“This life is for loving, sharing, learning, smiling, caring, forgiving, laughing, hugging, helping, dancing, wondering, healing, and even more loving. I choose to live life this way. I want to live my life in such a way that when I get out of bed in the morning, the devil says, ‘aw shit, he’s up!”
― Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience
Today my grief/mourning/healing journey has taken another turn.
I am still moving forward, embracing my shadows, weirdness, demons, kink, depravity, and acknowledging them so they no longer have power over me.
However, since they are identified, I am not afraid to let them out to play occasionally…
As a result of embracing my shadows and the rest of mySELF,
I no longer believe that healing is an impossible task that will last forever.
Broken bones eventually heal.
Grief and mourning are not incurable diseases.
When I do the work and embrace the process of healing,
I can and will heal and live a life of happiness.
Therefore, I do not believe that I am required to mourn for the rest of my life.
Because I am a realist, I realize that there will be sadness ahead.
However, at this point I can recognize the difference between transient sadness and the all-out, consuming pain caused by grief and mourning.
Larry is pain-free and wants me to heal. He does not want me to live with the defeatist attitude that I must spend the rest of my life healing as a result of his death.
Do I miss him? Of course!
Will I forget him? Not in a million years!
Will I talk about him? How could I not?
Is he with me? Absolutely!
Does he talk to me? Yes!
I will love him forever, love is not a competition.
Today and going forward I seek peace.
My paradigm has shifted.
I am ready to live this life that I have been granted
in full-on Happiness
and an occasional swear-word or three.
I will not tolerate negative, defeatist individuals in my orbit.
I am ready to level-up my energy and shine!
Thank you for being a part of my journey – through the sorrow, pain, and the happiness.
“We all have forests on our minds. Forests unexplored, unending. Each one of us gets lost in the forest, every night, alone.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin, The Wind’s Twelve Quarters
I have always viewed forests as dark, scary places…
Maybe I was traumatized as a child by the enchanted forest in the movie “Snow White” that my mom took me to see as a child.
“And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul”
― John Muir
Perhaps I was always afraid of the dark
or what I perceived as my darkness…
“My battle with the forest depths was wholly lost, or so it seemed. My hand still shakes with the thought of how close I came to dying, for I felt the burning coldness of Death’s breath upon my face, and the whisper of sliding bones in my ear. But alas, I am still among the living, or so I believe.”
― Christopher C. Fuchs, The Depths of Redemption
But after I embraced myself, my shadows, weirdness, demons, kink, depravity, all the parts that I always thought were not good enough, not ‘perfect’ my inner darkness became less scary.
I began to notice sunshine.
I was able to see the glorious light streaming through the trees
I finally felt whole.
At night, the deep dark depths of my mind no longer seemed as scary
and I found comfort sleeping in total darkness.
As a result of self-discovery, I no longer need the validation of others
to feel complete.
I am content with myself in this moment, and will make improvements when I decide to do so.
Many do not want to face their darkness because it is not a task for the faint of heart. But I view it as a ‘Why?’ on my road less-traveled through the forest.
I always seem to take the road less-traveled.
It is my main road.
I am curious, probably in more ways than one.
However, I want to know things. Not just know, but KNOW.
I like to find out not only how, but also why.
I probably drove my Mother a bit crazy as a child.
‘Why am I afraid of the dark?’
‘Why do I feel unworthy at times?’
‘How can I change those things to live my best life?’
Always questioning, seeking, and looking for answers.
The Road Not Taken
“TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim, Because it was grassy and wanted wear; Though as for that the passing there Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. ”
― Robert Frost Ph.D., The Road Not Taken and Other Poems
I used to wonder what my life would be like today had I taken another road.
I wonder no longer…
My life is a rich, beautiful, cacophony of experiences that are mine alone.
Luckily, during early grief, the brain doesn’t let the full weight of what happened hit like a sledge hammer.
It sinks in incrementally – when it can be absorbed and processed.
I think that the incremental realization of what can only be described as loss of someone or something dear is a necessary defense mechanism. For if the full depth, breadth, and weight of grief had hit all at once, it would have been unbearable.
But, at least for me, it was an incremental realization that allowed me to heal in steps. Sometimes baby-steps, and sometimes leaps and bounds, but not all at once.
Yesterday, at first hearing Larry’s voice and seeing him struck my heart and soul. I felt the familiar wave of grief coming on, cried most of the morning, then was comforted in an odd sort of way.
Painful at first, but a reminder of the pure, enduring love between Paw Paw and Miss B., that transported me to our love throughout the years we spent together.
One year ago or even six months ago, viewing a video of Larry would have turned me into a hot mess puddle of crying. I would have crumbled at the sound of Larry’s voice for who knows how long. I might have thought it was the end of my world. That life wasn’t worth living.
I hope that I am past those self-defeatist feelings now.
My grief journey has been a long and winding road. Three steps forward – two steps back, but always (correction, mostly) moving forward.
I no longer see collapse and crumbling as destruction,
“Memories are bullets. Some whiz by and only spook you. Others tear you open and leave you in pieces.” ― Richard Kadrey, Kill the Dead
I opened up facebook and it was full of memories of my Love Larry.
A ‘battle of the bellies’ photo with pregnant Sarah (my daughter-in-love), reminiscent of the same photos taken with previous grandchildren. Memories of all those moments flooded into my consciousness.
Pictures of Grandpa with granddaughter Madison – the first time we met her. There was such joy in our house that day.
But the thing that made me literally bawl my eyes out was a sweet exchange from afar between Miss B and her “Paw Paw”. They had a particularly close bond.
Miss B still talks to me about her “Paw Paw” and how much she misses him. She is nearly five years old and I hope the memories never fade, although I suspect at some point they will.
But the poignant memory that showed up today was of a rock gifted to “Paw Paw” from Miss B that I brought home and presented to him – along with a video.
“Paw Paw” recorded a video in reply.
The exchange between the two of them showed the love and joy they shared.
At first, I didn’t think that I could watch and listen to the videos. However, since I was already crying just thinking about them, I pushed play.
The love was palpable.
Hearing my Love Larry’s voice again was comforting and felt like a hot poker thrust in my heart, all at the same time.
Perhaps someday I will be able to watch and listen without crying, but, as my daughter-in-love Sarah says (in all of her wisdom):
“Maybe, and if it always makes you cry, that’s okay too ❤️”
You are correct, Sarah, it will always be okay to remember.
He is a cartoonist, comedian, and speaker. He has worked as a photographer for the FBI, Disney, the United States Postal Service, and many more. He has traveled all over the USA and parts of Canada drawing cartoons, speaking, and doing comedy. But that’s not all, in addition to being a class-act, he is also a kind human being.
I have followed him on facebook for quite some time and the following story he told earlier in the week caught my eye and touched my heart:
To quote Earl, “Something really cool happened today. In 2018 I had traveled all over the country drawing cartoons, speaking, and doing comedy. I traveled 48 out of 52 weeks of the year. I was on 59 airplanes in less than 3 months. On a flight from New York City I was seated by a priest from Bombay. When he sat down he said “Are you Catholic?” I said “No, but I love Jesus.” We talked for over 2 hours about Jesus. He told me of his many adventures working in the mission fields, working with refugees, and of terrorists pulling him out of his vehicle, pointing a gun to his head and threatening to kill him. I know it’s like preaching to the choir but I told him that God gave him this life and story to share. I highly suggested that he write a book. Well, it’s been two years since I spoke with this man. I received a copy of his published book today.
(A word of encouragement can change the world.)
I am honored that he mentioned me in the book and in the introduction.
This is a short portion of the introduction:
(He was having a very bad day and having great difficulty getting to the airport)
“However the entire scenario changes on the flight. Beside me sat a man whom I presumed to be a Christian pastor or a preacher of some sect. that impression was presumably because he was the first to break ice, and strike a happy conversation, mentioning in the course of the dialogue that he went around conducting some programs. Secondly, he seemed interested in knowing about my mission experiences and gently expressed that some of the many experiences that I had shared were out of the ordinary and worth putting in writing. At the end of the trip his kindness touched me when he volunteered to buy dinner and drop me at my destination. To me it was unimaginable that you could encounter a foreigner – though one with a clerical collar- and go to such extents of hospitality. The pastor from the parish of residence however, had agreed to pick me up. I thanked him for his kind offer and accepted his card before parting not sure if the distance between us would ever let us be in touch again.2020 will mark my sixtieth year as also the silver jubilee of my ordination. So reflecting back I reminisced, why not jot down, as a token of thanksgiving, all that He had done for me? So thanks to Earl Musick – who I realized after checking his card – was a man entertaining his world with humor! Earl wherever you are, thank you for planting this seed in my heart. Yes, it had lain buried for quite a while for I had convinced myself, that apart from me it would not make an inch of difference to anyone else.“”
Earl’s story illustrates that one never knows what impact a small gesture of kindness can have on another human being.