I always thought of grief as the five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance (not necessarily in that order).
But what I failed to realize is that you never really get over grief. It leaves a void that can never be filled. And although you take comfort in the happy memories and the love you shared, there is an emptiness where that person was that will likely remain with you for the rest of your life.
You learn to live with it — to eventually accept it. But it is always there.
When I stood in line for my booster, I was reminded of the hope I had the last time I walked the halls of this community center – the elation I felt at the prospect of seeing and spending time with loved ones again without fear of death.
After my brother’s short-term visit last November, I didn’t see another friendly face for three months. I spent Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s alone. And while I created coping mechanisms and relied on a community of support virtually, that isolation had serious ramifications for my mental health – some of which I am probably still processing.
One of those community members who helped me through it was my 89-year-old Papaw, who’d recently discovered the wonders of gifs, emojis, and text (and who surprisingly shared a similar love of ABBA). He lost his life to COVID in September. So, as I approach this holiday season, it is hard to reconcile another winter without him.
I can’t pretend to speak for everyone’s definition of grief. But death is something I’ve thought about a lot in my short life.
I do not believe in an afterlife. But I do find comfort in the fact that those who I’ve lost are at peace – in the sense that they are not in pain anymore.
Regardless of a life spent, it always feels like they are taken too soon – that there is so much left unsaid. A life unspoken.
But then I think of all that was said. And the moments I will cherish for the rest of my life. As this Reddit post so eloquently puts it (thank you friend), the wave of grief never really disappears. And it’s better that it doesn’t. I am better for knowing them and loving them and being loved by them.
And for all the memories and moments we shared, it’s a quiet two-hour morning in early July that I remember the most. The stress of a loved one with addiction – however temporary – had just passed. And the stress of Covid – the virus that would eventually take them – has yet to pass.
It’s hard to write about things in the moment. I’ve attempted to document my thoughts and experiences throughout this pandemic. But it’s not easy to dwell on that which we already dwell too much on even if I know the writing will be therapeutic.
I’ve been the most absent from this blog this past year. When there is little life being lived, there is little, it seems, to write about. And yet this year has been tumultuous – 2021 even more so than 2020.
I did write a lot of fiction though. And I’ve had more than one story idea. I am at least thankful for that. My stories have helped me escape, and in a lot of ways, they’ve kept me going. Pandemic depression is so unlike any other depressive bouts I’ve experienced. It’s scary, too.
Fears, doubts, anxiety, loss… 2020 is not a year I’d prefer to re-live. Back when COVID-19 turned our world upside down, and it seemed we were experiencing A Westworld of Our Own, I wrote:
I think that is what I am grieving now – for the person I once was and for the possibility I once envisioned for myself. That person cannot exist in 2020. She is gone.
It is true. The person I had hoped to be in 2020 never was. But the person who came out of 2020 was a lot more whole than I gave her credit for. And that is because of people like you – family, friends, and peers.
I came out of one of the loneliest months of the year joyful and hopeful. I learned that I often feel lonelier in a crowd than I ever do alone. Routine saved my sanity. And so I start 2021 feeling loved and supported.
That was my year. Norm, my eight-year-old black and brown tabby, has his own recap. Continue reading
Last week, I was summoned for jury duty in a state I haven’t lived in for 10 years. I learned that Norm might have cancer (fortunately, it was only hypercalcemia, although that’s another long-term adventure in and of itself).
These are strange times indeed.
October is usually my favorite time of year, but for the last month, I have been drowning in low energy and apathy. The momentum is gone. And I’d like to say I’ve spent this time in isolation developing my next novel or setting up a new side hustle. But no, I can only say I’ve spent these last seven months watching a lot of tv, completing a few puzzles, and discovering some new hacks for DIY nail art.
When my mental health reached its lowest, I gravitated towards my support network and discovered they, too, were at their lowest. Nobody was going to come out of this pandemic unscathed. I felt hopeless then. But then my behavioral health training kicked in. While I could not control my external environment, I could control my internal one.
Norm and I reached a breaking point this week. Apparently, six months together is our limit. My new surround sound was the trigger.
But that being said, I know I’ve been absent from this blog for a bit. I’ve still been writing though – there is something oddly satisfying about focusing my energy on horrible time-travel fiction and dystopian romance.
I won’t lie. June and July were rough. I made it five months and 11 days without touching another human being. This wasn’t intentional. But I was unfortunate (or fortunate, depending on how you look at it) to start off the pandemic single and severely distanced from family. And given that I’m high risk, most of my friends didn’t want to put me at risk. I respect that, but it took its toll.
I’m okay now. With the summer heat index taking a dive, it’s become more plausible to see friends outdoors again. And that helps. But I’ve also come to really enjoy my “me” time. I’m going to need some serious re-training to ever be as social as I was pre-pandemic.
And by spending so much time alone, I’ve come to value certain things about myself as well as develop new coping mechanisms to survive in this new world. So, I thought I’d break my blog hiatus and share some of those fun finds with you. Continue reading
A month ago, I was planning a trip to the Caribbean.
And when that fell through, I was planning a trip to see my brother in San Francisco.
And when that was put on hold, I started planning a trip to visit my cousin in Dallas to celebrate the Kentucky Derby together.
And then the next day coronavirus (COVID-19) arrived in DC.
Today, there are 114 cases in Virginia (20 hospitalized and 2 deaths). That doesn’t seem like a lot, but that’s more than double than what we had five days ago (and this is just based on who’s been tested).
There are Two Types of Diabetes
I have Type 1 diabetes (T1D) – an autoimmune disorder in which the body no longer produces insulin, a hormone needed to digest food into energy for survival. There is no cure, and this type of diabetes cannot be changed with diet and exercise. Since I was diagnosed at 22, I’ve known that I will be stuck with diabetes for life.
This makes living a little bit different. Every day is a risk. I’m not sure people besides those with Type 1 realize that. But one wrong move, one variable unaccounted for, and my life could be in danger. It could happen that fast. It almost has. But I try not to think about that. With access to insulin and the advancement in technology and medical supplies, and a little bit of faith, I have a found a way to manage.
Diabetes and Coronavirus
Having Type 1 diabetes doesn’t necessarily make me more susceptible to catching COVID-19, but the repercussions if I do contract it are severe. Continue reading