In My House

Lost, Have, Do

Like almost everyone in the world right now, I feel like 2020 has been a year of loss. I lost my two grandmothers in January and February. I barely had a moment to pick myself off the ground before major changes started happening due to COVID-19. It is difficult to process everything that is happening, and I certainly have almost no answers about anything. Still, I’m sharing what I have been doing to cope. I am mourning what I lost, appreciating what I have, and doing what I can do. I hope that when we are on the other side of all this, we will have a newfound grateful spirit and our priorities better in line.

Alaska 2019 (97)

Lost…
I think it is important to keep a positive outlook, but I find it impossible to do that without first acknowledging the pain of this ordeal. It’s OK to be scared, angry, and disappointed. Sometimes the losses are super major and painful, like that of a beloved grandparent. Sometimes they’re more on the petty-side like canceled travel plans. Acknowledging the disappointment of the minor losses is important, too. It’s OK that high school seniors are bummed out about missing prom and graduation, and they don’t need older generations diminishing that feeling.

Have…
For many of us, what we do still have has tremendous capability to overshadow the painful part. I have an amazing husband, two wonderful daughters, and a schnauzer who sleeps on my legs every night. I have books and now more time to read them. I work with tremendously smart, brave, and caring people in the health care field. We all still have sunsets, the smell of rain, fresh-brewed coffee (if that’s your thing), and heavy metal music (that’s mine).

Do…
There are few things I feel in control of right now, but I have a short list of positive actions to keep me in the right frame of mind in the coming weeks. They are:

• Send at least two hand-written notes a week.
• Try to laugh every day.
• Spend at least 15 minutes a day reading something positive, funny, or enlightening.
• Remind myself daily that this won’t be forever.
• Find ways to continue regular runs despite the gym being closed and weather being questionable.
• Pray, pray, pray.
• Hydrate.
• Love my husband and daughters with a new-found appreciation.
• Stop all media after 7 p.m. (Advice from one of the aforementioned super smart doctors with whom I work.) Instead of scrolling through CNN right before bed, watch a movie with my husband, read to my children, or even catch up on DVR’d Jeopardy episodes.

Adventures

When It Feels Like Our Loss Defines Us

A few weeks ago I did something I never thought I’d do. I had the words “Love You” tattooed on my left wrist. I also, quite suddenly, faced something I never wanted to face: Both of my grandmothers died within 18 days of one another.

We have been launched into something new against our will. I’m 36 years old and for the first time in my life I have no grandparents. My parents, for the first time in their lives, have no parents of their own still on Earth.

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Right now it feels like these losses are defining my life. Getting myself and two tiny humans ready for multiple funerals, memorial services, and burials has taken it all out of me. In work meetings my mind drifts to the call I answered from my mom telling me my grandma was gone; and then to the call 18 days later from my dad telling me my grandma was gone.

I am realizing that it’s OK to not totally be OK. No one is expecting me to be. I don’t really know what I should be doing. So, what I am doing is: Turning to my friends, trying to prioritize getting good sleep, praying, running regularly, reading a lot, watching my dear daughters play oblivious to what a real and major loss really means, and clinging to my amazingly strong and calm husband.

The tattoo is the handwriting of my Grandma Mary taken directly off the card she gave me on my wedding day, but also how she signed everything to me in the 36 wonderful years I had her in my life. She was A HOUSE WITH CHARACTER’S most loyal reader and commenter. So that’s why I’m back on here, posting about her, posting about pain, loss, and, at least a little bit of hope.

These losses don’t define me, but the love my grandmothers shared with me and my family does. That is a legacy of love that will live on in me, my daughters, and those who come after us. The loss doesn’t define us. The memories do.