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.

Wild Variations

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lightbeam

One thing I have found is that if I am not able to maintain some kind of regular routine in my life, I quickly lose perspective in all areas.  I question myself and lose confidence.  I question others and wonder about their motives, or I perceive imagined slights.  (What did he/she mean by that???)  I become overwhelmed by anything even slightly resembling clutter.  The pile of mail on the kitchen table makes me feel like I’m very close to being eligible for my debut on “Hoarders.”  Worst of all, I see a look of wariness in the eyes of my staff.  (Oh, no!  She’s on the warpath!)  Thankfully, while my family notices my craziness, they don’t seem bothered by it. They usually just roll their eyes and ignore me. Continue Reading »

Less Than Four Hours

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It’s on its way.  NOVEMBER.  God, how I hate November!  I have a calendar hanging in my office.  It has prints of art deco Parisian fashion plates, and I have loved seeing each new picture as I turn the page on another month.  However, in October, each time I have looked up at my calendar, I have felt dread.  Tomorrow,  I turn will turn the page to November.  For the next month, memories will haunt me.  So many bad memories crammed into a short span in the calendar year.  I should be grateful that the other months of the calendar are free from memories of loss, death, and confusion.  I won’t breathe freely until mid-December.  I’ll just be waiting for yet another tragedy to add to the tally. Continue Reading »

For Dad

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I heard this song today as I drove to work.  I had been driving along, looking at the now-barren fields, the beauty of the blue sky, and the wispy clouds overhead.  As always, I felt calmed and grounded by this land that I love.  It was during moments like this morning, that I would often pick up my phone to call my dad, my connection to all that has come before me and loved this land in very much the same way.  As tears filled my eyes at the painful reminder that I can no longer reach out and hear my dad’s voice, I remembered that his spirit is always near me.  And then this song played on my iPod.

Accidents

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I had planned on writing about our trip tonight.  I had saved away things that I wanted to write about, but as it turns out, our trip home was the most eventful part of the trip.

T and I had a very late, and boozy, night last night, so we didn’t push ourselves to get going too early this morning.  In fact, we detoured to see the place where the fictional Mary Richards was to have lived during the Mary Tyler Moore Show.  I was duly impressed by the architecture as I have a strange fascination with the brutalist movement. Continue Reading »

Sweet Talkin’

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I’m going to have to do a little bit of salesmanship (or saleswomanship) in the next few weeks.  T doesn’t know it yet, but there is going to be an addition to the family.  We are in the “family way.”  Our new addition is in utero.  He (yes, it’s a boy!) will be born in the next day or so.  I am so excited, but I’m afraid T won’t share my excitement.  I put a deposit down on a yet-to-be born puppy today.  His mommy is overdue, and I am excitedly awaiting his birth. Continue Reading »

Upon Her Return…

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Imagine what it would be like to be plucked from your life for a year, two years, maybe even longer.  Then quite suddenly, you were back!  Well, you were back to the same place, but of course, things had changed during your absence.  That’s how my life feels now, but I’m sure no one around me notices a thing.  They hadn’t even noticed that I had been gone.

Before I go any further with these thoughts, let me say that my intent is not to criticize my family or friends.  I have been blessed with a supportive family and truly wonderful friends.  Unfortunately, some of the burden of these past few years has been mine alone to carry.  It was my dad who died.  It was my mother who was sick.  I was the one the hospital, nurses, and doctors called when there was an emergency.  I was the one who made the phone calls to check in on my mom.  T made many trips to visit my mom.  The girls went along many times, too.  When the boys were home, they made their obligatory visits.  They helped haul and carry things during her three moves these past couple of years.  The one constant in my mom’s life was ME.  If T was there, so was I.  If the girls were there, or the boys paid a visit, I was there, too.  I was there, there, there.  And now I am not.

It has been two weeks now.  Two weekends in a row I have gotten up on a Saturday AND a Sunday morning with the entire day in front of me.  It has been a strange experience.  Oh, I have plenty to do, plenty I should do, plenty I can do, just nothing that I HAVE to do.  The obligation is over, and it’s sad in a way.  I feel sad to feel so lightened.

I feel like a stranger in my own life.  I look around, and so much has changed.  My parents are gone.  Just gone.  Poof!  It suddenly feels sudden!  Two hellish years, and it feels so sudden!  What in the hell happened?

The past two weeks have been so strange.  I miss the boys.  Did you know they are gone?  Of course, they’re gone, but suddenly the house feels very empty without their messes, their loud voices, and their laughter.  They are both so happy and so involved in their own lives.  What is/has been going on here at home has been secondary at best to them.  That is as it should be, and I’m proud that they are happy and haven’t felt that I am their responsibility.  I mean that from the bottom of my heart.

Em is almost out of high school.  We will be celebrating her 18th birthday in a matter of days.  She is “in love” for the first time.  Yes, they use those words right in front of us!  Her boyfriend is sweet, protective of her, and has the most beautiful smile.  The funny thing is, he bears an almost eerie resemblance to T at that same age.

Lola is a big girl now.  She’s selling Girl Scout cookies, volunteering at an animal shelter, and has perfect grades.  They have all grown and changed so much.   When did that happen?  I have been so busy dealing, just dealing, with all of my responsibilities that I haven’t really seen a darn thing that has been going on around me.

What about T?  What has happened during the past few years with T?  Like always, T is there, has been there, will be there if I need him.  He is the foundation.  He has made sure that the necessary things have gotten done.  He has cooked many (most?) of the meals.  He does the laundry.  He drives Lola to Girl Scout meetings.  He helps with the homework, gives advice, and listens.  Of course, he doesn’t even know that he’s doing these things or that it is anything unique.  He just does them.  He doesn’t think things to death.  He just picks up the slack when it has been necessary.

I am trying to remember who I was before these past two hellish years, and where I fit in now.  The problem is, two years ago, I was a different person.  I had different dreams and vastly different ideas of where I thought my life was headed.  My view of my family and my marriage were different, too.  Remembering, or trying to once again become, who I was two years ago is irrelevant.  I don’t even want to be that woman again.  Anyway, it would not even be possible.

I had an extra-long weekend.  Lola stayed home sick from school today, and I took the day off to be home with her.  As we took an afternoon snooze, I laid there thinking about this strange, disoriented feeling I have had since my mother’s death.  I thought about how it feels like I have been plucked from some strange place and plopped down right back where I was two years ago.

As I laid there, I thought about Doris Day in the movie “Move Over, Darling.”  She had been rescued from a deserted island and returned home expecting to find her family as she had left them.  There aren’t any further similarities, thankfully, but that’s how I feel right now.  I feel like I have been on a deserted island and have returned back home expecting to find things unchanged, but that isn’t possible.  Life goes on and on.  Even if it seems at times that we, as individuals, have been stuck on a hamster wheel, those around us keep moving on and on.  I’m just going to have to work hard to catch up with everyone else.

Advance, and never halt, for advancing is perfection.  Advance and do not fear the thorns in the path, for they draw only corrupt blood. ~ Khalil Gibran