So much took place since we last met up for some coffee.
My vivacious stepmother passed away this past February. We knew that her death was imminent. In fact, we talked about it openly. It was the world's worst kept secret. It was just a matter of when.
When I first met her, I was a teenager trying to figure out my place in the world. To put things mildly, I did not want anything to do with her. Loving me was not a part of her job description as my stepmother as far as I was concerned. However, she saw past my defenses and continued to reach out. I eventually came around. We grew closer over the last few years.
I wanted to be more like her in how she approached life even in light of her devastating cancer diagnosis. It brings to mind writer Katrina Kenison's observation, "How in fact, life is not all about planning and shaping, but about not knowing and being okay with that. It's about learning to take the moment that comes and make the best of it, without any idea of what is going to happen next."
My stepmother chose to be gentle, loving, and a free spirit all the way to the end rather than being at war with cancer. She chose to live with cancer and made the time she had left about what she loved the most-family. After all, she absolutely adored being a grandma to my son, Teddy, and went out of her way to make sure last Christmas was the best Christmas for us.
Shortly after I received the news of her death, I decided to make the trip out to Wisconsin for the funeral. Many family members and friends showed up.
My trip to Wisconsin dredged up rather strong emotions I did not know I had previously. Random memories of people that I have lost along the way bubbled to the surface. I struggle with depression and severe anxiety and have for years. The culmination of recent events simply compounded what I was already feeling. In fact, I became overwhelmed and had an anxiety attack after not having an episode for a long time.
I just needed to reset. To unplug. To reconnect with myself. To recenter. To recharge.
About two years ago, I was really into Bikram yoga and attended classes religiously. However, I struggled with maintaining my balance throughout each pose. You see, I was never particularly athletic. I was always the wobbly one in a sea of yoga students who probably could balance on top of a blade of grass if given the opportunity.
I was approached by the instructor with an offer of one-on-one practice. I took him up on it.
After we went through a few poses, I decided to go out on a limb and asked him a few personal questions. It turned out that he used to work as a financial manager before becoming a Bikram yoga instructor. The death of his wife of many years served as the impetus for his career change. He wanted to do something that he truly loved.
"After all, life is too short," he said.
"Life is full of restarts," he then added after a brief period of silence.
He then shared with me a story from when he was growing up in England. He was learning how to drive a car with manual transmission and would struggle on hills. Every time he would reach near the top of a hill, he did not apply his foot on the gas pedal properly to get the appropriate amount of power required to actually get over the hill. The engine would die. He would then turn the ignition over until the engine hummed. Then he would try again. And again. And again. Then one day, he was able to drive the car on hills without an incident.
Indeed, life is full of restarts. I just have to remind myself to also be gentle with myself. Not expect too much of myself. Just trust the process.