Monday, January 16, 2012

Grief: Betty White is my role model

I was watching Inside the Actor's Studio.  They were talking about a TV series called the Golden Girls.  It was about 4 older woman.  Betty is the only one still alive.  The host asked her about that.  She said it was hard to lose Estelle, hard to lose Bea, but when Rue died she couldn't believe it. She had tears in her eyes. The interviewer smiled and said something like, "That's the miracle of television.  You will always be there.  You will always stay the same."  Betty said, "When you love someone away, you never get over it."  The interviewer at the end always asks a series of questions.  The last one is, "If heaven exists, what's the first thing you want to hear God say?"  Betty didn't hesitate.  She said, "Come on in.  Here's Allen."  Her beloved husband died in 1981.

I wrote previously that I saw her interviewed in person.  I told her that my husband had died and asked if she had any advice.  She changed from her sharp, funny, animated self to a very sympathetic serious self.  She said, "There is nothing anyone can give you.  It will change over time but even after 25 years there can be anything - a scent of a flower - that will bring it all back to me."  That's the hard part.  There is nothing anyone can give me that will touch the part of me that loves and misses Artie.  That truth makes it difficult for people who love me.  However, that is not the whole of me.  I receive many gifts from people that enrich my life every day - if I pay attention to it. Also, i like seeing things that bring back the joy of our love - even if the pain of his death is attached to that.

She is my role model because she lives a fully and happy life.  Turning 90 she sparkles.  She works both as an actress and with the zoo.  Her first love is animals.  She does interviews and travels. She writes books.  She has many friends.  She is sharp and funny.  She says she only sleeps 4 hours a night because that's all she has time for.  Yet, when the subject of grief comes up she doesn't pretend that she has moved on, gotten over it, or even healed.  She obviously deeply loves her husband even though he has been dead for many years.  She deeply loves her parents and her friends who have died.  She can go from making a raunchy comment to having tears in her eyes.  She is also feisty.  I have heard more that one person ask her about the resurgence of her career and she always replies, "What resurgence?  I've been lucky.  I've always worked."  She was writing and producing in the early days of television.  Didn't worry if a woman could succeed in those days - she just did it.

I'm not there yet.  I don't think I could get by on four hours sleep a night.  I am, in reverse, trying to train myself to sleep less because in sleep I don't have to be awake to the fact that Artie isn't coming back.  I don't know her - so I don't if she has meltdowns.  I do know that I want to achieve more and that in order to do that I have to be paralyzed less and in motion more.

She is my role model because she has what I want.  The ability to grieve honestly and be real coupled with the ability to live a full and happy life. The best I can say right now is - I'm workin' on it folks!

That's what I wish for all of you - to walk through a door into that full and happy life.  It's especially difficult for me right now with my birthday/anniversary on Feb. 3rd followed by Valentine's Day.  However, I am going back to NYC tomorrow.  What choices will I make to do things instead of staying all cosy in bed with my DVDs?   I have set up exercise appointments three times a week.  That's a beginning.  The next two things are writing that book and not being afraid to set up the format for a regular podcast and ask people if I can interview them, while practicing my own stories.

Up and down and all around.  My little granddaughter.  She cries, then she coos.  She sleeps peacefully, then she squawks.  Too little for language she lives in the present moment.  May I have moments like that when I am present enough to cry, and then present enough to laugh and create without letting all the sad moments interrupt the happy ones.  xo

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