Despite my feeble attempt to sweep my life’s challenges under the proverbial rug, now that the hustle and bustle of Halloween costume-making has ended (and yes, my granddaughter was the cutest Boo from Monsters Inc. you’ll ever see), it’s time for me to face reality.
Painfully aware that I have been delinquent in my social media efforts (mainly because my site has been up and down like a yo-yo for two weeks), I endeavoured to get back on that horse Monday morning, when I found myself wide awake an hour before I was due to rise. My attention though, was caught by a blog written by Jaclyn Colville—a blog that I felt was a well-needed shot in my arm. You see, not only was I up to my earlobes in costume parts for the past month, I have also been up to my eyeballs in some challenges that life has decided to toss haphazardly in my family’s direction. So much so, that I found myself feeling weak in the knees as I put on a brave front for my daughter, extended family, and colleagues—only my husband was privy to my emotional hiccups (AKA—meltdowns).
I bookmarked Jaclyn’s blog and decided that I would read it during my commute that morning. Lovingly and respectfully, Jaclyn wrote a blog about her colleague, mentor, friend, and “sister”—Nicola Jones from CHCH. Being new-ish to Ontario, and not being much of a TV watcher, I was not familiar with Nicola, but I remembered hearing something of her passing last year. What struck me most as I skimmed through the story was the fact that Nicola was three years younger than me, and seemed to be living her life far more “out loud” than I had ever even attempted.
I rewound my “skimming” and started at the beginning of Jaclyn’s story, allowing her words to embrace me this time. I felt emotion well-up inside of me as I attempted to understand exactly how deep her loss must feel; as well as digest how such a vibrant woman was taken from this earth. The other emotion I felt was the pang of envy over what seemed to be a loving connection between two women—a friendship and bond that I have yet to experience in my life.
As my husband and I exchanged our usual goodbye kisses at the side door of my office building, I wondered if he noticed that my lips lingered on his just a little bit longer. How I breathed him in just a little bit more before starting my day. Nicola Jones was responsible for that moment of gratitude. Nicola caused me to pause and put my life’s challenges into perspective. Nicola reminded me that I am blessed.
An hour into my day, I received a call from a man at our office in my hometown of Vancouver—he was distraught, yet composed. We had never spoken before, so I was a little reserved as he stammered to the point of his call. He was unselfishly reaching out to me in the hopes that I could assist with getting information to the wife of a colleague of ours who had just passed away while travelling. Like Jaclyn, he too had just lost his mentor.
I did my very best to be professional and compassionate, but I could feel myself welling up with emotion. Exactly one week prior, that man stood at my desk alive and well. Although it was the first time we’d ever met in person, our telephone and email dealings had spanned more than two years. He was a firecracker—passionate, and always a pleasure to deal with. As he wrapped up his business at our office (before heading back to Vancouver), he asked for my assistance with an upcoming workshop—for which I diligently began the preliminary planning for his return in December.
He was just here. He was just right in front of me.
As a professional, I must put aside my “human” feelings, and be the rock that everyone expects of me—I would cry when I got home.
Why would I cry when I only met him in person once?
My tears would come from feelings of guilt at being blessed with an amazing family and good health.
My tears would come from feelings of guilt that his wife and two sons would never get to breathe him in again.
My tears would come from feelings of guilt that neither he, nor Nicola Jones, would ever get to wear the proud title of “grandparent” like I do.
That evening, as I put some items away in our bedroom wardrobe, my husband’s cologne wafted out and found its way to my senses. I stood frozen. I breathed it in and began to cry.
At dinner that night (the one my husband lovingly prepared), I stared at him a little bit longer. I studied the lines on his face—the markers of his life and accomplishments. After the meal, I sat down beside him, kissed his soft lips, stroked his muscular arm, and buried my nose into the nape of his neck. I breathed him in and began to cry.
The challenges I’m facing in my life right now are conquerable—I know that. I’ve always known that. But in a moment of weakness, I allowed myself to be filled with self-pity. I allowed myself to be human.
Thanks to the memory of people like Nicola and my colleague, I am, once again, reminded that it is my responsibility to breathe in every second of the life I have been given. I am reminded that the challenges I’m facing mean that I am alive. I am present. I have the body and mind to get feisty and fight for the future I want.
It is certainly okay to be human, but I hope you can take a moment to breathe in your life, put your challenges into perspective, and be grateful for any of the muck and mire that might be tossed in your direction.
If you can’t do it for yourself, then do it for those who no longer have that opportunity—those who would dearly love to put their challenges into perspective just one more time.