I spent the day at the beach with three friends: Sarah, Beth, and Lindy. I felt so lucky to have them with me. Stuck in PA, we went to Mauch Chunk Lake at the suggestion of my friend, Daniele. It was a beautiful day and we had a lot of laughs.
It's funny - on any other day before Rick's death, I would have felt relaxed and at ease after hours of laughing with my friends. Now, post-death, I feel strangely accomplished and proud. I was able to laugh and enjoy things. I feel as though I achieved great success just by going to the beach for a day and laughing like a normal human. At the end of the day, instead of relaxed, I feel mentally tired, like I was at a conference presenting research or acting on stage in a play. Laughing and living life when the heart is sore takes so much energy, even when that laughing and living is real. I didn't even realize what a feat it is to laugh and be normal for a day.
Still, I wouldn't change it. I love my friends and I need them. I would rather be accomplished in the feat of laughing while grieving than afraid to live.
There were so many times today when everything felt normal, when over a decade of friendship took center stage and made me forget that Rick was dead. It's the shock of remembering that he is gone that always feels so unbearable. He should be waiting at home... We're just at the beach...
All three of my friends are getting married in the next year. I hear them talk about their plans and smile. All three of them deserve so much love and happiness. I am so excited to share in their joy and to see their lives unfold. It is a stark contrast to my own life, though, and it couldn't be clearer. They are starting their lives with the men they love and my life is just a blank page. If their plans cause me to think of my past - my own wedding dress, my own wedding colors, my own honeymoon - I try to turn off that part of my brain and think about the future instead. The problem with the future is that I see myself alone at their weddings. Wedding after wedding, alone. Bridesmaid or wedding guest, it doesn't matter. I'll be alone and thinking of Rick...reminded of what I had and lost.
So I turn off that part of my brain too, and I stop thinking about the future. Instead, I think about the now. Just this moment. Just this hour with my friends, laughing and listening to their happiness. I can do that. I can live in the hour, chattering about plans and details with genuine interest, happiness, and excitement. I can live in the hour, remembering that I am a normal person who does not have to think about anything but the conversation that is currently taking place. I don't have to think about my life pre-death or my life post-death. I don't have to draw a marker down the center of the timeline that is my life. I try to put a positive spin on the hand I've been dealt: I'm a writer, so a blank page has always appealed to me. I can do this. I have to live in the now, because there is no other way.