I haven't been feeling well. Economically speaking things haven't been that great either. I spent most of what I have on medication. Sometimes life seems like a cycle of setbacks and disappointments followed by trying hard and working towards things that seem to come so easily for other people (and that they take so for granted).
Last night something happened for me. I stopped. I stopped and looked around.
I took it in. I was happy. I didn't worry about money. I didn't worry about my career. I didn't worry about my health. I just sat there surrounded by people I truly love.
Why? Because one week and one day ago one of my very best friends died. She died from complications of stage IV rectal cancer. We all thought she had gone into remission. But even so - she kept being tired and was "too tired" for visitors. We thought it was from chemo. We thought it was fatigue. I wanted to visit her earlier on a quick weekend road trip when I had the energy but she wasn't up for it. I insisted that I didn't need entertained - that I UNDERSTOOD fatigue more than most people. But she wasn't "up" for visitors. I get it when people say they aren't up for it... it means she wasn't showering much and was probably eating whatever she could scrape together. Again - I pointed out to this friend how VERY WELL I could understand it and that if I was up for a trip I was also up for tidying her house or doing dishes etc ignoring the rest AND doing laundry or getting her groceries or making her meals... and how very well I could cope with someone not able to get around because I often cannot.
I called a second friend who had just had knee surgery and no one to take care of her -- she was embarrassed about much the same things. Her house was a mess and she was lethargic and tired and "not up" for visitors. She also insisted she wasn't up for it. I didn't visit her either. She didn't die a week ago. She's still alive. (I'm still angry that I let TWO friends deny me visits during this time). Seriously. If it isn't a special weekend you've planned with lots of sex and snuggling and you need PRIVATE TIME - I don't want to hear it.
I tried to visit both of them. I know more than most how difficult it is to be both a patient and a caretaker. And I know how hard it is to let people see us when we are not our best. I know how hard it is to let people do things for us and love us and see our homes and lives when undone chores pile up or we aren't happy, chipper, or haven't showered etc.
Anyway- back to yesterday -- I have been mourning my friend who is dead. I have been grieving for her partner who is so sad because there is so very little we can do for him. And I have been grieving for myself - because I don't feel well and because I have been feeling so unhappy in my own life.
And then yesterday I watched one friend cry about her job and career. She is a beautiful amazing successful woman. She really is. And she was unhappy and frustrated because she isn't where she WANTS to be. And then another friend cried because our small group was talking about death and spirituality and afterlife beliefs. She was just triggered by the talk and cried about not knowing what to believe. And that made me smile... because not knowing what to believe is so human. Another friend spent half an hour "intellectualizing" his fears of afterlife by reading what every major religion believes about the afterlife and death. We watched a movie. Some people ate ice cream. Some people drank. Some people played a board game. And I realized I didn't cry. I was too happy and fulfilled in the moment. THIS is life.
I'm sad. I'm grieving. I will cry again and again. But last night I was completely happy watching everyone else feel frustrated and lost and upset in our humanity. And I realized that fear of death was almost bigger than death itself. Because my friend is gone but those of us who love her are the people left to cope with it and grieve. My friend who is dead doesn't have to deal with it anymore.
In some small way- the process and meaning of death is even for the living. So I can comfort her partner and mourn for myself. But I am also reminded that life - and living - and loving the people I love is what matters TO ME.
And mostly what struck me last night: Every single person in the room was in some way unhappy and in some small way happy. And there was no "universal" factor or step or thing about them to find what made them happy or unhappy. And I know for me I was very sad and grieving yesterday and yet took great joy in my friends and in being around them was truly happy in their friendship. So much so I forgot my own things for a short time. I also know that I don't know any "key" or "truth" or "one true" thing other than kindness and compassion and loving each of them that made me happy.
I am no guru. I suppose my "truth" last night was just that I loved my friends and they made me happy. This entire month has been me finding balance in self-care, loving myself and others, releasing guilt, non-useful patters (like being overly-critical to myself and others without praise or loving words), and realizing that everyone of us is human and doing our best.