One more day

An appreciated note from one of my dearest friends that she dropped off recently with a bouquet of flowers. I keep it under plexiglass on my nightstand as an important reminder: ONE MORE DAY

One more day: I muster up blind faith and a guileless swagger. I am determined that my heartbreak won’t leak through the metal armor. The mission is to not allow a sobbing storm to leak through anyone’s rooftop and ruin his or her day, which, of course, doesn’t always work. I appreciate the super slim portion of the population that can actually affirm grief and heartbreak and unpredictability and let it be. I also appreciate the people who can look at life squarely without washing over any of it.

One more day: The morning’s first vitamin goes down easily as I swallow a small pint of water from a recycled jelly jar. The ritual started about 10 years ago when each and every day outran me, waking up in the morning with a duplicate to-do list in my hand from the day before. In those days, I was obsessed about crow’s feet around my eyes. My face was turning into a vase cracking from frequent use, decade after decade. Now, I ignore the lines, wrinkles and my face breaking as the days sit on me like topsoil.

A few weeks ago, I “kissed a ceiling fan” clueless to the oscillating fan since I was cleaning and intent on getting rid of dust bunnies. That night in the hospital’s emergency room, I ended up with nine stitches on my upper eyelid. Later, over the next course of days, I laid in bed at home alone weeping privately.

Afterwards, my therapist Louis got it right when he said, “The trauma exasperated the trauma.”

In fact, the painful accident felt like a contradiction. I finally looked outside the way I felt inside, and it felt like a relief. I didn’t have to hide anymore. It takes up so much energy to hide behind a smiley emoji.

How are you? People ask me in passing.

Fine.

What would happen if I revealed the raw truth instead of participating in small talk? “Most days, I really don’t want to go on.”

Fine. I’m absolutely fine.

Today is going to be a great day!

In 1984, I began my journey as a mind warrior picking positive thoughts and affirmations along the way. By the time I became a mom, I was determined to raise little mind warriors who grew up into big mind warriors. I can remember my son’s seven-year-old face reflected in my bedroom’s mirror, reciting affirmations that I taught him: I am smart. I deserve to be happy. No matter how hard it is, I can do it.

When times were tough, I convinced my ex-husband, We can do it. He, on the other hand, affirmed, We’ll make it. Year after year, times became tougher. We can do it.

In our end years before I filed for a divorce, I reminded him, We can do it.

It’s a lie. We are failing. I hate my job. I hate the rat race. I hate this town. I hate this state. We are losing the house. We are behind the eight ball. Affirming something that isn’t true is a lie.

I heard what my ex-husband said, but I did not or could not make myself believe it. It was going to be okay. Of course, it wasn’t okay. Our marriage not only tanked, but life became like sitting on the edge of a hardwood chair with no flooring underneath. I felt like most of my affirmations and positive thoughts ended up as fulfilling as sweat on the heal of the hand.

As my son’s young world took shape into adulthood, instead of reciting affirmations, he sarcastically started to announce each day with, “Another day in paradise.”

I shuttered when I heard his description, but I, too, denied that I intuitively knew it was a dark foreshadowing of the future.

In the past, the autumn days represented red, gold and tangerine colors, and new to-do lists that involved purging closets. Now, I manage the autumn in slow motion, holding on stubbornly to the dead summer. After all, the fall marks the autumn of my son’s life. He did not make it to the winter solstice and the return of more sunlight.

We’ll make it. Sometimes my ex-husband’s voice bellows in all its youth and springtime vigor in my mind, and for a fleeting second, I see the four of us all young again, wearing forever smiles. And, I recall my long-ago affirmations: I am abundant; God cannot give me a desire without it already being mine.

Then my three fingers pinpoint my heartbreak in the middle of my chest, safely tucked away beneath the metal of armor.

Next weekend, we have a party we are invited to, and I am buffing my armor, getting ready. One of the guys who is attending and whom I ran into recently exclaimed, “Get your dancing shoes on.”

I am amazed at his unawareness. How clueless he is to assume that I live life in the same manner I used to when I had free rein of closets overstuffed with dancing shoes. Some might call my place in life prolonged grief, conveniently paint over it and make it pretty so it’s easily friended by millions of strangers. Others erase grief as they once erased my son because of his taciturn manner. Others direct me to move on and lament over how I am stuck in the past. Then there are a select few who know that grief is something you can’t lift, like age, and it isn’t something to fill and fix like Botox on crow’s feet.

It’s there always, like the inner peace I was gifted with nearly 37 years ago. Now, I’m learning how to shuffle everything within me to make space for the grief. For me, the process is like inching around in a new pair of stiff shoes.

One more day: I alone can do it without anyone’s bird’s eye view of my world, because I learned in these nearly two years that bird’s eye views are dangerously limited.

One more day: It’s a different day, yet it kicks in with the same vitamin and joint supplement regime that stays with me along with drinking it all down in a repurposed glass that I savor, because I am acutely aware of how repurposing is an end-of-life strategy that doesn’t always hold water and no positive thought or affirmation will ever make it any different.

Faith Muscle

10 thoughts on “One more day

  1. Hi Stacy,
    I wish I had that one magic word that would make everything okay. I don’t, because there is not such a thing. So I send you hugs, prayers and blessings! May the days get easier and more bearable.
    I am grateful for your friend that stopped by with note and flower, and for the parties you have to attend. I hope that you dance. I hope you smile, a real smile.
    Blessings! ♥♥

  2. Your writing touched my heart, as it always does, Stacy. Today is the 29th anniversary of my son’s death. Jason continues to shine brightly in my memories as a 5-year-old little boy.
    You are doing the best you can and your words capture the heartache well. I’m so sorry for your “exasperated trauma.” Physical pain was your trigger and no one knows that the emotional pain of child loss exceeds any possible physical pain on earth.
    Today I am numb – I feel a combination of peaceful disbelief. It’s hard to imagine how many years have passed since that awful day when my son’s life was over. Sometimes I even wonder if he was real. The effect of his short life reverberates through mine. Any every fall, I remember him with the falling leaves. I remember him as every season changes.
    Sending you much love, my friend. May memories of Marshall swirl around you to light the darkness.

    • Awww, Judy, all I can say is I’m sending a HUGE virtual hug. Yes, fall does bring so many remembrances. Stay well my dear friend. Keep writing and singing your beautiful music for all the world to enjoy! 🤍

  3. Stacy, I was away travelling for three weeks and came home last night I went through all the emotions in a similar way by three deaths one after the other- my son, husband and young brother. I control the mind through the body – food, yoga and good thoughts I came on the intense spiritual path where you experience the divine love. It cannot be explained. The pain operates only at physical, mental and energy level & has no impact beyond it.The moment you taste the divine, pain or karma has no hold on you I hope you will come to India and be with me at least for two weeks I will take care of you here and you will go back completely healed with divine grace I am a mere instrument in this process. I was not as brave as you are now So you have potential to reach the goal The most difficult things are beautiful – Greek saying!

    • Prema! You are TOO kind and wonderful AND you are really tempting me. Let me see where the divine spirit leads! One thing for sure: I am so fortunate to have you and Ananda in my life!🤍

  4. My heart aches for you, Stacy. You are carrying such a heavy load, losing your husband and a son. I continue to pray God’s comfort and peace as only He can give. I also pray that wrapping your pain in these artful words will also ease the burden–and that of others. You express yourself beautifully.

  5. My heart hurts reading this post because I can feel your grief pressing down on my chest. There are no rules to grieving and we all have a personal journey with it. I do wish there was something I could say or do to make the pain lessen. While you will never get over the loss of your son, I do hope that you can have days where you can breathe easier. Sending much love.

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