My father passed away two weeks ago. Since then, I feel like I’ve been thrown off my axis – like my world has stopped spinning, but everyone else’s has just kept right on going as if nothing’s happened. It makes me feel slow and lost – like I’m always racing to catch-up to everyone else, but can’t. My brain has totally shut down and can’t seem to process anything concrete – all I can do is grapple with my emotions.
But life is a stubborn bitch, and refuses to be ignored for long. When you least expect it, life barges in and demands that you pay attention because it has a lesson or two it wants to teach you. Even though I felt like my brain would explode from the effort, I tried to pay close attention. I figured that if I looked attentive enough, maybe life would leave me alone long enough to catch an afternoon nap.
Here’s what I’ve learned so far….
Go Acquire Some Funeral Attire: I’m a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl, so when it comes to dressy attire, I usually have to scrounge around in the back of my closet to find anything appropriate (and then pray that it still fits). You can plan a shopping trip for something to wear to a wedding, but it’s difficult to do for a funeral. You should have at least one black suit or dress on hand at all times. Otherwise you may find yourself tearfully begging a sales lady for help in finding a piece of black clothing that’s as comfortable as the pajamas you wish you were wearing.
Starve a Cold, Feed a Griever: I’ve sent flowers and fruit baskets to people for all sorts of reasons – birthdays, anniversaries, and various holidays. But I’ve never sent them to someone who was grieving; I usually pick up the phone instead. But what I recently learned is that sometimes, the person in mourning doesn’t have the energy or desire to talk to anyone, but they still want to know people are thinking about them – that’s where heart shaped pineapples and chocolate dipped strawberries come in handy! Although, cookies, muffins, or assorted goodies would work too because they all say the same thing, “This basket of stuff is ridiculously expensive, but I love you and don’t mind having to eat Ramen noodles for the rest of the week in order to pay for it.”
Hugging 101: When we are kids, we hug with our whole body, clinging to the target of our affection like little, balding monkeys. Then as we get older, propriety steps in and our hugs lose a little bit of their fervor, sometimes feeling no warmer than a handshake. But being wrapped up in a heartfelt hug can be more effective than a handful of Xanax at easing depression – because when you feel like your world is shattering into a million pieces, sometimes all it takes to keep it together is someone else’s arms.
United We Stand, Divided We Bawl: Get yourself an arsenal of good friends because they are like the biological weapons in the war against grief. I found comfort and support among family because we were all mourning the same loss. But I turned to my friends for an escape from the insanity. My friends sympathized with me, but more importantly, they gave me a reason to laugh again. After crying hard enough to make my eyes burn and my head pound, laughter was the best gift they could’ve given me. Well, that and the awesome fruit basket.
Regret Sucks More Than the First Twilight Movie: How often do you get the urge to call, text, or visit someone just to say hello or I love you? Now how often do you ACT on those urges? Too often we shelve those impulses because we allow other things to get in the way. Work, kids, food shopping, or cutting our toenails become the priority because we assume we can make that call or visit tomorrow. It isn’t until tomorrow is abruptly taken away that we begin to mentally tally up all those missed opportunities, and then the crappy feeling of regret sets in. We can’t do much about the regrets of the past – whether you blew off calling Mom, or made the mistake of sitting through another one of Kristen Stewart’s movies, try to learn from those regrets and work towards avoiding them in the future.
Eat Your Goddamn Vegetables: I’ll admit that if all the vegetables on Earth were destroyed in some sort of veggie apocalypse, it would probably take me a year to notice. And don’t even get me started on exercising or my loathe/hate relationship with my treadmill. Clearly, I wasn’t born with whatever healthy-living-genes Jillian Michaels seems to have in abundance (don’t get me started on her either).
But when I hit my thirties I got a serious wake-up call that implored me to take better care of myself – a front row seat to my father’s triple bypass surgery, and my best friend’s battle with lung disease. When you see a prolonged illness suck the will to live right out of someone you love, you find out that there is a lot of truth behind the phrase, “If you haven’t got your health, you haven’t got anything.” If you’re like me, you hate to hear preachy clichés like that– especially when you’ve got a donut in your hand. But I’m saying it anyway. So do yourself a favor and eat a freakin’ string bean once in a while. Okay?
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff: Good grief Linda, how many clichés are you going to throw at us in one blog entry?! Sorry, I know this slogan has been stamped on a million different coffee mugs, t-shirts and bumper stickers – but again, it’s true. Let your grudges and petty annoyances go – the guy who cut you off in traffic or the co-worker who drank the last of the coffee isn’t going to spend a single second thinking about you. So, why should you waste hours of precious time imagining all the different ways you could kill them and avoid trace evidence? Especially when Google can do it for you in seconds….
I Double Dog Dare You: Accomplishing something we didn’t think we were capable of is exhilarating. Which is why I’m urging you to push aside all the imaginary roadblocks you’ve created for yourself (lack of time, money, ability, etc.), and take on a task that you find challenging.
I will be facing two challenges this summer. Initially, both of them scared the crap out of me because there’s movement involved – a lot of movement; and I’m pretty sure I can’t bring my couch and TV remote along with me. But after a little bit of thought (and a lot of alcohol), I decided to push past my fears and see if I’m still capable of surprising myself.
Here are the two upcoming events:
The 5K Foam Fest – I’m going to need a chiropractor and a few drinks when this race is over. And I’m sure I’ll be spending the better part of a week cleaning mud out of places that should NEVER get muddy. But it looks like a hell of a lot of fun…..
The Long Island walk to help fight breast cancer – 2 days, 35 miles, and probably a boatload of blisters. If you would like to help me raise money for this great cause (without the nasty blisters), all you have to do is click the link below and pull out your credit card. Personally, I think you’ve got the better end of this deal…..
If everyone who reads this donates just FIVE dollars, I can reach my fund raising goal of $1,000!!