Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The worst best year

I have a dress in my closet that I’ll never wear again. I really loved that dress. I liked how it looked on me. I liked the lace. I bought it for a wedding. I celebrated with friends. But now it’s hanging there in my closet, reminding me of the last time I wore it—the reason I can never wear it again.

Obviously I have been fairly absent this year. I’m sorry for that. To be honest, 2015 has been a doozy. And it was supposed to be the best year ever—the one I’d waited for my entire life. The year I, at age 40, finally married the love of my life. 

That’s still happening. But it’s taken some twists and turns to get there. Let’s recap:

In April, I put my 17-year-old cat to sleep. If you’d told me 20 years ago that I’d be so attached to a cat, I’d have told you you were crazy. But I loved my little Timber, who I found just a few months before my mom died in 2000. She was there for every sad and lonely moment from then on. It was heartbreaking to say goodbye to her.

In May, my fiancé spent a week in the hospital. He had a series of mini-strokes that, fortunately, haven’t seemed to cause too much residual damage. But it was a scary, exhausting week.

I also had some other personal issues at the beginning of the year that seemed to suck the life out of me.

In mid-May, I said to my fiancé: “You know, 2015 has really sucked. But I have high hopes for the rest of the year.”

The rest of the year. I’d be getting married. Everything would be fine. All would be well.

But the very next day, my life changed forever with one phone call. My brother called me while I was at work. I knew something was wrong. I didn’t know how wrong. 

My father had died suddenly of a perforated ulcer he didn’t even know he had. 

Nothing was fine. Nothing was well. 

The next few weeks, heck, the next two months or so since then have been a blur. Planning another parent’s funeral. Trying to grasp the idea that neither of my parents would be at my wedding. Wearing that lovely navy lace dress I will never wear again to give the eulogy at my father’s funeral. Holding my baby niece who will now never know either of her paternal grandparents. Making sure others felt comfortable by not crying too much in front of them. Nodding with a weary smile as well-meaning friends told me, “You know your parents will be at your wedding.”

Sure they will. I believe that. That’s what my faith teaches me. But my selfish heart wants to scream at the unfairness of it all. And sometimes, I have to admit, I actually, literally do scream.

How am I doing today? Still a little numb. Still a little incredulous. But also incredibly grateful for the support of the family and friends who have truly held me afloat through all of this.

I’m taking baby steps forward. The wedding, after all, is planned. It’s just around the corner. Last weekend, I had a beautiful bridal shower hosted by the best bridesmaids a girl could ever have. The love in the room was palpable. But I missed my mom. I missed knowing my fiancé and brother could probably be bonding with my dad during those hours the girls oohed and ahhed over my lovely gifts.

Last week, someone told me she was glad that I was doing so well. I guess that’s all relative. Because sometimes I feel like I’m barely holding it together. Still, I’m determined to be as real as possible during this grief process—with myself and with others. I wasn’t when my mom died. And that’s what set me into this whole tailspin. I’ve tried to take this sadness out at the gym. It’s helped some to be active and focus on that, instead of focusing on the fact that there will now be two very empty chairs on the biggest day of my life.

Again, I apologize for my absence. Many of you are real-life friends who know my situation, but I know there are many readers who may have been worried about me. 

I’m doing OK. Some days I’m doing pretty well. Other days I’m still a disaster. But I’m here and I’m inching ahead. It’s sort of all I can do.