Tomorrow Began Yesterday

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Every new beginning comes from some other beginnings end

It’s all now you see: tomorrow began yesterday and yesterday won’t be over until tomorrow. – William Faulkner

It’s a quiet morning, and I’m in the house alone sitting in my room, sipping on a steaming cup of coffee, and cuddled under the covers in my robe.  Mornings like this are a rarity, and I am fully enjoying the moment.  Out there beyond my bedroom door are lists of things I need to buy and things I need to do.  Kids and family will begin descending on our house either tonight or tomorrow.  I haven’t really been able to clarify exactly who is being brought along to our house…or when.  For now though, until my feet hit the floor with some kind of purpose, these morning moments belong to me.   Continue Reading »

Our Own Path

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roadtochange

A lot has happened since my last post, a lot of exhausting things.  I’ve learned something.  Just because something is exhausting, doesn’t necessarily mean that it is a bad thing.  When friends ask about my new job, one of the first things that comes up is the “Stress Level.”  Is this position less stress?  Is it easier?  Do I enjoy it more?  No, No, and Yes. 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 »

Cathartic

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A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the terrible breakdown I had in my therapist’s office.  In the two years that I have been seeing her, the day of the breakdown was probably the most honest moment I have allowed myself to have during our sessions.  I freaked her out.  Heck, I freaked myself out!  I took her advice (for about four days) and began taking antidepressants again.  I could have continued to numb myself into a state of calm.  I did that before.  I’m not saying that there isn’t a time when medication is necessary and beneficial.  I’m not saying that those who choose to go that route are wrong.  However, at this time and place in my life, antidepressants are not what is needed.  I don’t need to be numbed.  Instead, my breakdown was cathartic.  It made me ultra-aware that the changes that are needed in my life must come from within myself.  Instead of numbness, I need strength.  As painful and as difficult as that day in my therapist’s office was, and the days that followed, I have come out on the other side with a new awareness and sense of self-protection.  The breakdown forced me to face lingering issues.  After all, something caused it.  Something was WRONG.  I could either numb it, and in my opinion, deny the problem, or I could begin to look for causes, answers, and potential solutions. Continue Reading »

I’ll Share Your Mid-Life Crisis

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I love my brother in-law.  I’ve known T’s brother longer than I’ve known T.  We were in the same grade from Kindergarten through high school.  We went trick or treating together.  We went to the same birthday parties.  As kids growing up, our families lived within a couple of blocks of each other.  I don’t ever remember a time when my brother in-law, Jack, was not a part of my life.  He’s one of the kindest people I’ve ever known.  He was with me when I was in labor.  He was the first person I saw when I woke up from almost losing my life.  Our families have vacationed together, mourned together, and celebrated together.  Jack and his wife have raised their children about a block away from our home. Continue Reading »

That Guy Can Wield An Ax!

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Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith was a really good read.  It’s not the type of book I would normally choose, but it was quick to draw me in and keep me there.  I hadn’t even realized that it was a book until my son Luke asked me to order it for him. We had seen the trailer for the movie months ago, and knew that this was one movie we wouldn’t be missing.  History, vampires, Abraham Lincoln….oh, yeah!  Every time we saw the trailer, we’d burst out laughing.  I ordered the book for Luke, and downloaded it to my iPad for myself.  It’s always fun to read a book along with someone, and we were both impressed by the historical accuracy of the book.  Amazingly, the whole concept of vampire hunting was very believable.  Eliminating the vampires’ perpetuation of  slave trade seemed like a reasonable and  logical cause of the Civil War. Continue Reading »

A New Season of Life

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Life has changed in unanticipated ways these past two years.  Apparently, I don’t do well with change.  Wait…I take that back.  I welcome change, if that change is for the best.  Bring on something good.  Bring on something challenging even, and as long as there is a positive goal at the end of hard work, I’m all for it.  I am not stuck in my ways.  I am not afraid of new things or new experiences.  Unfortunately, though, the past two years have been full of changes that have brought loss and pain.  The past two years have been, without a doubt, the worst years of my life.

As Thanksgiving approached, I felt myself become happily excited by the thought of having all of the kids home and under one roof for the first time in months.  Something strange happened, though.  Each time I happily anticipated the days of togetherness, I found myself undermining my happiness.  I began to mentally “warn” myself to not expect too much. When I began to picture Hallmark moments, my mind quickly turned those moments into a Lifetime drama.  I pictured conflict and moments full of tension.  For the first time in my life, I was afraid of having my family gathered together all in one place.  I had come to expect loss, pain, failure, and dashed hopes.

To top it all off, and add to my endless stress, I was hosting the Thanksgiving feast for the first time in probably a decade.  We were expecting over 20 people for dinner, and somehow in the midst of preparing the food, I had to make arrangements for someone to pick up my mother and bring her to our home.  Between cooking, cleaning, and desperately wanting to redecorate the entire house, I worried that something was going to go terrible wrong and ruin the boys’ visit.  I wanted so much to have this be an enjoyable, special time for them.

I had taken several days of vacation so that I could be as relaxed as possible in getting everything ready for the boys’ homecoming and Thanksgiving dinner.  For the first time in years, I spent time alone in my own house.  I puttered around, organized, and cleaned.  It was a lovely feeling to get to know my own home again one on one.  While I enjoyed my quiet time at home, I also realized once again how lucky I am to have a job that I love so much.  I missed the hustle and bustle of the office.  I missed the purpose I feel in my workday.

The boys both had midterm exams early on Thanksgiving week.  They would both be taking the train home, but would not be coming in at the same time.  Andrew’s train was coming in late on Wednesday afternoon.  Luke was disappointed that he had a late afternoon exam.  He wouldn’t be arriving until 10:00 p.m.  That was OK, because his girlfriend was travelling home, too, and her parents were going to pick them both up at the station.

On Tuesday evening, the girls were in bed, and T and I had finally settled down in the living room to relax for a few moments before going to bed.  We both perked up when a car pulled into the driveway.  We looked out the front window, but didn’t know who it was.  T walked to the back door to welcome our guest, but no one came.  We rushed back to the front window.  Who was it?  By now, the girls had come downstairs.  All four of us stood looking out the window like a bunch of hillbillies!  We saw people milling about the car.  It was two men.  Finally, the suspense won over, and we opened up the front door (which no one ever uses) and stepped out onto the porch.  I’m not sure what we were thinking or assuming, but we just stood there….looking, not making a move toward the driveway.  T, the girls, and I just stood there looking out into the darkness.  Then, Lola bolted past all of us.  “It’s Luke!” she yelled.  Hallmark moment number one was watching her fling herself at her big brother.  We all ran out.  He ran towards us.  It was noisy, happy, and full of laughter.  Luke had surprised us.  He had come home a day early.  I called Andrew to tell him, and he said that he could hardly wait to get home.  By the next evening, Andrew was home, and my family was all gathered around the table together once again.  Happiness.  It was real.  Even after the past two years of hell, I was feeling crystal clear, pure joy.

Those days when all of the kids were back home were like none other I have experienced as a mother.  This visit was different.  We all seemed aware that these moments of family togetherness were now a rarity.  What was once a common, everyday part of our lives, was no more.  Luke lives in Milwaukee.  Andrew lives in Chicago.  They don’t just go to school in those places.  It is where they live.  They have signed leases.   They won’t be coming back next summer.  Home is now a place where they visit.  Of course, it is still their “home,” but it is no longer where their lives take place.  It’s where their memories are kept.  It’s where we gather as a family.  Although these facts were not spoken aloud, we all felt the change.  A new season, new dynamics, more changes had occurred in our family.

Thanksgiving day was wonderful.  I loved cooking, and T was a huge help.  I loved having the house full of family.  My mother was on good behavior.  The kids’ significant others joined for the day, too.  Emily’s boyfriend, who is absolutely wonderful, was also home from college.  It was his first time meeting the extended family, and as expected, they all loved him, too.

The biggest pleasure of all was the day after Thanksgiving.  While many people were hitting the Black Friday sales, we all headed out to the country.  Ever since I was a little girl, I have attended “Julmarknad” (Christmas Market) in a tiny village near my town.  I was shocked and filled with pleasure when boys both asked if we would still be going this year.  We headed out the next day, Christmas music blasting.  We feasted on Swedish rye bread and bought candy sticks in the general store.  On the way home, we pulled over to the side of the narrow country road to give Emily’s boyfriend, who grew up in a city,  a chance to pet a cow.  It was a wonderful, wonderful day.  Many times that day,  I held tight to moments I knew were perfect.

I had not planned any of the kids’ time beyond Thanksgiving dinner.  I didn’t expect the boys to hang out at home during their visit.  I had expected the usual comings and goings as they visited friends or invited people over.  That was fine with me.  I knew I would be happy just to visit with them during the times in between.  That didn’t happen, though.  They didn’t run around very much with friends.  They didn’t invite their buddies over.  For the most part, they were happy and content to be at home.  It was a wonderful surprise. We sat up late and talked.  We watched movies.  We ate, and we napped.  It was truly a wonderful visit.  No, it wasn’t a Hallmark movie, but thankfully, it wasn’t a Lifetime drama, either.  It was my life, and it was wonderful.

What Might Have Been

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For all sad words of tongue and pen, the are saddest are these, “It might have been.”

~ John Greenleaf Whittier

Most people in my daily life don’t even know that I once had a daughter named Grace.  It was a long time ago, and there isn’t really any reason to disclose information that will only serve to make someone uncomfortable.  Often, the “face” we present to the world is far different from the person who resides in our hearts.

Thanksgiving is November 24.  It’s a day of family celebration.  I will celebrate along with those around me.  I’ll be thrilled to have all of my kids home and under one roof for several days.  What most people won’t know or won’t remember is that November 24th is also Grace’s birthday.  It would have been her “golden birthday, 24 on the 24th.  I can’t help but think of how things might have been.  What an awesome day to have been able to celebrate her birthday.  Instead, I will remember alone, and I won’t say a word to anyone.  After all, who wants to remember something sad, something that happened so very long ago?

Lately, I have been spending too much time thinking about “what might have been.”  I am standing in the present, but too much of the time;  my head is turned around looking back at the past.  I miss my dad, and it isn’t the same to celebrate Thanksgiving without him.  I miss my grandparents during the holiday season, too.  And Grace.  Thanksgiving will mark the beginning of a time each year when too much of my time is spent remembering and thinking about “what might have been.”

Several years ago, a friend who had lost a child asked me to join her in forming a support group for those who had recently lost babies.  It was at a time in my life when I was very happy.  I had returned to work.  I was moving on and moving forward.  I felt sad for this woman.  I really did.  Her experience had been horrible, but a couple of years had passed since then, and she seemed to still be LIVING for her grief.  She wore her baby’s name and birthstone on a necklace around her neck.  She set a place at the dinner table for her missing child.  While I understood her pain, it made me sad to think of the pain she was causing her children that were THERE.  This woman had defined who she was by her grief, and it scared the hell out of me to see that.  I had to tell her that I could not help her out with the support group, but I also felt the need to gently explain to her that I while losing a child still hurt; it no longer defined who I was.  I offered to help anyone who needed someone to talk to one on one, including her, but I just couldn’t go backwards.  I knew that weekly grief meetings would not be something that would help me in healing and continuing to move forward.

What has happened since then?  SOMETHING has happened, because I am no longer that strong, positive woman who would not allow her life to be defined by grief.  I know from experience that sadness breeds sadness.  One sad thought leads to the next sad thought.  It becomes a vicious cycle.  When it rains, it pours.  I believe that!  Negativity will only lead to more negativity.

I suppose  that by recognizing that I have slipped back to a place that doesn’t feel very good is the first step in pulling myself back up out of the hole.  I’m not sure if happiness is necessarily a choice, but I do know that wallowing in self-pity and looking back at “what might have been” is not congruent with moving on and moving forward.  Negative thoughts, negative feelings, and negative people all need to be pushed out of my life.  While these next few days and weeks will be full of sad reminders, they will also be full of moments full of happiness and joy.  Those are the moments that I need to pull in close, and those are the moments that will help me to become someone who I can be proud of once again.