For the last four weeks, I have struggled to keep my head above water.
My dad passed away after his battle with Alzheimer's and pancreatic cancer the afternoon of Father’s Day, and even though we were expecting it, it was as though someone punched me hard in my gut and knocked the wind out of me. For the next few days afterward, I felt like it took every ounce of strength I had just to breathe and put one foot in front of the other.
I’ve learned a lot about survival in the last four weeks, and let me tell you what I’ve learned about surviving, so far. These are just some very basic tools I’ve learned to use. Nothing scientific here, just what I’ve learned from “going through it.”
- SLEEP!!!!! You need to let yourself sleep when you feel the need. For a couple of days I fought it, but then it caught up with me all at once! I slept two whole days away, not consecutive, but I definitely slept! Sometimes, I simply could not keep my eyes open, and other times, I just felt like I was going to fall asleep walking across the floor! When I finally quit fighting sleep and rested as often as I needed to, I slowly stopped needing as much sleep. But, as I was reminded by more than one person, it wasn’t just Dad’s passing I was mourning, but the emptiness, and dealing with everything from the Alzheimers and cancer from the years and months and weeks beforehand that had worn my system down. My body was simply recuperating from all of that.
- WATER, H2O! I quickly realized that I forgot to drink my water. So, I just as quickly remedied that by drinking what I needed plus a little extra. With the extra hot temps here in Texas, I needed that extra water! But it wasn’t just drinking water that I needed. Very quickly and thankfully I remembered something my dear friend and co-writer, Josie Jackson, wrote in her article, "The Power of a Shower." Because I was already practicing this on a regular basis, it was that much easier to find some physical, and yes, emotional healing in the simple act of showering, 3 or 4 times a day if needed.
- FRIENDS AND FAMILY! Besides the general well wishes, messages, and cards I received from everyone, I also learned to lean on my sister friends. Some of them just listened, some comforted, and some had some great suggestions. Every one of them brought something special to my first steps on the road to healing. One of the sweetest, quite literally, was when Gloria stopped by my work one day and brought me a 12 pack of my favorite soda, SQUIRT! She said she was bringing me some squirts of happiness to get me through my sadness! Staci waited to see a movie she really wanted to see on opening day, just so I could go with her. The new Transformers was AWESOME, and when we left the theatre and were standing in the parking lot chatting after the movie, I had the strangest urge to shout ***TAWANDA*** at the top of my lungs! (if you don’t know what that is I highly recommend you rent the movie “Fried Green Tomatoes.” My friend, Josie, is a great listener and also a holistic practitioner, believe me, she was so sweet and helpful! And last, but definitely not least is my cousin Sandy. Sandy’s Dad, my Uncle Cecil, and my Dad’s older brother, also passed away just earlier this year. She was so comforting and empathetic and made a gesture so sweet that’s touched my heart so deeply. Her grandson, Chase, is creating a piece of art, similar to something we saw on Facebook that reminded us both of Dad, and my relationship with him, but Chase is making it even better. (more on that later) Needless to say, these ladies are all near and dear to my heart. I can never repay them for their kindness and comfort and my “Squirts of Happiness”!!
- UNPLUG! Yep, I said it. Unplug! Unplug from the phone, the social media, the tv, the world! There were times I simply needed to be alone. I journaled, sat outside with my coffee early in the morning (while it wasn’t 105 degrees yet!), read, prayed, meditated, and sometimes, I just sat and cried. I went to work and did the minimum of things I had to do for “real life,” and the rest of the time I allowed myself to do whatever I felt I needed to do to unplug from the world and plug into whatever I thought would help at least begin to heal the pain I felt, without justifying to anyone, or making excuses.
So there you have it, my personal prescription for survival, I call it RX: Sleep. Water. Friends and Family. and Unplug, or S.W.FF.UP. Daily Dosages are needed without fail! I’m not a DR., and I can’t guarantee 100% success. I’m still working on it— but so far, so good. And it’s way better than falling to pieces. Oh wait, I did that too, but this four part RX helped me pick up the pieces and start putting them back together quicker, and now I’m beginning to heal.