*Bonus Post* Gratitude with an Attitude . . .does that sound like a PLATITUDE?

Gratitude with an attitude. . . that's when you say "I want to be happy damn it!"  That's when you begin trying to figure out how you are going to pull yourself out of a funk if you've decided you do not want to reside there.   

It's when you pause being devastated about the loss of your spouse and take a second to smile and remember the good times.  It's those moments when you say, I am going to get out of the house today, and not stay holed up in my bedroom. 

... It's when you look at your children and say, we need to be creating good memories still.  Cause I'll tell you what - even aside from experiencing loss of a loved one, waxing poetic about awesome childhood memories has pulled me out of many a mood rut.  I wouldn't have ANY of that on reserve if my mama had not DECIDED to take me to the zoo or the science center, or walk down to the park, or take me to a movie.  That stuff is important! 

My son was gifted some tickets to an LA Clippers game... Great seats - 7 rows back from the court-side.  I received these tickets very soon after my husband passed.  My days continue to be up and down... dark and light.  During one of those dark days I contemplated just selling those tickets.  During one of the light days I said No!  We deserve!!   ...and hell, I'D never been to an NBA game.  January 13th, I packed my boys up and we drove down to Staples Center and had our butts IN THOSE SEATS.  One of the BEST decisions I've made in 2018. 

A long time ago, I wrote a piece about joy having to be manually applied at times.  In this life, I swear, sometimes you have to fight for those good moments like you're fighting a bully in the street!  Sometimes life seems intent on taking your peace.  That is when I have to say "nah... not today".   Losing a baby and losing my husband has taught me that painful things will happen in life REGARDLESS of the good choices we think we are making, and despite how tightly we have our so called ducks in a row.  There are things that happen that are simply outside our locus of control.  However, there are things we CAN control, and there are memories we can create just by getting up and DOING, BEING, SEEING... LIVING.  A manual injection of something joyous in your life when life has tossed an unfortunate occurrence your way is how you are going to continue to counteract the darkness and continue to create good memories that can never be taken away. 

Every night I have a couple bullet points of things in my mind that I am thankful for.   Losing a spouse can sometimes make you more aware and weary about your own mortality.  Instead of dwelling on dreading another loss or my own passing, I change that thought to being thankful in the present that the people I love who are still alive are still here.   I remain thankful for the PRESENT - no matter the current or looming circumstances may be.  If I get bogged down in darkness, I pull out my flashlight until daylight comes again.    

I'm no expert, however my approach to loss has been to sit in the grief when I need to... feel my feelings - because they need to be acknowledged and validated.  I am sad,  I am angry, I am enraged, I am nervous, I am scared... sometimes I feel a tad clueless.  However, believe it or not, I still feel happy, I still recognize funny and love a good laugh.  I still love visits from friends when I do not want to be alone, I still like playing video games with my big boy, and peekaboo with my baby.   I take FULL advantage of these opportunities when they arise, and CREATE them when I feel a void because DAMN IT!  I DESERVE! The power of CHOICE, and - dare I say it, a [healthy] sense of entitlement.  That is gratitude with an attitude... my apologies if it sounds like a platitude.   Y'all ... lets go GET it.    

*Bonus Post* We are ALL a hot mess!!!!

When I see folks lamenting over the way things "should" be or "could" be or "would be if..." I understand, but I also remind them - and myself when I fall down the rabbit hole, that comparison is the thief of joy.  We can peer across the fence all we want, the only point of reference we REALLY genuinely have is our own.   Not to invalidate the wisdom and experience-based advice we receive from others.   But when you start taking other people's experiences, and judging by the moments captured in posts and photos on social media, that's where we can get into trouble. 

If you look at someone and think they are handling grief better than you are or than you could, please know that many times people are in the same boat, and many times in a more rickety boat than you!  Everyone is just trying to put their best foot forward.  I will use myself as an example since all I hear lately is how amazing and strong I am . . .often times I feel the exact opposite. 

If you see me on the go in the morning all dressed up dropping my son off at school - looking like a working woman on the go... please know that often times, one, some, or all of the following have happened. 

  • I am 25 minutes late for work. 
  • The before-school program I pay a pretty penny for has already dismissed.  (add cancelling the service to my list of a million things I must do). 
  • The sandwich I planned on making for Marcus' lunch now has cheese ONLY because he ate the last of the lunch meat, and I didn't find out till this morning.  
  • His lunch is in a Ziplock bag because for the second time he has misplaced the nice lunchbox I purchased for him. 
  • Hoping yesterday's deodorant application lasts through today, because I did NOT have time shower - only time to wash my face and hit the hot spots  LOL  (TMI?  too bad). 
  • I cried on the way to work - or in the bathroom once I got there while remembering how my husband and I used to tag team this thing, and how much I miss the ease and slack his help provided when I fell short or was unable to make it some place on time.  It hits me hard that I did not choose single parent hood (not that anyone ever CHOOSES it, but it was not a DECISION I had to make).  Anger eclipses the sadness when I start to feel that I have been handed a bum deal by life.  Rage enters when I start asking why.... then more sadness when I realize, I may NEVER know why .... I continue to have an abiding faith that acts as a cushion when I hit the shore after riding a grief wave, but it doesn't kill these feelings that come. 

...Anyhow, that's just ONE example of not judging the book by its cover.   Life is whooping my ASS right now, but I choose to find some good in it.  MLK day was this week, and a certain refrain from him resonated with me: unearned suffering is redemptive.  I hang on to that.  If nothing else, it helps me get out of bed every day, just to see if that pay out will occur.  But don't look at me, and think I'm special (not to assume you did, but if you do)... I am a mess right now... just trying to make it day by day.  But something in me tells me that there is a purpose for this mess. I don't know what it is... it makes me mad that loosing someone I treasured would even equal some sort of redemption story for me, because I want my man back... I wish my second son stuck around.   But since they cannot come back in earthly form, I have to believe I am going through the pain of surviving their loss for some reason beyond my comprehension right now.  Please know I stand with you in the mess.  Let's see what awaits.   Answer below if you feel like it... have you ever compared your experience with grief to others?