I always aim to write from the heart. This week's blog is not only from my heart, but also my soul, and my whole being. It's been a week of raw emotion that has left me feeling chewed up and spit out. I never knew grief could leave you feeling unbelievably dull and stupid. I did things like leave my keys on the walkway in the front of my father's house. I put something down and less than a minute later couldn't recall where I left it. I wondered, more than once, if I was having a stroke or at least coming down with vertigo.
Let me back up, all the way to May, 1976. A long-time, dear friend of mine broke off an engagement with his girlfriend and left the area. I found myself having dinner with her in an effort to cheer her up. As we finished our meal the waiter brought drinks to our table. Neither one of us had ordered them and I started to say he had made a mistake, when he said that, "the gentleman over there sent them". I thought it must be someone I knew and hadn't seen when I walked in, however the "gentleman" was a complete stranger to me. He gave a small nod and went back to chatting with the two people accompanying him.
I was intrigued and decided that it was only good manners to go over, on our way out, and thank him. We invited him and his friends to join us as we were heading out to a club (1976, remember?). He said they couldn't but that he could get us into a popular restaurant the following Thursday, if we liked. We said, "sure" and headed out.
By the following Thursday, I had forgotten about the invitation, but my friend hadn't. She convinced me to make a little effort to clean up after work and off we went. We never know when life will hand us a game changer.
I married the "gentleman" two years later. We had three gorgeous children in four years. I struggled, a lot, during the marriage. I didn't have the tools I needed to navigate this life that had set sail. The waters got choppy, I didn't have a life jacket and eventually the waves and the currents set me off course. I felt like I was drowning and I flailed in the deep end of my life. I couldn't even recognize the life rafts and buoys that were around me. Finally, the ship hit the iceberg and everything hidden underneath contributed to a devastating wreck. The marriage sank in 1997. The finale was ugly and messy and graceless. We had been married for nineteen years.
Over the next nineteen I learned so much about who I was, who I wanted to be, and how to live with more integrity. I was able to rejoice when I first heard the Maya Angelou quote:
"Do the best you can until you know better.
Then, when you know better, do better."
I mourned the "not knowing better" of years before. A good deal of the heartache and destruction healed. My "gentleman" and I still shared three amazing offspring of our genetic intertwining. We liked each other, we recognized that there had been a lot of good reasons why we came together in the first place, and we appreciated each other. Most of all there remained an underlying love. We might not have worked out the messy details of a marriage, but we still had something that would always connect us.
Then, last Thursday, early in the morning, I received a phone call. It's true about the five
stages of grief ... the first is denial. I heard the words yet I couldn't accept that they were true. A mere month after his 67th birthday, my "gentle man", the father of my children, the only husband I ever had ... someone was trying to tell me he had died, suddenly.
We never know how life will twist and turn. I still had things to say to him. I thought I had time. I teach people in my mindfulness based stress management classes to live as if they are going to die, not as if they will live forever. I encourage people to seize the moment and not put off anything for "later" or even "sometime soon". I still got caught short.
This Monday's Pleasure Peek was launched from the deep sorrow invading me and my children for the past week:
"Let your loved ones know how important they are now.
Give them a hug.
Tell them how much they add to your life.
We never know what tomorrow will bring."
Go. You won't regret it.