It’s Okay To Feel Depressed

Day 27: It’s Okay to Feel Depressed

Today, I would like to share another excerpt from my most recent publication, The Poetry of Emotion, on the subject of depression. One that as you will see, I have had a great deal of experience with. I continue to struggle at times, but it has improved so much over the years and the first step was not being afraid to admit to myself not only that I suffered from it, but that it didn’t have to something that crippled me.

If anyone is feeling the gravity of depression and anxiety, I hope by sharing my struggle, it will give you some relief in knowing that it’s okay and you’re not alone.

Stay strong, your darkness is beautiful and so are you.

Depression

Looking back on my life the years that formed me seem to be, in most instances, a blur. Their significance blind to the hopeless soul I was back then. They were of the most influential moments of my life and yet they are the farthest from the reality in which I currently exist. Perhaps it is the loneliness I once found an uncomfortable comfort in that disallows the appreciation of a time in its absence. And so, it is the loneliness to which I cling. After all, for the majority of my life it was the only real constant I had ever known.

I have always considered myself to be broken and more importantly, that being broken was far from beautiful.  I have come to learn, I was extraordinarily wrong. The most beautiful people in this world are the broken, the wounded and the left behind. For so long, we just simply never had a voice. A sounding board on which to express that which is not modern opinion and/or comprehension.

We are all beautiful. Every scar is something we’ve overcome, a wound healed and perhaps a lesson learned. They should not be judged harshly, but rather celebrated as a triumph of strength and accomplishment. You’ve faced something, regardless of its intensity and you have overcame.

I am not of the masses, the typical or the usual. I do not fit within the confines of the realities of most. And so, for so long…I did not feel as though I would survive. I have spent my days living on the outskirts, never getting too close or letting anyone far enough in to see the damage I try so hard to hide.

And thus, I’ve struggled in this world to be anything but unusual. Fitting in was survival. Being part of the pack was what I thought would give my life meaning. A purpose in a world that seemed strange and overwhelming. And when I didn’t fit in as a normal would, I found myself once again in a depressing spiral of discontent. Over and over again, I found myself in the same downward spiral until it eventually became a comfort. I was so used to being in pain that the torment became my preservation. And thus each day became harder than the next.

Now, some would simply shrug this off as life. After all, we all have ups and downs, perhaps those who experience the feelings I described above are of the hyperbolic, melodramatic breed. And I’ll give you that there is always going to be a certain amount of crazy we just can’t account for. But what if in some cases it’s more than that?

How many of you know someone who suffers from depression? I mean really think about it. There are those that have life experiences that cause a low and an understandable spout of immense sadness, which is life.

But I would bet that almost every person reading this knows at least one person, for whom it goes beyond that. It is not something that is talked about enough. It is one of those subjects that can sometimes get dismissed as if it is a cop out for the weak. But it’s not.  It’s real. And it’s about time we remove the veil of shame attached to it and understand it for what it truly is.

Those who, for lack of a better word, suffer from this said affliction are not at all weak. Quite the opposite actually. They are the warriors. They are the ones who wake each day with a mountain on their chest. Their heart as heavy as their mind, but still they find a way to rise. They push forward through the normal life struggles with an ocean of sadness on their back as if it is usual practice. It’s different for everyone, but that is the best generalization I can muster.

Personally, my best explanation is that each day for me feels like a prison. I wake each morning, battling myself, pushing against a current of self-doubt and hesitancy as I rise to face the day. ‘I am not alone’ I tell myself and all be it true, I still have to force myself to believe it. Every morning, of every day, I have to fight, with the one person I should trust the most, myself. Every affirmation of love brings a feeling of irrational inadequacy rooted in a childhood of indifference that I just can’t seem to escape.

It is in moments like these, those wee hours of the night, that it almost seems easier. Maybe it is because much of the world is asleep. Less of those to judge. Those who may never understand, just how vacant one can feel when faced with their own reflection. I see so much of her in me, yet I’m not really sure I even know who that is. And therefore, sometimes, really most of the time, I’m still struggling to find myself amongst what seems like a lifetime of never knowing what was real. I don’t know if I’ll ever figure it out. You know, genuinely find the solution to healing the misery of the past, but what I do know is…I’m not alone.  And neither are you.

It’s Okay to Fall in Love

Day 24: It’s okay to fall in love

I’ve written oodles on the subject of love or rather the struggles in finding the truth of it all. So for today, I would like to leave you with an excerpt from my most recent title, The Poetry of Emotion. I think it summarizes my thoughts on the subject very well. Falling in love doesn’t have to always lead to a happy ending to be worthwhile. Sometimes the journey is what is really worthwhile. It allows you to be ready for the real thing when it finally comes along. 😉🥰

Before I was blessed with my current partner, my relationship with love over the last ten years was one of mostly anguish and despair. For a very long time, I had a lot of trust issues, which grew stronger with every betrayal and failed attempt at love. I came to a point just before meeting my boyfriend where I honestly felt I was done with the prospect of ever finding someone. I resigned myself to the fact that maybe it just wasn’t in the cards for me.  And wouldn’t you know, just when I had given up, out of nowhere, there he was!

It was a long journey to here and as with many adventures, I came out the other side wiser for having experienced them. Wisdom I would like to share with you now. My hope being it may save someone else from making the same mistakes or less of them at least. After all, some mistakes are worth making. How else do we learn?

 Let me start by asking, how many of you have been in love? I mean truly/unconditionally in love with another person? And if you don’t know, than the answer is most likely NO. Because, let me tell you, you’d know.  

Now, I’ve had it twisted myself at times, but once you feel it, I mean really feel it, nothing else compares. And that is not to say that every relationship I have been in has been with someone I was truly in love with either. In reviewing my many failed attempts at relationships, one thing became very clear: Either you feel it or you don’t, it’s that simple. All this BS about timing or not being ready is just that, BS.  

When I think about my one great love in past, the timing was all wrong and neither of us were ready, but we didn’t care. All that mattered to us was being together. Sure we had our share of disagreements, but at the end of the day, we never loved one another any less. Even to this day, there is never a question in my mind as to the in-penetrable bond between us. Sure the dynamic of our relationship/friendship has changed over the years, but that is a story for another day, let’s just say we now share a common interest…men!

Anyway…I guess my point is that we all seem to make the search for love so much more difficult than it needs to be. We seem to find ourselves staying in relationships out of comfort, chasing all the wrong people or hanging on to a hope that someday it will all work out. And for what? Why?  

The cold hard truth is that all the signs are usually right in front of us that it is not meant to be, but out of some need to be loved we keep chasing, we refuse to see them. Let’s be honest, telling someone you are ‘just not that into them’ is a bit of an awkward conversation to have. We think we are doing right by saying something like, “it’s not you, it’s me” or “I am just not looking for anything serious right now”.  It is a way of letting them down easy without completely breaking their heart.  Seems logical right?  

In my opinion…it’s crap. Not all cases of ‘course, there are some exceptions to the rule, but for the rest of us…is that really what we mean or is it just a way for us not to feel bad about telling someone we don’t feel the same and we never will? I have been on both sides of this and neither are pleasant. Obviously, the side of rejection being the worst.   

What I am about to say may come across as a bit harsh, but life lessons usually are.

Love is blind and the need for it crippling. Which is why it is so important to learn to love yourself above all else.

You may be thinking that is easy for me to say, but remember, looks can be deceiving. I, too, harbor my own special set of demons. The path in conquering them has led me here, hopefully to impart some of the wisdom gained by my experiences to save someone else from some of the same struggles.

Okay, so like I said above…Rule #1 and the most important of them all! -Learn how to love yourself.

And I don’t mean every second of every day, but you need to get to a point where your happiness does not depend on someone else. I think this is the biggest issue in relationships. There is this idea perpetuated in society that we need to find someone to complete us, or more insultingly save us. As a result we begin searching for this other half before we have even begun to understand who we are or what true love really is.  

That is an awful lot of pressure to put on someone; your happiness. Not to mention it is an impossible task for anyone but yourself, so we are setting them up to disappoint us from the very beginning. Which they do, because they can’t help not to and this continues to happen over and over again until the entire relationship unravels. Ask me how I know…  

My New Year’s resolution in 2015 was not only to learn to love myself, but to find myself. After all, it is hard to love someone you don’t really know! And so the journey began. I started a new blog, moved to a new city and set the course for massive change.

It took almost two years, but by the start of 2017, I could confidently say I knew who I was, what I wanted, and most importantly, what I was worth! And for anyone who battles with depression, you know just how big of an accomplishment that was. I finally felt ready to give dating another try. It didn’t pan out until just recently, but I learned two more very important lessons in the process.  

1. No matter how much you grow as a person or how much you love yourself, being vulnerable with someone will always hold the potential of pain, but it also holds the possibility of finding what is truly meant to be. Tomorrow is not promised and if we never try, we will never know.  

2. True love knows nothing of time. It will not wait for you to be ready or the timing to be right. Genuine, unconditional love between two destined souls has one goal and one goal alone…unity.  You will not have to search for it, you will not have to chase it and you will not have to question it. If you are doing any of those three things, it is not meant to be.  

And on that note, I will leave you with these parting words of wisdom on the subject of love. I hope they give you the courage to continue fighting and save you a bit of heartbreak along the way.  

Please do yourself a favor, don’t wait. Don’t be afraid to try your hand at love. You may lose it all in the end, but then again it may be the best decision you ever made. Wouldn’t it be better to know? And the next time you fall for someone and they tell you they are not looking for anything serious, remind yourself of what I have said.  

And please know that what they most likely mean is… they are not looking for anything serious… with you. In all frankness, if they were to meet the right person tomorrow, do you really think there would be anything stopping them? Would there be anything stopping you? Exactly. Remember that.  

Don’t hang on to the possibility that one day they will change their mind and if you just hold on long enough, you will be the one they choose. Go live your life, they are. As much as it hurts, not everyone you love is going to love you back in the same way. It’s not their fault and it’s nothing you can change.   It either is or it isn’t…that is all there is to it.  Don’t waste your time chasing something or someone that is almost what you want, you might end up overlooking the right one and wouldn’t that be a shame.

❤ It’s okay to fall in love….even if it doesn’t work out, because someday it will and all those struggles will be worth it in the end. ❤

This Much: A Poem For The Disregarded

Broken Pieces of you still clutter the floor of my mind.

Their preciously hidden strangeness,

A comfort to me in this, the absence of you.

Making love to our memories,

As they delicately tickle these thoughts in my head.

And for a moment, I forget…

That I am alone,

In this,

The most painful love song of all.

Unmistakably one-sided,

Unrequited and adrift.

Yet in the end,

The only one I’ve ever wanted…

This much.

Last Call – A Short Story

An old man sits alone by a large green dumpster that helps to radiate the green sickly glow about his face. He is the type of man people pass and never give a second look, but he used to have a life. Derry Collins used to matter to the world. At one time in his life he was happily married and hoping for children, but one phone call changed everything. He now spends his time talking to a bottle of generic whiskey and remembering the past, reliving the nightmare that ended it all.

Kim and Derry Collins had known one another for about six years; married for two. They met at an art fair in North Carolina. Derry was attending the fair in hopes of a story, perhaps a budding new artist in the midst, or a scandal within the artsy class. He never really thought of himself as a journalist. The title of novelist was the same as royalty to him. He stumbled around the convention with his notebook, talking to thousands of different people, but forgetting shortly after. Derry was not the typical reporter; he dressed extremely casual with hip hugging leather pants and baggy black t-shirts. His skin was as pale as paper. His sunglasses guarded his big blue eyes and protected him from the harsh reality of daylight. As his lengthy legs maneuvered throughout the convention, an aroma of ecstasy tickled his nose. He followed the smell to a small booth in the corner of aisle twenty-five.

Kim, whose name at the time was Bloom, was showing what she called, the Bloom Collection at the corner booth. She normally sold her pottery to a local retailer on Main Street, but a friend of hers suggested she branch out. She had never been the face of her art before and the excitement of this new experience radiated from her captivatingly green eyes. 

As this somewhat mysterious character approached her booth, she jumped up from her chair to greet him! 

“Hello there, looking for anything in particular?”

Pulling his sunglasses from his face and inhaling the intoxicating aroma of his greeter, he smiled and introduced himself. 

“Your pottery is beautiful, is this your first show?”

“It is!” She replied with enthusiasm. 

“I am a journalist looking to do a piece about budding new artists in the area, do you mind if I interview you?”

Flattered, she agreed and began filling his ear with the inspiration surrounding her new collection.

Derry stayed by her side for the rest of the day. They started dating immediately after and three years later; they were married. Those were the happiest times in Derry’s life. Every good memory he held somehow included Kim. Their life together although simple, was one of much love and satisfaction, until last last year when a phone call came in the middle of the night.

“Derry, are you ever coming out of that room?” Kim yelled up the stairs at the closed door that shielded her husband from the world. There was no answer. She stormed up the stairs in hopes of freeing him from his writing. As she opened the door, there he was, crowded with a stack of crumpled up paper and broken pencils.

“You have to eat hun. You have been in here for days. Take a break!”

“Kim, baby, I have to finish this novel. I’m on the last chapter. If I stop now I may never be able to pick it up again.”

“Well, if you don’t eat, you might not live to finish the damn thing anyway.”

“Just a few more pages Kimmy. I promise. I’ll eat.”

Kim slammed the door behind her and muttered some comments of frustration under her breath. She then shrugged off her attempts to save her husband from starvation and decided to get some work done herself.

Kim’s workroom was an extension off the backside of the house. Lined with neatly planted flowers and two large rose bushes climbed up the corner pillars. Her pottery wheel sat next to a small antique table that held several large candles and a small radio. The flooring was solid red brick and was partially covered by a large throw rug of distinct African descent.

She stepped over to her work desk, lit all three candles and turned on the sounds of Reggae for some background music. Kim gently placed her aged hands into a large clay bowl and scooped up a handful of water over to the pottery wheel. Holding the clay between her fingers, she closed her eyes, breathed in deeply and indulged herself in the atmosphere of her work. She was only truly happy when she was working. Her hands glided along the clay forming the large, shallow serving dish as she took her time perfecting it’s shape. Time moved on wildly. Before she knew it dusk had fallen leaving a frigid chill throughout the air. She closed up for the night and headed toward the still comfort of home. Her eyes were heavy as weights and it was becoming very difficult to keep them alert. Just as she headed up to sleep the phone began to ring violently awaking her from a daze. As she answered, a deep almost familiar voice, replied,

“Kim, is that you?”

Not sure who this man was she responded with a faint, “Yes…who’s this?”

“Please don’t hang up…it’s Anthony.”

It had to be bad news. She had not heard from her ex-fiance in years and they ended on extremely bad terms. Now in a much sterner voice, she asked, “What do you want?How did you get this number? Haven’t you done enough?”

“Listen Kim, I’m clean now and I’m sorry for the way things ended, but this is serious.”

“Make it short, I’m listening”

Kim’s knees buckled as he began his confession. The phone plummeted to the floor, landing with a loud, smack!

Her chest began to feel as though it would burst and just before she was certain it would, an uncontrolable scream released itself. She then began to shake. Her entire body became weak and her stomach twisted and turned with fear.

Derry came running to the sound of her screams only to find her leaning against the freshly painted kitchen wall, holding her stomach. Her face had lost all color and her enchantingly green eyes turned a faint shade of gray as a glaze of fear coated their pupils.

“Kimmy, baby I thought I heard screams, are you ok?”Kim didn’t respond.

“Look at me, what the hell is wrong with you? Who called? Did somebody die or something?”

She burst into tears. Clutching to his chest for protection for her inevitable doom, their inevitable doom. She managed to sputter out, “I’m sorry baby, I’m so sorry!”

“Sorry for what, talk to me!” He tried to get her to talk, but it just wasn’t happening, so he picked her up and took her to bed. She lay there helpless, staring at the ceiling. Derry was completely lost in confusion. This was not like Kim at all.  He had never seen anything make her act like this. She was completely lifeless and her eyes screamed with the need for reassurance, but he had no idea what for. She gazed up at him for a moment and he figured he would try again to find out what was going on. Softly he asked, “Kim can you talk to me now? What happened?”

Her eyes began to fill up with salty bubbles as they looked directly into his. Her voice was as soft as he has ever heard it as she said, “It was my ex…he has” she paused for a second to wipe the tears from her face. Kim’s lip began to quiver as she looked at Derry in shame. She didn’t have to finish. He had a feeling what she was going to say. Derry’s lungs became tight and he suddenly found it hard to breathe. He managed to remain composed, clutching his fist tightly.

She nodded and pulled her fragile body to his chest. The two of them laid there inertwined in each other’s flesh, silently. The stars gleaming through the small skylight above shined a small bit of hope upon their seemingly lifeless bodies. Nothing more was said.

Monday came too soon and the test results shortly followed. They were both put on medication, but the illness took quick. Kim was first. Within several years, she was already showing signs of it’s progression. Her face took on the permanent color of white and large sores filled her throat. Speaking became impossible and walking was a thing of the past. She was closer and closer to death every day and there was nothing Derry could do. The illness was still in the incubation stages for Derry and his health appeared to be fine, however his mental state was lacking sanity.

“She died on a Sunday” he would mutter from time to time, but no one ever understood what he was referring too. After Kim’s death, Derry’s life took a drastic change. Work became something he simply talked about and a bottle of whiskey resided as his new companion. The illness continues to share his body, showing up now and then in the form of a sore throat or a ulcer, nothing major yet. He now spends his time sitting next to a large green dumpster asking those passing for change. People rarely contribute, most think of him as just a bum on the corner, but he used to be one of them. At one time in his life he was happily married and hoping for children. No one can see that now, but no one ever asks.

 

I Know that is You Mother, Please Stop…

As I mentioned in my previous post, my mother has been released from prison and is now staying in a community home. Thankfully she is in another state and has no real idea where I am living. As far as she is concerned, my last known address was the house I grew up in, located in Roscoe, Illinois or the apartment I rented when I first moved to Madison, Wisconsin after my grandfather’s passing. Little does she know I am much closer to her than she realizes (two states away). A lot has changed in the last seven years, but unfortunately my cell phone number has not. So when I see an incoming call that says unknown and I receive that same call over and over again with no message left, I have a pretty good inkling that it is my mother.

I have not spoken to my mother since just before my grandfather’s funeral and the conversation was not pleasant. I found out that she had opened a phone in my name and run the bill up to almost $1000.00. When I confronted her about it, she denied everything until I told her that the number listed was the same number I had been calling her on until her phone had been disconnected. For the first time in many years, my mother was speechless, for a minute.

We had just mended our relationship a few years earlier and I really thought she had changed. I am not sure what was more disappointing, that she ripped me off or that she had fooled me once again! Through tears, I told her that I couldn’t do this to myself anymore and that I never wanted to speak to her again. I very harshly told her to ‘go take a hike’ and when her father (my grandfather) passed away a few months later I didn’t even call to tell her. She was on probation in Florida at the time when he took ill and I had told her over and over again that she needed to make arrangements to see him in case he didn’t pull through. Did she? Nope. However, as soon as the word of his passing spread to the family in Florida she was on her way to Illinois as fast as her car could drive her!

She arrived at my grandfather’s house with her cousin (a very dear relative of ours from my grandfather’s side of the family). Her cousin had no idea that she and I had previously had a falling out. She purposely left this information out of the story when she asked him to drive up from Florida with her. He would have been coming up anyway since he and my grandfather were very close, but he never would have agreed to carpooling with her had he known the situation. Several years back, he had allowed her to stay with him upon one of her numerous prison releases and she screwed him over as well. They had made amends given the family ties and he too was under the impression that she had changed. He was about to find out, as I did, that he was very wrong. She had made a sucker out of all of us again.

My mother barely made it to the front door of the house before she was met by my boyfriend at the time, Steve. I was still grieving and he knew the effect she had on me, so he took the initiative and told her she was not welcome there and that she needed to leave. She claimed that she was there to help me make the arrangements for my grandfather’s funeral and that we should put the past behind us during this time of deep despair. Before I was able to chime in and tell her that I had already planned everything without her help, the phone rang. It was Edwina. She was my distant cousin on my grandmother’s side, but she was around the same age as my mother, so I thought of her as more of an aunt. Edwina and most of my grandmother’s side of the family didn’t care for me much because of my mother. I guess they figured whatever fueled my mother’s criminal activity ran in my blood too. It was quite the opposite really and if they had ever taken the time to get to know me that would have been obvious. There are a select few who gave me the chance to be my own person and I am very thankful to have them in my life. They faced a great deal of opposition and cruelty from the others for loving me and standing by me during the “Great Family War of 2012” and words cannot express my gratitude for their support. The story of the war is a story for another day, but you get the point.

Anyway, on this particular day Edwina was actually on my side for a change and was calling to ask if my mother was at the house. You see, my grandparents lived in a very small town and one of my aunts (my grandmother’s eldest sister) lived kiddy corner to them. She saw a mysterious car pull in the driveway and when a man and a woman exited the vehicle she made a call to Edwina to tell her that she thought it may be my mother. After my grandfather’s passing, we were all on high alert. He did not have a great deal of money, but everyone was sure my mother would be banking on an inheritance either way. My grandfather loved her more than life, but he also knew that leaving any money to her would mean giving it to the federal government to cover the enormous number of fines she owed and he could not stand to see any of his hard earned money be confiscated in exchange for his daughter’s wrong doings.

I told Edwina that yes it was my mother. She told me that she would be calling the police and then immediately hung up the phone. Before my mother’s most recent incarceration, she had stolen Edwina’s daughter’s identity and ruined her credit. This not only increased the grudge she had against her, but it caused her to keep in touch with the Federal Court Marshalls to stay abreast of my mother’s legal cases and custody status. It was because of this that she knew my mother still had an outstanding warrant from years ago in Illinois that was never read in to her federal charges. My mother had no more than pulled out of the driveway before she was pulled over and arrested. It was the day before my grandfather’s funeral.

Up until that moment, I had managed to stay strong. I had no choice really. When my grandfather was in the hospital, I had to remain strong for him and after he passed I was immediately thrust in to making the arrangements for his funeral. I was twenty-five years old and I had no idea how to go about any of this. I was still in shock when we met with the funeral director and since it was the same person my grandfather worked with in planning my grandmother’s funeral I told him I wanted the exact same everything. My grandparents had a love much like that of a fairytale, so I knew that he would have only picked out the best for her when she passed. I cared for him with all my heart and I wanted the best for him, so I thought that was the best way to approach the situation.

After the arrangements were made with the funeral home, I still needed to pick out the songs that would play and the pictures that would be displayed. My grandfather was an extremely likable man with a warm heart and a unique sense of humor. There is not a day that goes by that he does not cross my mind at least once. The bond we shared was like none other and the day he died a piece of me died with him.  Mine was not the only life he touched and I thought it was extremely important to include as many of his loved ones as possible in the celebration of his life. To do this, I spent the days before the funeral preparing several large poster boards filled with photos from his past. I went through every photo album I could find and created memory collages to display upon entry to the visitation room at the funeral home. I knew that my grandfather did not wish to have an open casket, but the family insisted on it (much as they did when my grandmother passed), so I compromised with a closed casket funeral and an open casket visitation. This seemed to appease everyone, well almost everyone. There were some that I was not able to please no matter what I did.

In putting together the memory boards, I was faced with the decision as to whether or not to include photos of my mother. I knew it would not go over well with the family, but I also knew the no matter what my mother had done over the years, my grandfather loved her dearly and would have wanted her to be included. So I honored what I felt would be his wishes and included as many of her childhood photos that I could find (there were not many, because my mother had found the same albums years ago and removed most of them). Not knowing now whether she would make it to the funeral or not, I was glad I made the choice that I did. Regardless of where she stood with everyone else, I felt that it was still important to display the memories she shared with her father.

On the day of the funeral, one of the hardest days of my life, I stood alongside my grandfather’s casket with my head held high. I knew that many of family and friends in the room had mixed feeling about me, but I tried not to focus on that. This day was not about me or them. It was about rejoicing in the memory of a truly wonderful man and partaking in the morning of this great loss. Up until the day of the funeral, I had no idea whether my mother would be attending, but a part of me hoped that she would be there. Not for me, but for her. She was in prison when her mother passed and was never able to say goodbye to her properly. Regardless of what my mother had done, she should not have to go through that again with her father.

I was standing alongside my godparents when she walked in the door.

She was dressed in all black with a matching hat and an attached vale that covered her face. Boy could she play the part! The entire room came to a halt. Most of these people had not seen my mother in over fifteen years and with the news of her arrest on the day before, none of them expected to see her now. The scene was right out of a movie – All eyes were on her as she walked up to the casket and lifted her vale. As she stared at her father, she began to cry hysterically until her cousin pulled her away and took her to the back of the room to console her. Once there, the eyes that had been locked so intently on her turned to me. I am not sure what reaction they were looking for from me, but I’m pretty sure they did not get the one they expected. I did not go to console her. In fact, I didn’t even make eye contact with her. I was barely holding it together as it was and I knew that showing her the slightest bit of comfort would result in my demise. Instead, I turned to my godfather for the support I knew he would readily have waiting for me. Shaking, I clutched my arms around his waist, buried my head in his chest and muttered, “I don’t know what I am supposed to do”. He squeezed me tightly, kissed my head and told me everything would be ok. He told me later that he had approached my mother (he had not seen her since my car accident 16 years ago) before we left for the cemetery. He gave her a big hug and said “I want you to know that I forgive you and I love you”. She thanked him and told him she loved him too. His reasoning? As he put it, “love and forgiveness are very freeing!”

As my godfather and I embraced, the music started to play and the funeral director began to make his way to the front of the room. The pastor followed behind him and they both motioned to me that it was time to begin. As I went to be seated, I glanced in the direction of my mother who was no longer blubbering, but staring directly at me.  I gave her what I hoped was an ‘I love you, but I fear you’ type of look, but from her glaring response I don’t think it was clear what I was trying to convey. I immediately looked away and continued on my path.

Surrounded by my small collection of allies in the room, I was able to maintain my composure throughout most of the service. That was until the song, “I Believe” by Brooks and Dunn came on. My boyfriend’s step father had helped me pick out this song and it was perfect. He had only met my grandfather once, but they were kindred spirits. Which is most likely the reason he and I have grown so close in the years that followed. If you have never heard this version of the song, it is beautiful! It talks about a man (“Ole Man Wrigley”), much like my grandfather who had a great impact on the lives of many in his time on earth and how his faith has allowed him to carry on no matter what the circumstances were. To this day I cannot hear this song without tearing up. After the service, one of my cousins (Edwina’s brother), whom I thought had sided with the enemy, came up to me to express how fitting he felt the song was. With tears still in his eyes, he thanked me for picking that song. He told me that it described the relationship he had with my grandfather perfectly and that it meant a great deal to him to have it played. There were a lot of people who felt this way about my grandfather and it gave me joy to know that I was able to touch on this as we all said our goodbyes to him.

My grandfather was in the military, so once the formal service was competed, we all headed to the Roscoe Cemetery for the burial ceremony with the traditional military gun salute and folding of the flag. It was the middle of winter, but I don’t remember being cold. All I remember was the muffled sound of the pastor’s voice as he gave his final sermon. I am not sure if my mother was there, I never looked up to check. As the gun salute commenced, I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes more and more as each shot rang out. I told myself that if I could hold it together just a little bit longer it would all be over soon. As they folded the flag and presented it to me, thanking me for my grandfather’s service, it was all I could do not to cry. I looked up at the officer as he handed me the neatly folded memorial of my grandfather and managed to force out a very soft, “thank you”. Clutching to the last memories of this wonderful man, I could hold it in no longer. Through tear-filled eyes, I stood up to face the surrounding attendees and nodded to the group as if to confirm that is was all over.

At the Repass, my mother stayed in the car and had her cousin bring her a plate of food that she ate while he mingled with family and friends. We had the gathering at the local VFW, where I promptly ordered a gin and tonic and tried my best to put on a good face. Surprisingly no one asked me about my mother. They probably figured that I had more than I could take that day and I appreciated that they avoided the subject. I have not seen or spoken to her since.

*Please note: Some of the names used in this post have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.