There are only a few more days to the third anniversary of Eric's death. My good friend Julie calls it my Brave Day. I'm doing really well, and I expect status quo progress. Perhaps 2016 is the year I finally embrace February 15. This February 15, perhaps, will be uneventful and regular as a, say, Taco Tuesday. And that I no longer feel a stigma - self-imposed or not - carrying his life or his death wherever I go, whatever I do. Perhaps Eric's death is slowly and permanently becoming my fiber. Like the peppered strands of gray beneath my black coiffure. I'm definitely maturing with his death.
I have always felt strongly that I must create an active purpose, not merely accept a passive reason, for my husband's death. It would eventually become my path to emerge victoriously. It takes time.
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In the last few months I have received random handwritten cards and emails from parents, grandparents, and friends of students who have taken the Handwrite Thank You Notes with me at PSCS, a progressive school in Seattle where I teach as a volunteer teacher. The message to me was always one of positive, encouraging, and thankful that the younglings had, at some point in the last year, hand wrote them a warm and sincere thank you note. They wanted me to know how wonderful it felt to have received something in the mail from the youngsters. How important this class was. How much they are inspired, and that they, the adults, began to take time out of their busy schedules and express gratitude to others. The younglings have done the wonder of giving an unexpected gift to the recipients - the exact purpose of my class. We surprise them with gifts!
The Butterfly Effect: A scientific theory that a single occurrence, no matter how small, can change the course of the universe forever.
I don't usually discuss the genesis of this class, until last week, while I was casually speaking with one of the parents at school. Her son loved writing thank you notes every week with me. Needless to say, I was overjoyed to hear that he learned something in class in addition to enjoying the brownies I occasionally brought! The parent is a professional therapist, and she asked how I came up with this idea. So I told her my story.
After Eric's suicide, I was relentless and determined to surround my 15th of each month with nothing but positivity, no matter how hard or impossible. I sat at the dining table and I stared at a stack of blank thank you cards for what seemed to be eternity. Sometimes with disdain. Others with dread. I always wept while I wrote, but I made certain to remember the charmed life I live, and the good fortune I enjoy. I took my exercise seriously, deliberately, intentionally. I knew it was my only ticket. Nobody else could help me. Remembering and expressing gratitude became my way to create and experience light and positivity. The side benefit was an unexpected gift to friends. I was able to recover as healthily and quickly as I had, and now live a happier and fuller life than I have ever lived, in no small part, was due to this focused exercise of Gratitude. I constantly wrote thank you cards for a full year.
I wanted an unique and useful way to connect with the younglings at school. Last winter, I experimented facilitating a Handwrite Thank You Notes in a one-time block class. Since, I facilitated a similar class for two full terms. It's my way to be useful.
The marvel of the Butterfly Effect.
I don't have any grandiose goals of what this might lead to, nor am I attached to a specific outcome. The class simply enables a few folks and service organizations to randomly receive an unexpected gift in the mail in the form of a handwritten card. Surprise and delight; that's what my students do. They send gifts!
I have finally created an active purpose for my husband's death. It's my way to continue to honor his life in any small ways.