Life. Death. Cookies.
“Life is cyclical” my mother said, one day, many years ago. “You and your friends will one day get married, have children. You’ll go to their birthday parties, each other’s milestone celebrations and before you know it, the kids will be driving and a few years later, you’ll be moving them into their college dorms. People will get sick, parents will die, friends will come and go. This is the way of life.” I think I was in my early 20’s when we has this chat, and I’ve thought about these words a lot over the last 30 years.
The tough part about the life cycle is that we can’t control it. Life happens. Shit happens. There are times that we are faced with events and challenges that we are not prepared for, but that we still have to deal with - even when we don’t want to. Even when we are not ready or if we’ve had too much to deal with and think we can’t handle one more thing.
This year was one of those years for me. Within the last 6 months I’ve experienced more grief and loss than I can recall experiencing in my entire life and it has been overwhelming and debilitating. Here’s what happened…
My mother died unexpectedly in March at the age of 71. Her loss paralyzed me. I lived in a fog from March through June - going through the motions of life. In fact, I don’t recall much of April and May. I handled by grief by painting and refurbishing furniture - so when I wasn’t working I was tapping into my creativity. Robby and I completely transformed the house during this time - and while the details are vague, it looks beautiful so I have confidence in my decision making skills even during the worst of times.
In August, I turned 50 - which isn’t the end of the world, but quite a significant birthday. To
me - 50 is a gateway to a new chapter of life that I’m not sure I’m ready for. It symoolizes the end of my youth and the transition into old age. I’m now considered an older woman. I don’t want to be invisible.
A week after my birthday, we moved my daughter into her dorm at college. While exciting for her, it meant a quiet house for Robby and I. No more morning lunches to make or dinners to fuss over. No more field hockey games or school functions. Life was changing rapidly and I wasn’t ready to let go - but it was outside of my control. My purpose in life was shifting - and I wasn’t clear what it was changing to. The unknown and unexpected were/are scary to me.
Soon after Junie left for school, our sweet, 15 year old dog Mushoo became ill. While we worked with his vet to do everything possible to save him, it was to no avail. On September 10th we said a very tearful, heart wrenching good-bye to him.
All I’ve wanted to do these last 6 months was eat - and so I did. I went off plan. I stopped logging food. I lost my motivation to go to the gym. I sat in bed and cried. I laid on the couch in a fog and cried. I went to therapy and cried. Then I ate some more. I rationalized every morsel, every goodie, every piece of cake and ice cream somehow justifying that it was OK because I was in pain. My ‘negative ninny’ completely took over and I lost my self control. In fact, throughout these last 6 months, I feel like I lost myself.
How do I get back to me? I’m not sure I have the answer for that right now. What I do know is that life is short and unexpected. I don’t want to waste it crying in bed. I want to take care of myself so I have a long and healthy life. I don’t want my children to have to say good-bye to me the way I had to say good-bye to my mother. I want to get out and laugh, smile and love the way I did before everything went to hell.
It's time to stop eating the cookies and get back to life. Get back to me.
My hope is that by sharing these thoughts, I’ll set a new tone for my life and move forward.
I will end by sharing this, during that conversation with my Mom, she said that years go by too quickly and that when you look at life retrospectively, you realize that it went by in the blink of an eye. She was right.
Bee healthy. Bee happy.