I haven’t written in over a year. Fine, over a year. Why? Because half of the time, I didn’t want to, and the other half of the time, I didn’t think I needed to. Not on here anyway.
Who the hell was I kidding? Writing is how I reflect. Some people talk it out; I typically write it out. I’m better at forming my thoughts in written sentences than spoken ones. I just can’t communicate that way. Not great, at least. I’ll do it, but shit, good luck, D. You blubbering mess.
It’s a lot of pressure to verbally communicate my thoughts and emotions to myself or someone else on the spot, then figure out what they mean and what I should do with them. So me not writing is how I bottle everything up. And then, my poor family and friends have to pick me up when I crash and burn. Granted, I did write a few paragraphs here and there (both typed and hand-written, thanks much), but there’s zero chance I’d share those here.
There was so much I wanted to express that I simply didn’t because ???. Now, a year and a half later, I don’t even know where to start, so I’ll start with what today is. It’s what compelled me to start typing anyway…and no, I don’t know where this will end up because I write to think, remember? So buckle up.
Today (now yesterday since I'm publishing this on the 26th) marks the one year anniversary of my yia yia passing away. My mom and I were her primary, full-time caretakers for the last two years of her life. I’ve written about the lows of that…adventure...for sure, but not so much about the highs; how strong it made me, how optimistic it made me, how empathetic it made me. It was the hardest two years I’ve ever experienced, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world, and hell, I’d do it all over again for someone I love. (Just please, not yet.)
Because that’s what love is. Sticking it out when it gets really, really hard. Putting someone else’s needs before yours. Doing things for them that will make you break just so they can feel comfort. Saying “no” to your friends so you can stay home on the weekends and be with them and take care of them. Because even though you might want to be somewhere else doing something else, you also don’t want to be anywhere else doing anything else. They’re your top priority.
Love is not, by any means, easy. It’s not something that just crawls into your lap and all you have to do is pet it to make both of your hearts feel warm and fuzzy. No. It’s not a damn dog. (Although, please gimme.) It’s an emotion, a relentless one, and it’ll exhaust you. It’ll turn you inside out. It might very well ruin you if you’re not careful. Be it family love, friendship love, romantic love, whatever love...love, itself, as a whole, is hard. But it’s as hard as it is beautiful.
If we didn’t have people to love, who would we be? Would living even really be worth it? And yeah, sometimes love can run you dry and make you numb, and you might lose yourself (or your cool) along the way. It might stress you out, and sure, you might spend some nights face-first in a wet pillow, but there’s no love that isn’t worth it. Every love gives you room to grow. All the challenges and hardships it throws at you are there because that’s what love does. It exists to challenge you. To push you to new heights. To make you see and understand parts of yourself you never knew existed, be them good or bad, ready or not. It’s not always going to be comfortable and safe. Love only ruins the people who aren’t willing to be challenged. For the rest of us, we become better people.
Time for a story for some full-circle perspective…
There were plenty of sleepless nights with yia yia when she’d call out in the middle of the night, and I selfishly wanted to pretend I didn’t hear her because I knew she would either a) ask me for water I knew she would make a dramatic fuss over because she stopped liking the taste of it, so I’d run up and down the stairs to fetch her every other liquid under the sun, all variations, with and without ice, until we’d ultimately end with water...and she’d react fine, b) ask to go to the bathroom, only to say she was too dizzy to go when I’d pick her up, then she’d say nevermind, so I’d lay her back down, then she’d call out 5 minutes later when I’d start to doze back to sleep to go to the bathroom again, but no, she’s too dizzy, rinse and repeat for the next two hours until I finally would make her face her dizziness and go (this was pre-bedridden-ness), or c) ask me a totally off-the-wall question that I was too tired and annoyed and frustrated to play along with. These nights drove me up a damn wall. I so dearly missed having a full-night’s sleep, ones with no interruptions, no defeating and maddening drama. I’d cry or punch my pillow in anger because it was draining and took a toll and I was fed up....but I never pretended I didn’t hear her. I always answered her calls. And no matter how delusional she was, no matter if she really needed anything or not, no matter how fussy she was, she always told me she loved me when I’d tuck her back in. Hearing her tell me that and having the chance to say it back was why I was always there when she called. Love.
Love never intends to bring out the worst in you or make you snap; it just makes you face reality and take a hard look in the mirror. So you can grow. Love never intends to make you feel small or defeated; it just makes you feel vulnerable. So you can grow. And love never intends to be cruel or maddening; it just can get ugly sometimes. So you can grow. All of that messiness is okay, because survival of the fittest, right? Only the strong are really cut out for the battlefield. It’s not for everyone.
Love has taught me all of this.
And for you, yia yia, your lessons never stop, even without you here...