Last night was another round of body maintenance with fitness-friend Dana, this time at spin class. The instructor was new, French, and full of Awesome!
“I love this song! This is one of my favourite songs!” she announced, while pedaling madly. “I have a lot of favourite songs! I love music! You can sing along if you want!”
Later: “You’re doing awesome! I forgot how much I love spin!”
Later still, enthusiasm level at 110%: “Ha! My water bottle is bouncing I’m pedaling so fast! You’re all doing so awesome!”
Early in the class, the song “Everything is Awesome”, from The Lego Movie, came on and the combination of the instructor’s glee and the lyrics sent me into a round of laughter.
I finished the class sweaty and with cheeks sore from smiling. It’s hard not smile in the face of someone else’s joy, even if your life is decidedly not awesome.
Everything is not awesome these days but I’ve decided that’s acceptable. I’m learning to be okay with not being okay. If I make it through the day without crying, that’s a banner day lately, but that doesn’t mean my days aren’t also full of good things.
Since March, I have learned a few things about myself, life, and other people. Good things.
I’ve learned that when things are at their worst I can be capable and focused and get the job done.
Somehow I managed to keep my sister positive and occasionally laughing during my visits to the leukemia ward, I helped with the “arrangements” when she died, I emceed her memorial (with the help of emergency wine—thanks, LeAnna and Glen!), and I took care of the billion-and-one tasks after my dad died. Through all this, I have continued to work on the current manuscript, make sure that I maintained a minimum level of fitness, and packed and planned for the upcoming move. All in all, I give myself gold stars for competence.
The flip side of this is that for the first time ever, I’ve given myself permission to be a mess. When I find myself staring blankly into space instead of working, I don’t berate myself for my laziness, I just let myself stare. A few days ago I was determined to get some work done on the manuscript but couldn’t focus. I grabbed a book and read for three hours instead. When I know I should be packing but want to read through the old texts my sister and I sent, and cry, I do.
This may not seem earth shattering but when you’re someone who prides themselves on a solid work ethic and self-discipline, this kind of “self-indulgence” is unthinkable.
I’ve also allowed myself guilt-free vulnerability, which I didn’t even think was possible. When I’ve needed the comfort and company of friends, I’ve reached out or I’ve accepted offers of help made without a request from me. I’ve accepted charity—or as I’ve been told to call it “tangible expressions of love”—from friends and family and strangers. I’ve blogged and talked openly about my grief. I’ve announced to the world, “I’m weak and I’m hurting and will be for awhile”…and much to my surprise the world did not stop spinning.
My eyes have been opened to the importance of community and the value of even tiny acts or words of kindness.
I don’t know if I’m grieving “properly” or if I’ve deluded myself into thinking I’m doing everything right when I’m really just slapping band-aids on a bullet wound. Maybe there will be some monumental fallout down the road and I’ll crack open in new and terrible ways. It could happen.
But I wrote this post because I wanted to explain that even in the saddest time there are moments of awesome, moments when your cheeks hurt from smiling and you are proud of yourself for simply getting through the day. Even the days when you fall apart are awesome because you’re alive, you’re learning, and you remember that you loved someone so much that losing them hurts this bad.