So, theres a person in my life who I am in conflict right now. It may be life altering or it may be settled, but this person said to me this evening, “Im going to bed early, haven’t been sleeping well the past few nights, Im sure you haven’t either…”. Wrong. Im sleeping just fine. My conscience and my heart are open and clean. sleeping lie a baby, sucker. like a baby.
It would be, I feel, almost inhuman not to devote a posting to the tragedy in Boston. I don’t use the word tragedy very often. I have been blessed with a good life, but I have seen tragedy up close: my son’s diagnosis of a heart defect, my oldest child laying on a hospital bed with a spinal tap needle in her back, my youngest looking out from the locked door of a hospital. I know tragedy. I am the queen of “get a real problem”.
But yesterday, Boston, and by proxy, all of us, experienced tragedy. And, as is often the case, I don’t have anything insightful or helpful or deep to say about it. I just have an overhanging sense of sorrow, of disgust, of disbelief.
Today, while cleaning out a drawer in the Hoosier Cabinet in my kitchen, I stumbled upon the last menu from my daughters stay in an Eating Disorder Treatment Center, some 6 years ago, this month. I looked at it, ran my fingers across the choices she had made: “peanut butter and jelly sandwich, garden salad ( no tomatoes)…..decaf coffee, water and a brownie” and tossed it in the trash. THE TRASH. There it is. I threw away the last reminder of the period in her life where everything she put in her mouth ( and more importantly, didn’t try to get back out of her mouth) was gone. I am finally free of the menu monitoring that goes along with being the mother of a child struggling with an eating disorder. Those days, where I, on a weekly basis, made “granola” bars so stock full of fat and sugar that they would make any healthy person cringe, where I packed bags of nuts, boiled eggs, monitored packs of yogurt and checked receipts for evidence of laxatives — are gone. She, although still moody and sometimes guarded, is free of this beast — and so am I.
* Of course, I held on to the “350 life affirming activities” and “relapse barrier thoughts” sheets, but, you know, Im evolving…
Ive been dancing around, and trying to ignore, a subject that is weighing heavily on me lately. I found out, 2 months after the fact, that old friends of ours lost their child to a heroin overdose 2 days before Christmas. These are good people, financially stable, solid marriage, house in the suburbs, dog in the backyard kind of people. They spent their lives raising this child, and his two older siblings. the siblings turned out healthy and, for the most part, well adjusted. This child, the baby, turned from a life of promise to the dirty world of a drug addict. For years apparently. He fought it. He told his grandfather, just days before he lapsed into a coma, that “this wasn’t the life I wanted”. He was arranging yet another trip to rehab. And then he stuck a needle in his arm and died. DIED.
I am having trouble understanding and accepting this. For many reasons. Our own daughter, who I have alluded to in this blog, nearly died 6 years ago, from an eating disorder. Along with the eating disorder came medications and drinking and I don’t even know what else. She spiraled out of control for years. YEARS. After treatment for the eating disorder she suffered intermittently for the next 41/2 years with various demons that dug at her soul and threatened her peace, her sanity, her life.
And although it wasn’t heroin addiction, it was an addiction to many dangerous behaviors and substances. And, like the parents of this poor young man, we couldn’t fix it. WE COULDNT FIX IT. And I think that the root of my struggle right now is the realization that our child lived, and their child didn’t, and so many children don’t, and we don’t know why. And I thank God, every minute of every day, for my daughter, and her life, and her child and the husband who loves her —- but the uncertainty of this ability of an outside influence or idea or substance to completely and fully change the children we bore and raised and loved into a ghost of themselves – into a helpless victim, is chilling.
So I dance around it. I try to support my daughter in her life. I try to comfort friends and advocate for children everywhere. But I try to avoid the reality that life is so very fragile. No matter your faith or you love, your pocketbook or your topography — your balance is tedious at best.
my friend and I (Im on the right) holding chair races in the hall, the last week of school, 2012. I was threatened with a “letter of reprimand” for misuse of school equipment…. I had promised my seniors that we would do this if they took good care of all the new ‘stuff’ in our room the whole year. They did. So I did.
So, I woke up yesterday, Friday morning, around 7:00 am. Decadent. In the life of a high school teacher being able to sleep until 7 is unheard of….and you wake up at 5 for so long, that even holidays and weekends find you looking out the window at 5ish….
So, anyway. I woke up at 7 am. and was immediately, IMMEDIATELY hit with the realization that it was, for my still-teaching friends, the last real day of their spring break. Of course they still have today and tomorrow, but those don’t really count. Everyone will be going to the grocery store or doing laundry or unpacking those Spring Break Vacation suitcases, longingly tossing their flip flops into their closets. (Because, Lord knows, you cant be an efficient teacher in flip flops, gotta keep those toes covered to keep the knowledge from sliding out your toenails…but I regress.)
So, it hit me that yesterday was their last day. And then I cracked up. Laughed out loud. Called my husband ( at work, poor sap) to tell him that “this time last year I was probably in a deep funk thinking about how I had to go back to work in three days”. Seriously, this retirement gig has turned me into a giggling idiot who can’t believe her good fortune. I don’t have to go to work on Monday!!!!
Now , don’t hate me. Money is an issue, a little bit. The retirement pay is okay, but I still have to supplement income so we don’t have to make too many lifestyle changes (I am not giving up Friday evenings on our favorite pub’s deck with a mojito and nachos) . I have found two “post retirement careers” that allow me creative license and flexibility. I am employed by a wonderful non profit that allows me to continue my passion for advocacy for children’s issues and by an art and science workshop that challenges me to develop activities that inspire creativity while at the same time teaching core science concepts ( that left brain-right brain thing).
But, man, I am so stoked that I don’t have to put on my big girl panties and go to school on Monday.
In the course of a lifetime, or when you look at the world and all the battles and issues we need to fight or pray over or deal with — this is a little one. But it ticked me off none the less. I just retired. Took a pay cut, decided to suck it up and suck it in and get out of teaching. AAAAhhhh.
We have a small ( emphasis SMALL) savinigs, could probably go 6 months if my husband suddenly lost all income. We have a nice house and dont need to replace a car right now, so we shouldnt have too much trouble settling into this slightly more austere existance. Sort of looking forward to coupons and sales and decision making…
So yesterday I get a letter from the company that holds our equity line. We have used this, over the years, to help with 2 weddings, 3 college tuitions, 1 medical crisis with daughter and the break up of my sons relationship ( which left him raising a 5 month old by himself in a house he couldnt hardly afford WITH a second income from wife to be). We’ve splurged a couple times and took vacations that we couldnt afford. Bought a piece of property at the beach (impulse buy, probably not smart, no house or bulkhead, not allowed to camp there, but hey I have land at the beach) Have a higher balance on there then we would like but we pay the bill and then some every month. The balance of just over $50,000 on the line was ( WAS) our back up. We like knowing there is a hunk of money laying there if we NEED it — you know, grandchild needs something, refrigerator blows up, car breaks down….Then yesterday CHASE decides the value of our house has gone down and they are cutting the extra balance. Cant borrow a penny more on that line. HUH? Everyone’s house value has gone down, and ours is still way higher than the amount we were okayed for…..and now I dont have 50000 in the wings just in case. How is it possible for them to do that? they didnt look at our home or our life. They decided from some office in New York that we could no longer count on the back up they had agreed to. Ticked me off. Husband is calling them today, but I know they will not change their plan. Jerks.
Every now and then you get a glimpse of the person inside the person who is your child. Today we gathered for Easter. All of my kids and all of their kids. One almost wife, one husband, just one husband missing. it was a lot of people, for sure.
After breakfast and the Easter baskets and the egg hunt i wanted a picture of all the grandkids ( 4) with my husband and me. On the couch. In the sunroom. Now, my grandchildren are 4,3,2 and 1 and getting all four of them to do anything at the same time, is well, you know. tough. seriously tough. Two of my kids kind of ignored the request, the husband wandered into the other room, and I sat on the couch with the two oldest, getting ready for a major “poor me, I cant get my babies on my lap for a picture” moment. My youngest daughter, who puts on this tough girl facade, who pretends to not really give a darn about my little requests….stepped up . “alright everyone on the couch.” she gathered her dad, the other two kids, the other parents so they could cheer on the picture session and grabbed one of the cameras.
My heart melted. Seemingly tiny little thing I know, but she looked at me and knew that I needed that picture. And she made it happen. Thanks punk. Dont think I didnt notice.