One Step at A Time

At least get dressed and have a cup of fresh hot strong coffee! There, that’s a good start. Now take your pills and supplements, then make your bed and check email. Remember to brush your teeth. Your friends will appreciate that.

Well, I/we did start the day! Good for me/us. What that means is I did and I hope you did as well.

Christmas without Clo isn’t working very well. I don’t like it much. I have NO clue what to buy at the grocery store. The small tree I bought leans and tipped over one too many times. I can’t find the hook for the wreath on the front door and I don’t quite have the heart to put out the daddy reindeer and the twins. She always did that. Nick will put lights on the tree for me.

I’m sad. But I am also something more. A deeper loneliness. A loneliness that deeply knows I will no longer have Christmas with Clo. We had traditions she and I created. Most of them included my family. I still have my family. But Clo isn’t beside me talking about it, creating it, sharing. She is in my head and my heart. But her body is gone and I want the real thing right now.

I don’t feel sorry for myself. I am living life. It is what it is. I feel aware. Aware of the passage of time, of change, of loss and difference. I feel deeply aware of sorrow. Joy and laughter will return out of the ashes of sorrow. But not yet.

I am sure many of you know sadness this time of year. Some of you may know it all throughout the year. Lean on each other. Allow yourself to be curious about life and about the way you have chosen to live your life. Share with whomever it is safe and comfortable for you to be vulnerable. Take time with just YOU and grieve, or remember, or dream, or wish, and certainly wonder! Count on friends, neighbors, those you love and who love you, to help feel the feelings. Your feelings need to be heard. You deserve to feel seen and understood. You are giving the gift of trust and love when you share with others your pain, your bewilderment, your emptiness.

Allow yourself to be held in a container of safety and kindness. I can assure you that all really will be just fine soon. Right now it doesn’t feel that way. It is okay to feel awful right now. It helps the healing to begin when we can finally wrap our mind around the size of our wound.

I have so come to realize how much I need to do my healing for myself. No one else can do it for me. I cannot do it for you or promise anything other than my openness and spiritual presence. My caring. But others can smile, can gently say I know, can take my hand and help me across the street. The warmth of their presence helps. I invite you all to take comfort in each other.

I do want to be mindful of not confusing grief and depression. I think I am depressed and I know that isn’t true. I love life and I love MY life. It is a joy to have holiday plans and to know family will be here. I love holiday music. The lights are pretty and wrapping gifts is fun. The smell of cookies baking, planning menus. I was doing just fine until I got to wrapping gifts and then I mentioned food and I became less fine. I am actually not doing menus and food shopping and preparations for what we will eat. I will have to save food decisions to others.

This is a holiday of grieving. There is no heart in gift wrapping, baking, menus, shopping. I simply want to grieve and that for me means feeling the sadness and loss, allowing myself to be afraid of my own mortality, remember nothing is forever, and hang on!

I don’t believe I am depressed. I believe I am grieving and I am glad, if you will, that I am doing that. Glad because it is healthy and honest, and loving. Clo and I shared a particular love and devotion and loyalty that was uniquely ours, never to be in just that way for me again. We struggled, as we all do. We had our not so perfect times. I judged and she held back and we were always learning, trying, growing, and changing.

I want to write a tribute to Clo. But right now all I know is my own missing and longing and pain. I celebrate that I am finally learning to NOT put that pain in my body. Instead I write, I email, I phone, I think, I listen to music, I indulge myself in retreat and withdrawal. I am an introvert. Extroverts indulge themselves in doing and accomplishing. Both are equally gifted and brilliant ways to cope.

My wish for any of you who are suffering these days when many others are joyful, or at least profess to be, is that you not punish yourself for your sorrow and grief and that you do allow yourself without judgement or shame to go inside yourself if you are an introvert. Or allow yourself to be distracted with busyness that gives you relief if you are an extrovert. Be gentle and sweet with you. You deserve your way of growing and healing and there is no shame in what you chose.

You have heard my story and I hope I am able to help you feel seen when I share my journey with such transparency.

I send love and peace to anyone who wants it from me. You are a precious and special soul and however you decide to express your particular unique self is absolutely okay. If it gives you peace and solace you are moving in the exact right direction on the blessed path called life learning how to deal with change and loss and death.

I want to write a tribute to Clo but I don’t think I know how to do that. Or maybe this is indeed the tribute I want to write. I want to honor her in my time of grief and sorrow and my great awareness of how much I miss her. I want to feel her closer to me, thus my desire to write and to feel her presence as I remember her. I am full of MY pain, MY loss, MY disappointment, MY floundering to get a hand hold and somewhere to place my feet on the ground of life so I can contribute to celebrating. There is so much to celebrate: life itself, beauty, music, children, puppies, good food, lovely clean white snow, sunshine and blue skies, work, play, a comfortable and warm and inviting home, clean sheets, a totally non-intrusive housemate, family, friends on and on.

Clo was a doer. Her doing brought life, love and joy into our home and into our lives together. Often she pulled me along, dragging and screaming. And ALWAYS I liked and appreciated the results. She thought herself to be depressed, yet pushed through and accomplished so very much. She was the extrovert. She could push herself to do whatever her very active, creative, and wise self could come up with that she believed needed doing. I often didn’t know “whatever” even needed to be done. But she was right. Our home and our lives were better off for the work she did and the thought and love she put into us and into our life together.

I just received a text from my/our 18 year old grandson Nick, who is in University in the States. He said he misses Mamie, as the grandchildren call Clo, and has been talking with her lately and she has helped him through his exams.

That moves me so!! Clo always regretted, with some shame even, that she stopped her education mid completion. She often forgot how very smart she was and longed to have degrees to prove that to herself. Nick knows how smart she is and can call upon what he knows about his Mamie at a time when he has the need. Bless him. How very proud Clo would be to know his love for her and his trust in her. All three grandchildren deeply love and deeply trusted Clo. She was solid and available. Ready and willing with help, suggestions, always love, high regard, trust in the beauty of children in general and our grandchildren in particular.

My family loved her and wanted to heal her. She loved my family and wanted to have an impact. She definitely had and still has an impact; a loving, creative, colourful, smart impact on all of my adult children and grandchildren.

And I miss her.

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