Monday, August 29, 2011

Full of Grace - Hurricane Edition

We knew the hurricane was coming. I was leaving for a short, over night backpacking trip in the mountains before the storm, so before I left I took care of those miscellaneous things - packed up the lawn furniture, put all the deck flowers in a secure area, let down the water in the pool, etc. Our house was as ready as we could make it. Martha called as I was returning from the trip and asked me not to come home but to go straight to our lake house. The hurricane was beginning to look like it would have an impact even there and we needed to get the boat out of the water. When I arrived, there was a huge amount of activity. Most camp owners could not get there so those who were started the huge endeavor of getting everyone’s boat out. Everyone who had a hitch lined up while the rest helped hook up boat trailers. Once the boats were out, we placed them in sheltered areas and covered them as best we could. In all, I think they took out over 40 boats. Neighbors helping neighbors.

On Sunday Martha’s nephew was to be married. The weather got increasing worse as the day wore on with major flooding, trees down and the loss of power to a lot of areas. Everything started to go wrong - the hotel where the bridal party was staying lost power and they showered and dressed in the dark. Their hairdresser could not get out of her driveway. A friend drove an hour to get there, did everyone’s hair, in the dark, with no hairdryers, curling irons, etc. Then they found out that the bakery who did their wedding cake was totally flooded and the area closed off to all vehicles. There was no way to get the cake. A call went out to those of us still with power to make some cupcakes and bring them early. One of the guests then came and elegantly decorated them all. The ceremony was held up for the many guests arriving late as roads were closed. A few showed up in shorts as they had been evacuated from their homes, and many laughed about how disheveled they were from no showers, dryers, or irons. The venue’s parking lot was totally flooded so someone volunteered to ferry guests back and forth. The hall had lost power and was running on a generator that kicked on and off, causing the music to stop at awkward times - like the couple’s first dance. Whenever the music stopped, people would sing to fill in the blanks. I think it was the most beautiful wedding I had ever been to, with everyone helping to overcome the challenges.

My town suffered a lot of damage - more than a foot of rain fell, every creek breached, flooding was wide spread, huge trees were uprooted, farm land and buildings ravaged, roads washed out and many people still do not have power. Through it all our fire departments, who are all volunteers, were out helping pump out people’s basements, cutting up trees that blocked roadways and securing downed power lines. They had left their homes and families to help others. All night long. They are still out there.

I work in the public sector and spend a good part of my day listening to people complain. I probably shouldn’t enjoy major storms as much as I do. But there is something about a shared emergency that just brings out the best in people. And for that I am extremely grateful.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Moving Mountains

Every once in a while the universe gives me something that totally changes my perspective and suggests a whole new set of possibilities.

Earlier this week I was talking to Lauren’s daughter, telling her about how her mother had helped me finally push that f*cking boulder up the hill and how I felt like I am back at the bottom having to push it back up a f*cking mountain, alone.

And she said to me “instead of pushing the boulder up, why don’t you just move the mountain out of the way?” (Oh yes, she is her mother’s daughter)

Yes, why not? And a thousand light bulbs started exploding in my head.

I am now leaving for a short backpacking trip into the mountains. (Probably made even shorter by the impending hurricane Irene.) A couple of days to ponder different perspectives, cosmic questions, and exactly how do you move mountains?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Full of Grace

Gardening barefoot and mushing my toes into the warm moist dirt.

Having no money in the stock market.

Feeling so very supported by friends.

Having a woman in the supermarket give me an up and down look and then wink at me. Really?

Homemade ice cream. Yum.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Dancing with a Limp

You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp. - Anne Lamott

Apparently I suck at grieving. It took me over two decades to finally grieve the loss of the love of my life. I’m still not sure I have finished that process. And now I’m struggling with the profound loss of my friend and therapist. She died on July 1st. Her birthday was August 7th. I had purchased Broadway show tickets to celebrate with her what would have been a milestone birthday. The tickets were for this past weekend but I threw them out. That was stupid. I have plenty of friends in the NYC area who could have enjoyed them. But it sheds light on the "fuck it" kind of place I’ve been in lately.

I am now through all those weird anniversary type dates and plans that magnify the hole that she has left in my life. I have not cried yet. I still leave my calendar open on Monday afternoons, my traditional therapy slot. PTSD symptoms have come back strong and I still find myself reaching for my phone to call her about them. Putting the phone back down is hard. There is no one on the other end.

I know my friends have been worried about my lack of emotion and my reclusiveness. I have been worried too. I am still in that numb state. Maybe that’s okay. Emotions will come out when they’re ready. Even if that’s 20 years from now. (Actually I really don’t think that’s healthy, but I don’t know how to change it)

However, Lauren taught me many things, the main one being that first I have to say what I would be; and then do what I have to do. She taught me how to dance with a limp.

So I have set my intentions:

- I need to finish documenting my therapy journey here, including all the recent setbacks. She always encouraged me to write it out to give me both clarity and relief.

- I need to finish the goals I had set with her. I will write about these separately and perhaps be asking some of you for your help with them.

- I need to get back to my spiritual self. People who love me help me take care of the physical and the emotional. But only I can care for my spiritual needs and I have too long neglected them. I need to make it a priority.

-I need to take the steps necessary to push that motherf*cking boulder back up that motherf*cking hill and get back to that place of PTSD freedom I felt for one brief shining moment.

-and I need to find some way to honor her. She did a lot of work with breast cancer patients (including me) so I think I will find something in that area.

I know that I still have to go through the grief. I am a big believer in sitting with my feelings for as long as it takes. This is obviously going to take a long, long time to heal. But Lauren taught me how to dance while healing. Step by painful step. I know the foot work. I need to start from step one and go through it again. But it will be very sad and very hard to dance them alone.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Down to One

Yesterday we took Peachie to college. Because she is going to play a fall sport, she had to report two weeks early to start practices. Which means we had to leave her in a near empty dorm. No roommate. No one else in her hallway. No food service until Friday. No TV service. No security. I was not happy.

I am much closer to Peachie than I am to my older daughter Beanie. There are many reasons for this - but mostly I think it’s because we are both younger sisters to very popular, very attractive older sisters. Peachie lived in the shadow of her prettier, smarter, more athletic sister for many years. I could totally empathize. Although eventually Peachie did come into her own. (As did I, but it took me a lot longer)

The week leading up to the move had been stressful. First Martha whacked me upside the head (figuratively) and told me to get my head out of my ass - a lot stuff needed to be done. (I have been out of sorts lately. Maybe more than I realized) Beanie and Peachie were all over each other during the days arguing over whose clothes/makeup/jewelry were whose - yet sweetly spooned together in the same bed every night. And we were all getting on Peachie about how much she was packing. Three huge boxes of shoes did seem excessive.

We needed to take two cars to fit it all so we had to arrange who would ride with whom. Martha wanted to take Peachie, but Peachie asked if she could go with me. When asked why she said "Martha will spend the whole 3 hour ride lecturing me about being safe, working hard and making good decisions." Well, I’m going to talk to you about the same things, I said. "Yeah", she replied, "but you’ll say it all in 15 minutes." True. So it was settled that I would take her but then I wound up getting a 3 hour lecture from Martha about everything I should talk to Peachie about. Oy.

Because I was really unhappy about Peachie being all alone her first night, Beanie offered to stay with her and drive home the next morning. Then Martha was concerned that the girls would stay up all night and Beanie shouldn’t drive home alone, so she arranged to stay with a friend nearby and come home with Beanie in the morning. After we lugged entirely too much crap up 3 flights of stairs, rearranged the room numerous times to Peachie’s liking, made the bed, set up the electronics, and went out for an early dinner, I gave my baby girl a big hug, and whispered my last "I love you." I then left my entire family there and drove home alone.

Big mistake. I had barely left the parking lot before I had to pull over and wait (a long time) for the tears to subside. Then I had to drive through the city where the sexual assault took place, (which usually does not bother me) but with the loss of my therapist it seemed too raw and I had to pull over having an anxiety attack.

I finally managed to get myself home and found this on the kitchen counter.

With it, a note:

Here’s a little something to help lift your spirits. Enjoy!

It was left by Beanie’s friend from Bet Freds days who had come to feed the pets, and her mother with whom I have exchanged a box of chocolate many times over the years.

I sent a 'thank you' text - This will definitely lift my spirits. Unfortunately it will have the opposite effect on my ass.

Then I took my chocolate and curled up in Peachie’s empty bed and cried myself to sleep.

God I am going to miss her.

And then I get to do it all over again next week when we take Beanie back to school.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Full of Grace

1. Feeling the bittersweet sadness of my baby girl leaving for college tomorrow.

2. Taking a delightful walk in a warm summer rain with her.

3. Having her tell me that there has not been one day that she has not felt loved.

4. Her friends all crying in the basement together, and still laughing through the tears.

5. Appreciating every day how much my children have given me.