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“You live but once, you might as well be amusing.”

  • Coco Chanel


BPD (Before Peter Died), I took so much of life for granted.  It is true that Peter and I lived life fully, enjoying each other, and loving life, but often too busy to take pleasure in our activities and make them more valuable.  We didn’t take the precious time to tuck them away as cherished memories.  Even though we were living life to the fullest, we still postponed joy.  Peter never got to fulfill his bucket list. There were more trips we should have taken together; more adventures to pursue; more missed opportunities; and more times when we should have basked in our oneness.


Death is a great teacher, but often too late.  Once I lost Peter, I had to discover what lay beneath the surface of my soul.  I was no longer part of a couple.  I had to sift through the wreckage of grief to discover the depth of my being, to know who I truly was on my own. In the face of profound loss, what I knew to be myself, was trashed.  I had to find my “authentic self” in the vestiges of my being.  I had to follow the Shakespearean tenant “to thine own self be true.”  I had to peel away the layers of my persona like an artichoke, to get to the heart and most appetizing part of me.  I had to turn on the inner light inside me and do what made me happy; truly happy.


I did this by trial and error.  When invited to something I didn’t want to do, I began to say “no,” with gusto.  Maybe not gusto, I still have some modicum of tact, but I did take care of myself and say no, honoring what were my genuine wishes.  Man, does that feel good!  Don’t want to go to a party?  Say no.  Don’t want to talk to someone who makes you miserable?  Allow it to go to voice mail.  Are you following so far?  In simple terms, I was being honest with myself and taking care of Laurie to the max, which ultimately made me smile and ergo brought me some joy! I finally could honor the needs inside me and find the truth in my inner self that needed to be validated.  For the first time since Peter died, I was living authentically, safeguarding my beliefs, my values, and most importantly, my desires, or lack thereof.  I had a new protective navigation system in my head to guide me, protect me, and care for my needs.  I was finding my own empowerment which had been decimated by grief.


APD (After Peter Died), I learned that life is only in the here and now. I can’t wallow in the past or look to the future. Both the past and the future are too scary for me at this moment in my journey.  I must exclusively focus on keeping the present in my site line.  I have also learned how to savor each step of life.  I have never been a particularly patient person.  I tend to eat too fast, and to move too fast.  Hurry has always been my middle name.  But hurrying is not sage and good counsel.  I am back to the parable of the tortoise and the hare.  Slow and steady wins the race!


According to astronomers, after a star has died, its light continues to glow for millions of years.  Peter’s light is radiating within me, within my son, within my grandchildren, and within all who were touched by him.  Knowing that helps me to not postpone joy. I am on a quest to rediscover pleasure.  I must focus on the good times and savor them.  I have to put the g back in gratitude and understand how to forgive others and myself.  I have to smell the damn roses, without sneezing! Life is like an ice cream cone.  Lick the hell out of it before it melts!

“We hurry through the so-called boring things
in order to attend to that which we deem
more important, interesting.
Perhaps the final freedom will be a recognition that
everything in every moment is “essential”
and that nothing at all is “important.”

By Helen M. Luke




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