I am an introvert, a Turtle (see “Turtle or Gazelle“), and I’ve been really sad. This line from the Turtle post sums up where I’ve been:
Turtle naturally withdraws and goes within
when in turmoil.
It does not need to learn
the importance of this focusing inward,
it naturally knows.
In cancer survivor circles, they talk about Finding Your New Normal. New Normal comes after a scary diagnosis, falling in love, a death, a birth, a letting go, a child leaving home, a graduation–any life-altering event or moment.
My New Normal includes:
1. I am the only surviving member of my family of origin. I used to have a mom and a dad and 2 siblings. (my sister died in 1972). That’s a lot of memory gone missing. I still have some questions.
2. I am really up in my brother’s business and it feels wrong because he was VERY private. (I’m the executor for his estate.)
3. I tell people “You better have a will or your family will hate you.” Yes, my brother had a will and it’s still a pain in the a** to sort out what to do when. Someone should teach us this stuff at some point. Thank God for the internet. And a nice paralegal in Ned Barnes’s office in Carolina Beach..
4. I am truly grateful for the retired man I live with and am married to, my daughters and sons-in-law, and above all (sorry guys!) my 3 grandchildren. They stop the sad, at least for a while, and they help me smile and reconnect with what’s real.
5. I’m not young anymore. I’m not old yet, but more of my life is behind me than ahead of me. I want to be aware of every minute I have left–happy, sad, blah, exciting, boring, rainy, sunny, hot, cold or perfect. Each moment matters. I guess it always has, but maybe more now.
6. I read and watch Dr. Oz, the American Ninja competition and Entertainment Tonight instead of drinking, binge-eating, and shopping to temporarily stop my feelings. Well, sometimes online shopping still acts like it helps, but I’m getting better. Progress, not perfection, huh?
7. I think about my brother, Jim, every day. Partly because there’s stuff I need to do for the estate, partly because his ashes are on the fireplace mantle in the (finished) basement of our house, and partly because I keep remembering I can’t call him because he died. We probably talked once or twice a month, at best, while he was alive. I wish it had been more. So now I feel closer to him than I have for years. That is sort of confusing. And why I keep remembering he’s not down at the beach like he’s supposed to be.
8. Thanksgiving will be hard. We saw Jim 3-4 times a year. But he always came for Thanksgiving and Christmas. He’d drink his Coke Zeros one after the other (he and I both stopped drinking alcohol years ago–bad gene pool.). He had an amazing caffeine tolerance. He’d kind of stand back out of the chaos–we were a noisy bunch even before grandchildren–and watch and smile. We knew he loved us. And that he liked his not-chaotic, solitary, hardworking life at the beach. And that was okay.
9. Jim’s best friend since high school football, Barry, is now my friend, too. He says Jim was always his quarterback. Barry was a lineman and his job was to protect Jim. He is sad, too. We talked on the phone yesterday for an hour and a half. He told me things I didn’t know about Jim’s past and I told Barry some things, too. I know my brother better now, thanks to his friends, than I did before he died. I still love him and I like him even more.
10. I want to get back to writing amusing or provocative or silly blog posts. I just had to do this one first. Thanks for waiting.
(And thank you to the people who have been checking my blog for something new since August 15. I don’t know who you are, but you are special!)