Saturday, August 15, 2009

Good Bye to a Friend

My heart is breaking, and I think it will stay broken for awhile. That's the way death is. The ones left behind suffer. The words aren't coming easily because there aren't words to adequately describe grief and confusion. I guess I'll start at the beginning.

Twenty six ago, I started high school. A skinny blond guy named Shawn sat in homeroom behind me because we sat in alphabetical order. He had a locker next to me too. We talked, we teased each other in a friendly way. He called me blueberry eyes, because I wore blue eye shadow when I could get out the house with it unnoticed. I called him Bear, although the reason why escapes me now. I found out recently he had a crush on me. Unfortunately, for him, I had a crush on his brother. (It was unfortunate for me too, since the feeling wasn't mutual.) We talked on the phone once in awhile, hung out in the same crowds and were generally in each other's orbits every day for four years, having fun, supporting, encouraging and just listening to each other. The memories of over two decades ago are now more like snapshots than the short films they used to be.

After school, we lost touch. He didn't come to any of our class reunions, but I was always hoping he might be there. A few months ago, he friended me on Facebook. I was thrilled, because he is someone that I really regretted losing touch with and was happy to have him back in my life even though he was on the other side of the country. I twisted his arm into putting up more photos. I shamed him into posting to his blog again after a two year hiatus, so he wrote a post about ME! Scalawag! He followed my blog; I followed his. We followed each other on Twitter. It was an electronic reunion of sorts. Sweetie and I talked about going to California again in the near future, and in my mind, it was going to include a visit with Shawn.

That brings us to this morning. I woke up at 5:45 and couldn't get back to sleep. I grabbed my iPhone and checked Facebook. There was a message from mutual friend of Shawn's that I didn't know. Shawn had been missing for several days, and he wanted to hear from anyone that might have heard from him. I had that feeling of panic wash through me where it feels like water has been thrown over your body. I just laid there with my heart pounding, not knowing what to do. After a few minutes, I decided I'd look at his profile page and see when his last post was. That's when the second wave of panic came. I saw three RIP messages from other friends unknown to me on his Wall.

My hands were shaking and I felt sick. I was hoping they just mistook missing for dead. I was hoping he'd just hooked up with some hottie and was locked away in some hotel room not coming up for air. His family had moved away and I didn't know how to contact them. I sent a message to the friend that send me the "missing message" and tried (rather unsuccessfully) to get on with my life.

After a couple of hours without a response (it seemed much longer), I sent messages to the people that had posted RIP messages on his Wall. Before long the the shock waves came rolling in... yes, Shawn died... he took his own life... he jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge.

I can't begin to understand this and even those closest to him can only speculate and wonder, but with close friends in CA, parents in FL and a brother in CT, it maybe awhile before things become clearer. Or maybe we're all looking for answers when there aren't any. Death is my greatest fear. It's too final and unknown. I have a hard time understanding the elderly or terminally ill becoming resigned to it; someone young taking his own life is unfathomable to me.

A friend told me about the biography of Audrey Hepburn she read a few years ago. Hepburn lived in Switzerland, and was close friends for years with the French actress and model, Capucine ... the beautiful woman who was in "The Pink Panther", and other films. Capucine had suffered from bi-polar and clinical depression for decades, was under very good care by doctors, took medication and had lots of support. But, she took her own life, at 57. In anguish, guilt, grief, Hepburn and her husband talked to Capucine's long-time doctor; as the book says, " .... a kind man they knew through many 'Cap crises' .... " And, it goes on: "He told Audrey something that shocked her: 'The pain Capucine was suffering was so immense, this {to her} was really the best solution.' Only then, says Rob, did Audrey make her peace with it."

While that's very helpful to hear, it's still too raw and fresh for me to make peace right now. Sadness, anger and regret are right there at the surface like an open wound. I know it will scab over; I will pick it and it will bleed again. But eventually, it will heal and the scar will fade, but never completely disappear.

Did you know how much we'd worry?
Did you know how much we'd cry?
Did you know how long we'd search for answers why?
Did you know we'd rather say "I love you"
than have to say "good bye"?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Food... I Just Can't Quit You.

I love food and everything about it... the way it looks and smells, the texture, the ritual and (oh, be still my heart) the taste. I know a man who said if he could take a pill and not eat, he'd be happy. I wish I could take a pill and eat everything and anything I wanted.

I was lucky as a teen and an early 20-something; I could eat everything and anything I wanted and not gain weight. When I got a little older, I noticed a few pounds creep up, but I'd cut back a little and they'd fall right off. I've never dieted, but I did keep a food diary for awhile in my 20s when it occurred to me that I might not have the healthiest diet. Okay, I didn't need a diary to tell me that sugared jelly donuts didn't make a good lunch, but it did help me see the error of my ways.

In my 30s, I was eating healthy, well balanced meals, but I could still eat desserts, snack on junk when I felt like it and still maintain my weight. But recently, something happened to change all that. Although, I felt like my eating habits hadn't changed, I put on 8-10 pounds last winter.

In addition to my vigorous walks, I thought I should re-evaluate my eating. I was browsing at Borders a few weeks ago, and bought "Skinny Bitch" by . I got about half way through the book and quit. They recommend not eating meat, dairy, sugar or drinking alcohol. No wonder they're bitches. That takes all the fun out of food.

But I am going to make some changes. First the scary one... I'm giving up all alcohol for almost three weeks until school starts. I won't give it up forever because it's a taste and ritual I love, but I'm hoping it might jump start the weight loss. I haven't looked up the calorie count of one mixed drink or glass of wine, but that along with the nuts or cheese and crackers every night, must add up to a lot over the period of a week.

Other changes:
  • fewer chips with a sandwich at lunch. I'll be counting them out instead of grabbing a handful. And I will never, EVER again eat them out of the bag.
  • drinking more water.
  • eating more fruit, especially as snacks
  • cutting way back on sweet treats, but not denying myself because I'd only want it more.
  • portion control
  • no finishing Pipsqueak's leftovers
  • eating slower.

It's really just being more conscious about what goes in my mouth. I don't want to do anything that I can't keep doing or isn't well-balanced. I also have to think about the example that I'm setting for Pipsqueak. I don't want her to be a dieter; I want her to be a healthy eater.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Emancipation of Me.... Me!!

It's time I freed myself from an unhealthy and near-sedentary life style. It's one of those things that no one can tell you to do. You just have to decide to do it yourself, and I've decided it's time to get off my fat butt and get that fat butt off.

I gained 8 or 10 pounds last winter. I had maintained the same weight for almost 20 years except for when I was getting divorced and lost almost 20 pounds (not a recommended method of weight loss), and when I was pregnant and put on 30 pounds which I lost in just under a year. Weight just hasn't really been an issue for me and not something I had to work to control... until now.

It's not even ALL about the weight. If my body is a temple, mine has been crumbling. I have way too many aches and pains, tension in my neck most of the time and a general lack of energy. I convinced myself that I had a thyroid condition, but I had my doctor check it, and he reassured me that I'm just a hypochondriac and don't have a life-long condition requiring medication.

It's easy to make up excuses of why not to exercise:
  • can't afford to go to the gym
  • no one available to watch child/ren
  • don't have the right clothes/shoes to wear
  • don't have the time
  • don't feel good right now; maybe when I feel better
  • it's raining
  • don't like to sweat.

What convinced me to do something (other than make excuses)? The sight of myself in shorts and (Egad! The horror!) a bathing suit. I've always had this dream that when I was 50 I wanted to be in shape like Tina Turner or Cher or Madonna. That's only 5 years + away, and it's not going to happen overnight.

Last week, I put together a playlist on my Ipod of music that keeps me moving, put on some comfortable clothes and sneakers and started walking. And I don't mean strolling. I mean if I was going any faster, I'd be running. When I was on vacation, I did 2 1/2 or 3 miles since it was on the coast and flatter. At home, it's a lot of steep up and down hill, so I'm doing 2 miles. So far, I've walked about 13 miles total, and I have to admit, I like how it makes me feel. I have more energy after I walk, and I like the happy endorphins I feel when I'm done.

The weird part is that I don't want to do it before I go. I feel like I have a devil on one shoulder and an angel on another. The devil is making excuses and the angel is telling me how good it is for me and how good I'll feel. When I get back, I can't wait to go out again. Unfortunately, that feeling passes, and I'll struggle again the next time. As my friend, Ellen so aptly put it, "Inertia is a wicked, wicked force."

Tomorrow, I'll talk about what I'm doing on the inside to change how I feel and look.

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