A Time To Relax

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I hadn’t realized how lonely I have been these past four months.  Work, Parenting, Work, Parenting….that was the extent of my life.  Oh, you could throw in a little housework and a lot of laundry, too.  It’s nice to have some down time and companionship now that T is living with us.

My organization is hosting an event on Thursday night that draws about 30,000 people downtown.  Putting out fires, talking to band managers, the event coordinator, and dealing with my staff of drama queens for the past few weeks has been exhausting.  I am about ready to enter meltdown stage.  Having T here to help lighten my load has been wonderful.  He’s still unemployed, and so he’s been driving in to meet me for lunch each day.  Yesterday he listened to me talk about my morning, and he said, “Please let me know if you need me to do anything.  Whatever you need, I’m here.”  I almost had tears in my eyes, because I knew that he meant those words.  If I need something, he’s here.  I’m no longer alone.  Hopefully, I won’t need T’s help, but that’s not the point.  He offered, and I knew he would be true to his word. Continue Reading »

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A Decade of Change

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Last Sunday was September 11th, a decade since THE September 11th, but that’s not what this post is about.  In no way do I want to minimize that horrible day, but this post is not about that horror.  Instead, this post is about the passage of time.

Each year, I feel a sense of dread as September 11th approaches.  There was an incredible loss of life and a loss of innocence, trust, and safety.  I didn’t know anyone who died on that tragic day, but still I mourn.  All of our lives changed, and most of us have grown accustomed to the impact of  increased security, awareness, and caution.  Now we take the changes in stride.  A decade later, we don’t give the changes in our lives much thought.

Last Sunday, I didn’t plan on watching the footage that I knew would be playing over and over again on many channels.  It was a beautiful fall day.  For the first time in weeks, I had nothing planned.  It was the first weekend in over a month that I could spend any way I chose.  The boys were moved back to school.  It was one of those perfect Sunday mornings that was filled with relaxation and possibility.

T was in the kitchen frying bacon.  He was making french toast for the girls.  When I walked into the living room, Emily had a news channel on, and I was drawn in to what she was watching.  I couldn’t look away.  Em was on the couch, and I sat down in the red chair.  We sat and watched, remembering  that day a decade ago.  I worked at the grade school back then, and  Emily was in first grade.  I went to work before school started, and she and Luke sat in my office with me until the bell rang.  Luke was in third grade.  Andy was across the street at the middle school in sixth grade.  Lola?  There was no Lola.  There were no plans to even have  Lola!  Emily and I laughed about that, and then we once again turned back to the TV.

Lola came wandering into the room in her jammies.  She snuggled up to me, sat down,  and watched for a little while.  She asked, “Is this real?”  When I said that it was, she asked, “Is it happening right now?”  She was drawn in, too.   She sat still and quiet next to me.

Before long, I had to walk away.  I went upstairs to hide my tears.  I stood in the bathroom shaking and remembering.  Eventually, I calmed down and went back down to the living room.  T was had finished cooking the bacon and was trying to entice the girls to come to the kitchen and eat, but they didn’t want to stop watching TV.  I sat back down with Lola.  T stood by my chair and watched for a little while, too.

T said, “Think of how your life has changed since then, Pam.”  Yes, I agreed.  Things are different now, and he said, “No, think of how YOUR life has changed.  Your whole life is different.”  I sat and thought about what he said.  It was profound, at least to me.  It has been unbelievable and unexpected, this journey of the past decade.  Of all the decades of my life, these past ten years have held more changes than I would have ever imagined possible.  Some of them were wonderful.  Many of them were incredible, impossible.  Others, I would choose to erase if I could.

The boys are gone now.  They’re grown up and pursuing their own dreams.  My little first-grader has become a beautiful young woman and my best friend, full of love and compassion.  These past ten years have flown by, and without even noticing, my three little children have become wonderful adults.  And Lola….  Where did she come from?  She was not even a thought back then, yet here she is, this old-soul full of wisdom.  While so much has changed, the blessings of having these wonderful children in my life has never faltered.

And me?  Not much about my life, or ME, is the same.  I no longer work part-time at the local grade school.  Back then, I had no desire for a “career,” yet life lead me down a different path and to a career that I love.  I knew what T meant when he said that my life has changed.  In the past decade, our family has changed.  Our marriage has changed.  The dust still hasn’t settled from all of the changes.  The direction is still not clear.  We are still in the midst of a journey, not knowing where it will eventually lead us.

People have come in and out of my life.  Some have remained and are now a part of the daily fabric of my life.  Others have chosen not to remain in my life.  Dad is gone.  Mom is now my responsibility.  I am in the process of emptying out my childhood home and preparing it for sale.  Many of the things I had hoped, dreamed, envisioned for my life are not to be.  My focus has changed.  In some cases, I have fought that change, kicking and screaming.   The clear lens that once held my view of life is often cloudy now.  I stretch and strain to see through the lens that is my life, but it is impossible to get a clear view.

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. ~ I Corinthians

Confused

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I have been working on a blog post off and on all weekend.  I’ll write a little bit, quit, come back again later, and write a little bit more.  I feel like I should write about moving Andy to Chicago.  It was a significant event in all of our lives.  I have written out the facts and many of the emotions, but I can’t seem to bring it to any kind of conclusion.  It feels like I am writing a report for school.  “What It Felt Like To Move My Son Away From Home.”  Bleh.  It didn’t feel good.  Sure, I am happy for him.  Yes, it was a hassle.  Yes, it was emotional, but it probably wasn’t any different or more significant than anyone else’s experiences.  It was LIFE.  It was simply another step into the next stage of all of our lives.  The details aren’t what is important.  The fact that the apartment was a mess doesn’t matter.  It’s clean now.  The fact that it was hotter than hell on moving day doesn’t matter.  It’s cool now.  I’m wearing a sweatshirt.  What we had for dinner doesn’t matter.  Where we stayed while in Chicago is insignificant.  Those are the details that don’t matter in the long run.  They are soon forgotten.

What matters is now and what is to come.  What matters is the void that is left by the absence of my sons.   What matters is that they are happy and adjust well to what lies ahead for them.  I hope they are adjusting better than their mother.  I’m sure they are.

Four days.  We have had four days at home since Andrew moved.  I am already sad in so many ways.  I am shocked by the disruption in my own routine.  I had thought to feel a sense of freedom and relief.  Instead, I am feeling sad and lonely.  I had hoped that T and I would look at each other with smiles on our faces and think of all the thing we could do together now.

Andrew and I had a routine of watching TV together before we went to bed.  We would pick out something on Netflix and watch together.  T would always be in the room, but he usually fell asleep within minutes of sitting down.  I would sit on the couch with my laptop.  I would usually be writing, working, or messing around on Facebook while we watched.  Andrew would be across the room in the red chair.  (It’s not even red, but for some reason everyone in the family calls it the “red chair.”)  T would sit in the green chair.  (It is green.)  Now the red chair is empty.

The first night after moving Andrew, we ended up in our same places and turned on the TV.  It was just T and I now.  As we watched TV, something made me laugh.  I looked up to smile at Andy, but he wasn’t there.  I looked over to share it with T.  Ugh….  What did I see?  T sitting with his head thrown back, mouth hanging open, and sound asleep.  My God.  For over twenty years, I have looked at that!  My heart just dropped.  Now there was no one.  The boys are gone.  The girls were in bed.  It was just T and I, which essentially means that I will sit alone in a room, or I can choose to sit in a room where he is sleeping.  I know this routine.  I know it all too well.  I hate it.

I am tired.  I am so tired of being the only one who tries.  I am tired of trying to be entertaining so that he will stay awake.  On Saturday afternoon, I caught him sleeping on the floor of the boys’ old room.  He was supposedly in there cleaning, when Em came to get me.  “Dad is laying on the floor and not moving.  Would you please go check on him.  I’m afraid.”  I was, too!  That sounded really strange, so I rushed upstairs to see if he was OK.  Yep.  Sleeping on the floor.

On Saturday night, I watched a History Channel documentary while he slept in the chair.  He’s the one who turned it on.  I wasn’t at all interested in it, but I thought if he made the choice, then maybe he would stay awake.  He was out in less than 10 minutes.

Tonight Em asked me to watch a movie with her.  We sat down and watched about half of it (T slept across the room) until her boyfriend called.  He left yesterday for college in Wisconsin.  Seems all the young men in our lives are gone!  Emily was excited to hear about his day, so she went up to her room to take her phone call.  She asked me to pause the movie so that we could watch the rest tomorrow.

There I sat.  T was asleep, and I was wondering what to do.  It was too early to go to bed.  I’m a night owl.  I wasn’t even tired.  There was no one to talk to.  I just sat there thinking, “This is it??  Is this really it?  Is this what the rest of my life is going to be like?”

I know.  It has only been four days, but I am having some really bad memories return.  I remember years and years of this.  When the kids were all little, my day was lonely after they all went to bed for the night.  T may have been there, but he was inattentive and uninterested much like he is now.  His daily after work routine consists of dinner, slot machines on Facebook, sit in the green chair, fall asleep.

To be honest, I am shocked.  I didn’t think this was going to happen.  I hadn’t given it an ounce of thought.  Maybe it would be easier to understand this if I had anticipated it.  I thought this was going to be a good push in the right direction for T and I.  Instead, it seems like we were working well together in the interest of organizing and moving the boys, and now our partnership is over.

Today, I tried to have a good attitude.  I tried to be good.  I cleaned.  I organized things.  I shampooed the area rugs.  I went shopping and bought a roast and fresh vegetables.  I stood in the kitchen and cooked for hours.  A roast, carrots, potatoes (two kinds,) fried apples, fresh rolls, fabulous homemade gravy.  It took hours to cook, about 15 minutes to eat, and an hour to clean up the mess in the kitchen.  At least there will be leftovers for dinner tomorrow night.

Of course, I have talked to T about these issues.  There is no problem.  He is happy.  “What??   What’s so bad about sitting down to relax at the end of the day?  I’m tired.”  End of  story.

Tomorrow I will be heading back to work, and I’m looking forward to it.  Our next few weekends will be full, and I have a business trip to Charlotte later in the month that I’m excited about.  I’m not sure if I am ready to putter around all day and then watch my husband sleep in a chair all night.  I’m not ready to be an “old married couple.”  Life is too precious and too short to spend feeling sad and lonely.

All evening, I have been wracking my brain.  What can I do to change this?  Four days, and I am feeling like a caged animal.  Do I go back to playing in the band?  Do I take another class?  Maybe I’ll practice playing jazz piano.  Maybe I’ll dig out the clarinet or the sax and get back up to speed.  Maybe learn to play trombone?  Maybe I’ll do some serious writing.  I would have to set up an office.  Maybe I’ll repaint all the rooms in the house.  Maybe I’ll set up the loom and weave rugs again.  I have too much energy to spend evening after evening like this.  It seems that I have come full circle again.  All of the things I can think of doing, I will have to do alone.  Music, a class, home decor, all alone.  I am once again looking at things and ways to fill that void.

Sad, and yes…feeling sorry for myself.  Why is this so hard?  It seems like all I really want is someone there to care.  At the end of the day, I just want a friend.  They don’t have to be exciting, just awake.  They don’t have to entertain me, but just share a smile.

Uh Oh, Here I Go…

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The tears have started.  Oh, this is not going to be easy.  As I drove home tonight, I realized that this marks the end of another day.  This means that I had one less day to go home and see my boys draped (largely) around the house.  Suddenly, none of the things that have bugged me over the past few months (years!) seem to matter.  I WANT to go home and see six cars in the driveway.  I want four TV’s on.  I want the house bustling with kids.  I want to hear “Yuck” when I’m asked what I’m cooking for dinner.  I want those piles of big shoes in the mudroom.  I don’t want a neat, tidy, and quiet life without the boys around.  I want one of them in the living room watching a History Channel documentary while the other one is downstairs playing the guitar.  Soon, and I know it now, there will be way too much quiet around here.

I cried all the way home.  I tried to hide it when I walked in the door, but I foolishly broke down the moment I walked in.  There were my big boys, snide remarks and all, waiting for their mother to come in from the garage.  I walked in and broke down in a mess of crying and laughing all at the same time.  They’ve been expecting this.  T announced, “Ah, I knew it was coming.”  Luke said, “Oh, I’m heading into the living room.”  Andrew said, “Don’t worry, Mom.  You are welcome to bring a pillow and a blanket and crash in my tub anytime.”  I stood there laughing and crying all at the same time.

I tried to tempt them away from their plans.  Do they really need to grow up already?  I told them that I have a plan.  I thought it would be a blast to build a giant sandbox in the back yard.  I’d be willing to quit my job, and we could play with bulldozers again all day long.  They just laughed….although, I know for a moment that they thought it sounded like fun!  These next few days will be difficult and bittersweet.  I envy them their youth and excitement.  I am so proud of them, and they are straining at the bit to get this show on the road.

T and I are going to try to make this as easy, and as much fun, as possible.   Wait, I should say that after a “discussion,” T and I have decided to make this as much fun as possible.  Yesterday, he suggested that we drive Luke to Milwaukee and back home all in the same day.  Then…he suggested that we sleep over in Andy’s apartment the following weekend.  Yeah, I about flipped out!  I couldn’t believe that he wanted to just treat this as a serviceable job.  Take the boys.  Do what was necessary.  Turn around and drive home.  No, I wasn’t going to let that happen.  It’s time for things to change, and I told T as much.

I have had fun in Chicago with our daughters.  I have had fun in Chicago with Andrew.  Now I am determined to teach T how to have fun, too.  Thankfully, as I flipped out and told him that we were going to have fun, he began to smile.  Andrew’s apartment is ONE ROOM.  I am way too old to crash on the floor!  It was just a minor bump in the road to loving each other again.  We quickly agreed to make plans to spend time together on these trips to take our sons to school.

We are both taking the day off on Friday.  We’ll take Luke to Milwaukee and then head over to Chicago.  T hasn’t seen the neighborhood where Andrew will live.  We’ve decided to park our car and explore a bit.  Then we’re going to check into a hotel for the night and enjoy some moments of adult time without kids around.  I’m looking forward to hanging out and relaxing.  This is going to be a good step in the right direction for us.

These next few weeks are going to be crazy.  The Tuesday after we take take Luke to Milwaukee, I will head back to Chicago for a class.  I’ll be there all week.  I won’t even be home to help Andrew pack.  T and Andrew will head to the city on Thursday for moving day.  I will only be in class until noon that day, so I will be ready to help with moving day by the time they get to the city.  I am extending my stay, and T and I will once again spend some time alone in the city.

This is all going to take some careful planning.  We are moving our boys away from home.  At the same time, we have our continuing responsibilities at work.  Things are hectic and busy.  Boxes are everywhere.  We’re feeling stressed out,  but we’re also entering a new phase of our lives.  For the first time in decades, we are going to be able to get to know each other once again.  I’m actually looking forward to it.  I’ve written about my sad Chicago walks, and I am excited to bring T along on my path.  It will feel good to have a friend by my side.  It will feel so good not to walk alone.

 

Not Good News…And Alone

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I am exhausted.  I don’t remember the last time I went to bed at a normal time.  I don’t remember what it was like to sleep through the night or to feel rested.  Tonight, I’m just feeling cruddy and worn out.

I’m not sure when things will ever settle down and feel right in my world again.  I try so hard to keep a good attitude.  I have been trying hard to place value on the things that are good and true in my life, but every time I turn around,  LIFE is waiting right there to slap me in the face.

Work is exhausting me.  The more staff I have, the more I delegate, the more responsibilities and duties are piled up around me.  Shit.  I am just so tired of having to maintain professionalism.  I want to slump back in my chair or crawl under my desk and take a nap.  Hey, or read a good book.  I remember when I used to enjoy reading.  I used to read over 300 books each year.  I kept a spreadsheet of author, title, date read, and my opinion of the book.  I used to write pre-publication reviews for a major publishing house in exchange for free books.  Oh, how I looked forward to each new shipment of books!  Did I really used to be that woman?  I would say I miss her, but I don’t.  She made a huge mess of my life and left me to dig my way out of it all.

I spent the day juggling.  I have issues.  I have a job to do.  My mom is still in the hospital and not doing well.  Yesterday, her doctors did an endoscopy and a colonoscopy.  There were problems.  A blockage was found.  Today Mom had an ultrasound and a CAT scan followed by a biopsy.  It was not good news.  She has ovarian cancer.

I received this news once I was already home from work, after visiting the hospital.  I pulled into a driveway full of cars.  My kids’ cars, T’s car, and my kids’ friends’ cars.  Oh, lucky me!  Everyone was going to be here for dinner.  After a day like today, I had to feed 9 people.  I actually took my plate of food out to the patio to eat.  The kitchen was crowded, and I just wanted to be alone.  Once the dinner mess was cleaned up, I went upstairs to call my mom to see how she was feeling.  That’s when I got the news.  I stood there alone.  T was on a bike ride.  The kids were all settled in.  Some were in the living room watching a movie.  Others were in the TV room playing video games.  I had made sure that their evening was going to be nice.  T was out enjoying the warm summer night.  There I stood, alone with my bad news.  Really?  Who gives a shit?

Those moments felt so damn lonely.  I’m an only child.  While I have never been terribly close to my mother, she is my mother.  Dad is gone.  I have no siblings still living.  My children, while they would be sad to lose Grandma, are not close to her.  It will not be a huge blow to them.  Their lives will go on as always.  T won’t care.  In fact, it will be a burden lifted from his life.  No more dealing with all of the issues that have been plaguing us since my father’s death.  So, I am alone in this, at least in these moments.  This does not touch anyone in this entire world in the way it touches me.  I am the daughter.  Soon, I will have no more parents.  Soon, I will have no family to fall back on, just the family that falls back on me.

Tomorrow will come….tomorrow.  I have to work.  I will be emceeing a concert tomorrow night.  I HAVE TO BE THERE.  No matter what goes on in my life or in my heart, there are so many things that I HAVE TO DO.  How will I juggle all that I HAVE to do?

Even now, I want to sleep.  I just want to pull the covers up and sink into blackness.  I can’t.   There are guests in my house.  T is watching TV on our bed, so I don’t have a place to sleep.  Andrew is still out, and I can’t settle in for the night until I know he is home safely.  There is laundry to be done.  I need to vacuum.

Yeah, I am in a shitty, complaining mood.  I just want the trauma, drama, and pain in my life to end.  I want to run away from my life.  I want to run away from being ME.  BEING ME  SUCKS.