Where Have You Been?

I admit it has surprised and delighted me that some have asked why I haven’t written a blog in so long. So as I sit down this morning to write, imagining in my mind that the last one was a couple of weeks ago, I am startled to see that it was December 1. What?!? There are three drafts that I started that were never finished…the third entitled ‘Champagne’, the second one ‘Love, Loss and Champagne’ and the first just ‘L’. It would appear I was very distracted…and had champagne on the brain. December was an extraordinary month, and not in an entirely positive and holiday festive way. I feel compelled to explain my absence by explaining what reality put on my doorstep these past few months.

The first unexpected loss was December 10, the last was January 20. There were 4 total. After each loss someone would comment, ‘and especially at this time of year.’ There is never a good time for loss but I do agree that it is extraordinarily hard at the holidays.

What did I learn, gain or gather from the losses I endured? There has to be a silver lining to everything that happens. If you can’t find a message, something positive in every event I find it impossible to process what has happened. I still find it impossible to process some of what happened but I am trying.

Our friend Rod was killed in a motorcycle accident on December 10. He epitomized ‘life of the party’. The man never met a stranger, never had a cross word. He lived hard and fast: to paraphrase from Top Gun ‘Mach-2 with his hair on fire’ was his way, if only he’d had hair. He would have embraced the irony in that. The message of Rod’s loss is live like today is your last day. No regrets, no excuses. Sometimes this is not realistic or responsible. But as we gathered to raise glasses to our friend, the general sentiment was that he didn’t miss much and squeezed a TON of life into his years. Would we all have preferred another 20 or more years with him? Absolutely. Cheers to you, Rod. You are missed.

The next friend I lost was a long time patient of mine that had evolved into a dear friend over the years. I had not had the privilege of seeing her for many years but when our paths crossed it made me smile. She was elegant, funny, fun. What did I learn from her loss? Don’t waste time if you feel you need to be in someone’s company that you haven’t seen in a while. Maybe you saw them yesterday but they are on your mind: reach out, let them know. Many have the same policy that Jeff and I do: do not part company with discord or without ‘I love you’. God forbid you didn’t have the chance to let someone know.

The loss that affected me most deeply was Tim. He died on December 30.  Tim was my assistant in the operating room but more than anything Tim was my friend. He was a very, very dear friend…one of my closest friends. We had a bond many didn’t understand but was so effortless to us. His girlfriend, who I love, told me after we lost him that I was like the other woman and she was OK with that. That may not sound like a compliment but it meant so much to me. Tim is survived by his three children that I love. I love his mother. I love his girlfriend. I am really struggling to find the message here. He was Buddhist and I have learned a lot about Buddhism since his passing. Much of what I have learned is soothing in a time of loss. His loss has brought me closer to those that also loved him; I have spent more time with his mother and children than I had while I had him here. I confess I am struggling to learn the message regarding Tim’s loss. I confess there are many days that I reject reality and believe I will talk to him tomorrow. I am searching.

The fourth loss was Grady. Have you ever met someone later in life that you instantly like so much that you are excited about learning more about them in the future…someone so talented, interesting that their dress, style mesmerizes you. Grady was an artist, a musician. He was truly one of the coolest dudes I have ever met and there is just no other way to sum it up. He had been a high school friend of Jeff’s and I had just had the privilege of meeting him and his wife in November. Jeff has a shirt that Grady admired…his wife Lisa had reached out to me to learn where we bought it and Grady had found one. Lisa said it was his favorite shirt. The message from his loss is to cultivate your funky, your fun…your art. Make a presence that will endure when you are no longer here to create. I will never forget Grady and I just had the smallest glimpse into his greatness. Cheers to you, Grady…thank you for the honor of your company and the privilege of being able to say I knew you.

This is not an uplifting blog. Many have probably stopped reading already and opted to clip their toenails or take out the garbage because that is more exciting. My office has mentioned to me many times that I need to write. They have suggested many topics that are relevant to my practice that might be helpful or interesting. But I feel I must explain my absence before I move on to levity and education and beauty and all things pretty. Loss is part of life and I know that. How can you appreciate happy if you have never known sad? It would be impossible.

I am still trying to process my world without these four in it. As is reality, some of the losses are much harder to endure on a day to day basis than others. I will take this from each of them:

Live large and embrace every opportunity you are granted, as there is no guarantee of tomorrow.

Do not let the sun set on absence or regret or apology…if it crosses your mind, do it: because you may not get another chance.

Cultivate your art, your story…make your world a place that others thrive in and want to visit.

Regarding my Timmy…I am still searching, my friend. I was so blessed to have the friendship that we shared. The lessons with your loss are complicated and painful. I choose just to love you and believe that the meaning in your reality will come to me in time. I will never again operate without you over my shoulder and in my heart and mind.

How did champagne sneak into the story? Because I started this writing during the holidays and that’s champagne’s time to shine. If you know me you know I love champagne…any time is the right time. It is festive and happy. Over the course of this past December, many glasses were raised. I celebrate you, friends and loved ones, and raise my glass to you. Cheers! Now for heaven’s sake send me an idea to write about that will generate giggles and smiles and hopefully hordes of people running to the office to book surgery. Which brings us to my beloved mother’s favorite toast…

Here’s up to it!


Emily MclaughlinComment