My wise friend has started keeping a gratitude journal. As I trudge toward the end of 2013, I am trying to strike a balance between the amazingly wonderful and the heartbreaking and everything in between. If ever there was a year that felt like a roller coaster, 2013 would be it.
How do I explain the confusion of emotions that I felt when my mother died? For me, she had died a few years ago, and this was just her body playing catch up with her mind. And yet, now I think of her as she was when I was a child, and that is who I miss. Thanksgiving, for example - nobody will ever prepare a Thanksgiving dinner that will taste like my Mom's Thanksgiving dinner. There was never anything fancy or exotic. It was just good. The turkey was never dry, the stuffing was that old stand by sage dressing. Why does everyone want to make fancy stuffing? Why must everyone add oddities such as fruit and nuts? She also would not approve of the current trend of not stuffing the bird. Really, people - I ask you - has anyone out there died from eating in-the-bird stuffing? (dying of happiness doesn't count) And then there's Christmas....... I'm still working on Christmas. It hasn't been my favorite season for lots of reasons. Somehow, I don't feel a difference happening this year..... yet.....
So, as I struggle with loss coupled with my ongoing and ever-present feeling of being one of those people who are nothing special (aka - no presence, invisible, Mrs Cellophane, etc...), I am going to try very hard to focus on all of the things that I am grateful for. Here goes:
My Husband: how do I describe a man who is so the opposite of me, and yet somehow over the course of 23 years, we've become a team. While I feel that he doesn't really "get" me some of the time, there is no denying that he can make me laugh like nobody else, and he has mastered the art of the surprise. A smart man knows how to enlist the aid of an expert accomplice, and I was surprised not once but twice in 2013 by him. He will help anyone at any time with just about anything, and he loves me in all of my imperfection. He is, as the VISA commercial says - priceless.
My daughter: what can I say about a child who puts others' needs ahead of hers, has a big heart, her father's goofy sense of humor and is so unbelievably talented? When I look at her, I see the best of me and her father. I see a girl who has the tools to go anywhere and be wildly successful, but she will always be my daughter and my friend. A thousand miles will not separate us in spirit and in our hearts.
My chorus: when you plan the funeral of a loved one, you plan it the best way you can to say goodbye and you think that you've done everything you can to honor your loved one. When you hear the sound of 35 angels singing in the most beautiful harmony from the choir loft, there are no word to describe the emotions that wash over you. Tears flow because of the sheer amazement of knowing that these people came through to support me in the best way that they possibly could. I can't say it enough ... there are simply no words.
My best friend: they say that the best things in life are worth waiting for. Well, I spent over 15 years without a best friend, and yes, this was definitely worth the wait. My BFF knows how my brain functions like nobody I've ever met. I have never had this sort of connection with anyone. I can tell her anything and without a shadow of a doubt, I would walk through fire for her. She has opened her family to me - her husband with the twinkle in his eye who always has something interesting to say, her daughter who shares her mother's drive, organizational skills and generosity, and her son with the heart of a lion, and her grandchildren who bring joy and laughter and simple happiness to my heart each and every time I'm with them. This woman is quite simply a miracle in my life.
When I read what I've written, it hits home to me just how good my life is. I must vow to myself that when I am feeling fat or invisible or verbally abused or missing my Mom or just feeling sorry for myself in general that I will re-read this post and not let the downers in life win the battle for my mind and spirit.