Thursday, August 30, 2018

GOOD GRIEF

If it’s true that you can judge someone by the people that populate their life, I’m the most terrific person in human history. I told Jason that before I took him to meet my family he needed to be certain that he was in love with me because once he met them he’d never want to let me go. My friends and family are the good thing about me.

Today, I will have been a widow for two years, and while it was the worst happening of my life, that event served as kickoff for two years of overwhelming kindnesses.

I called my parents from the RV park where Jim’s plane went down, and they were in the car within minutes, driving the nine hours from Elk Ridge, Utah, to my house. Supportive is their norm, so at 3:30AM on August 31, they found me tear-drenched in a bed I no longer shared, and at 5:30AM, my dad accompanied me and Dustin to Victory Woodworks to meet with Jim’s employees. In my family, being available to each other is a top-down thing. I don’t know who all took their offspring, but my sissies dropped everything and rushed here too, even Mal from Denmark.

My mom says our family is kind of like the mob. When you’re in, you’re made, but if just one sister decides you’re out, a couple of us will watch everyone's kids so the others can team up to maim and off you. My first husband is an example. When I brought him into the family, everyone accepted and loved him. They supported our marriage right up until the second I informed them we were done with that cheating idiot stick. Immediate pariah. The virulence they felt and spewed at him was inevitable once they were given direction.

Just missing Whit. The Sixchix are incomplete without her.
The fam came to town again this last weekend. To ease the weight of anticipating today, I threw a big party Saturday to celebrate Jim, and my team came in full-force. At the end of the night, one of the catering staff told me, “Next year we need more vegetables. We’ve got some chicken left, but we ran out of veggies.” I laughed and told her that every other person at the party was either a yoga teacher or yoga student, and those people tend to do vegetables in a big way.

So many of the best things in my life have come by way of yoga. Yes, perspective, physical health, a marriage proposal, and a job I love, but it’s the yoga people that bowl me over. My bosses, my students, my fellow teachers—they’re my best friends.

I got Cameron from yoga. We started as students together. Now we teach together.


Three days after Jim died—and you guys, I still can’t consider this particular anecdote without crying—Cameron came over, and in part of some conversation, he mentioned that he hadn’t slept or eaten for three days. Stupid as shit and concerned for him, I asked why. He looked at me like, “Hey dummy, it’s all this.” He wasn’t messed up because he lost Jim. He was messed up because I did. Over these last two years, he’s listened when I need to talk, usually while at the gym lifting heavy things, and he’s lightened the mood in a way absolutely no one else can.

I got Jason from yoga. He was my student. Now he’s my boyfriend.

He might not appreciate my discussing this, but I want that man to get more credit than he does. Being with me is really damn hard. Yes, because of who I am, but also because of Jim. Jason makes it look easier than I know it is, and he makes it look easy for my sake. He has never pushed me to leave Jim behind, and it’s not because it’s painless or he doesn’t care. He cares a lot, and I suspect it hurts. Yet I believe that he cares more about my progress being genuine than he cares about his own comfort regarding my late husband. I think he believes in us enough to do hard things, and I think it means that for Jason our relationship can feel like a steep but pretty hike with a sharp rock in your boot. In his situation, I wouldn’t be selfless, patient, or resolute enough to deal like he does.

No one in my life forgets about Jim or our relationship. That’s important to me, but it’s becoming even more meaningful that my people encourage headway. It’s easy to pigeonhole a widow. You are a sad thing. I tell you that I want you to be happy, but glimpsing you doing well actually makes me uncomfortable, so stay sad, mmmkay? Fortunately, that hasn’t been my own experience. My people are the best ones, so they coddle me when I need it, they welcome not just Jason the person, but the concept of him as my someone, they listen to my same stories about a dead guy, and they hold Jim’s memory close, even when the memory isn’t their own. Hell, Hilary never met Jim, but on his birthday she made lemon cake, his favorite.

Who just does that type of thing? My people. I can take today, the two-year anniversary, as something to be sad about, or I can take this day to be more of what I already am: grateful. Grateful for the memories. Grateful for where I am now. Grateful for my people. Jim was cream of the crop, and from him on, I made that the only kind I keep.

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