The Grieving Room

A photograph of my breakfast nook, a beautiful space with plenty of natural light and artwork surrounding me.
One of my favorite spaces in my apartment — the breakfast nook. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

Music, family, release during a monthly check-in, and pushing forward

I typically share The Grieving Room newsletter every Saturday, but yesterday had been an exception to this rule. Saturday morning, I drove to Greensboro, North Carolina, to pick up my mother and bring her to my place. The drive wasn’t an intense or long one, but it had been busy on the highway, given it is currently a holiday weekend. Jernee and I made the journey with no accidents and arrived safely in front of my mom’s building. She greeted us with a smile and open arms, ready for a hug.

It has been “a long time coming” for me and my mom. We are at a point in our lives where our bond is much stronger than it had been as I was growing up, and we have found spaces in our past that can be discussed, debated, and laughed about instead of argued, swept under a rug, and filled with crying. 

I appreciate this so much more now as I get older. I can remember thinking, “I can do bad all by myself” in my early 20s, assuming I would suffer more with her presence than the opposite.

There is an incredible gift called “forgiveness”, and for me to grow into this phase of my life, I had to allow it into my world. It had to wash over me and lift me up from a dark place I centered on — lathering myself up with past instances did nothing for my heart. It only increased the pain. 

Once I pulled away from the hold of the things that hurt me, understand why they took place, and invite conversations with my mom for both of us to heal, we landed here. And let me tell you, I’ll take where we are now over where we were fifteen or even twenty years ago any day.

Forgiveness says you are given another chance to make a new beginning. — Desmond Tutu

After we touched down in my city, we stopped by a spot to pick up lunch, and we headed back to my place where we consumed what made us happy and talked about my mom getting out of her space for a short time. 

I touched on this subject a few weeks ago when I mentioned what a difference a few hours or even a day trip away from your home can make during these “unprecedented times.” She had been happy to leave home to come and spend some time with me.

At this moment, she’s resting, and soon, I will make us a hearty and healthy breakfast before I take her to the store. I am shooting for early afternoon to hit the road again to take her back to her place.

We visited my cousins and spent some time with the little one. Lately, I’ve been catching only one of them at home and not the other. But seeing Caison sparked new joy in my mom’s eyes. She completely lit up in his presence, having not seen him in about three years. Children can shift the energy of a room — a mood — an entire experience. They truly can.

Since she’s never seen either film, we watched Gemini Man and Hustle last night. She enjoyed them both, and I took delight because we could share something we both enjoy.

Having her here is what I needed to end my week and go into the next one with a few more sunshiny rays hovering over me.

A monthly check-in with my supervisor led to a reasonable breakthrough

Monthly, at my job, we have our check-ins with our supervisors. I appreciate these twenty to thirty-five-minute sessions with my direct higher-up to let me know how I am doing, where I should be, and discuss my goals for myself as it pertains to our organization. 

I will preface this by saying I love my supervisor. She goes to bat for us and wants to know — truly wants to know how we’re doing and where she can help us if she needs to.

We have a job that can easily open the doors to increased stress, but knowing she is around to reach out to and help lighten the load makes things much better on most days. I have the utmost respect for her because not only does she do all of this; she gets down in the trenches with us and takes patient phone calls throughout the day, every single day, to ensure we are scheduling our patients effectively and efficiently and maintaining shorter hold times.

I did not have the best start to the week. Not only did I have to put out a few fires with some irate patients, but I also had some other issues attacking me outside of work, so when my supervisor began our call just as she normally does every month with, “So, how are you doing?” I hesitated. 

I must have said something like, “I’m making it. I’ll be all right.” And just hearing her voice on the other end, trying to get to the root of it and listen to me intently, I broke down. The tears flowed before I could stop them.

She took the time to listen — to hear me — to allow me that space during that time. It was an incredible release for me during a part of my day when I felt like I was climbing out of a deep hole. She always closes each session with three questions she has thought of to engage me and make me think. 

One of them was, “If you could go back to your high school days, would you?” Thinking about high school put a huge smile on my face. I absolutely loved high school and instantly I missed it. But I am grateful to have moved through it.

I needed this month’s check-in more than I ever needed any other. It made me aware that there is still work to do to get through the grieving process. It comes and goes and there will always be phrases, songs, movies, and food that remind me of my cousin and the bond we had. 

There isn’t a switch that will allow me to turn that part of my brain off to move through life. I can only acknowledge the times that occur to shake me momentarily, grow from them, and appreciate the love she gave me.

I am so glad I had the love of an amazing human being. It is a testimony that stands powerfully on its own. I am also elated to know my supervisor doesn’t just talk the talk; she walks it and has done so since I started this position.

Music will always be my inspiration

This past week sent me to spaces where I needed various genres of music to both inspire and revive me. I had my “listening ears” connected to J. Cole, Common, Busta Rhymes, Kendrick Lamar, Doja Cat, Jill Scott, Moonchild, Shuggie Otis, and so many more.

If I never experience heaven in the afterlife, I have done so here while on earth. With so many talented artists at our disposal, there is a gift in music we can carve out if we will do so. To say that I can lean into these musical geniuses and lose myself is an understatement — they assist me with inspiration, and of late, it is necessary.

I will share a favorite song of mine with you. Sweetback (Helen Folasade “Sade” Adu’s band) collaborated with Amel Larrieux to create this masterpiece with a powerful message, You Will Rise. It is exceptionally appropriate for this week, and I hope you enjoy it too.

©1996 Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Sweetback & Amel Larrieux, You Will Rise

“I gotta burnin’ in my heart 
to keep it real and do my part.
I gotta burnin’ in my soul
to recognize where I’m from.
Ah, yeah.”

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 published in The Grieving Room newsletter via LinkedIn.