with apologies to Sting, I do not think that he meant it the way I do.
I had a doctor appointment today. I've trucked through 6 years of profound grief-fueled depression without meds. After realizing that I can no more fight depression successfully by toughing it out any more than a broken arm can set and heal itself... I capitulated. So I got the appointment over with, went to the coffee shop & met a new barista. I haven't been there in forever... almost 2 whole months. Heather remembered me and we got caught up.
She and Laura (new barista) recommended walking for what ails you. We discussed all the things that quit working. And when we got to walking, which I used to do, I said something to the effect that I have walked everywhere in this town & an quit when I realized that the ghosts walking with me were making it worse. My depression, as I said, is directly related to grief. The loss of people I love and the powerful expression of missing someone in the moment is overwhelming. The effect of grief is cumulative. With each instance you live the loss at present and then all the other losses that went before. So when my dad died I experienced the loss of his personage + gramma Olive + Grampa + Aunt Anne + Nienke + Lisa + Joe + Kirk + Jim + college friends collectively called "the Group" + Marquette friends + my small group + Mary + Lee + my sister + Val + Paulette+ _______________
Some of the loss is my fault, a direct result of having taken an action or holding an opinion or making a promise. Some of the loss is because life carries our friends out of close proximity and sometimes life just gives way to death & an other journey. The losses that are my fault are the hardest to bear: especially because it feels like being punished for being me. In one case because I am willing to explore other opinions. In another because I refused to blow a friend's cover when she refused to speak to someone she felt was using her. In another case I was tired of taking the rap for things that she did and thought that maybe for once she should take the blame for her own actions. In others I simply would not surrender my life to live in accordance with someone else's design. I do not think that I could take any of those choices back even if I were given a chance. Because then I would cease to exist. And I have already experienced that once. I do not care to repeat it.
And I guess it is that loss that all the others echo. And that is where are the ghosts gained their life. And everywhere I have been in this town, there are footprints that time has not erased. I walk in the old neighborhood and miss the friends that waited for me to finish chores so we could spend a carefree afternoon with match box cars and Star Wars figures. And I miss the person I was as an adult with a daycare. And then I miss the daycare kids, and their parents and I keep thinking that the loss would never have happened if I had been smarter about the people in my life who I did call friends. But mostly I miss the me that was. My whole life and person was expressed in that lifetime. I was confident, knowledgeable, passionate about my chosen field and had the respect of the daycare parents and peers. Probably a little jealousy too. But that wasn't what mattered then. It was being and doing something in which all of who I was participated. I defined my job and my job defined me... we were inseparable.
Since I have been out of that I have felt fractured an incomplete. Nothing has been as fulfilling or rewarding as that. Not even, dare I say it, art. So I do not walk in the old neighborhood. I do not even drive passed it any more. When I have and I see the old house I feel all the loss all over again. So then I would walk the bay front.
The bay front is where I walked with Lee and other friends to release the cares of the day. And that then built friendships. I walk by west end beach and I see the two of us in the last conversation we had in which I told him we could not date. We would not date and that no matter what my sister said, my feelings were of kinship not relationship. When I pass the volleyball courts I see the ghosts of myself and my friends in the hot sand playing a game for fun to pass the time and build our friendships. Some of us played others cheered. It is almost like Scrooge watching his life with the ghost of Christmas Past. And seeing the joy and the freedom to be ourselves with the acceptance and tolerances we had for each other's differences... it makes the ache to find that version of me more pronounced.
So I walk the Civic Center. And there are the ghosts of us playing softball. Paul insisting they all move forward after I told him how badly I played in Mr. Bauer's class. I hit the ball out of the park to much cheering. And I never felt like I couldn't play again. And I miss the girls from groups I used to walk with there when the boys were not around. It seems there are ghosts everywhere in this town. I have lived here all my life except for the two years that I lived in Marquette. And everywhere I go there is my dad or my grampa & gramma. Someone is here with me. Some memory that brings up the grief is here.
I hope so.The new me is overwhelmed with the things on her plate that old me would have made short work of. Old me used to have answers for everyone else. She needs to have answers for herself.