That week or so after my birthday was wonderful: I was feeling great, I was on track, I was looking at life in a more positive way.
And then my uncle died.
I didn't crumble right away. In fact, the day I learned of his death, the day I set out for the drive to Pittsburgh for his funeral and the day after I returned, I still went on my scheduled walks. While in Pittsburgh -- by myself and in a very fragile state -- I managed to stick to my food plan for the most part ("for the most part" because I ate some of my aunt's homemade biscotti).
It wasn't until after I returned that I fell apart.
My dad, who passed away in 2007, was one of seven children. He was the oldest, and his death, while sudden and unexpected, wasn't unexpected, if that makes sense. He lived a hard life and did a lot of damage to his body. He suffered many demons -- most I believe brought on by his time in Vietnam -- and, as a result, his family suffered, too. He was 63 when he died, but I think we lost the real Carmen D'Abruzzo decades before.
My Uncle Mike was the youngest boy. He was quiet and hardworking. He wrote poetry and loved the Three Stooges. He would drop everything to help you if you needed him. And he doted on his wife and daughter. He was 57.
His death hit me hard. My heart ached, not only for the loss of a wonderful man, but for the family he left behind. I also was faced with going to the same funeral home, the same church, the same cemetery and the same hall where my father's services were held. And my grandmother's. And my grandfather's. I spent so much energy just trying to hold myself together.
When I got back from Pittsburgh, I noticed that my attitude, my spirit had shifted. I tried to summon those good feelings I had for that short time between Oct. 29 and Nov. 3. But I was spent. I didn't walk at all that week. And by the following weekend, my eating was out of control once again.
Three steps forward, five steps back.
I still haven't gotten out of this dark place, and it's not just affecting my health. At work, every task is taking me three, four times longer than it used to take me. I can't concentrate. And I'm all over the place with my train of thought. It doesn't help, I'm sure, that I'm taking on more duties at the moment. But whereas I used to be able to work at home even after my shift, now I just crash.
It's the vicious cycle -- when I walk and eat well and get a lot of rest, I feel great. When I don't, I feel awful -- but so awful I can't even think about walking or eating right or getting proper sleep. That's why those days at the end of last month were so precious to me. I was feeling like I had the momentum to go all the way. Now I'm back in that place where I can't see a beginning.
I still have my neatly marked calendar leading up to October 2014 detailing the walks I need to get in and the weight I need to lose. While it didn't take me long to get off track, I still have 11 calendar pages left and that's not nothing. I'm praying for the ability to get out of this hole -- once again -- and embrace the good and shoot for the moon.
I'd like to think I have one more angel cheering me on.