This blog has special meanings for me. Closures come in various ways and this blog represents closures for me on several levels. Thank you for allowing me to share.
By Dr. Diane Lass
On October 11, 2009, my mother was feeling very ill, so we took her to the emergency room. She was immediately taken to ICU, as she was suffering from double pneumonia. She remained there for 2 months until she passed on December 11, 2009.
My parents grew up in a very small town in Nebraska until they were married at the ages of 17 and 19. My mother wanted to be buried next to her parents, so we flew her from our home in San Diego to Nebraska, where she was laid to rest.
Five months later our family returned to Nebraska for Memorial Day. The night before Memorial Day we were at a friend’s home enjoying food, stories and laughter. We had dinner and then it was time for a kickball game. My husband, Steve, and I were on opposite teams. My team suffered our first out rather quickly, then the next player kicked the ball; I saw Steve lunging sideways, arms stretched out attempting to catch the ball, but he missed it. I thought that was odd as he was very athletic. But, the big farmer wearing his overalls sitting next to me and I broke out in a celebration wave which didn’t last long. A couple more kicks and we were out. A few minutes later, I heard one of my sons yelling, “Call 911!” I looked out and Steve was laying on the ground. I thought he was being dramatic because he missed the ball. They kept yelling, “Call 911!” It was serious. I ran out to him; his skin was blue and his eyes–aqua blue like the blue of the Caribbean Ocean– were staring straight up to the sky. Just like that, my husband, my best friend, my lover of 20 years was gone.
Within 5 months of each other, both my perfectly healthy mother and husband were gone. How could two people that loved me so much just leave me? I couldn’t make any sense of my losses. I felt abandoned without even knowing I felt abandoned. I remember how I used to tell one of my daughter-in-laws that “Steve dumped my ass.” She would get upset with me and say, “No he didn’t!” I would reply, “Did he say he would never leave me? Do you see him here? He dumped my ass.”
But, life had to go on and I had to survive the best I could. At one point, I decided to start writing. I decided I would write about my experiences, which started with “Dating Myself.” I wrote several short chapters, thinking the last one would be titled “Harvest Moon.” Harvest Moon is a song that Neil Young sings. Part of the lyrics are: “Because I am still in love with you, I want to see you dance again – and I want to celebrate seeing it (Harvest Moon) shine in your eyes.” I felt as though the lyrics were from Steve and he was sending me a message that he would always love me and that he wanted me to be happy in a relationship again. I thought, “maybe one day.”
A few Harvest Moons passed, but there wasn’t any dancing with the moon shining in my eyes. And then, out of the blue, 5 years after Steve’s death, I decided to fulfill a dream Steve and I had and bought a second home in Palm Desert. I decided I would also need a golf cart to cruise around in, although, no, I do not play golf (yet). Coincidentally, or not, I met a handsome bald guy with beautiful blue eyes the day after I moved to Palm Desert, who just happened to own a custom golf cart business. We went to dinner and he mentioned the Harvest Moon was the following night. My heart secretly skipped a beat.
The next night, he came to my house and we sat outside watching the Harvest Moon. We talked and talked. I played the song Harvest Moon on his phone and I sang away. It was peaceful and it was fun. We didn’t dance, but I know the moon was shining in my eyes. In my opinion, it was the perfect evening. I felt a closeness that I hadn’t felt towards anyone since my husband’s passing. I remember waking up the following morning and asking myself, “How did this happen?” A small voice answered, “It happened because you deserve it.” It was the strangest thing. Until then I had no idea I felt as though I didn’t deserve to be happy. The awareness of my underlying feelings of abandonment were surfacing. If I allowed myself to fall in love again, would he leave me too? Could it be real? Could I trust that I would be ok? All these questions and more were brewing below the surface and would be tested very soon.
Things were great with the golf cart man for a while. I remember saying, “You are so stinking cute, I just want to put you in my pocket and take you home with me.” It was crazy. But, our old stuff has a way of surfacing when we least expect it. Later, I remember feeling like I was on a fast-moving train and if I didn’t jump, I would end up in a dark tunnel without any way out. I had no idea why. All I knew was that I needed to jump and I would figure out why later. I must say, I am usually pretty good with my words and I was in situation as well, but my words were sharp and hurtful. I was making sure that my main objective to jump was successful, and it was!
There are no manuals that guide us through hurt feelings and losses. We never handle them perfectly. We just do the best we can at the time. Most of us have struggled with feelings of loss, trauma, abandonment and fear. Our defenses are all too happy to come out to protect us, as well as to hurt us. I know in this situation, there were two separate people with two separate backgrounds that came into play. It wasn’t only my “stuff” but, the only way we can personally learn and grow is to remain aware, take responsibility for our own “stuff” and process our experiences. When we are trying to protect ourselves, our rationales and justifications seem valid. Sometimes we need to take risks, allow ourselves to be vulnerable so that we can live our lives to the fullest. We need to learn to trust ourselves and know that regardless, we will be just fine. I remember people telling me how strong I was. It bothered me because I didn’t feel strong. I was just trying to survive. Looking back? I was strong and I am proud of my growth. Was it pretty? Oh no, not at all. Was it painful? Oh yes! But, life happens and we get through it.
This year the Harvest Moon is on October 5, 2017. And this year, I can honestly look back with fondness at the experiences that the golf cart man and I had together. I am thankful for the lessons I learned, thankful that I could love again and thankful that I got the best golf cart ever! I think this year during the Harvest Moon, I will take my golf cart out for a ride and play and sing Harvest Moon. I may not be dancing with my next true love under the Harvest Moon this year, but one thing I know, the moon will be shining in my eyes and Steve and my mother are smiling.
As I am finishing this blog, guess what song just came on? – Harvest Moon. Coincidence? Maybe, but I think not. Thank you for sharing my experience with me.