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Sunday, December 15, 2013

What if...

Well crap.  That’s what I want to write. Leave it at that.  But just as I forced myself to do my yoga last night, I shall force myself to write a little bit today. Two weeks ago I wrote that my mood had taken a downturn…seasonal funk, if you will.  My tool of choice to stop the descent was exercise. Every day, ten minutes…who cannot do that?  Ha!  I did great for three days.  Yoga and some 15-minute exercise magic cut out of a Redbook.  Then I was tired.  Busy. Tired again.  I did try to park a little further, take stairs more often…for a few days, until Judy was just only “back to the sedentary”.

I forced myself to attend some holiday events, festive outings. I did enjoy them, though through a bit of a haze sometimes. But the minute I was back to the usual routine, my fatigue and depression returned.  And then a friend died.

Just like that -snap- he is gone from our lives at 44 years young.  There was a memorial service two nights ago.  I am processing. Slowly. This friend was a part of my core group back in those awkward and often-painful high school years. We were the ‘alternative’ group.  Although ‘freaks’, ‘weirdos’, and other less kind terms were often thrown our way. I did not mind and took pride in my ‘different-ness’.  I was a fighter, a rebel with a small cause, and we banded together in our efforts to protect each other.  

All the fabulous bangs! That's me in the black hat and white fringe shirt.
Many of us lost touch over the years, but I was blessed and brought back into this friend’s life two years ago.  Lo and behold, he had become a cowboy! A genuine Buddhist, 80’s music loving, cowboy!  We saw each other twice and talked on the phone; often at first…but then we got busy. Tired. Sick. I wish that I had found a way to push through that.

Many memories were shared at the service, but the one I want to walk away with is love. People must love themselves if they are to live their genuine life. A person who can love others unconditionally is a gift. A person who acts on that love consistently is rare. A person who can do these things while battling adversity…I do not know what to call that person, but I do know that I was blessed to call one my friend. 

My pops and his Mickey Mouse vest
So you see, on top of my own battle with the blues, I have new sadness. And old sadness. Yesterday was the 15th anniversary of the day my father lost his life to cancer. Yet I have not been alone in this grief, new and old. Trust me, there is comfort in sharing the load, the weight of grief and sadness.

As I attempt to reframe my sadness, and yes…depression, into thankfulness for what has been and what is, I still struggle with that wonderful imagination of mine. My tendency to predict the worst-case scenarios. A recent example- my family was given a lovely and GIANT artificial Christmas tree. I have always wanted one, the live ones being beautiful, but allergen hotels. This giant tree came in five pieces. We can barely use three parts and it scrapes the ceiling!  It is made of metal and broke the first stand we tried. That was enough for my morbid imagination to get started. On day 7 of “artificial tree mayhem” we finally hoisted it into place on a sturdier stand. A pair of bright yellow eyes greeted us halfway up the tree! Squints, our mini-cat ninja, was in ambush heaven.  While my family laughed and snapped photos, I launched into full distress mode- “What if she tips it over and it crushes her? Or she is skewered by a branch?” “What if she is electrocuted chewing on the lights?!”  The ‘what ifs’ are plentiful in my mind during these moments. My family tries to reason with me, but they may as well save their breath. I not only have a good imagination, I am also a bit argumentative.

I drove home from the memorial service Friday night too exhausted to deal with the freeway. I meandered through downtown and found myself at a stoplight on an isolated street corner. Under a brightly lit awning of the Rescue Mission were 5 or 6 men with sleeping bags, blankets and miscellaneous sacks around them.  One was reading, one was smoking and one was curled up so far into his sack that he wasn’t really visible. I found myself asking, “What would Steve do?”  I do not know for certain, but he would have done something. He was not one to pass by someone in need. I did nothing more than ask the question and imagine several ‘Steve scenarios’ as I drove home. I have an idea to combat the ‘what ifs’. For every ‘what if’, I will also ask ‘what would’.

If I do not first love myself enough to keep climbing up that slide, no matter how many times I slip, then the rest is mute. I grumbled through yoga yesterday and bought myself some chocolate as a reward.  I made my nettle tea, took my supplements and sat with my Happy Light this morning. Steve's sister made it clear he would want us to be happy, try not to spend too much time in grief. When the ‘what ifs’ start, I will ask myself, “What would Steve do?”  I hope that somewhere he is getting a laugh out of that one. I am pretty sure he would be both flattered and amused.

It will be an interesting exercise for my imagination…Steve was not only kind and loving, but funny. Quite a prankster from some of the stories told. My father was the same way and I’m sure I have a bit of the hereditary funny bone; it just disappears with the sun. Perhaps with enough practice, my ‘what ifs’ will be stories of love and laughter. What if we secure the top of the tree to a hook in the ceiling, don’t plug in the lights and just hang toy mice for ornaments? Sure, I will try to get consistent physical exercise, but I will try even harder to work on exercising my imagination in the direction of good and happy 'what ifs'.


It doesn't have enough legs, but it was moving fast!
 Postscript: I had not yet shared this post when I sat down to dinner with my partner Mark and my oldest son.  As I proudly shared my new ideas for the tree they listened politely.  When I was done, Andrew said, “Can you pass me the multivitamins?” As I picked up the bottle a large, fuzzy spider ran from behind it and headed toward me. I screamed and moved myself, and my chair, three feet in an instant. They were cracking up as Mark pulled out a stack of magnets that he had been holding under the table and picked up his fuzzy Velcro magnetic spider. Um...that's totally a "What Steve would do". I admit it- they got me good. But when Andrew suggested letting the cat play with the spider…oh no! Do you know what can happen if they swallow a magnet?! 
Sigh….this is going to take practice…

A friend shared this video in honor of Steve...so fitting. Especially if you were one of us inthe '80's ...Rest in peace...much love.


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