Neil Chethik, editor for the Open to Hope Foundation, posted a question to his contributing writers last week:
“How has giving helped you in grieving?”
My immediate thought was “Great Question” and I set about to write a brief synopsis about grieving, giving and giggling called, Using Laughter and Playfulness as an Antidote to Grief.
The minutes, hours and days of deep grieving have past for me but I still have moments where I cry and reflect about what happened 4 years ago today, the day my friend Jim died by suicide.
The tears are infrequent now. The incessant crying, desperation and wrenching guilt I felt has been replaced by lots of smiles and laughter.
Life is good!
In reality, the loss of my friend turned into a gain. It gave me the opportunity to examine my life closely and make better choices about how I was living each day. The simple things in life give me a lot of pleasure now like riding around in my truck and drinking beer after a hot yoga class. *smile*
Rock and Roll, Tonka Truck & Post-Yoga Beer
For those who don’t know me well, let me tell you a not-so-secret, secret. I LOVE MY TRUCK. I don’t love it in a “let’s date” kind of way.
My truck is an extension of my personality. My adult Tonka toy is practical, hard-working, down-to-earth, ballsy and unpretentious.
I enjoy driving around blasting rock-and-roll from my cheap-ass speakers every chance I get. Give me Green Day, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Creed, Pearl Jam, classic rock like AC/DC, 80′s hair bands, grunge, great drum solos and anthematic tunes sung by rock’s patron saint, Freddie Mercury. WE WILL, WE WILL, ROCK YOU!
Picture a chick (moi) smiling, wearing a purple baseball cap, red lipstick and sitting behind the wheel of a a black truck banging her head back and forth to a raucous rock tune.
This past Sunday Miss Tonka and I drove down to Newark, Delaware to attend my friend Joyce’s Harvest Moon Yoga class at Empowered Yoga. I was cruising along on a perfect fall day with the windows down listening to WYSP, Philadelphia’s classic rock station at ear deafening levels (the ONLY volume for rock I might add).
I was singing, smiling and thinking about meeting up with my yoga buddies for some good old fashioned Hatha yoga action (with clown nose during balancing poses) and post Savasana beer. Yeah, yogi’s drink! We’re into fitness and yoga philosophy but we’re not anti-social. Sheesh. *giggle*
Inhale. Exhale..add a new cue… Guzzle! YEAH! (Special thanks to Twin Lakes for the Oktoberfest, delish man, delish!)
You are as Free as a Bird Now
My mood shifted from smiles, yoga and clown noses to thoughts of Jim as soon as I heard the first few chords of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Freebird from my truck speakers.
I’ve been reflecting about him lately due to the time of year and all the work I’ve been doing preparing for the E-Racing the Blues event. Jim and I also shared a love of music. He also drove a truck. I often feel like he’s playing DJ for me when I’m driving around. Right after he died I would imagine him sitting in the passenger seat jamming along with me (hell, I still do now, who am I kidding).
If I leave here tomorrow
Would you still remember me?
For I must be traveling on, now,
cause there’s too many places I’ve got to see.
I shook my head in acknowledgment as little baby tears ran down my face. Of course I will remember you, dude.
Who could forget the great talks, breaking bread, philosophizing, drinking beer, fixing houses and laughing ourselves silly?
Immediately after Freebird ended, Coldplay’s song, Talk, started to play. I first heard this tune when it was released in December 2005. At that time I felt like I had written the lyrics myself. All I wanted to do was pick up the phone and call Jim…and for a while I did, just to hear his voice on his cell phone greeting.
Oh brother I can’t believe it’s true
I’m so scared about the future and
I want to talk to you
Oh I want to talk to you
Was it coincidence this song came on the radio while thinking of Jim during my Sunday afternoon truck ride? I doubt it, I think James was playing DJ again. *smile*
Even for all the problems and the pain, Jim loved to laugh (as noted in this unflattering photo of me and Jim taken many, many years ago).
This picture is what it’s all about.
Giggling On…laughing with friends and enjoying life.
There’s no pain, suffering, depression or sadness where Jim is now.
He is as free as a bird! It is my belief he is engulfed in pure love (and he’s also probably drinking a beer, smoking those damned cigarettes, wearing his tool belt and boots. *giggle*).
On this, the 4th year to the day since Jim’s decided to go traveling on, I commemorate his life and our friendship. I thank him for the gift he gave me, the gift of knowing my own life has meaning and purpose. I am glad I made the decision to stay on the planet, give-back and Giggle On!
I know Jim wouldn’t want me to waste another moment crying or another breath feeling guilty about what happened. If he were here I think he would say…”Sweetheart, Giggle On!”
I Giggle On, Rock On, Love On, Yoga On and Give On. Join me!
An Invitation to Celebrate Life
Please join me as I celebrate the life and friendship of Jim Thompson on October 25, 2009 in the E-Racing the Blues event benefiting the Mental Health Association in Delaware.
As a tribute to Jim and his sense of playfulness, team members will receive clown noses, kazoos and bubbles.
I doubt Jim would have worn a clown nose, but he would have played a kazoo, blown bubbles and danced around shakin’ his booty in his own special and most hilarious Jimmy way.
Life is meant to be enjoyed...let’s do it together!
Join Team Giggle On today!
Update: October 26, 2010 – three weeks after this post originally went live I learned my other friend Jim Sims died by suicide. Jim Sims inspired me to create this site. This year Team Giggle On walks in memory of Jim Thompson and Jim Sims. If you live in the Wilmington, Delaware area, please join us this Sunday. If you cannot make it and would like to make a donation to our team, we welcome your contribution.
Depression and Addition are Treatable! Please seek help for yourself or your loved one if they suffer from these diseases. God Bless.