How I Go On Living

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, goes on living, continuing bonds with her daughter who died.On the morning I was struggling with being daughter-less for the back-to-school shopping season, a good friend phoned me stymied about how to survive the wedding of her deceased child’s best friend. How did you do it, she asked, reminding me of my similar wedding experience last summer. How do you go on living, she asked as well.

We talked for a while. And then I thought of little else the whole rest of the day, trying to come up with an honest answer to share with people who tell me there’s nothing left to live for.

For me, this thing called living falls somewhere between just-surviving and almost-thriving, depending if you ask me on a good day or a bad day. Living is so much more do-able if I’m doing it for someone else. It is no longer about me, or my happiness. I need to feel needed. I live in the hope of being helpful, supportive, especially to others whose lives have been shredded by loss.

Mostly, however, I keep going on for my daughter, Marika, who died. I keep going because she can’t. And I’m probably the only one saving a seat for her on this planet.

Like her friend’s wedding last year: Marika would have gone cheering, dancing, drinking and partying up a fireball. My attending the event was the only way some small part of her could be there. So ­­­­I went—For Her. And whenever I’m at a party or a shimmering blue ocean, under a star-riddled sky, before a great wine or a sheet of un-popped bubble-wrap … I’m thinking of Marika. I talk to her. I consume every magnificent thing like she would have. For Her, I drag myself out of the house to partake of the world’s offerings. All the things she loved or would have loved, I will find and love for her. Continuing bonds. That’s the way I keep going.

The September shopping spree is an old end-of-summer ritual. At TJMax, hangers shuffled in the dressing room next to mine, and I imagined Marika there rummaging through dozens of jeans. She always walked out of a store wearing her new clothes, making sure she had someplace to go in them. Marika, how do you wear jeans this tight, I wondered as I wriggled into and zipped up the new jegging jeans that would take us to a campfire by a pond that evening, and onward into the next season.

 

How do you go on living?

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9 thoughts on “How I Go On Living

  1. Elaine Mansfield

    Somehow we find a way–and it still hurts. Thanks for sharing your path, Robin. When Vic died (so much different from having a child die), it was time for me to create life on my own rather than always in relationship. It was a devastation, but also a turning toward nature, beauty, and writing. And, like you, a time to develop parts of myself that had been dormant and make them my own.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      It’s amazing, Elaine, how we can still grow, even through times of great pain, even as we age. Maybe it gets harder as we get older, but we do find a way. If we can survive the devastation and open ourselves to what the world has to offer – maybe we can successfully re-invent ourselves and our lives – and find joy.

      Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Janet, Bjorn boots, over-the-knee. My latest obsession. Two pairs. I’m gonna wear little else on my feet this winter. But otherwise, Converse sneakers. How “best” is that?

      Reply
      1. Janet Hart

        Very BEST, my friend. I love converses. I’ve been wearing the KEDs I bought several years ago, without the laces, super easy. I have always loved every single pair of whatever you’ve put on yo’ feet! I remember those tall boots you were wearing circa 2010 when I was there. But also: what are these flip flop things you’re wearing in the pic? Those look great and there seems to be a contour thing happening. Besides my black Aerosole sandals (which they don’t seem to make any more) my latest this summer has been a new pair of navy blue Nomadics, comfy as all get-out and they last forever. Loving our cool and practical and sometimes elegant footwear is part of how we all go on living, in spite of…fill in the blank, n’est-ce pas? You are an inspiration in this regard.

        Reply
        1. Robin Botie Post author

          Yow, Janet. I didn’t realize I had a shoe fetish or anything remarkable going on as far as how I outfit my feet. Those sandals are Oofos. OMG I have 4 pairs. They’re for comfort rather than beauty. Look it up online. In the summer I rarely wear anything other than my Oofos. Maybe I shouldn’t have thrown out that catalog that came for you from Aerosole Shoes. Come back to your home in Ithaca here and I’ll show you my collection of sandals and boots. Don’t know how much this contributes to my wanting to go on living but might as well be shoe-ed well if I’m going to keep going.

          Reply
          1. Janet Hart

            Oofos, I’ll look them up! My point is about the joys of, right? So everything to do with wanting to go on, as opposed to the alternative, when selecting cool and comfortable shoes and so much more, will no longer be an option. The joys which make continuing to live so wonderful, because identifying, remembering, indulging in these pleasures makes continuing to live worth the ride. Doesn’t have to be all heavy, does it? I think you’ve proved this both in your style of living and over the years in your blog, one of the parts that I’ve appreciated as I’ve remembered and dealt with my own losses. Losing a child is an obvious, devastating loss but there are so many species of loss. How to carry on. How to enjoy carrying on, since we might as well try at least. This is where loving our shoes and the reasons for our choices… and grape pie moments come in. So being well-shoed is not as we keep on living, it IS to keep on living. In your case, laced with doses of self-judgement, and you’re obviously not alone there. These days I’m finding so many reasons to keep on living, intelligently, not chaotically of course…and working on the self-judgement, much of it absorbed from outside sources and the judgements of others who couldn’t manage to contain themselves. In my unsolicited opinion. xx

            Reply
  2. Lynne Taetzsch

    Beautiful, Robin–in both content and form! Your life is inspiring to all of us.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Lots of hugs, Lynne. No, really? “Inspiring to all of us”??? I keep on drawing attention to the most unattractive, embarrassing but real aspects of my self and my life and you think I’m inspiring? Hmmmm.

      Reply

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