I wouldn’t wish on anyone. However, there was beauty in the chance to hold her hand and tell her goodbye. It was hard to find, but even while it was happening I could see how truly brutiful(brutally beautiful) it was.
Heidi died in the early morning on a Friday. Friday is grocery day, so at my house we had zero groceries. (That seems insignificant I know, but stick with me.) I remember talking to Heidi‘s husband and him telling me his daughters wanted to see my daughters. In that moment that became my priority. At the same time some other friends were getting together. I felt overwhelmed. I wanted to do that too, so I stood paralyzed for a moment not knowing where to take my day. I took a deep breath and somehow through the grief and sadness I was able to realize we needed groceries and getting the kids together was my priority.
As much as I wanted to go and be with my friends, I also knew there were things that needed done. There was something inside of me that even on my saddest day I could somehow pull it together. Being able to do these simple tasks gave me purpose. I realized when everything was falling apart I could survive. I could be sad, heartbroken even, but I could go on. That lesson, that realization has changed my whole life. For Heidi’s entire illness I lived in fear of her death. When feelings of losing her came up, I shoved them down and hid them in a dark corner of myself. When it finally happened, it was horrible beyond horrible, but I was still me. I was still here, and amazingly so was Heidi. I could feel her deep inside of my heart right where she had always been. All of those fears didn’t have to hide anymore. Somehow I could pick up what was left of myself and go to the damn grocery store.
When other sad things came and I knew they would, (I just didn’t think they would come as soon as they did) I knew
I could make it through. This doesn’t mean I wasn’t taken to my knees when my Dad called and said Greg killed himself. I was. And I had so many feelings. My cousin and I talked right after it and we marveled in how we went from anger, to sadness, to disbelief before we could even finish a thought. I knew nothing would be the same but even in the darkness I could see light. When both of my grandma’s passed away there was sadness so much sadness, but there was also an understanding, this is how life should flow. We should get to live a long life and die peacefully with family and friends around us. It is still sad and the loss of them is felt in my bones, but at the same time there was a realization, this is what we all want in life. To be loved for between 80 and 90 years. To meet and love our grandchildren and great grandchildren even. There is SO MUCH beauty in that. Today when I look at my children, the snow, the lake, and the ocean I see beauty. Beauty I couldn’t see before all of this sadness.
During this crap year when it sometimes felt like it almost couldn’t get any worse: I survived. I found light and joy in my baby, in nature and in my family and friends. Are there days that are dark? Yes, so much YES! Did I make bad choices? YES! There were days I drank too much, numbed myself with television and Christmas cookies. All of that is part of this story too. It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows trust me. But, through all of it, I survived! I’m still here in this life looking for the light in all things.
When you’re having a bad day or even a bad year (lol), be gentle with yourself. Try to stick to your routine as much as you can, but allow yourself to sit in the darkness. BUT remember to get back up and look for the beauty, because it’s everywhere.
Until next time…
This was orginally posted at: https://storiesfromasoulsister.wordpress.com on 2/9/18