Last night my stepmom, Clare, let go of the life that we know and rejoined the things we don’t. She taught me a ferocious kind of love along the way. She showed me things about being a step parent – little gifts that I’m still finding within myself that bring me closer to my sweetie’s kiddo. She taught me perhaps the biggest lesson about accepting oneself that I’ve ever learned, and in that, allowed me to pass that gift on to my partner. And she and my dad worked together to give the five of us sisters an example of strength and grace that I don’t see very often in the world.
Last weekend she told me that her only wish is that the love she has felt in her lifetime live on through others. We all know that she’s still alive, a little with each of us.
In the interest of spreading this request far and wide without being intensely spammy, my dad has a mountain of medical debt to work through, and we’re asking for help. If you’d like to donate, please follow this link.
A piece of her spark came in the no-nonsense expectation that her loved ones do what they need to take care of themselves, without question or apology.
So today I did.
I got up at 5:20 – let myself sleep in a bit, because sleep came late last night. I did some outreach for my business. Then I went and cried in the shower, because recently the little tillandsia (air plant) I have in there started to grow. And recently my stepsister Carrie told me that dusty rose and sage are Clare’s favorite colors. And this morning, I noticed that this little plant is both dusty rose and sage. And is sprouting adorable little roots. And that absolutely broke me in half.
After my shower cry-fest, I went to work. Because sometimes self-care looks like avoidance, and sometimes it looks like putting one foot in front of the other because there’s nothing else you can do other than stay in bed all day sobbing. And sometimes it’s a combination of the two.
My day job allows me a bluetooth ear thing with a podcast or audiobook for the majority of my day, and without that I wouldn’t have made it. Except it wasn’t avoidance – it was forward movement.
Y’know that Neitzsche quote about the why and the how (often mis-attributed to Frankl, who paraphrased with “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how”)? That one.
Well, add this to the stack of my “why.”
Why am I building a business?
I want to be a more present mom for Silas, to the point of world travel and some homeschooling.
I want to be a more mobile and time-rich partner for my sweetie.
I need to work for myself.
I owe the world my best self and my strengths, expressed.
And the most recent “why:”
My dad just lost his wife and I don’t want him to be alone.
Here is another instance of really hard shit that isn’t allowed to stop me. This isn’t an obstacle. It’s fuel. It’s a reason to keep going.
When the shit gets real,
we get real stubborn.
So today I take more tiny steps forward. Taking more photos of plants. Writing down ideas for newsletters and articles. Figuring out how to get the wrinkles out of my photo backdrop.
And today I cry. And tomorrow, and any time I need. Because life doesn’t stop for any of us, and if there’s one thing Clare taught all of us in her last month, it’s that you keep on living for as long as you’re here.
Do this work as if your life depends on it –
because it does.