Hurrah is 2020! I have seen so many people posting their collages like glimpses of their life in a ten year time span. I or course had no desire to participate in this. Considering the last ten years have been an uphill climb, and a lot of this climb isn't in a photograph. Its been in experiences. My first thought was why would I want to share that. I don't like to be a follower. I like to be unique. I want to stand out from what the rest of the "herd" is doing. Although in my former years I just wanted to fit in. And now I just want to be heard. Not for just a survivor, but as someone who did it her own Crazy Lady way. But I digress. Whether I have wanted to follow the "herd" or not, it seems that my memories want their moment to come forth, and be part of that decade collage. These memories that reveal themselves on their own time and in their own way regardless of convenience or not. But like everything else with grief, trauma, loss, major life changes there are some milestones that just stand out more than others. My healing and resurfaced memories are no different.
If you will join me in bringing out your inner Golden Girl. In Sophia's voice with the phrase "Picture it Sicily..." to "Picture it December 31st 2009.." Don't forget the wavy screen and the magical sound of chimes as the tv show character has her memory. I sat on a white love-seat in my (like a mother to me) friends home. She had invited the kids and I over spend the evening with her and stay the night. Aryanna was 4 and Peter was 2 and a half. The kids had gone to bed about 9 ish and were very much asleep by the time midnight rolled around. The house was quiet except for the tv and the sound of Dick Clarke counting down the new year. My friend sat on the couch next to mine. The only light on in the room was a small lamp and the glow of the Christmas tree lights, plus the glare from the TV. I remember hearing the countdown from 10 then looking down at my hands resting in what was left of my lap due to my big pregnant belly, as giant silent tears slid down my face. Time was going on without him. Another very real moment that Pete was gone. My friend sat next to me and in her motherly way asked me "what are you most afraid of?" I responded "how am I going to have this baby without him? How am I going to go on in years without him?" I don't remember what she said, if anything, to my questions.
I remember people would uses phrases like, "luckily in ten years you wont remember these day to day moments." Or. "Children are so resilient, they wont remember this time in their life." I remember I wanted to shout at them, "that may be, but we remember them now. They experience it now, we feel his loss now. They know chaos and uncertainty, now. How does that not change them, now?" Yet, here we are 10 years later. And what do they remember? Not much. Aryanna and Peter remember him in bits and pieces but for those times of darkness they can't relate. They just know that everything changed.
I am grateful they don't remember the day to day life of survival. There are just somethings I wish I knew. and somethings I wish I could remember. Earlier today when I was at my workout my trainer and I were having an in depth conversation about God and society. We normally have these thought provoking conversations but in today's banter and inquisitive questions, he asked me "Do you think that when we close God out of our life, that he stops talking to us?" I said "it may be that we stop hearing God/universe/creator/Divine (whichever you believe in) but its not that he/she stops talking to us." I was reminded of the deepest most sad parts of my grief. Where I was so numb to the world. I could only function. I got up, I ate, I took care of the kids and I gave myself to them, but I wasn't feeling anything. To this day, my therapist tells me that I came to her office weeks after Pete's passing and we talked about getting help for the kids and support for me, but I have no memory of that. None. I have tried every which way to remember, and its like this wall that my mind slams into. The said moment is just not there. I remember meeting her months after Chase Leo was born. We met at the church to set up therapy and support for Aryanna and Peter, but in the timeline of life, that was the second time I had met with her. In my mind and life timeline it was the first. Because my brain could not see, hear, taste, touch, process, anything else. Other than the heart shattering reality that Pete was gone from the planet. I was here, but I wasn't. I wasn't mad at God, I wasn't yelling at the world, I was weeping to the point of non existence. I didn't hear God, I didn't see God. But, God saw me. He put people in my path to guide me, to carry me, people I didn't know fed me, prayed with me, held my babies while I slept. I have glimpses of being "awake." I remember my baby nurse, I remember those moments with her, and the ways she helped me become "awake." I have memories of family, and some scary memories of people who lead me to believe they cared for me. But their are no pictures. There aren't any photographs to put in a collage. Just lines on my face and a jagged scar on my heart where it learned to grow back together.
I am reminded of a song I heard in my high school days. It was playing in my head after my conversation with my trainer. I thought it had something to do with a paper airplane and I couldn't understand why God was sending me a song about a paper airplane. So i looked up the song, and read the lyrics,
-Awake on my airplane, awake on my airplane, my skin is bare, my skin is theirs, awake on my airplane, awake on my airplane, my skin is bare, my skin is theirs
-I feel like newborn, and I feel like a newborn, awake on my airplane, awake on my airplane, I feel so real...
-Could you take my picture, Cause I wont remember, Could you take my picture, cause I wont remember, could you take my picture, cause I wont remember.
I read those lyrics and I began to understand in a way I never had before. Like looking in the review mirror and seeing only a partial of the picture. I am awake in more ways than I ever was before. These past few days some old and hurtful memories have come into my vision. ones that I can no longer keep shoving away. I see now, I am awake now, and understand why I had to remember. I get it. I wasn't left behind. Even though so often I had asked Pete why did you leave me here? You were the one who did everything better than me. I used to think so often what did I bring to the relationship because he made everything look so easy. Work, raising kids, patience, organizing, cleaning, creativity. I struggled so much with who the heck I was, and then when he died I thought God had made a mistake. I had even been told verbally in a multitude of ways that God should have taken me. And I believed them. I believed them for a very long time. I think it is why I have blamed myself for so long. Who wants to make a collage of that? The years of emptiness, combined with accusations, anger, and a loneliness that is unlike anything I had ever experienced.
The collage I wish I had, was more pictures of my strength. Aryanna, Peter, and Chase Leo's strength. Pictures of laughter, and the silly adventures I created for them. I wish I had pictures of the kids and I sleeping in one bed together, because they needed me as much as I needed them. I wonder what I looked like besides a big baby beast. I have a few pictures that are odds and ends. But mostly I have the memories that resurface every once in awhile. That play in my mind like an out of focus video.
Bring yourself back to the Golden Girls, as Sophia says some snarky comment, where the audience laughs, and the show goes on.
Fast Forward December 31st 2019. Aryanna 14, Peter 12, Chase Leo 9.5, sat on the couch with two other friends in our new house. Every kid has a red solo cup full of "kid champagne" and four adults raise their glass of actual champagne. A friend who has known me since before Pete's passing but didn't become my sister in crime until after his passing, who lifts me up, tells it to me straight, hands me a glass of wine, as we battle the world together. Another friend who knew me in my darkest grief who stayed by my side and helped me find my footing. Even though we lost touch for a few years we were brought back together to be friends and warriors in life. Another one, my husband. Who helped me see that true love and magic do exist. Who believes in the "crazy" like me and loves my kids as his own. And Finally me. A crazy red haired lady building a new foundation with broken pieces of the past, jagged bits of glass and smooth rocks picked up from the path along the way, a plethora of feathers from angel wings, all melted together with unconditional love. This new foundation creates an unbreakable, sturdy, courageous, unique, one of a kind, foundation of the future. A place to honor all of me for the true Crazy Red Haired Lady lady that I was meant to be.
Raise your Red Solo cup to another 10 years of Divine timing, angelic guidance, plus unconditional love to fill in and remold the cracks, creating warriors of oneness that radiates its Grace in all of us.