Who knew that 2019 would again bring me to my knees, barely able to process day to day life. The pain of loss is a seering pain that affects you to the very core, something that you cannot possibly prepare for, a depth of hurt you did not know existed. Sometimes I feel like I am in a burning building and with flames all around, I wonder if I will get out ok. Will I be whole when this is over if I am lucky enough to survive. Honestly, I’m not sure you are ever whole again, more like pieces of glass being held together by Super Glue. As I contemplate 2020, I realize more lessons I’ve learned and more important, things I need to work on. Here are my top 10 and I’m guessing if you are reading this you may recognize some also.
1. Stop, don’t look too far ahead because it is frightening and can get in your way. Thinking about the big picture without the person or persons you loved is like an abyss. It is dark and endless because you really don’t know what is going to happen today so worrying about the future is wasted energy.
2. Set your goals in a way you can accomplish them. Don’t set the bar so high that you can’t achieve it. It is a possibility that you will never be that happy again, but it is also a possibility that you will, just in a different way.
3. Don’t depend on anyone. You are the only person that knows what you need and only you can make it happen. No one can do it for you, you must do the work yourself. Others may not be pleased with how you do it, but you have to make the decision that works for you.
4. Sometimes life sucks and sometimes it doesn’t. Try to glean what you can in the good times so when the bad times come, you have enough stored up to get through, much like a squirrel prepares for winter.
5. Life is not and will never be the same. You and those around you are forever changed. You can’t carry their burdens nor can they carry yours. People will handle things in their own way and not necessarily the same way you do. Let them clear their own path just as you clear yours.
6. Try to find things to be grateful for every single day. Some days there will be a lot and some days you’ll have to dig a little deeper. Life is a gift and that is never more obvious than when you lose someone close.
7. Find your niche. It may not be what you expect and you may be surprised what doors open for you. Sometimes you have to turn away from the familiar to find your way. It is scary, but can be worth it in the end.
8. Sometimes you have nothing left to give and that’s ok. People who walk with you understand and when those times come, they can be your eyes and ears, they can help with simple things until you feel better. There will be a time when you will return that for someone else.
9. Look around you every day and see the opportunities before you. Open your eyes to the rest of the world and see what others are challenged with. There are those with no food, no roof over their head, no job, bad health and hundreds of other things that we take for granted, not on purpose, but because we know no other way. Help when you can, it feels good and helps you too.
10. The most difficult part of losing someone you love is living without them. No one can tell you how to accomplish this. The collateral damage created by loss can have a rippling effect forever. Be ready to ride the waves because you won’t know they are coming and you can easily tip over and be swept away.
I think I’m on target with #4, 6 and 9, but everything else here is a work in progress. I miss my life more every day. I had just gotten my footing from Lindsey’s death and then another hit. I stood in lines this week with hundreds of couples, old and young. I watched older couples dance and hug and hold hands. I watched them wait on each other in the buffet lines and sit side by side at the shows. I watched them save each other seats and hold onto each other’s arm as they walked along, depending on that other person to be there if they stumbled. I missed “my person”. I missed being a couple, I missed Rick.
The maze is lonely tonight, no lights, no sound, no holiday crowds in the distance. I think I took a few wrong turns and have found myself lonely and confused. I’m not sure which way to go, but I know it needs to be toward the light. I’ll keep trying to find my way.
To all of you who take the time to share my journey, I hope you will have a kind and gentle 2020.