Browsing Tag

wendy jackson

Grief, Guest Posts

Lost.

April 12, 2014

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-blackBy Wendy Jackson.

“We lost our beloved yellow lab in January,” I heard myself tell someone the other day and I thought to myself, what am I saying? We didn’t lose her. I know right where she is. I didn’t misplace her, and she didn’t run away. I lay with her on the floor and waited for the boys to come home from school, and the vet to arrive. I stayed right by her side until her last breath. I cradled her head in my hands as my kids kissed her goodbye. I rubbed her ears while the vet gave her the injection. And I watched the life slip away from her. And when I did, I felt another tiny piece of my heart chip away. Truth be told, I did not lose her at all. She is still with me, her beautiful carved urn is right where it belongs. So no, I did not lose her.

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Nor did I lose my grandmother last year. I watched her deteriorate, wither into nothingness. I held her hand and prayed that she would fall asleep, that I would hear her breathe in, and slowly exhale for that last time. I whispered in her ear that it was okay, she did not have to fight anymore and she could go. I promised her we would be okay. I watched her body twist and contort and cease to function. I looked in her eyes when her voice could not be found anymore, and they to pleaded with me, with anyone who would listen…’let me go’. She was not lost. She was right there everyday trapped inside herself. We didn’t lose her. She was stolen from us by time and age, stroke and dementia.

Today I got the call that in my heart I knew was coming. I have prayed everyday to a God I do not understand. I have focused on positive energy and love and support and none of it has been enough to save this life. I am losing my dearest friend to cancer. Burkitt’s Lymphoma. It has been an aggressive beast and shown no mercy. There is no more to be done. And there is that word again.

We are losing him.

‘Losing him’ makes it sound like we didn’t pay attention for one second and he was gone-that we were irresponsible with him. We were watching him, I swear! I watched him very carefully six months ago almost to the day, when he said ‘I do’ to his soul mate. I watched him dance and laugh on that day, and it was beautiful. I have known him since I was 13 and I can tell you that he is a rare soul. He has a kind heart. He is one of those people that has lived authentically, honestly. He has been good since the day I met him. To see him happy and at peace with his two girls and this new woman in his life was right. It was as it should be. This is not the way his story should end.

But now we are losing him. And losing him sounds as if we might find him once again, like he just stepped out and one day when we least expect it, he will appear. That perhaps someday when our hearts are healed and we are walking down a crowded street, we will see his face. But that is a lie. We will not. He will be gone from us forever. It is not going to be like the soap operas, where months will pass and we will hear he was really on some mysterious island and he will show up again. There is no ‘lost child’ kiosk that we can run to and ask that his name to be shouted over a loudspeaker. We will not find him.

I lost her. We are losing him. It is a lie. He is dying and it will be final.

Is ‘lost’ the only word that captures the feeling of emptiness that is descends on you when someone so cherished ceases to exist? The hollow that you feel in the pit of your stomach when you know it is forever? Who decided this? Do I feel lost now, so far away from him, too far to say goodbye or hold his hand or whisper don’t leave us? Does he feel lost already, far away in his mind, drifting away on painkillers and unable to find his way back to the last time he felt good? Is lost the only word that sums up all of those emotions, and then some? It hardly seems like a big enough word and I can certainly come up with countless others to describe the fragile state of my heart right now. I can only wish it were lost-perhaps then I would not notice it is breaking. Lost feels like it mocks the situation. It makes me want to look for the word ‘found’ and that is cruel. Lost just sounds too small, like it cannot possibly hold all that I am feeling right now, or all the tears that I have cried today and will surely cry tomorrow.

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My name is Wendy Jackson and I am a mom, a wife, a sister, daughter and friend. I have been a volunteer, a Realtor, an office manager, dental assistant, courier, marketing consultant, a photographer’s assistant and a few other things in my life! I just recently added ‘blogger’ to the list. I love a good laugh, a house full of people, a great craft beer (or two), a bold red wine and a book or movie of any kind. Good, bad or otherwise! You can find me at www.startingwritenow.com.

Join Jen Pastiloff in The Berkshires of Western Massachusetts in Feb of 2015.

Join Jen Pastiloff in The Berkshires of Western Massachusetts in Feb of 2015.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the sunflowers!

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the sunflowers!

courage, Guest Posts, healing

I Am (Not) 43 & Fabulous.

January 5, 2014

image courtesy of Simplereminders.com

image courtesy of Simplereminders.com

By Wendy Jackson.

 

I had my second back surgery shortly after I turned 40. 

I knew I needed it and that cortisone shots would not be on the menu when I lost feeling in my right foot and it turned in at a awkward angle that I could not unbend on my own.  I could not wiggle my toes. And it hurt like a motherf*cker.

I was not upset that I needed the surgery.

My first one was not terrible and my recovery was unremarkable.  At 40 I had just run my first 5k and was determined to be that woman who ages gracefully and looks better with the years. I wanted to be that woman in MORE magazine with the caption “This is what 40 looks like”.

I was most upset that I was going to miss the annual girls get away (read: drinking, laughing, sleeping, dancing, eating fest) on the river. It’s an amazing little place, with the best view, and to be surrounded by love and laughter all weekend- it’s something I look forward to. The girls offered to take me immediately from the hospital and nurture me on the dock all weekend with promises of good behavior, plenty of painkillers, and the best bed in the house.

My doctor and husband said no. (It should be noted that my husband considered it, he knew how crushed I was to be missing it.)

I assumed of course, that I would exit the hospital good as new with a few prescriptions and a stern “no driving for 6 weeks” as I had before.  A few weeks of physical therapy and we are back on track to being 40 and Fabulous.

But when the doctor came in after surgery and asked if I could wiggle my toes, I could not.  When he asked if I could ‘feel this’, I didn’t feel it . And when I tried to straighten my foot from that awkward angle, it wouldn’t.  And when I asked the doctor to tell me when it would all come back to normal, he couldn’t.

So I did what any normal person would do-I cried.

I cried in my bed, on my couch, and in public. I cried after a full day of shoe shopping, my dear husband trying to find me cute shoes to fit over this hideous leg brace I had been fitted with. I cried in the shower, the howling kind of cry that you don’t want to share. I slipped so deeply and so quickly into this desperate place, that I didn’t notice it.  Or maybe I did. I don’t remember. I just know that I blamed it on grief and the normal, totally acceptable grieving process when you lose something or someone. And I was losing a part of me.

I was losing the part of me that rocked platform, spiked or chunky heels. The me that loved to dress up, and felt sexy, and beautiful. I was losing the part that could chase my kids around the yard and up the stairs as I pinched their bottom and they laughed. I was losing the woman that just ran 3.2 miles and felt powerful and renewed. I was losing the girl that walked effortlessly on the beach, the boat, the dock, the cobblestone sidewalks downtown.

Suddenly my husband was offering me his arm, not in that romantic, Victorian way, but in that way you offer aid to an elderly woman crossing the road.  I was losing freedoms I never imagined-stand up paddleboarding, my step classes, and yes, my yoga.

And that is how I justified the crying, the depression and the hole that I was in. I don’t need medication, this is normal, I kept saying. Until the day I admitted to my husband that there were days when I would drive over the rivers that surround this city, so beautiful and serene, the most peaceful views I have ever seen-and think ‘if I just turn the wheel really hard, really fast, I could go over the edge’.

But I already had, hadn’t I? By just thinking that, by actually saying that, I had stepped off of grief and into something entirely different.

Medication. Reiki. Accupuncture. Therapy.  It is hard to say which one helped me the most.

I stomped my feet and said ‘enough!’ and tried everything at once. I chucked the brace in the back of the closet and vowed to retrain my leg and my body. I sold, donated and gave away my shoe collection and vowed one day that I would wear heels again. I went back to the gym and tried my yoga-failing miserably, but I tried.

I told my husband to hold my hand, not take my arm. I still had 9 months of 40 left-plenty of time to get back on track…

But just months later there was a car accident, not my fault, and when the car stopped everything was muffled, and my ears were ringing terribly. The ER said it was ‘temporary, it happens, don’t worry’. But it wasn’t, and three days later I had the volume on the TV at 32 and I knew it was not good. So off to the doctor, and the ENT and the audiologist I went.

Bilateral sensorinueral hearing loss. Threshhold shift. Permanent.

I laughed. I actually laughed as I heard it, thinking Really? Is this real?’After the leg ordeal, can this really be happening to me? As I sat in the doctors office while they put goo in my ear to take an impression for hearing aids, tears streaming silently down my face, I saw myself walking toward that hole again.  It is dark, and comforting, and it was calling me.  I had just turned 41. This was not how it was supposed to be.

They say that God (or the universe, or whatever you believe in) keeps giving you the same test until you learn the lesson. What lesson was I missing? Why was I being punished? Was this karma? What had I done to deserve this? How on earth did I get here, how did I become this broken person? I was off my meds, and I was trying to make sense of this, and couldn’t. I was determined to push through it, on my own, to be stronger, to be a fighter, and I could not let go of that picture of myself in my head that I had when I turned 40. I kept going back to that place-but it was all different now. I felt as though I was made of glass, and that at any moment, I would shatter and just disappear.

Today, I am 43. Three years of changes, challenges, tears, anxiety, depression, medication. Three years fighting with my doctors, my lawyers, my husband, my friends, and myself.

I kept trying to get back on an earlier path, not realizing it was long gone, washed away years before.

I keep looking at that one picture, that one moment- I was forty and fabulous, and I didn’t even know it.

And there is the lesson.

I wanted THE job, THE body, THE friends, THE life that I thought by 40 I should have. But I had it all along and I didn’t take the time to see it, let alone be thankful for it.

I wasted so much time, so much energy, so much love and life trying to go backwards so that I could move forward, when all I really needed to do was sit still. I needed simply to be present and see everything around me, to feel and acknowledge what I was feeling and then let it go.  I didn’t have to fight everyday, I just had to put down my baggage, take a deep breath, and move forward.

Fabulous according to Webster’s Dictionary means:  resembling or suggesting a fable :  of an incredible, astonishing, or exaggerated nature. It lists related words as : fabricated, fantastic (also fantastical), fictional, fictitious; fanciful, imaginary, imagined, invented, made-up, make-believe, pretend, unreal.

So no, I am not 43 and Fabulous.  I am 43 and Free. And strong. And authentic.  And honest, happy, loved, present and peaceful.

And that is much, much better.

Wendy Jackson is a mom, wife, lover of life and laughter, books, music and writing. She recently attended Jen Pastiloff and Emily Rapp’s writing retreat to Vermont. Book the 2015 retreat here.

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Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above.

Jen Pastiloff is back in London for ONE workshop only Feb 14th. Book by clicking poster. This is her most popular workshop and space is limited to 50 people.

Jen Pastiloff is back in London for ONE workshop only Feb 14th. Book by clicking poster. This is her most popular workshop and space is limited to 50 people.

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