Grief has striped me of those traits.
Yesterday, my dear sweet Sarah (one of the Seven Strong), sent me a link to a blog yesterday. These are the words she wrote in the email. So sweet. So thoughtful. So simple.
"I thought of you as I read this blog entry. please know that I am thinking of you as you embark on Christmas without your beloved Dad. Sending you love, peace strength and lots of joyful memories.
Big love friend,
Big love friend,
I'm so blessed to have friends like Sarah. Thank you, sweet friend.
In a nutshell, the author of An Inch of Gray (for those who won't click and check it out), the blog entry is intended to reach out to those who have suffered loss and to offer support during the holiday season. I don't know if I will reach out and link up with the group or not. That decision will be made on another day. Reading the blog brought comfort and as I reflected where I am in life, two thoughts came to mind.
I've avoided writing much about my grief because of I don't want to be a Debbie Downer on my blog. Then I remembered why I started writing the damn thing and decided if I want to write about Dad, grief, or any other emotion-filled post, I will. It's my blog and I can cry if I want to.
One of my students asked me what grief felt like. A powerful question. I finally came up with this,
"Grief has become a blanket I live with every day. Sometimes, the blanket is heavy and I just want to lay down, cry, and sleep. Sometimes, the blanket is my dad's love and I'm surrounded in happiness. Sometimes, I can kick off the blanket for a few minutes and laugh and feel again but then it goes right back on. It is always there."
When I am asked "how are you doing? or how are you?", I simply say, "I'm doing ok or we are doing ok", if they ask about family. I appreciate the sentiment, but I'm not really ok. I am not the same person I was before Dad died. While that is a "duh" statement, I don't know that people in my life get how I have changed. How I have changed is only evident to me. I don't show weakness so I keep it together when I am with family, friends or at work. The cheerleader-y thing allows me to pretend all is well and to bring humor to the surface. The cheerleader-y thing allows me to prop my family, my students or my friends up when they need someone. And that cheerleader-y thing is not a bad deal. Because there are days when I need the inner cheerleader to lead the way and protect my heart because shizz needs to get done. When I'm home, safe with the love of my boys, I don't need her to protect me and it is here, when I grieve. My sweet husband is living with this new Michelle, sees her, and (fortunately for her), loves her even more. I cling to that love and I am forever grateful that he is my foundation.
So, the first thought is that I am probably going to share more on my blog about my grief than I used to and that's your warning that not everthing is going to be written through rose-colored glasses.
Here's the second thought. It's a pretty simple one so lower your expectations for something profound to come out of my reflections.
If you know someone who has suffered a loss, be it years ago or just recently, tell them you love them. Tell them you are thinking of them. We are all busy but you can take time to text or email or send a note in the mail (write it on the back of your Christmas card!). No one wants to be a part of a club that involves loss, yet here we are. I wish I had realized it sooner and I could have been a better friend to those in my life. I may not know what I need when I am asked but I do know that the love and support of family and friends is so important. Love is the foundation of strength. And who couldn't use a little more love this year?
My dad was a part of my daily life. Without him, there is a void that will never be filled. With time, I will learn how to live with that void. While my brain knows he is at peace and in no pain, my heart will always miss him.
Especially during the holidays.