Well the last 24 hours have certainly been the proverbial “roller coaster ride”!
First, the blog is absolutely taking off!!! It’s very exciting for both Mary and I as we had our biggest week ever last week, capped by our biggest DAY ever yesterday! So if you like our stories, thoughts, and tools, please pass the link along to friends and family! As my mother correctly pointed out, although our stated aim is to share our relationship experiences and give tools for happier LOVE relationships, these thoughts and tools work just as great for friendships and family relationships! So thank you, thank you, thank you for being a part of our life adventure!!!
Next, I’ve been dealing with being “homeless”, doing “couch surfing” with friends and the next few days in my Priceline hotel room, and having to explore my feelings around that, which are not thrilling–I’m ready to be settled into a place to live and put down roots, at least in a “base camp” sense. The first two years after my marriage ended I really enjoyed the adventure of not have a permanent home. Since then I have been “trying” to settle down with a space to call home, but I haven’t made that happen yet, and I can have that wear on me at times–yesterday being one of those times.
Finally, Mary’s very loving friend, her dog Djeemie (pronounced “Jamey”) reached the end of her sweet life today. After 15 years of faithful and loving companionship to Mary and the children, her body was giving out and it was time for them to say goodbye forever. Djeemie’s vet up until a couple of weeks ago Mary described to me as “not very caring or loving”, so I asked her “why don’t you go and find one that is?” So she did. And so today Mary and Elise took Djeemie for her last ride, and, after a little drama with the sedative (she never liked injections), she left this life softly, with her loving family around her.
I’m still trying to figure out exactly why this has such an impact for me (as I sit crying at my keyboard-lol!). I did not meet Djeemie, only saw a couple of photos of her before she moved on, but I’m choosing this really weird mix of sadness and joy over her. The joy is easy to understand: she lived a wonderful life, receiving love from a caring family, and she got to GIVE love to those same people. She helped to make the world a happier place and clearly showed joy at the love her family gave her. Wonderful things to celebrate! It’s more my sadness that I’m working on figuring out. Actually, I don’t even KNOW if it’s sadness! I just know that I get teary…could be some other feeling…so I will do an Option Process Dialogue (www.option.org ) about it and see what I come up with.
The one thing I have noticed about myself is that, when I’m sober, which is most of the time, I rarely do sadness, but there are TWO things that I get sad over on a repeating basis, and one is VERY specific in the way it manifests! One is when thinking about my own family’s dog, Speedy, who was only 5 years old when he was hit by a car. He had been lost for a few days and we posted flyers. A very sweet man called and said he was pretty sure he’d been hit by a car and gave us where to go and find him. I went by myself–keep the rest of the family at the car–and found that yes, it was him. Wrapped him up in a blanket, took him home, and gave him a resting place in the canyon behind our house.
The other, and the one that manifests in a very specific way, is around the death of my best friend John when we were both 30. He was the best friend I had ever had in my life at that time, by quite a large margin. At the time, he had been living in Berkeley, California and I was in Arcata, CA, about 4 hours drive away. For 2 years we kept saying “we have to get together and catch up on our lives”, and for 2 years we didn’t. And then one day he was gone–fell off a cliff while hiking with his wife on their first anniversary. I was absolutely distraught with regret. I blamed myself for us never catching up before he died. I did a ton of grief. This is a cathartic poem I wrote at the time:
If you were here, what would I say?
First: I love you, old friend
Why, in this land, it’s so hard to say that
To a friend, I know not
But if you were here
I love you
And I would say it
You always could
And I remember the long days, old friend
And the longer nights
The stereo playing low
Those of us left
Planning the future of our planet
If you were here
I’d talk to you about that
Like we always would
Me, the eager and fascinated student
You, with your finger on the pulse
Of our land
And I would ask you how you were, old friend
Had your demons let you go
Making way for new ones?
I never saw you sad
Even in the worst of moments
And I’d ask you
Do you need to feel sad, old friend?
Do you need to set the world down
For a moment
You see I could hold it for you
For a moment
If you were here
And my tears would not be staining this page
And you could rest
And we could talk
We laughed so hard at our own expense
I would like to do that again
Why did it need to be you, old friend
To teach me the meaning of loss
I wish you could have taught me other things
How to savor the moments
How to age with grace
I wish I had some moments with you to do over
We could age together, old friend
Sit on the porch swing or park bench
And watch the sun set
And talk of love and life
And I’d have you to talk to
About this pain and these tears
Instead of my own echoing, empty room
I hope you know somehow
That I love you, old friend
Sit beside me in the years to come
And watch the sun set
And talk to me
Of love and of life
And grow old with me
That’s what I would say
If you were here
My old friend.
The fascinating thing about this poem is that there are many beliefs in there that I no longer hold, and, except for this one specific way, I no longer feel any sadness about losing John, only a great sense of gratitude that I got to meet him at all and that I got to have 15 years in such a rewarding and loving friendship! So get to this mystery sadness already!
For many years while I was mourning losing John, I felt sadness and regret, but there was another component to my grief that I could never identify. Then, about 8 years later, I heard a song by Blues Traveler, written by John Popper about his best friend and bandmate, Bobby Sheehan, who died in 1999 of a drug overdose. I was stunned, since I finally knew what the other component of my grief was. Mmmm….and in looking up the lyrics to post here, I found the words that are being sung behind the lead–WOW, I’m even more stunned, they are an answer as if from Bobby in response to John’s lyrics (in parentheses). Let’s see if I can post them here:
Like I could give you what you need (run all your races)
So ollie ollie oxen free
The game is up and I give in (and be what you’re gonna be)
So show yourself so that you can win
Come claim your prize and I don’ care (and let some of us love you)
I still can see you standing there
How could you leave, how could you lie? (and set thy anger free)
You cut me off in mid-reply
And I guess I’m still pretty angry
And I don’t wanna be
I don’t know which was the bigger waste of time
Missing you or wishing instead it was me
It was anger. I was angry at him. If you Google the full lyrics of this song, it really is almost word for word what I thought and felt. Kept expecting him to jump out from behind some door like he used to, shouting “surpriiiiise!” But it never happened. And I was angry. I was supposed to be the “guy behind the guy”! All of a sudden, I had to learn to be “the guy” instead. I felt rudderless without someone to follow. Now that’s no longer the case, I LOVE being the captain of my own ship. I LOVE playing the LEAD in the movie of my life. But, for whatever reason, when I hear this ONE SPECIFIC SONG, I still cry. Maybe just because how could someone write my exact feelings in that way. Maybe because somewhere inside me there is still a belief that sadness is how you respond to death. It CAN be, but it doesn’t HAVE TO be. Maybe it’s just because I rarely feel sad anymore and sometimes I just want to. Whatever the reason, those few moments when I DO feel sad, it seems to only come from these two ways….
So I continue along on the roller coaster, feeling happy and blessed right now for my time with John, for Djeemie’s gentle goodbye, for the love of Mary, and for the ability to FEEL deep love for her and others in my life.
So how does all this apply to relationships? Because it’s not the loss that counts. It’s the moments you GET TO HAVE. Because it’s the loving of the things in your life that is the gift; getting love back is just a bonus. Or, as Donald Kaufman says to his brother Charlie in the movie Adaptation, about life: “It’s not about what loves you, it’s about what you love.”
PS: I’ve had wonderful suggestions from two different friends to shorten or split up the long blogs. To that I can only say: “Next time!” LOL!