It’s been a very strange six months since my mom’s passing. In that time, I’ve quit one job, started another (including a couple of weeks doing both), came into some money, and delivered what many people consider a beautiful eulogy. But I’d be lying if I said a lot of it didn’t feel like white noise. I look at myself and see a shell of the man I was. Even at my worst, I never felt trapped, and I never felt so connected to my own mortality. I guess because my mom had a very sad story to tell, part of me wonders if I’ll follow down that path she set. I hope I never get like that, but admittedly, it wouldn’t surprise me all that much if I did. People tell me, “You deserve to have some happiness in your life,” or something to that same effect. I appreciate the good words, but deserve has nothing to do with it. It’s never had anything to do with it. My mom deserved the same things, but she never got them, or got them when they were too late to help her. For better or worse – often for worse- I am my mother’s child.
But in these six months, I think I found an inner strength that I never knew I had. I wouldn’t say I underestimated my inner toughness, but rather didn’t define inner toughness that way. I can look back on some of the things that I did during this time- including working both jobs for 70 hours in the same week, on almost no sleep, catching a severe cold in the process. Even in the lowest moment (or what felt like the lowest moment), I survived. I began standing up for myself more. I took the initiative that I probably should have taken five years ago, even two years ago, making the phone calls, taking the extra shifts, trying to salvage something out of a tough situation. I’ve had great friends along the way. My friend Emma has been a guiding light through this process, and I think it would be fair to call her an angel on my shoulder. I can say the same thing about several other friends of mine, particularly my childhood friends who either grew up in the same neighborhood or did many of the same activities. To any of you who read this, thank you for your kind words along the way, or for sitting with me and letting me pour my heart out. Even if I haven’t always been able to reach out, know that I carry you in my heart. I hope to reconnect with many of you in the near future.
I am grateful for many things- I have a job (and this is also the longest consecutive time I’ve actually been able to keep work, including school breaks and seasonal positions), my own apartment, no debt, and an amazing set of loved ones, familial or otherwise. Much like the empathy argument, I may have trouble showing it, but it’s there. Please don’t mistake aloofness for antipathy. Sometimes, it takes that extra push. I think right now, reconnecting and having my own phoenix moment is going to take a little longer than anybody anticipated.
I may have crashed, but I did not burn. Even if I have to stay down for a while, I think I am learning to pick myself back up.