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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Defining Me

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diamond studs

Late on Christmas day, while our house was still full of people, my oldest daughter and I retired to the living room.  T had made mochas with his new milk frother (awesome!) and Emily and I snuck away to a quiet spot to spend few moments together.  When we sat down, my daughter told me that she had been prepared to give me a “talking to” that day.  Sadly, I wasn’t shocked.  My poor daughter has been my watchdog and my rock, but on Christmas day, she was proudly smiling at me.  She went on to tell me that she had been prepared for me to be upset that Andrew hadn’t been able to be home with us and that my parents were gone.  She had been prepared for me to wallow in what was NOT instead of being grateful for what WAS.  I smiled.  She was right to have been prepared with that talk, and I was ridiculously proud that she didn’t have to say those words to me.  Yes, I have changed.  The changes have been subtle, and they have been a long time coming, but here they are.  I made the most of the moment right in front of me.  Best of all, I made my daughter happy and proud. Continue Reading »

Gratitude

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Refrigerator

Andrew called home on Monday night asking for some advice.  Why might water be leaking from his freezer?  While we suggested that perhaps his freezer door hadn’t been properly closed, that was only wishful thinking.  On Tuesday morning, he called to tell me that he had gone to the fridge for a glass of milk, and everything was warm.  He called the building super and was told that a repairman would be sent out the next day.  The next day???  I wanted to hop in my car immediately and bring my son a cooler and some ice.  He doesn’t have a cooler in Chicago, and he doesn’t even know anyone to call to borrow a cooler. Continue Reading »

Transitions

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I’m sitting on the patio wearing shorts and a sweatshirt.  It’s such a lovely evening that I decided to take my laptop outside to write.  The sun is setting, and I’ve lit a couple of candles on the patio table.  The locusts are buzzing in the trees.  Near and far they’re calling out to each other.  The sounds are in layers coming loudly from the trees overhead but a softer, lower pitch from the trees out by the field.  The breeze is cool on my bare legs, and although I know that the heat of summer is not gone, I can feel the season beginning the transition into fall. Continue Reading »

Kindle Me Happy

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I question everything.  I seek understanding.  Until I have answers to my questions, my mind won’t shut up.  If I don’t understand something, especially the behavior of others, I mull it over and over until I am satisfied with their motives, reasons, or what is causing their behavior.  If someone snaps at me without cause, I try not to take it personally.  Instead, I want to help.  What has them upset?  What’s wrong?  What can I do to help?  Most times in my life, this has served me well.  My attempts to empathize and understand the behavior of those around me (and not take it personally) has given me a better understanding of myself and has kept conflict to a minimum. Continue Reading »

Humbling

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Prior to my  recent trip to Baltimore, T suggested that I contact an old school friend of ours who lived near where I would be staying.  We all grew up together.   Jim and T were best friends during high school.  We have once again connected with him though Facebook.  Although I had not communicated with  him personally, I decided to take T’s suggestion.  I sent Jim  a message telling him about my trip to his city and T’s suggestion that I look him up while I was in town.  Jim responded that he would love to get together.  Unfortunately, he had previous plans to be in New York City during most of my visit to Baltimore.  I responded, and told him not to worry about it.  I gave him my cell number just in case he returned home while I was still in town.  I really didn’t expect to hear from him. Continue Reading »

Disappointment

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Disappointment.  How to get over it?  How do we move on from situations that disappoint us?  I often struggle with that question.  Over and over in our lives, we are confronted with disappointments.  How do with deal with it?  How do we move on and let go?

Some disappointments are quite insignificant.  For example, today I really wanted a Big Mac.  By the time I got around to getting my lunch, it was well past lunchtime, and I was really hungry.  I was looking forward to my sloppy burger.  I sat in a long, long line at the drive-up window waiting for my turn to order.  I didn’t mind the wait.  I was having an enjoyable conversation on the phone with my son.  I didn’t allow impatience to sneak in.  Finally, I had my food, and I pulled into a parking space to quickly eat before returning to the office.  I pulled my fries out of the bag, and they looked terrible.  They were too dark (which is odd for the crazily regimented McDonalds.)  OK, it wasn’t the fries I had been craving anyway, so I set them aside and grabbed my Big Mac.  I instantly knew that this wasn’t good.  Thunk, thunk…the bun was as hard as a rock, and it was cold, too.  Yes, I was disappointed, but I dealt with it.  In case you’re wondering, and T was wondering, I ate it anyway. Obviously, I’ve learned how to deal with the everyday, minor disappointments pretty well.

It is the larger disappointments that I’m not so good at dealing with, facing, letting go, or getting past.  How do we deal with the things in life that don’t go our way even if we have put our heart, our soul, and a vast amount of energy into it?   How do we deal with disappointment over something that didn’t go as we had envisioned?  How do we deal with tragic loss?   I’m not good at all in dealing with the larger disappointments life throws my way, and that bothers me.

December 11 is a fine example of ME hanging onto, not being able to let go of a disappointment.  My superstition, hatred, and fear of November is another example.  Believe me there are a host of other disappointments, but this isn’t about MY LIST of disappointments or regrets.  What this is about is the fact that it’s finally sinking in that I need to learn how to LET GO of disappointment instead of replaying it over and over in my mind…looking for a way I could have changed the outcome.

I have decided to face this head on.  I am going to begin dealing with the subject of disappointment just like I would deal with a challenge that I might face at work.  I am going to begin by educating myself on the mechanics of disappointment.  What is a common reaction?  What is unusual?  What is normal behavior, and what is over the top?  Once I identify where I fall on the scale of what is considered “normal,” then I will educate myself on what to do about it.

I don’t want to become cynical.  I don’t want to be a grouch or a recluse.  I want to learn how to LET GO of the disappointment in a healthy and constructive way.  I don’t want to be a Pollyanna, either.  While I know that there are lessons to learn from many of our disappointments, I now realize that some things are simply not fair.   That’s life!   Those are the ones that are difficult to let go of and move on from.  When life treats me unfairly, it makes me angry.  An angry person is not who or what I want to be.  The disappointments we all face are often not our choice, but how we deal with them is well within our control.  Now…I just need to figure out how to do that!

 

“We would never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world,”

~  Helen Keller