This is the art that I made for my art journal this week. It is kind of symbolic for how I am feeling right now. I feel upside down like the mermaids. I feel like I have lost a part of the Yang to my Yin. A part of me that I took for granted; thinking it would always be there. I have also had this strange feeling of swimming outside of myself; outside of reality. Well, it seems that nothing lasts forever. Onwards and upwards, right?
I met Tom when I was thirteen years old. He was a friend of my older brother, Joe's. By fifteen I had left home and Tom and I began our adult life together. Needless to say, me being fifteen and him being nineteen, there was often not a lot of adult-ing going on in our home.
In my family of origin I had had my share of struggles. With my new life - the one with Tom, I set out to create a family situation that could hold me, keeping me feeling safe and loved, like we all so desperately need when we are a mere child. It really was a self-centered perspective to beginning a family; it was all about me. But, I was just a child. I forgive myself for being less than I wanted to be in that relationship.
By the time I was seventeen (Tom 21) we had our first child, a boy. Then at twenty we had our second child - another boy. When I was twenty-five we had our third and final child - a little girl. I felt complete; like we were set. I was into this relationship for the long-haul.
We made things work until I was twenty-nine, and then I started to get restless. I think he was restless too. We had settled into this dull existence with each other, and we lacked excitement beyond the children (I was still a child). We lacked an appreciation for each other. So we decided to call it quits. There was a lot that transpired in the years between when we split and his death two weeks ago; too much to write about here. I will add that he did have a fourth child; a little girl, three years after we split up. And now she is in her early twenties, and she is a valued part of our family. Because of all that; our family, how could I ever regret the choices we have made together and apart?
Tom and I were always family to each other - even when we were fighting. I literally grew up with him, and there is no one with whom I spent more of my childhood with.
At Christmas we often joined forces, and had it together. He and I spoke often on the phone. I shared my struggles as a young single woman with him, and he shared his struggles with being single, with me. He fixed my car when it broke (or any other thing that needed fixing). Apparently this was a common theme; one that was shared by many of the over 350 people who showed up to wish him good-bye at his celebration of life.
My kids felt proud that this man, the on that so many people in the community respected, was their dad. I hope it has inspired them to give so freely of themselves to others. It has sure inspired me.
My own dad died young, at forty-nine. I was shell-shocked then, for sure. But you know what? I am more in shock over Tom dying than I was when my dad died. Perhaps that is because I was in my twenties, and as such felt immortal, so I did not realize how young my dad really was when he died? But Tom was only four years older than I am now. That hits home. And...he was the other parent to me...the Yang to my Yin in that way. I just can't believe he is gone. I look around now, and I see people my age differently. Life starts to look a little more uncertain; a little more fragile and impermanent than it did just two weeks ago. I see my kids and I realize that they only have one parent now. It just seems surreal...not right; off kilter.
This is where I am this week. I am adjusting to the fact that a chapter of my life, and the life of my children and grand-children, has slammed shut, forever. It was not what I expected, as I am sure it is not what others who experience a loss to their family unit expect, either. But the one thing I can say for sure is it puts things into perspective for me. What do I want my message to be when I go? Who do I want to celebrate today while I am still alive? I can't change how others think, feel and act, but I CAN change how I react to it. I can be the kind of person I want to others to remember after I go.
Thank you for that message Tom. I will carry it, and a piece of you, in my heart forever. Rest in peace. We love you and you are missed. <3