Interesting title, huh? Yeah, I thought so, too. You didn't? Too bad - you're already reading, so why not keep going? C'mon...you're already trying to figure out where I'm going with this. Here's the thing - I don't know what a requisite period of mourning should be. I don't mean that to sound callous, but I'm new at this. Understand one thing, though - I will not dwell. That's the point of me saying, "I won't wear black." I actually fancy (oh, yeah, I said 'fancy') that shade in clothes so, while you will see me in black, it's because it makes me look taller. Maybe not, but work with me here.
Already, I am walking around trying to figure things out. Not so much the 'why's' but, rather, the 'what the hell do I do now' types of questions. Regardless, the title of this post was meant to be a signal to myself and a direction of purpose. When things like this happen, we have choices. We always have choices. It's what we do with those choices that signals to the world what we truly are as individuals and the fiber of which we are made. Again, I'm new at this so I'm not sure if there is a proper way to act. No one, so far, has handed me the "Widows/Widowers for Dummies" manual. In its' absence, apparently, we all guess...and lean on others for guidance. I bring this up because, though it was less than two weeks ago that it happened, I ventured out of the house and back to work earlier this week. True, it was only for a few days, however work took me to a convention in Atlanta. I wanted, and more importantly needed, to be there. I did not go for the sympathy hugs and handshakes that I new would come. I did not go so I could share my pain with others. I went, quite honestly, because I needed some normalcy. I heard from a friend late last evening that a few people said they could not believe I was there. I suppose they thought I was being cold or heartless or that I did not care or was not affected by all that has transpired. Though I do not feel the need to explain to anyone, I will...because I choose to. There it is again - a choice. Being around the people that I see annually at this convention provided me a sense of normalcy which, truth be told, will have to come eventually anyway. Gee, folks, I wasn't there to find another wife or another woman. I was there to be around normal which, knowing some of my friends, is the last thing they'd be called. It's a relative term, though, so I'm using it. They're MY normal....and it did me wonders. Being there allowed me to laugh again, find my voice again, and work again. These things are important to me as I'm certain they are to you. I spoke of my grief and pain when asked, as well as gave advice on preparing when it came up in conversation. If you haven't read the previous post, what are you waiting for? It's what I have to offer.
So where do we go from here? I use a collective, "We," because I've come to realize that, no matter how we think of it, we're not on our journeys alone. We all have friends that are along for our ride, as we are theirs. Personally, I've already come to a few 'truths' that will make every day better. Things like...the love of a family and an incredible bond with your parents, children, and siblings can make you feel as if you can conquer the world, and that you are truly unstoppable. You'll make it through anything because they are simply there. I've come to realize the incredible power of a simple text message from (and to) my daughter, as well as my sisters. I realize that true friends leave an indelible mark on our souls that changes who we become - we are now the sum of all those parts....and it is amazing. I realize that the power of laughter can cure much...and that tears don't always have to be for sorrow. Yes, I knew that before, but some people made me laugh to the point of tears this weekend...and it felt great. I realize that someone whispering in your ear, telling you, "Things are going to be okay," and, "I'm here for you," makes you gain strength and recover a little as you find yourself again. I realize that people are inherently good...and they care. I know I've said it before, but will continue to do so for as long as I have a voice - I am grateful and appreciative of my friends. I've known some, literally, all my life, while others I've only known for a few months. I value and cherish them all. They are where I will get the strength to, as I said before, end the chapter and start a new one.
Lastly, I've come to understand the value and power of love and the many forms it takes. Whether it's from family or friends, it's important and, as I said earlier, all we have. None of us will be getting out of here alive - we all know the two unavoidable things are death and taxes, right? So what do we do with that? I say we try to make a difference. A difference in our lives, the lives of others, and in the world. We'll be leaving people behind, so why not make it a better place? At the risk of sounding like Miss America hoping for 'World Peace', or doing a Rodney King impersonation and asking, "Can't we all just get along?", I dare say we can do right by others at very little cost to ourselves. In the end, it's the best we have. As I sit here writing this, there was a knock on my front door. When I received the package and opened it, I thought how appropriate and fitting with what I am writing. It was from yet another dear, sweet, thoughtful friend that I love and adore. She sent a plant - it's name is the Red Rose of Sharon Hibiscus - in honor of Sharon's love for red roses. How incredible and amazing. Are you understanding the point of all this? It took very little, yet made such an impact! I was, and am, moved beyond words.
I've said before that my beliefs lead me to try and understand the lesson from all of this. As I sat pondering this again the other evening, a familiar quote I've always liked from one of our favorite series, The West Wing, came to mind. It was a simple story being related:
This guy's walking down a street when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep, he can't get out. A doctor passes by, and the guy shouts up, "Hey you, can you help me out?" The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole and moves on. Then a priest comes along, and the guy shouts up "Father, I'm down in this hole, can you help me out?" The priest writes out a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on. Then a friend walks by. "Hey Joe, it's me, can you help me out?" And the friend jumps in the hole. Our guy says, "Are you stupid? Now we're both down here." The friend says, "Yeah, but I've been down here before, and I know the way out."
I know that, when a friend experiences this very same thing (as we all surely will), I want to be the one that jumps in the hole. I will state with certainty that I have, in fact, been there.....and know the way out. Many of you have given me much to think about recently. As I said, new chapter - not the end of a book by any means. I will look back, eventually, at the previous chapters with fondness and love, knowing they shaped who I have become today. Think about that as you're going through the day-to-day. Learn to live in, and be keenly aware of, the moment. As I sit here now, I have images that I recall from the 'good times' we all experience...and I am smiling. There's much to be done and I will figure it out. No, I'm not becoming philosophical (well, any more than usual), but want each of you to take the time that I know I will surely embrace as I experience everything from this point forward. As my daughter pointed out to me in a text message earlier - Dad, I just wanted to let you know that if anything ever happened to either of us, that I love you and you're the best dad in the whole entire world. Life's too short not to tell the people you love that you appreciate everything they do for you, so thank you. People could be gone in the blink of an eye, so I don't want anything to happen, ever, without telling you that.
This from a young lady not quite 17 years old yet. Am I the best dad in the whole world? I never thought so, but if she does...if your kids do...isn't that what matters? Go. Right now. Hug them for absolutely no reason. Find your spouse/significant other and put your arms around them and whisper in their ear how much they mean to you. Kiss them on the cheek and look into their eyes...really look...and tell them how much richer your life is for having them in it. If your relationship isn't the best, think back to what drew you to them in the first place so that your grumbling and complaining might lessen. You do NOT want anything to happen without letting them know how you truly feel. It will cost you nothing but a little time...and in the end, you'll feel better, too. I'm not trying to be 'sappy' (what does that mean, anyway?) but I am here to bear witness - some of us missed chances when we had them. That goes for friends as well - tell them how you feel, always. Then, after you've done those things, walk outside and take a look around. We're still here and have much, all of us, to be grateful for. Lastly, remember to like yourself and enjoy life....and simply breathe......
Until next time...........