Linda died a few months ago. She was 66.
I met her 25 years ago when I lived in Hawaii. I found out via a text message from a friend who still lives in Hawaii. I tried to get some answers. There were none. I’ve called her phone numbers. No answer.
I’m not sure what I’m looking for, but I know that some of it is the chance for closure and to tell someone in her family how special she was to me. I didn’t get that chance with her. That I regret.
Last night I had a dream about Linda. I woke up to look for her obituary…still looking for connection…still looking for answers. This is what I found:
That’s it? Are you kidding me? I got angry. The deeper truth? I got really sad.
Linda was the first person that I met when I was trying to get sober. She had five years of sobriety. I thought she was Superwoman. She was amazing; not just because of her “clean” time, but because of her gentle heart and bigger-than-life spirit. I really don’t know what I would have done without her in those early days when I was barely hanging on.
When I was beating myself up for being the worst person in the world, she was compassionate, kind and calm. She didn’t judge me. She shared some of her own challenges with me. She helped me to feel human which, I promise, I didn’t.
I felt unlovable and completely unhuggable in those days. It took a long time for me to start loving myself. Linda loved me, supported me, hugged me, and helped me feel connected. She and her husband adopted two children who were in the foster system, both from drug-addicted mothers. Her heart was enormous. She inspired me.
She called me her Little Kumquat, which means she called me her little fruit. Then she would giggle. The name wasn’t so funny…the giggle was hilarious. Linda helped me lighten up on myself. She helped me not take life so seriously.
She was as real as they get. If she was down, she said it. If she was up, you knew it. She spoke it as it was, and I valued her honesty. I valued her authenticity. She didn’t know how rare it was to be a person of deep truth. Things were always real with Linda.
She was the first person I knew who struggled with depression…the clinical type. She would stay isolated for days, weeks, months. I’m guessing she rarely came out of her house the last few years. Much of this was her depression, which took a huge toll on her. She was honest about it. She helped me understand and have a deeper compassion for mental illness from her personal perspective.
A few years after I met her, Linda started to have numbness in her legs and other physical problems. She went for testing and was diagnosed with MS. She underwent weekly treatments, eventually ended up in a wheelchair, and became more and more isolated. It was debilitating, as I’m guessing it is for those who have MS. Those of us who loved her felt helpless.
I transferred from Hawaii in 1995 when I was in the Navy. My plan has always been to get back to live there again someday, which I will. Knowing that Linda was there was always comforting. I’ll miss her. The last few years, we’d had less and less contact, some of which was me thinking there was always time and some of which was her depression and illness. All of which, I regret.
I don’t know where I’d be or who I’d be without her kindness and love in my early years. I’ll always be grateful…I hope Linda somehow knows that.
Here are some self-exploration questions:
Who has played a role in the person you are today? What have they shown you about yourself? Have you been able to share with them how they’ve had an impact on you? If not, what keeps you from doing so? If so, how did it feel to express your heart with them?
Feel free to answer or ponder those questions. I hope you find time to share your grateful heart with someone special to you today. It just might make their day.
Lastly, if you’d like to jump into some coaching about you, your heart, or your losses, feel free to check out the link here.