Friday, November 28, 2008

The Start to the Holiday Season

I've been a bit of an emotional mess the past few days, and you'd think around the holidays, I'd be in a slightly better mood. I mean, I've eaten enough turkey the past few days to grow feathers, I only went to one store today for shopping and got out in 10 minutes, and my job has been going really well lately. And things with me and girl are amazing, but I got some news that one of my dear friends lost her mom to cancer this past week, and it's reminded me a lot of me losing my mom.

For the uninitiated, my mom died in 2005 due to cancer. They didn't catch it in time for her to go through chemotherapy or other treatment, and so she was gone that quickly. I got a call on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend to come home and see her, and within a week, I was saying goodbye. It's probably one of the worst feelings I've ever had, mostly because of my closeness to my mom, and sitting there at her side watching it happen. I knew there was nothing I could do but wait, and I have never felt so powerless in my life. There's no amount of money that could have changed anything, and while prayer helped my peace of mind, it left me a lot of time to be with my thoughts. I kept wondering what I was going to do, and how I could handle losing an important piece of my life. But before she died, I told her about my planned trip to England in early 2006 and how important it was for me to go, but I was hesitant in going. She said, "You'll never have another chance to do something like this, so you need to go." The trip I took was in her honor, and to prove that I could do something like that.

Soon after her funeral, I came back to Portland and poured my life into my job and my friends, and very soon after that, girl and I started dating. Almost 3 years later, we are married and living happily in Portland. But admittedly, I wish that my mom was here now, to meet girl, to have been there at my wedding in person, to be here when we have our first child, to be here to be part of my life. And there have been times that I get mad at how unfair it is that she's gone. I know she's in a better place, and I'm happy she's not in pain anymore, and that there's a part of her that's with me all the time, but sometimes it just doesn't seem like enough.

I spent a lot of time afterwards dealing with my feelings for my mom, and admittedly went through a "rose colored glasses" phase, where I only thought of happy thoughts and good things about our dealings. Unfortunately, life is full of all sorts of moments, and I had to come to the reality of who my mom was - a wonderful woman with a big heart that was secretly scared of things she didn't know anything about and she spent her life letting other people control how she dealt with things. Time and time again, men made decisions that affected her and she put up with the situation to keep the family harmonious. I have an extremely strong female in my life now in girl, and seeing how my mom dealt with things, well, I can see why sometimes I have issues making tough decisions. I don't want to make anyone mad, even if it means that I do something that I don't want to or shouldn't do.

But, in the process of losing my mom, I've begun the process of finding myself and so far, it's been a pain staking, emotional, fun, annoying process. I see some of my strengths in my temperament, but yet I also tend to be quiet sometimes when I need to speak up. Girl has given me a lot of strength and support, and I'm better because of her, but it's funny to think that I met her just before one of the most significant times in my life. I think my mom would love girl a lot, and they'd be the best of friends, but sadly, the only talks they've ever had were spiritual. I think they were talking about a lot of my weird quirks, I'm sure.

The thing is that death is a normal part of life, and it's something that everyone will have to deal with at some point. It's natural to be angry, to be sad, to cry, but in the end, life for the rest of us goes on and you can't stop living it. I think for me, that was the lesson I needed to learn the most, and I still am learning it every day with each new challenge I encounter. If I could give my friend any bit of advice, it would be to remember the good and the bad, because those things are part of the same person. You may not like everything they did or said, but they loved you no matter what, and it's important to remember that.

Which is why around the holidays, I try and keep in touch with my friends and family a bit more, especially since you don't know what might happen. I may not be the best at keeping in touch, but I do my best to let people know that I think of them often. I mean, the holidays should be about giving of yourself, and sharing time with the people you care about. When I read the news story today about a guy getting trampled at a Walmart, it made me angry because the holidays for many folks are now about buying and consumption. I understand that we all take things for granted, and it's easy to get caught up in the moments like that, but we all have to remind ourselves that it's not what you can buy people, it's what you can give of yourself that matters. And you never know when you might lose someone close to you, so it's important to start now. Even if it's a phone call, an email, a text, or whatever, but say something. You'll be surprised how you feel afterwards.

And in relation to my last story about the Civil War, apparently, there's been a lot more animosity between the schools that I realized, but I still think this is the most friendly but nasty rivalry ever. I mean, Duck grads marry into Beaver families, I see Ducks rooting for Beavers at some points, that's not something I'd expect to see at say, a Auburn - Alabama rivalry. But that's something that makes this place rather unique, and one of the many things to love about Oregon. Hope it's a great game, and go Platipi!!


Steve Woodward said...

This was my third Christmas without my mom. She died of endometrial cancer on Sept. 2, 2005. She loved Christmas more than anything, so I sang Christmas carols to her on the day she died. I wasn't sure whether she heard me sing since she never opened her eyes, but the hospice nurses said hearing is always the last thing to go. At any rate, I just wanted to express my condolences on your loss. Time helps, but you never forget.

GK said...

Thanks, Steve for the kind words. It's very true that while time helps, you never really forget. I appreciate the comments and for reading my blog.