Check your PTSD people.
Last Monday night I had a totally different direction mapped out in my head for this week’s post. I had read a column over the weekend about an author’s ‘likes’ so far during the pandemic and I myself attended a really upbeat Coping with COVID Zoom session on Monday evening where my big take away was focusing on ‘gratitude’. I was prepping to write a hopeful piece, but life happened and I got distracted. I finally sat down to put my writing together last evening and the magic just did not happen. I just could not get in to writing a piece about gratitude and things I liked.
Muddling along this morning while walking the dogs, I tried to put my finger on what was wrong. Monday I was in a ‘I have this figured out mode’, but what happened in the meantime, what stole that positivity? Just before ROW practice started this morning, I figured it out. This past week was very challenging with work on a number of levels, as well as some other things impacting my world, and by the end of the week, I was wiped out. However, I was still fighting the good fight, being proactive with communication and even finding humor and a shared experience in a Washington Post article about how The Dishes Will Never Be Done. What I finally realized was that our little Memorial holiday weekend here in the States, instead of putting me in a relaxed 3-day weekend mindset, triggered some subtle PTSD.
Memorial Day is definitely a traditional holiday in the US, but it really doesn’t really have the same cache as the 4th of July, Thanksgiving, or Christmas. That said, many families have plenty of traditions around Memorial Day weekend. Mine sure does. My parents were married during Memorial Day weekend in 1964 (Happy Anniversary, Mom & Dad!!!!!) and I think I spent all of my first 24 years of life heading Up North to Lake Charlevoix for each Memorial Day weekend, which was when the family came together (and various friends/boyfriends) to summer-ize the Cottage–putting in the dock, pulling the boat out of storage, and bringing out the lawn chairs. Good times.
That positivity around Memorial Day carried through the majority of the next 24 years, regardless of whether I was living in New Orleans, the Eastern Caribbean, Chicago, or Los Angeles with only one or two registering as particularly negative in my memory bank–like the year ‘that’ boyfriend broke up with me while we were up at the Cottage for Memorial Day. However, I made up for that experience by heading to England the following year for a two-week vacation that wrapped around Memorial Day weekend. Now that was the best rebound, ever.
During this time of quarantine, it is much harder to intentionally rebound, however, and I had not realized there was even something going on that I needed to attend to–until I couldn’t write that positive post last night. Turns out, I hadn’t realized just how much this weekend really means to me. However, this awareness gave me power and an insight that was definitely needed. Basically, I’m mourning the losses of Grams and the Cottage during the summer of 2016 and Terry’s uncle, Father Nicholas, the week before Memorial Day 2017. With COVID-19 wrecking havoc through our lives this year, I am often feeling losses and change more profoundly and it makes sense that a weekend dedicated to commemoration and memory would trigger these feelings of pain. And thanks to all of these travel bans and sheltering in place, it makes sense that I am feeling trapped and frustrated that I can’t just take off on a new adventure, one of my coping skills.
However, one of my other coping skills is to use my blog to write posts that record and commemorate–and share happy memories. The pictures included throughout this post are from Memorial Day 2015, while Grams was recovering in the Detroit area from a fall, and Terry and I joined my parents to summer-ize the Cottage. The perennials were ones Grams cultivated during the more than 50 years she spent at the Cottage and so I took lots of pictures to share with her of her beautiful blooms.
Definitely good memories.