spectators

here is a great story written by a blogger on jezebel inspired by the boston marathon.

marathons and spectators

it reminded me of when i was training for and ran a ten mile race a couple of years ago. i couldn’t get over the strangers who encouraged me while training and especially during the race. strangers. i wrote about it at the time.

here’s an interesting thing that has been happening to me since i’ve been training around the lakes in the past few months. very frequently the people that i come in contact with give me a thumbs up, a big smile, encouraging words. i do definitely make eye contact and smile sometimes when i’m running, but i think it’s so weird and wonderful that people take the time to show love to a stranger. i don’t know if it’s because i don’t look like your typical wiry bodied runner, or because i am looking at them, but that is one of my great joys in running, the connection with strangers.

it was amplified during the race. some people come for individuals, some seemed to set up shop to be just general supporters, and of course there were the volunteers at water stops. but anytime i could connect with someone through eye contact, cheers, comments about how they liked my smile, and in the case of one guy at cretin and summit, cheering and calling out my race number… it was such a treat to have the support of people i didn’t even know. as someone who has grown out of being semi-terrified of people, this was so meaningful! so i have to say that was my favorite part.

i didn’t know it was a whole community, a thing. though i do remember thinking back then that someday i would like to go watch and cheer for others. maybe this summer.

cards

i’m not generally a card person.  i don’t send a lot, i don’t save them forever.  in fact, i think i have used the same box of christmas cards for the past 2-3 years.  just don’t care.

but this year is different.  this year i have something to say.  or rather, thanks to give.  so i bought a new box of cards and sent them out with loving gratitude to a few people that really showed up for me this year.  as i was writing them out i started to cry, thinking back to the presence of friends during the funerals, before, and after.

the thing that struck me most, that brought a special brand of tears, was the kindness shown to me this year, the care.  from close friends, hospice and nursing home staff, and people i didn’t know as well.  just amazing.

as i was thinking how to sign my cards, i thought back to the last thing my aunt signed for me.  which got me thinking about when i received it.  hours after she died.  and then i remember.

this week has been harder.  in grief counseling on monday, i cried a lot more, wordless tears, than i have since i started.  thanksgiving went better than i expected so i feel optimistic about christmas.  still.  i miss them.  so much.

tuesday morning gratitude

this morning i’m thankful for:

this solidifying belief that maybe who i am and what i do aren’t so separate after all.  the fact that people like me for what i do for them… i wouldn’t do those things if i wasn’t the person i am.

the soft place that allows for simultaneous joy and heartache.

exploring legacies.

hope for healing.

my ability to change.

i’m also very thankful for this site.  a year ago, i had the inkling that i wanted to start another blog, this time focused on gratitude. i not only did that, but i ended up importing an old blog, and then starting a second blog.  but what i was thinking about last night was that i started this for one purpose, but it has served an entirely different and vital purpose for me in grief.  through the stories i’ve read here by the phenomenal people who write so well about grieving, i’ve found exactly the support i’ve needed during the times i can’t reach into my real world.  i can’t begin to measure how much that has helped me.

giving thanks for 2012..?

up until about an hour before going to my mom’s for thanskgiving, my attitude was stinky.  my sentiment was something like, i’m not thankful for a damn thing, are you kidding me?  after the horror that has hit our lives over the past 2 months, thanksgiving can kiss my ass.  done. 

i couldn’t sleep the night before.  i fed my sadness with funeral slideshows and memorial music, laying in my bed with my laptop and crying.  how was i supposed to be thankful when i just lost my grama and aunt, a full quarter of my living relatives on that side?  the only thing i could think of to really be thankful for was that there wouldn’t be another holiday where we celebrated together while Grama lay immobile in her bed at the nursing home.  my cousin was spending the holiday with her new in-laws, my other cousin would be able to do a drive by (which would’ve included Barb in the past).  my mom invited some extended family and her childhood friend and her family, and i wasn’t sure how i felt about that.  it felt like replacements.  i was in a bad place.

dinner was to start around 2, and i hadn’t yet started cooking.  about noon i felt compelled to call my mom to check in.  we chatted about preparations and at the end of the conversation i told her i was nervous.  Not nervous, but didn’t know how this first holiday without them would feel.  i miss them and i’m sad my mom, with her strong spiritual lean, assured me they would be with us today.  and she told me i didn’t have to bring anything if i didn’t want to.  just come.  i warned her that i may not stay for the whole thing.

i somehow worked up motivation to finish my cooking and make it over there.  i made pumpkin gingerbread muffins and acorn squash with apple soup.  pretty good if i do say so myself!  it was a full house by the time i got there, and i just tried to breathe and be present.  as i relaxed into it, i felt suprisingly ok.  my mom had made a cute little place on the counter with a picture of Barb and Grama, a coffee cup for Grama, a big bottle of dr pepper for Barb, and one of Grama’s little fur caps hanging over the frame.  it was nice.  my cousin and his girlfriend arrived just as the food got done and we all found a place to perch and enjoy dinner.  so many people!  we’ve never had the food get so demolished, it was kind of fun, even with some people there that i didn’t really know.

i felt big pockets of sadness throughout the day but it was still good.  after some people left, i remembered that i brought the slideshow i had made but not shown for Grama’s funeral.  i put in on and sat with my mom.  about a minute in she pulled me over to lay on her shoulder and i cried.  i didn’t realize how bad i needed that moment.  it was really important for me to find a way to acknowledge and remember them on these holidays.  i don’t want to move on through the day without acknowledging our loss in a deliberate way.  everyone loved it.  i’m really proud of it.  it’s a simple slideshow with windows moviemaker, with added music.  but the combination of pictures from her whole life… it just turned out really nice, i love it.  everyone loved it.

after that, sometimes my mom held my hand, or hooked her pinky through mine.  sometimes i’m very awkward with touch.  when i was little, or maybe as i grew into adolescence, i became uncomfortable being cuddled or touched with family, especially with my mom.  but i’ve been needing it so much now.  it has something to do with my stoic-ness, my taking care of everything, being the go-to girl.  i have taken care of so many tasks and people, that i’ve been struggling with why i suddenly find myself with no one to take care of me.  is it because no one thinks i need it?  because i give off an air of self-sufficiency?  whatever it is, i don’t like it.  so those moments on thanksgiving of being cuddled and touched and loved were very special and meaningful.  letting myself be vulnerable and cared for is so necessary.  i was nervous to assert my need to show the video, but we all needed it.  i want to make more for christmas!

earlier this summer, my aunt said, “well… we’ll never forget 2012.”  at that time, she knew she was going to die, Grama was going to probably die, my cousin got married, i had just gotten my masters, everything was going to change.  and no, i will never forget 2012.  in the darkest times, it’s very hard to be thankful.  but i’m finding ways, riding these waves of grief.  i was talking to friends last night about it and said that sometimes i’m ready to move forward and live life, but sometimes i want to stop and sit down and stare at the wreckage.

it’s comforting to know that people heal.  this was a season of my life.  the season where Barb and Grama were here with me has come to a close.  that’s devastating.  but.  i can honestly say that i’m thankful for the hope of unknown, and presumably good things, in the next season.