Worry For A Friend

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dandelion

 

I’ve been feeling really burned out and frustrated.  The past two years have taken a heavy toll on me.  One thing I have learned for sure is that change causes stress, even if those changes have been good.  I’m simply worn out and exhausted.  Moving, starting a new job, making sure that the kids are adjusting has made my head spin.

Weeks ago, I decided to take a short trip back home by myself.  I planned on getting my hair cut by the same person I had trusted for years.  (The ordeal of finding another stylist could be a blog post all by itself.)  I was going to call a former co-worker and see if she wanted to meet me for dinner.  I planned on doing a little shopping at places that I miss and then meander around my hometown on the way back home.  I looked forward to a low-key getaway BY MYSELF.  I just wanted 24 hours of not having to work, worry about work, or kids, or anything.

I emailed my hairstylist, and asked her to let me know when she could fit me in on either a Thursday night or anytime on a Friday.  May 1st was the first available date.  I was excited to plan my getaway, until I went to schedule the day off.  I sat down at my computer and opened up my calendar to May 1st.  Right across the top of the page I saw “Lola – No School.”  I knew immediately that I wouldn’t be able to go away by myself.

Lola is 11-years-old.  While she is sometimes home for an hour or two after school, she doesn’t like it.  There is no way that I would leave her home alone all day while I went off to selfishly spend time alone.  My next thought was that if I asked Lola to tag along with me, then Emily would expect to come along, too.  I took a deep breath and emailed my hair stylist to ask if she could also fit the girls in for a hair appointment on that date.

That evening as we sat on the patio, I asked the girls if they’d like to come along with me.  They whooped with pleasure, and I felt like a heal for wishing that I would have been able to have some time to myself.  Then T said, “Hey, can I go, too?”  The girls let out a big….UGH!

When T stepped inside the house for a moment, I talked to the girls.  I told them that they needed to apologize to their dad and tell him that of course he was welcome to come along.  So there I was, both girls and a husband coming along on my alone trip.  Oh, the dog was coming, too, because no one was going to be home to let him outside.

In my head, I was griping and complaining.  Even as I made hotel reservations for two rooms, I was wishing for the weekend trip I had planned by myself.  I arranged for a friend to keep our dog as an overnight guest, because I couldn’t find a hotel that would allow pets.  The dog will be with us, just not at bedtime.  When T started making arrangements for us to visit his mom and then invited his sister to join us for dinner, I wanted to stomp my foot and say, “Quit hijacking my trip!”  Then something happened to make me take a step back and realize what is really important.  My family wanted to be included.  They want to spend time with me.  I should be grateful, not griping.

Just yesterday, I received a text from a dear family friend from back home.  Earlier in the day, he had been diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus, and the doctor’s prognosis was grim.  Damn cancer!  My friend has three children, and the youngest isn’t even out of grade school.  My heart sank at the thought of what he will be facing and what he will be missing.  He had been misdiagnosed for too long.  Now it appears as if it’s too late for any treatment to have much of an impact on the disease.

I can’t stop thinking about him and remembering times together and our many conversations.  Our backgrounds are so different, but we have been friends from the moment we met.  He is from New Jersey, and I’m a small town Midwesterner.  Years ago, he and I were hired by an organization as a team.  Technically, I was his boss, but we worked as a team.  I can still remember our first conversation.  We hadn’t yet met, but we immediately hit it off.  He was my muse, and he inspired creativity in me.  I owe much of my success in that job to him.

My family became his family.  As a divorced man without extended family nearby, he often spent time at our house and joined us on holidays.  Eventually our jobs took us on separate paths, but our friendship has continued.

He is younger than me.  He’s too young, and he has so much left to accomplish.  Nothing about loss is logical.

He and I have exchanged many texts since yesterday.  He’s not able to speak right now, and I’m thankful that we are able to text as a means of communication.  I asked him if I can come see him, but he keeps saying, “Not now.  Soon.  It’s really bad now.”  I’m afraid, because I don’t know what that means.  I’m praying that there will be a time soon.  I have told him that all he needs to do is let me know.  I can be there in two hours…day or night.

I feel petty and selfish.  All week I have been complaining inside.  I wanted my trip alone.  I resented the fact that first my responsibilities changed my plans, and then everyone else climbed on board.  I feel like an idiot for concentrating on the negative instead of being grateful for a day off work, a trip back home, my health, and the chance to spend time with people I love.

Life is too damn short, precious, and fragile.  I have lost too many people that I love.  We all have…or eventually we all will.  One day, someone will mourn the loss of our lives.  No one escapes death.  In the face of certain tragedy and loss, how is it that we human beings are able to lose sight of the precious gift of each new day?  Why do we waste time complaining, or stuck in jobs we hate, or live our lives plodding from one day to the next?  Obviously, I don’t have the answers to these questions.

We are all human, and it is in our nature to carry on in the face of all the uncertainty and loss that life throws our way.  We are resilient and relentless in the pursuit of another day.  We adapt.  We make do with what is available to us.  We cherish the memories, and we make new memories to pass along to those who follow along behind after we’re gone.

Please say a prayer (or send good vibes and strength) for my friend that he will be granted a little extra time to make a few more memories with the people who love him.

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Peapod

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Recently, I read an article bemoaning the fact that we have become a “society of shut-ins.”  I suppose the intent of the article was to shed a disparaging light on the trends of online shopping, food delivery services, and cyber friendships.  People don’t ever have to leave their homes if they don’t want.  In fact, most of the people in this article also worked from home.  On the day I was reading this, it all sounded great to me.  I had been away from home for almost a week.  I came home to a messy house, an empty refrigerator, piles of laundry, and a broken dryer.  The idea of sequestering myself away from the world in general sounded wonderful!

To be fair, T had been working crazy hours while I was out of town.  He had prepared meals for the girls and tried to keep up with the laundry.  Emily was back to work, but still recovering from her lengthy illness.  She was sleeping almost every moment she was home.

I spent my Good Friday “holiday” calling around to find someone to repair the dryer, cleaning the house, and fighting traffic and crowds to buy groceries for my family.  That evening I readied the house for company and the holiday.  By the time I sat down late at night, I realized that almost every single moment of my life was claimed every single day.  Work, the responsibilities of running a household, four kids…there was always something I needed to do.

When I finally collapsed in bed, I tossed and turned.  I was back home from Atlanta, and the stress had been patiently waiting for me.  Emily didn’t seem to be getting better, and I was worried about her.  Luke sent me a text at 2:00 a.m. to let me know that his plane had landed in Arizona.  He and Shannon were visiting his former college roommate for the holiday.  At 8:00 a.m., my ringing phone pulled me out of a fitful sleep.  Andrew wanted to know what the password was on our cellphone account.  He was going to upgrade his phone.  Thankfully, he had the sense to quickly tell me that he would be the one paying for the upgrade.

I had been allowed six hours to sleep, but I hadn’t done much sleeping.  My mind had been busy swirling around from one thing to the next.  It seems that the moment my eyes begin to close in sleep, the worries and concerns of the day crept in to wake me up.  I pulled on my robe and shuffled out to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee.  T was already gone.  Although it was Saturday, he had gone to his office to catch up on work.  Work.  Our lives seemed to revolve around work – work at our jobs, work of being parents, work of maintaining our house and household.  I sat down to drink my coffee in the morning quiet of the house.  The girls were still asleep, and the cat curled up on my lap.  I sat listening to the birds outside.  Over the sounds of nature, I could hear traffic, and I remembered a time when our lives were not like this.

Once again, I missed our old home.  I remembered other early mornings from years ago, mornings when I would walk outside and across the dewy grass in my nightgown.  There were no neighbors to worry about.  There was simply us, our home, our family, and nature.  I could look across the fields and see nothing but earth, sun, and clouds.  Of course, I am romanticizing things.  Was it really like I remember?  Yes and no.  There were those perfect moments, but there was also stress and worry.  There is always worry in life, the subject line simply changes.  What I do know was that our focus, our driving force back then, was always the same, and that has changed.  There was a time when we placed family first.  Somehow that has shifted.  Careers, success, material things, have crept up to a higher ranking in our list of priorities, and I don’t like that.  I’m not even sure how it has happened.

We are here now, in this new place, our new home, and honestly I don’t want to leave.  I have made friends here.  In many ways, we are happier now.  I don’t want to look back or try to recreate who we once were years ago.  What we need to do is make adjustments and minor tweaks to our lives so that we can capture moments of happiness again.  We need to look at what is possible to change and make those changes happen.  We need to be proactive instead of reactive.

I can’t do it all.  I can’t work all week and still be a housewife in the evenings and on weekends.  I am NOT superwoman, and I don’t want to be.  No one expects that of me.  I have just kept doing it all, and that’s my own fault.  As I sat there on Saturday morning, and I took my first stab at being a shut-in.  I placed my first grocery order on Peapod.

My order arrived tonight.  I was impressed by how easy and economical it was.  Instead of fighting traffic and shopping for two hours, I spent ten minutes putting away a week’s worth of groceries.  I stood in front of the pantry and marveled at the shelves full of food that I didn’t have to leave my house to buy.  The next step is a cleaning service.

My goal is to reclaim my weekends, myself, and my happiness.

Waiting For A Plane

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image

People-watching is one of my favorite pastimes. I don’t often have the luxury of time to just sit back and be an observer. While I could have slept in this morning or lingered over breakfast, I rushed to finish packing my bags and headed to the airport as quickly as possible. I checked my luggage, made my way through security, and planted myself in a prime people-watching location.

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