It’s been two months to the day since I last wrote. I’d like to tell you all that over those past two months that I’ve been in a deep, committed relationship and each day has gotten better as we get to know each other. However, it’s been the opposite of that. No dating, no dates and not so much as a random stranger smiling back at me. I’m not upset about it at all, in fact, if anyone did try to get to know me over the past two months, I wasn’t emotionally available anyhow. The truth is, over the past two months, I’ve simply been hoping for “better days”. Not just for me but for everyone I know.
I live a good life. I know this fact and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t acknowledge and show gratitude for the life that I live. I live in the greatest city in the world, have the most amazing friends anyone can ask for, I get to experience events that most people only see on television and I have my health. Over the past couple of months, I’ve had to really focus on my health. A couple of months ago, I was so stressed from life that I noticed I was losing chunks of hair. My doctor determined it might be thyroid related and that I needed to really scale back on the stress (if only it were that easy). So, I did my very best to try and avoid any stress that came my way. For the past couple of months, I felt like I was Wonder Woman using my deflective bullets to ward off any sign of stress that was coming my way. However, sometimes even imaginary bullets cannot protect us from life’s setbacks.
Back in late September, our family finally decided on a date on when we would be having the memorial for my grandmother who passed away this July. We would all be coming together in the beginning of October to spread her ashes in a small town in Arizona, in which she was born. I found my grandmother’s request rather poetic. Full circle, if you will. From the town you were born to where you lay for the rest of time. I had not been to this town since I was a teenager, so I wasn’t sure what to expect or what to even feel. But I did tell myself that this memorial isn’t about me but rather about my grandmother and respecting her wishes.
Weeks leading up to me traveling to Arizona, I was fortunate enough to get to see Madonna perform her show in Brooklyn several times. I was fortunate enough to spend a lot of time with friends and finally it was time for me to travel to Arizona. It was the day for me to travel to Arizona, a state that I basically loathe but again, this wasn’t about me. As I was getting ready the morning of my flight, I felt that I was taking longer to get ready and that I was running the risk of missing my flight. I wasn’t sure if I was purposely taking my time because I didn’t want to go or the fact that I’m a natural disaster when it comes to time management. Regardless, I felt that I was confident enough that if I took an Uber to the train station that I would be getting to Newark airport with enough time. Turns out…I didn’t have enough time. I got stuck in traffic, the trains were delayed and as I got to the Delta terminal and spoke with the clerk, she told me that I was too late to check in and that I will be put on the next flight. She also, managed to squeeze in a snarky comment about being on time the next time I flew.
Suffice to say, I did make the next flight and I did make it to Arizona. My family planned it so that we would have a few days of family time before we would all than go to perform the memorial. It was my dad’s birthday and I made him a cake from scratch (with my mother’s supervision, of course). He appreciated it but I also knew that deep down, he was hurting. It was one of the few instances where I saw the sadness in my fathers’ eyes. It turns out, that the morning of his birthday, my grandparents called my father to tell him that my uncle (his brother) had gotten the results back from his doctor and my uncle has stage four pancreatic cancer. It turns out, my uncles “better days” were numbered. It was tough but we all encouraged my father, who hasn’t seen his brother in years, to go and visit him in Seattle where he lives.
I’d like to say that the trip to Arizona was drama free but me missing flights, my uncle’s devastating news, my parents car broke down while I was there and I was a little nervous that by the time my grandmother’s memorial was to take place, that there would only be anger left to express. However, the morning of the memorial, my entire family was ready bright and early and onto the three hour drive we went. The drive to this small town, was a mixed bag. There were moments on the drive where we sat in silence and moments of when we tried to talk to make things lighter.
It took the family about fifteen minutes to find the cemetery where we were going to be spreading the ashes but once we did, there was a sense of tranquility that surrounded us all. None of us really knew what to do or say but once the family began to speak about my grandmother, the tears began and the final release happened. I hadn’t cried about my grandmother, not once, since she passed in July. As the song, The Way We Were by Barbra Streisand ended (a song she wanted played at her service), a monarch butterfly fluttered around us. The butterfly continued to flutter by us until we all hugged and got back in the car to head back to my parents’ house. As we began to drive away from the grave site, I was able to finally let go, say goodbye and only focus on the fond memories and “better days” that I got to experience with my grandmother.
I’d like to say that the day I was set to fly back to New York went smoother than when I left but I would have no such luck. I was taking the red eye from Arizona which means that no one in my family wanted to drive me to the airport that late at night, so I ended up taking an Uber to the airport. I gave myself plenty of time to get from my parents’ house to the airport when as I was in the Uber, just looking out the window, I wanted to send a text message to a friend when I realized that I didn’t have my phone with me. I was thirty minutes into the drive to the airport when I started to freak out and the driver said, he would turn around for me. The driver was so kind and patient and said that I wasn’t the first person that has done this before. I ran to my parents’ door and they were all getting ready for bed and I just grabbed my phone and ran back inside the car. When I got to the airport, I only had forty minutes before they were to board. I made my flight and I made it back to New York in one piece.
The past couple of weeks since I returned from Arizona has been spent me trying to get back to a normal, stress free life. It hasn’t been easy, our family recently learned that the doctors told my uncle he only has a few months to live. A very close friend of mine lost his aunt and is in great mourning and I have to go back to the doctors this week and get more work done to make sure my thyroid is alright. Such is life I guess.
This past Saturday, I was at a favorite Irish bar of mine called, Swift. I was sitting at the bar with a friend of mine and he said, “Our better days are behind us now. That’s sad.” After I hit him in his arm for saying such a heinous remark, he did clarify that he meant that we can’t do the things that we used to. Unfortunately, I did have to agree with him on certain things that we’re simply not able to do like we used to do. For some reason, I took his remark that my “better days” are behind me all together.
Most of my yesterday was spent thinking about “better days”. As this year starts to wind down, I couldn’t help but really over analyze just how intense this year has been. There was a ton of great loss from people passing from this earth, friendships that shifted, health that has become compromised. The list goes on and on and some can simply say that this is “life” and to get over it. However, even if it is what “life” is about, the losses and the gains, it doesn’t mean that this year has been easy on anyone.
I guess all we can do is try to be the best versions of ourselves that we possibly can be. Treat each other with kindness, respect and love. And with all this kindness, respect and love that we spread to the world, that “better days” will be sent upon us all.
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