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Age 103.

I write this on March 1. March 4 is mom’s birthday. She’d be 103.

My daughter, Jennifer, is the Director of Social Media for SPS. A few years ago, she started the 103 Club which she is resurrecting again this year. It started, I believe, with a friend who came to her with suicidal ideation. After hours of listening and talking, Jen said, “Let’s promise to live to be 103.” Jen and I even have matched tattoos with “103” in them. (When we put our feet together, it makes a butterfly.)

As I age, I have to wonder if living to be 103 is a good goal; however, when I see people highlighted on tv who ARE 103 and looking and acting pretty good, then I think maybe it’s possible. No matter. Agreeing to live to be 103 is a preventative measure. Small, yes, but preventative none-the-same. Jennifer is also the one that pointed out to me that March 4th is the only month that is not only a complete sentence but a directive: “March forth.” I think of this every year.

Sometimes I wonder if I need to continue writing my thoughts as it’s been 42 years (or will be Sept. 5) since mom took her own life. Yet, for me, I continue, at times, to slog through the muck which means, I imagine, that I in fact MIGHT have something to share.

I love the writings of A.A. Milne. I love Winnie the Pooh, Christopher Robin, and, most especially, Eeyore. I sometimes comment to certain people that their behavior reminds me of Eeyore. Downcast, Eeyore plods along with the help of his friends. I feel that we can all identify with Eeyore as we go back to the beginning of our loss.

Our friends and our “new” friends (survivors) walk beside us. As our grief progresses, we can assume the nature of some of Eeyore’s friends and…yet…at times…fall back to Eeyore status. I have struggled with my own depression recently and have taken corrective and healthy steps.

Something I’ve found that helps a lot is to sit on the couch in my bedroom in the mid to late afternoon and look down the 2 acres to the river. I can even stay long enough to watch the beautiful sun set. I have new friends to watch. There is a Mama Deer and 2 of her young ones. This past Saturday, the kids were playing by a tree midway down the lot. After about 30 minutes, Mama came gracefully leaping toward them and they all hung out for a while.

My husband told me many years ago, as we looked at the Fox River flowing by our house, the following: “The river has been here hundreds and hundreds of years before us and it will be here long after we’re gone. No matter how sad we may feel or how lonely or how many problems we’re dealing with, the river flows on, undaunted.”

I have long passed the age mom was when she died (61). Logically, her life and her death make sense to me. It doesn’t take “the missing” away. I recently came across a journal of sorts she’d kept. It was mostly filled with negative stuff. Writing about incidents where she felt slighted or birthday parties that weren’t what she thought they’d be.

This was her depression coming out. Mom was sunny, quiet, and cheerful. She “soldiered on”. Pettiness wasn’t her forte. The build up of years and years of such incidents and such “soldiering on” took its toll. I get it.

As I age, I get it even more. I would not trade the 61 years with her for anything. My values and morals were set by my parents. I realize now that my upbringing was a lot better than many of my classmates who had secrets, they kept because of their home lives. I can recall fun times, silly incidents; well, I guess I’m talking about the totality of my life until I was 31 years old. Mom and Dad would be proud of me. This I know to be true. The love I have and the love I give was based on the foundation given to me by them. I was lucky to have had 29 years with my dad and 31 with my mom.

Think of what “they” gave you. Think of the special moments. Think of the laughter. Continue to try to put the puzzle pieces together when and if you can but don’t forget their love. They made an unfortunate choice. Maybe, to them, it wasn’t unfortunate but rather all that they had left in their tool kit.

The legacy of love still remains. I know we weren’t meant to be torn apart by this, but I don’t think any one of them could swim anymore upstream against their pain. We can. Remember that we as survivors stand united in our love for one another. Reach out. Accept when someone reaches out to you. March forth so they will not be forgotten, and you will not come apart.

You were loved by them. You are loved by us…

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