A Keeping It Real Post
Today marks four years since I began this unwilling journey called Widowhood. Four years? Really? It feels like both an eternity and a blink of an eye.
And while things haven’t turned out how I’d planned, it has been the best year ever. I’m getting tired of hearing the non-bereaved bitch and moan 2020 is the worst year ever. People are dying. I’m not going to diminish the feelings you have about this bizarre reality in which we find ourselves. But if you haven’t buried someone you love this year, I can assure you it’s not your worst year ever.
(Words have power, folks. Let’s reframe 2020 lickety-split!)
Where was I? Ah, yes, best year ever. I love my life and have embraced everything it has to offer. But Widowhood never stops teaching me how to live it a little better. Here are four lessons I’ve learned over the last year.
1. Sometimes You Have To Go Back To Where It All Began
Those of you who’ve been following along know I’ve described this part of the grief journey in several different ways. In the early days, it was peeling back the layers of an onion. Over time that onion morphed into the visual of a spiral in which we continually circle back around to look at things with a stronger heart and more seasoned pair of eyes. Well, today, I’ve swung back around to the point of origin. I’m back where it all began.
It may not be as bad as you think. Or it may be worse. Either way, you’ll get through it. (Welcome to a classic Lisa pep talk.)
Three years ago, I ran away from Boise to escape both the trauma of watching D die and life in a claustrophobic small town where everyone watched me fall apart like a bad car wreck. I didn’t think I’d ever come back. And I’ve made sure to NEVER be back in Boise for his deathiversary. <insert record scratch here>
Here, hold my beer
Every time I say “never,” the Universe laughs and says, “here, hold my beer.” I’ve been back for ten consecutive months, and it’s not been voluntary. It’s been challenging, especially at this time of the year, but I’m making the best of it. Sometimes our path to healing means facing our most painful memories head-on, and that means going back to the epicenter of where they happened.
In my case, that included the forced isolation of a pandemic and the discovery of cancer in someone else I love dearly. Can you say grief triggers? So before the Boise Visitors Bureau tries to tell me how great it is, please know that no matter how many good qualities it may have, my small town will forever be flavored with the taste of watching people I love suffer and die.
Lee Harris said in a recent video that sometimes we have to be re-traumatized to heal. While I don’t agree that’s true for everyone, it definitely resonated with what I’m feeling today. I sure as hell hope this is the last of it. Either way, I’m feeling and breathing my way through it.
2. Family Is Who We Choose
I’ve written a lot, and I mean a lot, about how the bereaved suffer secondary losses of friends and family. I’ve struggled with this heartbreak, but this year finally embraced the truth that family is what we make it, not what is ordained by blood or law.
Sometimes they are one and the same. Sometimes people come and go. If we’ve parted ways, please know I’m grateful to wave goodbye and thankful for the time we shared. I’d rather say goodbye this way than at your funeral. And I never forget how blessed I am that the ones I’ve chosen to call my own have chosen me, too.
3. Life Is Short, Take The Chance
While not as fun or dramatic as sky-diving or traveling around the world, in the last year, I published a novel, went public with poetry that I’ve written under a pseudonym for two years, and earned my Reiki certification. None of those things would have happened if I’d allowed myself to overthink about it. Sometimes we have to take the chance. What’s the worst thing that could happen? What’s the best thing that could happen?
(Except when it comes to taking chances and not wearing a face-mask! Don’t be a selfish maskhole; wear the mask. It’s not about your lack of fear; it’s about respect for your fellow humans.)
4. Live In THIS Moment
I sometimes try to remember that woman I used to be, the boring one who lived before I watched my love take his last breath. Or the timid woman that set out alone to travel the world and figure out who she was going to be in The AfterLoss. Or the wild woman that remembered how to live and enjoy all that life has to offer. I’m proud of all of them and grateful for their role in forging the woman I am today.
But I don’t think about them often. I mostly focus on living life in THIS moment. It’s the only moment that matters.
So, hi there, Year Five. Show me whatcha got.
Live Now. Dream Big. Love Fierce.
I’ll never stop posting this for those of you lucky enough to have known the one and only Danny Bain, and those that wish they could have.