Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The struggle is real?

Counseling was so very perfectly timed.  I typically have been going every other or every third week.  I think I even skipped a month somewhere in there.  Things were going pretty well.  Honestly, even after Cecily's passing I felt I was handling it fairly well. Then came the memorial.

I'm struggling.  There are so many facets of just what my grief encompasses.  First. Of course I miss my friend.  She's an amazing woman, and I can still feel her out there.  I love her so very much.

Second.  Our friendship was unique (aren't all friendships?).  I'm not going to say better, worse, or whatever.  Cecily was so private, and I feel like so many things about her need to stay private even though I'm weirdly *not* private.  But it puts me in this place where I feel like our friendship seems made up.  The general public doesn't know about our long conversations.  About all the things we talked about.  The things we shared with eachother.  Hopes, dreams, insecurities, fears, frustrations.  We daydreamed about a future when we were a regular part of each other's lives.  Planned community.  Working the earth.  Surrounded by children, critters, song, art.  I think in our 10 year friendship we had only one tense moment.  And it was over a misunderstanding.  Once it was cleared up we were fine.  I don't judge other people's more tremulous relationships with her because she was passionate.  They had firey ups and downs and that is beautiful too.  And I do have friendships like that too.  But ours was not that.  I feel like because she was so private she never said much about our relationship so now that she's not here it feels like it could be perceived as all in my head.  For those who know me, you know I struggle with the "it's all in your head" bullshit.  But as much as it's something I struggle with I read our old messages, I think about old conversations.  It wasn't in my head.  It was very real and it remains very precious.

Third. That insecurity I have.  I always struggled believing that this amazing woman found me valuable.  I was startled when Cec faced having to go in to the hospital to take care of her out of control pain, she still was pushing to see me.  I mean ME.  She was in pain and she "really wanted to see [me]."  Me?  I'm still blown away.  I did my best to lighten the mood.  I gave her vinyl spiders (she giggled, I love her laugh).  She planned on freaking the girls out with them.  I changed her white board from saying "comfort goals" to say "comfort goats" and drew a picture of a goat saying, "you'll be okay!"  (more giggles)  I climbed in the hospital bed with her.  We showed each other pictures on our phones (saved Snaps for the win).  We chatted.  I did what I could to make her laugh.  Later that night, via messenger, she lamented that we didn't take a picture when we were cuddling and said we'd have to take another one later.  She said I saved her life.  My heart hurts right now thinking about it.  I still love her so very much.  I can talk myself out of a lot of beliving that people care about me and that our friendship is all in my head (my depression has given me these skills).  But with Cecily I couldn't deny it. I look back in my old messages with her and never once when I was being insecure did she make me feel dumb.  She just lovingly, patiently reassured me she loved me.  That I was her friend.  And she expressed her own insecurities to me.  She struggled to believe she deserved my attention.  I lovingly assured her it made me happy to give her the attention.  It was the least I could do considering I couldn't physically be there like I wanted to.

Please don't get me wrong, I didn't put her on a pedestal.  I saw her human parts.  I saw her struggles.  It made her more precious.  She was human.  She was real.  She was the sister I couldn't have even dreamed up for myself.  I wanted to be old people with this girl.  If she weren't so private I'd tell you all of the day dreams we had for one another.  Our plotting.

This has hit me so hard.  A great deal of my previous losses I've been able to temper with bullshit.  Focusing on frustrations.  It helped me distance myself from the grief.  I can't find a thing that does that me for Cecily.  It has been one of the biggest, most profound losses I've encountered.  I'll say it again.  I love her.  I love her so much.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Day After

Cecily's celebration of life was yesterday.   It was a fascinating thing seeing so many people from so many facets of her life.  One thing was for sure.  I'm fairly certain that everyone in her life is an excellent hugger.

I stood up to do my damndest to honor my friend.  I told the story of how I played my ukulele for her.  How I was out of tune and I don't play well.  But how she still connected with the music and teared up. I pointed out in surprise that it was not due to my playing.  I don't know if my point of the story got across.  But for me it was about her sensitive soul.  This activist had this tender bit of her and it was startlingly beautiful.

Then I read what I had written in the wee hours.  I may have changed a word or two in the reading of it, but it's what I had printed out to read from.  The line breaks were often used to remind me where to pause in speech.  Here it is:

I found a small quote by Thomas Moore
“We need people in our lives with whom we can be as open as possible.
To have real conversations with people may seem like such a simple, obvious suggestion,
but it involves courage and risk.”
I think he’s right.
There’s never been a greater blessing than to have been able to open yourself to another person and still be loved,
especially in spite of all the parts of yourself that you may not like very much.
I believe Cecily was one of those people Mr. Moore was talking about.
She has been someone I always have been able to speak freely to without fear of judgement and without fear of abandonment.
No small feat.
I have always admired her authenticity.
Her strength.
Her commitment to stand up for what was right,
and to stand up for others, who cannot do so for themselves.
I have always admired and valued her propensity to love deeply and completely.
In these last few weeks it’s been easy to get caught up in wondering what if she were still here.
The battles she would have won.
The songs that would have moved her.
The world she would have touched
and in doing so all the beauty that would have been brought forth.
I’m sure the thought will make it’s rounds again.
But as long as I can remember to,
whenever I feel I have the choice,
on days where I just don’t want to be sad (but it is okay to be sad)
I will instead choose to think of the millions of ways my life is better
for having been able to call Cecily my friend.
I am forever changed because of her.
She has taught me that being vulnerable takes strength.
It takes very little strength to pretend things don’t bother you,
to turn a blind eye to wrong doings
and to live shallowly. 
It takes a whole lot more courage to show the world your soft, sensitive self,
to admit that there are things that can crush you,
and even sometimes going as far as to divulge just what those things are.
But she helped me embrace all these parts of myself that I struggle to look at.
She has taught me to be kinder to myself. 

I’d like to read a little something by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
“The reality is that you will grieve forever.
You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one;
you will learn to live with it.
You will heal
and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered.
You will be whole again
but you will never be the same.
Nor should you be the same
nor would you want to.”

I believe she’s right.
Because of Cecily I can love more deeply.
I can laugh more freely.
I can forgive myself more readily.
Because of Cecily the world is more vibrant.
She helped me see joy in connections,
in the natural world around us
……and even in sugar laden chocolate and frivolous tv.
And no matter what self doubts I have
she made it clear that she saw me as something more than I ever could have seen on my own.

Cecily will never truly be gone.  Because we are changed by knowing her.
I know I’ll never be the same. 

And remember, “grief only exists where love lived first” -franchesca cox
Imagine all of that interjected with me trying not to cry, and failing.

Lots of insights flitted about my head throughout the night.  One thing, entirely having to do with me alone, was the acute realization that as I'm getting older, or maybe it's less about age and more about something else, I'm becoming more awkward.  I don't know if I'm just not as good at hiding my insecurities as I once was or maybe I'm more insecure.  I'm struggling dramatically to talk to people.  I feel like my life is one big dose of open mouth, insert foot.  Everyone was gracious, of course.  But I was so ridiculously awkward.  You should have heard my inner monologue once someone gave me the "what is wrong with her" look.  I tried to figure the math of it.  "Maybe if I stop talking after *this* moment I'll be okay."  It was better, but still painfully difficult.  One of the hardest things was when people would tell me I wrote/spoke well and all I knew how to say was "thank you."  There was something left hanging in the air but I didn't know how to fix it.  I would start rambling then get THAT look.  Then I would promptly excuse myself.  I'm getting worse with people and have no idea why.

Okay.  I'll write more about my insights later.  'Til next time, friends.