Saturday, February 20, 2016

Head-On Collisions and Feather Moments

     We have all experienced a loss of some magnitude; relationship, job, situation, or an actual person. I don't know how without three main things: God, friends and family, and exercise, I would be able to go about each day, functioning. People turn to substances and other things to help them with their feelings of despair. It makes sense; if you feel numb, you can't feel pain. If you allow yourself to be consumed with drugs and alcohol, you can't be consumed with grief. I pray for people to not "stuff their stuff." It will resurface and turn its ugly head.
      If you have ever experienced losing someone, my heart breaks with yours. I won't say, "Give it time to get over it," because that doesn't make sense. What I would say is, "Give yourself time to get used to life without them." "There is no timeline to loss-take each day one at a time." When someone loses someone, I want to talk to them, whereas other people may avoid the topic because it's uncomfortable, or awkward. I felt this way before I lost my mom, so I understand. I know for a long time, my husband thought avoiding the topic was the best thing. "I don't want to upset you," he would say. But, I'm always thinking about her. Not talking about her makes it seem like I'm forgetting, which couldn't be farther from the truth.
     I read an article that described a man's experience with losing his wife, and having to raise his daughter by himself. He talked about "head-on collisions" and "feather moments" and it was such an interesting concept. I've always tried to find the right words to encapsulate what he described, and these are a perfect fit. "Head-on collisions" are those days you know are approaching, and well, suck, because they aren't here to celebrate with you: Christmas, your loved one's birthday, the day they passed, an anniversary, etc. The head-on collision in front of me is next week… Wednesday. All month it looms over me like a dark cloud, and then it's here. I can't avoid it, dodge it, wish it away, imagine it didn't happen. The morning of the 24th, I wake up and still get that surreal feeling. How have I gone on for the last 13 years without my mom? How will I continue? One good thing about these h.o.c. is that I know they are coming….they don't catch me off guard; not like the "feather moments". That isn't to say they aren't overwhelming and sometimes, all-consuming.  It's not any other day. Some years I don't work, other days I work. I really think every profession should allot a "mental health day" for employees. When I've taken off work in the past, and I see my list of options: personal day, sick day, professional day, none fit the reason I don't, or even can't go to work. I've thought, if I could choose "mental health" day, that's the perfect description of my absence. I am taking care of my mental health, by taking care of myself. However it seems fitting on that day to do so….
       Sitting in the White Rose last weekend, celebrating my sister's 30th, the first song we heard was "Hotel California" by the Eagles. It was faintly playing in the background once we were seated. Of all the songs that could have played, that was a reminder of her on such a special evening. Last week, driving home after work, I saw the most beautiful cardinal literally flying next to my car; feather moment. Every time, not kidding, EVERY TIME, I either order spaghetti, or open a box of spaghetti, there is one noodle that doesn't me-feather moment. The month after she passed away, in college, I was in a kindergarten classroom… preparing for the next step in the education program. This sweet, little girl pulled at my leg and asked, "Do you have a mom?" Of all the questions (and there are many from 5-year olds) she could have asked, that feather moment was perfect. "I do have a mom; she's wonderful," I replied.
     Even though I know head-on collisions will continue to pop up on my calendar, my hope for myself, and all of you, is that the heaviness your heart feels on those days, is softened by those feather moments that graciously appear as well. 


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