Friday, October 3, 2014
Looking For a Bright Spot, Even a Penny
Almost 10 months since my reality, my expectations for the future, my whole world was shifted on its axis.
Ethan had been troubled with drug addiction and the accompanying legal, emotional, mental, developmental and financial chaos since he considered himself an adult at 16. He'd pulled himself away from most of his family like a baby tooth working its way loose from the mouth. I always thought he'd eventually see that he couldn't keep on going like he was, that he'd reach bottom and come back to us.
Reaching bottom turned out to be fatal for him, as it too often does. The medical examiner ruled his death an accidental overdose, just a step too far along his search for escape and the ultimate high.
My reality was that there would be no more Christmases, no more birthdays, no Mother's Day cards, no special girlfriend leading to a wedding and more grandbabies, no more phone calls just to talk or even to ask for something. Nothing. Period. The end of the life I had a part in creating. There were days when it felt like just too much effort to cope, but I was needed by my husband, my daughter and granddaughters, my son-in-law, a lot of people and their dogs, so I kept going. I blogged and found a community of mutual support. I made new friends who had also had devastating losses.
For the last month, however, I've been pushing away the tides of emotions and letting my busy days keep me from following where they were taking me. Now it's October now, it's raining and sometime in the next day or so we're supposed to see our first dip into the 30s. I hate cold weather and I fear that the coming dark and cold will pull me into a void of depression. I'm scrambling for ways to avoid sinking under a dark cloud that won't go away.
Losing my church, albeit my decision, didn't help. Instead of somewhere I could turn for comfort, it turned into another of life's painful experiences that at best has me second guessing what should have been, much like my son's life.
Part of avoiding my emotions has been the all-too-easy option of not writing a blog. But my blog has been my therapy since Dec. 15 and it's helped me work through what life has thrown at me, so I'm back. I'm trying to arm myself in every way I can to fight the compounded effects of cold weather and grief. I'm trying to deal with things in small bits, so they don't become overwhelming like a the accumulated belongings of a hoarder -- a good analogy because instead of holding onto my sadness by hiding it, I'm going to start tackling it again.
I'm fighting back by joining the gym, going to Zumba classes (including one with the instructor and many other dancers from my old studio), and by buying a few things that I hope will be distractions as the weather shifts, like a big bounce house for the girls and a hot tub for the back yard.
I've quit letting myself indulge in eating binges of comfort foods that bought me short-term gratification, but were beginning to make my favorite clothes uncomfortable. I'm halfway back to where I want to be and already find a little more breathing room in my shorts and jeans. I got my hair cut, just a little, so that it had a bit more style than just long, curly mess. I'm getting a massage and an expensive cosmetic treatment that I've wanted a long time this month. In short, I'm looking for ways to be kind to myself that don't involve eating, although I've also fallen in love with a salad blend from Costco that I eat to excess -- far better than a Krispy Kreme doughnut at least.
I'm also reconnecting with the people that I found were so wonderful to be around, gathering them back like snuggling into a warm blanket on a cold night. Last week we did a quick, impromptu dinner with another couple and this week it's dinner at our house with a few more friends. Instead of working to exhaustion every Saturday and collapsing by the television, we're going to start engaging with others again -- people who have been here for me and my husband through thick and thin.
I don't know that it will be enough. I don't know how I'll work through the coming months, when already I feel like I'm teetering on the edge, and things as simple as a Facebook post about wonderful sons or a TV show where a dying mother tells her son goodbye will send silent tears sliding down my face. I don't know why I feel Ethan's blue eyes looking at me, intently as they so often did, and why if I have to sense that I cannot also feel some reassurance. Instead I feel like he's watching me, worried and uncertain if I'll be OK, because that's how it feels -- how I feel.
Then I find change outside my car door in the parking lot, a quarter and a penny, and I remember the poem about pennies from heaven. I smile and pick it up and toss it in my console, drawing comfort wherever I can. I close my eyes and send a mental hug to my baby and imagine his arms around me and his strong grip as he lifted me from my feet. I drive home with tears streaming down my cheeks again, but still hopeful that I won't let him down by failing in some way to do what has to be done.