On life, lemonade and ladybugs.
Every February is hard. Or at least for the last five years every February has been hard. And every year, without fail, I find myself on an extraordinarily emotional roller coaster around this time and I always wonder what the hell is wrong with me. Until the moment comes when I realize what time of year it is… and then it all makes sense.
In March of 2005 I lost my father unexpectedly. In April of 2006 I lost my brother Lanny unexpectedly. In November of 2007 Lanny’s childhood best friend – who I knew since he was a kid – died unexpectedly. At Lanny’s funeral he stood up and said it should have been him in the casket. Sure enough it soon was. Heart-breaking. And in May of 2008 I lost my very dear friend Sue after an extraordinary battle against cancer. And those were just the truly monumental things.
Never mind my own breast cancer and colon cancer scares through that same period. Forget about the fact that I’m thousands of miles away from my family. We also won’t talk about the fact that several of my close friends moved away from San Francisco during this period. Or that I was trying to win in that little game called business and had co-founded and was trying to run and grow a company. Truly, the most profound things that happened to me in that four-year period were losing people who were close to me. Nothing could ever compare to the challenge of processing that level of grief. Ever.
Every year as I went through the grieving process, my friends would say God doesn’t put on your plate what you can’t handle. (God clearly didn’t check my workout history to see that I wasn’t, in fact, anywhere near ready for the strongwoman competition.) And then of course there’s the saying that goes when life hands you lemons, make lemonade. It feels like, in that four-year period of my life, perhaps God was telling me that the world needs a new lemonade corporation. In hindsight, I would have been happy to start a neighborhood stand. Actually, I would have been f*cking stoked.
The anniversaries of these deaths always have a pretty profound impact on me. And often on the people in my inner circle (which is a very small circle). For that I am very sorry. I’m sure it’s not easy to deal with me this time of year. Every year I say that I’m going to do better the next year. But then the year goes by and I find myself at this point again. Surely by now I should have learned but this year is no exception. This year I’m also going through some other things, approaching a milestone birthday, attempting to manage the millions of thoughts going through my head, all the while trying to figure out this thing called life.
And once again I’ve lost touch with the season. This afternoon I decided to get a massage in an attempt to feel a bit better. Laying on the massage table it hit me that it will be March in a couple of days and in a couple of weeks I’ll relive the day my sister called to tell me my dad had passed. And so the season of pain begins.
This year though, instead of being sad, I’m going to try to just remember the people I’ve lost in my life and focus on the good memories. I’m going to rename it the season to remember. I’m going to be thankful that I was lucky enough to have had these people in my life, regardless of whether or not I was ready to say good bye. I’m going to remember the things they taught me and I’m going to remember to tell people close to me that I care about them. Because you just never know.
I’m going to try to remind myself every day that I’ve gone through the things that I’ve gone through for a reason. I’m going to write more because writing has always been good therapy. Probably not on this blog because I’ve also learned over the past few years that not all feelings need to be shared with the world. So I just ordered a beautiful journal this afternoon and I’m hoping to get back to basics. Pen and paper.
Today when I look around me, I know that I’m surrounded by people who love me and I feel very lucky to be loved. I know that I have a good life. And I am extraordinarily grateful for that. I know that I have things that I need to work on, to be a better person for myself, and I’m going to continue to push myself to be that person. But I also know that I’m strong enough to survive the toughest challenges, even on those days when it seems impossible.
Last weekend while in Vegas I wanted to get a tattoo of a ladybug on my shoulder. Just a little one. When I told A he said, “did you know that when they land on you that’s supposed to bring good luck?” My grandmother once said that to me (and she also said freckles mean you were kissed by an angel). And I also once heard that you have to do things in three to be lucky. I can’t remember now where I heard that but it came back to me in Vegas, land of those going head to head with Lady Luck, and so I went with three ladybugs.
Wondering how this all ties together? So am I. But I’ll end on this note for now: I hope that you’re never asked to start a lemonade corporation but that when life hands you lemons you make the most kick ass glass of lemonade ever. I hope that the people who are in my life and close to me know that I love them fully and completely. But even if they do know, I’m going to tell them anyway. And I hope these ladybugs, who will now live on my shoulder forever, do their thing to carry me through the next few months. And that perhaps when I next hug the people I love, a little bit of that ladybug goodness will rub off and spread both luck and love.