I’m grateful I allow myself to process my emotions through writing, to become an observer of my story, and to be courageous enough to allow others to read my thought processes. I’m grateful my writing resonates with some and I’m also grateful for those who challenge my ideas because that’s when true learning and healing occurs.
I wrote a blog on Thursday titled Trauma: A Eulogy. In that blog I processed what is never said at funeral services because most people don’t want to say things that may disrespect the dead. I bring up some important topics that were never discussed in my family which I wish could have healed the riff that came between us. As my daughters and I talked about their shared memories of their grand-uncle, they sensed his love, but his unpredictability and reactiveness caused them to fear him. As hard as it was, I’m grateful my ex and I did hold boundaries to protect our girls.
I’m also grateful for my uncle. He never once forgot a birthday or Christmas, always sending presents and cards to my girls. Every year he would double check to make sure he had the address correct since I had moved numerous times. He always included my ex, even after the divorce, asking me to have the girls send a card home to their mom (he would rather send everything to one address than two). He always left the funniest messages when he called me, telling and laughing at his own jokes. He had a corny sense of humor that I could relate to, because, I have it as well. I will never forget his 40th birthday party with all of our extended family members and watching his reactions to the joke gifts he received.
I’m grateful for my uncle’s love of nature and the wilderness, who shared his passion when he used to live on a preserve. I loved his dog when I was little boy, part German Shepard part coyote, who was one of the smartest dogs I’ve known. I saw first hand how a dog is man’s best friend. His dog never left his side and always responded to his commands; they were inseparable.
I’m grateful my uncle loved as much as he did, especially my two daughters. He loved them as if they were his own; you could see the twinkle in his eyes when he asked about them. I’m also grateful for his enthusiasm about my career and where my life was taking me. He was so happy and encouraging with the way my life had turned out. I’m also grateful for his support through my divorce, never once shaming me, lecturing me, or thinking poorly because of how things worked out. He wanted the best for me, had prayed that my ex and I would reconcile, and yet never turned his back on either of us because we didn’t.
I’m grateful that one of the fondest father/daughter memories my girls and I have was almost four years ago, where at our family cabin they did a complete makeover on Dad, including painting fingernails, makeup, and eye liner (which freaked Dad out who doesn’t like anything touching his eyes and cracked them up even more). We then danced on the bed to music acting silly and laughing so hard. What made this evening much more fun and memorable was that my uncle slept on the porch outside the cabin and we were trying to be as quiet as possible, yet completely failing at it. We feared we’d accidentally wake up and cause an angry reaction, so I’m really grateful my uncle’s a heavy sleeper because we were doing things that were definitely not allowed in my family!
I’m grateful my girlfriend suggested I call and ask the ICU nurse if I could talk with my uncle. I’m so glad I took the opportunity to listen to her. As I think about it, I feel pain and sadness well up inside of me. Much of that has to do with gratitude that I was able to say goodbye. In fact, I gave him permission to go and let him know he was loved. Deep down, I feel as if he heard me and truly didn’t pass thinking he died alone. I believe the brief acknowledgment of understanding his humanity and the struggles he had in life coupled with letting him know he was loved and it was ok to reunite with his parents and sister, allowed him to leave this world in peace. At the very least, I’m grateful this one simple act and having the opportunity to do it, has given me the peace I needed to let him go.
Speaking of peace, rest in peace Uncle Jack.
I’m grateful for my talk with my older daughter as she suggested I ask for a couple days off work to process the death of my uncle. I’m grateful I took her advice and that my company is so supportive of their employees, even calling me the next day to “check in” and see how I was managing. I’m grateful that I put aside my list of things to do and just chilled. I watched movies, shows, did cross-stitch, blogged, and plan to spend the day watching the Super Bowl. I’m grateful that one of those shows was finishing the last five episodes of The Haunting of Bly Manor with my youngest daughter. I had much needed “me time” without allowing the stress of housework and errands keep me distracted.
I’m grateful for spending Monday and Tuesday morning doing yoga in Hawaii just before the sun rose, listening to the hundreds of birds having multiple conversations with each other all at once. I’m grateful gyms in the hotels were open so I could get some much needed weight lifting accomplished. I’m grateful that at the beginning of the week I got more exercise than normal and yet, towards the end of the week, when I allowed sugar cravings to take over aware that it was due to processing loss and grief, I didn’t place a bunch of guilt and shame upon myself for taking a break from my eating plan.
I’m grateful my roommate has made a ton of relatively healthy food for Super Bowl; jalapeno poppers, pork taquitos, carrots and celery, and air fried chicken wings. I’m grateful my girls have decided to come hang out even though they don’t like watching football. I’m not much of a football fan myself, yet I’m grateful I’m taking the time to hang out with my roomies and be present rather than keep myself busy doing other things.
I’m grateful for meeting with my Accountability Pod and discussing grief. I’m glad this happened a few hours before I heard about my uncle. I’m also grateful I read C.S. Lewis book A Grief Observed prior to that meeting, which helped with some of the emotions I was dealing with once I heard my uncle was in intensive care. And I’m so grateful I had yoga to help me process my uncle’s passing.
I’m grateful for the kind words that were said by a few in my writing group when we discussed our work and how shameful and judgmental sex addiction is still viewed as. One had said she wished more men would be vulnerable like I am, that addiction is addiction, and had she understood more about sex addiction she may have seen her father in a different light; that he would be so much of an asshole in her eyes. I’m also grateful for my Saturday men’s meeting, my subsequent walk with Rafiki, and learning how far photography technology has come; he sent me some amazing pictures he had taken on our walk.
While this has definitely been a tough week, I’m grateful for all the things I’ve learned over the years that have helped me get through it.