Betty's 74.5 Birthday *

          Today I'm remembering my dear friend Betty, because a photo of myself popped up online and the memories of the day flooded in. I could probably write a whole book on her wonderful influence in my life, and everyone who read it would nod along in agreement. I was blessed to meet her the year after my own mama died when my new little family relocated to Colorado for what we thought would be a slower, safer life.
          She and her hubby retired and moved in across the street from us, and we became fast friends within weeks. Over the years our families became friends, with the three living generations socializing together frequently.  I can't express the depth of love I hold for her, or the measure of gratitude I have for her presence in my life. It's a lot. A whole lot. She was a gem. Today's topic is not only about her birthday, but about something I live with that she would have helped me with if I'd been able to express it before she passed away. Betty was the most honest, kind, gentle, and funny person I ever met besides my own mama.
          She taught me to make pecan-caramel-chocolate candy turtles. She taught me how to plant a rose bush and keep it alive. She taught me that new baby trees need ten times as much water as seemed reasonable. By her example she taught me to actively love people. I think she may have been the person from whom I got the idea that "love is a verb." She taught me to play hand-and-foot and zilch. She also taught me not to be an asshole - out loud anyway.

          Anyway, we - our entire extended family - celebrated Betty's 75th birthday several months early during the summer of the year that Kaylan died. She got so cold in winter (maybe because she didn't like to wear shoes) that we didn't want to have a party for her when she would be at all uncomfortable, so there we were out in the heat with squirt guns and food and games for a whole afternoon. I love to look at photos of that day. She was happy. Our kids and grandkids, nieces and nephews, aunties and uncles were there together.
         It was also the first day I experienced a period of prolonged joy since Kaylan died. Betty knew that we were all feeling better that day, and I think this added to her joy in the day. She was a person who wept for others but never herself. Because of her huge heart and caring, I never shared some of my deeper sadness about losing my daughter, but she knew because she'd lost her own daughter-in-law who she'd loved for 25+ years.
          Here I am wishing again. I wish Betty was still well and alive. I wish my daughter and my mom and dad and sister was still alive and well. Isn't it weird that we so often wish for things that we can't have? 
Maybe wishing is the way we remember and continue our relationships with people we still love.

Date: 22 Feb 2018
Question for my online grief group

           Does anyone else feel that everything they do/say is wrong or maybe even dangerous? I've had this feeling lurking since Kaylan died, but haven't voiced it. I wonder if it's just me? If it's suicide loss specific? If it's a symptom of complicated grief? It's so freaking anxiety producing and not productive at all in living my daily life. And I don't think it's really true. But it is a deep feeling. Just wondering.

 

Erica KitzmanComment