Saturday, February 8, 2014

Learning to Dance with the Limp

I am finally feeling the deep grief start to dissipate.  This year kicked off with a lovely invitation from my neighbor who invited me to her annual New Year’s Eve party.  I knew I wouldn’t know many people there, but was thrilled to have been thought of and was excited to go.  Last year, I would have immediately declined the invitation because I couldn’t handle the fact that I was in an unfamiliar situation.  It would have taken far too much energy to fake having a good time.  And, yes, I would have faked it because legitimately celebrating a new year was not possible.  This year, I tried on four different outfits before deciding on the perfect one and happily joined in on the festivities.  Almost everyone I talked to I had just met and the conversation did not feel exhausting as it had in the past.  This party was a big step for me and I knew if I had a good time then 2014 would start off on the right foot!

Just two and a half weeks after that I flew to Texas to celebrate my birthday with my dear friends.  Normally I go to Texas in the summer, but it was Carmen’s idea that I come for my birthday this year and what a brilliant idea that was!  I don’t worry about anything with these friends.  I can completely be myself, whatever that looks like.  Last year, I went to visit, and Carmen and Jason had so many fun things planned.  The Houston Rodeo topped the list!  I cherished every minute with them and appreciated all that they had done for me, but it felt difficult to truly enjoy it all.  I was grateful to be there, but I was anxious. I was sad.  But I was trying.  This year it was a true gift to be able to celebrate – to celebrate my birthday, to celebrate our friendship, and to celebrate the ability to feel joy and recognize it as such.  As Carmen noted, last year I was not myself, I wasn’t all there, but this year, I’m back! I boarded the plane back to DC thanking God for a heartfelt and joyous weekend with such dear friends in which I was able to fully participate.  I’ll post a separate blog on all that I did to usher in 32.

I’m also pretty excited about my upcoming ski trip, some fun weekends ahead, and my family vacation to the Caribbean.  Our trip, of course, purposefully corresponds with the anniversary of Dude’s death, but I’m grateful for the opportunity to enjoy some fun in the sun and sand with a drink in my hand.  It lessens the pain just a little.  Grief counselors told me there would come a time where I could mix joy with pain.  I looked at them like there were nuts and believed that might be the case for other people, but certainly not for me.  Now I see it.  There are still days or moments when I slammed with pain, but I can now recognize and appreciate happy times, too.

Ann Lamott sums it up perfectly:

“You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved.  But this is also the good news.  They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up.  And you come through.  It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly – that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”
For me, 2014 is the year to learn to dance with the limp.
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