The last day of August and I have to admit that although I typically love summer, I am ready for this one to be over.
Not because it's been incredibly humid this year (and it has!) or too warm but because it's been mentally and emotionally draining.
In a space of 4 weeks, no less than 8 of my friends lost a mom, a dad, a brother and 5 partners. This doesn't count two friends who lost a mom and a beloved in June. From cancer to addiction, a heart-attack to drowning, all sad and all life-changing for those closest to them, no doubt most of you reading this can relate.
Add to that my friends who have parents in the midst of struggle, let me tell you I have come to find that as soon as you cross that threshold of "50" it's amazing how quickly things seem to go downhill in that space and that's if you are blessed to have one or both of your folks still with you at all.
Getting my new business off the ground and dealing with what I want that to look like, feel like, both for myself as well as my clients have been a big learning curve the past few months. From billing to behaviors, it's been interesting to say the very least.
Circling back to my friends, both the ones who are actively grieving a recent death as well as the ones who are feeling wrapped by an anticipatory grief, watching loved ones struggle, I have been all summer and continue to be "one removed."
Although under my own roof this season there have been a couple of hiccups, there's been nothing like what many around me have been enduring. I certainly know my days of feeling those things have and will happen but this summer, a la "six-degrees of separation", I've been "one away" the past few months.
That being said although physically I am experiencing things "second hand", things like profound empathy for the struggles they have and are enduring, my empathy feels like anything but "second hand", it's like a faucet that's not shut off all summer, I'm drained in many ways and feel rawer than ever in that space.
A couple of weeks ago, I literally "hit the wall" and cried off and on an entire day. It's rare that I say this but I was absolutely heartbroken for those I care about. I needed that day to just cry until I cried myself to sleep.
Although I'm "second hand" with all of this, it seems I'm storing it and with every new bit of news about this one being ill or that one being near death, the bounce back is a bit more of a struggle.
Now that I've proven to be an epic-sized "Debbie Downer" today, let me say this since I purposely seek out lessons in everything I experience in a profound way - here's what I'm looking to leave this season with and take into the days, weeks and months ahead.
First of all this summer put my own mortality "front and center" and although I've "touched" that space, especially as I rounded 50 a couple of years ago, I haven't invested too much "head space" into the subject.
Now I feel like I am being reminded incessantly how fleeting life is. How important it is to remain in a state of gratitude for my good health. How important it is to acknowledge those who matter to me and how important it is to be a good, supportive friend whenever the opportunity arises or (let's be honest - it's me here) I jump in with both feet my heart leading the way. As a dear friend taught me, sometimes it's better to ask for forgiveness than permission.
You know, there's something to be said when you take the view, again and again from a seat at the second-hand store. You're a part of things but in many ways you're not. Sometimes that's because those affected are more acquaintance friends, sometimes it's because they process and navigate solo and all you can do out of respect is sit in the store and store a little more. So that too is a lesson I am taking forward. We all deal with things differently.
Not gonna lie, I'm still in the midst of processing things, recognizing my feelings and acknowledging them, as I know the only way out is through. Then investigating the potential lessons from this season and seeing how I can take what I've learned into the next one, making it more meaningful and finally, applying a generous layer of self-compassion, as kindness is always appreciated, especially when directed inward. All too often our default mode is to give the inner critic "center stage" and ourselves very little grace or space...not this girl, not after this season.
I have found these past few months that it can be a downright wretched thing to feel so much for so many. I have also come to learn that it's a beautiful thing to authentically care for other sufferings beings and so I honor any and all of you who have ever experienced life inside the second-hand store.
May my friends who continue to grieve, whether anticipatory or in the current moment find those little signs that give pause - followed by moments of grace and knowing.
And may they experience respites of peace and the solace that comes when the "arms of love", first or second hand, in thought or deed, reach out to envelop them.
Deep breath in. Big exhale out.
Photo from the blog over at inhabitat.com. Check them out!