Loss without the wine

grief.  

I’ve never grieved without drinking.  I’ve lost both parents, 2 brothers, numerous friends and others.  But never without the obliteration of alcohol.

My brother Richard and I have a special bond.

My first memory of him was watching a summer storm together… I was about 3 or 4 and he is five years older so he was around 8 or 9.  As we stood at the screen door looking outside at the thunder and lightning, which us kids always loved and found thrilling, he looked down at me and said: “I’m going to marry you some day, you know.”

He is now dying.

After a 2 year brutal and exhausting struggle with throat cancer, he’s being called home.  Mid-December, my 2 sisters and I took a road trip up to where he lives near the Canadian border.  To hug him, to love him and to say goodbye.  It was a 5 hour trip each way.  He didn’t know we were coming.

Because he would have told us not to.

Not because he didn’t want to see us.  He most likely didn’t want us to see him so helpless.  He wouldn’t want us to worry.  And his battle had left him totally spent.  Head sunk down on the table spent.

I don’t remember a time when his life has ever been about him.

Richard is a stubborn, self-reliant Vermonter through and through….with a huge heart.  A soft heart.  And a servant’s heart most of all.

As I write this, I’m wondering if this is his moment….. Or is it now? An hour from now?  Or a day.  Only the Lord knows.

What I do know, is that a part of me will be leaving with him when his soul takes flight.

I want to be awake and ready at the exact moment he finds his freedom.

I’ve spent the day in prayer, candles lit, gazing at the last picture we took of him and me. And gathering together all the photos I have of him with me and the rest of our brood.

And resting.

Because grief is exhausting and it’s only just begun.

Through it all I have remained sober.

Thanks be to One who set me free.

 

I am the toddler on the right. Richard is standing behind my sister holding me.

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6 months and #metoo

Six months of sobriety.

Thank you very much!  Thank you! (Big bow) Thank you everyone. (Another big bow)  Now… if you’ll just excuse me.  I have somewhere I need to be.  Where?

Actually, anywhere but here.

Sitting here, trying to get myself to write is tortuous.

While I’m truly grateful and glad to be sober, I have been feeling emotionally unsettled and upended.  Heavy.  Lead weight heavy.  And my mind is making up all sorts of excuses for the feelings.  Trying to keep me distracted.  Keep me from going deeper.

Familiar feelings I’ve never been able to name.   And they’re in my way.  They get in my way of fully connecting with another human.  I’m turned inward.  It takes an immense effort to look at the face and eyes of the person I’m in conversation with and I find my eyes and mind flitting about- up, down, left and right.

 I don’t want to be “seen” by the other.

Now that I’m home there are a multitude of tasks and chores needing to get done but I can’t quite gather the direction either in mind or body to accomplish any of them.

So I walk out the door.

I keep walking.  Walking and searching.  Trying to observe without the usual judgement.  Sobriety has given me the ability to be kind with myself.

I realize I’m trying to make friends with me.  The wee one inside of me.

The hashtag me too.

I know I’m far from alone here.  It seems as if every woman has a #metoo story to tell.  Some even have a few.  More than a few.

I’ve done much inner work and healing around these issues but still…. those ghostlines remain.  They are calling to me for attention.  Not to drag me back but to serve in pushing me forward.  To call them out; not drink them away.

Where I thought I had made peace, I’ll make a stronger peace.  Where I thought I had forgiven, I’ll forgive again.

And He will turn this heart of stone to one of flesh.

Sustaining my sobriety depends on it.

 

ghostlines

There are marks that leave their legacy on our life.

We can grow and outgrow, improve ourselves and even be healed to the extent that we provide for our families and contribute to our communities….thanks be to God, but…

the ghostlines remain.

The unseen patterns and lines etched into the canvas of our souls are there.  Our changes in behavior and thought may remove the black lines, however,

the original marks will forever be there.

Indentations that, sometimes loudly, sometimes almost without perception, call us to not forget….

from where we have come.

I was born and raised in a farming community.  When I turned 12 tender years of age, that community was forever changed by IBM.  It became a bedroom community for those commuting from the great city of N.Y.

And along with all that sophistication and knowledge came the judgement on those who had made their simple home there for the years gone by.

We were the “uncultured”; the folks that didn’t matter much.

We weren’t in their circle.

Deemed the “lesser” folk.

My best friend had moved away and my parents were divorced.  My mother worked.

Hard.

We were left alone.  I was alone. Left to ourselves.  Left to myself.

In retrospect, we were feral children.

That’s what we were.

At the time, all I felt was freedom; the times were the late sixties.

What I felt at the time was not what I thought.

It wasn’t freedom.

It was fear.  It was pain.

Unprotected.

And lost.

I’ve come far beyond those pain filled times, however the deep seated feeling that I’m somehow less than, remains still…..even now.

Those are some of my ghostlines-  I know them for what they are.

I know they are ghosts….

but

they still and will always have power over me if I allow them.

I’ve had a couple of restarts since my last post.  Something happens when I address my sober time as counting days, weeks, months and years… it always has.

I fall.

Time is a funny thing for me in sobriety.

I pray that with time, I’ll have the ability to celebrate mile markers with everyone else…

for now-

I was sober yesterday, I am sober today and by the grace of God, I’ll be sober tomorrow.

 

the captain’s sundog…

I haven’t written in a few days… grieving is hard work.

And I ended up in the ER on Saturday afternoon.

During the worst part of the snowstorm, after talking with an old dear friend-it had been awhile and I thought- yeah, this would be a good time to take my BP.

We had laughed a lot.

Dialed 911 when I got 220/117.  I’d been monitoring it since last Thursday when the periodontist had taken it and got 195/96.

I made the mistake of asking him what it was.

 It probably shot up another 15 points when he told me.

Immediately I tried real hard to close my eyes to the fear and silently called out to Jesus.

Sweet Jesus, now you know I have no problem leaving this world and coming to live with you!  I hate this world!  But my family needs me here.  

Now.

Please don’t let me die.

OK…enough of the melodrama.

But I was exhausted, stressed and in deep grief.  Not a good combo when you need to hold it all together.

It was the day after I had gone back to work and found the 8 ft cheese case reading 65 degrees- I’m not a good one to pace myself.  Never learned.  It’s self-care.

so…..

I unloaded the cheese (8 ft is a lot of cheese), salvaged what I could and then cleaned the case.  Which never had been done other than a wipe down here and there.  I was real tired going home.

It was 9pm that night that I got the call from my sister that Captain Dave had died.

After talking to the rest of my brothers and sisters (6 of us are still here- we were 8) I tried to sleep but it never came.

So I went to work.  Then left for the Periodontist appointment.

I left his office and told my unloving, hard-nose boss that I wouldn’t see him until Monday.  Told him I needed to take care of my health.

Didn’t go over very well- I think he thinks I’m a robot, and I’m not sure how long I’ll be there.  He cut my hours down (he’s pissed I took time out),  says he needs to save money the first quarter (after making probably 125,000 in December).  Said “we all” need to make sacrifices right now (bet he still goes on vacation in February).

I’m the only one there who depends on that job for their livelihood.

Something is very wrong.

I feel it.  Like the ship’s going down (we’re in our 7th year).

My boss doesn’t know the Lord…at least from what I’ve witnessed.  Both he and his wife are lapsed Catholics.

I’m tryin’ real hard to love this man who is acting like he hates me.

“Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them.” Romans 12:14

I have His peace.  Even in the midst of the storms both inside and out.  I’m learning to trust.  I know He has something better in store for me but until then…

This is my mission field.

To live my life as an example of the faith that I profess.  And to keep loving….

In spite of it all.  Not only “in spite” of, but because of….

Because of Him who loved me first.

This story would look very different if I were not sober.

Thanks be to God.

The photo was taken right before my brother-in-law was cremated today at Mount Pleasant.  We knew and loved each other for 50 years.

Godspeed Captain Dave.

God’s response to me…

I prayed this morning.

I usually give Him the first hour of my day, every day.  But I’ve been very erratic since mid-December when the holiday insanity ramped up.

I am a person that needs structure and routine. When something happens (like life) and it’s disrupted, the first things to go are the healthy habits that keep me anchored.

It’s amazing I’m not in an asylum after the past few weeks…

then losing Dave, my brother-in-law who was so much more than that to me.

And then there’s my anger at my boss.

I’d made a great deal of progress in ‘getting over myself’ and showing him love and compassion in the 3 month sober challenge that began last August.

‘Got over myself’ in the sense that I knew God wanted me to give him the same grace that He Himself has shown me.

The Lord continues to love me in spite of my wicked self-centered self.

What I heard in prayer this morning when begging Him for help with feeling so angry, demoralized and unappreciated at work was this:

“Forgive him, for he knows not what he does.”

I wept…

then replied back to Him:

“Please forgive me Lord for I also know not what I do.”

He knows.  He loves me anyway.

I have to pass it on.

So amazingly grateful to be sober and loved by Him.

❤ ❤ ❤

Image credit: The Ocean of God’s Love, Kevin Shorter