I have a folder on my computer labeled “website” that has photos in it I feel like I could write a million stories about. Most are pretty sunsets, desert landscapes, beaches, bridges (because I love them), nature stuff, and cute little kids. Just a few days ago when browsing the folder I chose a photo rather than a daily event to blog about. However, I noticed a photo of myself in black and white, and wondered, why would I save that sad picture to this folder for my website for encouraging, daily life lessons and “happy stuff”. When would I ever use that picture? Well, here it is. A life lesson. This is a picture of me sitting on my mother’s tombstone. The date of the picture was July 12, 2015. Exactly 35 years after she died. I was 10. I never got to say goodbye, I didn’t know I would never see her face again, I would never be the flower girl in her wedding, she would never sit on the front row for my big day. I will never forget the day I took this picture. I was visiting her gravesite as I always try to do when I’m in Maryland. This time I sat. I cried. I thought. I actually thought (or felt I heard her say to me) for the first time, “did you ever think I might miss you too?” I suddenly felt different. I suddenly FELT. I had done recovery 12-steps on her death. I had done some grief work while reading an amazing book Motherless Daughters. I had even worked through it a little with a therapist. But that day. That time I felt something. I called my husband, 2300 miles away, and told him “I couldn’t leave.” He assured me I didn’t have to. At least not yet. I was paralyzed. I couldn’t move. I talked to him for a little bit, I’m sure I talked to my mother for a little bit and cried a lot. But still, I didn’t move. Grief had paralyzed me. So this morning when agonizing over the decision to put my Rottweiler down I wondered why I couldn’t make a decision. (you can see a picture of Hannah on the post “Puppy Love” dated March 29, 2017) Some quiet time, a discussion with my husband, and some advice from some very supportive friends, I made the choice we all hate making as humans for our pets. While I thought choosing was bad enough, it was the hours of crying before and after going to the vets to say goodbye that I realized that death paralyzes me. Grief cripples me. I was delirious, confused, and unable to make clear choices after that throughout the day over little things. What I do know that is early this morning I thought about the destruction of 19 years of NOT dealing with my mother’s death, or not being there for my father’s death, or my grandmother’s death, what that did to me. 19 years of running, ignoring, angry raging alcohol and drug addiction. Grief is paralyzing and crippling for a little while, but it shouldn’t last forever. We had a dinner meeting tonight with friends that I did not cancel. My day of sadness started and ended with friends; other close people in my life. Grief shouldn’t be experienced alone, but don’t forget, it is an experience; a process. I am 18 years sober and treasure every lesson I learn no matter how hard they are. There is a time to laugh and a time to mourn. Today it was okay to feel…today it was okay to feel sad….joy comes in the morning.