The Grieving Room

Good food, good times, and good grief

Homemade lasagna (non-traditional), steamed zucchini, and steamed squash. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

If you recall from the previous entry, I spoke about the desire to cook more. I wasted no time in making this happen. This past Sunday, May 15, 2022, I made lasagna for dinner. I did not do a traditional lasagna, and to be honest, most of what I make as typical dishes are “spruced up” a bit to reflect my tastes and what I enjoy eating. I had your usual game players in the mix, though; ricotta cheese, lasagna noodles, and tomato sauce. I opted for ground turkey as opposed to ground beef, and I also added steamed spinach with fresh garlic, and a cheese blend (complete with cheddar, Colby-jack cheese, and mozzarella.

I steamed zucchini and squash, keeping the seasonings simple for the two; pepper, salt, and cajun seasoning. As I prepared my dinner, I could feel the rhythm coming back to me — I was in extreme focus mode, and everything felt right. There was a connection I cannot quite explain. It was as if I was moving from the overwhelming phases of the previous week and leaning into what felt as if it would be a wonderful beginning to another. I offered a few words here and there to my dog as I paraded around in my kitchen doing what I enjoyed and missed most.

I was so happy with the results of the overall meal; I wanted to call my cousin and tell her. And that’s when it hit me . . . again. I could not call her. I could not share this moment with her, and I moved through the temporary sadness of it — knowing I could send up a prayer for grace, patience, and the ability to understand life’s finalities. I smiled, nodded, and said to myself, “She knows. She knows.”


Good grief, and the transition.

As I reflect on what took place, I am inclined to believe this was — all of this could be, the “Good Grief” stage.

Good grief is described by Cam Taylor as:

Traveling through the grief cycle without getting stuck or stalled.

Embracing the messiness and range of emotions during loss and recovery.

Leaning into the pain of loss and learning more about yourself and others.

The above is a part of “the journey we take as we work through the emotions associated with loss and sorrow”, which is “the grief cycle.” What I was experiencing as I realized I could not call my cousin to boast about my meal without completely and totally breaking down was good grief. The reality of it was facing me. I accepted it. I embraced it. Finally, I moved on from it.

Of course, I could not hear the joyous laughter on the other end of the phone as I raved about a meal I had never prepared that came out perfectly, but I remembered the times upon recollection when I could hear her voice — when I could talk to her about such things. It was a peaceful moment, kissed by subtle sadness, but peaceful.


Good food and what it has done for me.

I will rewind and share what I made for lunch on the same day as mentioned above. I knew I wanted a salad, and not just any salad — a salad similar to one I would normally order from a favorite local spot. I purchased the ingredients earlier that morning and began preparation for it around 12:30 p.m. I bought thinly sliced chicken breasts, 1 sweet onion, Green Oak living lettuce, 2 cucumbers, and ranch dressing. At home, I already had shredded cheese, apricots, and spinach.

A Spring Salad Collage. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

I used my air fryer to cook the chicken; which I seasoned lightly with salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, cajun seasoning, and fresh garlic. Once the chicken was nearly done, I began chopping up my vegetables and fruit. I was listening to the birds sing as they do around that hour of the day, and I had been in a delightful mood. Shortly after I was done with the vegetables, a close friend of mine called, and we talked until the chicken finished cooking.

I explained to her I was making myself a salad to which she expressed how much she loves salads, too. Next time she comes up, I will make one for her. I sent the photos above to her with a couple of others after we finished the call so she could see what I’d prepared for my lunch. It felt good to share something that was bringing me bits of joy — especially with this friend because she has known loss incredibly detrimental to her spirit more than once. I lean on her for an understanding of it all, sometimes. She knows the heavy weight this type of pain produces.

I did not think jumping into cooking or preparing good food again could inspire, move, shape, and encourage me. But it has. I will take all that it brings.


Good times, happy moments, and the gift of family.

Today, I went to visit a few of my cousins. I am blessed to have some family nearby, especially little ones. My youngest cousins in my area are ages four and six. The two of them are bundles of laughter, joy, energy, and come fully loaded with tons of questions. Entertaining is an understatement for these two. Whenever I am sad, a quick trip to be around my family and the little ones lifts my spirits. I do not take these hours of happiness for granted. They have been exactly what I have needed of late.

My best friend has also kept my incoming messages on the up and up with photographs and videos of her new puppy. It does my heart good to see this sweet, four-legged “Lil Miss Busy Body” pop up throughout the week at moments when I could use a pick-me-up. I have filled each day this past week with seconds, minutes, and hours of things to keep my mind steady and my heart from breaking.

I have gathered each event and logged them neatly into my memory bank. I will have each one as a reminder for retrieval when the roughness of the waters creeps up again. They will have no welcome mat at my shore.

This afternoon’s quote applies to today’s entry:

You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.¨ — Desmond Tutu


Welcome to The Grieving Room. I am here. You are here. We are not alone in this.

See you next Saturday.


©2022 Tremaine L. Loadholt Originally shared via The Grieving Room newsletter via LinkedIn.

Exhausted

A Rant

senseless violence
drawn by the hand of man.
when will we ever learn?
when will it ever get better?
children dying, people losing
their sense of self — 
all because power
is more important than life.

how will we get through
the grieving process if we’re 
continually grieving?
how will we heal if a wound
is torn open every few months?
why are we existing
if we cannot live
the lives laid before us?

when will power become
less of an asset versus
human life?

all of these questions
still have no answers,
but there are people
who can answer
all of these questions
yet they refuse
to do so accordingly.

and what will we have?
more lives lost,
more people grieving,
more wounds opened
when all we should
be doing is healing
and getting through life
as best as we can.

people say “Post-Pandemic Era” 
however, there are people
still dying from the Coronavirus.
there is no Post-Pandemic . . .
there is only now.
if we do not do something 
about where we are currently,
we will lose and
continue to lose all
aspects of our genuine selves.

and where will that
leave us?
cold, alone, despondent, irritable, 
frightful . . .

fearful of sending 
our children to schools,
fearful of going to shop
in our local grocery stores,
fearful of entering the temple.
when does it end?

this is not my America.
I do not feel at home here.
there is no place for
me here — no love.

how can I call a place home
when a person with a uterus
is punished for having one?

I’m sick and tired of being
sick and tired.
I’m sick and tired of
being sick and tired
I’m sick and TIRED OF BEING
SICK AND TIRED!

do something!


Originally published in soliloque via Medium.

I Believe In Me Sometimes, But Not All The Time — And That’s My Struggle

MUSICAL SELECTION: GIL SCOTT-HERON|WINTER IN AMERICA

When a bird sings, it is lending its heart to you

Photo by kevin turcios on Unsplash

I am a purposed woman. I know I have a purpose. I am inclined to believe we all have a purpose. However, I struggle to recognize, grasp, and embrace exactly what my purpose is. I know my strengths. I know my weaknesses. I can tell you all the things that make me uncomfortable and put me in deep states of anxiousness, yet I can’t quite place a finger on a solitary thing to cause me to erupt more than something else. I have faults and flaws — upswings and downswings — brave moments and fearful ones. I am a walking contradiction who lives down the street from super-inflated candidness wrapped in a slice of humility.

The seasons blur. I cannot find my way through spring shifted from winter second-removed from autumn or passed down by summer. Every season carries its own pain and its own special directness as they enter my realm. Who should I be now? What should I learn today? Where will any of this lead me four to five years from now?

It is the tail-end of spring and the birds sing their joyous songs just outside my window — a congregation of like minds willing to harmonize their thoughts and feelings.

When a bird sings, it is lending its heart to you.

I tell myself this . . . that birdsong is God’s feathered creatures sharing their heart. Am I a great keeper of it? Can they trust me with it? I am not a bird person, per se, but I enjoy listening to their musical offerings. I carry their songs with me throughout the day. Sometimes, they are the only thing that can lift me out of a frigid mood — warm my soul. These days, I’ll take what I can get.


I have a mean gift of gab — I do.

If I am not willing to point out what I do well, who will? Without boasting or sounding arrogant, I remind myself occasionally, “You are an incredible words-worker. You can create anything using words.” And I can. I have. I hope to continue to do so as each year passes, but the world is shifting from what it used to be, and I fear many of us no longer want to sit with words. We want to be spoonfed by two-minute reels of one’s forty-year timeline or audiobook everything, including the Bible. We want the diet version of a memoir and the cliff notes to epic poetry and . . . I fear I will move out of my league with this new normal.

But, I have a mean gift of gab. I can land a poetic punch or comedic comeback in a heartbeat and not blink an eye. One thing I love most about working from home is sharing with my co-workers via Teams. At roughly about 11:10 a.m. every workday, one of my Workforce Managers will tag me in a Teams group chat casually blaming me for the call queue increasing because I took a break. I, of course, upon returning from break, will see my name tagged with the statement of blame and our tit for tat in comedic exchanges will begin.

Several co-workers will say in the chat, “I wait for this every morning! It’s one of the reasons I’m excited to log on!” or “Y’all two are so funny. This is better than my soaps.” I have to admit, on some days, this same Workforce Manager will give me a run for my money via a verbal comedic lashing, and I’ll humbly bow out. If I had to guess, though, I’d say we’re neck and neck.

But these exchanges and how good they make my co-workers feel are reminders of what I have done and can do with the English language.


I motivate others to be better versions of themselves

When I am at my highest level of confidence, I can motivate others to be better versions of themselves. It is not finger-pointing, and it is most definitely not, “Look at what I did — you can do it, too!” It is more like me simply listening to them, knowing what they can do and how often they have overcome obstacles to get where they are in life, and reminding them of this. It is me sounding a bullhorn in their ear that they have the power to be exactly who they wish to be. They must recognize it.

I take what I say to them and turn it back on to myself as well. I am not a stranger to self-reflection or honing in on integrity. We all have a little of something in us others want — they may even need it, and most times, it makes them happy for us to share whatever that little something is.


I struggle with my gifts and talents — with believing in myself

Knowing all that I know about myself and how I operate, I still struggle with believing completely in myself — with feeling as though I can be more — do more; provide more for my life. I have goals I would still like to meet and I aspire to be a better version of myself, too, but the weight of the world and some of my negative thoughts can create a conflict within me, and I play tug of war with myself.

Although I’ve been down the road of my life and have seen my many accomplishments, there is always this nagging voice poking its way into my thoughts if ever I stumble upon a new idea. It creepily says, “Are you sure you can do this?” And sometimes it gets rude with its statement and spits a, “But you’ve already failed at this before” at me, and I stutter-step with my next moves. It is up to me to continue to pour positive energy into this being of mine as I grow older — as I seek opportunities out there I know are meant for me.

I am going to be just like the birdsong — soon, a piece of my heart will be with you.


Originally published in CRY Magazine via Medium.

The Morning Routine

Jernee Timid, my little monster. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

I wake up when my left leg
starts to ache, the shift
from night to morning takes
no time. I feel the sun before
it even peeks through my curtains.
Rainy days offer me tension
and tightness from an
old injury, and I stretch and stretch
and stretch until I feel loose.

The dog pats away at her crate,
ready to be released.
I slip out of bed,
slip into some “for people
who’ll see me” clothes,
wash my face, drink a
bottled water, and harness the
dog for our morning walk.

We brave whatever nonsense
stands before us willingly at
an early hour. We are no
strangers to strangeness, yet
nothing comes that is
out of the ordinary, at least,
on most days.
But we’re ready just in case.

Twenty minutes later, we are
rejuvenated and awake enough
to think coherently.
I feed her, take a shower, eat
breakfast, drink 8oz of water
or almond milk or orange juice,
and brush my teeth.

With my body full and my
mind ready, I endure a workday
or a Saturday or Sunday
full of more of the same or
is it more of the sane?
Time will tell, it always does.


Originally published via Simily on May 22, 2022.

new neighbors

new neighbors moved in
next door.
I worry about how
they’ll be–who they are
when the day turns
to night and the need
for fake(ness) fades.

cute couple–extra smiley
with matching names.
the dog scrutinizes the
young man–low growls as
he passes by.

I think to myself,
“If she doesn’t like him,
we’re in a world of
trouble.”

I also think,
“You shouldn’t overanalyze
this–it could be okay.”
we’ll see.