In Pursuit of Peace

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Our Moe, with her lifelong BFF, Linda
You know, when a friend or loved one loses someone they love, my most common condolence is, "Peace to you and yours during this most difficult of times."

And for me, this is not just a platitude I say for form's sake, or because it's expected, or because I don't know what else to say. I say it because I know how very difficult it is to find peace after losing someone you love more than life itself.

After a tragedy of this sort, peace becomes as elusive as a unicorn, always just around the corner, or after the next "big" anniversary. One day I think I've found it, the very next, I'm heart-broken and grief-stricken all over again, because I glance at a photo, or I see something Moe would have liked, and my illusory "peace" blows away like the mirage it is.

Our Moe-Moe has been gone for five years today. For five years I've had this hole in my heart, in my life, in my love, where she used to be, and I still have not been able to find peace with this reality.

I'm not angry, or in denial. I know why she did what she did, and I'm not angry she made the choice, although I'm incredibly sad about it and her suffering. I know, in my heart of hearts, that she's gone, and will never come back. Given my lack of faith, I am forced to believe she really is gone, for good, and the only parts of her that remain are our memories and love for her.

Processing my grief over Moe's death has been a very different experience for me compared to the loss of other people I have loved and lost. My Dad, my Gram, my mother-in-law, my Aunties, my lost friends - all of these losses punched me in the heart, and left me bereft, but I found ways to make peace with it, and move forward. I'm even at peace with the loss of who I believed my sister to be, and the reality that she'll never be a part of my life again.

But finding peace with Moe's death appears to be beyond my reach. I remain functional most days. I enjoy time spent with friends & family. I find meaning in my volunteer work and pursue my hobbies. But my grief at her loss is still a huge part of my life. I miss her, terribly, each and every day. The loss of her and her light in this world is devastating to me, and I can't seem to find a way to be at peace with her death and all it represents.

It's not okay that she's dead. It's not okay that she's lost to those of us who loved her. It's not okay that her contribution to this world was cut so short. It never will be okay, and while I don't expect I'll ever believe it is, I wish I could find my way to peace.

A Thousand More

Saturday, July 28, 2018


The Worst Time of Year

Friday, July 27, 2018

In four days, my daughter will have been dead for five years.

I'm not sure how I feel about this at the moment. Five year anniversaries have some level of import, although not as much as the longer ones.

So I'm pensive, somewhat angry, introspective, reflective, and always, always grief-stricken.

I expect my on-line communications will reflect that state of mind for a while. Writing is sometimes my first and best way of working through this worst time of year, and I'm sure I'll work through it. I know I'm not the only one who grieves for my baby girl, and sometimes, there's comfort in that, too.

See you on the other side. 


Rules to Live By - Be Kind or Be Silent

Tuesday, July 3, 2018
You want to know why I don't post political content on social media anymore?

It brings out the worst in people. Folks who are normally civil, polite, and wouldn't dream of confronting others in a rude way in person suddenly become perfectly comfortable calling others out in public while checking their manners at the door.

It doesn't seem to matter how long the poster has known someone, what their feelings are about one another, whether or not they're family. None of it matters when someone is sitting behind a keyboard, and someone presses their particular buttons. Suddenly their manners go out the window, and they're hurtful, rude, and act like they were raised by wolves. They make the discussion personal, not realizing that such behavior only serves to isolate them from the people they care about and makes their argument null and void. After all, if I can't trust your self-discipline, judgement, and critical thinking skills when you're trying to make a political point, then why should I trust those things when we aren't talking about politics? 
I've fallen victim to this viscous circle myownself.  I would get wrapped around the axle, make unkind statements, take things personally. And you know what? I didn't like myself very much when I would fall victim to the political baiting. I don't want others to feel bad. I don't want others to make me feel bad. I want to emulate my beloved lost Auntie, who taught me through word and deed that being kind is the very best way to make a difference in this world, as long as you apply that kindness to every aspect of your life.

That doesn't mean people shouldn't be politically active, or have strong opinions about their views. That's what voting and activism is all about. But do you have to be a dick about it?

My dear cousin, whose politics are basically diametrically opposed to my own, and I have had this discussion. I love my cousin. She loves me. We don't agree on politics. I'm not going to tell her she's stupid, or lacks compassion, or a NAZI for Christ's sake.* And she doesn't make it personal with me, either. Because we love each other, and I don't believe any of those things are true, and she doesn't believe all the usual insults about liberals are true of me, either. We just disagree, and that's okay. ALL politicians, regardless if they fall on the left or the right, require a loyal opposition to ensure our Republic works the way it's supposed to. Right now, I play that role. When President Obama was President, that was her job. WAD=Working As Designed.

Remember, folks - if you're a jerk to those who do not share your political point-of-view, but polite to those on the same side of the aisle, you're still a jerk.
__________

*ACTUAL Nazis and White Supremacists are exempt from this rule. Because sometimes there really is just one side to the story.

Saying farewell to a labor of love

Thursday, June 28, 2018

I will complete 4.5 years of service to the local library as a trustee on June 30th.

I started serving on this board less than six months after Moe died. I was desperate to find a service opportunity that linked me to Moe, and service to the library seemed to fit the bill. She loved her local libraries, and used them extensively. I know she would have approved of my work, and it made it a labor of love for me, and a way to honor her memory.

However, last night, I formally resigned from the Board effective June 30th. I have a lot of feelings about this decision, and the fact that I've tied my service to the library in with my daughter's legacy and my own grief makes those feelings very confusing. 

It broke my heart to resign from this work. I love our libraries, and helping to make them among the best libraries in the country and relevant for years to come was meaningful, satisfying work. The vast majority of my Board colleagues over the years have been dedicated, intelligent, focused, and always kept the best interests of the library as their guiding principle.

But life is about conflicting priorities, and sometimes we have to choose between what we love and what we're empowered to do, if only for our own sake and our own conscience. 

I am grateful - so grateful - to have had an opportunity to serve our Library District in this way. It helped me find my center in that first, awful year after Moe died. It allowed me to contribute to my community in a way I found meaningful. It allowed me to meet some fine, decent, like-minded people, who I will continue to call "friend." And it gave me the experience I'll need to continue to serve my community in other ways.

Perhaps what touches me the most is the fact that the Library leadership team, the Library Foundation Chair, and half the Library board nominated me for Colorado Association of Libraries Outstanding Trustee Award without my knowledge. It doesn't matter to me if I win. The respect of people I respect is award enough for me, as well as the acknowledgement by good, hardworking people that I did good work, and served authentically when given the chance.


Priorities. We Haz None.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018
 
I've been trying to stay away from politics, because no good ever comes from politics on social media.

But I'm going to make an exception in this case, because the issue isn't so much a political one as a moral one.
 
I speak, of course, of the situation at our borders, where young children are being detained in cages for the crime of crossing the border with their parents. 

The Internet is inundated with false equivalency over this outrage. It was Clinton's law. Obama did it. The Republican's hands are tied. Single parents who go to jail or prison have their children put in foster care, and what's the difference? 

All of these attitudes make me want to vomit, because they DON'T FUCKING MATTER. 

Does the fact that this execrable law was enacted under a Democratic president make the suffering of these families less acute? 
 
Does the fact that a Republican president chose not to enact policy of this nature under the same set of laws mean that this travesty is less immoral, less heartless, less egregious?

Does the fact that unaccompanied minors who attempted to cross the border illegally were also detained under a Democratic president mean that putting 1st graders in cages without access to their families is less abhorrent? 

No. It does not. Those kids - and their parents - give not two shits whose "fault" it is. They don't care if self-righteous so-called Christians are justifying this atrocity because they can't bear to check their privilege and feel some compassion for brown people. They don't care if faith leaders all over the country are calling for this practice to be discontinued on moral grounds. They don't care if the perpetrators are Democrats, Republicans, or Independents. They care that their kids are being abused by the state, they care that they're scared, they care that they have no idea what will happen to them as families. 

And that's what we should care about, too. 

I'm not saying we should ignore illegal immigration. I'm not saying we shouldn't care about the integrity of our borders.
 
What I am saying that those concerns, in this specific case, should be secondary to being decent human beings, to protecting the moral integrity of our country as an institution, to being committed to preventing child abuse, not perpetrating it.
 
Why the fuck are we arguing along party lines about "who started it," and "I know you are, but what am I," and "You're a Nazi, I'm not a Nazi?" Within the context of this crisis, it's incredibly counterproductive, and leaves those children in an untenable situation while we point fingers and bitch at each other like The Real Housewives of America

What's happening at the border is immoral. It's inexcusable. It's horrifying. It's against what this country supposedly stands for. It's wrong, and no amount of false equivalency and partisan bickering is going to make it right.

So how about we, as citizens, demand our leaders rescind the policy of May 2018 directing this atrocity to occur? Can't we, as Americans, put aside our politics for one damn minute and do the right thing by these children? Can't we contact our representatives, our Senators, and demand action upon pain of losing their offices?

The bipartisan support for such action gives me hope. But these days I'm more of a disillusioned cynic than not, so I suspect the answer is "no." And our continued refusal to hold our government accountable for our country's immoral acts continues to break my heart, every minute of every day. Because our failure means that us, all of us, are complicit. To our everlasting shame.

Hello darkness, my old friend

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Sometimes it sneaks up on me. Depression, that is. Sometimes there's some sort of triggering event, like the anniversary of Moe's death, or continuous emotional stress for long periods of time. But sometimes, it just sneaks in through the cracks of my life and settles in.

I'm not really sure why this happens. If I knew, I suppose I could try and apply some sort of prophylactic behavior to head it off. But I don't, so the best I can do is try and recognize it early when it comes, and do the things I know I need to do in order to get through the episode.

Some of these things are obvious. Getting enough sleep. Trying to eat well. Getting more exercise than I normally would. Removing emotional stresses from my life to the extent possible. Attempting to keep my mind in the "now." Practicing gratitude.

But mostly it's just a waiting game. I have to wait for it to pass. This was much harder before I was diagnosed, since I had no idea why I felt so shitty all the time. But now I know, and that allows me to apply some emotional maturity and intellectual discernment to the process. I know this will pass. I know I won't always feel this way. I know when I come out the other side I won't be as emotionally raw and fragile. I know this in spite of the lies depression tells, and I know this because people who care for me tell me it's true, and I choose to believe them.

Not believing them, or believing depression's lies, leads to a dark, dark road, and many people get lost. Their depression is so overwhelming, so consuming, the only thing they can hear is the lies it tells. I'm not valuable. I can't make it on my own. People are better off without me. This is just too hard.

In spite of my occasional episodes, I am very lucky to be able to wait it out. And I'm grateful.