I recently celebrated another birthday and with it came the annual depression. Now, I’m not your usual “depressed” person. I’m actually a fairly happy person. I love to laugh and have been told my laugh is quite infectious. So I had to ask myself why it was that felt I was so “unloved” at this time of year especially. And it wasn’t just my birthday, but the time from November through the end of January pretty much sucked.
Now, I know what many of you are saying that I have that seasonal depression. Well… perhaps. But this is something deeper. So, let me give you a bit of background. When I was a year old, my father died. He left for the hospital the day after my first birthday and died 10 days later. My father, I’m told, was a man that generated such great energy, everyone craved to be around him. He could sell ice cubes to the Eskimos and was funny, passionate and a great debater. He loved our mother to no end and loved being our father. He would have had as many children as our mother was willing to carry and would have done anything for us or anybody in the community or in the family. Mom knew that she dare not look at anything twice or feared that she’d find it wrapped up on her pillow. He loved giving her gifts (the only problem they had was that she was in charge of the bills and knew how much money they had… and how much money they had to spend… daddy’s idea and mommy’s idea of what was available differed a bit in this area and led to a few arguments).
Anyway, although mom made our birthdays a very special time, I always sensed something heavy and sad about mine. And, being the typical child, I obviously took responsibility for it thinking, “I must have done something to make them sad, if only I didn’t do… or if only I had done this better or cleaned my room, or… [Fill in the blank]. Now, flash forward 47 years and I’m facing yet another depression of nobody wanting to celebrate me or my birthday. Not wanting to Ask (remember my last entry?).
I’ve been seeing a therapist to help me through my divorce and asked a question, knowing that there would never be a possibility that my father’s death would have any impact on my lack of self worth; but had to ask anyway. I asked if the death of my father might have had an impact on me, I mean even though I was only a year old? She indicated that the loss of his person? Probably not. The loss of his memory? No. But she did indicate that I would most likely pick up on the feelings of those around me, the grief, the sorrow, the pain, the anger. And, as is with typical children, I would internalize those feelings and assume the responsibility, making it my fault.
And then it hit me, after 47 years. Of course I picked up on the sorrow of people not wanting to celebrate; BECAUSE THIS WAS NOT A CELEBRATORY TIME…IT WAS A TIME OF GRIEF AND SORROW. THIS WAS THE ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEATH OF THEIR(OUR) HUSBAND/FATHER. I was picking up on the grief of a family who was just trying to make sense of a senseless death of a wonderful man. I had nothing to do with it and I had no control over anything. I could have been straight A student, a savant who tapped danced like Gene Kelley and sang like Celine Dion and they still would have never seen the glorious life right in front of them because they could only see the loss behind them.
Yes, this is sad. But I’m tickled. Not for the loss (no… and if that is what you’ve read, you need read this again and keep reading until you get the message). I’m tickled because for the first time I now realize that I have no control over what anyone’s reaction is, because they might be upset over a lost loved one, or a lost parking spot.
The bottom line about this is that sometimes we just need to stop grieving long enough to see the life that is right in front of us. Sometimes that might be a baby in your arms or the neighbor that says “Good Morning”. It might be a co-worker who brings in your morning coffee or, it might be simply enjoying the morning air in our lungs. And we need to remember that those lives that graced our lives, graced our lives for a purpose, but all life ends, and it’s those lives that were lived that we must remember (the LIFE, not the death… or the LOSS).
I was an INFANT PEOPLE, and this had a HUGE impact on my life. Those of you who think children are resilient and can get through anything? They can, but only if you show them the way and care enough to talk to them and give them the spot light of LIFE. We need to remember that all of us are fragile, our egos are fragile and we all need to be validated in some way.