All That is Right....
As I sit to write this, it is hard. February was the month I had planned to master my social media organizational skills, be on top of my spring and summer line production, and get all my proverbial ducks in a row. Well, as reality and life will tend to have their way, nothing of the sort has occurred. Far too many more important things have been happening. But they have been hard. Really. Fucking. Hard. Loss and the lessons that come with it have been the bitch-slap the universe has deemed necessary for this month, and I am trying my best to take it all in stride.
At the end of January, I received a text from my best friend in Washington, DC. She asked me if I was prepared for some really horrible news about a college friend. I braced myself and then read the text. Our friend’s youngest baby of 17 months had passed away. I was stunned. A sudden heavy stone landedd deep in my gut that would stay there for days and days. The following week was a weird time warp of feeling oddly empty, my brain refusing to accept reality, moments of deep sadness, matched with the grateful joy of hugging my own sweet girl a little bit tighter. The dread, the fear, the reminder that death is always at our doorstep, and it shows no mercy. I learned this lesson with my father’s sudden passing in 2017, but with a child it was different. It seemed erroneous. Unjust. And to this date, the funeral was the saddest, most tragic event I have had to experience. Each day, I continue to think of my friend, her husband, their other children—knowing they are in for a long and arduous path of grief and pain that I try to believe will lead them to some form of peace and healing.
Two days after the funeral, I found out my deceased father’s only remaining property—a 10x15 storage building with his two motorcycles in it—was gone. VANISHED. Poof. According to the old property owner who didn’t bother to contact me or my sisters when the property went up for sale. Again, a gut-punch that left me stunned. How? WTF? Really? Who STEALS AN ENTIRE BUILDING???? How could this happen? Why didn’t they try to contact us? So many questions left unanswered, that I am currently in process with the police to figure out what happened to my father’s only remaining “estate” . It is frustrating. I feel angry. I feel guilty. I feel hurt. I trusted. I had faith in other people to do the right thing. And again, “Heyyyyyyy bitch!,” Universe standing there ready with the punching gloves on.
Then on Thursday—after a funeral on Monday and grand theft moto on Wednesday—my dog ran off. She is a sweet black lab mix, and usually stays within our fenced in yard no problem. Yet, on occasion, a squirrel, a cat, or some force seen only by canine eyes catches her wind and she becomes deer, leaping across the gate in a single bound. I couldn’t handle it. “She’ll be back,” my brain assured me, “There’s no way she will disappear after the shit sandwich this week has been.” Oh but disappear she did.
That was an intense week. The emotional rollercoaster I had to ride was a constant, from deep grief, anger, despair, guilt, rage, and frustration was at some points unbearable. I dropped to the floor and ugly cried. I punched my pillow in a rage. I desperately called the animal shelter daily, looking online, posting for our dog. I sat sobbing over a box containing my Dad’s wallet, the titles of his motorcycles, his birth certificate, and his death certificate; all of the grief and despair over his sudden death flooding back in waves.
And yet, sometimes, I would just stop. Be quiet. Breathe. Finding solace in this effortless, simply profound act. And it would bring me back to a calm for a moment, untainted by endless mind chatter and constant worry. The moments were small, brief. But enough to allow me to get my shit together and take the next step.
We got Cheeba back—a neighbor showed up with her almost 3 days later. I am continuing to work as a part-time sleuth with the police to figure out what the hell happened to my Dad’s building and bikes. And I think of my friend daily, praying she and her family find the fait, love and strength to lead them out of this dark time in their lives.
Since then, I have had a friend whose sister passed away in hospice care, met a random stranger at the DMV who shared how her sister passed suddenly from cancer leaving her to care for two four year old twins and an 8 year old—all the while she is waiting for a hip replacement. I spoke with a man whose sister-in-law suddenly passed, leaving he and his wife to care for her 8 month old baby in addition to their own little boy. Every person you see, every person you encounter is a human being with an infinite amount of joy and sorrow in their story. No one escapes heartache, grief, pain and loss. We often get so stuck in our own problems and worries, and forget that we are NOT ALONE in our experience.
At the end of my horrible week, I woke up one morning, and as I usually do after my yoga practice, picked up Journey to the Heart—a book of daily meditations. The words jumped off the page and I almost couldn’t believe it. The title of the meditation was called “Look at What’s Right” and it reminded me of that quintessential practice everyone talks about, but we so often forget. Gratitude. It ended with this passage—
“Give yourself a break. Ask yourself
what’s right, what’s good, what’s true,
what’s beautiful. Sometimes the lesson
isn’t in discovering what’s wrong.
Sometimes the lesson is discovering that
the world is all right—and so are you”
So what of it all? Ya’ll. Be nice. Love more. Smile at the grocery store clerk. Compliment a stranger on the street. Hold the door for someone. Help a friend who needs it. Say please. Say THANK YOU, and be SPECIFIC. How much those two tiny little words of gratitude can transform someone’s day. You NEVER know what someone is going through behind closed doors. Be the “right” in someone’s day.
During the horribly shitty week I had to kick off February, I had to stop at moments, look around, and in spite of all that seemed WRONG, see the infinite amount of things in this life that are still RIGHT. Feel grateful for my ability to get up every day, hug my daughter, my husband, my dog. To breathe and move in my body uninhibited. To be safe in my home, cozy and surrounded by things I love. To share a smile and a “good morning” to a stranger. To enjoy my morning cup of hot coffee with honey and cream. So many things are still right. It doesn’t make the horrible things in this world go away, but it does make them so much more bearable.
That said, I have been wanting to do something to give back, to love a little more. I was going to do fundraising for the International Rescue Committee, which assists refugees around the world. In light of my friend and her loss, I want to support their family in any way I can. For a month, 50% off all sales from my “Simple Reminders” bracelets will go to my friend and her family, as they navigate this incredibly difficult time in their lives. This bracelet collection is a way to wear your heart on your wrist, with different phrases to keep you grounded and remember the little things that count. Please check out the website here and pick your favorite phrase. Mine is currently “Love More”. Because honestly ya’ll, we all need it.
If you would like to support my friend and her family directly, please check out their GoFundMe page here:
Also, please take a moment to check out this podcast I happened upon, during this time—I love this podcast in general, yet true to form, this particular one popped up at just the right time. Its from NPR’s TED Radio Hour, and this episode focuses particularly on gratitude and the power of the two little words—THANK YOU.
And THANK YOU. For reading this. For taking a few moments of your day to “listen” to my experience, and hopefully have it resonate with your own in some way, shape, or form. I would love to have your comments and thoughts about a time in your life when things were harsh or difficult. How did you pull through? What helps you when you feel overwhelmed or frustrated by life? My hope that you are in a place where life is good, you are filled with joy and gratitude for all that is coming your way—but if not, remember you are not alone. If things are hard, harsh and seem like too much, feel free to reach out, or just know that everyone you meet has been there.
“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Even as a stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun,
so must you know pain. And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily
miracles of your life, your pain would no seem less wonderous than your joy;
And you would accept the seasons of your heart,
even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.
And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.”
All my love,