Grief, Grace and Goddess Mother Steph

It is a year since I wrote the original draft of this blog, and at that time it was too fresh to share. Steph and I went through it again today, and I am sharing this with her blessing and to honour her and Louis today and every day. You’ll want to ensure you have some tissues handy, this is not an easy read, but an important one…

It is 5:44am. I’m watching a genuinely shitty 90’s easy listening playlist on YouTube and crying a little bit between audible laughter at magnificent messages from friends in various time zones who have been awake for hours. We are all carrying varying levels of triggered fear and grief for one of my inner circle goddesses. A dear friend for years now, she is managing the unimaginable after losing her cheeky, wonderful, perfectly imperfect and absolutely adored and appreciated eldest son was a passenger in a car crash that ended his life a few short weeks ago. There’s no manual for this and the pain comes in waves that render her helpless for periods and then she picks herself back up and carries on with her busy and beautiful life. She does it for her younger son, she does it because there’s really just no other option. She is incredible and one day she’s going to be the rock and a source of shelter and comfort for someone as her grief counselor has been to her. It’s that cycle of connection and meaning that brings some strange clarity to the anguish of such loss. She keeps going. I don’t know how. But she’s surrounded by Love and held in the hearts of people we both know and countless other lives of people I will never meet who she’s touched personally and professionally by being the stoic, sensible, fun, fabulous, wonderful woman she is. We have been through a lot together over the years. She’s as much a poker-faced complexity as I am a hot mess and open book. It’s an honour to have earned her trust and respect and it is an honour to be close to her in a time of need as she has been for me in my darkest hours. Although, constantly afraid I will say or do something stupid, or trigger her grief, just being available seems to be enough.

It’s difficult to even see any teenage boy without being triggered. This presents a challenge as I have my own teenage boy and have been peripherally invested in countless numbers of his quirky friends lives. I see them engaging in various levels of dumbassery and watch them navigating life while Steph is being ripped to shreds by the hole left with Louis’ passing. When someone we Love is in pain, we want so bad to do something to help, but there’s sweet fuck all anyone can do and between the tears my darling friend blows me away with her behemoth strength and vulnerability.

Life is a lot. It’s a beautiful, magical, excruciating mystery and not a single one of us are going to make it out of it alive.

For Louis’ funeral (which spilled out into the parking lot with hundreds upon hundreds of mourners) there were so many fabulous Louis stories from both his mother and father. There’s years more Louis stories for me to hear, just as every time I saw Steph there was more shenanigans to report. So, during this surreal sadness, I sat, clinging to my ex-husband (also a friend of Steph’s) and shaking with laughter while ugly-crying as Carl and Steph delivered funny stories about their creative and hilarious “volcano” kid who would be chill on the sports field then burst into action like a volcano. Louis saw potential and brought out creativity and adventure in countless peers and people. A kind, generous, quirky 17 year old brimming with passion, potential and possibility. He touched so many lives and sparked bravery and creativity in so many people across countless social groups. They continue to honour Louis with their passion for photography and adventure.

Grief is an inevitable part of everyone’s journey. The mere thought of losing a child piques an unrivaled and visceral pain in any feeling human being. Friends who have not yet had the pleasure of meeting Steph have shared a sinking and sincere sorrow for her online and IRL. When we were trying to settle on words for Louis’ coffin, another of the long-haul goddesses in Wellington suggested the very eulogy that Steph chose to be shared at the funeral. We. Are. All. Connected. We are all miracles. We are all completely unaware of the joy, pain and journey that lays ahead of us. We are all going to have unimaginable grief enter our frame of vision, directly or indirectly. The tenderness and support that pours out is reserved only for the darkest of moments in our lives.

I’ll never be able to shape or edit this blog to do justice to the things I want to say to and about Steph or anyone who has lost a child. So I will end with a note of gratitude to all our mutual friends who have been supportive of her, and checked in with me too. There are those who have known grief that I still can’t imagine, and they’ve all said the same thing: Just be there. Just check in. Just be ready and available.

What an incredible privilege it is to have such wise and wonderful energy, and what a terrible and strange thing it is to realise that the depth and sincerity of such wisdom is absolutely impossible to reach or feel without such excruciating tragedy.

I’ll end by sharing the absolutely beautiful speech from Louis’ memorial. And I will wish you comfort and strength as you reflect on the loss and Love that will almost certainly be triggered by this clumsy and inadequate blog, written by a clumsy and inadequate friend who is feeling so grateful to be available to be clumsy and inadequate but present through this unimaginable time in my sweet goddesses’ life.

You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.
And at one point you’d hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell him/her that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you. And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let him/her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her/his eyes, that those photons created within her/him constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever.
And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue the heat of our own lives.
And you’ll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they’ll be comforted to know your energy’s still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you’re just less orderly.

Eating Our Feelings

A Practical Guide to Navigating Former and Future Feelings and Realities

Getting divorced was one of the greatest things to happen to me in my entire adult life. My ex is happily rid of me and ensconced in a new life. My heart yearns for his happiness, as it always did, perhaps more even, than I worry about my own joy. The difference now being, I am not in any way responsible but very supportive from a distance. Probably should be slightly more of a distance, but that’s always been a challenge for me. I am somewhat prone to smothering or completely ignoring people. Hot or Cold. On or Off. I struggle with finding a middle ground, but it is a struggle I am making huge strides at winning.

This is the three of us on the Star Trek cruise March 2020. Steve had an inside state room and we had a slaying suite… he’s a generous hobbit my ex husband 🥰

Since the split, I am healthy, happy, completely unmedicated and I certainly don’t crawl into a bottle or engage in destructive behaviours with the vim and vigour I once did.  The days of seeking validation and running in circles at sonic speeds trying to fix everything and anything that fell into my vision are long put to rest.  These days life is about true and fulfilling connections, healthy boundaries, incredible gratitude, and modeling health and grace not chaos and confusion to my kids and step kids.

Ouch that was a lot, it get’s lighter from here though so stick with me.

From day dot of hooking up with my future husband Damon he was briefed in no uncertain terms on the fact that my first husband was, despite being a royal pain in the ass at times, probably the only person on this planet I truly trusted and would almost certainly remain my BFF.  This is generally not a problem, although occasionally confounds him as I tolerate basically zero shit from absolutely everyone else these days, and Phteven is free to be his most authentic (and occasionally infuriating) self, whatever that may look like at any given time. 

Writing that down, I really am filled with gratitude for both my former and future husbands.  They could not be more different and I am so proud of them both and honoured to be watching their journeys into our autumn years.  They are both incredible dads, brilliant in their own way, and they are both inherently kind in a world where there are far too many unkind people doing unkind things.

Damon is the only person I ever dated that my kids met in that capacity (their mom’s boyfriend).  He has been made to feel incredibly welcome and is infinitely appreciated for his domestic and interpersonal skills.  Even Phteven is loath to find much fault in the spunky former monk.  I had a moment of cold feet thinking about the permanence of matrimony and was quickly told to pull my head out and “don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.”  Even Stephen is well aware that I am punching above my weight in so many ways.  Damon is a dedicated and doting darling who I’ve been sharing my life with for nearly three years now.  Husband number two (in July we hope) is an emotionally intelligent, fiercely loyal, delightfully dedicated and doting partner indeed.  Husband number one is often available to advise husband number two how to navigate the storms I can conjure up, as despite being in a pretty great space, I am still occasionally a hair trigger away from being a traumatized and terrified child conditioned to self-destruct.  

The three of us talk nearly every day.  Here’s the actual toolkit we use to keep communication open and flowing.  We have a DM chat group called “eating our feelings” that has been our main go-to point since the three of us headed off on the Star Trek Cruise through the Caribbean back in February 2020.  

Why is this so important?  Because it is a transparent and purpose built chanel for the three of us to discuss everything from childcare to challenges, from finances to feelings, from work to jerks at work, we discuss it all.  Damon and Steve are the very picture of calm objectivity and planning and I bounce in and out of the chat asking questions that have already been answered and injecting my typical(ly annoying) Dee cheer and cheekiness to grown up conversations. 

Communication is key.  The lack of clear communication and grace was a huge factor in our marriage ending.  Nobody is squarely to blame, we just lost each other a long time ago and no matter how we tried we could not find our way back.  Steve and Dee were a freakishly strange but formidably effective force for change and hope.  We were also a bit of a mess for most of our time together.  Moving forward toward a future where we are all connected but heading in our own empowered directions, this little thread has been one of the single most important places online or IRL I exist.  

This week, as a birthday gift, my beloved and brilliant ex-husband has undertaken the mammoth task of getting us officially divorced, as it is one of only two things I asked for from anyone anywhere for my 44thbirthday.  He’s been rushing around finding yellow paper to print on, organizing a JP to witness, and generally being a small but perfectly formed document printing machine. 

Marrying Steve was absolutely one of the best things and greatest adventures anyone on earth could ever possibly imagine being a part of.  He is a royal pain in the ass, a grumpy misanthrope and is, was and will forever be one of my most favourite people on this planet.  I am very excited to be flitting off to Rarotonga in July where he will happily hand my crazy cute self over to Damon to have and hold forever, as equals who are ferociously focused on working on ourselves, our farm, family, fulfilling friendships and our relationship.  Contentment eludes us if we don’t do the work, but it is so fucking worth the effort.

I gotta say, I feel like I am simultaneously living the happiest fathomable ending and beginning, and it’s all coming in fairly hot on the heels of a horrific state of anxiety and depression that nearly ended me. 

Wherever you are in your journey, I hope you can glean a bit of hope to keep going and fight for your freedom and demand a life that you feel safe and seen in.  Life is not meant to be perfect, but it can be so much better if you cancel shit that is toxic or you’re done with, and you focus on a future that is full of possibility and hope.  Boundaries, communication, and knowing you are truly fucking worthy of comfort, clarity and clear communication.  You get it. You get those good things because you deserve them.  

We all do.

So much Love and thank you so much for reading.