... for those who mourn the loss of a soul mate
"He felt now that he was not simply close to her, but that he did not know where he ended and she began." - Leo Tolstoy

Friday, August 30, 2019

The heart remembers

This year marks 9 years since John has passed over to his next adventure and for the most part I think I am doing okay in my grief journey.
But there are days when I still get surprised.
This month is our wedding anniversary month. August 28th is our anniversary but the whole month brings back memories.
We sort of eloped. We decided to get married on August 3rd and the next few weeks flew by as we made arrangements for ceremony, reception, and honeymoon. None of it was elaborate and we only told a few friends. Our respective families didn't even know.
So when August rolls around every year I am reminded of all that went on that month.
This year I thought I was doing pretty well. After all, hasn't my mind adjusted by now?
And then last weekend happened and I was knocked flat on my proverbial butt.
This past weekend I didn't feel well and then on Tuesday I broke out in a rash I only get when I am upset.
So, while I was going around patting myself on my back, my heart was saying "Hey, not so fast."
So, I gave in and acknowledged that yes, I am sad. Very sad, as a matter of fact.
We married 38 years ago this week and I wish with all my heart we could celebrate together.
John sent me some wonderful signs and I am grateful.
I know he is celebrating too.
It's the best we can do.
For now.
And I have learned a lesson. Burying something in the recesses of our mind doesn't make it go away.
Anniversaries and birthdays and other important dates are hard.
And we need to acknowledge them - sadness and happiness combined.
I celebrated our anniversary with some Proseco and a chocolate eclair. I toasted the happy years we had. I thanked John for the signs he sent.
It's all good.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Facebook Never Dies

When a beloved soul mate dies, many people keep their voice alive on voicemail messages or telephone answering machines. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with that. The comfort of hearing a beloved voice just one more time must be immense. But what about Facebook? What happens to all those reminders of what someone thought or believed or was touched by?

I found myself pondering this when Facebook reminded me this week that it was Anita’s birthday. Now I know most of you will not know who Anita was, but suffice to say I know she was a soul sister to me. A most precious friend of a lifetime, she left this world two years ago and I miss her every day, but especially on her birthday.

And every year, Facebook reminds me on August 28 that it is her birthday. You see, no one has had the heart to deactivate her Facebook page. None of us who loved her see any reason to do that and Facebook never dies. So, as long as that page is there, a small remnant of her is still alive on this plane of existence.

Still, as far as that system is concerned, all of her friends need to be reminded to send her happy birthday wishes. Some may be saddened to get that reminder. I am not, even though I will never need to be reminded. Her birthday is engraved upon my heart. But some people, I think, still do not realize she is gone. If you visit her page, every year you will find a handful of new messages wishing her a very happy day. In that small way, she is still here via the eternal Facebook.

I suppose some would consider getting such a message strange or eerie. I do not. I believe Anita knows those of us here are thinking of her, missing her, and sending her our heartfelt wishes for happiness, wherever she is. Facebook just gives all a gentle reminder to think of her.

Next week, a small group of us who were closest to Anita will be coming together for lunch at one of her favorite restaurants. We do this every year. It is our way of keeping her present in our lives. We break bread together, reminisce about the many memories we have of her and in general, just reconnect and catch up. She would have liked that. Being with the people she loved was one of her favorite things to do. So, when we order an extra glass of wine to pass around as a toast to our dear girl, I know she is there smiling down on us and laughing along with all the sparkling memories we share. Maybe this year, I will post something on her page to commemorate the day.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Down with Curmudgeons

“I have to tell you I am so angry. I’ve already called twice, and my time is way too valuable to take care of your screwups.” 

Unfortunately, this is a common opening gambit of many conversations I hear over the course of a week doing my customer service job. Whatever happened to the pleasant, “Hi. My name is John, and I have a bit of a problem that I’m hoping you can help me with.”

For some unexplained reason, our society has become phone mannerless. I feel like asking those mannerless folks the following questions. Why are you talking to people as though you are so much smarter than them? What is it about the telephone that allows you to become rude and insulting? Is it because you can’t be seen and you have no fear of retaliation? Is that why you allow yourself to become a bully? I’m guessing that is probably an issue you advocate against at your children’s school. Are you really going to allow yourself to have a complete meltdown with a stranger because something didn’t arrive as scheduled? As a fully trained professional with many years of work and life experience, I’m willing to pull all the tricks out of my bag to go the extra mile to help you. In return, I’d like to speak to a courteous person, sans offensive or hurtful language.

I personally enjoy a little verbal bantering with my customers. I like hearing how the weather, your team, or your vacation plans are shaping up. Perhaps if you envision that the person on the phone trying to help you is a sister, an uncle, or a dear friend you haven’t talked to in a while, you would put a little personality and kindness into your next customer service contact.

And, getting old is not an excuse for grumpiness. If you chose to get out of bed this morning, then why not try putting a grateful thought in your head, and let it show on your face. Everybody has a hardship, someone they are grieving, or a desperate need they are working to fulfill. People are so much more alike than they are different. The difference is the spice. The alikeness is our humanity—try looking for that, and kindness will follow.


Friday, August 23, 2019

This thing called our life

Our lives are composed of many little moments, all strung together to make up our individual symphonies.
Sure, there are big moments, good or bad, that we remember - graduations, births, deaths, weddings.
But we don't experience those events every day. What we do experience daily are the small things we might take for granted.
Yet, they add so much to our life.
And when they are gone, because the person we shared those moments with has died, we realize just how much they added to and made up what we looked forward to every day.
That's how it has been for me.
Death has robbed me of more than the presence of my beloved.
My hands hang idle, longing to do one more loving act.
I ache to be able to caress the soft spot next to John's eyes.
I wish I could cook one of his favorite meals for him again.
Or surprise him with a bag of red vines - his favorite candy.
I often think of the times John would go grocery shopping and come back with a bouquet of flowers for me.
Or make my coffee just the way I liked it.
Or make me soup when I was ill.
I miss sharing a special joke.
Or laughing together at the antics of the dogs.
I miss cuddling on the sofa in the evening and watching TV together.
It's those little every day things that I miss the most.
Each and every day.
Little gestures of kindness, of affection, things that wordlessly said I know you and I love you just the way you are. That's what makes our world go round.
Grab every opportunity.
They are fleeting.
But powerful.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

First Day, Last Day

There is an old saying that reminds us “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” If we believe the saying, no matter how old we are, we can look at our future as filled with unlimited possibilities. But even better, knowing it allows us to shake off the dust of past mistakes and stride confidently into the future, unfettered by the past. What a wonderful way to view the future!

I try to remember, though, that there is another side to the saying which most of us tend to forget. If today is the first day of the rest of my life, it could also be the last. Never is this brought home more strongly than in the loss, through either death or alienation, of a cherished friend or relation.

 In focusing on work, or paying my bills, or what to fix for dinner, or cleaning the house, or any of my daily multitude of obligations, I sometimes lose sight of the connections that so enrich my life. It is easy to forget saying “I love you” or to listen with only half my attention when my children call. I can become too busy to visit quietly with a friend and truly hear what her heart is saying. I put off calling a sister or a father, lightly believing I will do it tomorrow. And, somehow, troubled relationships stay un-mended. Until sometimes, it’s too late.

Because today could be the last day of my life, or of my family’s, or my friends’, I keep my relationships as clean as I can. Somehow, from the perspective of an uncertain future, differences lose their power and tolerance tempered with patience becomes a much more natural way of life. I have found it is critical to my peace of mind that I forgive slights, remember to say “I love you” to those I cherish, give freely of myself, and live life as fully as I can - every day, every moment!
Excerpted from Peeking Over the Edge … views from life’s middle by Cathy Marley

Sunday, August 18, 2019

We All Still Need Recess

Free time, spare time, leisure time, time off, time-out, and recess are all units of open time—credits you have saved for yourself. Be selfish. Use them for things that make you happy. Don’t squander them on chores, on overtime work, or workouts. Take a walk on the wild side, and bring your dog, a Frisbee, and a water container to a new park. Or just amble along on a leisurely stroll through a marketplace you’ve always thought about stopping to check out. Grab a coffee or an iced tea and sit outside on a wall or bench and people-watch for a while. Allow yourself to be calm, and reflect on the people passing by. Do they return your smile with one of their own? Do they look scared, annoyed, or friendly? What vibe are you giving off? Do you seem approachable?
Visit a nature center or a petting zoo. Allow yourself to slow down and achieve a cadence of relaxation. For the time being, just use your free-time credits for yourself. Get away from your computer, your tablet, and even turn down the ringer on your cell phone. Yes, you can afford to be out of touch for a few minutes or even an hour or two every day. Because this is your recharge time. Time to reflect on the good things in your life. Things that bring you satisfaction and joy. No guilt thoughts and no anger. Those are for another time.
We tend to schedule ourselves into a frenzy day after day. And when we finally take a break, we look around and count all the things we still plan (not need) to accomplish. Challenge yourself to schedule free time. Write it down on your calendar or enter it into your phone organizer. Set an alarm, and if you must, set a timer for when time is up. This is not TV time or Facebook time. It could be an energetic fifteen minutes of dancing to your favorite music time. Or it could even be a daytime nap.
Make it into a routine, a respite, or challenge yourself to do something different every day. Stop at the library, and take home a movie you’ve heard about and always meant to watch—something not available on your premium channels. Watch kids at a skateboard park or playing soccer. Try to remember when you felt that free, that brave, and that invincible. And use that smart phone to take a picture of something weird or beautiful that will remind you of how you spent your credits today.

by Betts McCalla