Our writing class was given an assignment for the past week and the prompt was “It’s About Time”. I took a poetic license and changed my title here. I am proud of this piece, I received great feedback on it and my instructor said, “This is the best thing you have written and when someone cries reading their story, it is a good story.”
Twenty-three years ago, at exactly this time of the year, I was caught up in the frenzy of planning my wedding, our wedding. The countdown was on, my list was still long with hotel reservations for guests to be confirmed, a caterer to speak with, and the florist, who kept calling to say the Lilies I wanted to be woven into an archway were becoming impossible to find. We still needed to have a cake tasting, I wanted a refreshing lemon chiffon, and he wanted a rich deep chocolate cake. We compromised.
I had designed a cake with 3 separate layers. It was a red, white, and blue-themed wedding coinciding with the 4th of July and each layer had a different topping. One had beautiful fresh-picked blueberries, another was topped with luscious succulent ripe strawberries, and the third remained white with real white rosebuds cascading down half of it. Under the frostings and toppings were a lemon chiffon cake, a dark rich deep chocolate cake, and a sweet white cake, all mouth-watering delights from a top baker in downtown Chicago.
The list was longer however these are the things that decorate my memories every year. In other years we would sit back and laugh at how we did not believe it would all come together. It did though and we would get the album out and go through it for proof.
Now the album sits on a shelf in my closet and I go through it alone with alternating smiles and tears. This is the 5th year of processing the feelings of now standing alone in life. I find myself wishing I could sleep through the days and wake on July 2, with my memories put to rest and move forward into another year.
This is when I begin again. I return to my normal routine as I fit in everything that I need to do for the coming year and I gear myself up to face the reality of it all.
I sit here now and wonder, “What do I do first?” as I wait for the coffee to kick in and I look at my whiteboard and say to myself, “It will all come together, you will be fine.” I always have detours but at last, I can rise to handle them.
I hold my hot cup of coffee in my hand as take in the deep aroma of fresh ground beans turned into a magic brew designed to propel me forward in my thinking and I know there will be challenges to take on in my life. I am a creature of making lists, and the lists I have on my whiteboard often need to be pared down.
I will ease through some of them and at other times I will crash, drop and roll. We are all living amid confusion about life, about our peace, and about our futures.
Many of us are grieving. We are all experiencing change and loss. Before this planet changed so drastically though I had reached the 5th state of grief, acceptance.
The peaks and valleys of my own grief wilderness had softened. I no longer scraped my body as I walked among the sharp rocks. When triggered by a memory, I no longer scraped my knees if I fell into a crevice. The sharp edges had disappeared and I found myself smiling more and feeling my late husband’s very existence around me cheering me on in life.
When our planet changed with the pandemic, I went through all five stages again. This time it was as if I could zip line through them. I came to the end and the acceptance of it all. I now had experience in facing what had to be faced.
Fighting every piece of advice I had been given only delayed getting through it. Acceptance is not about giving in; it is about changing what and where we are now. This is what can propel us into a softer landing place as we zip line through it all.
We don’t have to like it, but grief happens. It does take time to wrap our heads around it. I learned once we accept, we begin to plan, we begin to dream again, we start doing things albeit in a different manner and the sun still rises and sets.
Life is all about our length of time on this planet and what we do with it. This July I begin my 6th year of not having someone to disagree with me about the flavor of the cake as I smile and remember the happiest day of my life.