One of the most common questions I have received this week is "How are you doing?" And the most true answer (and the one I've used most frequently) is, "I'd be lying if I said I was fine. At this point, I'm surviving." Then I thought that "surviving" probably made me sound worse than I am. That word conjurs up thoughts of someone lost, starving in the dessert or forest, living on just the minimum food and drink available to them.
So, I decided to look the word up in the dictionary. Amazingly, here is the very first definition: "to remain alive after the death of someone, the cessation of something, or the occurrence of some event; continue to live." Another definition, "to get along or remain healthy, happy, and unaffected in spite of some occurrence." And finally, simply...
To endure or live through (an affliction, adversity, misery, etc.)
I would say that all of the above apply. Life moves on. The day of the funeral, as the procession moved down the streets towards the cemetery, I watched as cars moved to the side of the road in respect and I wondered about the people in them. Where are they going? What are they doing? While they are going on about life as they know it, do they realize how life was altered for the occupants of the vehicles in this line?
I have learned a lot about myself in the last few months. A few weeks ago, I was talking to a friend of mine at church. We attended the same university at the same time. We even ran in the same crowd. We HAD to know each other. And while neither of us have a very clear recollection of each other, I realize much of my college life is lost to me. I remember very little about those years. While most folks have lifelong friends, happy memories and even spouses from college, I remember just vague bits and pieces from my time there.
My friend Stacey has often told me that while she and my other high school friends were living it up in school (like NORMAL people do!) that I had to grow up all too fast (losing my mother at 18). And I think I'm realizing she is more right than I thought. College was just another way of putting one foot in front of the other back then. Another example is when I learned of my brother Danny's passing in June. I recall exactly where I was and what I was doing when the call came (my poor work friends having to witness this), but everything immediately after that? Gone. I bet folks from work could remind me, but for me, the minutes and hours directly after the call came are gone.
And even as recently as Monday, I had lunch with my boss. I remember going to lunch and remember bits and pieces of the conversation we had, but specifics (like how she invited me to dinner later in the week) are gone. Even what I did that day at work (apparently not much) are gone. I mentioned this to her tonight and she thinks it is all part of the shock and stress when sudden death touches you. I can't say I disagree.
I went back to work yesterday because that's how I heal. I try to go back to normal as quickly as possible. Unfortunately for me, I had a complete "come apart" by 8:30am. An ugly cry. The kind where the tears start because of something ridiculously insignificant, rise to a fever pitch and then feel like they will NEVER. STOP. I was instant messaging my friend Rachel asking her to pray because I honestly felt like I would never be able to get myself back together. She must have done what I asked because a few minutes later, I managed to pull it together long enough to get to the all day presentation I had to do, which ended up serving as a brilliant distraction.
As a funny aside...I went into the bathroom immediately before presenting to put on my lipstick. Looking in the mirror, I literally laughed out loud to see how ridiculous I was being. Like lipstick could erase the hideous red, blotchy, swollen face staring back! But I did it. I put one foot in front of the other, remembered to breathe in and out and made it through the day.
Same thing today minus the meltdown, so progress is being made. I had tentatively planned on tailgating with some of my most favorite people in the world, but I just could not do it. I felt like I needed to socialize, but I just didn't feel like it. Instead, I opted for quieter dinner with JG and my friend S. I eased myself back into reality and socialization and it felt good.
As for me?
I will survive.
I will be happy again.
I will live my life without regret.
I will continue to put one foot in front of the other.