There Is a Limit.

Grief isn’t always an honorarium.

Too prolonged, it turns into a mortifying dishonor.

It’s horrifyingly self-heart-breaking to have to admit this. I’ve been wrong.   

I accepted well-meaning, short-term advice as eternally acceptable; permissive and long term.

Took it with no intention of delving below the surface or coming up for air.

I haven’t decided which is the more appropriate analogy.

Doesn’t matter, they’re each tired in their own way.

I believed, because I wanted to. Justified by unlimited sources, repeating: there is no time limit on grief.

Day-by-Day. Hour-by-Hour, Minute-by-Minute were my only mantras. Which one depended entirely on the ebb or swell of absurdities; my stagnant situation, gladly perceived as permanent. It’s been quite the convenience; playing deeply into the dark places that have never scared me.

I’ve never been that Martina McBride “Happy Girl.” Although, I recognize myself at the start of the story. As much as I embrace it as a feasible concept, that won’t ever be me.

I used to take part, maintaining a purposely limited social life. Not because I enjoyed it, but because I was afraid I’d miss something big or a faintly-possible someone special.

Farcical charades, short spurts of semi-forced enthusiasm are easier to maintain than enduring the long-lingering disappointment of others and constantly being called on saying, “No.”

COVID’s been a bit assistive in this.

I’m not any lonelier than I was before, and that’s my enraged point.

I’ve lost almost 15 years to grief.

I’ve self-excused and self-approved my lack of future vision by embracing, without investigation, a kindly-offered axiom, as an exalted right.

There is most definitely a time limit on overwhelming sorrow and debilitative grief, and you’re the only one who can set it.

Moving On. The Challenge.

On October 13, 2020, I told you this: Last week, someone I don’t know said something that changed everything.

There’s been a change in the playlist.

The internet loves challenges like I love music. It thrives on them. It discovers dozens each day. But, only a few are worth it.

Mmmm. Like this one. #blueoctober #movingon #challenge .

I prefer not to start in the middle, but in this case, urgence of participation (gasp) makes sense.

I’ve had the wrong song in my #1 will-do spot for decades. Not my fault.

The right song hadn’t been written, yet. Now, it has.

Moved out of the first slot: I’m Moving On.

I believe in this song. For many years, it’s been an anthem excuse of self-promising, a someday in-waiting. Not an action wanting.

A melancholy sing along, every time, where I want the words to be real. A prelude to the reach, wanting lets me waltz. Feelings play along with well-curated reels in my mind. I can picture it, but I can’t do exactly that.

Now seen for what I really want it to be: the after, the explainer. Not every line is perfect. Some are so false that I’ll address them, later.

Moving into First Place: Moving On, though, is a rearranger – an artfully arranged mind-matter mover with an oddly perfect, happy melody.

Brought to me by Tuesday Night Recovery. Live weekly sessions hosted by Justin Furstenfeld of Blue October, featuring steps and music and supports.

Yes, plural. Discussions, viewer comments, one-day-at-a-time preaching. I have no idea how I got God-smacked into this mecca of inclusive anonymous help, where my anti-social not-group-joining self can join-in and be communed, but unobserved.

If it hadn’t been explained, I never would have though it to be what it is. To the writer, it’s not a love gone-wrong song. It’s a get-out-of -my-life I am never going back to (insert vice here.) It’s a sterner, angrier, get off of my life, pulling away from the surround, bursting my own bubble song.

Reminded me so much of this. Re-capping, quickly; a grief therapy session, where someone else said something that clicked.

Discussing my already 8-year-old grief. “Sometimes, I can’t keep it in.” I admitted. “It. Just. Wants Out.”

“Well, what do you want?” was the question, asked.

Firmly answered, “I want it gone.” “So,” he astutely concluded. “You and your grief want the same thing.”

I have to move on. I’m not saying goodbye to you or our memories or our friendships or him.

I’m saying goodbye to my crippling 15-year-old cloak in full-on ‘What Not to Wear Style’. It’s coming with a cost though.

An emotionally expensive fear, which I have avoided (or so I thought) until now. Because moving on is terrifying and de-cloaking is soul exposing.

I’ve taken advantage of grief to be comfortable, to exist in solitary. Guaranteeing no furtherly inflicted love or loss.

I have no faith that things will be different in six months.

I have faith that I will be. Different. In six months, when my grief turns 15.

This Week’s

Exploration Links:

Blue October: two videos, because something worth doing is worth doing, again and again. One of them will speak to you. I’m sure.

Moving On Live Tuesday Night Recovery Version

Moving On Fan Participation Video Version

And then there’s this one… Fear

Kelly Clarkson  I’m Moving On  False: “They’ll never allow me to change.” You’ve all always wanted me to change.

The Scrambler

At the end. Not really. There is no terminus.

We’re at the end of this line and it’s time to change tracks. Not sure if I’m going by train or plain or bus, on foot strolling or if I’m just going to stand here a while.

The funny stuff doesn’t end here. Some of it still continues. But, there’s this:

Last week someone I don’t know said something that changed everything.

Truly. Everything.

The technical base of this pre-recorded shared philosophy branches out beyond where we normally go.

Merriam-Webster: Addiction 2: a strong inclination to do, use, or indulge in something repeatedly.

The point of the moment was that addiction isn’t limited to drugs or alcohol. Food, gambling, smoking, shopping, sex, video games, internet, social media.

The scrambler? “You can be addicted to sadness.”

Well, then.

I’ve felt this way for so long; too long, I admit.

And while it’s comfortable here, cocooned and non-expanding, I don’t think I want to be here anymore.

It’s been way longer than you think; then you know, too.

I’ve been writing pain since, always. I remember sharing a piece I was particularly pre-teen proud of, brought up short by the question: Does everything you write have to be so dark?

Of course, I’ve changed. I write about life: the known, unknown, bad, ugly, cliché.

I didn’t write for a few years. Guess which ones those were? Yep, that short little span of Jeff years.

I don’t think I’m incapable of happy prose. I’d like to think I was just too busy living happy.

Maybe. I don’t know. I just didn’t write. Much. I’ve found a few notes which are entirely inexplicable….

So, the shock of that. That word. Addiction.

I’ve wrapped my head around it, and yeah, I am completely sure. It is what I never considered it could be or would be or was or is.

I’m not nearly in the same spiritual place as when I was misunderstood 14 years ago.

I’m further away now then when I wasn’t at all.

I’m not sure how I’m gonna do this/how long its gonna take.

But, I’m kinda happy with my decision. And that feels … new.

Quote for the Week:

song list for this sort of thing: talking to myself, talking to the sadness.

Billie Eilish IDon’tWannaBeYouAnymore

Blue October Movin’ On

Chrissy Metz Talking to God

Snow Patrol This Isn’t Everything You Are

The Unexpected Ministry in Misunderstanding (Time to Eat.)

I never fessed up because I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t take away the meaning they’d assigned.

What I’d said was, “Five years ago today was the happiest day of my life. Today is the second happiest day of my life, because I can see how very much (emotional throat glitch) he was loved.”

From what I’ve been told, miss-hearings varied from, “how very much Jesus loved him,” to how very much Jesus loves us.”

Our United Methodist Church Pastor was one of the misunderstandees. His own throat-closing confession to an entire sanctuary of mostly unknown-to-him funeral attendees that the decision not to marry Jeff and me was the greatest regret of his ministry career, sealed my lips.

Shortly thereafter, the minister invited everyone to fellowship after the conclusion of the celebration of life for Jeffrey Korte. But, before the dismissing blessing, he also asked if there was anyone who hadn’t had a chance to speak but would like to now.

There was such a complete and awkward silence that if I hadn’t known there were people behind me, I wouldn’t have suspected anyone was there.

Then, it happened.

In a 100% Jeff moment, his picture leapt off the communion rail and tumbled over backwards. The people murmured, the tension broke, and Pastor David took it as a sign.

Paraphrasing, again, it was something that included ‘going’ and ‘eating’  like, “I think Jeff’s sayin’ it’s time to eat,” or “I guess Jeff’s ready to go eat.”

There was laughter and a blessing and then it was over. The funeral had officially ended.

I was advised to stay where I was for a few moments, because there were likely people who would not be joining us at the Masonic Hall who may want to have a word before they left.

So, I stood there, and said thank you and goodbye to some; hello and thank you to others. But, the only ones I remember were the four-in-a-row.

“It gives me great joy that you believe in our Lord and Savior.”

“Jesus was with you up there today and he will continue to be with you.”

“What a testimony to your faith! Jesus loves us -Hallelujah and Amen.”

“Your faith in Christ surpasses mine.”

Then, the witness.

Making our way to cross the church lot, the witness, my mother, spoke.

“You’re not going to become a minister, are you?”

Quote for the Week:

If God Swore

Until then, I’d never experienced our church from the pulpit view. I’d done a reading once, down a tier at the presenters’ lectern. I once made a nervous mission announcement from there, as well.

I don’t know how many seconds passed before I began to speak.

There may have been no delay, at all.

Maybe my mind was moving faster than time. Or, maybe time truly suspended giving me a moment to catch up.

Being caught in that living still frame isn’t something I’ve ever been able to escape. Nor the feeling of being yanked back to the conscious present based solely on the physiological need to breathe.

This is what I saw: our church – our house of worship – filled. Surpassing Christmas, surpassing Easter. Standing room only, was truly that.

People lined the outer walls, the back walls, stood in the lobby, 2-3 deep in respectful rows, sat shoulder to shoulder. Hands clasped, eyes turned, a hush-filled quiet uncomfortably questioning what was about to happen.

So unexpected. So. Many. People.

I don’t know what I thought I’d see from up there, but that wasn’t it.

Someday, I want to paint the way I felt: far-away shadow figures, vague- shaped contours; impressionistic forms. It’s not that they don’t deserve to be individualized. It’s rather that they were one cohesive group, for the first time, for the last time, forever.

I’ve run the scene so many times; replayed when I need to feel stronger. I remember I did that and remind myself if I got through then, I can get through now.

I have an issue listening for God or to Him. I’ve gone way too long in some situations and found myself happily or unhappily God-smacked.

Like upside the head, like, “Hey, dammit (if God swore), pay attention!”

Like a physical push, showing me out of a situation that has long since run it’s course.

It’s easy to glance back and see the dozens of times the message almost got through to me. Last week, one actually did.

GOD: Dwelling. Places.

ME: (stubbornly) How. Many. Heavens?

Suddenly, I saw it so clearly. I knew.

In that sea of souls, right there in our Father’s house of worship, there were many dwelling places.

Down here, we call them hearts. Each person there, took him all the way Home in theirs.

Quote for the Week: