How many times do I have to start over in this life before I can finally stay on the road to somewhere?  Personal crisis that could include job loss, financial distress, divorce, and illness are all places in life that we naturally start over.  Our physical world is affected in a negative way and to survive we must find a way to make it better.
Death is like that too.
The day I labeled myself as “a horrible friend to have” was when I found out that a woman I was friends with in my 20’s had died of cancer 3 yrs prior.  We had lost touch 4 years after my divorce from my first husband and they moved to Florida about the same time.  I ran into her daughter and asked how her Mom and Dad were, and that is when “being a friend” took a little different meaning.  I felt like a schmuck.  I felt like I had no right to know anything about anything to do with her mother.  I punished myself for a long time over this.
My first husband had a friend, a very bright young man, that was a positive influence in his life.  He pushed him away constantly, saying that he really didn’t have anything in common with him and even standing him up on occasion.  This guy wanted nothing more than to be friends with my ex husband, not in an annoying way, he was far from that.  But, he needed someone in his life and felt some type of connection with him.  This person went on and let my ex husband treat him badly but in his words, “At least I have part of him, that is better than none of him and he is my best friend”.  This young man died 2 years later, in pain, lonely.  My ex husband did not go and see him, send a card, or call.
There have been deaths in my family.  All of my grandparents, three Uncles, my husband’s grandmothers, my husband’s uncles, etc.  I went to some funerals and others I created a diversion, a crisis of sorts, so I did not go.  Funerals and death have always scared me.  Not something I knew how to approach or talk about.  Death was mysterious, final, and so huge I could not wrap my arms around.
I can tell you about each funeral I have ever been to and how I felt sitting there.  Common among all of them that I actually made it to.  Sweating on the back of my neck and above my lip. Shaking but not cold. Trying to not hear any of the words being said, trying to not look at people I knew, sad and crying.  Panic. Looking for an exit but knowing I could not move.
I punish myself for this also.  For all the funerals I did not make it to because I did not want to see my family, or my husband sad, and for all the funerals I went to and did not pay attention.  Shame on me.
The earliest funeral I can remember was my Grandfather Trichka.  I was probably 10 or 12 or maybe 14? It was an open casket funeral, and we sat right across from the casket during the entire service.  I think at this moment I was absolutely scared OF death and it totally made my impression of death and funerals for future years.
One hard thing for me about funerals, is listening to all the wonderful things that person has done in life.  They are true and beautiful and should be celebrated, I have no doubt about that..but I sit and go to a place in my head where I was in the casket, and everyone was there for me, and they were listing all the things I had done in my life.  There were not many people present, they couldn’t make it, and the list was short.  There were people there to throw stones, the people I had made mad during my life.  The people I had hurt and done wrong to.  Those are the people who showed up to spit on my grave.
These are my experiences and thoughts about death outside of losing my son.  I am not listing my son’s funeral and how I felt there because I was numb.  There was no feeling, it was beyond reality and is extremely foggy to me.  I have not been to a church since my son’s funeral.  I have been mad at God and just cannot sit in a church of any kind, especially our church.  I feel tricked and duped.  I feel like God did not keep his word, he did not protect all of my babies.
So, I start over, at the beginning.  Everyday.  Trying to use experience to guide me and teach me what to do.  Some days are easier than others, while some days I have to start over in the morning, noon and night.  What keeps me from being what I want to be?  Myself.  What drives my need to be reserved and quiet in times that I should be a do-er?  Myself.  Why is it so painful to start over?
I asked the question last night on my group page, “Some say pain is a gift, what do you think?” Pain has worked inside me all my life.  If you have read through my journey, you know.  Pain is what has driven decisions and caused me to run and hide under the covers for all these years.  But, pain has been the teacher and the friend.  When I was loneliest and feeling I was the leper, pain stayed right beside me and cut deeper into my skin so I could see the totality of each situation.  Pain made me feel other emotions I never thought imaginable and scared me, watching what it drove me to do.  Pain was the liquid coming out of my eyes, and pouring out of my glands.  It filled my body and opened my mind.
I promised to be a better friend to those that were friends back to me.  I promised to get rid of the negative people who stopped me from starting over.  I am still working on this and being a grieving mother now has caused me to go back to that “not good enough” feeling in situations.  I talk myself into WHO would be present at my own funeral….listing the things I did not do or did not do well enough in life.
I try to start over all the time, with friends, family, knowing of brilliant ideas and wonderful things I could do in life. I have improved in so many ways and tried to make sure family would get together on a regular basis.  I look to my husband to be strong for me but I know he can’t always be the strong one, he is grieving too.  I have friends that have lives, and I need to be there for them also.  My kids need me.  My grandchildren need to know me.  I actually do matter to some people.  I think maybe there are actually a handful of people who would really miss me if I was gone.
My pain is the emotion inside of me that takes over and drives the bus.  Happiness and joy can turn to pain in an instant now, feeling that I am disrespecting my son and my grief.  I beat myself up for things that are ridiculous.  Grief makes things seem unreal.  Disoriented and disjointed.  It takes a while to connect the dots on simple situations and simple tasks.  In the first weeks and months there was no connection.  Today there are connections trying to fuse together and make new beginnings.  The pain cuts the connections, and the pain feeds them to grow and make new connections.
Pain IS a gift in my life.  I would not want to be an unfeeling, closed off jerk.  I could not imagine life without depth. I could not imagine loving anyone without experiencing pain along the way.  That does not mean I welcome pain and suffering and bad things happening… exactly the opposite.  I wish it would stop like anyone else.  But the pain I experience makes me who I am today and I would not change that.  Pain is a gift I did not want and I did not put on my Christmas list.  Pain is the gift that no one wants in this life and they do not want it for people they love.  It is here, and we learn from it and carry it with us.
Starting over today consists of:  a list of to-do items, trying to be the best grandma, trying to be true to myself.  I take it slow, I don’t overtask myself anymore. I do what I want to do and what feels right.  I welcome people into my life knowing there will be pain.  I try to continue to love with my whole heart, the “whole” heart that is left, after so much pain.