loss

Loss

charleston harbor

I’ve been looking for that sliver of blue sky lately - the tiny slice of hope that keeps us going through the dark and stormy times - wondering if the sun was going to ever shine back down on my heavy heart again.

I am in a stage of loss right now – something all too familiar to me. I have experienced loss before… Parents. A sister. Aunts and uncles. Friends. Pets. To be honest, loss never gets easier. And it doesn’t diminish at any stage. The overall feeling is still the same.

Loss comes in many forms. And so does the grieving. It doesn’t have to be traditional - like a death. It can happen when a friend leaves your life or you have a relationship-altering disagreement with a family member. The loss of a loved one can have a ripple effect, too. Breaking up with a boyfriend or divorcing a spouse can lead to losing extended family that you thought you would be with forever.

A few years ago, I had some friends move back home to Europe. I remember the grief I felt when they were gone. It was a loss in it’s own way. I also remember having to hide it - stuff it down like it didn’t exist. They were, after all, not gone…or so everyone kept trying to remind me. But with kids in schools, different schedules, different time zones and expensive plane rides, the likelihood of us seeing one another often seemed like a fleeting hope as I watched them drive away that last time, my battered heart trailing behind them in the dust. I felt heart broken. I felt loss.

I feel it each time I drive by their street. I feel it on Saturday afternoons when we would be making plans for the an evening of dinner and conversations together that lasted late into the evening. I feel it when the weather warms up and we head to the beach, picnic in tow, empty chairs beside us. The pangs of loss can linger for a while.

But, as I sit there on the beach on these cloudy days with my picnic in tow, I just look for that sliver of blue over head. Because it’s always there… peeking through just to remind us that above all, this, too, shall pass and that that big, bright, beautiful, warming sun is always shining above those heavy clouds.

The Aftermath

hurricane watch

For the past few days, we have been in hurricane preparedness mode around here as Hurricane Irma barrels towards the southeast. Fortunately for us, it's taken a turn. Unfortunately, it looks like Florida is in the cross hairs at the moment.

I would be lying if I said I hadn't shed a tear over this, both for me and for those in the path of this. Let me clarify...

I am well aware that there is nothing I can do about a storm barreling in my direction. You have to be prepared and do the work. Outside of that, it's just time to buckle up and brace yourself for the ride ahead. I know this. But still...reasoning and logic rarely come into play when you are faced with trauma.

You see, for about 3 years (actually more like 10 if I am being real), we had some very sick people in our family. My mother was on dialysis and my father was on chemo...sometimes simultaneously. At the same time, my son was pretty young...around 3 years old. I also had 2 dogs and a cat that I had to worry about.

To say that the preparing for an event like that was stressful would be an understatement. Thinking of all these moving parts completely overwhelmed me. Have you ever tried to find shelter from a storm inland where there was a dialysis center? Hospitals? Hotels/shelters that took pets? Even with resources, help and support, this was monumental. Every moment between August and October felt like I was in panic mode in those days.

To this day, I get amped up over storms. I am one of the people searching for water early. I am calling hotels that take dogs. I am buying batteries and making sure we have coolers stocked with essentials.  I worry and fret and stay glued to the TV, despite not wanting any part of it all.

And then...

Then it happens. It hits. Or it doesn't (because this time, you were lucky.)  And, just like that... it's all over. The aftermath is what you are left with. You are left with the cleaning up and the sorting back out and putting things back where they belong and sorting through all the broken things that you either need to throw away or repair or keep even though it's broken and bruised as a reminder of where you've been and just how much you are capable of all on your own. 

The big storms come through our lives for a reason. They are hard. They are harrowing. They are horrific. But they are their to teach you...to be prepared, to always have a plan, to know where to ask for help, and to always ALWAYS have some tools on hand to do the dirty work of the aftermath.

 

Sending love and light to everyone in the path of this storm.

You can donate now to the American Red Cross.

Ten.

mom

Ten Years.

A decade has passed since you left us...a decade since our little party ended too early for my liking.

Ten years is a long time to love something you can't see or feel or touch or hear or talk to. It's a long time to love something that is no longer tangible. I can look at these pictures and try to remember what is was like to walk down that sunny street with you on that crisp fall day, or what it was like to eat chocolate together, or play Yatzee before bedtime, or just melt into the the comfort of your soothing, strong voice on the phone.

But it's not the same, is it? Memories always feel like they become more translucent as time goes on until suddenly and without warning, you can't see them anymore.

In ten years, I have become a pro at living around the hole you left behind. I did my fair share of falling into it's clutches in the early days. But now I know how to co-exist with it – dodging it's jagged edges and walking around it's stony cliffs. Sometimes I stand on the edge of it, just looking in... just remembering. But I know now how to climb out and dust myself off. I know where it is. And I know how to live with it.

Death changes the landscape of your life. Grief and sorrow become the pit you live around. You lose your way. You lose your sight. You lose your sense. It's disorienting and all-consuming – like being in a storm at sea without a mast to your sails or oars to a boat. And through it all, you still have to pretend like you have some semblance of control.

After ten years now, I have figured out that this landscape that I got used to in my early days will keep changing. Life will continue to shift things, so we can't get too attached to the view. Babies will be born. Children will graduate and become adults. Family members will pass on. Relationships will fail. Trust will be lost and found again. Friendships will be made. Love will be had. It's all part of the landscape of life: it's ever-changing. 

So I will just strap on those hiking boots and keep learning how to make it through the dry, harsh deserts and deep, musty caves. I will swim and sail through dark, stormy seas and slink through the wild, sticky heat. In the end, I hope see it all and witness the brilliant spectacle that is life.

In the meantime Mom, just keep being that shiny star, helping me navigate this ever changing terrain. I still need you.

With love,
Libby