Last year I vowed to give you a whirl, even though I wasn't excited about it.
I vowed to just keep moving forward because secretly I knew I had no choice. (I like attainable goals.)
Last year, I removed the bar altogether...
And it was just what I needed.
Last year there was no room for anything in my life because my heart was broken and it simply could not hold anything else...
2014 was the year of healing. It was the year of tears. It was the year of sadness and of growth. It was the year of firsts.
It was the first full year of my life that I've lived without my Mom.
I am thankful that I got through the year.
I am thankful for the outpouring of love and support.
I am thankful for my husband, oh, my sweet, dear, dear husband, who has been privy to night after night and day after day of sheer emotion.
Silent tears while I sat on the touch.
Suffocating tears while I sat on the bed.
Watery eyes as I stood in the kitchen.
Or as I got into the car.
Or as I got dressed.
This was the year that grief built.
And the funny thing about grief is that you can't quite run or hide from it. There's no alternate route. Try as you may, even side cuts will lead you to back to it. It's like when you're driving on the highway and you see a ridiculous amount of orange barrels and construction ahead, so you get off at the next exit and decide to take the country road alongside the highway, or the side streets... "I'll totally get around this construction; this traffic. Nothing is going to slow me down. I can bypass this. There's got to be another way."
But then you run into slower speed limits. And stoplights. And a s-l-o-w- truck driving below the speed limit in front of you. Try as you might to find another way to the destination, you can't. Because this is the only.way.you.can.go.
I tried to get around it; but I couldn't.
I had to slowly drive through it.
(And I still am.)
My everyday life is better though. The physical weight of the accident; of the loss, it doesn't weigh as heavy as a boulder all day, every day. But it's still there - as it is for so many others, as well.
I think everyone has trigger moments; moments that ignite the emotion and the tears. For me, it's when I see a woman about my Mom's age and can tell that she's obviously not in good health; or when I see a Grandma reach out and grab her grandchild and hug him; or most assuredly, when I see someone about my age, a young woman, with her Mom... That one is the hardest. I'm happy for them; but it reminds me of what I'm missing.
Don't get me wrong, though. I'm wise enough to know that every relationship has its flaws. But I'm also now wise enough to know that flaws don't matter when they're gone.
When my Mom died my little sister and I continued to tell one another that, "something good is going to come from this."
I think we were attempting to will that something good to happen. We needed to convince one another that there was a reason for all of this. We needed to believe that there was going to be beauty from these ashes; that there was going to be some good after that awfulness.
And there's been good.
I'm closer with that baby sister than I have ever been. I cannot imagine my life without her. She is my lifeline; my connection to my Mom. She looks like her and talks like her and laughs like her and cooks like her. We remarked in December that when we were together it was starting to feel more normal that it was just the two of us, when normally it would have been the three of us. But it took several visits to get to that point; those visits full of tears.
I love her. I love that my Mom gave me that baby sister.
This year I also learned to slow down. My anxiety level decreased. Things at work, the silly little doesn't-really-matter frustrations, the little stuff - it just hasn't ruffled my feathers like it once did. There's a back story for everything; for everyone. Why get angry about it when it's going to work out, as it should, in it's own time?
Some other good things that have come from this pain: Craig and I are realistic about death.
We've got our wills all settled -- something we embarrassingly hadn't taken care of before my Mom died.
Friends, it is pure chaos in your heart and in your life when you lose a loved one, please, please, I implore you to talk to your parents, your husband; make sure you know their immediate wishes about death. And go a step further, talk about accounts and details and the stuff no one really wants to talk about. Every January my Mom updated her "death folder" (as we called it - we're weird) and when she died, in my state of fog and delirium, I knew RIGHT where to go: to her file cabinet. In that folder she kept all of her important documents, account numbers and little post-it-notes telling me exactly what to do.
It was a gift.
So this year, in 2015 - take care of your business. And encourage your loved ones to take care of theirs, as well.
As far as 2015 goes, I'm reinstalling the bar, but my goals have shifted. I don't care about the last 5 (or 7) pounds. I'm not going to beat myself up because I actually like bologna. (So good.) And it's ok if it takes me two months to finish a book.
Instead, I'm going to keep on doing what I need to do. I'm going to try to be the best me I can be while looking outward.
This year has been a lot about me.
And I'm kind of sick of me.
This year I need to share the spotlight with everyone else, especially my best friend, my Craig, and my beautiful girls who just want me.
One of the lessons I've learned this year is that when the weight of my loss was more than I could bear, all I had to do was turn my gaze outward and realize that not-so-great-or-easy-life-stuff wasn't just happening to me; but to people all around me.
Months after my Mom died, so did my friend's. Months after my Mom died, a friend lost a child.
Watching someone else go through the grief process gives us perspective and helps us to remember that we're all.in.this.together.
Last night the girls and I were hanging out in their swingset playhouse and I asked them, "So, you guys, do you need something more from me? Am I doing ok as your Mom? Do you need more of my time... anything?"
Immediately I got a response:
Vivienne: A bunny. I need you to get us a bunny.
Lila: [confused look on her face; wrinkling her brow] No. I don't need anything else from you. You're doing great... Why do you ask?
[she shrugged her shoulders and that was that.]
So, in 2015 I will keep on keeping on. And I will buy a bunny. (Probably not.)
I wish you all of the best and I thank you for all of your support. Oh man, this space - all of you - this means so much to me. Thanks for listening.
With much amor,