What we cannot share

No one knows, I realize. This game of loss is just me &…. No. It’s just me. 

Tonight I watched the latest episode of “This is Us”. If you’ve not gotten hooked, beware. If you ever need a jolt into tears, this script will do it for ya.

Two siblings, as close as can be, start to remember their Dad’s death from years ago. The sister has processed it recently. The brother still hasn’t. Their father died while they were in high school and are about 35+ now.

What moved me was the the last scene, the brother admitting to his sis, yes I have a really hard time thinking about Dad and his death. But. But, but, but. It’s on the phone, they just made up from after a fight, there is distance. So while he starts to cry, he shuts the conversation down.

This is grief.

Yes, there are moments when you are in it with someone- a friend, relative, partner, sister. But more often that not, you are in this journey alone. No matter how deeply connected you might be to another, who is missing that same person, who lived through the same timeline, it is not the same experience. To each, their own.

This is human.

For all the times I have heard, “You are not alone”, the one phrase I want to retort is “Yes, but I am. We all are”.

Hear me out. I am quite a gregarious person, who loves connection and meeting others. But nothing feels more true than the wisdom of I walk in this world in my shoes, my mind, my heart alone. It does not mean I am not in community with another, it does not mean I am forever lonely or lost. We enter this world alone, as unique, individual selves. And we leave it, changed I am sure, but alone and unique as well.

I will not say the alone-ness is “all ok” and “fully beautiful”.

But when grief wells up within me, there is no one who knows the pain better than myself. While I can share with words, no one else can live inside me- know what I am thinking when I cannot express it, know what physical changes I feel within my body, and no one can truly know what it feels like within my soul.

In that truth, there is liberation. There is the freedom that stops me from seeking someone, or something, ‘get it’ or ‘take it away’.

So even a sister to a brother who seem to have experienced so much the same in their life, their grief, their journey, their process will never be the same.

This is us. Human. Alone. Liberated. And maybe somewhat ok.

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Father’s (day) light

There are so many that I love today that I dearly miss. My dad and his. Mom and her two brothers- godfathers to my sister and I. My grandpa I never knew.

Dear friends with kids who I don’t see often enough- celebrating their first, third, or sixth Father’s day.

So many men I miss. Too many, perhaps, for this stage in my life.

And. (Not but, or yet, or however). And I am grateful. My heart is full with the sorrow of those who are no longer here and the buoyed by the memories of the sweet moments we had together.

And this. First, the annoyance, blinding me as sit and reflect on this day. On and off, on and off this light flickers. Is an animal tripping it on, or a person flipping a switch, not knowing what it does? While right in my eye, it is dozens of times before I really pay fuller attention to this visual cacophony with light.

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This light shines into the corner of my sight and illuminates all that is dark in the outer world. Light in this hot and stormy night. Light in this darkness. Light, again brought forth in the tough day.

For where there is darkness, let there be light.

Even if you only last for a brief moment.

Be still and know. 

Know, know forever there is light.

Choosing Happiness

I choose to be happy in this moment.
Breathing in, I crave light & peace.
Breathing out, I let go of all the negative, even for these minutes.

I choose to be happy in this moment.
I connect to my heart, my soul, my deeper self.
The self that can recognize this moment.
Bringing mindfulness to the here & now.

I choose to be happy in this moment.
To know that I am loved.
To know that I am held.
To know that my inner self is more than just my troubles.

For I am grateful for these minutes.
The ones that pull me back to my true self and remind me that this is all temporary.
And if in the small moments of the day, I can reconnect with my higher self, I can feel that peace.
Choosing mindfulness, I can choose peace.

 

 

 

© katesaysyes

 

 

A Christmas letter to the folks

I miss our house. I miss decorating our tree. I miss my childhood chore/love, vaccumming up pine needles and how the warmth of the machine would make the room smell even more intense.

 

I miss you. I miss your navy blue robe with white piping from years ago. I miss your sleepyhead look, yet joyful Christmas morning smiles. I miss you collecting all the gift wrapping to recycle.

 

I miss your pancakes. I miss your starting a fire by 9am in the morning, just this one time a year. I miss your only watching “A Christmas Story” on the 24 hour loop- never on VHS or DVD.

 

I miss Christmas. Our Christmas of the years past. With the flow of many friends and family into our home, our hearth, our safe place.

 

I need this Christmas to be merifcul. I need the ache to not be so intense. And yet, can I ask that of this day? Will  it listen?  With Advent, I anxiously await.

 

So then,  I need to be mericful. I need to allow the pain to be present, even if it is intense. I need to allow this Christmas to be this Christmas- even if all I want is one more with you both.

 

Merry Christmas- I miss you both.

 

I needed to feel alive.

It’s been 7 weeks since I jumped. And bounced. And threw myself willingly into a foam pit.

It’s also been 7 weeks since we brought my Mom to her final resting place.

Just 11 months and one day apart, we lost first Dad and then Mom. While Mom’s Alzheimer’s was a long journey, filled with constant big and little losses of her, the ultimate loss was quick. Too swift.

The whole ordeal felt unreal. Thus proving to me, no matter how much you expect the end, you cannot know how it will rattle you. Moments of those weeks after felt so disconnecting to this truth, the truth that Mom was gone. Maybe because it was so close to the loss of Dad. That we stood in the same room, both in the nursing home and in the funeral home, to welcome our family who has suffered three additional losses this year.

This is not what I could have ever imagined for my life. My world. My family. And here it was. In my face, but feeling so foreign.

I got through the two days of traditional goodbyes. They helped, the comfort of my faith and the rituals we perform. It gave me something to connect to when my world was rocked.

After the wake, after the mass, after the repass, I did not know what to do. I expected that I would want to curl up in a ball and hibernate.

But it was the opposite. I need to live. I needed to experience what it meant to be alive, in this moment, in the stark reality of death.

No, this was not a “let’s have a glass of wine” moment; it was “I need to feel myself breathe in life”.

And so we went trampolining. My boyfriend, our friend, and I. On the day we buried my Mom, I jumped for nearly an hour straight, to feel my heart pound, my breath race out of control, sweat drip from my face. I faced my fear of throwing my body against a wall and safely landing on my feet. I slam dunked at the hoops, and I kinda flipped into a foam pit. But best of all, I could feel a smile emerge from my face.

No, I could never envision this part of my life, or the action I took later that day in my moment of grief.

But it was truly me. Because I needed, deeply desired, to feel alive.

Sorry that I’m sorry

1/26/16

Know the phrase “sorry, not sorry”? That is so not my issue.

My problem is I say “sorry” way too often. I need a stand in adjective at this point!

I say it to my boyfriend all the time…I don’t even know why! I say it when not grabbing my stuff fast enough out a friend’s car- and then apologized for apologizing saying “gosh I say ‘sorry’ too often”. She heartily agreed!

But today I said it in rising anger. I was on the phone, for the umpteenth time with a new issue regarding my Dad’s passing. When the supervisor tried to placate me (but not provide any help) by saying “Ma’am, I’m sorry- I know how frustrated you must be”.

Roar. 

I went a little something like this: “No. No, you do NOT know how I feel right now. Myself and (third party) have called this organization multiple times and spent countless hours on various hiccups that you throw our way. Now, you are asking me to jump through yet another hoop? Why is this the first time we are hearing of this delay when we rightly request it? Why do none of my legal titles in this situation help, yet you had me file various documents, send fax upon fax, just to not resolve this? I am SORRY, but you do NOT know how I feel”.

So this time, it’s obvious that I’m not sorry. Having someone you love pass is hard enough without endless bureaucracy and circuitous policies. (True example: I am dealing with a government agency to get tax information for another government agency, but I must go to court to get said information. WHAT?) Plus, I KNOW I am not the first person who has had a loved one die and needs to filing taxes, forms, and other necessities. Insult to injury, my Dad was one of the most thorough and prepared people- and still this craziness occurs.

The best part was the validation of the calm third party on the phone who I called to speak with after (…ok, to say sorry I lost it a bit). He said “No, I didn’t want to stop you on the phone. You have every right to be frustrated with them. I have never heard needing to do what they are asking of you”.

Am I still angry? You betcha. Am I exhausted from months of fighting? Heck yes. Am I sorry? Hell to the No.

And maybe that is my lesson for today. #sorrynotsorry is my new stand-in.

Room

We are selling my childhood home. Nothing about this is easy, not purging 30+ years of stuff, not cleaning every nook and cranny, not praying that you can get enough for your Mom. It’s a long goodbye, filled with lots of things to do.

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These green chairs I am taking with me. But today, they sit oddly in my old bedroom. Oddly because they always stood firmly in our living room, not in my small space. But as I looked at this picture I took today, I realized it is special. My dad spent nearly every day after his diagnosis while at home in one of these chairs. It was here that he was able to think, chat, sometimes write, and share with friends. It is here, as a child, I remember him reading the newspaper, or as in my teenage years, listening to my fears, worries, hopes and desires.

So even though it is strange to see these chairs in my old room, the oddity is sweet. It’s a reminder of my dad and I, the bond that can’t be broken by disease or death. While I would give anything to just sit in those chairs with him again, I have this clear vision given by this picture to bring to my mind when I miss Dad and want to talk with him. I can be in the comfort of my childhood bedroom, with new paint and little furniture, and our chatting chairs.

My room, my space, now filled with new visuals for me. And that is a gift.

 

Celebrate me home

Still so true.

Tonight, we shared Christmas Eve with our good friend and her family. It was kind and casual, warm and inviting. The food was delicious and the company even better.

Yes, this Christmas may very well be one of the toughest as we still very acutely miss and mourn Dad.

So, we say thanks for the blessings, ask for help with the sorrow, and share love wherever we can, especially those in most need.

Amen.

Say Yes! Change Things.

November  30th, 2012

Today, I did something I never thought I’d do. I heard the first Christmas song of the season… and I cried.

Not a Hallmark-card-just-a-glisten-of-a-tear in your eye. No. This was a  shoulder rocking,a streaming down the cheeks, full out sob.

Even worse, the culprit was a Kenny Loggins song. I know, I KNOW, even I’m saying, “What?! KATE!”

Honestly, it was the end of a long day, a tough commute, and too much introspection. Plus, the lyrics made me think about Mom and future Christmases. Those moments that I know will come.

So. I cry. Even if I can’t be footloose and fancy free (please I had to throw in that one), I can let the moment be.

Plus, laugh that a woman looses it over lines like “let’s turn on the love light in the place” … has become me.

December 24th, 2012

I…

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It’s not a love story

3/14/15

It’s not the two of them.
It’s not the beauty or the partnership that two people have.
It’s not what we all want.

It’s a robbery. It’s not a gift.
It’s ugly destruction of the mind, but never the spirit.

But it’s not love. It’s love in spite of it.

Love in the depths of an ongoing battle. Love whilst losing, forgetting, and regaining. Love through pestilence.

It’s not a love story. It’s a story, woven with commitment, loyalty and love.

But death is not their love story.

Their life together is.

Welcome the other

“…even as we extend, welcome, we often deeply fear of the other. This idea of how do assimilate, and assimilate difference, I think this is still the essential question of American culture and we struggle with this today”. – Prof. Nancy Schultz, Salem State University
While listening to a podcast I love, Backstory, I heard this very poignant statement. Later, I went to hear Nicolas Kristof speak and he mentioned the concept of the ’empathy gap’. This idea that we struggle putting ourselves in other people’s shoes and may instead judge them harshly.
I don’t have all the answers, but I sit with these thoughts today. I’d rather welcome then shut-out. I’d rather love then hate. I’d rather find any area of space then say the inn is full.
To listen to the episode called, Catholics in America visit http://backstoryradio.org/shows/catholics-in-america/ .