All posts by clp3367

Love is a four-legged word.

Phew…this has been the blog post I have dreaded writing the most.

Where we last left off – I had fractured my left ankle on June 11 in the middle of an obstacle course run and it threw me off of my half-marathon training (until August 2, to be exact); then, a little less than a month later, I lost my dad on the Fourth of July.

In the 2 1/2 weeks that followed my dad’s passing, I slowly got back on my feet. Friends and family were there to support me endlessly; and I had the constant love of my furbaby, Tappy. Anytime I needed to cry or just lay in bed, she was there for me without hesitation, giving me kisses and comforting me with her cuddles.

Sadly, July just had to be the month from Hell, and my furbaby was taken from me too soon.

Losing a parent is hard. Losing a dog is also hard (I have lost 2 in my lifetime). Losing my dad, followed by my dog 18 days later, was probably the hardest thing I have faced so far in my life.

Tappy was more than just a pet. She was my family; my baby. I took care of her for over 5 years, and it was not enough time. Those 5 years were the best years of my life with her; she was able to comfort me through some terrible losses in that time, and add an immense amount of joy to my world. Her constant love and companionship was something I relied on daily; that’s why I think losing her really sent me over the edge in a way that losing my dad didn’t quite do. When you are so used to taking care of a pet, used to them being in your home 24/7, used to feeling their presence constantly….it is something that does not disappear overnight.

I felt constantly lost. I hated coming home to my apartment knowing full-well that she would not be there to greet me with her beautiful face, her goofy whine, her silly running sprees, and her unending amount of kisses/cuddles. I cried myself to sleep nightly, and hated the thought of living in a world where she wasn’t present. It is still a thought that troubles me, to be truthful.

I will not go into details about her passing; it is something that haunts me, and will continue to haunt me for the rest of my life. All I can say is that on that day, I was able to be with her as she crossed that rainbow bridge, and I am grateful that she was in her home with her mama.

The amount of love my little dog gave to me is something I cannot put into words. Sitting here reflecting on it and trying to think of a way to describe her….I simply cannot. If you knew Tappy, however, you know exactly what I mean.

Part of an exercise I was assigned in therapy was to write Tappy a goodbye letter. Last week, I was able to accomplish that, and read it out loud with her collar in the room. It was cathartic; it was emotional; it was bittersweet.

I do not want to fully disclose the contents of my goodbye to her – I feel that it is something deeply personal and it is something I would rather cherish with her (and my therapist…and probably my mother). To quickly summarize, however, I recounted the story of how my best friend and I went to the shelter and that the day I found her I knew I had to have her. She was the answer to a prayer I didn’t even know I had, and she was exactly what I needed in my life. In my letter, I wrote some of my favorite memories and aspects about her, and I let her know just how much she meant to me.

I lost the furry half of my heart the day I lost Tappy. Reflecting upon the month of July is painful for me – I lost 2 huge parts of my life in less than a month. Still, every day can be a struggle; I cry at random times in the day when a memory hits me. Sometimes I will laugh and be so happy, and it is incredulous to me that in those moments I can forget how much pain I am still in.

They say time is the best healer – I suppose I’m learning that this is true. It’s a really hard truth to face; but slowly and surely, I am facing it. Through her short nearly-5 1/2 year life with me, she gave me enough love and affection to last for years to come. It just still feels like I was prematurely robbed of the opportunity to experience her love and her presence in my life for a few more years to come.

Tappy Lou…you will always have my heart. I cannot wait to see you when I cross over to the other side – I know that you, Gracie and Groucho will all be waiting there for me, tails wagging and ready to greet me with open paws.

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No Fourth of July has ever burned so brightly.

It’s been 3 long months since I’ve posted. In reality, what I’ve gone through the past couple of months is something that most people go through in a much longer time period. I haven’t felt much like sharing, or bringing everything out in the open, but now I feel ready. First I will start with the first of my 3 largest life-changing events of this year (of my life, really).

I woke up on July 4 expecting it to be an ordinary day. I woke up early to go get my run packet for the Four on the Fourth 4-mile run I had signed up to do. Sadly, I was still in a walking boot for my ankle and couldn’t compete in the race, so I had to change my entry to a virtual entry to be completed at a later date…oh, by the way – I fractured my left ankle doing an obstacle course 10 days after my last blog post. So, really, I guess 4 major events have happened since I last updated. Whoops. Regardless, just tack that on to the list…

Anyway. I came home from picking up my packet and editing my race entry, and really wanted to take a nap prior to working some holiday hours from home. For some reason, I just really couldn’t sleep..kept feeling disturbed. In hindsight, I’m very aware why.

I woke from a slight doze to my boyfriend telling me I needed to call my mom right away. Immediately I knew something was wrong. I called her, and the words, “Calli, I’m sorry, but your dad passed away this morning,” came out of her mouth. My whole world was rocked.

How did this happen? How on earth did a day that started off relatively normally so quickly become derailed? I laid on my couch sobbing, howling in a way I have never heard myself yell before. With Tappy licking me and cuddling me, and with my boyfriend rubbing my back, there was still no consolation – nothing in the world could bring him back.

My dad had been sick off and on for 10 years; he was a fighter, and he just never gave up. Through the countless hospital stays, rehabilitation center stays, medication, procedures, etc…he endured. So, in reality, his passing wasn’t a complete shock. However, it’s because of how much of a trooper he was, how long he kept fighting, that it really was still a shock. How could something I had been preparing myself mentally for for so long still come as such a surprise?

There is absolutely nothing in this world that can prepare you for that phone call; prepare you for the flood of emotions that overcome you.

I was 26 years old, and I had lost my father.

No girl my age (or younger) should ever have to go through the process of losing a parent so young. Losing a parent is inevitable; it is a natural part of life. Losing a parent so early, however, is not something anyone should have to endure.

Gone were my hopes of having a man someday ask him for my hand in marriage; gone were my hopes of having my daddy walk me down the aisle; gone were my visions of him dancing with me at my wedding to “Butterfly Kisses”, which had been our song since I was 6 years old. Gone were so many hopes and dreams I had of him being present in my life; things I don’t even know that are yet to come, that he will miss because he is on the other side of this life.

To say that my dad and I had the perfect relationship would be a stretch. When he and my mom separated in high school, our relationship suffered a bit of a strain. However, through time, we had repaired old wounds. I didn’t talk to him daily, or see him nearly as much as I wish I had. So many regrets when it comes to our relationship the past few years. But, there wasn’t ever any doubt, I loved my daddy and he loved his baby girl.

He left this world fighting; he left this world after having given so much of his time and energy helping others, and giving me so many examples of what a true man is. He worked so hard, loved to have fun, gave so much to others, and refused to fully quit anything.

There are many memories I have of my dad that I will cherish forever. The purpose of this blog entry isn’t necessarily to reminisce, however, but to focus on my path of healing and moving forward.

In the past few months, I have learned that life is truly short. You can never really count on tomorrow coming; it is best to say what you feel and cherish what you have while you have it. There’s unfortunately no other lesson that teaches this better than death.

It’s poetic that my dad passed away on his favorite holiday; the Fourth of July was always his favorite time of year. He loved hanging out down at our beach, grilling and smoking meats, shooting off fireworks, and spending quality time with family and friends. That is how I choose to remember him – smiling, laughing, and shining radiantly like a firework that inevitably had to burn out. Now, every time I see a fireworks display, I know he is with me.

There is no doubt in my mind that I will see my dad again someday. When that day comes, who is to say – but I will be very glad to see him, whenever that may be.

In closing, I would also like to add that were it not for such an amazing support system in my life, I would not have been able to fight through this. Though this is just one of the three major events I have experienced in these past couple of months, this was definitely a hard one to process. My family and friends were so supportive and helpful in this time, and I just hope they truly know it did not go unnoticed.

RIP, daddy. I love you so much.

So long, Facebook

You know it’s sad when you have to write a blog post commemorating the day you’re deleting your Facebook for good (well…that’s the ultimate goal, anyway..we’ll see).

I don’t know what’s more impressive; the fact that I was the first of 5 people at my high school to sign up for Facebook, or the fact that it’s taken me 12 years to delete it.

Sure, off and on we’ve all had moments where Facebook or any other social media account has irritated us to no end. But it’s almost pathetic how much of a choke-hold it has over people that use it, whether or not they realize it.

If I were to count the number of hours I’ve spent staring at the computer/phone screen, scrolling through an endless number of meaningless posts, it would probably appall me. Would it add up to weeks? Months, even? Probably.

Sure, I’ve come to this realization partially every once in awhile, and I’ve deleted my account a couple of times for Lent or for some other challenge. But, like an addict, I eventually come crawling back and get in the habit of wasting away my days constantly checking for notifications.

Seriously.  How freaking sad?!

Not to mention, over the years I have found less and less enjoyment with Facebook. Don’t get me wrong – it is AWESOME seeing photos and posts on some of the milestones my friends and acquaintances have reached, such as graduations, engagements, marriages, new homes, children, etc.; but the more and more that I see of these posts, the more I find myself comparing my life to theirs, and wondering how I measure up to those around me.

Yes. I know this is stupid and unhealthy.

But I know I’m not alone. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I have heard people complain of the kinds of things that come up in their newsfeed and how sick people are of seeing/reading certain things, feeling inadequate to those that seem to have the picture-perfect life on their social media pages. Not to MENTION the sheer amount of daily political arguments that continue to threaten everyone’s sanity…

Frankly, it’s just all finally getting old.

I’m realizing that I have spent way too much screen time and way too little face-to-face time with my friends, family, etc. Sadly I have learned this lesson a little too late, and I can’t really take any of it back. What I can do, however, is start to make a change for the better.

So, for all of the above reasons and more, I am finally quitting Facebook.

It really feels so freeing to say.

Yes, I will be keeping my Instagram – because I do love photos. I have phone numbers for the people that I want to keep in contact with, and I am hoping that this helps me to actually communicate better rather than relying on Facebook to keep in touch with the people I care about.

For those of you that think I’m crazy – well, we’ll see how happy I am  when I’m not feeling bound by the chains of social media and the expectations of keeping up appearances online. I am hoping to truly focus on the people that matter in this life, and not have to worry about pleasing anyone but myself.

Anger after death.

I’m just going to jump right into this one.

I’ve been struggling off and on with quite a few things lately; one of the main ones being that, nearly 2 years after my grandmother passed away, her estate was finally settled in the most drug-out, slap-in-the-face way possible.

Kind of hard to explain, really; a long story full of secrets and betrayal with an extremely sad ending.

For the past 2 months I have had a few boxes of my grandma’s personal belongings sitting in my apartment. With circumstances, and the way things ended, my emotions were too high for me to really care to start going through them.

Around the end of January I finally started to go through them. They’ve been taking up space in my guest bedroom, being the literally huge elephant in the room that I can’t ignore, but kept trying to. As I started going through them, however, there were so many things I discovered even by just going through one full box that I didn’t even know how to comprehend.

I saw a side of my grandma in photos that I didn’t even know existed; a model, a dancer, a party animal; a beautiful yet wounded person. I saw a life full of memories and wonderful experiences – raising a family, vacations, boating, etc. I saw words written to her by friends and family members through the years about the kind of person she was, the character she had, the great relationships she had built.

It made me happy, sad…and angry. I was deeply hurt that I never truly got to know her. It made me mad that I never had a relationship where we shared much. It was more surface-level; she was a relatively stiff woman, yet here I am reading all of these kind and beautiful sentiments written about her by other people close to her.

Not only did I see a side of my grandma that I didn’t know, but my grandfather, too. He passed away when I was very young – my first grandparent to pass away, actually. I didn’t get the opportunity to know him as well as I could’ve, but he lived until I was 11 and was one of my favorite men in the whole world. He considered me to be the “light of his life,” the “prettiest girl in Kansas City,” and other wonderful things. He was so loving and kind, had such a loud boisterous laugh, gave wonderful hugs and kisses. Of course, at age 11, you don’t get to experience a lot of the depth of a human being. It’s as you grow older and mature that you truly get to know a person for who they are.

His relationship with my grandma, his life before me – none of these things are things I got to learn about from him before he died. And, of course, I didn’t ask my grandma about their relationship, or about her life before me, either – it was all kind of a taboo subject. Much of what I learned about them was either after they had passed, or things I learned that I wasn’t really supposed to know or talk about. Kind of hard to get to know people that way, agree?

I could go on and on for quite awhile about the crazy dynamics of that side of my family; basically this entry is to share my experience. Dealing with death is hard enough; learning things about people after the fact makes you feel like you truly never knew them at all, and makes you wish that you could talk to them to get the story from their perspective. It’s pretty hard to move on when you know you can’t get the full version from the horses’ mouths.

I’m hoping this entry helps me to vent out some of my anger, sadness and frustrations – but I know that this is definitely a life-long process.

In all reality, at least the knowledge that they both loved me in their own ways, and gave me some positive memories to look back on and cherish, is enough for me. But, I will still always wonder…until we meet again.

The adopted aunt.

Last blog was 11 days ago, hey! I’m getting better at this thing!

I won’t get too far ahead of myself. I’ve done this before..

Anyway.

Today is Veterans Day, and though I am super appreciative of everything that they have done for myself and this country, that is not what I am focusing today’s blog on. Maybe an idea on a future blog, however..

Today one of my friends gave birth to her baby girl!! I find myself super excited, as this is the fourth time I have become an “aunt,” and I can’t wait to meet her!

Why are you putting “aunt” in quotations, you may ask?

Well.

Because I am an only child, I will never be an aunt (by blood, at least).

Now, there are MANY things that separate life experiences of those with siblings from those who are only children. Honestly, that is a blog post I’ve been working in my head for quite some time – delving into why being an only child is both a blessing and a curse, the different nuances of personal qualities and attributes I can blame/thank for being an only child…hell, I’ve probably already written about it and forgotten. Regardless, be prepared – an entry will be coming soon.

Before I ramble too much…as I was saying, there are many things that differentiate a person with a larger family/siblings from someone like me, who is an only child and has a small family. The fact that I will never be an aunt by blood is something that I somewhat struggle with. If I don’t have any children of my own, I will never have the joy of sharing any DNA with any child, ever, actually; and because I do not have any desire to be a mother, well, basically, I have zero DNA connection to the future. I will not share a special bond with a child, one of those bonds only family can have. Quite frankly, that hurts me.

I have always, throughout my childhood, called people my sisters, brothers, cousins, relatives…that are of distant association. I have claimed people as my family by choice. Just because there is no bloodline shared, does not mean that a family by choice is any less meaningful.

It does, however, raise some questions.

I’ve been asked on multiple occasions why I call my friends my sisters, or why I call my friends’ children my nieces and nephews. I know that not everyone can understand why I am quick to call myself Aunt Calli, or why I am not more of a home body and yearn to spend time with those I am close with. It is simple – I want a family.

Before we all jump to the conclusion that my ovaries are on overdrive, that is not what I mean. As I have stated before, I honestly do not feel that I am going to be a mother. Again, this subject could be its own blog post – about how people shame women who don’t want to be mothers, for feeling as if something is wrong with people who don’t choose to have children, etc. I will be writing on this at a later date as well. No, I do not have a maternal instinct, a desire to raise a child of my own. But I do have a desire to be an aunt and still play a role in children’s lives, especially to those children that are being raised by my friends.

I have a huge heart. I place my family, boyfriend and friends in the utmost regard. Though I am human and sometimes make mistakes, my friends should always know that I love them – if not, well, now you do.

And I love your children. I will always vow to be the “cool aunt,” the one that takes them for a weekend and spoils them rotten, the one that remembers them on their birthdays and wants them to join us when we spend time together (though forgive me if in the future I also want us to spend time without kids 😉 ). Just because I am not choosing to be a mother myself does not mean that I dislike children. That is absolutely not true, and will never be true. Period.

I see my relationships as a privilege, and will always take my title as Aunt Calli, the adopted aunt, seriously.

So. In conclusion, should you feel that your child needs an auntie, by all means – I will be more than willing to adopt them into my tribe of nieces and nephews, and I will love them dearly! But for now, I have two lovely nieces (both named Aurora, ironically!) and two lovely nephews – (you guys know who you are) – and though I don’t get to see them/their mommies nearly as much as I would like, I am so happy to be a part of their lives. Thank you for understanding, and welcoming me into your family 🙂

Love,

Aunt Calli, the adopted aunt

Domestic bliss?

It’s been 4 months since I have last blogged.

In the words of Charlie Brown, “Oh, good grief.”

I really need to get better at this!!!

Well. Since Friday morning my boyfriend and I re-signed our lease for another year of living together, and ironically, he turned around and left town until today, what better time to write about our first year of living together?

Now, I know plenty of people out there who do not agree with living together prior to marriage. That is a perfectly reasonable belief, and I would not dare to judge anyone that holds that belief. However, there are also plenty of people that think living together prior to marriage is a good test of the relationship. I am one of those people, and as such, I ask you to reserve judgment on my boyfriend’s and my decision to live together.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way…

For privacy purposes, I will refer to my boyfriend as “S”.

S and I have been together for a little over 3 1/2 years at this point (3 years, 7 months and 10 days, to be exact…but who’s counting?). It has been a whirlwind of ups and downs, pretty typical. We moved in after about 2 1/2 years of dating. Though we had discussed doing it sooner, the timing wasn’t exactly right between work, leases ending, and just not feeling ready.

Let me tell ya. As much as I love living with S, there are a TON of things I have learned in the past year. And that is what I am going to focus this entry on – things that I (really, “we,”) have learned in the past year.

  1. Do not move in together until you are absolutely ready!! This is probably the MOST important thing I have learned. There were many discussions had about the logistics behind moving in together, whether it would be weird having him move into an apartment I had been living in for the past year, whether we should find our own place to make our own, etc. SO many discussions. In the end, however, we made the decisions that fit US best. I am so glad that we made the time to plan this out, and didn’t make and sudden decisions.
  2. You WILL have an adjustment period. Prior to us moving in together, I was a little terrified that it would ruin our relationship. I thought that we would be around each other so much that we would get on one another’s nerves, that we would never get any alone time, etc. At first, it was a little weird getting used to living with him – I would be lying if I didn’t admit to that. However, pretty quickly, it became something exciting and new. Not having the hassle of alternating where to spend nights and weekends was fabulous! Getting to decorate our place together and make joint decisions was great!
  3. Privacy and personal time still exist, though not as much as you’re probably used to. I think this was the hardest adjustment for me. Growing up as an only child especially, I’m used to having a lot of time for myself – choosing what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it, and not having to really share much space with anyone (other than my parents of course). Over the year, however, I have still managed to maintain some independence – I have friends over to hang out, and don’t necessarily spend every waking moment with S. He has shows he watches on his own, while I watch my own shows as well. We spend time reading, and going out with our friends, and it works out so well. Don’t get me wrong – we definitely spend quite a bit of time together! – but we are able to enjoy our own activities as well. I think being able to enjoy time together AND apart in our mutual living space has made this such a great experience so far, and has strengthened our relationship.
  4. There WILL be an increase in arguments. Constructive arguments are not a bad thing, especially when they are more of a discussion and less of a yelling match. Lucky for us, we both have different personalities and are able to work together to find a solution relatively quickly. Arguments you didn’t even think you would have, like what brand of food to buy, how to clean things in the apartment, which way the toilet paper roll needs to be facing, organization methods, etc. – ALL are things that come to light when you combine both of your lives together. As long as you are willing to discuss things, not let the little things get the better of you, and most of all, compromise, then you will be good to go!
  5. Financial transparency is required. Super un-romantic discussions about paying bills, grocery shopping, shopping habits in general, savings, and other money-related areas are all going to be laid out on the table and dissected piece by piece. It is fair to say that while living apart, many couples probably don’t discuss these things as thoroughly. While it is not the most romantic and lovely conversation to have, it IS something necessary. If you are unable to make it through these discussions without coming up with a compromise or solution, it is not going to be pretty.
  6. Through all the ups and downs, you have a best friend to come home to. I think that for me, as a super social person, I enjoy living with someone. In my experience with roommates (although I can’t say that I have the BEST track record…), it’s a person that I grow to have a special bond with, get to know on a personal level, and create some great memories with. Though I have never lived with a boyfriend until S, I can say that there is definitely a difference between just having a roommate and living with a significant other. With having a roommate, there’s an expiration date – you know that living with that person won’t be permanent. However, with a significant other, there’s an understanding that you’re putting faith in the relationship, that you both think that it’s going to last for quite some time, even possibly forever, and that makes it an even more special bond.
  7. Speaking of roommates – do not think of living with your significant other as just having a roommate. This isn’t necessarily something that we did; only on occasion do I refer to S as “my roommate,” and even then it’s as a joke. Really, just because you literally share a space with them, they are technically considered a roommate. Romantic relationships are outside the boundaries of a majority of roommate relationships. If anything, the romantic level of the relationship should increase rather than fizzle out and digress to a roommate-status relationship. Should you find that living with your significant other feels more like that, it’s probably time to discuss that. But, that’s also not something to fear or prevent you from making the decision to move in together! The possibilities for romantic gestures increase tenfold when you are sharing a living space. Surprises such as cleaning the house, doing the dishes, making dinner, bringing home flowers, and other endless ideas, are ways to keep the relationship alive and show that living together can be super romantic
  8. Just don’t expect it to be romantic 24/7. Having unrealistic expectations when it comes to living with a significant other can dampen the relationship. I will admit, I somewhat expected more romantic gestures than I probably should’ve. Dammit, Hollywood, please stop giving us these silly notions…flowers, chocolates, wine, jewelry..are typically NOT things that are going to happen on a weekly, or even monthly, basis. This could be a whole different blog post honestly – romantic expectations from partners can differ between relationships. Everyone is different; some partners are very good with romantic gestures, some overdo it, and some don’t do anything. Hey – whatever works for you! But communicating when you’re feeling neglected, or wanting more romantic gestures or surprises, is something that can save everyone a lot of heartache.
  9. You will get to know that person inside and out – and they will get to know you in the same way. Definitely. You will get to know the good, the bad, and the ugly, VERY fast. But that’s one of the wonderful parts of living with someone! You get to bare the parts of your own heart and trust someone with that completely. They will see you in times of weakness, sickness, heartbreak – and in times of pure joy, excitement, and every possible emotion. You will share yourself with them, and they will do the same. It’s incredible, actually, the things you learn, and continue to learn, as time goes on. It’s only been one year for us, and the little nuances I’ve learned about S are so numerous I couldn’t even tell you half of them I’m sure. Regardless, it’s something special that you really couldn’t experience otherwise.
  10. You will learn which things actually matter, and which ones to let go. This is probably an ongoing truth for us. I am a nit picky person, and I think a lot of people can attest to that fact. I alphabetically organize my bookcase and movie collections. I have my closet and clothes organized a specific way. I clean things in a certain manner. Everything has its place. And for S, that’s not always the case. It’s perfectly natural for everyone to have different ways of doing things; however, if you have different tendencies when it comes to these small daily tasks, sometimes it can cause irritation to slowly build. There are times when I completely lose my shit just because he didn’t unload the dishwasher the right way; and then I realize that he didn’t mean to personally offend me by doing so. Just one of the many examples I can come up with in our year of living together. Eventually, it’s exhausting to argue over tedious things such as this. It doesn’t benefit anyone, and it does more harm than good. The small things are not worth losing a big thing over. Once you realize this, it’s easier to let those small things go. You learn that if you want it done your way, you can do it yourself. (And yes, I do unload the dishwasher most days 😉 ).
  11. Last, but not least….you will learn that it will make or break your relationship. For some, the sound of the key in the door begins to sound like nails on a chalkboard; you dread that person coming home. For some, living together highlights the ways in which you are not compatible, or makes you realize that you are better off as friends. Thankfully in our case, I am pretty certain in our choice to live together. Like any relationship, we are by no means perfect. We have our ups and downs, we fight and make up, and we work together as a team. We give one another space when needed, and spend quality time together as well. For us, I think living together was the perfect choice, and I can’t wait to see what the next year brings our way 🙂

That’s a wrap! Now I’m off work, and get to go home to my man. 😉

Stream of consciousness.

I don’t really know how to even start this post.

I have a lot of mixed emotions regarding this matter, and I don’t know if I will fully be able to put into words or express them enough to do them justice.

Let the stream of consciousness begin.

In a world full of people, how is it possible to feel so lonely?

I suppose this is the conundrum I face – as an outgoing individual that thrives on personal relationships, conversing with people, meeting new individuals, etc. It is impossible to befriend everyone. This I know. But why is it something that I desire?

People are fallible. That is the ultimate definition of being a human; we all make mistakes, we all fall down. Yet I expect everyone in my life to act towards me the way I would act towards them, even though I personally know that I make so many mistakes myself.

Not everyone you meet can be a friend; not everyone you meet and consider to be a friend will in turn consider you to be a friend of theirs.

It is often said that it is more valuable to have a few close friends than a dozen acquaintances – I believe this to be true. Yet it is in my nature to befriend everyone I meet, and try to become close friends with them despite the odds being against such an occurrence.

It has come to my attention, as I go through my 20s, that I have lost touch with quite a few people I determined would be in my life forever. Whether it be through distance, through difference of lifestyles or life goals, through choice or just through the passing of time, people have faded away. Sure, many of those individuals I wouldn’t mind catching up with again, bringing back into my life, but at some point the effort outweighs the potential reward.

I realize this goes against how I started this post. I tend to contradict myself at times.

However – when there are people that you WANT to keep in your life, ones that you WANT to be there with you through your experiences, that effort seems feasible and much less like work.

This is where it gets tricky.

See, it’s hard to assume that everyone YOU want to be there also wants to be there with you. You come to learn that people you considered to be close friends actually want to keep you at arms length. This is when the heartbreak, disappointment and loneliness come in.

I have recognized that I put a lot of effort into things that don’t always benefit me in any way. This is a common theme. There are many things in my life that drain my energy, sucking the life out of me, and I THINK it is rewarding, only to realize that I am more miserable than I was before extending such effort.

Multiple people have even pointed this habit out to me, stating that they notice I place more value in many of my friendships than is returned. Unrequited, I believe is the correct phrase. I have even been given homework by my therapist to determine WHY I try so hard in friendships that don’t warrant me doing so.

I guess this blog post was to attempt to see if I am alone in this, if this is something common for adults to struggle with and come to terms with.

It is both a blessing and a curse to be as outgoing and relationship-oriented as I am; I have always said this.  At times I have claimed I would “become a hermit,” change my outgoing ways and become introverted, never to go out of my way again. Of course, that did not happen, just a dramatic overstatement in a desperate attempt for someone to understand, for them to tell me that it was okay – for me to get the attention and love I sought.

At this point, however, I don’t feel it necessary to take it to such extremes.

I merely write this post in an attempt to “vent,” to see if anyone can relate to such emotions. Also, to serve as a letter to myself – to let myself remember that I DO NOT need to put so much energy into things that drain me. To let myself remember that some friendships are not satisfying, or healthy for that matter, and it’s okay to let them go. That just because at one point in time they were beneficial and mutual does not mean that is the case now.  And most importantly, for me to remember that my self-worth does not depend on the amount of friends I have, but only how I feel about myself, and the positive relationships I surround myself with.

To end on a positive note, there are relation ships I have that I know I can count on. It is truly a blessing to have positive, reciprocal relationships, and it is to those people that I say thank you.

A letter to my grandpa

“Take care, kid.”

Those are the last words I heard my Paw-Paw say to me, both in person and on the phone. Those were often his parting words, his way of telling me that he loved me.

Somehow I just had a gut feeling the last time I saw him that it would be the last time. It was in late December of last year, about four months ago, sadly. His Alzheimer’s had him confused, but I know he knew who I was. We spent time watching tv and talking about the weather, pretty typical for a visit to see him. I could tell, however, that he was not feeling well and was slowly declining in health.

Over the past few months, his memory had slipped further and further from normal. His cancer returned for the fourth time, this time all over the place, and my once-so-strong and stubborn grandfather could not survive the toll it took on his body.

I kind of jinxed myself. In one of my recent posts, I wrote about the passing of my grandmother last March and how I had been lucky to have closure with every relative and loved one that had passed away at that point. This time, that is not the case.

I am so glad that I was able to hear his voice a couple weeks ago, telling me to take care. I knew he wasn’t doing well both physically and mentally, but he remembered to tell me the phrase that so often came at the end of phone calls and visits with him. My tough-as-nails, stubborn as a mule, set in his ways grandpa, that grew up in a generation that didn’t convey emotions well, had his own way of letting me know he loved me, and I understood.

When I got the news of his most recent diagnosis a week and a half ago, I knew it wasn’t good. I knew that I needed to go see him, and was planning on it within the upcoming 2 weeks. They had given him a couple months to live, and I thought I had time.

That’s the funny thing about time. You never really have it. And here I am, 4 days prior to the day I was going to go visit, and he has passed away as of this morning. I am now left without any grandpas – my dad’s dad passed away when I was 11, and though I have already grieved his loss, it is one I still feel today. Knowing that I now don’t have a grandfather (by blood) in my life at all anymore, is a fact I am grieving as well.

As sad as I am about how quickly he passed, and my inability to gain closure, I am grateful that he did not suffer longer than he did. To watch a loved one battle cancer multiple times, struggle with COPD, suffer from Alzheimer’s, and then ulit matey lose the battle to cancer, is an awful, awful thing. I watched my grandpa, a man who used to be strong as an ox, become a weak and frail individual. He was not himself. In a way, I’m glad I didn’t see him at the end – I certainly know it wasn’t truly the man I knew as my Paw-Paw.

Since I didn’t get my closure, though, I would like this chance to tell you how much I love you. I’m sorry that I didn’t visit or call more. I’m sorry that I wasn’t there for you these past few days. I hope that you know I have some great memories from the home you built, growing up out in that rural area and spending time with you. You were a self-made man that started your own company, and your strength and hard work are qualities that are not lost on me. Thank you, in short, for being my Paw-Paw.

Take care, kid.

You shall be missed

Is it possible to miss something that never truly existed?

That’s how I feel when one of my favorite television shows goes off the air. Maybe that’s a little dramatic, but I become so emotionally invested that it feels as if I’m a part of that world for a little while.

Don’t get me wrong, I prefer real life over television; but when you become so wrapped up in a show that takes place over several years of your life, it’s almost like you’re saying goodbye to an old friend, something you’ve become used to in your day-to-day existence.

This past week, I finished Downton Abbey, a six-year adventure of which I, along with many people throughout the world, have lover every second. I feel as if I have come to know every character, feeling for them in their trials and triumphs. I’ve enjoyed watching them grow, crying with them, laughing with them, and ultimately being part of a world I never would have had the chance to experience were it not for this period drama.

That’s the beauty of television though – it gives us all a chance to glimpse into a life that we may not have personally ever experienced otherwise. Obviously there are not many people living today that were around in the 1912-1926 era in Britain, much less capable of remembering it.

People may say that television is a waste of time, that it is turning our brains to mush and dampening any creative, independent-thinking cell in our body. I can definitely vouch that that is not always true.

True, there are PLENTY of reality television shows that don’t exactly offer much purpose in life other than mind-numbing entertainment; these are not the shows I am referring to in this post. (Though, honestly, I am guilty of watching such shows at times…hey, I’m not one to judge. It can be entertaining!  Reality television just isn’t the genre of shows I’m advocating. Anyway, I digress…) The shows that truly resonate, and are seemingly hard to let go of, are the ones that immerse you in their world. The shows that cause you to re-think life, to imagine yourself in their position, and to ultimately connect with their characters. Those are the shows I find most beneficial, and are extremely hard to let go of.

Downton Abbey, I have enjoyed the chance to be a part of your sTory. Julian Fellowes did an INCREDIBLE job in creating this wonderful world, and was kind enough to share that with the rest of us. For that I am deeply grateful.

While it may seem silly to some that I am even writing this blog post, I don’t feel that I am alone in this – we as millennials seem to watch quite a bit of television. It is just us empathetic personalities that tend to become wrapped-up in the stories, and forever hold a piece of them in our hearts.

One year.

It’s pretty incredible how much can change, yet simultaneously remain the same, in the span of one year.

It’s been one year, as of yesterday, that my grandmother passed away, and one year today that I learned the news. It seems like it’s been longer in some aspects, but I remember it like it was yesterday.

I had the “good fortune” (doesn’t seem like a fitting description, but words are failing me) to be there with her for her last day here on Earth. Our last words exchanged were that we loved one another, leaving not much room for regrets or anything left unsaid.

Regardless of the situation, it’s never easy to lose a loved one. However, in reflection, I am thankful that I was able to have that closure. She is the second grandparent I have lost, and so far I have been lucky in that, with both losses, I have had closure. Not everyone is able to have that when family members pass on.

I suppose this post is not just to commemorate the loss of my grandmother, but to recognize the role that losing a family member/loved one plays in life. It is a necessary evil that we all as humans have to face at some point. When it is a family member who you’re very close to, it can be even harder to process; but even if it’s not the closest relationship, letting go is never easy.

Unfortunately, at 25, I am now at an age where I don’t have much longer to enjoy the company of the grandparents I have left. My paternal grandfather died 14 years ago (as of January of this year), and my paternal grandmother one year ago. I am so thankful that I have both maternal grandparents, as well as two step-grandparents, that I can still spend time with; all are suffering health-wise, however, and I am coming to terms with the fact that they will not be around in my life much longer.

Though they may not physically be present, the lasting memories we have created and the lessons learned from them will stay with me forever. I am a firm believer that “the ones that love us never really leave us,” to quote one of my favorite films (Harry Potter). I know that even though I can no longer see or hear them, I carry them with me in spirit. Even through the times where I fight with accepting their physical absence, that thought can offer some solace.

With death and grief comes lessons; I have learned that I am strong enough to survive losing a loved one, even though the pain can be devastating. I have learned that I need to hold on to the loved ones I have left and cherish the time I have with them every day, whether it’s with a phone call, a visit, or just a kind thought. I have learned that it’s an ongoing process and it ebbs and flows; sometimes grief rears its ugly head when you least expect it, and sometimes you go days without feeling it. But most importantly, I’ve learned that it is manageable. I have been able to connect with others through learning of their own losses, and through discussing my own losses open and honestly. Human connection is one of the most important things, and being able to help others through their own grief is something that can even help to ease your own.

Sorry if this was a somewhat scatterbrained and therapist-like post; but it has helped me to write it. This is my personal blog, after all 😉