Life’s Interruption

I have interrupted this (normally super positive)blog to bring you life’s interruption… a little dark cloud that creeps in when you are least expecting it. I promise to return to light hearted travel and journey blogs right after this…

I think I’ve been trying to avoid this topic but in the midst of quite a few close friends (and family)experiencing a loss, I thought it would be appropriate timing.

There really isn’t a good time to talk about it… and if you are someone who has never lost a close relative, or friend, someday this may make sense..

Suddenly in the middle of a perfectly great day, we get interrupted.

Unfortunately, sometimes it’s not as simple as a customer service call… No, sometimes it’s an important call that sends our whole world into a frenzy. Sometimes it’s just the flashback…of the call, the day or the feeling we had…

I’ll warn you now that if you wanted a light hearted blog this isn’t the one, it gets kind of emotional but very real. So carry on at your own risk.

The call is, never the one you want. It’s never the right time, or the right day or the right weather.

It’s never the right response.

You never get to forget it either.

Every moment during which this call takes place you are actually living in slow motion, but yet you wish it would’ve been over faster. It’s, not the IRS.. (sorry I joke when I’m nervous)no it’s the “something has happened” call…

I’ll tell you, I’ve had a lot of experience with death, and yet it still comes back like acid reflux every time I hear of anyone’s loved one passing… I have been in the trenches of mourning and I have known the loss that few (my age) have known. It’s not a club you want to be in..

My phone call came at approximately 6:25am on a tuesday morning. July 11th 2014. A flash bulb memory…

It’s like how you remember exactly where you were the day you found out about 9/11. What’s weird is at the time of 9/11 I didn’t know what the World Trade Center was, or what was happening. When I got the phone call my dad had suddenly passed away in his sleep, after seeing him less than a week prior, I knew what it meant.

So what happened after the call? I couldn’t breath, or eat or speak. I didn’t cry right away…

In slow motion, I managed to go through the entire week feeling like I got sucker punched… Then for months I relived my sorrow over and over, and while that was happening, so was life… like normal every day things, which was so inconvenient!!

How exactly did I not see this coming? No one did, and for most people death doesn’t work into our plans…

We don’t think about death unless it’s effecting us at that moment. We protect ourselves from this fear and this sadness by avoiding it.

I was fortunate to have my band aid torn off in some ways.

My dad was definitely not the “bed ridden kind”, nor would he be a good candidate for any kind of “treatment” except “special treatment”. He really got out in the best way he could have, really.

My dad lived. He sure did fear death though, as I think we all do. The uncertainty of it makes the concept very scary. That is why many people have faith in god, others in reincarnation but whatever you believe, know that you will some day get a “call”. Maybe not a sudden and severe one, but one that will stay with you. It changes you, and the way you think of things…

It’s not that I want to dwell on death, in fact I try not to be morbid most of the time. I can’t help but know, with such certainty, that life is short. If we have good years in our life than we have lived.

Loss isn’t always the same. However, I’ve found that personally, there have been two distinct experiences that are universal:

1. Sudden and unexpected. Which consists of losing someone as a result of a car accident, an overdose, a health related incident that couldn’t be rectified, a miscarriage, SIDs, military related, gang related… and a million other sudden traumatic losses…

2. Slow, steady decline. Slow is a relative term. The usual example is someone suffering from an illness who is going through treatment, or a grandparent experiencing age related failure.

Each type of loss is equally as traumatic and devastating, I’ve experienced both. Each type comes with their own distinct feelings, as did the relationship with that person. When I lost my dad, I thought of friends I had who had also lost theirs. I instantly felt like now I could relate. Now I knew what they meant when they said things. I never knew the feelings could be so different.

We all feel loss one day, and we can never truly know the feeling until it happens… but we should know how to be there for someone during this horrible time. Whatever you say, don’t say “let me know if there is anything I can do”. Make it a point to schedule a coffee date or just say “sorry for your loss”, it’s worse to make empty promises.

When we lose someone we evaluate ourselves.

Just like we evaluate all the company around us, and yet we don’t do this in our day to day. We struggle to make it to the end of the week or just to make enough to get our needs met and yet we forget how important people are. The kindest words, the greatest stories are told to our loved ones at the wake of death. That must change!

Could we be better at telling the stories we love of each other today, instead?

In life we get schedules and routines. We make things important and other things “not so important”. We go so fast, yet so slow, but do we see each other? Do we look past the “good morning” or the “how was your weekend?” Do we care enough? It’s hard to take care of yourself during times of loss, and it’s easy to hide in plain sight.

The months that follow…

After the loss, we drift away from the person who has experienced it, knowing we said something, or sent some flowers. We forget that they don’t continue their lives the same way they were before. We assume they say everything is fine and move on, selfishly or consciously but with little consideration of if that is actually true…

The person who has lost their loved one, does not snap back into reality (at least I didn’t). No, they wake up everyday to remember they can’t call their dad or their mom, or their friend and tell them about their day. They won’t see them at their regular holidays. They remember good times, they remember bad times but they know they are lonely. Some people (like myself) don’t like a lot of attention with sad connotations. I’d much rather be happy, don’t we all feel that way!

There is a feeling that no one understands the feelings, or has experienced this specific scenario. The reality is, grief is universally individual. You feel your feelings alone, no hallmark card, or edible arrangement can fix or soften the experience. It’s about being seen. If we can see each other’s needs, care enough to make their day a little easier, it helps. Every little thing helps in a small way, to dig you out of your dark sad space.

Empathy.

See the persons feelings and know that you might not understand, but it’s not your time to. You might know their lossed loved one or you might not. What a grieving friend, coworker, loved one needs, is just to be seen, heard, and held. There is nothing to be said. The less you say the better. You just need to be there.

Something changes after you experience a great loss…

They aren’t the same whole person they started with. In fact, some feel the loss of their loved one forever, and while some say it eases with time, that isn’t true for everyone. That’s okay! The reality is, the way they see the world is now forever changed. It’s not that they will never be “themselves” again, but they might not want what they thought they wanted before.

I’ll give you a personal example. I used to work both a 9-5 and a side job which ranged from 10-20 extra hours sometimes even another 40 additional hours. After my dad passed, I had 2 jobs, a mother who had just been through a psychotic break and was being re-medicated, a serious boyfriend (thank god for him) and we had just made an offer on a house (luckily they turned us down). That was my level of normalcy. Going on full time overdrive, running from one job to the next, not spending time on myself or what I wanted out of life.

When we are young, we think we have forever to live. After my dad’s death and several young classmates sudden deaths, I woke up.

I had never considered what exactly my dad did for my life, since I was (an adult) out of the house. He kepted a careful balance of handling shit, without anyone knowing. We didn’t know what he did behind the scenes (what bills, responsibilities etc.). He had a small business, a commercial building and he loved working, he handled everything. He was the one that instilled a deep sense of pride and work ethic in me. Now it was up to me to fill in the gaps, my mom couldn’t do it, the baton has been passed.

My dad missed dance recitals, piano recitals, Greek school graduation and a bunch of other things I don’t remember. He never packed my lunch or helped me with my homework. I never minded, or felt bad about it, because I knew he was there (supportive, but not present). Maybe that was how I made my peace in the end, but I am digressing .

The point is the man worked a lot.

He obviously was successful in doing so, but yet he missed out (or maybe he didn’t think he did), on life’s precious moments. He was there for milestones, the guy wasn’t a total workaholic, but he did miss some things.

After he passed. I quit my second job, (I still went in from time to time) I stopped doing overtime and I realized all the money I was trying to make, didn’t make me happy!

This moment was so important. I was working because I thought I was supposed to work hard, save money, buy a house and that would make me a successful adult. I clearly learned after dismantling his life in the court of probate that life is more important than work.

Yes money was important, and I didn’t quit my day job. It was an extreme change for me. For my whole college experience, I worked every Saturday, and Sunday. I missed Mother’s Days, I missed Father’s Days I missed these little moments and didn’t think anything of it because I had to work.

In the end we wish we had more time, not money.

We wish we could have spent more time with those people we have lost. We regain a feeling that life is short, and so precious, and can be so easily interrupted.

Death changes life, but it doesn’t stop life from happening, it changes our views of it for a time. We are sad, we are lonely, we feel more easily aggravated, we may be angry, but we wake up in the morning, and we choose to get up and move forward.

Sometimes we are affected but it takes an extreme loss to fundamentally shift the way we think. This is what happened for me. I started to look at life as finite. That isn’t negative, it’s true!

It’s hard. Every single day you miss the person you lost. Every day you think of something that reminds you of them. What we don’t remember to do daily is to check in with someone who has just faced, what we have faced. We assure ourselves that because they have a spouse or someone else that we don’t need to say anything or do anything else…

We forget that they are in the midst of the battle that is grief. Once we have gone through a true loss, we are either afraid forever to face it again, stuck in a state of grief where we seek out others who are also experiencing grief or we simply avoid it all together. We protect our delicate selves in which ever way we know how.

I must remind you though that the person who feels the loss may just need a shoulder. I am writing this blog to remind you that life has interruptions. It’s not always happy, and it’s not always sad. It’s not about how much you work. It’s not about the money or the stuff or the status you have. It’s not about the kids all the time. It’s not about your bosses needs. It’s about love. Life is about how much you love. Let your neighbor, your friend, your partner, your relatives know that you love them. Tell them a story, don’t wait to make the phone call.

Don’t avoid love. Wrap yourself in it. Surround yourself with it and give it. Make love your only priority. Love is forever.

Maya Angelou once said, “people may forget what you did but they will never forget what you made them feel”. I always felt that during my grief, there were certain people that stood out, that listened, and that made me feel seen. There were others that didn’t. It’s okay, not everyone understands, but if you know the feeling, don’t let someone feel lonely. They might need you. You might need them. Even if it’s not convenient.

Life is hard for everyone, but particularly hard when you lose someone who is intricately woven into who you are. You lose yourself for a while, and when you find yourself again. You are changed, you see the world differently, maybe better, maybe worse but you are never the person you were before.

Share this with someone who needs to know you love them. Share it because you want them to know they aren’t alone. Share your thoughts and feelings and don’t be afraid to ask how someone is doing. They might need it. You might need to stop in the middle of life and interrupt yourself to see someone else’s point of view. Interruptions happen, sometimes they are life changing and sometimes they aren’t but know that when you least expect life can throw you a curve ball.

Be kind. Extend a caring heart and don’t forget that life is short! Do yourself a favor and don’t hold a grudge, don’t be mean and listen a little more.

We are only human, and we do the best we can. Thanks for listening and please share with someone who might need it.

(Pictured is the wise, chicken scratch of my late grandmother. She may have been the smartest, most loving woman I have known.)

Let me know what you think, if you can relate (I’m sorry for your loss) and if not that’s okay (just be kind)! I hope someone took something away from my story. I’ll be honest it was a hard one to tell. I look back now, still sad and longing for more time with my dad but so grateful for the time we had. So many people touch our lives and make an impression, as we do theirs and so let’s be better humans and love a little more! Until next time…

(I promise for a happy blog next)

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Cali-forni- yahhh part II (Adventures in San Diego)

San Diego

Goals: Art, Tacos & Sea Lions

Picking up from Laguna, we drove right into San Diego. At night it wasn’t much to see, a city with lights, but no wow factors.

It wasn’t “late” but the time was 10:30-11pm which to our east-coast-bodies thought was more like 1-2am. We arrived at our next Air BnB, a bit confused since we were in an area that seemed to be an industrial park…

(Side note: we also had a really hard time finding our first Air BnB in Venice but it was only because we were tired and it was sort of a sneaky gate entrance.)

So we knew this BNB has specific directions from the confirmation email. You had to go into a gated parking garage (with a code) walk to a specific wall, to a lock box (another code), get the key, exit the parking garage, drive down another street to enter the parking garage then find the specific condo # parking spot. At that point we were cranky.

We eventually figured it out… and proceeded to our least exciting Air BnB condo. It was just vanilla. Nothing grand or special; it was clean thoug

We then proceed to pass out (dead) from our long exciting, fun filled day, with the next day’s plan ready to be implemented.

Lesson 1 of San Diego-Leave a trail of bread crumbs when you leave the condo…

First one up gets the coffee, so that was me. I spotted a Starbucks on our way in the night before. I took the key and carefully snuck out because being the good girlfriend that I am I decided I’d surprise Joe wth breakfast and coffee… I proceeded to Starbucks were the gentleman named my cup “Rabbit” because Robyn didn’t register for some reason (haha). If this wasn’t a sign that I’d gone down the rabbit hole I don’t know what was.

So I left, walked around a different path, thinking I was checking out the area. Wrong! So I went back in, swiping the key fob, only to get to the elevator and….no dice. The key fob didn’t work. We were on the 4th floor. So naturally I took the stairs, coffee and breakfast in tow. Once I arrived at the top, I was yet again locked out. Joe was definetly still sleeping, so I couldn’t very well wake him.A gentleman came out to the stairs probably on the same mission I was (caffeine), and had no access to the top floor because he didn’t live there (weird). So smart girl that I am, I returned back to the scene of the crime (the garage from the night before). Upon arriving I get into the nearest elevator (because why would it matt which elevator you take up) key fob still isn’t working. The custodian nicely swiped me in. Finally!

I was en route to eat my yogurt parfait in peace.. I get to the door, insert the key…. yes this was the right room number 407. Insert the key. Nope, said key did not work.

This is the same building I walked into with Joe and used this same key less than 12 hours ago! Now it’s time to wake the bear. What exactly was going on!? I was half-way through my large cold brew and so I know I was fully functional. Did someone send me to the twilight zone!??

I call joe. “I’m at the door can you open it…”

Joe- “ummmm no you aren’t”.

“I was in the parking garage, I took the elevator, I walked down the hallway, I’m at 407, the number is on the door”.

Joe- “uhhh you definetly are not.”

“Ok let’s try this again”….

Down the elevator.

Into the garage.

Around the corner.

Into the courtyard, in through the door I went out originally this morning. The pool was on my left…

Up the elevator. Nope it’s not working again… to the stairs.

Someone is coming out, I go in. Calling Joe-

“okay I’m here, 407, open the door”Joe, “Nope you aren’t, do you want me to come get you”….

“No! I will figure this out…”I finally found our actual room after the 4th or 5th attempt. In doing so I learned the buildings were identical; same numbers and amount of floors, but you each one was actually separate from the rest. That was the reason my key card would only work on one elevator. Extremely stupid.

So we proceed to exit the Air BnB with a scathing review of the insanity we faced both during the light of Day and at night, the rubik’s cube hotel was now behind us. First stop on our Journey through San Diego was La Jolla.

La Jolla

Not to be confused with La-Jol-a. Pronounced La-hoy-ya. (Thanks mom!)

So we arrived early (about 9:30am), we started our walk from children’s pool which was originally created for kids to swim in a protected space, then later became the hot hang out for the Seals.

As you can see the seals were quite happy. There were even babies!!!

We walked from here all the way down to Jim’s Sea Cave!

We walked down the steps to a cool little ocean cave.

From there we continued exploring all the way to Jim’s.

Sunny Jim’s Sea Cave was on the itinerary because it was originally created during the prohibition era. Yes the boardwalk empire on the east coast had some rivals!

145 Steps of man made cave was no small feet back in the day!

So that was pretty cool, a little history a little exercise and a lot of steps!

We definetly worked up an appetite and were ready to tear up some Tacos!

So we opted to walk around a bit and see the shops around La Jolla en route to The Taco Stand.

We have now officially checked off Seals and Art (a little art) from the list….

About the tacos..

Were they the best tacos ever? Maybe! The place was cool, cafeteria style but man were those some good tacos! Also the guacamole was top notch!

We were now off to Balboa Park, but not before stocking up on snacks, water, and miscellaneous items we needed for Joshua Tree- Yosemite. So we stopped to pick that list of stuff up and were on our way!

We had wanted to see a bit more of the gas lamp district and in fact had initially booked our AirBnB right in the center of it, but sadly they cancelled on us last minute…

Balboa Park

As we entered there was a building size pipe organ and a small concert being performed.

The architecture was clearly Spanish and Greco Roman romanticism; I mean look at the detail! So beautiful!

Joe wanted to check out the fine arts museum and I saw Frida hanging on the wall… for those of you you don’t know who Frida is…. she’s a hero. She paved the way for a specific form of art that was self expressive, political and just down right baller. Check out the Frida Kahlo exhibit if it ever comes through your city.

So I went to see Frida.

Second lesson of San Diego– just ask.

We enter the building, pay for our tickets, go through the exhibit listed Frida…

Not. One. Portrait.

So I asked, and as it turns out the tuesday prior they sent the exhibit back to Paris.

Sad, but there was other art so we moved on. The building was incredible and we officially checked art off the “San Diego goal bucket list”.

Next stop Botanical Garden!!

I was on a mission though, Pinterest made me obsessed with these colorful steps. I swear Pinterest is always to blame.

My mission was find the colorful steps in the Spanish Village, which was pretty complicated to find based on the map…but we made it!!

This was kind of a marketplace of goods and art and it was everything I hoped for!!

It basically had hand painted steps. The candy land of America. It was amazing! Simple but effective design.

So we had seen art, the botanicals and the Spanish steps, but that wasn’t all… then we hoped to check out some local breweries since the city is known for their craft brew game. We also had 2 more beaches and at least one coffee shop to check out before heading to our next destination.

We decided coffee first, then we needed to get to the Torrey Pines / Black’s beach at sunset to get the full effect and we were running short on both energy and time.

Landing at the amazing Cafe Bassam we enjoyed European style coffee and flair.

We opted for coffee instead of beer, and we were off, back toward the Coast to finish the day with some amazing views.

We arrived at Torrey pines which on a clear day overlooks Orange County, and all the way down to Tijuana.

This is where some people (not me) paraglide off the high cliffs all the way down to La Jolla proper. It’s pretty spectacular except for those of us who are afraid of heights.

Here you can see a small group of specs near the water, and yes those are people.

We were at least a thousand feet up. Or a million in my scared mind.

On that terrifying cliff there were some pretty spectacular views, although not the most amazing sunset. Still, we closed the day with this grand San Diego cliff and just like that, we had made the most of a beautiful day in San Diego.

6:00 pm we left for our next adventure to the retro- fabulous dessert sanctuary of Palm Springs. There are 9 days total of this glorious Californiadventure and 7 to go…

19,708 Steps

30 flights of stairs

Seals. Tacos and Art.

✌🏻until next time San Diego.

We learned lessons and we had fun, but we didn’t get to check out a brewery or see the Gas Lamp district, so we’ll have to go back someday! The rest of the journey is coming soon! Like, share, comment and follow for more adventures, inspirations and sentiments. Let me know what you think! I love to hear from you!

Next… up Palm Springs!

Ciao!