Life’s Menu

The butter packaging said gluten free.  I didn’t realize people didn’t already know that, but gluten free is a really big deal right now.  There are other processed foods that say they’re free of things like sugar, preservatives, and fat.  That’s great, but for me, they better taste good and not substitute something worse.  Restaurant menus now contain info about what’s in or not in their menu items.  It would be amazing if I could order up a life free of challenges, obstacles, failures, and heart ache, but life isn’t served that way.  I can however, add a few side dishes of strength, determination, and a positive outlook, condiments like a little help from my friends and encouragement, and seasonings like smiles and laughter.  Adding these make it possible to successfully navigate through all life serves, and when I finish each dish I’ll find that life taste good and will realize I just might have it in me to get through something even worse.  A life free of all things difficult, unpleasant, and discouraging also makes life free of knowing success, accomplishment, growth, and healing.  I just need to remember, there’s more than just main dishes on life’s menu.

The Middle

My life began without my consent.  Years went by where I had few choices and decisions were made for me, like what I ate and wore, and what TV shows I watched.  I went to school, and got part-time jobs, my driver’s license, and a high school diploma, because that’s what you did.  College didn’t come right after, but it did come and was completed on my own.  My life, which is now heading towards the end, is sometimes challenging physically, and memories, more so than activities, will soon be where I’ll go.  So that leaves the middle.  Those years where I get to make the most choices, have the best adventures, figure out what my life will be, and plan for the years at the end.  I didn’t work it all away, but a good part.  I spent more and more time at my hobbies as the kids got older and I’m glad I have them, now that I’m retired.  I certainly have adventures, traveling to wonderful places with amazing people.  I just wish I had heard the words, “enjoy the middle”, 40 years ago, because enjoy would have been given much more consideration when making my choices.

Thrown Away

There are people in this world that are born socializers.  People who want to, like to, need to, socialize with others and develop lots of relationships.  I am not one of those people, but my husband was.  I’ve found some relationships, and some have ended, as relationships sometimes do, usually because it’s one sided and I need that verification that I’m wanted in return, that I’m needed.  I can’t think of any relationships, my husband ever had, that ended, no matter what.  He not only wanted every relationship he found, he needed them.  Without them he wasn’t quite a whole person.  Some of his relationships were one sided, and I know that hurt him because he would bring it up sometimes, but each relationship was more important than being wanted in return.  He was the one to call, the one to visit, no matter the response or lack thereof.  I guess I could say he simply loved people much better than me, because he loved unconditionally in conditions that made me stop trying.  He was a much better person than me because he didn’t throw people away for not wanting or needing him.  How can I make that me?

Heart of a Friend

Some people think family is everything.  They’d do anything for their family and attend every family event.  Not me.  Family is something you’re born, or married, into.  Without this single connection we wouldn’t be friends because there’s nothing to base friendship on.  We know each other only because we just happen to be stuck with each other.  My family doesn’t need me and I don’t need them.  It’s no one’s fault, it just is.  For me, adding family before the word event doesn’t necessarily make it any less stressful than  other social events.  It depends on how many of my friends are there.  The ones where I can see past the familiar family face, to find the heart of a friend.  My friends need me and I need them.  They are the ones I’d do anything for.  Distance doesn’t matter so I see them and we talk as often as we can.  The connections run deep and there are many.  I think about them often.  I offer my help and ask for theirs.  I share my life, not just the good, but the bad as well, and am truly interested in theirs.  More than stuck with; joined at the heart!

The Pull

We took my Mom to my Dad’s grave, to see his headstone and where he was buried; she didn’t want to go.  She’s in, what I call, avoidance mode.  Do or not do whatever it takes to block out reality.  Don’t deal with what you’re going to do or what your life will be like now.  People stayed with me for a couple of weeks – quiet avoidance.  I went back to work after that – thoughts avoidance.  I went away every weekend unless someone came to visit – alone avoidance.  This non-continuous, temporary avoidance was good because it let comprehension and healing in gradually.  I’m sure talking about it would have helped, but since I’m not good at that I had other things to pull me towards acceptance, like my job, decisions that couldn’t wait, responsibilities, alone time, and a grandchild on the way; all that living entails.  My Mom’s life is missing all of these so I can understand why she’s so comfortable with avoidance and I wonder what will pull her towards acceptance.  What’s left when leaving this world isn’t up to us?  It’s the oh-my-goodness mode; finding amazement and joy in all I still have. (July 14, 2016 Blog)

Prepared

It’s not possible to prepare for the death of someone you love, someone you hold so close.  You can make plans, and certain ones you should, but plans are about doing, not about where your heart and mind will take you.  My Dad planned his own funeral; which hymns, closed casket.  I thought maybe I should do that, but quickly realized I’m not going to be there, so I don’t care.  Let those left behind do whatever they want to find whatever comfort they can.  We didn’t have a plan for me to sell the house and move.  We should have because deciding after, by myself, was extremely hard.  What happens to my heart and mind cannot be controlled by plans.  They shut down to protect me against the hardest moments.  They went and stayed in the darkest places or raced towards things that were not yet real, and might not ever be.  Only now, looking back, do I realize why my heart and mind weren’t totally out of control.  It was, and still is, because I have friends that hold me close and when they ask, how are you, they really want to know, and I tell them.

Different Yet The Same

My Mom went to live with my sister shortly after my Dad passed away.  I became at widow at 56, she, 83.  My Mom uses a walker and has a pacemaker so my Dad took care of her for many years.  Their lives had been fairly limited for quite some time to their small apartment and she’s never spent more than a few hours alone.  I was young compared to my Mom so my life was still healthy and active with plenty to do, like a full time job and many outside activities I shared with my husband.  I had to figure out how to do things I never did before, learn to be comfortable with being alone, and find the courage to enjoy all those outside activities on my own.  My Mom had a week to prepare for my Dad’s death and she got to tell him what was happening and it was OK to go.  My husband died hours before I even knew he was gone, so I didn’t get the chance to tell him anything, including good bye, I love you, and it’s not OK to go.  So many differences, and yet we share the same loss.