Grief – The Scenic Route

My beautiful picture

I have always been the type of person who has the mentality of all or nothing.  If i’m going to do something I’m like Nike, Just do it! Unfortunately, this doesn’t apply to everything in life.  Grief is one of those things. See my dad was the patient one. He had lots of patience. Me…not so much. That’s one of the reasons I hated being in the passenger’s seat when he drove.  I just wanted to get there. Get to the next stop. Keep moving.

Dad was more for the scenic route, the long way home, he was never in a rush.

I feel that way with grief.  My dad passed away just over a month ago.  I thought for sure my life wouldn’t go on. And if it did i would just spend days crying and then things would slowly go back to normal.  I’ll cry, I’ll grieve and then it will be over and I’ll be OK. Like a skinned knee, a broken bone, a cold.

Grief is not like that.  Death is not like that.

Each day I wake up is different.  It’s like your life is just the same, yet your life is very different.

Some days you feel angry at the world over what seems like silly things.  You run into someone and they simply say, “Hey, sorry about your dad” and hug you.  One day you may respond, “Thanks!” and smile. Another day you may take a deep breath as you choke back tears because you’re standing in Starbucks and God forbid you cry in the middle of a store in front of all these people who will judge you.  Some days you smile and think of something funny he would have said or just a memory of him pops into your head and it makes you happy.

Then you run into the person who must know you just lost someone close yet they just simply say, “Hi! How are you?” as they make simple conversation, never acknowledging your loss. You smile and chat while inside your head you are having your own conversation.  “Are they serious? MY DAD DIED!! WHY DON’T YOU KNOW MY DAD DIED? YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO TELL ME YOU’RE SORRY!! WHY ARE YOU NOT SAYING YOU’RE SORRY!”

Inside your head you want to punch this person in the face and scream at them.  How can they be so insensitive??

It’s the strangest feeling.  As much as you don’t want to talk about it, you want people to acknowledge it. And when they don’t, it only makes you angry.  And sometimes, you don’t even know if it is just because they simply have no idea or maybe, they just don’t know what to say.

IMG_20180903_085927_272

Some days I feel like I walk around looking normal to everyone on the outside.  They must think, “Wow, her dad just died and she seems fine!” But I’m not. Yes, I may look OK.  Yes I still smile. Maybe I smile a little more now because I realize that there may be millions more going through what I am going through and maybe someone needs to see that smile to make it through the day.  But really I just get up, keep moving and fake it a little.

Some days I feel OK and all of a sudden it hits me and I have to run to the ladies room to cry.

I feel like I keep waiting for it to hit me.  Like maybe one day I won’t be able to get out of bed because I will be overcome with grief.  Many days I just feel tired. No tears, just tired. Many days I forget things. I have a great memory most of the time but lately I feel much more forgetful. I often keep myself busy and my calendar full.  Then there are days that I just need to be alone. Even if it’s to sit home and cry by myself. Other days I need to be surrounded by others and maybe even laugh or share stories about my Dad and tell everyone what a great man he was.  I think the scariest thing about grief is that you really don’t know how and when it will hit you. If it will be tears or anxiety or anger. So right now I’m learning to take each moment as it comes. Whether it’s strength or laughter.  If I need to cry, I cry. If I need to nap, I nap. If I need to scream, I scream. Because the one thing that is for certain about grief is that there is no wrong way to experience it, just take it as it comes.

Advertisements

Full Moon Reflections

image

One of the things I love about where I live is the fact that the ocean is only minutes away.  I have always lived here, near the ocean.  There is something so peaceful about the sounds of the water.  There is nothing quite like the air and breeze coming off the salt water.  It is so refreshing, except on a night like tonight when it’s more like that I can’t feel my face kind of cold.  Some nights when I am feeling restless I will hop in the car and drive down to the sea wall where I can either take a walk, sit on the wall or just sit in my car and listen to the natural rhythm of the waves like music to my ears. 

image
Sea wall at night

But on a night like tonight,  I especially love to go down to the beach and see the full moon, as it illuminates, glistening on the water.  To me, there is nothing more beautiful than the way the moonlight dances upon the waves, lighting a path along the water.   Like a stairway to the heavens.  The sound of the waves crashing upon the rocks, like the beating of a drum or the clashing of symbols, nature’s perfect music. 

image

The full moon often makes me restless.  I know not everyone believes it, but I definitely see the effects the full moon has on people, especially at work.  Things always seem to be extra crazy and chaotic around the full moon.  Didn’t you ever notice that the word lunar refers to the moon?  Which may explain why lunatics and lunacy seem to be heightened around the full moon?  Luckily the moon doesn’t stay full for long, although they say the side effects can last three days before and after the full moon.  It peaked on the east coast around 1:20 pm today so it will be decreasing or waning for the next two weeks. 

image

While sitting by the water watching the light of the full moon reflecting on the waves, I did some of my own reflecting.   I thought about how the moon increases and decreases similar to our hearts when they fill with love.  Some days our hearts fill to the brim with love for our significant others, our family and our friends.  Other days they may feel void and empty and we struggle to show our love.  This isn’t a bad thing,  it’s just part of nature.  Everything must move in cycles and change to create balance.   In fact, even our love for ourselves can fluctuate.   Today I felt so crabby I didn’t even want to be around myself, let alone anyone else.  Taking some time to go down by the water and take in the sounds of the ocean and the sights of the moonlight were just what I needed.  Some quiet time alone to reflect. 

image

I feel blessed to live near the ocean and I’m not sure what I would do if I didn’t.  I’m sure there are many bloggers who do not live near the ocean, where do you go to relax?

Party Time

Since I started writing more I have been cooking less.  Well this weekend I was in party mode.  I’m usually very social and even through the winter I will have dinner parties and get togethers.  I haven’t done much of anything but hibernate since the holidays ended.  This weekend I planned a family get together to celebrate my son’s birthday, plus my great niece will be 5 this coming week so I figured why not have cake for both birthdays. 

image
My son with my great nieces

I love my family.  Sure, they can drive me crazy but I love them anyways. Family are the ones who really know you, like every side of you.  Angry, sad, happy, silly, they see it all!  I have been blessed to live close to my family my whole life.  In fact, sometimes too close, as we all shared a duplex for a few years.  But since separating off on our own ways, I began to miss them.  I especially miss my nephew who recently moved to Texas with his dad.  And even more recently, like the past two weeks, my sister moved out to Colorado.  So our family events have been shrinking and it’s made me more aware of just how lucky I am to have a close family. 
My parents were blessed to have three beautiful daughters, or as we like to call ourselves,  Charlie’s Angels, because my dad is Charles.  They also have 5 gorgeous grandchildren and 2 adorable great grandchildren. 

image
My niece and her girls

I spent a good portion of my weekend cleaning and preparing for the party.  I was in cooking mode once again.  My niece requested butter finger cheesecake bars and of course she knew I couldn’t say no.  Plus I wanted to make cupcakes, although 3 dozen may have been a bit much for only 12 of us including the kids, but like I said I was in cooking mode!

image

There had to be pink because, like most 5 year old girls, that is Ny’s (my great niece) favorite color!  And even though my son is now 18, he is secure enough in his manhood as to not discriminate nor be intimidated by pink cupcakes with sprinkles.  Don’t forget, he’s a Valentine’s baby! 

image

I also made a spinach pie and a couple of pizzas from scratch, including my son’s favorite buffalo chicken pizza.  Yes, I make my own pizza dough.  Bacon wrapped chicken bites were another favorite appetizer and I threw together a cilantro slaw because we needed something healthy to balance out the sugar fest! 
The party was to start at 3pm, but like any other event my family has, no one showed up until about 4pm, including my son.  A friend of mine came with his wife and their son, who happened to have his 2nd birthday this past week as well, so we celebrated 3 Aquarian birthdays.  My son’s girlfriend also came to the party and as you can see by the photos, everyone enjoyed the cupcakes!

image

I got my cooking fix in and now I’m ready for a cleanse, or at least some light healthy eating this week.  Although, the one thing about cooking is that you often aren’t as hungry once you finish making the food.  However,  I definitely snuck in a taste or two while frosting cupcakes and slicing dessert bars.  My body is definitely feeling like it’s time for some serious veggies!
Over all it was great to spend an afternoon celebrating birthdays and just being with family. 

image

How was your weekend?

Cooking and Grandma Vichy

image
Francis Gafford aka Grandma Vichy

So today I got a text from a friend of mine saying, “Soooo…no blogs? Lol”  My response was, “No.  Sorry.  You were expecting one?  Do I usually blog every weekend?”  “I think so” she says.  I had to go back through my posts and see the last time I posted something which was Thursday morning I think.  I have been meaning to blog.  I’ve been wanting to, but I have a life too.  I actually left my house this weekend.  I also did some house cleaning and cooking.  I don’t seem to cook as much now that I started writing.  Which saves some money because of the fact that I don’t really know how to cook for two people, more like twenty two! 
The not cooking will surprise some that know me well.  I am always inventing new recipes or trying to copycat ones I have tried at a restaurant.  I’m usually baking up something from scratch or rolling wontons for soup.  Making dough for homemade pizzas or vats of rice and beans for my son and his friends.  I once had a friend of his ask why I always had rice and beans in the fridge when he came over.  “Because it’s cheap and feeds lots of teenage boys,” I told him.  In fact, I’m kind of known around town for making rice and beans.  Besides my son’s friends, many of my friends will request I make my rice and beans for get together’s and I’ve been known to make some of the best rice and beans late night, after the bar closes.  I’m good for having a couple of drinks and inviting the whole bar to my house for the after party.  I’m not sure if it’s the southern blood in my veins, but I just love to feed and cook for people. 
Cooking rice and beans makes me think of my Grandma Vichy (pronounced Veechie).  Francis was her name and she loved my rice and beans or as she sometimes called it “rice and peas”.
Back when my son was just a baby, she came to stay with us for a bit.  She was on oxygen then and had bad emphysema and I believe she had COPD, too.  She couldn’t get too far without taking a break.  I remember watching her go up a set of four stairs one time and she had to take a break after just two.  I know she had been a smoker in her younger days and she loved her whiskey, too.  My favorite was the story my mother told me about how as a little girl, her job was to hide the booze and cigarettes when the Mormons came to the house.  My grandmother was Mormon and would often tell me all about Joseph Smith, which my mother was never happy about because she was raising us Baptist.  I guess she was worried Grandma would successfully convert me but I always thought it was good to learn about all religions, then I could decide why I believed what I chose to believe. Many times when I think about Grandma Vichy, I think about how proud she would be with my cooking skills these days.  Mostly at the fact I have learned how to cook from scratch and waste less.  Grandma Vichy had lived through the Great Depression which explains why she had this need to save everything.  In fact most of it was rolled up in napkins, stuffed into plastic bags and pinned inside her bra!  If she wanted to give you some money she would reach into her bra and pull out treasures unknown!  Just thinking about it makes me laugh now, but it was just normal to me as a kid. 
The one time I will never forget, was the time I was cooking beef stew while Grandma was staying  with us.  It was my first time and I was probably about 20, my son was a baby and was sleeping upstairs.  I remember browning the meat in a cast iron pan and tossing it into a pot.  I was following the recipe directions as I had never made it before and wanted it to be just right.  I went upstairs to check on my son and when I came back down Grandma was in the kitchen.  She had added some water to the cast iron pan and was scraping all the flavor out to add to the soup.  I remember being so annoyed that she had messed with my cooking (I’m still that way in the kitchen) but I couldn’t say anything.  She was my Grandma, I could not disrespect her.  So I walked away, tried to stay calm and take a minute.  She said she was just trying to help and I of course continued to act like there was nothing wrong.  She was grandma, what could I say?  The stew cooked for a while and I checked on my son again.  I can still hear her voice and that strong southern accent when she apologized to me, “I’m sawry Lissa Beth.  I didn’t mean ta mess with yer stew.  I didn’t want it ta go ta waste.”  I remember feeling awful, I didn’t mean for her to feel bad.  She was just trying to help.  I didn’t want her to know I was upset.  It wasn’t until years later that I would wish she was still around to teach me some of her tricks and techniques on cooking.  It wasn’t until now that I really wish I had asked her more questions about the great depression, about all the history she had lived through. 
Growing up, Grandma lived between RI, FL and GA so we often wrote letters back and forth.  From time to time I will go back and read her old letters to me.  Like messages from heaven, I can hear her voice clearly saying, “I luuuuv you, Lissa!” In that southern twang, “and tell mama I luv n miss her too!”  I would be so excited to get that envelope in the mail and often times would open it up to find a single stick of Freedent gum enclosed.  It was one of those quirky things only Grandma did, kind of like the treasures in her bra.  So maybe I make rice and beans because it’s cheap and resourceful like my Grandma taught me.  Maybe I enjoy cooking and feeding people because it’s in my blood and it’s in my southern roots.  But maybe I just make them, because deep down, they make me think of Grandma and the times I used to cook for her.

Christmas Blessings

As I sit and think back to a couple of years ago at Christmas, I remember it was our first Christmas in our own place.  I was happy that it was finally just the two of us (my son Isaiah and I), but my heart was breaking because I had no money to spend on my son.  I knew his dad was getting him an ipad.  I knew he wouldn’t go without, but as a mother I hated that I couldn’t get him much for Christmas.  I remember bawling my eyes out.
This year is different.  Money is not my concern this year. I’m not rolling in the dough by any means, but it is not a stress.  However, this year I have noticed so many posts of people who have lost children, parents, and loved ones at this time of year.  My heart was heavy as I saw that an old school mate had lost her son to cancer.  Her son, who was about the same age as mine.  Seeing this hit me hard.  As a mother, and a sensitive person, I couldn’t help but cry.  In fact, I sobbed.  I could NOT imagine having the strength to deal with losing a child.  I thought of friends I had lost and how their mothers had went through this.  No matter the age, I could not fathom the pain these mothers (and fathers) have endured.  I cried. I sobbed. I prayed.  For love and healing for these women.  I prayed that if I couldn’t take away their pain maybe I could share it some how. 
Every year I say I’m not going to stress at Christmas.  Every year I say I will break this cycle I’ve carried on of getting emotional and stressed out trying to have the “perfect” Christmas.  This year I mean it!  This year I am going to think of all the mothers wishing they had their children in their arms.  This year I am going to hold my son a little tighter, hug him a little longer and kiss him a few extra times.  I’m going to enjoy every moment with my family, even when they get on my nerves!  I’m not going to stress making it the perfect day.  I am going to say a prayer and thank God for every single one of them.  I’m going to say a prayer for the mothers out there missing a piece of their hearts.  I’m truly going to be thankful for the blessings I already have. 

image

India Arie’s Christmas with Friends Show in Boston

This past Sunday I was fortunate enough to go to the Christmas with friends songversation in Boston with India Arie.  India does not call it a concert or a performance, it’s simply a songversation.   She recently released a Christmas album and is doing a Christmas tour.  When I first got to the show I was excited and nervous.  With the combination of the holiday season, PMS and my mother’s genes I was feeling very emotional!  When India came onto the stage, she started with her prayer and sang I Am Light, the lyrics were so healing.  It was like therapy. Reassurance.  I am not the things I have done or my past mistakes.  She spoke to my heart, telling me to let the past be the past. It does not define me or who I am.  I could feel the tears rolling down my cheeks.  It was like I had been holding my breath and finally I could release it all.  Let out the old carbon dioxide and take in fresh air!

The room, filled with so many different people.  Every shade and hue from a milky white to a sweet caramel and  a deep dark rich chocolate.  All gathered in one room.  One purpose.  To listen to India’s voice, her message, her WORDS!  As she sang the classic “Favorite Things” from the Sound of Music to The Christmas Song while weaving in many of her hits from over the years.  I thought to myself, she could sing a death metal song right now and make it sound like rainbows and unicorns to my ears.  It was like I could see the music notes dancing throughout the theater.  As I looked around to see the multitude of different people, every color of skin, every shape and size, bald headed, curly hair, short, tall… there was at least one of everyone in the room… It was pure beauty.  It was like the Benetton ads from the 90’s.  Every single person smiling, crying, singing, healing!  It was an overwhelming feeling of PURE LOVE!  With the hate, the fear, the violence going on in the world these days it felt amazing to be a part of this moment.  To be in that room full of love for one night was so healing!!!  Even more comforting  was to know that I could share that moment with my son.

At 17, my “Pooky Bear” ( a name I made up to embarrass him but it never works because he’s too confident) doesn’t like to hang with Mama bear too often.   Somehow over the years of listening and singing (not so great) to India’s music, he too has become a fan.  As a mother, it was my joy and blessing to have the memory of that night with my son.  The show was amazing!  India was and is amazing!  I know, I know, she is a woman like me, but she can sing much better so I gotta give her props for that.  It was a great night.

When we had first arrived and waited for the show to start, we looked around and discussed the fact that there seemed to be such a strange crowd of people and how some didn’t seem to fit in.  We even joked about the fact that the older white lady who had come by herself and was sitting next to us would be me in about 25 years. However, by the end of the night it all made sense.  This group of fans may look like they don’t fit, but over all they had much more in common that one would think.  To limit this crowd, as being brought here because they are India fans barely touches the surface. To be present that night and feel the peace and unity as the audience sang along to One.  To realize everyone in this room had so much more in common.  On the outside we were all so different, but together we all shared a common spirit of humanity, love and peace.  In that moment, in that theater, it was felt.  For that one night  we forgot about all the fear, the pain, the hate and violence going on outside.

As we drove home that night my son and I were talking about the show.  I wish I could describe that overwhelming feeling of love.  It felt as if my heart was pouring over with love.  As if I could no longer contain it.  India has a song called Soulbird Rise and refers to her fans as “soulbirds”.  The best way I can sum up the night is with this poem I wrote.

Let me be your soul bird

Together we will fly among the clouds

Let me be your soul bird

We will rise above the crowds

To speak our truth

Our voices heard

Our message strong and loud

One love that grows

One peace to show

One step to take

Towards Unity

Cause that’s our common ground

Let me be your soulbird

While at the show India mentioned that she had recently written several essays and encouraged the audience to read them and comment.  I found it very interesting that she talked a lot about the power of words and how we use them.  I have started reading her essays and encourage you all to check out her page. (Soulbird.com)  I’m not saying this just because I am a fan of her music, but I am a fan of her message and her words.

It’s funny that this was a Christmas show, yet reading over my blog, there is no feeling of Christmas.  I don’t talk about sleigh bells or presents or Santa anywhere in here!  For me, no matter what holiday you celebrate, it’s about being together.  It’s about sharing memories, laughter, food, friends, family and love.  The show that night, for me, was about creating memories with my son.  Everyone gets so wrapped up in the spending money, buying gifts, making sure everything is a certain way.  Maybe that is what the show was supposed to do. Remind everyone to take a break from the stress, the chaos in this world and just create a positive memory.  A feeling of love.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas or whatever you may celebrate!  Peace on earth!