"Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage." ~Lao-tzu
Living with loss is like walking around carrying your insides in a grocery bag. Everything is exposed and all jumbled up into a big mushy bloody mess. It takes courage to walk through town or a television station or into an elementary school with all of your vital organs exposed.
The bitch of it all is that life doesn't stop for mommies. Somebody is still in charge of getting the milk and cereal and yogurt melt snacks. Everybody still needs clean underwear and socks. Some people need help understanding what is and isn't appropriate to use as a chew toy. Work doesn't stop either. Emails pile up, voicemails need to be answered. And some days I just want to stop and scream, "I am doing my level best right now!"
I know that I am mad for no reason sometimes. And I know that you didn't expect that the funny or artistic or kitschy YouTube video that you shared would make me cry. But it did. And trust me, I am as embarrassed as you are about it.
I have never been good at sad stuff. When Saylor Jayne was born, my already dysfunctional Feel Less Filter stopped working completely. I am not saying that I feel things more intensely than others, but I am saying that I do feel things. Intensely. Or maybe I just like to wallow around in my feelings like I would in an ex-boyfriend's sweatshirt on a lazy Saturday morning. Regardless, upon her arrival, I instantly became the sappy girl that cries at EVERYTHING.
When my dad died late last year, it split me even more wide open. My insides were lain out on a display table for the convenience store clerk, the pre-school teacher and once even a girl in a fitting room next to mine to see. And while it is uncomfortable, this lesson has restored my faith in the kindness of everyday people.
It looks (from the outside) like it comes easier to most people to experience a loss and bounce back fully. I have been fortunate in that I have only lost a handful of people (I do believe that dogs are people, by the way). However, the people that I have lost left a gaping hole in me.
Someone told me once that when your heart breaks, truly breaks, that the only thing that can fill those cracks is more love and compassion. There is no food or drug, no scotch or wine, no designer shoes, no pill that can fill those spaces.
Luckily, I am surrounded by loving, compassionate people. My daughter at three has a firm understanding of how loss affects people. She understands and relates to sadness in a way that belies her short time on this planet. She has also experienced the loss of "grandpa going to the moon and the stars." And while we read our children's books about loss, we both get a little bit stronger. She wipes my tears away as we read The Giving Tree. And I think that she understands life more than I can imagine or she can articulate.
All of these reasons are why I love that above quote. Becoming a mom and losing my father has given me more courage and strength than I could have ever imagined. I am so lucky to have so much beauty and love in my life. If feeling more means I cry at awkward times, I guess I will also just have to feel a little more grateful for all of the inherent beauty that is to pass through life.