It has been pretty rough 4th of July holiday weekend for me – a very LONG weekend at that. My apartment is located immediately above a major recreational area – containing a harbor, pier, boardwalk and beach plus lots of restaurants, bars, etc. You get the picture. Of course, this is a huge holiday, right smack in the middle of summer. Which means that families are out in big numbers. I am used to taking long walks with my dogs and bike rides along the beach. Usually those activities pick me up and brighten my mood. But for the last 5 days, I have felt surrounded by people, noise, and, most difficult of all, lots of happy families. Sigh…
Mind you, I LOVE families and especially small children. I enjoy watching them interact and usually end up thinking about similar times or interactions with my family – my wife and kids I mean. Until recently that was a really good thing. But now, I tend to spiral downward into real sadness when I observe other families and think about mine. I am painfully aware that my family, as I loved and cherished it for so long, no longer exists. It makes even my best memories hard to enjoy. So, the last five days have been a real challenge – inundated with the sounds and sights of happy, busy families that remind me of what I have lost. And nowhere to go to escape it, either – it’s been crazy busy EVERYWHERE.
Today I decided to try and embrace the holiday. It was a beautiful day and I needed exercise. So I decided to take a bike ride, enjoy the sun, maybe watch some beach volleyball. Well, the bike path was jammed the entire way – people riding slowly and erratically, others walking three and four wide, and just lots and lots of bodies. Not much relief there. OK, I dealt with that; managed to get a decent ride in anyway. Felt a little better. One for the home team. Next, tonight there was a fireworks show very close to me. My deck looks right out to the show area, but I thought it would be a good thing to take my dogs down to a big grass area where folks were gathering. Thought I might feel more a part of things. The park was very full, but I found a good spot, sat down, played with the dogs for a while and waited for the show. But the whole time I was very conscious that I was there by myself. I was surrounded by families, lovers, groups of friends, etc. And, despite the presence of my two cute dogs (usually a sure conversation starter), not a single person spoke to me. It was a lovely night, but a really bad experience. Halfway through the show I headed back to my apartment – where I saw the rest of the show very nicely.
So, I’m not sure what the next step is. I don’t want to live in the past, especially if doing so is causing me pain. But I have so many and such vivid memories of times I cherish – and now miss – that it’s hard to keep from being lost in them. Most of the time I can minimize the damage. This week I was overwhelmed. But of more concern is my inability to enjoy those precious memories without focusing on my losses and becoming morose. I have a lifetime of beautiful memories I want to keep whole. I wrote a poem about this very subject. It is entitled “Preserving The Memories” and its link may be found here: Preserving The Memories
I’ll try to be more up for my next post. I’m glad to have July 4th behind me, though. Talk soon.