How Am I?

by Sarah

In the midst of friends a few weeks ago, the topic of my writing and this blog came up.  Even though most people I come in contact with don’t ask me, it seems as though folks are curious as to how I’m doing.  So, I committed to writing an update and posting more of what’s going on in my life and in my head, probably more for me than anyone.  For now, an update on me.

I’m OK.  I feel like I have been pushed and shoved and bruised and stretched and stressed to my breaking point.  I try to keep a dark, heavy, ever-shifting weight above my shoulders.  It pushes me down and I’m at times frantic to keep it from crashing to the ground.  But my core remains.  My spine, my soul and my spirit have been exhausted but they’re intact even if they are still accumulating scars.

I believe my approach to life, my mindset, qualities and values remain fairly steady.  My circumstances continue to morph and I do my best to roll with them even though they’re sporadic and unpredictable.  I’ve been rocked by the death of my father.  I’m living with cancer.  I’m navigating and managing many different scenarios, planned events or unexpected crises, for my mom and brother for as long as I can and trying to get structure set up to keep them safe and cared for without me which is easier said than done.  This is my life.  Onward.

I am constantly trying to determine the best course for my own life and making decisions accordingly, some large, some small, all important.  I don’t know anyone who has walked a similar path and I feel like I’m in uncharted territory.  I know I’m alone in these decisions although I often pick people’s brains.  I’ve mostly accepted this way of life but I feel the weight of it and it is heavy.  The good news is that I’m still here and have decisions to make.  Dad’s advice often plays in my head, “do the best you can, let the rest go”.  Wise words in any situation, I’ve found.

I’m fortunate to have a great tribe.  I have procured some of the best humans and dogs I can imagine to hold close.  Our time together is medicine for my soul; listening, laughing, challenging each others’ thoughts, figuring out how we can be better, do better, holding each other accountable, creating adventures, appreciating each other for exactly who we are and expecting nothing less than unfettered authenticity during times of joy, pain and vulnerability.  They remind me that I’m more than grief, cancer and impending doom.  They engage the other parts of me that sometimes get shoved down, stifled or left behind.  They remind me that I have value in their lives, too.  That might be the best medicine of all.

All of that reminds me of going to yoga with Jana.  If you’ve even been to a yoga class and know how quiet it is, how it’s really about yourself, what you’re doing and no one else, you’ll appreciate how I can’t help but screw with her on occasion.  I watch her struggle and fidget and overthink getting into a position for way too long, finally settling in and then I whisper to her, hiss really, “you’re doing it wroooooooong” which startles her out of her pose and concentration while I’m trying to muffle my laughter.  And she still goes with me!  What a peach.

My days are full and when it’s not a family crisis or doctor appointment, I get as much good stuff in as I can. That doesn’t mean I’m not grieving and wounded from Dad’s death.  I still feel like I can’t let my mind go too far or I may crack into a million pieces that can never be put back together.  Unpredictable things will trigger memories or thoughts will permeate me like a thick fog of heavy sadness.

A friend asked me what I do with the thoughts I would’ve told Dad.  “I swallow them.”  He asked me why and I told him I don’t want to cry which is true but only in part.  I don’t mind crying.  It’s good for letting the sadness out and carrying it around is heavy on my soul.  But what I really don’t want to do is change the mood of whoever I’m with.  They have no idea that I’ve just been struck with an intense emotion or vivid memory and to start sobbing as we’re walking through Costco just spooks people.  If I’m alone, I let it out but those instances have been rare.  I usually just turn my head away and get quiet long enough to swallow whatever thought/feeling/emotion has surfaced and then re-engage.  Maybe I’m naive but I don’t think anyone has noticed.  No one has commented.

Don’t misinterpret.  I’m fine with honoring my emotions when I’m talking about Dad and the other person can see them coming.  But when they have no idea and we’re doing something fun, I really don’t want to change that trajectory, for them and for me.  I don’t want to make whatever we’re doing all of sudden become about me and my grief.  I can recalibrate and gather myself fairly quickly these days; plenty of practice.  Not that every time I talk of Dad, I cry or it’s something to be avoided.  Quite the opposite.  He gave me a lot to laugh about and his approach to life and to the world is something that I love to be reminded of.  I miss him and for good reason; he is well worth missing.

To close, a photo of Foxy and Lamby.  Until Foxy saves enough money for Glamour Shots, this will have to do.

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