In 2012 my best friend and adopted brother, Lance was killed in an accident involving a distracted driver and his motorcycle. His devastating loss and my grief sent me into spirals. It was the first time I had to deal with both my disease and the emotional stress of losing a loved on. That year was brutal and I struggled to know how to cope. I turned to writing in hopes of helping others out there going through that same struggle.
I'll admit it; I have never been a cheerful person. It's just not my personality. In fact, those kinds of people who are always cheerful and chipper often make me want to run them over with my car, back and forth. But I am not saying that I don't try at least to be in a good mood. After the death of my best friend in August, I struggled to hold on as I learned how to manage grief and a disease that wanted to kill me too.
Lyme Disease and The Holidays
I am not angry. However, I have never been a big fan of Christmas. Even as a child it wasn't my favorite day of the year. I actually like Halloween, but more I like birthdays. Birthdays are special because you don't have to spread out your time, there's no rush, and that one person feels special.
Today would have been Lance's birthday; I suppose it still is.
2012 will be remembered. Besides the loss of my brother, I separated from my birth Mother. It was a hard thing to do, and perhaps soon I will be able to talk more about that. But it was something that needed to be done for a long time for the both of us.
This was the year that I learned how to drink wine and fake more smiles. For some reason people are much more comfortable with a woman drinking than crying. I was sad, my world turned upside down, and yet people felt that drinking settled everything. Sometimes it did.
“Ho Ho.. Meh”
Living with Lyme disease comes with extra challenges. Physically and mentally, it's all about making sure you save enough energy for all you hope to accomplish. Sometimes, it is a challenge to just get ready for the celebrations and talk of family time. That year I struggled in quiet alone places, cried a lot in the shower, and faked a lot of smiles. Watching others enjoy the comfort of their family time and knowing that I would miss my own special people was difficult.
Winter isn't easy when you live with Lyme Disease. It's painful and often depression sets in. There's just not enough light, and I don't get outside for long. The dark clouds always bring me down and even without the sadness of terrible things happening in the world I have a hard time being happy.
I understand Seasonal Depression; I get that.. it fits. Going out in the cold hurts my joints and bones because of my Lyme and Fibromyalgia. So if I have a choice, I will stay inside in my comfy sweats with my laptop and a blanket.
I didn't know how to enjoy the holidays and live with grief.
So how do you get through the holidays, the dark of winter, and missing the people you love? Well, I am pretty sure that letting the sadness drown you isn't the way to get through it. I have seen how grief and depression have destroyed people, turned them into shells just waiting for their turn to die. Drinking themselves to an early grave, neglecting themselves far past the point of no return, and letting the goodness of life just fall away. I didn't want to be like that. I love my family far too much to let that ever happen.
One day at a time.. one step forward even if it takes all day to make it. Put pen to paper and write a letter, you don't have to be chipper in the message, be yourself. I did that a few times, wrote people.. wrote to Lance, wrote to his sisters, wrote to myself.
I struggle with finding the holiday spirit and dealing with my grief. But I tried not to let it stop me from going to the parties and invites from friends. Even though I didn't want to, I made plans with other people every time I felt myself withdraw from the world and want to slow down. One day at a time… perhaps if I keep that up, then the spring will come sooner.
We were supposed to celebrate his birthday.
When I woke up, it was the first thing on my mind. I wanted to roll over and pull the blankets over my head and push myself back down into sleep. That isn't going to get me through this day or the rest of them. He's gone. I have to keep on living.
The reality was that I had to be the one who helps my children through their rough days and my husband through his. I had to keep putting in the effort not to let the sadness drown me. Get up, get dressed… yes, really dressed in deodorant and everything. Go out in the snow and throw snowballs, meet up with friends, sing to my favorite songs, move through this day the way he would have wanted me to. Grief will not win and neither will the Lyme.
One day at a time, taking time to cherish the people who are in my life. Perhaps the birthday gift Lance gave to me this year was that of awakening.