I have been reading Neil Peart’s Ghost Rider (I know…I read the oldest one after the newest one, like I always do). Anyway…it is a hard read in the winter. It’s about dealing with his grief over the loss of his daughter and wife. In the late 1990’s, his daughter was killed instantly in an automobile accident on her way to college for the first time – she was 19. His wife died a year later of cancer, which wasn’t diagnosed until after his daughter’s death – he believes it was from a broken heart. Oh, and his dog also died a year later. For the next two years, he coped by isolating himself for a while, journaling his thoughts, writing letters to his friends (some he hadn’t talked to in years) and riding his motorcycle on very, very long rides (throughout Canada, the U.S., Mexico and Central America).
At first, it seemed strange to me that he escaped away from what he loved (the music) to grieve for his loved ones. I would think the music would soothe his soul. Yet, it was too interconnected to his old self. He talked a lot about how his friends were very supportive, yet there were just things they just didn’t get, and he had to solve it before he could move on. He eventually came back to his drumming and his old friends and bandmates, and reconnected with people he had forgotten about. He also found someone new to love and help him, after grieving for almost 3 years. He married her and created a new self and family. He returned to his music, and Rush is still alive and ticking, and on tour as I write (and are coming to Red Rocks – YEA!). They have been together for 38 years, not just as a band, but as friends.
I’d like to think that I could have friends like that. But, I did have the love of my family when I was down and out last year. When my mother died, I wished that I could have had one more conversation with her, just to let her know that she was loved. Alas, she had no memory of anything, and was very ill. I was also ill and in pain, so I didn’t really cope well. My family tried to understand, and help, but as always, you simply have to work it out in your head. My parents were never what I wanted or expected (Isn’t that true of all of us?), but they were my parents, and, if I wasn’t what they expected, I was who I was. Everyone copes with the finality of death in different ways. It took me 6 months of overeating, no exercise, being sick in heart and mind, and finally surgery, to deal with grief. Neil was allowed to escape on his motorcycle, and exercise (and drinking), yet I had no outlet except food and isolation. I escaped into books and TV, and depression. When I was finally able to forgive myself for not going back to the funeral, or being the daughter I thought she wanted me to be, I started to live again. I stopped eating so much, and began to enjoy the outdoors and my family again. I started cooking, eating better, and created an exercise regime. It’s still hard to juggle things, and I continue to overreact on the little stuff, but I don’t give up, and I’m on the healing road, no longer a Ghost Rider (or Ghost, period). I know that I will never be my old self again, but I can only hope that I have created a much better new self.
I don’t think my family always gets me, but I know they love me. We have to I hope that I can earn respect from them once again. It’s interesting how we cope, whether escaping through travel, exercise (or no exercise), drinking, eating, or simply escapism through books and TV. In reality, we have to figure out where we can go with our grief, where we can make our lives better. We have to learn to love and respect ourselves before we can ask others to do the same. We have to learn what we really are – before we can ask others to get us.
When we love ourselves, we learn to earn our own respect. When we love others, we can only hope that we communicate the love and respect for them, and they will learn to do the same.