Last night I felt so sorry for myself. Around midnight, I wormed my tired body under the bed covers and cried myself to sleep lost in the reflections of my day… I don’t mean to depress anyone, especially during the joyful holidays, thankfully this morning I was pulled out of my self-absorbed slump by a smack of sad reality. I had an awareness of how life actually exists for some people as opposed to the idealistic notion of what life should be or could be. If you’re interested, I’d like to share a bit about that realization…
Saturday, December 7, 2013:
I woke up around 6:30 a.m. After thirty minutes of “snoozing” my alarm, I finally crawled out of the uncomfortable guest bed in my house. I no longer sleep in the bed I shared with Michael. For the past three months, I only go into our room to change and get ready. Our bed is now covered with piles of clothes I’ve decided not to wear. (Hey, I intend to find hangers and hang them back up in the closet one of these days!) The decision to stop sleeping in that room is a step I’ve taken to try and heal… move my life “forward,” you know? (It’s going to be almost two years soon!)
I gave my Buffy a pet on her head and told her I loved her. I filled her food up and made my way downstairs to find Lola, my other roommate. Grrrr, I found her on the couch! I sweetly said, “Good Morning, Lola,” but I also lightly scolded her for laying on the couch because she knows she’s not supposed to sleep there. While I pulled her off the couch, I explained to her that she has to go outside to potty and get fresh air (even though I felt bad because it was such a chilly morning). I decided to “treat” her with wet food. She loves it. Truth be told, I was being lazy because opening a can of dog food seemed much easier than pouring a heavy bag of dry food into her dish. Did I mention it was cold?
After feeding two pets, it made me realize I should eat too. I looked in the fridge and felt disenchanted with the few options I had. Most of what’s in my fridge needs to be thrown out, however, I zeroed in on a “fresh” bag of Chocolate Bark Thins I had in there. I broke off a piece and skipped the idea of making a “real breakfast.” (This was the second morning in a row that I ate chocolate for breakfast!) I then sat at the kitchen table and spent about an hour working on the online class I teach. It’s almost the end of the semester for all three of the schools I teach at. I have to say, it’s been the most overwhelming semester of my career. I know I took on way too much this time but it was a conscious decision I made to keep myself distracted and busy. I blinded myself silly with work but now that it’s coming to an end, the blurry truth is coming into focus. I have really come to despise the holidays.
My second alarm went off at 9:00 a.m. Time for the gym! I recently got back to working out. My semester had been so busy I didn’t even have time for the gym. I had to put it off for a while. Surprisingly, I really enjoy working out. I take a weight training class that kicks my bootie but I like the idea that I’m building muscle. I guess I think if I get stronger physically, it’ll help me become stronger mentally. I’m not so sure that’s been the outcome but I repeat that to myself when I feel like another bicep curl is impossible! I’m not the “strong” woman people are so kind to tell me I am but I do try my best to become that person. I truly believe working out helps me.
When the gym class was over, I checked my phone and saw that Deja had sent me a text message saying it was raining in L.A. I looked up and noticed it was raining in Lake Elsinore too! I love the rain but I always think it’s much better when you’re able to enjoy it with someone you love. I rushed home to let poor Lola back in the house and made myself a protein drink. I took another futile look in the fridge and wasn’t surprised that nothing new magically appeared but I was surprised the Chocolate Bark Thins had lost their appeal. “I’ll eat later,” I told myself.
I still had work to do but working from home has never proven to be very productive. I can usually think of work that needs to be done for the house that will take me away from doing the work that needs to be done for my job. I stayed in my stinky workout clothes and drove over to the empty high school to focus on “job-work” for a few hours. I got a lot done but after one of the custodians came in and teased me about “doing free overtime,” I decided to wrap it up and go back home.
When I opened the house door, I heard Lola’s tail thumping on the couch. She was wagging her tail that I was home but too lazy to jump off the couch to greet me. I looked at her disapprovingly but decided to let her enjoy the comfort of the couch. I thought, “Does it really matter?” Lola’s pleasure in life is laying on a couch. Who am I to keep her from being comfortable and happy?
At about 4:00 p.m., my tummy grumbled. I took yet another fruitless peak in the fridge. I tried to remember the exact words to this quote: ”Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein. Yep, I’m certifiably insane. I sat back at the kitchen table and looked at the work I needed to finish… I felt ornery and thought “screw it!” I went upstairs to shower, get dressed and tried to think of something I could go do by myself. See, I know I have friends and family I could call and ask if they want to hang out but I’ve been trying to get comfortable with being by myself. I haven’t been by myself for a while. I had a “friend” that I spent a lot of my time with after Michael had passed. He was a great guy who would make cookies with me, spend time with me, comforted me when I needed it, and encouraged me eat real meals. He helped me not feel so lonely. Unfortunately, I think trying to establish a relationship with a heartbroken-widow took its toll on him. I don’t think I’ll be seeing him around anymore. It’s sad but I can’t imagine how challenging it must’ve been for him to try to be with a woman with so much unresolved grief and unrequited love for another man. Life is cruel.
Around 6:00 p.m., I drove to the shopping center in Corona. I started a little shopping but seeing all these people out as couples or families kind of bummed me out. I gave up on shopping. I walked over to Starbucks to get a Peppermint Mocha and a cup of fruit. My first “meal” of the day! As I sat by myself at a table outside, two guys walked by and joked, “By yourself?” I nodded yes and looked down at my phone. I’m not sure if they were trying to be flirty or if they were just being friendly or if they were just drunk, I just know I wanted no part of any of it. I put in my earphones and looked over at the adjacent theaters. Wondering what was showing, I walked over and saw that “Old Boy” was playing. Michael and I both loved the original Korean version of that movie. I wondered what Michael would’ve thought about Spike Lee doing a remake. The showtime was perfect and I decided to go see it. This was the first time I had ever gone to the movies by myself. It really didn’t feel that weird. I think it helped that I was the only person in the theater when I arrived. I chose the very back row. A couple came in a little after and sat about four rows ahead of me. Once the previews began an older man walked in and asked “What’d I miss?” None of us answered him. He sat closer to the front of the theater but once the movie started he got up and sat in the row in front of me. WHY?! People always do that! There’s a whole empty theater and you decide to sit RIGHT in front of me? Grrr…In any case, the movie was okay. As soon as it was over, I really wished I could talk to Michael about it. He was the best when it came to movie discussions! I was flooded with sadness and wasn’t ready to go home feeling that way. I decided to go to Barnes & Nobles until they closed.
Driving home I was consumed with thoughts like: ”How did my life get here? How did I lose the life I loved so much? Why am I here by myself?” Geeze, what a crybaby!
Sunday, December 8, 2013:
I woke up this morning to just about the same routine as the days before. I sat down to work at the kitchen table but decided to check in on Facebook first (my guilty pleasure when I have time). I noticed a group message. I usually ignore group messages but I decided to read it because it was from a man I respect. Donnie Brainard.
I met this man, Donnie, through my dear friends, the Dietz’s. Chester and Veronica made arrangements for Michael and me to see Motley Crue with them at the Hard Rock Hotel in Vegas. At this time, Michael was very sick (about three months before he passed) and there was very little my dear husband would get excited about but MAN was he excited about this!? Before the show, we had a wonderful dinner at Nobu. Donnie met all of us there and generously took the bill for everyone. What a nice guy, I thought.
However, one of the things I really took away from meeting Donnie was that he had a family he loved with all of his heart. Most notably he focused much of his conversation on his daughter, India, that had very special medical needs. He shared his deep love for his little girl and expressed to us how much spirit she retained despite the daily pain she faced. Donnie was doing everything and anything to help India live a happy and healthy life. I remember looking in Donnie’s eyes and instantly recognized the same sad desperation I saw in my own eyes when I occasionally took the time to glance at myself in the mirror. He was being positive about her treatments and telling us how he would do whatever it took within his financial means to make her life comfortable and happy. He’s an amazing father.
This morning I read his message that his India was in need of an intensive surgery. I’m so sad his family is going through what they are going through. I am optimistic for them but I know they’re struggling in many ways. In his message, he was humbly reaching out for support. This man and his family deserves the graceful generosity of others right now.
I realize I’m not the only one experiencing “Holiday Blues.” But WHO are we to complain about how hard our lives FEEL when there are others experiencing how hard life IS. I try my best every day to temper the pain of losing my Michael. I know the pain I feel now is nothing compared to the days when I lived terrified that I was losing him and there was nothing I could’ve done to have kept him here one day longer without suffering. Reading about what Donnie, India, and his family is going through made me ashamed for feeling sorry for myself yesterday.
All I can say is to please enjoy the holidays with your friends and family. Be grateful for loved ones presently in your life and think fondly of the ones who once graced your life. Personally, I have to remind myself to not take for granted what I have despite what I have lost. I have come to believe life is all about helping others. There is comfort in reciprocal generosity and gratitude. Michael taught me that message in everything he did and he continues to teach me that each day he’s been gone.
Friends, if you are feeling giving this holiday season, would you please consider helping this family? Thank you so much.
Please read Donnie’s link below:
All my love,