"There's a bit of magic in everything, and some loss to even things out." -Lou Reed

Sunday, June 27, 2010


Last year, after a horrible experience moving, I swore it would be years (and years) before I would ever undertake another relocation of any kind. And then, a series of unexpected wonderful things happened. In the midst of all that happiness, a move didn’t seem quite as daunting. And I wasn’t doing it alone this time.

So, with move #42 (ok, I am not sure of the number, but that doesn’t seem far off) behind me, I now reside in a beautiful home with my fiancée which is only a five minute walk from the ocean. I have felt as if it was almost too much happiness for me to handle.

I know that sounds ridiculous, and maybe even ungrateful—which would be completely false. I am so happy and so grateful for every minute of it. I don’t take one moment for granted. What I have been doing, much to my fiancee’s dismay, is waiting for the other shoe to drop. I have never felt like a lucky person—even remotely so—and all this good fortune is daunting. I can’t believe so many wonderful things could be happening—that they can keep on happening—without me having to pay somehow…without some sad news to even it all out.

Being a worrier by nature, I know the pitfalls of this kind of thinking. But, as sad as this sounds, I have never been this happy and the fear of losing it is with me constantly.

I have been trying to do better, to just live in the moment and take it all in. Every day I wake up and have another day without some surprise disaster, I gain a little more faith that I can trust everything. I trust my fiancée completely, it is more of the worry of life interfering. And in addition to being a worrier, I have an incredibly creative imagination, so I imagine all kinds of things happening that could turn my life upside down. It is some weird safety system I have locked into my psyche…if I think and worry about something—it won’t happen. As in, if I imagine all the worst-case scenarios, I have myself “covered”. I won’t be blindsided, I will be safe.

I know there are no true safe places in life. Anything can happen at any moment. Just as I never would have believed a year ago that today I would be planning my wedding. At the beach. Where I now live. Where I have a new job I love, and a fiancée who loves me just as I am, quirks, flaws and all.

Thank goodness chance things happen.

Thank goodness life isn’t predictable.

It is all chance, circumstance, and a little bit of luck. Nothing I can control from here. Nothing that worrying will solve.

For now, I will walk down to the beach, feel the sand between my toes, breathe in the salty air and just say…thank goodness.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Preconceived Notions

When you hear about an addict--what image does that conjure? Do you think fearful thoughts, judgmental thoughts, compassionate thoughts...or prefer not to think about it at all? I can say in all honesty that years ago, probably even when I was old enough to know better--I was judgmental when thinking of an addict, throwing this person I heard about in a category of failure or depravity that I couldn't imagine being close to.

I cannot begin to say how deeply I have been affected by Katie Granju's story of the loss of her son Henry. I know that initially it was just because in following her blog and her writing, I felt as if I knew her, even just a little, so it was very much like feeling the pain for a friend.

I had read her blog entries, following Henry's struggle for life daily. I read her words and worried for her, hoped for Henry, and learned more about him along the way. Something struck a chord with me. Something deeper.

And then, Henry died.

I have hurt for Katie, but somehow related to Henry in a way I couldn't understand. I am not an addict, have never faced addiction. But, I have suffered from depression and battled it many times alone and in secret because of the stigmas attached to any kind of mental illness. I have been so close to the edge of not coming back. I know that place. I cannot compare my suffering to Henry's. But I know what it is like to feel at the mercy of something that is harming you--and in the face of it being powerless to help yourself or make the right choices. It is horrible, frightening, maddening. And more than heartbreaking.

Then, Katie published Henry's eulogy, given by his father. This series of words made me catch my breath:

...Henry was a brilliant, beautiful baby and child who from the very beginning, simply felt the world more deeply than most of the rest of us. This special sensitivity was both his blessing and his curse. His inborn and intense empathy and intuition gifted him with a natural creativity that he expressed musically and in writing. However, it also caused him great suffering, a suffering that he never seemed to be able to shake completely, and which he eventually attempted to mask in ways that hurt him more than they helped him. Henry was – in so many ways – just too sensitive for the world into which he was born.

A few people who have been close to me forever--who know me well--and who have seen me in darker moments, have often described me in this way--feeling things more deeply....too sensitive for this world...I can see myself in that way. It has been a battle for me my whole life to separate myself more- to not be so deeply hurt by others, by the world around me. I was so struck by the realization that none of us can judge what we would or wouldn't ever do or be. We are all closer to the edge than we care to know. I could have easily slipped into the abyss. The path I took was not so different from Henry's, it was just another form of masking that pain. I think of the harsh judgment I have had in the past thinking of addiction--of addicts. And now, I feel I understand more than I would care to.

Part of the reason I have been so touched is that I am so grateful at this moment for my life, for survival, for making it through everything even though I fervently believed that I would never feel the joy, love, and peace that I do now. I wish with all my heart that Henry had made it through this to feel the same. I have no doubt he would have. The world lost an amazing person--not an addict. A beautiful boy, a beloved son, brother, cousin and friend.

I rarely post a video of this length on my blog, but I ask you to take the 20 minutes to watch it. It is Henry Louis Granju's life in pictures and video. Watch these images and ask yourself tough questions. Make others you know ask themselves tough questions about how we judge people battling addiction and those who love them. And if you have children...please hug them, love them, tell them how amazing they are. Do this in honor of Katie and Henry.


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Losing Henry

Henry Louis Granju 1991-2010

Through blogging I have come to know people all over the world, some I keep in touch with daily and are some of my closest friends, others are my writing “teachers” that critique my work honestly and help keep me on track. Then there are other bloggers that are such a source of pure inspiration to me—I read their work with awe, coming back each time to help me find a starting place for my own writing.

This was definitely the case for me when I started reading Katie Granju’s blog. I forget how I found her, but I am so glad that I did. While she and I on the surface don’t seem to have much in common- there is something in her writing that strikes a familiar chord with me and inspires me all at once.

So many people describe her writing as brave and honest—and it always is. But recently, she was braver than ever. She wrote about her son Henry and his battle with addiction. What prompted this was an overdose and viscous assault that brought Henry to intensive care, clinging to life. She had written around his addiction in the past, keeping this secret, this private pain. I understand that completely. These things are hard to share with close friends and family, much less the world. Friends and family can be judgmental, the masses can be brutal. But in sharing it, she has no doubt opened the door for so many parents, so many people battling addiction, and so many people who haven’t seen the human side of this illness to learn, to help, to heal.

Katie kept a bedside vigil with Henry as his condition has progressed, slipped, improved, then worsened. I read her words—the unconditional love of a mother—not seeing her son as an addict, but as the person she knew and loved. The joy of her life no matter his mistakes or problems. Her will to bring him back was unfailing. She peppered her posts with pictures of Henry—some when he was so young- holding a Harry Potter book too big for his hands…he and his siblings dressed up and smiling for family celebrations…Henry as a teenager with dark black beautiful curly hair smiling at the camera with his wise eyes…I have wept for her more than once. I wrote to Katie one night. I had to. I told her that her love for Henry—the way she was not judging him—just loving him and being there for him was so incredibly important—so amazing. Most people reading that would think that any mother or parent would do the same. The sad truth is, that is not the case. Especially with cases of illnesses that aren’t as “accepted” such as mental illness or addiction, some parents can’t see the illness and only see someone making bad life choices. Maybe over and over. It is hard. I do understand how hard it can be. But the pure love in Katie’s words, all the beauty she saw in her son…it has me crying now. And I know that he knew that, knew that he was loved for the beautiful person he was.

Henry died on the last day of May. I do not know how Katie found the strength to write her son’s obituary. But she did. Bravely, honestly, beautifully. As always.

One part of one of her posts has stayed in my mind, I think of it so often.

He was sleeping far more than he had previously and speech was becoming more limited. For the first time, he started using nonsense words or in one case, a very distinct made-up word that he used as a toddler and hadn’t used since.

In Henry’s distress, in moments when he was, perhaps, far away in another place, fighting this damage to his brain, he went back to this moment as a toddler using this made up word that Katie recognized immediately. This speaks to so many things—the memories our mind holds onto—our subconscious…but what I like to think is that Henry went back to a safe place in time, when things weren’t so complicated, when all he knew was love and joy. I think he returned there—to that familiar feeling-- because he was again feeling so loved and safe in his last days here—with his mom Katie always at his side.

Katie’s original post about Henry's illness:


Katie’s blog:


If you have a moment, please send her a note of love and encouragement. She is also fighting for a thorough investigation into Henry's assault.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Being Seen

If anyone had told me a year ago I would be madly in love and heading into the next chapter of my life with such excitement and confidence, I would have told them they were crazy. I might have even been rude about it. But, here I am, now taking a second look at my cynical view of fate—as too many things keep working out and proving me wrong. At times I feel as if there are pieces of a large puzzle being rearranged, sliding together, locking into place, slowly forming the picture of my life as it is supposed to be—maybe as it was always supposed to be.

Saying that I have struggled in the past is a gross understatement. From this lofty spot I am in now, I look back and wonder how I could have made some of the choices I have made, how I couldn’t see what was so clearly bad for me—or a mistake about to happen. It is hard for me to fully remember the fog I was in for awhile and how it hindered more than just my vision but also my ability to reason, to make the right choices, to put myself first. It is difficult to remember how cloudy it was when you are standing under a clear blue sky on a sunny day. But, I do remember.

Some of the questions I have asked myself in quiet moments are – How could I have ever been with someone who treated me the way “x” did (insert any one of a list of ex-boyfriends)? How could I have made THAT choice? What was I thinking? I am fully aware that I struggle with my self esteem –I have for a long time. And I hold onto the adage that you can’t truly love someone else until you love yourself.

I had done a great deal of healing before meeting my current boyfriend, and was at a turning point in my life as far as understanding the need to surround myself with positive people who cared about me. But, I had only begun to see myself the way I needed to. I am 40 years old, and the sad fact is—until this relationship, I don’t think I have been loved—truly loved-- for myself for everything that I am—all the good and bad, the in-between, the things no one else knows. It is sad in that sense that it took this long, but it is beautiful in the sense that at the age of 40, there is a rebirth in my life—something brand new that some people never get in a lifetime.

In looking back at all my errors in judgment, missteps and wrong turns, I realize more than ever that it was how I saw myself that was the guiding force. This reflection in the mirror was created by my childhood, and my own experiences, and also by the people I let into my life—and all my insecurities led me to settling for less in relationships and friendships—basically, not valuing myself.

The thing is, it is a downward spiral. If you already doubt yourself, and let someone in your life who won’t value you either, you are deeper in the pit than before. It can be a succession of trips down a painful path, until you are so far gone that finding your way back is almost too long a journey to face. And I have been in that spot. That very spot when there seems to be no map to guide where you are headed, no compass to steer you.

I would never have believed I could be in this place now, not so long after being so lost.

Being seen is a tricky thing. Truly being seen for who you are without any games, masks, or hidden agendas is scary and beautiful all at once. It is disarming and comforting at the same time. I realize over the years all the things I have tried to hide that now I don’t worry about. I am truly myself in all the hours of the day.

I have had to share things I didn’t want to, let go of habits for protecting myself, and believe in tomorrow when it used to be all I could do to get through today. It has not been easy. At the heart of all this is trust-which has been such a foreign concept for me. It is not only trust that this person won’t betray me, but also trust that when I bare my soul, he will still be there accepting me after I tell him some long-held secret. I feel as if I am holding my breath each time I do—taking this huge leap and praying to land safely.

So far, so good. I think the bravest thing we can do is love completely. Letting go and believing in the best of all things. Even as I am in it, I can’t write the equation or pass along the secret. I can’t point anyone else in the right direction.

But I can tell you that there is a way back from the darkest path. You don’t need a compass, you don’t need a map. You need to believe that at the end of it all, with each step... you are worth it.

The real you is worth being seen.



  © Blogger template ProBlogger Template by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP