The past year has been the most difficult of our lives. By far. 1994-96 was rough, 2007 and 2010 were tough, but 2014 takes the cake. Losing Maggie is, of course, is the defining moment of this year and of our lives to date. But it came amidst so much other turmoil...
Steve's dad was ill and in and out of the hospital and finally had to go into assisted living. Steve hurt himself caring for his dad and needed surgery. Tim was in a terrible car accident on Memorial Weekend but was fortunate to come through it with only a slight concussion. And then Brisco the 16 year old wonder dog -- who spent every single night from the time Maggie went into the hospital sleeping at the doorway of her room -- suddenly died on 4th of July weekend. (I really don't care for Holiday weekends this year)
Steve and his siblings made the difficult decision to sell their parents hours and spent the summer cleaning it out and getting it ready to sell. That was very emotional for all and they did an incredible amount of work. But we marveled at their cousin Russ who did an amazing makeover to that house and got it ready to sell. It sold in a flash and now Steve, his brother and sister can focus on what their dad needs and wants instead of worrying about the house and the things in it.
It wasn't like we cornered the market on sadness either. Other family members had scary illnesses and one of my cousins died suddenly of a heart attack. Maggie's friend Tyre passed away making us so very sad again.
To have all these things happen in a single year is incredible. Of course, when you are already in sadness and grief, as we are, it is easy to see all the dark things. It is harder to find the joy.
The best description I can give for grief is heaviness. It feels like a weight is on your shoulders and in your arms and gravity is working at double strength. All of these other things add to that heaviness and we found ourselves trudging along. We needed some lightness to balance out the heaviness.
The easiest thing to do is to climb into bed and pull the blankets up over your head. But you can't do that. You have to go on. You have to. If you don't, the sadness and darkness wins. You can't stay mired in sadness forever. You have to move forward. It is incredibly difficult, but you have to make yourself do it. You have to find some sort of joy however you can or you will be stuck.
At first you don't want to. It feels like a betrayal. You are supposed to be sad. Losing Maggie is worth being sad about. It is. And I will be sad about that for the rest of my life, but I cannot live in constant sadness. After so many months, I know we have to let in a little bit more light. I also know I am not betraying Maggie. She was the definition of joy and I honor her more by adopting her way of thinking.
So we went on a search for lightness and joy. We took an amazing trip to London and Ireland. We saw so much beauty and met so many kind people that we walked a little lighter for a while. Then we came home and back to reality, and the heaviness was waiting for us. But now we know that the lightness is possible and continue to look for it wherever we can find it -- and that's not a bad way to go through life. We went to a wedding at the end of September that was so filled with joy that it carried us for days. If we can find a few more things like that we will eventually find our balance.
We took another step toward happy on Saturday. We adopted a dog. She's a year old border collie/lab mix full of energy and life. Her name is Georgie and she's a beauty.
Big Dog Rescue with the intention of getting a different dog, but that dog wasn't a fit for us. He was sort of sad and mopey. We didn't discuss it, but we both knew that wasn't the dog for us. We needed happy. Georgie is energetic and needs walks and wants the tennis ball thrown 1000 times a day. She is hilarious and will get us out of the house and into the park more often.
Lots more joy in the park. And it's easier to find if I'm out looking for it.