This weekend I received an email from one of my readers which really shook me. It came in late Saturday night and I have to say, it kept me awake for a while. My heart was shattered for her. Last Thursday, her husband of 13 years killed himself. Apparently he had been living in a constant state of physical pain for the past 11 years and he finally reached his breaking point.
She wrote because she said she has been impressed with my strength over the past year and that she hopes to be half as strong while she goes through her own loss.
That stunned me. I starred at the words she had written and though "Strong? Me? What is she talking about? And her loss is so huge compared to mine." But then, as I sat there thinking some more, I could start to see the similarities. While I will in no way say they are the same, there is similarities in any big loss. But I still fail to understand where people see strength in me. I feel anything BUT strong.
I wonder if you installed hidden cameras in my house if you would still see strength in me. I doubt it. I still spin easily, I still cry often, I struggle daily to face the world as a single parent......as a person who has been rejected in one of the most personal ways imaginable. Damaged.
But then I can also see where I have finally found peace in being alone. Where I crave the silence and the peace so I can hear myself think. I have discovered that I need to take care of me and not just everyone around me. I'm finally on a list of importance....my own list.....but a list. I can buy things that make ME happy and not give a thought to whether someone else will like it...or judge me for my taste. I have discovered I like a different style of clothing and I no longer dress like "just a mom".
But then........it's not all happy. The realization that I have no idea of who I really am hit me hard and without mercy on Friday when I went to the mall to pick up my last two gifts. I walked into the main mall which was bustling with moms and children. I was instantly aware of where I no longer fit. Something else that is forever gone. I am no longer a mom of young children. I no longer have someone to push in a stroller, to spend every moment of the day with. No permanent sidekick. The reality hit me so hard it took all I had to stay standing. The loss overwhelmed me.
I have lost so much in the past 12 months. The family I dreamed of and worked so hard to have, sacrificed so much for, the safety of being someones someone, my role with my children. I feel like I have been pulled under the water by a wave and I am scrambling for all I'm worth to find something solid to stand on but all there is shifting sand. I am working so hard to keep my head above the water and some moments, I am successful and others? Others not so much. And I will admit that sometimes I would be ok with the water winning. I'm not saying it's the right choice - I'm just saying I understand having a limit and being pushed beyond it.
Is that being strong? I don't know. But I do know this: I wish Linda strength as she travels the road of losing Mike. I wish her peace beyond measure as she faces this Christmas and every Christmas after because I know how hard it is to find peace in the holidays after having a loss you never imagined would happen.
Linda, I wish I could reach through and hug you. Please know you are in my thoughts. Feel free to email me any time. Maybe we can help hold each other up.