I don’t know what it was like growing up in your household, but in the Morse family, we all were given a role for our futures: My brother David was the genius and wiz-kid; my sister Ilene was to follow in the family’s clothing manufacturing and design business; and I was supposed to be a lawyer.
However, along our paths came different people, places and things that created bumps in our roads, and changed our directions.
This post is about recognizing and honoring one of my life’s hiccups.
Growing up in the 70s, there was no concept of legal marketing. So, how did I grow up to be one??
Todd was my college boyfriend at UC San Diego and he changed the direction of my life at the time; and he changed the direction of my life, again, four years ago.
At UCSD I was a writing major, minoring in political science and Chinese studies with the goal in mind of becoming an international corporate attorney. Yeah, my dad had A LOT to do with this, lol.
In my freshman year I met Todd in a writing class. We became friends, and a relationship developed which lasted 2 1/2 years. During the course of those years Todd was diagnosed manic-depressive and began what would become a life-long battle with the disease, and countless stays in mental hospitals. I, in turn, became very familiar with the ins-and-outs of a 5150 involuntary hold … all before I turned 20.
My life, obviously, changed. My focus became caring for him, and less on my studies. I would have to withdraw from classes and take incompletes; and I had an incomplete lapse into a fail when I was not able to retake the class. By the time I was 21, my focus was gone, my writing took a hit, and I just gave up learning my Chinese characters.
My grades upon graduation, while not horrible, kept me from being accepted at a tier-1 law school, and for what I wanted to do, a tier-2 school was not an option.
So I had to find a different path. A different way.
I became a grassroots organizer, and eventually a lobbyist, for a non-profit organization. I moved on to running the programing and events for a public interest forum, which led me to become the marketing director for a private club.
Each position built upon the skills of the last. By the time 1997 rolled around, I was an established event planner, knew the ins-and-outs of client service, was knowledgeable in desk-top publishing, pricing and promotion.
In early 1998 a friend called about a new position in the law firm in which she worked. They had just hired a director of marketing, and he was looking for an assistant manager. She thought my background and skills would be a good fit, so I packaged up my resume and sent it over, and got the job.
I haven’t looked back since.
Except this week. This week would have been Todd’s 46th birthday. But, you see, he died four years ago from cardiac arrest while in another hospital. He never recovered from his disease, and he is now at peace, and for that I am grateful.
But his death sent another shock-wave through my life. I found myself so distraught by his death, and I couldn’t shake it. I realized that I had been going through my life, building my external success: I had a good career; I was recognized within my professional community; I was married, and had two beautiful children. But I wasn’t “living,” and I most definitely wasn’t happy.
So I embarked on a spiritual journey with no idea what I would find.
I quit my job at a major AmLaw 100 firm, because I was MISERABLE.
I took the summer off and enjoyed being with my kids. I joined a yoga studio and was there four times a week. I began to meditate, and I found a spiritual peace.
When it was time to go back to work, I knew what I wanted, and, better yet, I knew what I didn’t want. I had clarity for the first time in a long time, and I found the perfect firm for me.
In the course of my new journey, I found my niche in social media, began this blog, and expanded my personal and professional relationships.
I left that marriage with the dignity and grace worthy of the father of my children.
And, I have found a new personal happiness and joy for my life.
Not sure if you noticed, but earlier this week I got really quiet both here on the blog and on my Twitter. I shared, however, on my personal Facebook page about what I was going through.
Todd’s birthday was approaching and my thoughts once again turned to him. For the bulk of these 20+ year since college, the happy times were clouded by the bittersweet, and the just tragic moments that come with loving and living with someone with a mental illness.
So I wrote a list of 25 happy moments with Todd Slome, which turned into 26, and I began to smile. I have since uncovered many more happy moments.
I called his mom Wednesday morning, and, for the first time since his death, I didn’t burst into sobs upon hearing her voice. We were able to share our stories, sorrows, laugh some, and shed some tears.
I often rhetorically ask: if you Google yourself and there are no returns, do you exist? For Todd Slome, as of today, the only return you get when you Google his name is for his SSDI. And that’s just not right.
So hopefully this post will allow his name to be indexed by Google. And when someone searches out Todd Slome’s name they will learn that he was an incredible author, a good friend, a passionate dancer, lover of films, literature and The New Yorker. He was incredibly gorgeous, and had the most beautiful green eyes. He never noticed the heads he turned. He was the oldest of three brothers, and I was the first girl he ever loved.
When I think about it, Todd Slome was not a hiccup in my life, but a carefully placed touchstone.
On what would have been his 46th birthday, I once again found inspiration in Todd’s voice, and gratitude for the ripple his presence has had on my life for these past 25 years.