I am finishing up my second year of study and this has been a big year for me. I increased my work load from 3 classes per term to 4 classes. I'm studying the second level French, which is difficult at times and requires a lot of consistent practice. And to top it off, I decided that I want to change my major from English to Psychology.
I fell into a confused and stressful state for a few months. I spent a lot of time researching my options, and also had to discuss the change with the Trucker. I will require more years of school with a psychology degree. I would be subjecting my family to this limited financial situation that we are in for a longer time. I would be spending more years with homework and classes that interfere with their lives. I faced a lot of fear, and a lot of guilt.
One of my best friends lost her child in December. It is a devastating loss for all of us, though I could never pretend to imagine her pain, or her husband's. I carry a lot of guilt for not being able to be as supportive as I would like. I focused so much on how I can't help them. I became filled with my own fears about my children. My mind became filled with "What-if's" and I was distracted. I also had to come to terms with lapses in our friendship. Times I should have spent with the little guy but didn't. All the ways our friendship could have been different. I was also filled with grief, and yet I didn't feel that I had a right to feel the pain from this loss. He wasn't my child. He wasn't around us a whole lot in his 9 years. He wasn't mine, it isn't my loss. I should not grieve this much.
But I was wrong.
I was there. Maybe not enough, but I WAS there. I got to spend part of last summer with him. I was there in the hospital when he was born, I was in that short list of people who got to hold him first. His mother is my unbiological sister. We have been friends since we were 11. He is a part of me. I do have a right to grieve. I have a right to love him. I have a right to hurt.
His parents have never placed judgement or blame on me, never acted as though I wasn't part of the family. Why do I do it to myself?
So I gave in.
I cried horribly when I found out. I was in their house as soon as I found out. I've done my best to be there for them. I held my friend through the funeral services. The worst funeral I have ever attended. I thought that I had processed this loss. At least to some degree.
But I hadn't.
A little more than 3 months passed before I realized how much this little man affected me. I finally stopped my judgments, claimed him as part of me, and truly cried for his loss. I will never be the same person that I was before he was born. And I will never be the same person now that he is gone. I recognize the powerful ways that he inspires me to be a better person. I recognize that some days just seeing his smile will bring me peace. I recognize that my grief doesn't interfere with the pain of his parents. In many ways, it may help them to know that their boy will never be forgotten. That he touched so many people. Even if that does bring pain for them occasionally, it is a blessing.
I gave in.
I cried the hardest for this little boy about 2 weeks ago.
I was stressed beyond my limits. I was falling behind on schoolwork. My grades were coming in lower than I know I am capable of. I couldn't keep up to home. I forgot things for my kids. We were late every day. I was cranky, sarcastic and snippy. Very moody. Very emotional. Very unstable.
We had a few of the kid's friends over. The house was loud. Everything was too bright. My clothes felt too tight. My socks were bothering my feet. The TV was on. Youtube was playing somewhere. I reached my sensory maximum. Half way through dinner, with the TV off and no electronics on, the giggles and conversation reached a peak in my mind. Then the doorbell rang, then the phone, and I completely shut down.
I left the table, locked myself in the bathroom with the lights off. Shut out all sensory input.
I moved slow for a few days. but during this time I started to figure out where my troubles were coming from. This is when I truly let myself grieve. I gave in to the need to face the loss. I found acceptance in myself. I gave in to the guilt of extending my schooling.
And I came out of it with a thankful heart. I am allowed to feel all of my feelings. I am not being completely selfish. I am trying to make a better life for myself and my whole family and I am trying to be a better person. I am trying to find the sunshine and laugh more, as my little friend would have (He laughed so fully and often).
I found that part of my reasons for wanting to change to psychology is to allow me to help others in ways I can't now. To be the person that I needed in my darkest days. To be the person my friends have needed before and certainly need now. I can help someone else to never have to hurt as I have.
It is all connected.
Once I embraced the truth of my own heart and mind, I was able to restore my efforts in school to the levels I had before. I can do this. I will do this. I have all the right reasons behind me. My exam marks immediately jumped back up to where they were because I corrected my study habits. I recovered my equilibrium.
I can feel my pain. I can cry my tears. I can carry that little boy with me everywhere I go. I can be happy. I can treasure my family. I can take all the mess and heartache and tears with me. I can let them out, and I can carry on. I can laugh. I can be thankful.
Life is short, and that is a terrifying concept.
Life is short, and never guaranteed.
Tomorrow is not promised.
So I will do my very best to reach for the stars every single day.
I am grateful for this chance to start over and change my life.
I am grateful for the people who support me, through all my fears and doubts and worries, through all the difficult financial situations we maneuver through.
I am grateful for the people who help me when my to-do lists get too long.
I am grateful that I get to hug my children every day.
I am grateful that I had such an amazing, inspiring boy in my life, though it certainly was not long enough.
I am grateful for today.
I am committed to the direction I have chosen and I will stay this way. I will keep working towards the goals. I can thrive through darkness. I can stay focused.
Stay strong, my friends. It is okay to be scared or have doubts in life. But you must keep moving forward. Always forward.
Every day counts.