It’s easy to preach about living in the moment when we’re numbing out or avoiding reality.
When we create false moments through parties, drinking, shopping, drugs, food, gossip, social media, etc. In order to avoid our feelings about our actual reality, it’s so very easy to tell ourself that we live in the moment.
I was numb for a very long time. So numb that I had to seek outside sources of pleasure for myself in order to remind myself that I even had feelings at all. I was not totally dead inside yet, but my soul definitely slipped in and out of a coma-like state for a while.
Pain and trauma do that to a human. Our bodies are hard wired to shut it all down and encase the tender parts of us with iron clad armor.
*Note: before you tell yourself that you haven’t experienced pain or trauma, I challenge you to look honestly at your life. And the truth of it. It may not have been a tragedy that made headlines, but most trauma is quieter than that. It’s quieter than the word itself. So quiet that we tell ourselves it was nothing, dismissing our tender feelings and opting to suit up with the armor instead.
The thing no one could ever truly convey about healing, because you have to live it to know it, is that it gets ugly. The mind and body will literally battle the soul, clinging to the armor that protected the whole of the three so well, for so long.
Living in the moment, truly living in the moment, is actually brutal when you are recovering from something. Peeling off the armor, then removing the distractions that numb us is beyond uncomfortable. It is painful. The truth of our trauma is painful and forcing ourselves to feel it, is counter intuitive to our human nature to survive.
It takes patience and bravery to let the soul take over the mind and body like this… because the soul knows best; it also takes a type of self love that most of us are not nearly as used to giving ourselves as we should be.. (I’m sorry for that… because we all deserve to love ourself.)
If we can get here, if we can force our ourselves to peel away the armor, remove the distractions, look at the truth and feel it for as painful as it is, it will truly suck.
It will truly suck.
This process brings us to a breaking point, and just when we think we will break, we choose something better than the numbing distractions of the past. We call out to Him… and feel the relief.
There’s relief on the other side of that pain. There’s pain on the other side of that numbness. There’s bravery in venturing past those hurdles…. And there’s whole wide life to be lived on the other side of it all.
Remember, life is going to hit you hard with a lot of crappy stuff. Might as well live anyways.
Judgmental people exist. It’s part of life, and many of us live in fear of the judgment of others.
However, it’s very rare, as an adult, that we experience judgment in a direct fashion. It usually comes as an undercutting comment or a question disguised as innocent curiosity or as encouragement… but intuition hints at contempt.
Widows know this hint well.
“Do you ever feel guilty for dating? “
“What do your kids think of the new baby?”
“You don’t have to feel guilty about falling in love again.”
As a widow personally speaking, I’ll just go ahead and take the time to answer this now.
I don’t feel guilty.
If I felt guilty, I probably shouldn’t be dating… How could I possibly have a healthy relationship with Mike if every time we did something that mattered, I felt guilty about it?
Answer: I couldn’t.
When we feel guilt, it is either warranted or not.
Sometimes, we feel guilt because we just should… Because we did something wrong or are doing something wrong or because we’re about to do something wrong.
Other times, we feel guilt that’s unwarranted for no reason at all. And when this is the case, we still shouldn’t be doing the thing we’re about to do… Why? Because we will likely sabotage it for ourselves because we feel undeserving.
When we feel guilty for no reason at all that’s an indication that there’s something internal that we need to explore. There’s healing to work through.
So do I feel guilty for meeting and falling in love with Mike and Myles? For getting the opportunity to carry and give birth to another beautiful baby?
No. I don’t.
That series of questions insinuates that my children and I don’t deserve the experience of loving and being loved by new people. Further, it also stems from an archaic notion that the grief we were tossed into is over once new love is introduced. I reject both of these ideals. One because it’s ridiculous to think that we don’t deserve love because we’ve experienced loss. Love is a blessing, and we will take all the blessings that we can get.
Guess what? I’m still in it here. I’m still working through missing Scott every day, especially the holidays. I’m still sad that I can’t share all of the good things that have happened for us with him. I can’t introduce him to Mike, Myles, or Lukas. He won’t see Sophie progress in cheerleading, clap for Lydia at her first home run, or seeing Jax on the ice as a goalie.
I still wipe their tears after a cemetery visit. I still answer hard questions and hold my daughter in her bed for as long as it takes because she just read her baby book and found a letter that I wrote to her back then, and she can’t understand why there’s not a letter in there from her dad.
“Where’s Dad’s letter?” She asks disappointed, near frantic, “everything’s in your hand writing, Mom.”
So I’m the person who tucks her in from something like that, heads upstairs and cries; because when I wrote that letter 12 years ago, there was so much love in my heart. And hope… so much hope for my infant daughter… that she would read it some day, as a teenager and know how loved she was… but here the time came, and instead all she could think was: where’s Daddy?
Never in my nightmares, did I ever think when pouring my heart into that beautiful letter, that it, along with so many other things, would be tainted…
So, yes, yes we will take some new, fresh, and pure love.
These are the types of things that I manage and help three children manage all of the time. The only difference now?
I have help.
We have a wonderful person who lives with us, loves us, supports us through living to the fullest and healthiest and supports us through our evolving grief.
Do I feel guilty for that?
No. And no person should feel guilty for living despite heartache and strife, widowed or not.
I felt guilt when I wasn’t able to get to my husband the minute I knew he was not safe.
I felt guilt I wasn’t able to bring him justice.
I felt guilt that I gave him so much shit when he was alive.
I felt guilt for not doing my part to make myself happy in our marriage, losing myself in a relationship, and putting the pressure on him to make “us” happy. Codependency at its finest.
I felt guilt for loathing traditions like balloon releases and leaving an empty chair at holidays.
I felt guilt that I relied on my kids too much, too early.
I felt guilty for living. Often.
I felt guilt when it was the wrong guy. Definitely.
But not any more and never….
Have I, for once, ever felt guilt for loving Mike.
The other day, we visited the cemetery so the kids could take time to talk to Scott about all that’s happened in their life. Jaxson brought his school stuff to show. The girls talked about the new baby.
Afterwards, there were tears (as there usually is), but the kids were conflicted.
“Mom, I miss Daddy but that means we wish away Mike, Myles, and Luke.” One cried (and another child later expressed similar feelings.)
They feel guilty. I thought. And for a split second, a combination of my empathy, and my own self doubt gave me the residuals of that guilt. I almost took it on.
Was I wrong? Did I curse them with internal conflict by moving forward and asking for more from life?
I quickly reminded myself that they’ve been given a gift. Forever feeling the loss of their father and cursed with grief, they’ve been given the opportunity to love and be loved. Again, here was another situation they needed my guidance on.
“You can feel both,” I said, “You don’t have to choose between hurting and missing Daddy and loving and enjoying our life now. You were made strong enough to handle both.”
And in order to coach my children on this, I have to believe it and live it out myself.
And I do. No guilt here. Just love. Because God made us strong enough to handle it all.
To you: Life is complicated, unpredictable, and really really hard anyway… might as well do what we want and live it. Big love, Meg
I recorded this 2 years ago before heading into a writer’s conference. It makes me cringe 😬
It also serves as a reminder to how much I’ve grown, how many times I get back up after failing, and how much life can change (for the bad and good)…
Don’t mind me while I indulge and reflect, take what works for you and leave the rest 🙂
2019 was truly the worst year of my life.
Yes, we had devastation in 2016 when I’d lose my husband to a car accident on his way home from work, all while he and I talked on the phone. I would spend 2017 and 2018 trying to rebuild, thinking I was close, but later learning that it was an illusion.
Once the trial came in 2019, nothing could’ve prepared me for what I would experience. A spiritual pain so real that it manifested itself physically in an instant. Agony. Right there in the court room, feeling every nerve in my body scream in pain and willing myself not to pass out.
Still, playing “tough guy”, after it was all over, I would insist that I was fine.
I was not fine.
I went on a war path.
I bleached all color from of my hair. (Screaming inside)
I jumped into a relationship with someone who ended up being not right for me and not what I stand for. (Screaming inside again.)
I remodeled my house, allowing someone to demolish walls in my basement and wreak complete havoc on my home.
I heavily drank, telling myself it was ok because it was only wine. My bills were paid. My kids were healthy. I’ve been through a lot and if I didn’t deserve to drink, who did? But that would get to be too much also.
I grew obsessed with becoming financially successful in real estate. A career that I once chose, as a single mom, in order to work my own schedule for my kids.. started to completely consume me. I was working 14 hour days showing houses, writing offers, driving everywhere, recording videos, sending marketing material. Losing sleep over transactions.
While I’d forgiven Daniel Tobey (yes, I have. Another blog for another day), I could not get over the callous ways of his defense team. I wanted them to see my face on a billboard and know that they didn’t “get to me”. My anger fueled my ambition, which wouldn’t be bad if it weren’t fueling me in the wrong direction.
And I have to admit that I still hope they remember Scott’s name forever. I hope they never forget my face in that courtroom, and some day, when my daughter, Sophia, who’s life’s mission is to become a judge, becomes one, I hope these attorneys have to stand before her, and oh, I hope she gives them Hell.
I digress though.
It all came crashing down in September 2019. After a series of very difficult events, I had something stop the record completely. Screech. Yet again.
Every belief that I’d ever had was shook. I think it’s what they call: a paradigm shift.
I was now upside down from my upside down, and it was only then that I realized I wasn’t healing as deeply as I needed to be.
I once wrote on my blog about building a beautiful castle (The Lonely Castle) around the hole in the land that was my heart; I didn’t realize that while building a castle is wonderful, admirable, and eventually necessary, some times we need to sink our fists, elbow deep into the soil and find our way to the other side of the earth, of our world that’s been flipped.
And while I won’t waiver from the need for mindset work, healing is not always as easy as a workout routine and positive affirmations. At some point, we have to get our hands dirty. Look at ourselves with honesty and ask what really needs to be done. Ask ourselves the questions we’ve been scared to say aloud.
One thing that I’ve realized is that when we finally decide to get honest with ourselves, God will literally move mountains to help. Two years ago, I was recording this video still very lost, trying to “come back”, but I still had so much dirty, gritty healing to do. So many questions I still needed to answer to myself. I wouldn’t know the rewards that were to come as a result of it all.
▪️2 years after this video (a turning in my healing journey),
▪️Almost 3 years after the trial,
▪️5 years after the tragic loss of Scott,
I am closer to my children, in a loving, healthy relationship to Mike, someone who continually surprises me with his depth of character; a step mom to Myles, and expecting a baby within weeks. 🤰
My anxiety and depression is balanced out. I’m not medicating. I respond instead of react. I am in the moment instead of somewhere else.
( And my hair is better too 🙂)
It’s amazing how life can change for the good just as fast as it does for the bad.
And while I fought God so hard on this for the last few years, I am ready to say that I am letting go of real estate. It doesn’t serve me. It wasn’t meant for me. I used it to fuel an unhealthy side of my heart, and it’s time to move on.
Life will have us white knuckle gripping the edge of a cliff. Sometimes it is for a moment. Sometimes it is for years. Just dangling and THINKING of ways we can get over this ledge. For me, my mind was determined to utilize real estate (and other things) to boost me up over it. God wants us to stop thinking and start praying. When we pray to God and are open to His answer, we realize that there’s no need to hold on to that cliff. Because maybe our feet are able to touch the ground the whole time? Or.. maybe we can fly?
So that’s why I am letting go 🦅
Thank you for reading this far!
Some of you have followed and supported me before our life became a local headline. Some of you right around that time. Some of you just started. And I am just ever so grateful for each of you. ❤️
I hope you all have lovely day, and if you feel compelled to, follow my blog and support me on social media (Click here for either)
This was from a series of posts I used to write for an old blog of mine called, The Pigeon Hole. I would secretly write down the funny and endearing things Scott would say in natural conversation and then share it on my blog. He was an incredibly sweet man and loved to tease. And I thought I’d give you a peak into a different side of him.
2.”If you get arrested tonight, I’m gonna be pissed.”
3. Him: “You got a mouse in your pocket?”
Me: “What? No? Why?”
Him: “Cause you’re acting pretty cheesy.”
4. Me: What movie ya’ watchin?
Him: “Goblins. I’ve never seen it before.
Oh what? You think I’ve seen it? No. No no. I’m not really into this. Oh, well, yeah, I do like this type of stuff but not really. Well, not goblins anyways… Dragons. I really like dragons. Dragons better than goblins. Goblins are pretty gross.”
5. “Play-Doh is a not a right. It’s a privilege.”
6. Me: “Hey, I’m on Facebook. Can I read you my uncle’s status right now. It’s kinda cute.”
Me:”If you purchased $1000 of shares in Delta one year ago, you would have $49 today. If you purchased 1000 shares of AIG, you’d have $33. If you purchased $1000 if share in Lehmann Brothers, you would have $0. But, if you purchased $1000 of beer, drank all the beer, and returned the cans, you would have $214. Therefore the best current investment is to drink heavily and recycle. It is called the 401-Keg Plan.”
Him: “Ha! That’s funny.”
Me: “I thought so.”
Him: “Hey, you should comment him back and say: Did you know why they call a 401-K: 401-K? It’s because it is directly from Section 401-K of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.”
Me: I don’t think so.
Him: You don’t think he’d get a kick out of it?
7. Me: “Want some double-dipped peanuts?”
*We share the chocolate covered candies*
Him: “They almost have a peanut buttery taste to them.”
*insert silent pause*
Him: “Could be the peanuts.”
8. *looking at a water tower*
Him: Do those really have water in them?
Him: They’re for fires?
Me: No, just part of the city’s water system. That’s all.
Him: I think they’re for fires; they just knock it over.
While there are many forms of loss such as divorce, unemployment, estranged relatives, the death of another human being cannot be compared to any other experience on this earth. It is a totally unique experience. When it’s unexpected, there’s a whole other set of challenges that present themselves.
Everything is cyclical. You will have dark periods that cycle out and return, and with time and healing, the dark periods grow shorter. Do not expect them to disappear completely though. We loved that person; And it’s because we loved that person that there will always be sadness associated with their absence.
I’m not an expert (I don’t know who would want to be an expert in this). These are all things I’ve learned and observed through the last two years.
My long time friend and fellow writer, Trisha Lynn, and I did a FB Live this week to
discuss some ways we cope with the losses that we’ve experienced. (*to see a replay of this go to www.facebook.com/31MainStreet ) Here, I briefly recap those suggestions, as well as discuss some other tools that weren’t mentioned in our Facebook Live:
Music – PURPOSE: Creating new pathways and associations in your brain. Music can understand you in a way that people can’t some times. When talking to others who are grieving, I’ve noticed a commonality. A lot of us have songs or entire genres associated with our loved one. In the beginning, it can be painful to listen to a song that feels like it belongs to someone else who is no longer here. So until then, I highly recommend finding an artist or genre that you never considered before. It could be EDM, Classical, or Jazz. For me, there was a whole other world of music that I never knew about (*for more on this see my post: How Music Worked With Me this Year )
Journaling – PURPOSE: Our minds race. Thoughts can build up and intertwine with one another, binding us, making it impossible to function. Many times, our thoughts can get so tightly wound up. It can be hard to make a decision as simple as what to do first in our day, so we go back to bed. Journaling (first thing in the morning or last thing at night in particular) can be a wonderful tool to rid ourselves of the useless thoughts. There’s a book to reference for this. It’s called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. In the book, Cameron offers a means of decluttering one’s mind. She calls it “Brain Dump”, and I think that’s the perfect term. Get rid of all of the crap bouncing around in there, close your journal, and be one step closer to clarity.
Learning Something New – PURPOSE: Creating new neuro pathways within our brains. Learning something new will build your confidence in this foreign world. It will give you a sense of control that you feel you’ve lost. Some skills that I’ve learned over the past two years are real estate and shooting. Both of these areas have served different purposes for me personally, but the world is boundless with possible new careers, skills, or hobbies you could develop.
Reading – PURPOSE: This serves as a great escape from reality and can be incredibly comfortable and relaxing. It also serves another purpose. It goes along with the suggestion above: learning something new. I highly recommend reading books that feed you in a positive manner. Books like, The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson and 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, come to my mind. As Olson states in his book, reading just 10 pages a day will still move you in a positive direction forward. This fosters both patience in the process of learning, and also, it’s effective in the absorption of content.
Faith – PURPOSE: It’s my ‘why’. The promise that I will be reunited with loved ones some day is what keeps me going. While I don’t push my beliefs on another, I will say that believing in something bigger than myself has gotten me through some extremely dark times. (If you ever want to have a respectful conversation about it separately, I’ll gladly discuss my beliefs.)
Exercise – PURPOSE: Get rid of toxins. The enzymes in a sad tear have a different make up than the enzymes in a happy tear. These are toxins being released. Exercise elevates the heart rate, getting blood cycling throughout your body, but also, helping you to literally sweat out bad feelings. There’s so much already written about this, and I invite you to research it on your own, but endorphins have been way more powerful in my life than any other outside substance.
Physiological Exercises: PURPOSE: These are calming activities done for severe panic disorders as well as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The sudden death of a loved one brings trauma. Traumatic memories are stored differently than other memories. Our brain boxes them up tightly, so we can function in other aspects of our lives. The problem is that the mind takes this tightly packaged memory and puts it in the emotional section of our brain, so if we have a trigger, a stimulus that pops the top off of this memory, we experience the emotions as if the event is happening all over again. This is overwhelming. Here are some recommended activities that one can use to calm his or her self down from a panic situation. While Trisha and I explain it in the context of PTSD, it is applicable to many other situations. Parents use this for children with intense emotions or who may fall on the spectrum. With the demands of our world nowadays, these activities are beneficial to anyone who feels like they are overwhelmed with panic. The first step before any of these recommendations is to recognize the rising feeling of panic, then proceed with any of the following exercises…
The A-B-C Trick – Trisha explains this as first, choosing a category. The example she gives is “Animals”, but you could decide on any category (i.e. food, cars, TV shows). Once your category is selected, go through each letter of the alphabet and name an item within that category. So for Trisha’s category, “Animals”, one could say, “A – Alligator; B – Baracuda; C – Chamillion…” And so on. Do not stop until you’ve reached ‘Z’. Repeat as desired.
Shoulder Tapping – This was recommended to me by a fellow widower, who experienced intense trauma in his life. Here, the individual takes his or her arms and crosses them over their chest, each hand on his or her shoulders. Then, just lightly tap their shoulders with their hands, remaining silent while tapping. (I was also told that one could tap their own sinuses to alleviate stress. This is depicted in my blog: Panic Attacks: 5 Quick ‘In-the-Moment’ Exercises to Alleviate Them)
While I know most of these are fairly simple recommendations, I also know that adding them into your life, when you’re under mental stress and emotional pain, is easier said than done. Here, I reference the book “The Slight Edge” again. Jeff Olson, the writer, points out that this “…path can be uncomfortable…scary. Especially if you’re the only one around who’s on it.” He also continues on to say that, despite this, if we take small baby steps forward, we will see change. Positive change. Pick one small way to cope and take your first baby step, even if it’s itty bitty.
They say that if a person passed herself on the street that she would view herself as a stranger. The theory is that our own image in real life is unrecognizable to us; we’ve only seen our face on flat photographs, through the lenses of a camera, and in mirrors. An ironic side note that I’d like to make: it’s also been said that our soulmates are the mirrors in our lives.
I’ve spent half second increments of time bargaining with God.
Maybe we could have you back and I’d promise not to ever speak to you. You could just be the kids’ dad.
Maybe you could come back just for one conversation on what I’m supposed to do in my life without you.
These ideas intrude my mind, and I brush them away like mosquitos. Blood sucking. Useless. Irritating. I know that these thoughts are impossible requests, and it angers me that they creep in from time to time. It feels cruel.
That being said though… Considering all of what I just spoke on, I wonder if you came back, would you even recognize me?
You see, two years ago I was stripped bare. A tree. Shaved of all leaves. All branches. Shaved of all bark. Left to die.
As this dying tree sat there (to some, already dead), she had few choices…
The tree could say it was good while it lasted and give up.
Look to its own sap filled insides, now exposed to the elements, without bark and know there’s not much time. She could take a deep breath but had no leaves with which to inhale. Maybe ask the Sun for help, but she had no branches with which to reach.
So she remembered that she still had roots. She turned herself upside down, reached for a knife and carved herself into something useful.
I’ve spent the last two years uprooting myself and carving me into something of use to this world. That’s all I can think to do if I’m going to be here without you.
I reflect on my past life. I remember someone so scared of so many forces outside of herself, and I remember the person consistently loving me through those fears. I think of us, making our way out onto the patio to analyze under the stars and plan our life. I think of the beautiful soul that was beyond this world. A soul I knew so well then and understand so much more now. It took your death to show me the depths of how truly enlightened you were.
Regardless of what I knew then or what I know now, one thing is positive.
I carry you with me.
Sophie came to me last weekend. She cried, “I miss the memories.”
I thought she meant that she missed making memories with you. She went on further, “It’s not just that I miss Dad. I miss the memories of Dad. I’m losing them.” My heart ached, but then I realized it in that very moment. We carry you.
“I know, honey, it’s hard when we feel those memories slipping from us. Write them down while you still have them. Old-woman-Sophie will appreciate it.”
“Ok…” Her tiny voice quivered.
I grabbed both of her cheeks to look into her eyes, “We will never forget Daddy. Daddy’s presence is so strong both surrounding us and within us.”
“That’s for sure.” She said, with a clear tone.
“We will miss him every day, for every event. We will miss his laugh and his smile. We miss the memories that fog within our minds, but Daddy is so much more than those things. We carry him everywhere.”
She and I hugged and cried on and off for the afternoon, but we both knew a single truth: You have been absorbed into us.
It’s because of this, I’ve had the strength to change. Thank you for being my motivational speaker. Thank you for stepping out of work to call me because you got a text that said:
I need a Scotty pep talk.
You don’t know the thousands of times I’ve wanted to text you during these last two years… To need the comfort of your husband over his own death is a duality that few will ever know. Just a bare tree…yearning for your comfort before realizing that you are absorbed into my roots.
It hasn’t been pretty. It’s been ugly.
But it’s been necessary; while I’m not sure you’d know who I am any more, I am certain that I will always recognize you. Like the Maya Angelou quote says:
People will forget what you said.
People will forget what you did,
but people will never forget
how you made them feel.
Your spirit is unforgettable.
Until we meet again, I live every day for the reunion.
In loving memory of Angeline O’Neil (Angie) who passed away in the comfort of her home on February 7, 2018.
Angie was born in Detroit on December 17, 1937 to Antonio and Frances Bartolotta. Later, she would meet the love of her life, James O’Neil, while working as a secretary downtown. They were wed on October 20, 1962.
Like a true Italian, Angie loved cooking and could always be found in the kitchen. She was best known for her pignolota and her cannolis. If she wasn’t cooking, she was cheering on the Lions and the Tigers. She also made time for the ones she loved, whether it was sitting at the table with a cup of coffee or watching Turner Classic Movies from the couch.
Predeceased by her husband, James, 3 brothers, Rosario (Russ) Bartolotta, Christopher Bartolotta, and Dominic (Danny) Bartolotta, 1 sister Rosa Maria Zerilli (Rosie), and a grandson, Scott Bajorek.
While she was considered “Mom” to many, she’s survived by her children: Brian O’Neil (Lori), Lisa David (Greg), Kathleen Peach (David), and Patrick O’Neil; grandchildren: Megan Bajorek, Matthew O’Neil (Jaime), Jason Sultini, Justin Sultini, Kristen Sultini, Erica Dewey (Lucas), Savannah O’Neil, Jacob O’Neil, and Clarissa O’Neil; great-grandchildren: Sophia Bajorek, Lydia Bajorek, and Jaxson Bajorek; siblings: Anthony Bartolotta (Marge), Sally Humphreys, Francis Bartolotta(Sue), and Frances Legato (Rob);
Visitation is Tuesday, February 13th at 10 a.m. Mass starts at 10:30 a.m.
St. Mary’s Queen of Creation: 50931 Maria St. New Baltimore, MI 48047
Luncheon immediately to follow at St. Mary’s hall
* In lieu of flowers, the O’Neils ask that Angie be honored by making a donation to the Sandcastles program; A grief support program for children and their families. Click the link below to do so online or donations can be made at the church or with the family.
I love starting my day by hearing a song that is 100% from Scotty.
Chili Peppers, Hall & Oats, Cake, Metallica, Bell Big Devoe, John Legend, Earth, Wind, and Fire.
This morning it was Gap Band…
Music was hard initially after losing him.
He and I found so much enjoyment from cutting it up at a wedding/event or just dancing around the house with each other and later, with our children. Something that bonded two people in such a way; brought them both so much joy… Remove one of those people,and there’s just gaping, salty pain. Through nausea, I’d ask myself during those days: How can I possibly find joy in music again? How can I ever dance again?
And I began to mourn these pleasures of life while mourning him.
All in silence.
A few months into grief, I was introduced to new artists. I allowed myself to listen to them, and I did so on repeat. These were different types of musicians. Ones that never played in the background of any of our memories together. Music to which I couldn’t dance. Eventually, I began to enjoy music in a different way. A darker but absolutely necessary way
The magic of music is that it has the same properties as water. What do I mean by this? Walk into your kitchen right now, fill up a glass with water, and set it on the counter. Then, grab a single piece of paper towel and gingerly dip a corner of your paper towel into the glass of water that you poured. Just the corner. What happens? You watch the water rise up further than your dipping point.Water creeps. It’s polar, which means at a molecular level, it attaches to itself…the molecules climb one other to reach further.
I can tell you this is how music worked within me this year. I let just a little bit of it in. Just a corner of the symbolic paper towel into the glass of water; At first, it was one depressing song on repeat. Then, it was several angry ones (on repeat). The angry songs gave me energy to listen to upbeat stuff… and before I realized it, music was in my life again.
Don’t get me wrong. To this day, there are still songs that could take me to my knees, but I refuse to let that happen now. And strangely, I feel like it’s him, laughing over my left shoulder, bobbing his head and saying: Girl, don’t you deny this beat!
I’m happy to say that my kids and I have honorary dance parties in our kitchen again,
and we know it’s probably a joyful moment for Daddy too. He speaks to me through music, and what once was something too painful to accept, is now something I deeply cherish.
I’m here to tell you, whoever you are, whatever you’re going through, I know you’re in pain, and I’m so sorry that you carry it. I know that some pain just never heals, and I’m sorry for this fact of life as well. My heart hurts all of the time. It’s not going to go away. I know this.
Of all these things that ‘I know’ though, the one I know for sure: not any of this is a reason to stop listening to the music, to stop dancing, to deny yourself the beat.
Heat griddle or frying pan to med-high heat, spray cooking surface
Using a measuring cup (or your eyeball), scoop 1/2 c. Increments of the mixture onto the griddle
Use a spatula to mold them into a “pancake”-like shape *spray your spatula with cooking spray as well, to prevent sticking.
Cook your breakfast cake for about 2-2 1/2 minutes per side or until they’re browned on the outside and cooked through.
Excellent when served with sour cream.
*Makes about 10 cakes.
**Most of my measurements are rough estimates, so I hereby relinquish any responsibility for them. This recipe is very forgiving. Add more. Replace the ham for turkey or (the broccoli casserole for potatoes casserole). Leave things out (except the egg). And you will probably be ok.
***Low carb/Keto friendly.
Let me know if you try it out and how you make it your own!
It mercilessly rips a piece of your heart from you, leaving a gaping, throbbing, exposed hole.
Desperation and panic whisper in your ear, “You gotta cover it up. The hole must be filled.”
You fall to your knees and begin digging into the earth.
You maniacally shovel in dirt.
Dirty fingernails, salty tears.
You spend all of your time shoveling unto the point of exhaustion, and then, you collapse. Tired muscles. Aching head. You fall asleep.
And you dream that you are whole again.
Time passes. And you awake.
Sleepy eyes, you see that there… it sits….
That fucking hole.
That’s when you realize:
Nothing will fill it.
Filling the hole is like wearing shoes two sizes too small or drastically changing your hair color. Filling the hole, makes you feel even less of yourself than you did before, when it was just you with a hole in your chest.
Grace and love whisper in your ear, “You have a choice.”
And so, you choose…
I’m not going to fill the hole any more.
And instead of filling it, you decide to build a fortress around it…A heavily guarded monument.
You fall to your knees and begin building.
Bricks, made of resilience.
The mortar is new identity.
Your rusty nails are filled with hope.
With all the strength you can muster, you build.
You spend all of your time building unto the point of exhaustion, and you collapse. Tired muscles. Aching head. You fall asleep.
And you dream that you are whole again.
Time passes. And you awake.
Sleepy eyes, you see that there… it sits…
A fucking castle.
Your fortress is complete.
And you, with the master key, will open the front door.
You, with the only map, will navigate the catacombs.
You will visit that vulnerable spot, behind a secret door.
And you’ll reminisce who you were before and what cracked you open on a Friday afternoon.