I Guess Some Things Just Take Time…

This is historically the worst week of the year for me, emotionally. Every year at this time I have a tendency to grow morose, quite sullen, withdrawn….a touch angry. A little more than ten years ago, my best friend, my soul mate passed away from lung cancer, just a few days shy of her 40th birthday. That would be tomorrow, October 20th.

In the past I have not dealt with this week very well. There is a lot of guilt about her death that haunted me after her passing. In short, I had moved back to Savannah so we no longer saw each other every day, then slowly didn’t talk on the phone as much. Within just a year’s time our beautiful connection had become quiet until I received a voice mail from her. “I really need to talk to you. I really, really wanna see you.”

I brushed it off and head back into my busy social life and decided I’d call her back later. One party lead to another and I found myself not calling back, thinking if it were a real emergency, she’d phone me again. But, she didn’t.

It was a short time later that I was one of those unfortunate souls who reads of a loved one’s passing on social media….So, it isn’t just her death that I’ve always tried to deal with, but this tremendous guilt for not having called her back, when obviously what she wanted was to say, “Good Bye.”

So, for a little more than ten years I’ve been tense in the third week of October, acknowledging her death, then a few days later, celebrating her life. But, not this year. Something seems to have slowly shifted.

The older I get the more I’ve come to terms with life. I tend to think that life is a brief visit to an absolute wonderland where you get to make decisions, to feel things, hold things, and experience emotions simply for the sake of enjoyment, before heading back home. Once we die, we return to that beautiful bliss that is the Universe knowing that if we’ve done the experience of life right, then we’ve helped to expand the ever powerful light and love of God as it reaches into the vast darkness. And she went home having done precisely that, having pushed that desire for love and kindness even further than some of us will ever know.

Not to mention, the older I’ve grown the more I’ve come to know that I can visit with those who are dear to me, well beyond their time here, simply by holding the memory of them close to my heart, feeling as good now as I did when we were physically together.

I don’t feel sad this year. No, I feel…comfortable. As a matter of fact, with her birthday being tomorrow, I’m going to relish in a ritual we often had. We lived together off and on for about 7 years, a good chunk of that time we spent as starving actors at a place called, “Terror on Church Street.” (She played girl from the Excorcist, I played Hannibal Lector).

After working up frights, we’d come home late nights with a can of tuna, a box of macaroni, a few packets of mayonnaise we had stolen from McDonald’s, and a can of peas (so we at least got our veggies). Tuna, Mac and Peas, if you please. We never grew tired of it.

Once our dinner was ready we’d plop on the couch and watch late night reruns of Roseanne, and if we couldn’t get a signal (cable? Like we were rich?), we’d watch our favorite movie, “Six Degrees of Separation.” (I can hear her now, “We could have been killed….throats slashed….”) God, I miss those days. I felt so safe then….

So, that’s what I’ll be doing tomorrow, spending an evening with an old friend eating Tuna, Mac and Peas and watching old reruns of Roseanne.

vlcsnap-2021-10-19-23h02m24s319I guess some things in life take a little time. Some wounds take longer to heal. Some burns sting longer than others. Some emotions are harder to let go of than others. But, eventually the hurt reveals a relief once it has faded: as long you hold your departed in your heart, they have gone nowhere but closer to your soul.

Happy Birthday, Peni.

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  1. I remember the reference to Peni Ann (Lotoza) Shelty in your book, F.O.E. and I read her obituary online after reading your book. So, you are on a tremendous guilt trip as a result of how you handled this situation? You were young then, Gregory, real young. Make up your mind now to stop crucifying and torturing yourself year after year, after year. I am sure Peni understands what happened. Do you really think she didn’t know you inside out and the eccentricities of youth? Would she have wanted you to get yourself in such an unhealthy emotional state for years on end instead of remembering the positive and happy times you shared together? I am sure you are taking care that it doesn’t happen again to important people in your life. You might even consider planting a perennial or wildflower in her name near Honeychurch as a tribute to her.

  2. Beautifully written friend and a fine way to celebrate your friend’s life. The pain of losing someone we love never really goes away, it just changes over time. When I lost my husband I spoke to a fellow blogger about grieving and one thing she impressed upon me was that grieving does not have a time limit we grieve as long as it is necessary. Even though I have married again after losing my husband, I still grieve for him at times, he was my soul mate, given to me by God as an answer to a prayer. I am very glad that you have come to terms and are celebrating her life!

    Hugs Friend!


    1. Thank you so much for that. I did end up crying that day….fell into another friend’s arms and said, “I was sure I was going to be able to keep it together this time.” But, we never REALLY do forget that pain, no matter how hard we try.

  3. This is beautiful and difficult and beautiful. It’s hard to know what to do with all of those feelings you have about people that come into your life and then leave in such a way. It took me a long time to smile over the memories of my friend, and I suspect it will take a long time before I feel the same about my father who I lost last year. But all I can do is wait and see. Thank you for sharing this.

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