It's New Years Eve 2015 and I wake up wondering if I've been successful at all this year. Why that's the first place my mind gravitates towards this morning is beyond me, but okay, I'll bite.
Have I been successful? What did I accomplish in 2015? Hummmm...
The voice of self-doubt immediately seizes her opportunity to deliver a one-two punch.
If you have to ask yourself, Lisa, then maybe you aren't ahead of the game, triumphant, or on top whatsoever. Maybe you're just a big fat failure.
"Now wait just a dog gone minute here!" the voice of truth rings out loud because It has a quite a different story to tell.
Like soft rain in springtime, old memories drop by, settling in like an old friend who hasn't visited in a month of Sundays. It's as if they make themselves right at home. They check the fridge for snacks, pour themselves a cup of Joe, and sit with me for awhile. I'm not even sure I want these memories to hang out with me today, but for better or worse, they are here and bent on staying.
I'm gently transported back to the morning of January 1, 2015.
Happy freaking New Year.
It's 2015 and I don't want to get out of bed. I want to find some rock, some hole to hide in. The world doesn't need me anyway. I had just booked yet another plane ticket the night before, in order to attend one more funeral. I can count on both hands how many that makes for the year.
Eight. Good God. Eight people in just over one year.
Really? Seriously, God? Jiminy Cricket! Just how much loss can one person or one family take? You know I'm broken and all spilled out up in here, right, God? How could you allow still another person to leave me? Just when I think I'm okay, someone else dies. Oh my God this hurt is breaking me clean in two! Can You help me? My mind feels fragmented- like a puzzle with the pieces misplaced, every one in strange and random places; tattered and torn up. They'll just never be found, I know it. If I didn't know any better, I'd say You are a cruel God. But...I do know better. I also know that death is simply a part of life.
Please help me not to come unhinged by all this loss. Maker of the stars and sea, please hold me together.
Just then the Bible on my nightstand catches my eye. I fumble with it a little, then I read that He is near to those who are brokenhearted.
He. Is. Near.
Nearer than the pounding in my frazzled, aching head, than the breath I'm trying to catch in between these unrelenting sobs.
Then the torrents of my sorrow break loose like a thunderstorm. I cry it out loud full throttle; this grief that clings to me closer than my own skin.
Are You nearer than this sorrow, Oh God? Are You? Well, are You? This mourning, will it last forever? Will I ever feel normal again? When will I be able to resume living, writing, loving?
New Years. Bah Humbug good riddance 2014. 2015 will you be kinder? I sit up in my bed and heave out a fractured sigh. It's morning already. I want to pull the warm covers back over my head but I force myself to wiggle out of them. I place my two feet on the floor and slowly make my way downstairs. Opening the back door to let my dog outside, a waft of frigid air strikes my face, making my eyes water. My face feels a bit numb after a moment and I wonder if it's possible to numb my emotions to all of this. I just don't have the wherewithal to keep grieving these losses and God knows If I hear the words "Grieving process" one more time I just might punch a wall or throw something or drop an "F" bomb or something just as unseemly. Grief is a relentless _________.
It's the last day of 2015. Whew! I made it. Not completely unscathed, but I made it. I pour myself a cup of coffee as I ponder this bitter side dish of memories.
Have I been successful? Or, did I just waste the entire year grieving?
The question still looms over my head like a drone threatening to shoot me for no earthly reason.
Then, this simple realization tickles my brain: Grief is necessary to move forward. It's a propeller towards healing, growing, learning.
So, what have I learned in 2015? Have I healed any at all? Have I grown even a little?
Yes, and yes.
I've learned that the greater the love, the greater the grief. That's just the way it is, so be it. I have loved big, with all of my heart and I have grieved with the same intensity. I count myself fortunate to have loved so many people so very deeply.
I've learned that just because a person dies, the love does not. I've grown enough to understand that vulnerability is a beautiful thing, and that time doesn't heal all but it sure does help...that walking in the rain, hot cocoa, a hot bath, hugging, kissing and making love soothes the soul.
I found out that suffering can increase your faith, your hope, and your dreams.
It turns you inside out and reveals what you're really made of and what you're capable of. It can render you so helpless that you've got no other choice but to lean on other people and count on someone else rather than merely yourself.
When you're broken, you find out who really and truly loves you. You learn how to just take one day, one step at a time and really appreciate the small victories and strides you make along the way...and that baby steps count, too.
I've learned that love is the healing balm, the cure all, for anything that ails you. Blowing soapy bubbles on a cloudy day is fun and giggling with children is a sweet elixir for the soul.
I've found that ocean water and river water hold healing properties for the senses and that talking to a horse is better and cheaper than a therapist. I've heard blue birds sing as if just for me and the wind through the Colorado pines has whispered words of love and faith to my being.
I've learned that there is joy to be had in helping someone else and when you give generously from your heart, it makes everything better. Holding a puppy lifts your spirits and Mocha Almond Fudge ice cream cones were meant for sad days.
I've learned that our pain can bind folks together faster and stronger than just about anything, that our problems are doorways that connect us with other people, and that if this path we're on has no obstacles we will never grow, or go anywhere even remotely significant.
This year has been a year of learning so much and hurting so bad and surviving such loss that I'm just not the same, and that's alright. We all have those seasons when we just have to grow, we've no other choice but to evolve and change.
I have grown, I've healed and I've learned and therefore, I'm successful because I'm sure that real growth, change and success can't be measured by the world's standard of cash in the bank or power obtained.
I've never wanted any of those things anyway. I want the kind of success that can't be measured by dollars and cents.
I've decided to make a difference, pray more, laugh out loud, play often, be kinder, work smarter, give generously, stay soft, keep writing, make new friends and visit old ones, dance a little and sing a lot.
I've decided to throw out last years left over pain. As Elsa so eloquently sang, I'll Let it go.
And I'll love, love, love bigger than ever before, with no holds barred because every single one of us needs it and I will be sappy and not care what anyone thinks because none of us is promised tomorrow.
I'm convinced more than ever before, that this is what real success is all about.
"I walked a mile with pleasure, she chattered all the way, but left me none the wiser with all she had to say.
I walked a mile with sorrow, never a word said she, but, oh the things I learned from her, when sorrow walked with me."
Happy New Year.