MIND over MATTER
What’s the MATTER?
September 24, 2011 is the day my younger sister, Rachel, passed away. Every year, on the morning of this terrible anniversary, I have woken up crying, or basically started crying as soon as I’ve been awake enough to realize what day it is. Terrible Facebook “memories” pop-up and further resonate the day with me… until a couple of years ago. Let’s back up a little, though. After the first three years of this day bringing me to tears and to my knees, a friend and I recognized the pattern and decided I should take a day or two off from work, and fly out to spend this day with her. That way, I could be in a comfortable place with someone who was truly compassionate to the day, the tears, and everything else that comes with the day. It was AMAZING. She encouraged me to let the tears roll, find happy things to do that made me smile with positive memories of my sister, and was just there for me. For two back-to-back years, that worked great for me. And then she had a family trip plan, and I got scared. What was I going to do? I talked to my older sister about it and decided to go spend the weekend with her since the day fell on a weekend. It was great to be around family. Not only were they compassionate, but they understood what I was feeling because, to some degree, they were feeling it too. That trip was also tremendously helpful to me because of some words of wisdom my older sister spoke to me. She encouraged me not to give that day meaning; not to remember the day as “the day my sister died” or “the day she was taken from us” - not to give that day anything. She didn’t want to memorialize a day that was historically tragic, terrible, and so depressing, and so she hasn’t. That advice has helped me to cope with the day much better, but I can’t help but to know it’s still “that day”.
As September 24th quickly approaches, I find myself in a crux. I started a new job at the beginning of August and immediately requested the day off from work. I was nervous if I tried to go into the office, I might be upset or get upset around so many people who are so “new” to me, who don’t know. So, the plan was to spend the day at home, sleep in, relax, and do things for me that make me happy. I booked a massage and was looking forward to a long pre-massage workout. And then I got a calendar invite at work - two day-long work meetings for a BIG project - September 23rd and September 24th. It didn’t matter that I’d requested off from work. This is a BIG project. I have to be there. No choice. So what am I going to do? How am I going to handle to tears? Or explain them? Well, simple. I’m mentally preparing myself. I’m planning to not cry. I’m going to blast Earth Wind Fire’s “September” in the car before I walk into the office, and car dance in the parking garage before I step out and begin the day. And then I’m going to rock out (metaphorically) in that meeting. I’m going to show my skills and focus on work. I’m going to be at my best professionally, and prove to myself that I am stronger than my emotions, and they won’t overpower me. Wish me luck! I’ll write the second half of this blog after September 24th so I don’t leave you with a cliff-hanger. Hopefully, this (two carriage return) break gives you some time to ponder how you prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for emotionally-charged situations or days. What do you do to counter-act the flood of emotions? Do you prepare yourself at all, or just wait and see what kind of explosion erupts? Do you think it’s better to plan and prepare, or just let whatever will be, be?
Where Was My MIND?
Tuesday, September 24th came and went. It’s over and I’m glad, but the day was exactly what I wanted. The easiest, quickest way to describe it… Well.. My exact thoughts on the day were summarized in a super cliche Facebook post - “It still seems like yesterday in so many ways, but today I accomplished something I haven’t been able to do since September 24, 2011. Today, I didn’t shed a single tear. The grief is still here with me, but I’ve learned to carry it and accept it in a healthy way. Today, I accomplished more than I thought I ever could… until today.” I woke up at 5:00 am, hustled to get myself ready for work, and I was out the door. I had an all-day meeting for a huge project, and I knew that’s where my head needed to be. I kept it there all day, but I sure did blast that Earth. Wind. Fire. song “September” as I pulled into the garage at work. I walked in smiling and ready to achieve, and that’s exactly what I did. It’s not that I blocked out the negativities, necessarily, but I maturely kept my focus where it needed to be for the environment I was in. After work, I enjoyed a work out - something my sister also liked to do when she was here. I also got my nails done - relaxation without the phone or anything else in my face. Next, I nearly fell asleep in a deep state of physical, emotional, and mental relaxation with a massage at Healing Hands in O’Fallon (I HIGHLY recommend Kim!). Finally, I went home, curled up on the couch and just sunk in for a little - totally relaxed and in a bit of a meditative state with my thoughts and emotions. I felt a sense of relief in not letting the fear and grief overtake or control my actions. I felt a weird sense of pride in finally achieving a healthy way to remember my sister and the day she left us. I controlled my thoughts and focus. My mind allowed me to conquer the matter at hand, to give it a new perspective, and to grow. In my mind, I keep two thoughts for my sister and her passing. I hope they help you with any grief of a loved one’s separation which you may be facing. Peace to all of you.
“And when she shall die, take her and cut her out in little stars, and she will make the face of heaven so fine that all the world will be in love with the night.” ~ William Shakespeare
“May her memory be a blessing” - Jewish saying recited throughout shiva (the Jewish equivalent to a wake / funeral)