22 June 2013

When they vanish...

"A happy love is a single story, a disintegrating one is two or more competing, conflicting versions, and a disintegrated one lies at your feed like a shattered mirror, each shard reflecting a different story, that it was wonderful, that it was terrible, if only this had, if only that hadn't. The stories don't fit back together, and it's the end of stories, those devices we carry like shells and shields and blinkers and occasionally maps and compasses. The people close to you become mirrors and journals in which you record your history, the instruments that help you know yourself and remember yourself, and you do the same for them. When they vanish so does the use, the appreciation, the understanding of those small anecdotes, catchphrases, jokes: they become a book slammed shut or burnt."

-Rebecca Solnit in The Field Guide to Getting Lost

15 June 2013

Clear Eyes and My Grandmother

My grandmother, my mama, and me. 

June 15th. It has been on year since my grandmother passed from a swift and relentless bout with throat cancer. Those several months, last spring and summer, that we watched her suffer were some of the most trying of my life. As many of you know, my mama and my grandmother are two of my favorite people in the world.

When I woke up this morning, I felt the weight of the loss. Initially, I wanted to crawl into a hole and disappear for the rest of the day. I also wanted to get rip roarin' drunk and forget. I just wanted to give up on today and let the sadness overwhelm me. In the past, this has been my way of dealing with traumatic life experiences. 

In the year before her death, my grandmother expressed her concern for me. She had heard through my mom about some of the difficulties I was having. She knew that I was drinking heavily. I remember her telling me, "I worry about you. I really wish you would quit that drinking stuff." See, my grandmother struggled for most of her life with alcoholism. She finally quit much later in life, but she knew the troubles that came along with looking to alcohol for the answers. However, it wouldn't be until a few months after her death that I evaluated my own consumption and made some very tough decisions. Today marks 9 months that I made a choice to live a mostly sober life. I say mostly, because, well, I still like to drink when I'm out with friends or at a baseball game. But there is a gulf of difference between how I use to drink and how I drink now. And in the end, it took my mother and my grandmother for me to be able to see that I wanted to live my life, not run from it or hide from it in the bottle. 

So today, instead of honoring my grandmother by trying to forget, I woke up early, worked on my dissertation, made healthy emotional choices, exercised for an hour, drank my green juice, and thought about the amazing woman I had the pleasure of having in my life. And to live every moment of it today with her in my heart and my mind.