Sunday, 6 May 2018

View from the sidelines



It's lonely here on the side lines of life waiting for it to happen, seeing it happen to others. So it's time to get in the game as they say. "This ain't no dress rehearsal" and all those other euphemisms that go along with the "live life in the now", "you only have today", "here today gone tomorrow"  yadda yadda philosophy.

Well seems it's true. Of course we all know it - we just play ignoring games with the death-shy part of us that doesn't want to. Being widowed and deeply grieving for my lost love of 34 years gave me plenty of fodder to contemplate while living in the past, mired in sadness and loss. It (save for a few forays to connect with the outside world by trying out tango lessons, landscape photography and having loved ones cook for me and offer a bed to my sorry drunk self) is an extremely lonely isolating place to be, especially for as long as I have needed to be there. This death space, this grieving thing. Life and death. Hang on I'll get to the point.

Back to well it seems it's true -this here and now is life- philosophy. My aunt died suddenly last week, her the youngest of all those elder siblings in my dad's family. And it got me thinking about all these things... There is much more to come now that I am passed mid life, death isn't fair, it doesn't strike the oldest or most infirm first, many people handle death differently than I do, death leaves behind so many heartbroken people, would my adult children look like that if I died? for all your death thinking you don't contemplate your own do you? shock on a newly bereaved spouse has a look that I can recognize across a room, funerals are only for the living even if the dead person wanted one and there is always more we could know about each other, do for each other, love to show each other and honor we can bestow on each other before death comes to us. I took a long walk with Pax on the warmest day this spring and instead of enjoying this grief decided to give me a visit. I opened the door and let it in this time. Feeling how much I missed him, allowing myself to remember his voice, his mannerisms and feel their loss, not giving a shit that others saw the tears rolling down my face. Finally, this week I listened to this pondercast about death which I can't even begin to put in words let alone process it's eloquence and wisdom.

Simultaneously with all that happened about death this week, and is often the way, it got me thinking a lot about life.  I've been saying for awhile now that I need to start participating in life again. What I mean by this is I need to stop doing things that deny me from living fully. Things that prevent me from fully celebrating this life I have now. Things like stuffing my creativity, thinking in black and white, partaking in tedious daily routines, zoning out in TV, hiding in my apartment, having faith in online dating, hating couples, hating, filthy habits that hurt my health. These "safe" ways I chose to view life from the sidelines were all done so I wouldn't have to experience things like what I talked about in the preceding paragraph.  But here's the rub. Those things in the preceding paragraph are life, and living it! My way of viewing it on the sidelines is death. Imagine that, who'd a thunk it? Not me obviously.

So I am setting out to get in the game called life. Maybe I have learned what I needed to on the sidelines (because I do believe even periods of being mired in muck are growth and have lessons for us) and it doesn't need to be learned anymore, maybe I am just tired? I know this, being "in the game of life" can be just as difficult as viewing it from the sidelines, but....I just don't want to stay on the bench anymore, I want in the game. I don't want to miss the dance, because I love dancing.

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Anniversaries and Easter


Four yeas ago you were slipping into unconsciousness. We were losing you. Gathering around you and saying our good byes. I hate remembering this so I am grateful that this year grief has given me a wide berth and the memories are fuzzier and muted instead of fresh and traumatic. This is a relief because I really don't want to remember your dying anymore. What good purpose does it serve? I did the best I could, I was there- you knew how I felt and I think I knew somewhat how you felt. We were ravaged, our fairy tale coming to a sad end. What else is there to say?  What else is there to feel?  I want to remember you alive, smiling at me, hugging me, loving me. The grief has pushed those good memories aside for too long now.

It sucks that all I have are memories but again what else can I do about that? Throw myself on the funeral pyre? How bitter those words I used to hear "life goes on, it's here for the living"- now I realize it does. In the past I didn't want to live, now I do. That is how it changes I guess. That is how grief evolves.

In these past four years I have grown and learned so much. Do I wish it hadn't of happened of course, I'd go back to my old life in a second with you if given the chance but now I am here. I can't go back there is no magic or wishful thinking that will change the fact I am a widow. A widow with four years experience in this horrid club. So in this post I am going to list the pros and cons of this new life and see how they change over time- if at all.

What fucking sucks about about being a widow:

empty dinner table on a Wednesday night
seeing couples hold hands
seeing couples do anything together if I'm honest
online dating
going to weddings
being the 5th wheel with your couple friends
no one to carry your groceries into the house
no house
car rides to camp alone
camping alone
no gifts  or surprises
no sex
no one to watch the movie with
no one to bounce important decisions off of
(okay lets face it this list could go on forever and it's depressing me)

Things that are okay (yes just okay, not good, not wonderful not fantastic- okay)  as a widow:

finding more independence
learning new life lessons
not needing to consider another person when you decide something
a greater sense of empathy and kindness for those alone and single and widowed
something to write about
other's kindness and compassion for me
a widow's pension (that sounds fucking awful doesn't it?) 
finding new friends and learning from them 

Terry I miss you way more now but I feel it less, does that make sense? If you are in an afterlife, send me some faith. I could use it this Easter.
I love you




Friday, 23 March 2018

Sometimes a girl just got to buy her own flowers


When you want something, you don't have to wait for others to give it to you, in fact it's more healthy some would say to go obtain it yourself. I was in Costco the other day and spied these beautiful flowers. Well let's go back a few days before this. I had recently been at a friend's house who's husband had bought her roses and I remarked on how beautiful they were. How lucky she was to have these bought for her. I remembered immediately all the times my wonderful Terry had brought home flowers for me unexpectedly and how much it made me feel extra loved by him. How it did mean a lot. How I don't have that now, how I come home to pax's beautiful face and wagging tail wanting a walk and loving me so much that I am home. But dogs can't buy you flowers and express how much they love you in different ways. It's a smile a jump up a wagging tail and a greeting at the door and that is the extent of their expressions. I do not have Terry in my life to buy me flowers anymore. I do not have Terry in my life to buy me flowers ever again.

So what's a girl to Do? Well buy your own damn flowers of course, it's so simple isn't it? For you maybe, not for me. Like many things on this journey of oneness I am learning all sorts of good things. Like it's taken 1450 days to buy my own flowers just for me. Like it's taken 1450 days to get comfortable with being alone. Oh don't get me wrong I don't necessarily like it, I am just way more comfortable with it now. It doesn't make me want to cry or go to bed or mourn deeper or jump into the ocean and drown or take off out the door to somewhere else. In fact sometimes I even forget I'm (is I'm capitalized? if so why? and why is I always capitalized? are we such ego maniacs we can't say i? we never capitalized we and we are two people- two or more  why isn't that more important than I ? i have always wondered this- I understand it at the start of a sentence and i kinda see if it was a new word in today's self centered ego-centric me society- but this I language is very very old - okay grammar police enlighten me what gives? and why isn't me capitalized'? is me not a proper name/noun/pronoun but I is?) alone it's become such way of life now. The silence and space around me doesn't scream anymore, it's filled now with- i don't know the exact word here except comfortableness. I don't know how that happened i did not do anything to make it happen, time just changed it. I also am not dragged back to those terrible memories of 4 years ago this week when he was so sick and dying. Instead this year the early part of spring has not come round to torture me. I played no part in that either. I can sing this new great song by my favorite band with a sense of lightness and fun rather than dear god just kill me angst.

 "And when nobody did respond
I took my glasses off and went to find a pond
Stuffing rocks into the pockets of my pants
And when I waded in
Those currents carried them away

I wanna love somebody but I don't know how
I've been so long lonely and it's getting me down
I wanna throw my body in the river and drown
I wanna love somebody but I don't know how

So if you're lost along the way
And if you're thinking that will always be the case
Won't you listen to my plea?
You'll make a sucker's prayer
Just go and leave it that-a-way"


Do you think that buying myself flowers and this feeling of comfortableness and lack of bad grief memories on the anniversary of his dying days are related? I don't know except to say i could not have bought myself flowers in March these last three years. And i could not have enjoyed them as much as i have. And i could not have felt comfortable being alone here in my apartment, and i could not have gone to bed tired and happy instead of lonely and crying, and i could not have looked forward to coming home to this apartment alone, and i could not have sung this song with a grin on my face and i could not have planned and enjoyed a trip to the grocery store to buy food I know i need and will eat.  However, this past few weeks I have. Baby steps tiny baby steps and they add up to life. You know that thing that happens when you are busy making other plans.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Everything we want is on the other side of fear


I read this online the other day. Everything we want is on the other side of fear. It really caught my attention as things do when you need to examine them. With me as I look back and forward I have to admit in some situations this is true for me. However what if we don't recognize that fear is stopping us? Who tells us? Do we have to wait to find this out ourselves or do we have someone who is brave enough to help us out here? Do you? Would I accept their help or their insight before I was ready to anyway? No I would not and that is honest, having been the type of person my entire life who has to find her own way and usually late in the game at that. I wouldn't see the forest for the trees until I am ready to see the forest, until I have examined every last tree. That is just me.

When Terry died I knew something was very very wrong and I was so fucking afraid I could not look at it. I could not investigate. Things have to hit me smack in the face before I notice. I have been thinking about why that is and I conclude many times it was fear. What is it I am afraid of? Well answers that floats to the top of that spoken question include; dying, separation from ones I love, heartache, pain, loss, loneliness, abandonment. But I think I need to go a little deeper here. I have experienced all of these and way worse (well not entirely dying of myself, but for sure pieces of my heart and life have died with my son and my husband). I have experienced all of these fears, I have survived through to the other side many times.

Maybe the question to ask here is what is everything you want?

This rings truer for me. What is it I want? I think I know- but I admit it -I am stubborn in taking a look at what it is I want. And this answer rises to the top. I want to live, to choose life. Recently I have been experiencing pain in my body, it's rebelling and telling me to stop and listen. My posture is stooped and folded in upon itself. I have spent way too much time inside my life watching it get smaller and smaller. Not willing yet to to step out into new experiences, not willing yet to use my voice. Not willing yet to take risks, not willing yet to do something different than my same bad comforting habits. These keep me safe from feeling, or more honestly - from living. I feel plenty.

So what do you want Sussey? I am learning this. I am finding my way to it. What is holding you back from going for it? I am not sure yet, but I no longer believe it is fear.

Keep journeying brave women.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Queens, Goddesses and Heroes


A quick google search tells me the origins of International Women's Day began back in 1909 see http://www.un.org/en/events/womensday/history.shtml for history. I had thought it was a much newer movement. But of course I see that was silly as women have been active in asserting themselves way before my time. Those much more wise and wonderful than I have reached for the stars eons before I was even a thought. I marvel at the steadfastness and power of women in this world. The movements they have started that change global attitudes and behaviour, that effect social consciousness. From the Suffragette to the Me Too movement women have made their mark on the world for others to follow. What a sorry world it would be without these trail blazers.

This day gets me thinking about the women in my life. From my earliest relationship with my twin in the womb with me to my mom who raised me to my beautiful smart daughters all the way to the wonderful women friends I have in my life today. Friends whom I love dearly and who enrich my life beyond comprehension I shudder to think what I do without them? Just as an example, yesterday I spent the day with three amazing women. I visited my girlfriend Cindy, whom I love to the moon and back and whom has been my sounding board in this widow's journey these last many years. I always always feel better after I see her. I can arrive at her door or her at mine in the foulest of moods in the worst shape and a meaningful conversation later everything is right in my world again. Who do you have in your life like that? Someone I hope? Someone who knows just what to say and not say, just enough love and push to balance your psyche back to plum level. Women conversation-like none you could ever have with the male counterpart. Aren't we lucky to be female? Love you Cindy.

I then went to visit my momma. Her sweet smile greeted me at the door and let me know she was very happy to see me. This beautiful 85 year old women got me a cup of tea and hidden in a napkin two of my favorite cookies to go with it. She wanted to hear what I was up to. Love comes to you like none other but from a mom. I am so grateful she is there, I love you momma. I no sooner got home but found a message from my mentor in Washington, my photography guru who has become much more in this last year. We talked and talked in that meaningful way women do about life and I got a whole new perspective on my life journey. Then she walked me through a shot as we passed photos back and forth across our countries internet wires. Despite the distance I felt so close and connected to her, like she was in my bedroom helping me set up the shot. Her so willing to share her knowledge and expertise on light and modelling. And I didn't even have to ask for this somehow that intuitive nature us women have led the conversation into this topic. The two and half hours flew by and I felt that creative drive start to surface again. Love you Amy.

The end of the day saw a quick connect in to my twin, that women in my life who I have had close before birth and probably even in my other lives. My other brain- the one who knows all I like and don't like who has been there for me always through every hard time through every joy. The one who can suggest books movies and articles to inspire and spark the feelings I need. "Here check this out you'll love this" she is always right. What would I do without her there? Love you Pam.

Women. Not enough adjectives in the world to describe their divinity. I salute women around the world in their gloriousness, their happiness, their resourcefulness, their love, their selflessness, their brokenness, their downtroddenness, their power. To you and all the women I love in my life (you know who you are) I salute you this day. Keep reaching for the stars you queens, goddesses and heroes.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Not knowing



There are times, despite my incessant introspection, where I wonder if I learned anything at all. I feel at times like I am this floating entity lost in a huge universe swirling around me with all this knowledge and wisdom and answers and I can't catch any of it. Despite dancing as fast as I can on the cosmic consciousness of my sisters that went before me. The generations of wise crones who knew the answers I seek. Did I learn anything yet?  I am 55.7 years old now. Is my personality so ingrained now I can't change? Am I changing and I just can't see the forest for the trees? I like to think so, but when I honestly peek inside my heart I wonder. Did you learn anything yet? There are many lessons I know are in my life path - Sussey's own interpersonal lessons. These are what I am referring to here, these that I know but have not learned yet. Can you know a lesson but not learn it?

My life has been filled with both great and sorrowful experiences. I have had more come my way than many many people ever will in their entire lifetimes. I have been truly blessed with some very incredibly special people and experiences and gifts. I have been to the heights of great spiritual awakenings down to the depths of absolute despair and darkness. Nothing boring and in between for this women. I repel boredom in fact. I have loved very deeply. I have lost very profoundly.

There is a lesson for me in there. It's not fully formed and cemented in my head or heart yet, but it lingers on the periphery waiting for this student to come to it. I had the pleasure of spending some time with my youngest son the other morning. He my old soul child with his quiet wisdom and new found knowledge of all things scientific and worldly. We talked about books he's reading and what he is learning from them. He knew about the "uncanny valley" and we chatted about that, he listened while I told him some secrets about raising children and my own personal challenges in life. He offered his unbiased thoughts and opinions on same. I told him how wonderful it was to learn from someone so young. To be open to the fact that I have nowhere near all the answers or all the knowledge I need in this lifetime and in fact someone 30 years my junior may have some of it to teach me. It made me feel young again to listen to him and wise at the same time.

I thought about it again on my walk to work where the thoughts flow freely. One thing is for certain, in this life I am being taught about death. About losing and letting go. About fully immersing in what I have before it's gone. About embracing the love and the disappointment. Living in the moment is too light a sentence to attach to this but it gets at some of it.  This learn and yearn- this, as yet unproven theory, I can't quite mesh together- is the overarching paradigm of my life. I know it to be so. To live in the moment and not look for anything else, to be grateful and enjoy what you have while it's there, to love and need and desire and yearn and care and cry and hope and despair- and nothing else. To be - to just feel. Life and death, pain and grief, love and abandon. And nothing else. Just to feel.

I don't know how this fits, I just write and see if I can come up with answers and see if I can change my story through these words, but I had a terrible dream last night. I believe Freud was correct when he said dreams are the royal road to the unconscious. I had a number of children in my house (they were my kids but looked different) and they were all in some form or state of angst. They were addicted to drugs and alcohol, they smoked, one had numerous credit cards that were maxed and the desperation was evident. They were using me and taking advantage of my kindness and I was letting this happen. I was sidelined to silence. I was so lonely in my despair of these ones I loved that I could not help. Chaos reigned, I wanted out and could not let go. I awoke crying in the middle of the night and could not fall back to sleep. I know that everyone in your dream is you. I could not help her. The details of the angst not important or correct but the angst yes, the loneliness yes, the chaos yes, the inability to help yes.

I have so much and still look for more. Stop looking and just be it. I felt anger toward Terry for the first time. This happened about 2 weeks ago and life has been pretty tough ever since. I felt that anger because he left me, he didn't tell me how bad he was, he ruined our wonderful life together and now my life is shit, I was mad at him for this. I let myself cry over it but I want to resolve this and I do not know how (this not knowing, have you learned anything yet? Can you let it go?). This not knowing has me stumped, it has me blocked, it has me dreaming what I did last night. I wonder if it is a key issue in the grief process that if I knew how to turn it and unlock it's secret door it would stop the chaos? It is as if I am in the uncanny valley. I know something is not quite right and I am thrown by it but I can't yet see it for what it is. The lesson just on the periphery.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Grief is like a long term relationship




In a long term relationship you don't stay the same as a couple. You go through phases and changes and you learn, grow, take a step back, three steps forward. You just never stay the same. I guess that is how they can work- it's not boring and it just grows deeper and deeper. If you are lucky like I was it grows better and better as it grows deeper.  Grief is like a long term relationship. It changes, it doesn't stay the same. Thank god for that! I was reading a post from a newly bereaved and it had shock written all through it, she didn't know she was in shock poor thing. She was questioning everything, why she couldn't cry, how guilty she felt about that, how long it would be like this when the pain would start and stop. I remember being there, I wanted to reach through the social media barrier and just hold her and cry with her. I remember when I questioned everything. I remembered when I wanted and needed to know how it was going to be. How if I only had those answers it would make it all okay. Those answers never come to you, instead you live to them.

Recently I felt like my grief story was changing a bit. I was thinking of Terry less. I put one picture of him away. I felt like I will "succeed" in my grief for him, whatever the hell that is. It just felt like You're getting there. You can remember and not cry, you can remember and just cry a bit. You can think and not feel guilt or abandonment or numb or the need to run to something else. You aren't yearning for a dream of him. You know he is dead and what that means for you now.

And I came into my quiet lonely apartment this afternoon and I felt it again. Three steps backwards into grief. Run - don't feel it; feel it - don't run. There is always a choice. And way up on the top shelf I spied his clothes I had kept. In my incorrect poor memories of early days I thought I had let go of this stuff. But I hadn't, a part of that shocked women kept key important items she'd want to have later. His black hat with the small red rose, the hat he had when I met him and he wore all over our travels in BC when we were a young free couple. The shirt I gave him for Christmas, that fit him so well and he looked so handsome in, one item of clothing I bought him that he actually liked. And the tie he had bought for his business schooling when we were smack in the middle of our toughest shittiest years struggling with debt and kids and feeling most apart.  And I knew I had to smell these, and have them on my body, and remember when he did and imagine what these meant to him. I had to feel what they mean to me now. And it felt okay. Grief spiraling deeper, changing, getting better but still here like a long time married couple.