You may have noticed things have been a little quiet for the past couple weeks here on the blog and our social media channels. While I often struggle with how much to share about my personal life, what I’ve been going through seems too huge to just gloss over and proceed with business as usual, although now that I’m back in the office and life has regained some of its usual rhythms, I am so grateful to have work to lose myself in.
In short, the past month has been the most emotional, intense, surreal, difficult period of my life. I ended a four-year relationship with the love of my life (at least thus far), and then my beloved grandmother had a stroke and passed away soon after. Those of you who’ve been reading the blog for a long time have heard me talk about Guillaume, and it felt weird to not at least mention that our relationship is over. While the details are personal, I can say we ended things kindly and without anger. Simply put, we are both in two very different places in life and couldn’t seem to get our paths to connect on one mutual track. While no one was throwing dishes against the wall or burning bridges, it’s still been profoundly difficult to process what my life looks like without my favorite person in it, along with the reality that I’ll eventually have to start dating again (literally giving me nightmares). I just have to keep reminding myself that (as Dan Savage says) every relationship ends until one doesn’t, and that a loving, four-year relationship should actually be considered an incredible success rather than a failure. We both learned so much from each other, and I’m very grateful for our time, even if I’m still in tears at some point almost every day thinking about what we’ve lost.
And my Gram. My beautiful, extraordinarily kind, wise, loving Gram. It’s still hard to believe she’s gone. I rushed home when she went into the hospital, everyone expecting her to make a full recovery. There were complications resulting from the stroke, and we knew within a few days she wouldn’t be leaving the hospital. I am so unspeakably thankful for the few days we had with her while she was still alert and talking. Everyone got to say goodbye in the most loving, peaceful, beautiful way you can imagine. It’s hard to express the impact she had on everyone she met; I’ve never met a more empathetic, love-filled being in my life, and getting to look into her beautiful blue eyes every day and tell her how much I loved her while she slowly transitioned was one of the most earth-shaking things I’ve ever experienced. I spent days and nights singing to her, reading to her, praying with her, feeding her. It completely transformed my relationship with everyone in my family, bringing us closer together in a way I don’t even think we realized we needed. Seeing how she accepted what was happening with such grace and humor (oh god she made us laugh, even through the worst of it!), how she reflected back on her life, and how deeply she connected with and reassured the people who loved her while she faced her own mortality head-on made me want to be a better, more compassionate person. Our time is too brief to waste it being resentful or judgemental. Love is the only legacy worth leaving. Her legacy is more meaningful than any empire.
I’ve never spent so much time in a hospital, and all my love goes out to anyone who is going through this personally or with a loved one. Being faced with our inherent vulnerability and frailty in such a visceral way is scary, sacred and really, really overwhelming. I couldn’t help being astonished by the incredible emotional reserves of everyone who worked there; nurses are angels here on earth, and I’ve never truly appreciated our excellent health care system until this moment. We are so very lucky. I’m still processing everything that happened, and the fact that I will likely have this experience with people I love many more times in my life kind of leaves me gasping. It’s such a concrete reminder that our time here is so ephemeral; I’m trying to remember to be more present, aware, kind and grateful. It goes by so fast.
So that’s what I’ve been going through. I got home yesterday and practically sobbed with relief to be back in my own apartment after sleeping on couches, cots and lounge chairs for so many days. I have a major self-care regime planned for the coming weeks (it involves a lot of yoga and Scandinavian spa time), and will be losing myself in big sewing projects, healthy meal planning and long walks with the dogs (oh the dogs! How does anyone survive a break-up without dogs?!) We’re trying to get our new pattern to the printers and I am throwing myself into a bunch of new projects, so it’s nice to know one area of my life will always be stable and there when I need it. Being able to make things with my hands has never felt like more of a gift. All of which to say, I am okay. I am getting through it. I am also considering volunteering at a local hospital once I’ve had some time to process the experience a little bit more; so many people were all alone during the most vulnerable time in their life while we showered my Gram with 24/7 care and it just broke my heart.
If your grandparents and parents are still with you, please call them. My biggest regret is that I didn’t talk to my Gram enough and I can’t get that time back. If you’re going through an illness or heartbreak too, I’m giving you the biggest internet bear hug I can. I don’t have any words of wisdom to share except to say there are moments of truly transcendent beauty and awareness in even the darkest times, and they are the ones I want to remember.
Part of how I’m getting through this is to just plow through with everything we have planned, so we’ll be back this week with new posts. I haven’t forgotten our No Fear New Jeans month winner; expect more on that in a couple of days. Lots of love to all of you.