First Outing Since the Pandemic Began

My Little Monster, Jernee Timid Loadholt, enjoying the sights and sounds around her. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

Today, I had lunch with a writing friend of mine. We planned this a few weeks back, and I am glad it actually took place.

I was afraid I’d get too anxious and back out or far too afraid to even go. This was actually my first outing to sit down and eat at a restaurant (outside on the patio) since the pandemic began.

We decided on a place called Relish in Raleigh, which is about an hour and thirty-five minutes away from me. We had a delightful time. The food was great. The service was excellent. And it is a pet-friendly environment.

These days, I pretty much have to have Jernee with me if I venture away from home for too long, so this place being all it was and so much more, was definitely a Godsend.


All work and no play
Makes Jernee a grumpy dog
Today we had fun

Outing with a friend
Delicious food to savor
A pet friendly place

We will go again
When I’ve gathered up the strength
It had been too long

pushers

Musical Selection: Dionne Farris|Hopeless

I can’t dote on the team
I get to share frustrations,
stressors, and accomplishments
with on a daily basis enough.
we may split at the edges
sometimes, but we will
never crack.

we have endured system issues,
glitches, irate patients, and an
overall pressure that packed
itself heavy into our bones,
yet we stayed above water–
humorous in our near-defeat.

if I were a betting woman,
my cash would be on them.
my trust is in them.
I wouldn’t want to do
the days I spend spiraling
with any other group of
people–we are perfectly matched
for the work that we do.

and on the days when
calls push us hard against
the wall, we push back with
a vengeance that comes wrapped
in fire and bold presentations.

we are not your average
team; we wear remarkable on
our sleeves–clever human beings,
slaying the trenches of the
scheduling world effortlessly.


Originally shared via LinkedIn.


Hopeless by Dionne Farris

The Grieving Room

Understanding what happens and why while grieving

On late Sunday night and into early Monday morning, a dream awakened me. In that dream, I could see a crew of siblings I’d grown up with in my neighborhood as clear as day; a sister and her two brothers.

We played kickball, dodgeball, and many other outside games, and raced to our respective homes before the streetlights came on.

We attended the same elementary, junior high, and high school. I have not seen them since I was in my late 20s, or early 30s, maybe? Why was I dreaming about them?

In the dream, the focus had been on the two brothers. Although the sister was present, she did not have a strong role — it’s like she made a cameo appearance only and moved along without a word.

I jumped up from my bed, not too sure why I had this reaction, and began searching for them online. What the search led me to was the death of one brother back in October 2011. He was 35 years old. I was 31.

He’d also been the sibling I communicated with the most. Although he was older, we had a lot in common. Not only that, we simply gelled well. We had our fair share of quips and subtle arguments from time to time, but we were always right back outside a few days later, enjoying what young life and innocence offered.

The obituary stated he’d died when his “health had failed.” 35 years old … I’d spent many of my childhood years dodging dodgeballs, kicking kickballs, running home before the glimmer of the streetlights with him, and having not seen him in over 15 years, I just sat with myself and this news.

I cannot describe how it made me feel. Initially, pain struck me as well as curiosity. It hurt to know he was no longer alive, even though the last time we saw each other was over a decade ago.

I had also been hit with the incessantly annoying want to know what happened. Why him? What started the path down to the reality of his health failing?

My therapist encourages me to study the why but not to overthink what could be simple

Naturally, I discussed this dream with my therapist this past Thursday, August 18, 2022. I love watching my therapist as she sits back in her chair, cups one of her hands on her chin, tilts her head, and says, “Okay. Where is the why in this? Why do you think you had this dream after not having seen them in so long?”

The question stumped me when she first asked it. I had trouble connecting the dots. My mind had been moving so fast, trying to wrap itself around it. I was dealing with the “how” so much more than I was dealing with the “why” of it all. I could pull nothing from within me.

She allowed me several moments to sit with the question and it finally hit me. “I thought I had gotten to a happier place with my grief — that I could say it does not hurt as much as it first did — I am doing better. But this … now this.”

And we talked through it. Her next question really drew the emotion out of me. “What do you feel in you right now, knowing that a childhood friend is gone?”

How does one even address this question? Especially if one has had multiple childhood friends die. Some before we’d even made it to our 30s.

I don’t want to say I am numb to it because surely I am not — I still feel each loss completely and wholly and the pain isn’t any different. My response … “I am saddened by it. I am hurt. I wish I would not have found out this way, or that it did not happen. Why did I have this dream? Am I supposed to reach out to his brother … his sister? He died so long ago.”

And the tears fell.

It all hit me like a Mack truck a few moments later. I didn’t give my therapist time to respond. My old friend died in October 2011. My cousin’s birthday is coming up in October. I had already not dealt with the month of October well because my maternal grandmother died In October when I was 23 years old.

Plainly put, October is a struggle month for me. There are days in that month when my focus is completely and utterly off, and I cannot move through them as I can months before it.

My maternal grandmother’s death had broken me in places I did not know breaking was possible. October brings darkness for me — so much darkness, and my cousin … she had been the light. Every single year — she was beautiful, unfathomable, undeniable, uplifting, and consistent light.

So, what will this October lend me this year? In all honesty, I am afraid to greet it but I also cannot worry about something over which I have no control. And I will try not to have any predestined wallowing moments piling up, either. I have to press forward. I have to move through it as best as I can when it approaches.

I will continue to give myself the grace and understanding I need.

I am aware that you worry about many things that you can’t control. There’s so much we would like to have but we cannot really hold. You have to be kind to yourself. You have to be kind to yourself. — Zooey Deschanel

How I got through the week embraced by some entertainment

I have made it a point to watch more television. For years, I had immersed myself in reading, writing, editing, and viewing a couple of hours of television per night and a few more during the weekends, but of late, this form of entertainment is keeping me above water.

Throughout the week, I allowed myself to be enchanted and excited by Gnome Alone (on Netflix), intrigued and motivated by Prey (on Hulu), angered and emotionally shaken by The United States vs. Billie Holiday (on Hulu), and finally, distracted, saddened, yet uplifted by Over the Moon (on Netflix).

And with the roller coaster week I have had, each of them has been a welcome reprieve.

I have learned to allow myself moments of joy regardless of how they are introduced to me.

I may not know the “why” but I will probably find out soon

Finding out about the loss of a childhood friend the way I did has definitely bruised something within me. I won’t lie — it was crushing waking up to learn of the death of someone I had been close to while growing up. I am still struggling with thoughts of, “why didn’t we keep in touch?” “What prevented us from spending more time together as we aged?” “What would it look like for me to make attempts at reconnecting with his surviving brother and sister?”

I do not have the answers. But I will tell you I am sitting with this loss. I am honoring it with the time I believe it needs. I am looking to the spirit of my cousin to cradle me as she has been doing over the last six months. And that is all I can do for now.

That is all I will do.

Grief changes shape, but it never ends. — Keanu Reeves


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 on LinkedIn.

The Grieving Room

Getting out of my city for a small adventure

Photo by Karsten Würth on Unsplash

If you’ve ever felt trapped in your own home (Hello! … to probably all of you reading this newsletter) and got out to take a quick road trip by yourself during this pandemic, you’ve probably benefited more from it than you know. This past week has been a topsy-turvy one. However, it has not been one I couldn’t get through without a few short breaths and prayers to God to remind me I am still alive — still “movin’ and groovin’” and making this thing called life work for me.

After only visiting my mom, cousins, and a few friends and teammates here and there throughout this pandemic, I ventured out to a small town about 45 minutes away from where I live. Perhaps you’ve heard of Mount Airy, North Carolina, the birthplace of Andy Griffith? Many have stated the town is the blueprint for Mayberry on the Andy Griffith show. And let me just tell you — you know you’re in the country when a tractor pulls out in front of you to take over the road — never mind the fact you were there first.

Excuse me, Mr. Man on the tractor, please have at the entire highway strip — my pleasure — I do like my life.

During the trip there, I also saw a man riding an ATV 4-wheeler on the highway. No harm, no foul, homie. Please do you on this highway — on your 4-wheeler. I was in a zone, listening to Wale via Pandora, and neither one of these people was going to kill my vibe. I had one thought in mind — make it to my friend/co-worker’s home in one piece, and make it there in one piece, I did.


Friendship — what a beautiful thing.

I pulled up the rock-covered road to my friend Sarah’s place, put my car in park, got out, and embraced her for what felt like at least two minutes. I had not seen her in a year and eight months. I then hugged her mom, whom I probably haven’t seen in just over two years — then her dad, and then I gave my full attention to her sweet Golden Retriever puppy, Lily.

Dogs are amazing beings. If they instantly take to you, this says more about you than it does the dog. And I was truly happy to make Lily’s acquaintance. The excitement she had for me during our first meeting matched how Jernee reacts when I come back home to her. I was putty in her paws, and I believe she knew this.


Sweet Lily and I. She wouldn’t give me enough time to take off my shoes. She is the sweetest pup ever! Photo Credit: Sarah Culler. Used with her permission.

After I settled into loving Lily a bit, we ordered food, went to pick it up, and came back to my friend’s place to eat, chat, and enjoy each other’s company. I love being able to communicate with people freely — love it when there’s no filter and everyone can be expressive. Sarah and I have always been this way — at work — and outside of work. Her mom is just the same — salt of the earth people who do not bite their tongues, but have enormous hearts, too. It is in the hospitality offered. It is in the words spoken. It is in the love that is felt.

We then toured the city, which did not take long. We drove “Downtown” so I could see some of the major sites, the Andy Griffith mural, an old theatre, and plenty of people outside taking advantage of the beautiful weather today lent us. I am truly wary of crowds even more than I was before the pandemic, so this tour was in my friend’s car as we cruised her city without the hustle and bustle of the craziness a Saturday around hundreds of people can bring. I still like my space and I don’t want many people around me.

Time flew by so quickly, I headed back home to be with my own little monster. The trip was well-deserved and definitely long overdue. I needed it.


It comes and goes. I understand now.

I had a moment of wanting to text Chrissy some photos or send her a brief note that said, “Look, cousin! Look at what I’m finally doing,” and it’s almost as if I have to reset my brain every time this happens to me. I know I cannot talk to her anymore. I know I cannot send text messages to her phone number that I simply cannot bring myself to delete from my phone. I know there will never be another hug, kiss, or trip to Florida to bask in her presence. My mind knows this. It does.

My heart cannot catch up. It can’t. But I am still giving myself grace. I am still being gentle with myself. There are better days ahead and getting to them consistently again will take time. It will. I am patient with myself. I owe it to myself to be as patient as I am being — it is necessary.

But I understand now how grief can come tapping at your shoulder when you least expect it. I wave hello to it — offer it some coffee, break out the good china, and allow it to sit for a moment with me. I will play some music for it, cook it a good meal, take it for a walk, but I refuse … at this point now to allow it to drag me down. Could it be Chrissy speaking through me? I know it is. And I am listening.

You must go on adventures to find out where you truly belong. — Sue Fitzmaurice


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.

The Grieving Room

Feeling the lows and the highs and learning from them

I have had an okay week — some lows and some highs — some things I am learning from and enjoying the journey through them, but life is still life. Last Sunday, I had the pleasure of embracing a friend/old co-worker of mine in an actual hug for what felt timeless. We both needed it. I hadn’t seen her in six months, and her visit was one that had been planned, but we switched up what we wanted to do because of the high temperatures. I had been in the process of finishing an early Memorial Day dinner when she arrived, so in my heart — in my mind, I knew I’d either feed her or send her home with a plate of food.

Weekends have always been the days I’d spend trying to attain some downtime, but they usually become days for running errands, getting stuff done for Jernee (my 14-year-old Chorkie), visiting a few family members, and anything else that needs my attention. But to host someone I care about, someone I love, in my home for a few hours reminded me of the Before Times. Pre-COVID, I made it a point to feed a friend or loved one occasionally, to allot space and a place for them to rest when they visited, and to experience all I could with them while they had been around.

The visit had been what I longed for — a few hours in the presence of a kind-hearted person who is a brilliant conversationalist and has worked in the medical field for a few years more than I have. We talked about life, how we’re managing this on-again/off-again global pandemic, and what we’re doing to take care of ourselves.

The week also brought about time for me to work on some writing. And during this time, two pieces of poetry, one work of flash fiction, and an essay had been produced. My younger cousin (Chrissy’s daughter) visited as well. Connecting with her — being around her — simply listening to her did my heart good.

Through every moment of this week that sent me spinning out of bounds a bit, I circled back to where I needed to be — in the center. I am here now.


Feeding the heart and not only the mind.

It is a blessing when you can provide a home-cooked meal for someone. Cooking is an essential part of life. If we can, we do it. And if we are good at it, we probably do it more often than others. The process — the creating and preparing and pairing of ingredients is an art form. One could get lost in the dance — in the rhythm of maintaining the flow if one is not careful. It is my aim whenever I cook for someone to cater to not only their stomachs, but to their hearts, too.

A photo of a home-cooked meal; bbq beef ribs, potato salad, and collard greens.
Memorial Day dinner; bbq beef ribs, potato salad, and collard greens. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

Above is the meal I gingerly packed and handed to my friend before she left my home; barbecued beef ribs, potato salad, and collard greens. We began our afternoon releasing — sharing what we needed to share with one another, and by the end of her visit; I had an overwhelming calmness stirring within me. She gave me more than just her time — she gave her heart too by coming directly over right after work to sit awhile with me.

I think we are at the stage in our friendship where moments such as the one we shared are a welcome occurrence. We search for these moments with others, and some can provide them — some cannot. I am grateful to have allowed food, faith, a pleasant conversation, and some tears to restore me.


The writing comes, it always comes.

And I sit with it when it does. Something moves me. Something shakes me. Something pushes me to create and use this incredible thing we produce by taking vocabulary and painting it firmly on the canvas of our lives. The tragedies of the last few weeks have had my stomach in knots — my spirit is completely defeated. I felt anger. I felt pain. I felt an undeniable sense of wanting to run away from my country to be somewhere else, anywhere else, but here. I wrote about it.

I find it disturbing that as human beings; we are moving from what can connect us to what almost always causes a further disconnect, and we settle there until the next best thing comes along to do more of the same. Words still move me. They have a space in my heart, and that will never change. I can use any genre of writing to express what I feel. And the beauty of this alone should be cherished — should be pedestal’d. I wrote about that, too.

When prompted, I spill over from the fullness of fiction and I birth characters who are fully formed and come complete with their own cores with whom my readers can and often connect. A prompt word, “shadow” landed me in the lane to create the third part of a mystery/thriller flash fiction series I have been nursing. It came to life.

I also wrote about the power of a home-cooked meal and how it is not just food we are transforming from its raw form to a cooked form for consumption, we are transforming the lives of our friends, family members, and acquaintances when we can give them our hearts in a meal. If I cook for you, you are in my heart. I want you to be well. It helps me to be well.


Building bonds and strengthening hearts.

I had not seen my late cousin Chrissy’s daughter since she was twelve years old. Nearly twenty years later, we hugged as though our lives depended on it. Her life abroad, distance, and everything else that comes into play to throw a kink in plans occurred. But now, there are no excuses for us. With her in her 30s and me in my 40s, we are forming a bond I know her mom dreamt up and sent to us cosmically.

To hold her tightly and say, “I love you” repeatedly as she said it too, almost drew more tears from me. Happy tears, though. At one point, I said, “When I let you go, I am going to miss this — miss you.” Taking a brief road trip with her to take her where she intended to go for her visit to North Carolina had been the link I needed.

I did not know my Saturday — this Saturday would catapult me back to a high point — one that I won’t soon forget. I no longer have Chrissy, but I see her living on in her daughter, and that — that is an amazing thing to witness. Through her child, I will respect her existence. It has been a gift showering down on me over the past few months.

Love is a wondrous thing. If you have it, whenever you have it, keep it close.

The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life. — Richard Bach


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 newsletters via LinkedIn.