A few months back, when I realized I would have a roller derby bout on May 24th, my first reaction was that I didn't want to play on that day. I thought I'd be too sad, too distracted, too whatever to be able to focus and enjoy myself. As the event got closer, though, I realized there wasn't anything else that would be better for me than playing that day.
May 22nd was the date that Ritz was suddenly ill and had emergency surgery. On that date this year, I was incredibly sad. And the next day. And then next morning, when I woke up on the 24th knowing that a year ago my life changed so drastically, I knew I needed to do something to acknowledge what I was feeling so I could move forward into my busy day. FaceBook can be a strange beast sometimes but I like to use it to put things out into The Universe for myself. I wrote this brief post and added this photo of him:
One year ago today I lost my best buddy. Not a day has gone by that I haven't thought about him. His passing was a catalyst for some very big, necessary changes in my life and I believe that was his final gift to me. Today, I am truly grateful to have a roller derby bout to turn my focus and energy to. The number of people who are going to watch me play and support me makes my heart sing. I could not have made it through this year without the love from my friends, family and teammates. This is a beautiful day!
Sharing that released the majority of my sadness. I knew my friends would acknowledge what I was feeling and send me loving vibes! This first year without Ritz (after almost eight years with him) was difficult but it was a transformative time for me. I lost my companion, I left my job and I learned that I am capable of much more than I had been giving myself credit for. I had experiences and met people that I would have missed out on had I stayed at that old work place, feeling my soul be crushed every moment I was there. I look back on it now and I truly can't believe I tolerated it as long as I did.
Next, I took my dogs for a nice long walk and listened to Dave Matthews Band, to find my center. Then I went to play some roller derby! My journey with this sport is its own story, which I'll tell some other day. For now I'll just say that to be playing in a home bout took a huge amount of hard work and perseverance on my part, both physical and emotional. Joining my team has been one of the best things I've done for myself and definitely the most challenging. I play with an incredible group of women and together we work extremely hard to put the events together. To stand on that floor with them, all painted up in my uniform, and seeing my friends and family in the cheering crowd fills my heart with so much joy and pride. I have friends that traveled over 90 miles to watch me play. One of the clients from my previous job was there along with my new boss and co-workers, people I'd met through my temp jobs and my life coaching. Having all these people who love and support me, who want to come watch me play a sport that I love and train hard for is overwhelming. I couldn't have made it through this last year without this support system and it's an awesome feeling to know I created this for myself by making decisions that serve me well.
One year is a long time, yet it isn't. I can't say I'm less sad about Ritz than I was prior to this anniversary but it is different now. My life coach says there's something to be said for making one trip around the sun when it comes to grief. I think it takes all those little "firsts" to come together and bring some closure, to make the loss less surreal. It's almost as if I've finally proved to myself that I can survive without Ritz, because there was certainly a point in my life a few years ago where I wondered if I could. Right now I'm look forward to this coming summer, to enjoying it with my puppy who is nearing his first birthday. I refer to last summer as The Summer of Sadness and one of my dear friends gracefully pointed out that perhaps we all need a season of sadness occasionally to be able to appreciate the ones that are joyful. I think she's right.