Eight months ago, my dad passed away unexpectedly. This was very much the impetus for this very blog…processing grief, and finding gratitude.
I’ve noticed an interesting dichotomy with regard to this summer. I almost feel guilty writing about it because in some ways it feels wrong and even perverse, but in other ways it makes perfect sense.
You see, I have had a wonderful summer. Perhaps the best one in recent memory.
How can that be?
I’ve turned it over and over in my mind, and I have come up with some reasons. I thought I would share them with you…
I have stopped stressing over the small stuff. It sounds cliché, I know. Perhaps when you’ve been through a situation – or two – which have challenged you, you come to understand your own strength. You know what you can handle (and that it is quite a lot). Or maybe, it’s just that you are better able to recognize what measure of “upset” is really worth your energy…and what isn’t.
I have been (as you may well know) writing daily. I am expressing myself – getting it out. Not everyone is as comfortable sharing their feelings as publicly as I have. If this is the case, I might suggest keeping a journal. Expression leads to release…or as Monica would say, “What gets revealed gets healed.” For me, it has been especially helpful to hear from so many of you with whom my writing resonates. Thank you so much for reaching out.
In writing about many of my friends and family, I’ve been able to practice really seeing them, and focusing on what I love about them. I would recommend this practice to anyone…examining what you love about those you love. It is beautiful.
At the same time, I’ve really practiced adjusting my expectations of other people. Everyone loves in the way they know how, and everyone lives their own life in their own way. Having expectations about how that should look is a recipe for disaster. Let it go.
Somehow, my love for my children has bloomed more than I ever thought possible. I loved them so much already – I would die for them – but this summer I have wanted to savor them so much more…to soak up every inch of their being. I want to freeze time and keep them close. Perhaps this springs from the fresh awareness of the fragility of life – of recognizing I have no idea what comes next.
I have been unafraid to say NO. If I don’t want to do something (especially socially) I have given myself the gift of saying so. This has been incredibly liberating…and you know what – shockingly, no one has gotten upset! All this time I’ve been afraid of hurting people’s feelings. Guess what – most people don’t want you to do things you don’t want to do.
I have worked hard to create a work/life balance. Sometimes the lines blur when I have an urgent work matter to attend to during family time, or when I’ve had to bring my girls to work with me…but for the most part I have tried to be present at home when I’m at home, and present at work when I’m at work.
I’ve chosen time over money. I’ve opted to work part time this summer. In order to pay people to cover for me at work, I’ve had to rely on my savings to pay my own bills, rather than taking a salary. I’m okay with it. File that under not stressing over the small stuff, and under awareness of life’s fragility and under gratitude that I have savings!
There’s no greater gift for our children than our time.
I’ve tried new things and explored new places with my children. We are making memories. I’ve been reminded what a treasure trove those will be for them, many years from now.
I feel more at peace…I think because I’m starting to accept that I am not in control. It is a liberating thought.
The bottom line is – I’m awake in a way I haven’t been in a while. Not awake in a jittery, nervous sense, but in a….Life is Beautiful sense.
I’m so grateful for everything I have.
I miss my dad every single day and yet his death has somehow made me feel more alive.