And I was really trying to be a trooper there for a while.
Last semester was rough, by the way. I was teaching completely online which utterly disconnected me from the one thing that makes my job worth doing – human connection with my students. The grief pit I was sucked into this summer seemed to get deeper and deeper as the months progressed toward my birthday (last November) and Christmas. I (mostly) got away with drinking a bit too much. I couldn’t get out of bed sometimes. I was certainly NOT (most days) cooking or eating with love – but that’s old news. You’ve read the posts.
Still, since my birthday and Christmas, I’ve been giving it a real shot. I’ve been working hard. MoJo’s kitchen has been ON FIRE. For the past five weeks or so, every Friday morning around 5:30am, I go lift then get the grocery shopping done. What a pleasure to not have to drive one’s grocery cart up a sea of other endlessly stutter-stopping grocery carts. Aaah! By Saturday or Sunday afternoon, all of my meals (Breakfasts, Lunches and most Dinners) are made, packed and ready to grab and go for the week.
On top of the cooking, I’ve learned how to Cross-Country Ski. I mean, I finally taught myself. It’s funny how you can psych yourself into believing that something is hard or scary when it’s the easiest thing ever. For years, I’ve said, to myself and out loud, that if I could just find someone to go Cross-Country Skiing with, I would take it up as my winter sport. I had a feeling I would love it. And I asked friend after friend that skis if they’d go with me and friend after friend and I couldn’t get our acts together to make it happen (with the exception of my friend Crystal, who just straight-up said that “regular” cross-country skiing was beneath her – in not so many words – alright, alright, we can’t all be such sporty spice badasses from birth, my friend – some of us have to take baby steps). But, THIS winter, not only have I started running in the snow and ice (awesome!!!), I’ve also taught myself how to cross-country ski! I just drove to this great place in town called “City Forest” that rents skis, paid the man, strapped on my skis and rocked out two straight hours first time out. The only other time I had cross-country skied was one time 20 years ago. I was so out of shape back then that I hated it! This time, I had so much fun! And it was so peaceful and beautiful and such an amazing workout! I was immediately spoiled for the gym. Forcing myself to do cardio indoors is difficult – on a machine, OH MY GOD, impossible. Blech. Cross-country skiing, baby! That’s where it’s at. I’ve taken my husband once with me too. He loved it. We want to bring both our kids out before winter is over (if temperatures ever get above 20 degrees again).
Also, I’m back in the classroom this semester which has been amazing. I remember again how much I love my job – why I wanted to do it in the first place.
So, you see how I’m giving it a good old-fashioned college try? I’m trying like hell to embrace the winter, embrace the outdoors during winter, embrace all that makes life worth living despite the constant threat of grief.
But, people, it’s so damn cold that my ability to maintain the effort is fading. For example, I would normally have been in bed 6 hours ago to be ready for my 5am wake-up call. I’m pretty sure that call will be ignored tomorrow.
And I don’t know if it’s the cold and the ENDLESS winter and the total lack of sunlight on my skin or just the natural order of things but the grief has been wrapping me up the last few days. And then, I want to stop cooking and start eating crap so that I can hate myself again because it’s so much easier -- it is so much easier – than allowing myself to just. Be. Sad..
I keep seeing Mitchell in his last days. I keep replaying moments in the hospital, moments at his bedside. The last moment I kissed his forehead, touched his arm, said goodbye.
Today I was reminiscing about my brother Robert’s mythos. He fancied himself a Mexican Cowboy and an Indian (he rarely used the term Native American). He talked to me about “The Great Spirit.” He took a long trip Out West once, right before he met his wife, and when he came home talking about it, he seemed more right with himself than I had ever noticed before.
Yesterday, in the gym, I heard the country song, “If I Die Young” and it reminded me of my beautiful sister-in-law Beth and I was grateful I was near the end of my workout and the gym was relatively empty because I could not control my tears.
Last week my sister posted this great little YouTube clip of an 88-year-old woman dancing to Runaround Sue. Cutest damn thing, right? All the comments were so positive. It made everybody happy. Not me. It pissed me off. My mom didn’t get to be that age. My mom loved that song. My mom loved to dance. It’s not fair.
So, I don’t know if it’s the cold or lack of sunlight or just the way grief goes. At first, a friend of mine gave me the phrase, “grief bombs” and that’s just what it felt like. I’d go about my business everyday after August 22nd last year and I’d be relatively okay and then, out of nowhere, it would just hit me. But, now, it’s more like “grief raids.” It’s not just one bomb. It’s a thousand tiny bombs going off in my head for days. I’m usually more okay. Lately, before this past week, I’ve been quite good, happy, healthy. But when the raids start, they feel heavier, harder, more surprising than before. The compulsive eating creeps back in – because it’s the fastest way to push it back down.
Tonight, I finally had enough though. I, at least, acknowledged where the eating was coming from. I, at least, realized that I have to let myself feel this sadness before I can jump back on the full-time healthy wagon. In the meantime, I’ll try to cause as little damage as possible.
Blogging helps though I can’t say exactly how yet. It feels like a room I can enter that’s truly all mine. It’s quiet. I can say, mostly, what I need to say. I can imagine being heard. And for a few minutes, I forget how deep the snow is and how many more weeks we will be enduring this freeze. Perhaps the posts should be more frequent and, for now, should be dedicated to soup and other very warm things. I’ll work on that. In the meantime…
May you cook and eat with love.
Vaya Con Dios!