Friday, August 4, 2017

8 years later

Began on Tuesday, August 1:

It's that time of year again. The first week of August. It snuck up on me this year. I had been doing okay lately, keeping my grief episodes from overwhelming me. But yesterday it snuck up on me. My day was not so good, but I can't pinpoint exactly why. I had a sadness and a lack of motivation that was very hard to shake, that I was feeling incredibly guilty about because I didn't get done all the things I wanted to get done. I think it was grief, which comes and goes still eight years later. I can hold it off a lot better than I used to, but because time doesn't really heal all wounds, it's always there in my subconscious.

I spent a bit of time thinking about what my life was on August 4, 2009, and then all the things that have happened since August 5, 2009.

On August 4 I had a sister who was very sick, but who we thought was getting better. I was worried but optimistic. My sister was in good spirits on the phone when we spoke that evening. I was looking forward to another phone call the next day.

I had a 4 year old daughter and a 7 year old son. She had a 9 year old daughter. She was a writer and worked in a law firm. I was a stay-at-home mom who had just started on an athletic journey, having run my first marathon a few months prior. We were young. I was 35 and she was 37, just one month prior to her 38th birthday.

Fast forward 8 years and life is very different. My kids are now 12 and 15, and her daughter is about to start her senior year of high school. Her widower and daughter still live in the Seattle area and we still live in the same house in Round Rock. I am now 43, 6 years older than she was when she passed. She would be turning 46 next month. I've now run 12 marathons and am training for 2 more.

The part that really blows my mind is how old our kids are now. I can't wrap my head around the fact that my daughter only has one memory of Aunt Trisha. We had just seen her two weeks prior while in California and my daughter remembers vividly the time she spent with her. But she's 12 now and so many years and so many changes have happened in that time, so many things that I couldn't talk to Trisha about.

Her daughter was going into 4th grade when she lost her mother and now she's one year from starting college. She went though all those years with mother figures surrounding her, but no mother who tucked her into bed each night. So many milestones and life experiences, but thankfully she could share those with her dad.

I've written many blog posts over the years about my grief. My loss doesn't define who I am, but it does guide me on how I want to live my life, on why I do some of the things that I do, on why I'm extra sensitive and introverted during certain times of year. Most of my friends and family understand this.

Ironically enough, I was becoming a bit of a grief expert back in college. Grief was a topic I spent a lot of time on, taking classes, completing my internship at Hospice, and even writing my thesis on the topic. Unknowingly, it was a precursor to more loss than most people experience in young adulthood. The next 12 years were not easy with several difficult losses. Recently, I found a copy of that thesis and decided to convert all 84 hard copy pages into a soft copy. It was a very important research project of mine and one I was quite proud to have written. Reading through the chapter on normal grief and complicated grief was even more meaningful now, 20 years after I wrote it. It made me realize two things: (1) I made it through the normal grief cycle long ago, and (2) it's okay to have grief relapses.

I see the bickering around me in the world, in my community, and among my friends and family and I want to shake them. I want them to stop and to appreciate what is around them. I want them to appreciate who is in their lives. "What if they are gone tomorrow?" I want to say. They always think there is a tomorrow. But we know better, don't we? Stubbornness, narrow-mindedness, anger...these things can be toxic and unfortunately for many, by the time you clear your head of the negativity, it's too late. I'm incredibly sad about this.


Fast forward to today, August 4:

After I began this blog post earlier this week, a friend died. It was not an unexpected death, but are those really any easier to take? He was only 30 and had been married for six months.

I'm angry. I'm so tired of this. I'm so tired of the suffering and the loss that people are experiencing. the sadness has been all encompassing since I found out on Wednesday. The celebration of life is tomorrow, on the 8th anniversary of my sister's passing. Of course I will be there, but my heart feels like it's in a vice grip. It hurts.

Go give someone a hug, buy a coffee for a friend, pick up the phone and text or call a loved one, smile at a stranger. My late friend wrote on his Facebook page "Just trying to let my light shine as brightly as I can."

Be a light.

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