August 6, 2008
The other night, while sitting down to a lovely dinner at a local restaurant with D, my sister-in law, her husband and their two sons, I was confronted with a Ghost of Sara Past. I would like to consider myself the type of person who can handle bumping into an ex with Jacqueline Kennedy like grace; calmly walking over in my perfectly pressed linen suit, smiling with my fresh looking acne free skin and reaching out my perfectly manicured hand for a polite shake of the hand to engage in appropriate conversation. I did not do any of these things. But, for your reading pleasure, here are the five things I did do.
1- Panic. Immediately start to sweat. Really, sweat. Noticeable rings under the arm pits and river running through my bra type of sweat.
2- Turn bright red and stumble over my chair as I attempt to run interception and make contact BEFORE the haunting ghost reaches the table.
3- Make instant decision that I will NOT be introducing ghost to my lovely family for the following reasons. 3.a. - Ghosts are scary, I love my nephews and do not want them to have ‘ghost of Sara past’ type nightmares for the rest of their lives. 3.b – Do not want D’s family to think I am the type of person who associates or once associated with the big mean ghost.
4- Loose all abilities to participate in meaningful conversation and find myself asking “so, how are you?” three times while nodding my head emphatically and not listening to one of the responses. Begin to hate ghost all over again for making me feel EXACTLY the same way I did while we dated, a decade ago.
5- Scurry back to table and quickly order a beer while burying my head in the menu. Respond to D’s question of “who was that” with “someone I used to know” and silently pray he lets it go. Spend the next few minutes calming down and thinking how lucky I am that D did in fact let it go. Not because he did not know something was up, but because he could see how uncomfortable I was and did not want to push me. I adore D. I might be afraid of ghosts.
July 21, 2008
I spent this past weekend in NY to be with my grandmother for her 92nd birthday. In honor of 92 years of laughter, loss, love and life, here are the 5 things I learned from my grandmother.
1) How to properly boil and egg and make a pot of chicken soup.
2) That one very nice and properly fitting black dress is worth ten ill fitting ones. The same goes for the matching shoes and hand bag.
3) No matter how casual the meal or comfortable the company, you never serve guests out of the pot and a well set table can make even the most basic meal elegant.
4) To be proud of your youth and unashamed of the choices you have made. To remember the hard years fondly and the easy years longingly.
5) That there is no shame in crying for the ones you have loved and lost. The tears that fall when you remember the way your friend wore her hair or the way your husband greeted you at the door every day for 48 years honors their life as much as it mourns their death.
From the moment I started this blog (a whopping 19 posts ago) I have struggled with the concept of how much I wanted to share about my personal life, what I wanted to say about my friends and my family. What stories were mine to tell and what stories belonged to someone else, to be told in their own way, with their own voice. Then this evening (while still on vacation) I received three phone calls in rapid succession from my family. Yesterday, my brothers college roommate and close friend, committed suicide. The details are horrific, and are not mine to share, but, I would like to share with all of you, the five things I hope to help my brother understand as he buries his friend.
1- Grief comes in waves. There are moments when the pain encapsulates your being with such force, you wonder if you will ever be able to exhale again. Then, there are moments when the hurt seems to subside. Moments when you believe you are moving through the dark could and then the pain rushes in and washes over you again. Don’t fight the grief any more than you would fight the tide, both are futile.
2- It is ok to be angry. it is ok to be frustrated or pissed. It is ok to yell and scream and go for a run because you can’t think of any other way to expel the emotion from your body. It is also ok to laugh, to think about the funny things he said or the way he always wore his hair to the right side.
3- It is not your fault, and there is nothing you could have done. I know people will be telling you this a lot over the next few days and I hope with all of my heart that you hear them. Please do not over think every conversation you had, every word you heard, every rise and fall to the tone of his voice.
4- It is going to get worse before it gets better. The days ahead of you will be long. The hugs will be endless and the tears will flow. We have already spoken about the role you want to take in his memorial and I applaud you for your strength, but it will not be easy. Know that it will be hard and know that I believe you can do it.
5- I love you brother. I love you more today than I did yesterday and I will love you more tomorrow than I did today. I love you unconditionally in a way only siblings can. When the grief swallows you like a tsunami wave, remember how many people love you and feel our arms supporting you under the deep and painful sea.
June 20, 2008
Today was a tough day. Not necessarily a bad one, but a toughie. It was not my last day at my job, but it was the day of my goodbye party and the last time I would see some extremely special people and it was hard. It got me thinking about former tough days and where this one ranked and so, I thought I would share my top five list of tough days* (in chronological order)
1)Loosing the cross country county championship in 10th grade. – We were favored to win and I ran my heart out (breaking my own personal record). It was our captain’s last year and I adored her. Even at 16 I genuinely wanted the victory for her more than for myself and when it came down to a tie breaker, I felt like I let her down. If I had passed one more person, if any of us had passed one more person, we would have had it. It was the day I discovered that sometimes doing your best just is not good enough and that sometimes, like victory, failure is a group effort.
2)The day I found out my high school boyfriend had cheated on me – I know, this one should have been a no brainer. He was a year older than me and already at college. To be perfectly honest he was out of my league to begin with. But, he genuinely seemed to adore me and I genuinely seemed to believe him. It was the day I discovered that just because someone tells you they love you, does not mean they won’t hurt you and we don’t all live happily ever after with the captain of the lacrosse team. It was my first heart break and somewhere, beneath the marks from my sports bra and deep under my rib cage, I know there is a little scar.
3) The afternoon my parents came up to New England to tell my brother and I my dad had cancer – As fate would have it, my brother got into his first choice college where I happened to be going to graduate school and we were living about 20 minutes from each other. My parents told us they wanted to come up to take us out to brunch to celebrate some birthdays. When they walked in I could see that my mom had been crying. My dad sat at my round kitchen table on one of those chairs that swivels around, looked me in the eye and said, “your dads sick kiddo”. It was the worst combination of seemingly innocent words I had ever heard and it was the day I discovered my father was human, fragile and mortal.
4) The day my brother got into some trouble I could not get him out of – The details of this story are my brothers to tell, not mine, but it was serious trouble. It was the day I discovered that just because I had four years on him, did not mean I could protect him forever, and that you can’t wish someones pain away.
5) Moving my best friend out of her house prior to her divorce – We sat in a room going through pictures and piles and shoving 6 years of her life into whatever boxes and bags we could find. I had been there when they met, the day they got engaged and stood beside her when they took their vows. I felt like I could have, I should have, done more. It was the day I discovered that love is not always enough, but some days, friendship is.
So, where does today rank on my list? I don’t know yet. I know that there are times in your life when you know something has changed and even if it has changed for the better, you can never go back. Today was one of those days.
As a side note: As I have stated numerous times before, I am not a writer. I am more of a venter or an observer. But today, while driving home crying, listening to sappy love songs on 105.1, I had the urge to go home, sit at the computer and write about what I was feeling. It was the first time I wanted to use this blog as an outlet rather than as a sounding board and that felt good. So, maybe it was not such a bad day after all.
*Note- death of friends and family were intentionally left off of this list. As anyone who has lost someone they love can tell you, the experience is no where near a ‘bad’ day.