Thursday, April 14, 2016

How Do I Miss Thee, Let Me Count the Ways

Dear UD,

This month, everything reminds me of you, and every day feels like a countdown to the day my foundation was shaken.

For instance, Facebook reminded me that one year ago, I tagged you in a photo of Mom’s flower garden, the one that you helped her create by buying her so many bulbs over the years. Yellow daffodils, pretty tulips, purple irises, and so many more.

One year ago today, you were on this earth, and I could tag you in a photo that you would see.

One year ago today, you were at home where I could call and talk to you almost any time of day.

Tonight, I’m drinking tea that I finally dug out of the cabinets, an herbal brand that I took from your home on the day of your funeral. You had so many boxes that you would never have a chance to use so I took one. I didn’t drink any tea for almost a year; opening the box was an acknowledgement that you were gone, but when I came down with a bad cold this spring, I remembered the box of tea, and now I sip the minty brew and think of you. When I drink tea, I will always think of you.

One year ago today, you were drinking iced tea, and I had the hope of another family meal at your place.

This month is a minefield and every day a reminder that the day the earthquake struck is approaching. I take a step to the right, and I remember an email conversation last April where you helped me revise a prompt for my Creative Writing class. I asked how you were, if you were writing, what you thought of the prompt, and if it made sense, and you replied:

               Hey, Rach,

               1)      Okay, not great. 
               2)      Not really. 
               3)      I think it is clear but a bit overwhelming. 
               4)      Yes, it makes sense.

          Grammar—parallel tense:  How did what you learn in Creative Writing . . .

          I would consider selecting 6 to 8 quotes for the assignment and then giving out the rest of them as an appendix for             further consideration.

          Love, UD

I love how you always, always started with a salutation and ended with love. What I would give for another email conversation with you.

A step to the left, and I think about how you coached and supported Lexi as she developed as a performer. Now, she has her first professional dance job, and I am so proud of her. We always thought you would be here to see her blossoming into an adult and professional dancer, and we want to call and tell you all about it. But we're grateful that Lexi had that chance to learn from you on her journey here.

A step to back, and I remember the day before, the day when I talked to you on the phone and wrote my last journal entry. I talked to you about wanting to visit in May, and I said that I loved you. I’m so grateful that I spoke to you that day, but I wish so much that I could talk to you again. That night, I wrote in my journal about my day, and then I ended it with a positive narrative about what my ideal life would be, something I’d wanted to do for years. The next day, I lost you, and I haven’t journaled since.

UD, a friend recently told me that I’d been searching for something outside myself. At one time, yes. Sometimes, yes. I am human, fallible, imperfect, yearning for love and belonging.

If I try to search for answers outside myself, that’s not good. If I’m looking for someone or something to make me okay or to fix or save me, that won’t work.

However, all humans need positive male role models in their lives.

Someone remarked that I am different, unique because of how deeply the loss of an uncle has impacted me, but it’s not just me who is feeling so unmoored in our extended family. Plus, you were one of those special people who impacted so many around you. Not to mention the fact that your loss was near the end of a long, hard set of traumas dealt all within a fairly short amount of time, and like a domino effect, one by one, they crashed down, leaving a scattered mess in my life.

And grief is the same yet different for everyone….it’s the same because, whether we’ve lost a beloved aunt/uncle, parent, grandparent, child, sibling, friend, there is now a hole in our heart, and our life will never be the same; we will never again be the same. Yet, it’s different because those relationships are different and because we are all different people with different personalities, needs, desires. Ultimately, loss is difficult, demanding, arduous, and the grief that follows is something that can take time because it shakes us up and spits us out alone and altered.  

And the thing is…you were one of the very few people on this earth with whom I felt completely safe. One of the few people who saw and accepted all of me. Nothing can replace that.

Safe….I realized recently, that there are only a handful of people I feel completely emotionally safe with and that I do not speak up as much as I need to around those I don’t feel emotionally safe with. It’s time to change that. Though difficult, it’s healthiest for me as well as those around me. I wish I could talk to you about this and process it, but I know you would be proud of me. I hold onto that as I attempt to navigate a new way of interacting and of being true to myself and others.

I feel like I am waking up from a long, hard nightmare…so much to handle in the past few years that I have been overwhelmed, numb, depressed, anxious. January 2013, the girls’ dad dropped a bomb in our lives that we are still processing. October 2013, Lexi moved to NYC for performing arts school, and, while natural and normal for her to go off to college, I grieved. May 2014, Grandpa Crawford died, and a few months later, Dad was diagnosed with cancer and put on hospice. December 2014, Laina and I sold what we could, packed what we could, gave away the rest, and moved back to the farm to be with my Dad and help the family. January 2015, he died. April 2015, you, Uncle David, died suddenly. May 2015, we moved back to Florida so Laina could go to high school with her friends. December 2015, we lost Charlie from Florida (my writing friend and the reason we moved to this area near the ocean), and I fell and broke my right wrist in three places. January 2016, I had surgery on my arm and was virtually helpless for a couple of months. Too much in too short of time, too difficult to process all of this, especially without you.

But this month, this month, every day, I remember you…

Love, Rach

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