Worry For A Friend

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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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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 »

Not A Hallmark Card

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***Another “Blast From the Past.”  I’ve been reading through the blog posts in the Drafts folder.  I’m deleting some of them.  Others, like this one, I will post.

This entry was written on Sept. 5, 2011.  Weird that I would read this today….exactly two years after I wrote this entry.  All I can say is, “WOW!”  Our lives, all of our lives, have changed so much in these past two years!  

I called Andrew tonight, and read him this blog entry.  He was stunned, too, by how things have changed.  Thankfully, the changes have been for the better.  Yes, there have been many, many growing pains along the way, but I am so very proud to say that we’re all in a better place now.  🙂

As much as I wish that my life would be as neat and tidy as a Hallmark card, things usually end up being much more like the made-for-TV, full-blown, Sunday night Hallmark movie, a Kleenex box tear-jerker. Continue Reading »

Let’s Go Home

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home-is-life

T came to visit us early last weekend.  He had to be in Milwaukee for a second interview on Friday, so he came to my house to stay the evening before to cut down on travel time and the need to get up ridiculously early.  He had never been here for a visit on a “regular” work/school day, and he asked a lot of questions.  “Is this what you guys usually do?”  “Do you want me to do that for you?”  (As we all prepared our own dinners and did the evening household chores.)  He seemed like an observer in his own “home” as the girls and I went about our regular routines.  He observed it all with a smile.  The three women in his life may not be doing things the way he would do them, but we had somehow managed to come up with a routine that worked for us.  Four months apart, four months in separate homes, has changed all of us.  We have all grown, and we have all found the strength to face a multitude of changes.  With all of the growth and strength, we have also discovered something else.  Even with all of this new-found independence sprouting up all over the place, we have learned (the hard way!) how very much we all need each other – not to do things for each other or because we can’t live without each other.  We have found that our lives are BETTER when we are together. Continue Reading »

A May Day Memory

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The year was 2001, and my 12-year-old son had been in a coma for over a week. He had recently been airlifted to a university hospital for another surgery, his third in the past week. This was going to be a delicate surgery. His eye muscle was trapped in an orbital fracture. His nose was broken, too, and needed to be repaired. While these repairs would ordinarily be complicated, the complications were compounded by my son’s skull fracture and significant brain swelling. The surgery posed a risk of further brain damage. Without it, his eye would forever be “sunk” into the socket and cease to function. These were horrible choices for a parent to make.  I wouldn’t wish this kind of life-altering decision on my worst enemy. 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 »