I keep getting asked this question. How are you doing? I'm fine, I say. That is all I ever say. My answer never changes. Quit asking how I'm doing. If I want to tell you how I'm really doing, I will tell you. I won't need a prompt. I know this is a common question, even to people not mourning a death, so I get it. It's just one of those conversation starter questions in general. It gets asked two to three times a day at work at least. But when asked by people "in the know" a lot, it gets annoying. Quit it. In an effort to quell this question a bit, here is my true and honest response.
How am I doing? I got up this morning. I put clothes on. And if I worked out or had to work today, then I actually left the house as well. Congratulations! I keep getting up. I keep moving. I get out of bed everyday. Keep moving. This song is on my running playlist on the ipod nano. First song I hear after it gets charged or the playlist starts over. I keep moving.
Working out and running has been the one thing that has helped me through this so far. Not the only thing, but the one thing that I have found, that I do, where I find joy, happiness, and motivation to keep going in life. Life goes on, and we can chose to keep going with it or stay stagnate. I was stagnate after her death. It was a shock. It all happened so fast. We were suppose to have more time. She was suppose to come home. I was stagnate and didn't do or feel or anything for two months. I think that that was okay. We all sat around and stared at walls for a bit. It's a lot to process. But then you have to pick yourself up. You can't stay in that space forever. Working on my physical body with exercise and eating better got me out of my stagnate phase. And once I started on this new direction (because there are many directions one can take), I found that I really enjoy it. I find myself smiling and doing mental high fives and fist bumps after good runs. Sometimes they aren't mental and I quickly look around to see if anyone out mowing their lawn or walking their dog just saw me fist bump my imaginary friend. Some runs aren't so fun. They're painful from burning lungs, side stitches, or the inhalation of bugs, lethargy, too hot, too muggy, or some other random ugh. At the end of those runs, I shrug them off and say to myself that I still got out the door today, and I did it anyway.
So how are you doing?
I don't want to be stagnate anymore. When you or a sibling, parent, spouse, BFF is on a cancer journey, your own life gets put on hold. You're focused on that person. You're going to chemo appointments, and Doctor visits. You're doing things that the other person wants to do. Everything is about them. I was on hold. So after mom passed away, I didn't need to be on hold anymore. Of course it takes a bit to get going again. Putting yourself back into drive after being in neutral for so long, takes a bit of trial and error and procrastination. But I'm doing it. I said earlier that this year (2015) is all about not settling. Well, I'm keeping myself to it. I've gotten myself into a physical shape that I have never been in before, not even when I was in High School playing 3 different sports at the same time, going from one practice to the next practice to the next. And I feel pretty awesome. I have body issues, as does probably 99% of the female of our species. I have come to a point now that I am almost... almost actually happy with my body. I'm doing little things that are pushing me to get out of ruts and fixing things. Little things like finally moving my 401k from a former employer to an IRA, that I will actually control and not some crazy wack-a-doodle former co-worker/cake nazi. Little things like cutting all my hair off. Little things like joining new groups and meeting new people. Actually buying new clothes. These are big things to me. Yes, even the clothes thing. I still have/wear things I've had since high school. That was 20 years ago!
This running thing I'm doing now is something my mom was never able to do. She struggled with weight her entire adult life. I find it ironic that when she was at her best (pre-cancer), which was 2010, she had lost 80 pounds and was really excited, I was at my worst, 30 pounds overweight and miserable. When I started running again after her death, I thought I would do it "for her" because she couldn't. But by thinking that way, I was never going to succeed. Do I run "in her honor" then? No, that's not right either. I run for me. That may be seen as selfish, but it's the truth, and it is the right framework for my continued success. Mom is gone, but I'm still here. I have to do things for me now.
this song is also on the running playlist. A bit more "happy" and something I strive for.
Here's another thing, July sucks. I'm glad it's over. Why does July suck now? Well, mom and dad's anniversary was July 1st. Mom's birthday was July 9th. About four of my parents favorite couples also have wedding anniversaries within 2 weeks of theirs. And they had trips planned with some of these favorite couples. Mom always had something big planned in July. She did this past July. It was to be another epic road trip across the country. She loved the 4th! Making dad BBQ and having people over all month long... if they were home. I think, next to Christmas, July (summer) was her favorite time of year.
It's hard. We sit around sometimes while playing cards or something and think, "she's not here to share this". We miss her not being able to experience things and events with us anymore. No more high school graduations for her grandsons. No more input, design ideas, or help with home renovation projects. Doing our kitchen without mom was hard. She would have loved it. Picking out the cabinet stain, back splash, granite counter top color, etc. We had to do that on our own, for the first time. Sis and I would stand in the middle of the kitchen in the drywall dust cloud and say, "damn, she would have loved this".
I'm not sure this really answers the "how are you doing" question. I'm still angry. I'm still sad. I'm still depressed. I'm lethargic. I'm apathetic. I'm confused. I'm also happy, energetic, glad, and optimistic sometimes. It depends on the day, the weather, TV show or movie I recently watched, book I just finished, interactions with other humans, and all sorts of other things I cannot control like the spinning of our planet through the universe. Sometimes I need to be around people. Sometimes I need to be at the ocean. Sometimes I need trees. And sometimes I need to be alone. And sometimes I just want my mom.
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