I Grieve And Life Goes On (which is how it should be)

The pangs have lessened a bit, but still hit at about four and a half months after my sister’s death.  I know, I’ve been so upbeat; Ann, why the downer?  Well, I don’t think what I’m about to talk about is going to be that much of a downer, just give me a minute.

It is only natural that I will be reminded of Kimball through my days; today, it was something that I pulled out of the pantry that she purchased at the store (I remember, because I was with her when she purchased it).  And, BAM!  The grief flooded; only for a second or two, however, and then it passed.  My Honey was with me the other morning making me breakfast and as I was reflecting, I was thinking of just how proud Kimball would be of me right about now.

She would have liked Honey, his humor and the way I laugh when I’m with him (I literally am in a belly laugh for the better part of our visits, he is that funny…) and she always did say how much my laughter was contagious.  She would have loved his honesty; which by the way, is something she would have known just by looking at him.  It’s not something you fake; though many have tried.  No, to wear it and wear it with integrity, you truly must live it, every day.  And, Honey does.

She would be elated in the fact that I’ve finally moved on and am not living in the past of ‘what ifs’ and am instead living in the promise of what each day brings; that being that the sun will rise in the east and set in the west and that everything that falls in between is up to me, one moment at a time.  There was a quote I saw recently, “I don’t know what the key to success is, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.”- Bill Cosby – and I think I’m finally getting it.  Kimball would be proud of my accomplishment in this area as she too had difficulty with the pressure of trying to please everyone, while forgetting the one important person – herself.

It really is a ‘balancing act’ that one must do (or is it?).  I guess, when you think of it, it isn’t.  If all you are doing is living an authentic life and being true to ‘who you really are’; true, many might view you as selfish, but in reality you are taking care of your needs so that you can better take care of the needs of those you love.  What is it they instruct us to do before every flight when it comes to the ‘cabin pressure’?  “Place your mask on you first before attending to your loved one.”  You need to be whole and healthy before you can fully love and care for those around you.

I’m sitting here, sipping my Starbucks coffee and realized, without

I had Starbucks coffee on a Friday night

I had Starbucks coffee on a Friday night (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

thinking about it this morning, I got two (2) Old Fashioned donuts instead of one.  I used to bring home an extra for Kimball.  Hmm, old habits truly do die hard.  But today, I grieve a little less – still grieving but more pondering; going over past photos and memories.  I do do things these days with that extra ‘pep’ in my step and  I would love to say that this all is due to Honey; however my happiness is not due to any one person.  It is solely up to me and I have gone through some pain staking work to get here.  (Though Honey does have a lot to do with it… just saying).

Elizabeth was out this last weekend and we went through yet some more closets in this big house of Kimball’s.  So many things to organize and so many memories (perhaps this is why I’m going down my Memory Lane).  Elizabeth is (I believe I’ve stated this before) the epitome of organization.  She gets up like clockwork and with the chickens – if we had chickens and a rooster, I believe she would be the one crowing them awake every morning.

Thursday evening when she came in, I was met with a much softer side of her, only to have it harden a bit come Friday morning.  But, I’ve learned to not take this personal (as I would have in the past) as this is just her way.  She is a woman of business and just finds that she must get through it; plow through it if she must (glad someone can… I’m completely opposite – if only some of her would wear off onto me).

Saturday we saw a close friend of ours (like family), who is currently in a treatment facility and doing very well.  I was quite concerned with how Elizabeth would handle this.  She has yet to go to an Allanon meeting or a ‘recovery’ type… ANYTHING.  So, I was curious how this would be taken by her.  We went early for the family meeting, which was laid out much like an Allanon meeting would be, where we sat in a circle and we could share our concerns, etc… Of course Elizabeth shared nothing.

I had hoped she would have shared her feelings, her concerns after our friend’s return.  She did not and I shouldn’t be surprised.  So, I chimed in with my questions to which, I got the typical ‘clinical’ answers… Not what I wanted, but it is what it is.  All I know is that I am so tired (exhausted in fact) and that the road ahead is going to be long and arduous; not necessarily  looking forward to it.  I know that this is the wrong way of looking at it and that our friend need us (me); I simply can’t help how I feel at this point of my life.  I’ve been through it for way too long; first my husband (several rounds with that and now several rounds with this person)  I’m working on it, one day at a time.  But, I’m getting way ahead of myself here.

By the end of the day on Saturday as Elizabeth and I were driving home, I brought up one of the other families and how my heart went out to them; because I was there, in their place at one time.  I was in that woman’s shoes; feeling those feelings of guilt and worry and asking the questions of “how did we get here, I don’t get it?”  Or, “why does he do this to himself when he knows what it’s doing…”  I could see the pain in her eyes as she brought up the fact that her son was not only an “addicted” but a heroin addict and how humiliating that was.  She kept asking the question, what could they have done?  And why didn’t they see it?

First off, addiction is addiction and everyone feels, or has felt the affliction of the stereo-type by being affiliated with an addict.  Then the horrible questions and the rounds of debates we have with ourselves.  When the bottom line is, there is nothing we could have done differently.  Denial is a wonderful place to be, and there is a reason for it; it protects us, for a time.  Then there is a time when we must wake up.  It is what it is.  They chose we didn’t; we can only move on from here.

Somehow, I think that might have helped her, but I don’t think anything anyone says will be of any help, for the time being anyway, until she is ready and willing and able to allow it in.  But back to Elizabeth and me in the car on the way home; as I mentioned that couple, especially the mom, Elizabeth immediately turns to me and states something to the effect of, “I hope she realizes that she should never have given her son any pain pills.”  To which I was a bit stunned.  I mean, this woman was already crucifying herself enough; there was no need to bring up the obvious.  We were merely talking about things like dealing with ‘enabling’ and ‘co-dependence’, things Elizabeth should be reading about and learning about, but for whatever reason is resistant to.

I realized at that moment that she just doesn’t get it – and would probably never get it.  AND that our friend’s recovery and support would be up to him and me (I am his sole family support system, for now anyway).  Elizabeth, though I love her dearly, just doesn’t seem to want to climb out of her Ivory Tower long enough to splash in the mud and let her feelings out like the rest of us.  And that is very sad.  As I watched her on that day, with everyone spilling their guts, she was like a Scientist watching everyone through a microscope.  Not getting involved, but staying very distant and erect in her chair.

I wanted to ask, “What are you so afraid of?”  “What part of You do you have buried so deep inside that ‘reserved’ side of you that you are so afraid of letting out?”  Nobody can possibly be so shut off!  But she is, and I find it very sad in deed.  Because, you see, Life is messy and so are the feelings we acquire as we live it.  No one can journey through this thing called life without the mistakes or regrets and ALL the feelings that go along with them.  And when you keep everything all  bottled up tightly inside?  Well that has got to be a terribly heavy  load to carry around.

Anyway, by Saturday night Honey came by and met Elizabeth for the first time.  I think she likes him (who wouldn’t?).  He brought in his overnight bag; I told him where my room was.  And as I thought about it, the old me was scampering to somehow try to explain myself, or ask permission, or [fill in the blank].  But, the more I thought about it, the more I realized how silly that was.

I am a middle-aged woman [yep, older than dirt!].  I’ve been in a marriage (Elizabeth hasn’t) for over 20 years (not exactly a virgin) and I don’t think I need to explain myself to ANYONE, thank you!  It felt so liberating!  So wonderful!  So, Honey and I went off on our date after talking and joking with Elizabeth, who took our picture at Honey’s request (he is big on pictures… so cute).

I do still get those pangs of grief and they sting (a bit), but I am reminded that this life is for the living.  The memories of Kimball are for me to learn from (both the good and the bad).  And I’ve made it my mission to do just that.  I do believe my relationship with Honey has her fingerprints all over it, however; and that she is smiling and giggling as he and I scratch our heads in wonder of how this wonderful thing ever happened to two people like us.  Are we just lucky?  Or did we have a little tug or shove from that celestial special someone?   Either way, for now, I can think of her and hear her giggles and smile and simply thank God for my place in the grand scheme of things.


6 thoughts on “I Grieve And Life Goes On (which is how it should be)

  1. Nora – what wonderful writing. Your openness to your feelings, acknowledging that they exist, and dealing with whatever head on will only ensure your present and future happiness. I really do think that Kimball has a hand in your present love as perhaps does a higher power. As to your friend’s recovery, that will work out on it’s own, but Elizabeth’s reactions are not unfamiliar. Some people simply don’t understand addiction or care to admit that it exists. I suspect she has buried some very hurt feelings regarding her past and refuses to deal with them when the addiction card is played! It’s difficult to admit that people who you may have idolized could actually be addicts. I remember coming to conclusions about people from my past that I loved dearly only to find out that addiction was talking much of the time. Once I dealt with the addiction piece it was much easier to forgive and move on to the joy & loving piece.
    Your journey has been an inspiration to me so please keep this blog going! Can’t wait to read about your adventures with honey!

    • Claire, thank you so very much for your kind words. I truly appreciate the support and knowing that what I say/write makes a difference, not only to me, but to some that read my pieces. Thank you again and I will keep this going.
      As for Honey, he is definitely an added character (and boy is he a character… ).

  2. Nora,
    You put your feelings on a pedestal for all of us to read, and we are better off for it. Keep on having your Starbucks coffee and remembering. Remember every nuance of your love and relationship. This is how we honor our loved one’s that have gone to a better land. I will pray for you, and most of all I will ask God to never take away your ability to touch other’s through your writing.

    Your friend and brother in Christ

    Jeff Houdyshelt

    • What a wonderful thing to say Jeff! Thank you… God truly has blessed me in more ways than one and I do feel my dear sister around me. Thank you again for the thoughtful words, truly inspirational in their own right.

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