Sometimes you have to hang in there, to start where you are (as the wise Pema Chodron says), to believe and have faith that it will all be okay. That's what I've tried to do every day since 4/3/09.
Who among us hasn't said, "If I could go back, with what I know now, boy would things be different." Well, we can't. And it probably wouldn't. I'm a big believer in chaos theory, the butterfly effect, too many variables to yield an accurate prediction. All we have is where we are now. It's all we have to work with. This moment. This breath...
And it is finally turning around.
If you keep sending goodness and light into the universe, it will come back to you eventually. It just may make a few random stops along the way.
First, I wrote to my surviving professor at Hood College (the department head died late last year with colon cancer). I reintroduced myself, not knowing if he would remember me or not, but he knew me. I suggested to him that I would like to do something to impact the teaching of grief and bereavement to his students, speaking from the heart of a bereaved mother who has learned a lot in the 22+ months since her beloved daughter died. I told him that I want to give back and reach out to others.
He responded in the best way possible. He said that he has a grief course coming up this summer and would love to add me as a guest speaker! He further said that he has a mother in class right now who lost her 15-yo daughter to a brain tumor last October. He asked for permission to give her my contact information. I said, "Absolutely." All we parents have - not to belittle what they offer - is Compassionate Friends. They are good. They offer support groups and activities that honor our children, but for me, it wasn't the antidote to anything. It just made me feel worse. I had to find another way - mostly a sweet, understanding counselor who was of more help than she'll ever know. I don't have my Thanatology degree. Not sure I'm going back for that. I still have to think about it. But I said, "Start where you are. Offer what you can offer. Give the love to others who sorely need someone."
My heart swelled with joy that he would take me up easily on my offer, knowing that what a bereaved parent has to say is so much more real than words in a textbook. I'll be starting to piece that talk together soon.
Another area that had stagnated in my life was in the area of love. I've been in a funk for months, thinking that that part of my life was over. You know that if you've been reading me. After what I went through, loving and losing, and doubting myself and who I was, I really thought, "Okay, this is how it's going to be. I'll be here for Sean. I'll go out with friends sometimes. Maybe I'll finish this degree and go for another...and another...in school till I die." Of course, I was going to write the memoir, too--correction, I am going to write the memoir. For a time, I had an account on Match, but none of the dates I went on panned out. They fizzled. No chemistry. Nothing that I could see a future in. So I was shutting it down, even though it wasn't due to run out until 4/5/11, I was done.
But as soon as I made that decision, I got an email from a woman in Frederick. It was a short but positive message, and when I read her profile, I wanted to know more. We began to talk on the phone. We were going to go out, but she got sick with the flu and I got the kidney infection. She was also healing up from surgery (still is), but she went back to work after two weeks---still healing! On Groundhog Day, we were finally both well enough to go out to dinner together. I wasn't expecting too much. Nothing had worked out before. And if you'll remember, Groundhog Day last year was when I drove back to NC and gave Denise a second chance. Oddly paradoxical to how this is turning out.
I knew as soon as our eyes met that there was something there. I already knew I liked her very much just from the phone calls and emails. "We wrote novels to each other," she said. She said she fell for my mind, as I did for hers. She's spiritual but not religious. She's highly intelligent and educated. She has two adopted sons, ages 3 & 5, whom her partner left when she left her.
We were taken to a booth that was much too large. As we were interrupted over and over by the waitress (Donna), we began to scoot closer and closer together, talking about absolutely everything. We don't remember much about our meals.
After dinner, she asked if I would like to go meet her boys. That was a good sign. I said sure! She offered to have me follow her, but the roads were a little tricky out her way (more in the rural area here), so we went together in her SUV. We walked into the delightful surge of energy that comes from a house of love, boys, and pets. The boys immediately hugged me and showed me the house. Each dog had to come visit me and bring me a bone. The macaw was checking me out and squawked once or twice for good measure, and soon, a cat settled into my lap.
Before long, Thomas was on my left, singing along with his music, and Justin was bringing me a book about T. Rex (and his toy T. Rex). We read until their attention span shifted. Kim and I sat close on the couch, and she took my hand. "What do you think?" she asked.
"Um, you want to know if I scare easily?" We shared a laugh, but her hand felt so right in mine. I felt like I had known her for a very long time.
We've been pretty much inseparable since then, except when she has to work or I do. She is finally getting a couple of days off, so I'll be over at her place instead of having her over here. I'm so grateful to have met her. Here I had been worried that my life was essentially over. I was worried that with health problems here and there, no one would want me. Well, she's an emergency physician. Nothing scares her either.
It's hard to take it slowly (so please don't remind me to do that) when you feel something this strongly, but life has kind of forced us to. She works usually 6 nights a week. I work 5 days a week and have grad school, but we cherish each moment, talking or seeing one another.
I'm just so happy that she wrote to me before my profile was gone. She doesn't have much of a social life because of being a doctor and a single mom. It's hard for her to meet anyone. I haven't had much of a social life either, being busy with work, school, grieving--which is so much less intense since the holidays.
As to grieving, some parents I've talked to have said that it isn't the set of "firsts" so much as the set of "seconds" in anniversaries that are hard. The shock has worn off and you realize they're really never going to be there again. I think that's what I was feeling during that horrible holiday season.
But isn't it a miracle? Isn't every single day a miracle? There's something to be said for pushing through, having faith, and just starting where you are.
Peace - D