A Cure for the February Blues

February tends to be a rough month for me. In 2010 Kenn and I moved my parents from my childhood home (their home of almost 50 years) to the house right across the street from us. They remained there until my daddy died on February 16, 2016. Daddy had been Mama’s primary caretaker until about 3 months before his death. However, Kenn and I were both still working full-time and in-home care for Mama was prohibitively expensive so she moved to North Carolina to live with my oldest sister and her husband. Daddy’s death was hard enough but Mama’s move immediately afterward felt almost like losing her. We made regular trips to NC to visit but it was obvious that Mama’s health was also failing; she died on February 24, 2017. (My sisters and I would not have been surprised if she had died on the anniversary of Daddy’s death.)

Everyone’s grief journey is different. My experience is that grief lessens over time but it doesn’t completely fade. I also don’t look at the calendar and go “Oh, wow. It’s February. I need to be sad.” Invariably what happens is that I find myself feeling blue and wondering what in the heck is going on and eventually realizing “Oh. It’s February. No wonder my heart is aching.” Kenn is a great support and is always willing to provide hugs as needed. I also turn to Mass Effect, my favorite video game, and spend time saving the galaxy with my virtual friends. (What can I say? Some people have comfort foods or books or movies. I have a comfort video game.)

Mama and Daddy

The picture above is one of my favorites of Mama and Daddy. It was taken at our local Cracker Barrel (their favorite restaurant) in February 2015.

This year, I have something new to ease the February blues. Earlier this month, our oldest son and daughter-in-law welcomed twins. Meeting (and cuddling) these new little ones has definitely brightened my life. I will always miss my parents and the anniversaries of their deaths will always be hard, but having two new lives to celebrate (year round, not just in February) will certainly make things easier going forward.

Until next time, happy trails and… take the time to hug your loved ones and tell them how you feel.

Not Your Average Grammie

I am many things: a woman of faith, a wife, a mom, a Grammie, a writer, a blogger, and much to most people’s surprise, a gamer. The long-awaited remastered version of my favorite video game series, Mass Effect, releases tomorrow and I am SO EXCITED. (For the non-gamers reading this, a remaster basically means that the graphics and game play have been tweaked and improved without making any changes to the plot/storyline.)

I’m not sure why people are always so shocked to find out that I’m a gamer. I’m an avid reader and writer and video games are just interactive stories. My favorite games are role-playing games or RPGs. RPGs give your character (or avatar) a chance to interact with the other characters and make choices relating to the storyline and/or your character’s behavior. (I can’t be mean, even in games.)

The Mass Effect series has been a part of my life since the first game released in 2007. It’s hard to explain what these games mean to me. Only another gamer can understand how I feel about these characters. Are they real? No. Are they my friends? Yes. Just like some people re-read favorite books, and re-watch favorite movies, I find myself going back to these games over and over again simply because I miss the characters.

#MyShepard

We all have our own ways of dealing with sadness and grief. When the world is too much for me to bear, I play Mass Effect. My virtual friends and I tackle saving the galaxy together until I can face reality again. Over the course of eighteen months during 2016 and 2017 my husband and I lost our three remaining parents. Mass Effect is the only thing that kept the grief from being overwhelming. I can’t even tell you how many times I played through the series. I knew I was starting to heal when I was ready to play something else.

I can’t wait to replay my favorite games and see the changes/improvements that have been made. In some ways, it will be like playing for the the first time – again. So, if you need me over the next few days, I’ll be in my basement, gaming.

Me and my N7 helmet