I’m not going to be here. You will be.

Happy Birthday Mo.

It’s been an absolutely insane past few months.

I’ve been working so hard on the “list” of things you wanted me to do for you. 

I’ve still got a few of those things that I’m working on. I feel your hand guiding me towards those things every day. Or at least I like to think that that’s the case because some of these “coincedences” that have been happening the past year are just too much to believe are just random occurences.

I’ve been thinking a lot about our last conversations and I think now I really and truly understand what you were telling me.

You know me. Sometimes it takes me a while to figure out things if they are just bluntly put in front of me…or I’ll go with the “worst case scenario” (as you know I tend to do) and get sidetracked going down a rabbit hole of emotions.

Things are much clearer now with this time that has passed. The fog of grief has lifted somewhat. I feel your hand in that too.

You came to me a while back. One of the very few times you’ve visited me. I was driving you in the car. Your hair was that shade of “perfect” burgundy you’d always try to get. 

“1 out of 3 times it is perfect”.

We were making small talk. Nothing really coherent but the feeling was “Us”. Our conversations and our chatter back and forth. There wasn’t a sense of rush or even time going by at all. I wasn’t worried about the destination. We were just talking and together.

Some time passed (even though it seemed like it went on forever…in a good way). 

You got out of the car. Leaned down in the window and said

“Thank you for getting me here.”

Your smile reassured me that everything was ok. You were happy. You were radiant. Then you said…

“Don’t rush. We’ll see you later. I promise.”

I didn’t understand what you meant by “we”. For the first time I realized we were at some sort of “station”. A giant building with things coming and going. I say things because they were immersed in this bright light.

You turned around and started to walk away…as you got further you were immersed in this light. And then I realized that just past you…Kristen was there looking back at me. She gave me a wave and a smile and I could barely make out “I love you bro”. 

There wasn’t any sadness from you walking away. It was more a sense of relief.

The “list” you gave me. I think I get it now. I get that you were making me focus on the things you knew was going to trip me up after you were gone.

You were giving me these tasks…so that I could take them head on and through taking them on. You knew if I didn’t have direction and a motivation I’d wallow. You gave me the direction through the tasks and the motivation through the promise. I don’t break those.

There’s one item that I think I’m getting closer to completing and making progress on. And it’s a big one…it’s the one that says…

“LIVE. Don’t stop your life. Don’t stop being you. Don’t stop being a father. Do the things you love. The things that made me love you. You can’t stop doing that. I’m not going to be here. You will be. Don’t stop living because I’m gone. Keep living because I am. The worst thing you could do would be to let this thing take both of us and our daugther”

There are more words. But those are for just you and I.

You ARE here. You are guiding me towards this new life I’ve been trying to build. One that lives up to the promise. It’s been incredibly hard, but things are changing. I’m finding ways to move forward and make you proud.

There have been false starts along the way. More loss to process. 

But there are so many big things happening. 

Thank you for giving me the gift of realizing just how precious time is. 

Thank you for giving me the gift of understanding how we need to let our walls down with those we love…and let them know just how we feel.

Because we have no idea when we’re not going to be here anymore. There’s no time to waste.”

So for your birthday. I hope you can…wherever you are…have the gift of you knowing that I’m getting there. 

We love you. We are grateful for you. Keep guiding us. We will keep following the path.

Happy birthday Mo. We miss you so much.






 

The Nature of Time

Two years ago I held your hand and kissed you for the last time.

Two. Years.

I’m realizing as this intangible thing we humans have created called “time” goes by just how much in the fog I was when it was the 1 year anniversary.

I was still stunned at the 1 year mark. Still “working through” things. Working hard. Individual counseling, group counseling, being open about my emotions. Working hard on myself and powering through.

“Putting in the work.” As they say.

That focus was actually laying groundwork for what I had no idea was going to happen.

The REAL processing of everything that had happened. I began to be able to see exactly how I had been affected by the years. To be able to process just exactly what in the hell had happened. My laser-like focus on making sure you were taken care of had taken a toll.

You don’t see these things when you’re in the middle of it. You just protect the ones you love. The cost doesn’t matter.

The toll-taker catches up though. Always.

There’s that saying that “Time heals all wounds”, or about 10,000 variations of it.

It’s bullshit.

There’s no healing from a wound like this. There’s only building around that wound. Putting scar tissue around the wound so it’s encapsulated and bearable. That wound can flare up any damn time and bring you to your knees. Believe me, I know (boy do I know…).

I’ve learned how to accept the wound and cherish it. It’s a reminder of a former me. One that I will always be grateful for. A reminder of how I’m a better person because of you. Because of your story, and my place in it.

I’m doing my best to move forward and start the next book of my life.

A chapter really doesn’t work, because a story without you in it, is a completely different tale indeed.

I hope you like what you read. I hope it makes you proud.

I miss you every day but feel close to you when the sun hits my face.

Two years have been an eternity and a blink of an eye.

I guess that’s just the nature of time.




Silenced by Volume

It’s been a while since I’ve actually punched letters into this digital papyrus.

I’ve started several entries. And shelved them.

None of them felt like they could possibly summarize the complete turmoil and amount of emotion that I was feeling.

And still do.

More remarkable humans gone. Leaving us here.

More questions about why this world seems to grab the ones that love and give so quickly…and leave behind the dregs all too often.

This world is chaos right now. It feels like the “bad guys” are winning on every front.

Justice is not only blind…but mute…and deaf…and hogtied…and rendered unconscious.

I’ve been silenced by the volume of it all.

Volume in two meanings.

The sheer amount of emotion and things and the complete and deafening loudness of how it has all happened.

I’ve looked down that chasm again a couple times…in really hard moments.

A tether was severed. And when I thought I was working with little to no safety net…another was formed.

You saw it all.

You’ve got company there. Amazing company we all could really use here too. But it’s easier for me knowing that that company can let you know exactly what’s been going down from another perspective.

She’s always been that last safety line.

Always.

That and the promise. Only now that thread shines so much more brightly.

You’d be so proud of her Mo.

She’s found her “groove” right now. She’s on the path. I see so much of you shining through her every day. Everyone that knew you sees it. It’s eerie at times, but in a wonderful and warm way. Bittersweet.

She took on the strength of others too.

They’re with you now.


A few weeks ago she interviewed me about a “dark time” in my life for school. A very cool concept of talking about how the human spirit always manages to conquer through that darkness that seems to envelop us from time to time.

That darkness I’ve felt and so many others feel lately.

That was hard.

Really hard.

I remember thinking as she asked me these bombshell questions…

How much do I tell her…how much do I hold back?

You were there with me and told me to tell her everything.

Open up and don’t hold back.

It’s a lesson she will take with her.

Her Dad. Vulnerable and exposed. But defiant. And trying. Trying his damndest to figure it out.

I hoped she took that away after the interview as she looked at me reduced to sobs slumped down in my seat. Head on my desk.

I hoped she saw that I had felt it all…but was fighting through it. That we can do that.

I could only hope.

This past week she stood in front of her entire class and all the parents at Open House and spoke from her heart. I had no idea what she had written.

Her Poem was chosen as the first one to be read. Because it had apparently reduced the teachers to tears when they heard it. Not just the words

…but the delivery.

I didn’t know this until her teacher came up to me to tell me this. Giving me a hug in the process and saying to me…

“Thank you for sending your daughter to this school”.

How do you respond to that?

I couldn’t.

I just sat there humbled and said “Thank you for guiding her.”

And probably some other words I can’t remember now.

Here’s her poem…

This is her delivery at school…with her full opening line. To hear this from her mouth…seen through her eyes…no words…

https://youtu.be/q-7lTqhBlBQ

She amazes me every day.

I promise I’ll try to speak through the volume more.

There’s other rays of sun coming through too. Making me want to write and do more.

Powerful…and unexpected…

But good.


Instability

As a child who grew up with a lot of instability in my childhood…one thing that I focused on as I “grew up” was trying to achieve a sense of stability.

I wanted to get married and stay that way.

I wanted my children to have stability and to be part of an “unfractured” family.

Side Note: This isn’t because my childhood was bad. Yes, we struggled. We didn’t have a ton of money. But my Mom worked her tailbone off to provide for us and to give us things well above her means. As a kid, you don’t think about these things. You don’t see them. But when you age and you see the true cost of things and just how much it takes to survive in this world, you start to have a higher level of appreciation.

My Mom never said “No” to me when it came to my pursuits. She paid band fees and for trips and all kinds of other things that I KNOW she sacrificed to make happen. She taught me how to prioritize things…and I started working at a very young age to get the things I wanted. 


I’ve come to realize that a huge reason why I’m “hurting” is because that dream of mine …and how much work I put into it…well…it was basically shattered by Cancer.

It’s a hard thing to accept. Especially when it’s through no fault of your own…that your dream just collapses.

And you have to start over.

And you can’t..no matter what you do…realize that original goal you had. It’s not a possibility.

So there’s an inherent instability in my life now that I’m searching and looking to shore up.

But it’s damn hard to focus on that when you have the entire world you knew basically becoming unstable on EVERY level.

Personal. Work. The News. The Economy. You name it. It’s unstable as of late.

When everything you’ve assumed starts to turn and show stress fractures… It’s a test of your mettle.

How do you endure the instability? How do you face the unknown?

I’ve found that you need to find those bedrock unshakeable things to build outwards from.

My daughter.

My love of creating art.

My passion for people and engaging (which anyone who knows me is incredibly paradoxical because I’m actually a pretty insane introvert until something gets my motor started…then it flips and I got hyper extrovert)

I need to focus on these things.

I need to build a new foundation that can survive all the outside threats and build on those core things.

There are many lessons I’ve learned on this road. But there’s one thing that grief absolutely does.

It tests you. It cuts to the bone and challenges you unlike anything else. It doesn’t have mercy. It doesn’t have malice. It just “is”.

And when it stares at you. You either stare back and face it down…or succumb to its domination of you.

And though I may occasionally blink or turn my head…

I’m learning every day how to stare back.




I’m thankful ever so much for those of you that remind me of what I need to do. I’m not sure I could win this staring contest without you.




Valkyries

As more distance moves me away from the moment that Mona left this existence and moved her to the next…I’ve increasingly been having the haze and clouds of her battle lift and the details of her fight come back to me.

It’s genuine trauma that I suppressed. Emotions, and memories, and damage that I endured because quite simply, there was no other option but to do so. Never even a moment of doubt or fear in those moments to face what I was up against. Just reaction and action.

That’s what you do for those you love unconditionally.

What’s revealed even more to me is that a good friend of mine and his wife have been traveling a very similar road. 

The battle has been incredibly similar. Similar spirits. Similar fight. Similar grace. Similar love. Similar endurance. Similar smashing of the odds…

I’ve offered what little experience and knowledge I’ve gleaned from my journey to them. For it’s a journey that you just don’t hear so much about at our age. 

Every story and journey is different of course, but there are certain things and moments that I believe are just part of every one of these stories.

Some come faster or slower, but the moments and events are there.

One such moment is when you have been fighting so long, and your field general tells you…

“The battle is over. There’s no more we can do.”

And the word 

“Hospice” 

is said. And your world of medicines and treatments and plans comes shrinking in but your will to fight still remains. 

This is not “losing” the fight. This isn’t “surrendering”.

This is victory

It’s hard to see it at the time. Incredibly hard to see. Impossible is actually closer of a description. Because you’ve been trained as a team to be optimistic and have hope.

But every single second you gained during that battle was worth it. Every moment you created after the battle started was worth the effort. There’s no loss if you choose to fight.

The battle was won by choosing to fight with grace and love.

And with women like Mona. There was never a desire to stop. She stopped when she was told she had to. She stopped when the generals said.. 

“It’s time to rest.”

When they said….hospice.

Even then…there was fire in her. Things to do. Things to say. Moments to be had.

Another moment on this path is when this magnificent warrior, this powerful and shimmering Valkyrie passes on to the next existence with sword raised leaving behind a broken body but lifted by a gloriously unbroken spirit into the heavens.

The world feels lesser when they leave us.

Their fight had become our fight.

Their courage inspired us to be better.

It feels as if that spirit is leaving forever when you stare at the broken body of your love.  

When they take it from the room. 

That spirit does indeed disappear for a time. The numbness of grief enveloping you in a relentlessly thick fog…pushing the world in around you so close it’s suffocating.

It feels that way for a seemingly endless time. For time crawls when you experience the loss of love.

But as you move forward on the path…away from the fog of sorrow….away from the seas of emotion that churn and toss you every which way…you begin to feel the presence of that unbroken spirit again.

Little by little…moment by moment. It shines through the fog. 

You still have the fog around you. It never leaves fully. You still have rocky seas surround you…but you have that spirit within you…an anchor offering stability as the waves crash against you.

You take strength from that Valkyrie that went before you.

And you can can honestly feel that one day you too will have them by your side again.

They will be with you to guide you.

They will tell you…

“It’s time to rest. Let’s go home.”

Your fight and battle will earn you the passage.

———————–

Another Valkyrie joined Mona today in the realm after.

Rest In Peace Teresa Moura.

Your fight inspires us all.

The love of your family and friends for you make this world a better place.

We will see you again.

We honor you by continuing on the path.

Please say hello to Mona for me.

I know you both have a lot to talk about.





The Road (Happy Birthday Mo)

Happy Birthday Mo.
 
Miri and I miss you so much. But you know that I’m sure.
 
We’re doing our best to keep moving forward and live the lives you told us you wanted us to.
 
I have to admit, on some days this seems impossible. Some more than others. But then I remember you and the strength  you had to face everything…and I push forward.
 
“One step at a time.”
 
Like you told me to.
 
“Just breathe hon.”
 
Those words ring in my ears all the time…and I really sincerely try to. Sometimes it’s hard to draw in that breath. Almost impossible on some days.
 
Things are changing fast. Miri is growing so quickly it’s scary. And we’re looking at leaving “the nest” and figuring out what our next steps are.
 
It’s scary as hell without you by my side. You know how I get.

I’m still writing like you wanted me to.

It does “get some of it out”. You were right. It wasn’t a dumb idea like I thought it would be. I’ll try to write more. It really does help (so you win the bet on that one…I concede…dammit).

 

The road is curved, and rough, and not lit clearly. It’s ominous and not friendly. There are people and stops on that road that are helping us keep moving along it. They are beacons between the moments of uncertainty. They help us through our biggest moments of uncertainty.

 

We honor you by taking those steps down the road.

We remember you with every single step.

“Just breathe hon.”

I try. I really really do.

We move not away from you, but towards what you wanted for us.

(I know I’ve been lost a bit…I’ve never been good with directions. But Miri is absolutely trailblazing right now. I imagine your proud smile all the time.)

 

I hope so much that we make you proud. We’re doing our best.

I’m trying. I’m doing. I hope you know that (so so much).

 

Pole Reversal

(Quick note here)

It’s been a weird few months. I’ve drafted up several entries here and have left them unpublished. The thought has kept me from hitting that publish button has been…

“Who wants to hear me whine more?”

There’s only so many ways to express yourself when you’re going through a hard time…and when you do it for long enough I think in peoples minds they become numb to it. Not out of any ill-will, but everyday life is hard enough to get through without taking on the weight of another constantly.

But then I’ve realized now that this is my space to process and log and keep my progress going…so…I’ll get those other posts up at some point. If they seem like they are out of order…that’s the reason.

(End of quick note)

Today marks the anniversary of the day I wed the love of my life. One of my ONLY regrets in my relationship with Mona was that I didn’t pull the trigger sooner. Actually, both of us regretted that, but at the end of the day it was more of a technicality than anything.

Our wedding day was one that I absolutely loved to talk about. The wedding was great…I was a blubbering mess on the altar (as anyone who was there could attest to), and we had a simply amazing bridal party. Our best and closest friends and family.

The ceremony was beautiful with the stained glass lined chapel sending light through at just the right time (what we had actually hoped for with the timing of the ceremony) and man was Mona gorgeous.

But that was just the beginning. The reception was truly epic. It was already a big invite list, but it just kept growing over the course of the night and kept getting crazier and crazier. Anyone that attended knew it was a great reception.

Truly one of the best days of my life. Only topped by the day my daughter was born.

Mona and I talked about that day constantly…reminding each other of little details we had forgotten. It was an anchor point for us and something we were truly proud of. Our entire lives were there. Family, friends, co-workers, former students we had taught, colleagues…the very fabric of who were were and had grown to as a couple was all represented in that one big reception hall.

And then she passed.

And now…the poles have reversed it seems in my mind. That day sits as a reminder for me of so many things that are now gone.

I can’t share those little memories with Mona anymore…and miss more than anything hearing her snicker as she reminded me of some stupid thing I did or say that day in the playful manner she would say to me when she thought it was “cute” that I did something but knew I was embarrassed about it.

Rather than being this amazing positive affirmation of life, it’s now a reminder of loss. And honestly, it’s the hardest day of them all for me. It was OUR day. Truly and uniquely ours. Something we were able to share as our own private holiday.

As I’ve been on this path the second year I’m realizing that the first year was all about processing the loss and just fighting through that haze. Recovering from the head and body blows that life had laid me out on the mat with. Wobbling to your feet and making my way to the corner to get patched up by my cutman to try and take the next onslaught that life, smirking from it’s own corner from across the ring was going to come at me with next. Clubber Lang ready to end me badly.

The second year has been about truly realizing the void. The swelling from the beating has gone down a bit and that’s revealing how much of me is now missing. I now see and FEEL the empty spaces.  Intensely. The grief isn’t there all the time now, but when it hits, it hits bone. It resonates and strikes deeply.  And it comes out of nowhere instead of having been lurking in my peripheral vision. It just pounces out of the darkness and goes straight for the emotional jugular.

This kinda goes back to what I had written about earlier. Being bankrupt on the emotional side of things and feeling that loss tremendously.

The only thing I can hope for is at some point I’m able to look at that amazing day again with remembrance and wistfulness that will outweigh the sadness and loss I currently feel. I’m trying to get there. It’s hard work. I still feel the happiness, but the loss just overtakes me. And that hurts even more.

The cost of love is high. I’m understanding that on a level that is pretty extraordinary now. The deeper you love the higher the cost. The more the risk. I spoke in my group last night about how everyone that is at the group counseling was there because our love was real..and deep…and if had not been we wouldn’t be bothering with trying to figure out how we get past our loss. I’m not really sure there’s even an answer or solution to that. Only reconciliation and acceptance. Not really something to look forward to, but its something better than what is.

I miss you every day Mona. I miss your confidence in me. I miss your belief in me. It made me believe in myself.

I miss being able to sit in awe of you and your love of life and your willingness to fight for it every day. I miss your laugh and your ability to get me to laugh. A truly hard thing to do since my cynical nature naturally deflects things.

You are the best thing that ever happened to me.

A Year

Hi Mo,

It’s been a year. Give or take a few hours.

I know we talk all the time…but I’ve got more to say than usual right now…we’ve gone around the sun one time and are back in the same physical space we were a year ago…it’s incredible to think about.

I realize now more than ever how those years, weeks, days, hours, and seconds were and are precious. It’s because I’ve felt those moments all tick away without you physically being here this past year. I felt like I was back in middle school math class…eagerly awaiting for that second hand on the clock to make it’s way around the clock so I’d be free to go to band.

I’ve been working hard with this time trying to find who I am without you here with me.

It’s hard work. And without you here it’s even harder.

I’ve got amazing friends and loved ones in my corner. You know who they are. They’re the same ones that stood with us while you stared down the inevitable fate of all of us with such bravery and grace.

(I can only hope I can be half as brave as you were)

There are new people too. Some are people who have also lost a huge part of themselves as well. They’re part of a club that no one wants to be part of.  I’ve got a feeling you’ve met some of their better halves where you are now.

They’ve helped me with nuggets of wisdom and support,  and helped me realize that I’m not the only one going through this at this time. At this moment. In this hour. On this day.

There are those that continue to remind me that this life is precious, and important, and worth fighting for…and worth the work.

It’s a battle every day to keep moving forward. And many times I feel like I’m taking steps backwards..more often than not in fact.

But I’m doing it. For Miriya. For you. For me. And for those that remind me.

Time has taken on a new meaning for me.

It’s about space and distance.

Space from you. Distance I don’t want.

You stopped on the physical timeline and I had to keep going. Forced by the merciless hand of time.

And yet you’re ahead of me in so many ways at the same time.

It’s a paradox that honestly I can’t even fathom…it overwhelms me when I try. So I don’t think about it…I just feel it. All the time.

You’re so close to me in my heart and mind yet so distant at the same time.

I miss you more than ever.

Even though I’m surrounded by love.

Yeah I know it’s weird. But you know me.

There are so many things I hope you heard me tell you when I was speaking out loud in the living room, or parking lot, or store

(especially that thing the other day in the car when I was really having a hard time)

…hoping that you were listening in and hearing what I had to say.

I try every day to be more like you.

One day I’ll figure out where you drew that strength from. At least that’s the hope.

I work at it. I face it down every day. I fight back the overwhelming sense of loss and despair because I know you would have done the same. I know you wouldn’t stop living even if half of you was gone.

You showed me that as you fought through seemingly endless rounds of chemo and procedures…and had pieces taken away…never complaining….always grateful for the time.

I’m not going to lie…I break down…a lot…I’m sure you see this. I’ll be ok for a while and then the reality sinks in once again..and it’s like I’m starting all over.

Back to square one.

The pain fresh. The loss acute.

It mostly happens when I have something I’m excited to tell you.

Or when I hear a song you love…

Or when I read a story you’d want to laugh about…

Or when I’m having a hard day…

Or when I’m with friends and I look around the room to see your response…and you’re not there…

Or when Miriya does something amazing like her finishing her 5k race.

She wished you were there. I know you heard it. It was the first time she told me since you’ve been gone that she wished you were there.  I felt it from her too. It’s something she’s going to feel many times as time forces her to grow up…and my heart breaks when I think of that. For you..for her.

I know that she feels that way a lot…but she’s your daughter. She smiles and bears it for me…because she sees me crying and wants to make it better.

(I hope so much that she sees this as a strength her father has and not as a weakness)

She was so proud. Her smile curled just like yours and her eyes twinkled with her scrunched up nose. I saw you staring back at me for a moment. It was magic.

I’m stronger for her most of the time..but moments like that knock the emotional wind out of me.

I’ve done a lot of the things you wanted me to do as I move on to this new part of life. Some things I have yet to fulfill, but those promises I made won’t go undone. Some (and you know which ones) are just impossible for me right now.

The world wants me to move on. It demands it. This world isn’t made to suffer or understand this type of change or loss for a long period of time…and naturally, it just keeps plodding forward…dragging me along with it.

And I know you want that as well.

I’m trying.

I’m trying so damn hard.

I carry you with me every moment of every day.

Time has a different weight to it now. I can feel it…acutely different.

Precious and painful at the same time.

So far, it has not brought relief, only reflection.

I miss you more than ever.

(yeah I know I already said that…you know how I repeat myself all the time for emphasis – that’ll never change).

I’ll keep working to make you proud…and to be as best of a Dad I can be to our daughter. She’s all the best of you. She deserves so much more for everything she’s endured.

To keep building around the loss of you.

Something new.

Something you’d be proud I made.

It’s hard navigating this world.

You are and forever will be my Polaris.

Thank you for your love. Thank you for our daughter. Thank you for making me a better person. Thank you for your courage. Thank you for your fight. And thank you for believing in me.

(I’m trying to believe in myself now more..I really really am)

I think it’s that belief that I desperately need right now.

Until I talk to you again,

(which will be in a few minutes most likely)

Endless love.

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

Ryan

Nacre

It’s been a while since I’ve written here.

I went through a phase for a bit where I actually thought that not writing and venting was going to be more helpful than doing so.

Yeah. That hasn’t gone so well.

This “Year of Firsts” has been absolutely brutal. I think what has made it especially painful is that I had the audacity to actually believe that while I’m an INCREDIBLY sentimental person (something Mona loved about me deeply), I’m not particularly sentimental about dates (something Mona wanted me to get better at). I don’t tie things to dates, I just tie them to memories. Time to me is tied to the moments floating in the ether. Time is a construct of us little primates so that we can make sense of this absolutely insane existence of ours. We hurtle through the void, specs of incredibly ancient stardust with sentience making tools as we go along so we can keep the species alive despite the universe wanting to erase us.

I see Time as one of those tools.

“It’s more important to remember the moments! Not the time stamp. ”

(I  would say that when I’d forget yet another important date.)

So here I am once again, writing to let a bit of the toxin out and for some of the scars to harden into that protective tissue.

That image tied to this post is one of the images I’ve seen a few times in my grief group and counseling. In this particular image, the model has “denial” sitting at the center of it. Which I’ve always found interesting. One thing I’ve never really had an issue with was me being in “denial” that Mona was gone.

For me that center is Anxiety.

All the other emotions and thoughts swirl around that center, and anxiety is the vortex that keeps them all in motion.

How do I do this?
Why did this happen?
What happens in the future?
Why didn’t I do something else?
What do people think?
Is it ok to talk about it?

The “Grief Ball” composed my ENTIRETY for a few months after Mona passed. It was my existence. All of those emotions were my essence. It was all-consuming with almost nothing outside of it.

As time has gone on, there’s a layer of “other” that has been placed around the grief ball.

Like an agitated oyster desperately trying to reduce the agitation of a grain of sand inside its shell, I’ve formed a layer of nacre around the grief ball.

That layer is thin, but it provides some comfort and some solace.

It’s part of me now.

The me after her.

I honestly have no idea who this new me is.

There was a video I saw a few weeks back that had the “grief ball” sitting in it. A woman was talking about how that was “existence after loss”, just as I wrote above. It resonated with me and made me feel like I was a bit less crazy.

But the REAL thing about that video was the acknowledgment that the grief ball never goes away. It’s always there. It always will be there as part of you. What people that have not experienced a level of loss this great can’t understand is that it doesn’t ever go away. It never just “heals with time”.  It’s what you build around that grief ball that becomes the new you.

When you fundamentally adapt and change yourself because you’re in a true relationship and true partnership you lose half of yourself when your partner is gone.

Suddenly you’re half a person, yet expected to be whole.

The nacre is what you use to fill up that half of you that is gone.

It’s what comes after.  It’s the substance that you slowly place around the grief ball to turn the pain and anguish it contains, into something beautiful.

Without that grain of sand there would be no agitation.

Without the agitation there would be no nacre.

Without the nacre there would be no pearl.

In honor of you, I will work hard to make that pearl.

On this 5/13/18 Mothers day, I make that promise to you Mona.

And I won’t forget the date.

Time

The old saying “Time heals all wounds” is a misnomer.

The idea that somehow…miraculously…and on it’s own time is going to cure what ails you is so utterly unrealistic it’s laughable.

Now, there are certainly some things that tangentially relate to the saying.

Time certainly creates distance between you and the event that caused the wound.

In my case, it’s the passing of Mona and the grief and all the things that come with my loss.

Heightened anxiety (as if I need any more of that), longing, sadness, withdrawal from social settings, anger, shock, loneliness, and a host of other emotions and emotional states.

But that distance. while it takes you away from ground zero of the event, doesn’t eliminate the energy that was generated by the event.

As I’ve experienced it…there was an energy or force that was created with Monas passing. That energy was split amongst all those emotions above in varying powers.

The largest of those being shock and then dispersed across the others.

I realized this as I was working with my amazing grief counselor who’s been TREMENDOUS in helping me through all this…I was skeptical of course when I started and now I  honestly have no idea how I could function without his guidance along this path. We were in session and we went through an exercise. He had a set of pictures with serene backgrounds on them, but on each card there was one of those emotions I noted above.

We did this exercise early on…maybe my 2nd session with him. And he had me take the cards in my hands and look at them and place them on the table. Any emotions I felt, just put them down on the table.

I placed every single card down. There were 10 of them.

Anger, Sadness, Shock, Social Withdrawal, Loneliness, Longing, Anxiety, Doubt, Searching, and Regret.

All of those words. Resonating powerfully in my core, with “shock” being the one at the fore. Rising above all the others like a giant mushroom cloud and the rest existing from one moment to the next as my mind tried to solve an equation that had no answer.

We did this same exercise with the same cards again last week. About 6 months of time have passed since that first initial exercise.

My counselor asked me to do the exact same thing. Only place the cards facing DOWN if I no longer was feeling them…or if they weren’t a constant presence.

I was able to turn a few over and “Shock” was the first one.

What seemed like such a powerful and unmovable force half a year ago was simply gone.

And some reading this will go “Time healed it!”.

And my response would be…

“Partially yes…but it was mostly a lot of work, a lot of acceptance, and a TON of help from family, friends, and my counselor”.

I had moved from 10 to 6.

4 emotions “swatted away” 6 to go. Surely, “time” would help me continue along this path.

But here’s the catch.

That “energy” of the event of Mona’s passing was megatons of emotion.

The energy has not dissipated. It has shifted into the emotions that weren’t nearly as powerful before.  There’s a fallout now from that explosion that’s different. A new set of powerful feelings that I find myself facing and having to figure out how to get past on a daily basis.

Shock has moved to loneliness…and doubt….and other emotions.

Time has not healed the wounds. It has made them different. Perhaps more tolerable and less volatile. Radiation burns and scars on my soul that hopefully one day I’ll be able to internally look at and not feel immense pain from….but a soft and tender reminder of the bomb blast that went off when Mona passed.

Time doesn’t heal all wounds. It makes them different. And you have to accept that different is as good as it’s gonna get.

It’s what you DO with time that can let you begin to work through the wounds to soothe them to a point where the pain isn’t at the forefront.

It’s a long long road in a world that isn’t patient, and oftentimes uncompassionate.