Today is the day! It is Christmas Eve, Eve which marks the beginning of our family celebration.
This year has been a “denial” year in terms of Christmas. I just finished my finals last week, and I was wiped out. Jeff and Nicholas traveled to Duluth for a hockey tournament and I stayed back with Sarah and Katie, mostly to shovel and drive them places. Those two girls decorated the house and put the tree up. Sarah put all the lights on the tree herself. It was wonderful. On Sunday night we put on the ornaments, and I began Christmas shopping. I finished on Wednesday…sort of. I still had two things to get for Katie, but it was planned: I would pick up one thing after I dropped Nicholas off for hockey that night and we would go to get her tap shoes when I dropped the girls off for their movie on Thursday. BUT…dun, dun, DUN…instead…I got the stomach flu. So did Katie. Such bad timing! Actually there never is a really great time to get sick. I came home from my hair appointment on Wednesday and went to bed. I stayed in bed most of the day yesterday, but did get up to wrap the presents. They are currently under the tree looking festive. I told Katie we would try to get her tap shoes today (I need her feet to get them) and that she can pick her own sweatshirt when she goes to dance….Merry, Merry! So, she gets the flu and gets stiffed on the presents! Poor kid.
This morning, I am still in bed. My first task is to go to the grocery store. I will be making our traditional lasagna for dinner tonight, and I will be making Christmas dinner on Sunday, as well as Christmas breakfast. As I gaze out my bedroom window at the lightening sky, I am aware how little time I get to gaze, and how much I miss that. There is a squirrel’s nest in our tree, and I wonder if they are still snuggled in sleeping, or if they are out searching for that elusive acorn. I am excited to have a little bit of time to gaze before going back to work.
I am also happy to begin the celebration. This is the season of love and giving. I am trying to hold on to those things. I still need to finish the cards, and go to the post office. And tomorrow we will deliver the cookies to our neighbors.
I am wishing you all a Merry Christmas. May love lead us all into 2017, and be the beacon of hope for all of us.
“All you need is love…”
“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it–always.”
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
~Martin Luther King Jr.,
“With the last vestige of consciousness she jerked her mind and body. Hate was nothing that IT didn’t have. IT knew all about hate….
“Mrs Whatsit hates you,” Charles Wallace said.
And that was where IT made IT’s fatal mistake, for as Meg said, automatically, “Mrs Whatsit loves me; that’s what she told me, that she loves me,” suddenly she knew.
That was what she had that IT did not have.
She had Mrs Whatsit’s love, and her father’s, and her mother’s, and the real Charles Wallace’s love, and the twins’, and Aunt Beast’s.
And she had her love for them.”
~Madeleine L’Engle: A Wrinkle in Time
(Special thanks to The Diamond in the Window for inspiration)
“Hope is not blind optimism. It’s not ignoring the enormity of the task ahead or the roadblocks that stand in our path. It’s not sitting on the sidelines or shirking from a fight. Hope is that thing inside us that insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it, and to work for it, and to fight for it. Hope is the belief that destiny will not be written for us, but by us, by the men and women who are not content to settle for the world as it is, who have the courage to remake the world as it should be.”
“Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
~The United States Constitution (Preamble) [spelling is from original document]
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
~The Declaration of Independence
“13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
~1 Corinthians 13
“‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
“Imagine all the people living life in peace…you… you may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one… I hope some day you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.”
“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”
“The key is you have to know yourself and take the time to get to know yourself.
Because then, and only then, are you taking responsibility for getting your core needs met.
I knew a woman who loved ironing so much she would ask to iron my jeans. Seriously, that was her meditation she was always looking for more things to iron. The steady movements, the smoothing, removing wrinkles, folding, smell of fresh laundry, the steam? I have no idea what part made her most happy. I just watched her satisfaction in the beauty she created. She loved the process of ironing and had no shortage of rituals around it.
Find the beauty in the tasks and do them mindfully as an offering to the day, an offering to the vibration surrounding you. Take pride in your effort, particularly when it is hard, particularly when it really pulls from the bottom of the bucket.
I promise you, there are many nights I see dishes in the sink just as I am about to head to bed and, if I am deeply tired, the thought that I can just do them tomorrow is more than tempting, it seems justified. And yet, that is not where my joy lies. My joy lies in coming down the stairs in the morning to a clean sink. I know this about myself and so, I give this to myself and it is a gift that carries with it a sweet satisfaction and deepening trust.
Please understand. This is not about dishes. You may love doing dishes in the morning or not doing dishes at all. Don’t get distracted by my examples. The point is to find your daily rituals that link one to the next to the next until from the moment you wake up, to the moment you drop into bed, your day has been experienced, felt, witnessed.
It is a middle path between extremes
that transfigures everyday living‘
– Eknath Easwaran“
(E-This is what I return to…again and again. Sorry my homework is late!)
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
“We will not betray ourselves. Self betrayal is allowing the fear voices, the rage voices. the hopelessness voices to drown out the Still Small Voice that tell us the Next Right Thing. The next right thing has and forevermore will be: Get back to work.”
As of today, I have been married for 24 years. Twenty Four. TWENTY FOUR! Good golly, that is a long time, and I don’t feel much older than 24, so. It’s weird. IT IS.
We went out to a fancy dinner last night and today we have barely seen each other. I had to take Sarah to school early, and then my taxi job filled my evening.
Last night we talked for a couple minutes about what life would be like when we are empty nesters. I can’t even imagine it. Seriously. I want my chicks in the nest. I can hardly remember life without them. We were married for nine years before we had children, so you would think that I would be able to picture it, but I can’t.
Here is what I love the most about my husband: When he lets his guard down, he is probably the most compassionate person I have ever met. And, he is funny. He makes me laugh. Also, when my dad was on his journey last year? He was THE most awesome support ever. I am so lucky.
Now, I have some grading that needs attention! xo
Everyone else has ascended the stairs. Each in their own rooms. Some lights, I’m sure, are still aglow. Some are extinguished.
I am sitting alone. Feet up on the ottoman, computer in my lap.
It is quiet, save for the tapping of my fingers on the keyboard.
Someone left the light on in the family room.
I have two lamps alighting my work in here.
It is quiet, save for the tapping of my fingers on the keyboard.
I feel the weight of darkness slip in from outside and settle on my shoulders.
My eyelids are relaxing. I yawn intermittently.
Someone is finally getting into bed, their footsteps loud against the quiet. I wish them still.
I can feel the pull of my own bed, my smooth purple sheets, my cool, soft pillow.
I still have work to finish before my slumber.
I wonder how long it will take?
My wish for you: Sleep well.
It should read “On
balance“but I couldn’t get the strike through to work…
I am procrastinating right now. Have you ever seen this?
It makes me laugh every single time, because I have that damn monkey in my head. This post is my case in point.
An illustration: I have been telling myself that I need to to laundry for about two weeks. (Could be longer, but that’s just embarrassing.) Yesterday I wore a skirt that “looked okay” when I put it on and about half way to work I understood why it was NOT okay. Oh, well. I lived through it. Now. One would think that as soon as I got home, a load of laundry would be happily splish-splashing it’s way to being hung up in my closet. Or at the very least, the first thing this morning… It is 1:45. PM. No laundry.
HOWEVER: The guy who has been slotted to fix my dishwasher has been waiting for a part for a long time, and it came in last week sometime. I texted him last night to see if he could come this morning. He texted me at 9:20 that he would be here at 10:00. I washed all the dishes in the dishwasher by hand, cleaned the kitchen, and took a shower…I was ready when he rang the doorbell. All of the kitchen NEEDED (desperately) to be cleaned, but wasn’t yet on the nonexistent list. And now it is done! And my kitchen is all sparkly!
I also said to myself that the stack of 50 papers needed to be done before I got out of bed. Well. I had to clean the kitchen. And after the guy left, I watched Youtube videos for a while and ate lunch and read some blogs and checked my email and decided to write a post instead.
I get frustrated with myself.
So the papers are next to me. It is a glorious fall day. The windows are open. And I. don’t. want. to.
I have hundreds of more papers on the floor. Those 50 are just my first job. I should really put in a load of laundry too.
It was the end of fall semester, and snowy. I was a sophomore in college. I had finished my finals and was ready to sell my textbooks back to get some extra Christmas money. The sell-back place was in the basement, and there was one narrow staircase to go down in order to get there.
Did I mention that it was snowing?
The stairs were steep and covered with black rubber matting.
And it was snowing.
I embarked on the decline, arms loaded with large textbooks.
It was spectacular. The sound alone: thud, thud, thuudddd, thud, THUNK. And, since it was the end of the semester? EVERYONE was at the bottom of the stairs.
“ARE YOU OKAY?”
People rushed at me. I jumped up and acted like I didn’t just fall down very hard, steep stairs. “I’m fine! No, really, I am just fine!”
I sold my books without limping or crying or anything. That could wait until I was back in my dorm room.
So, today I had my Fast Track Class. I team teach this course with my friend, Jan. We have dumped our two classes together, so we have 50 students. They seem to ALL need to talk to us after class, and we are always running late to our next classes. We are both in the same building across campus.
Today we had to take the tunnels because it was raining, so we were even later, because we usually can take a short cut outside.
So. We were rushing.
I had many bags and my arms were full of books.
We were entering the building where our classes meet and…
I was on the floor.
People were rushing at me.
“ARE YOU OKAY?”
I got up and said quickly, “Yes, I’m FINE, really, I’m fine!”
Someone had spilled what looked like a whole bottle of Gaterade on the tile floor. I was wet because I landed in the puddle.
I went to class. I entered and told the class that I had fallen and that Josh, my Supplemental Instructor, would hand out the quiz while I went to dry off and assess the damage.
I knew my elbow hurt. I landed on it.
Yep. My whole elbow was split and was bleeding. I tidied up with toilet paper, found some instructor’s offices, asked the nice man at the desk if he had a bandaid so I wouldn’t bleed all over my clothes, and went back to class.
Falling in public. So awful. And, YES. My elbow still hurts. A lot! Haha!
So, I have been writing this post in my head all week…but I have not figured out a good way to begin. I guess I just have to dive right in the deep end, even though it isn’t at all the way I want to begin.
A year ago, today, my dad passed away.
My dad had Lewie Body Dementia. He was having trouble with his Parkinson’s symptoms more so than the dementia, however, he definitely had his moments when he was off his rocker and in a world of his own. He was still lucid though. He still knew who everybody was and could talk about current events and could remember things that were happening.
Every day since Tuesday I have been trying to remember what happened on that day. A week of anniversaries.
I didn’t write at all during this time last year. Everything was just too much. And now, I regret that . I wish I had recorded that last conversation. I wish I could remember the exact words. Here is what I can remember:
8/30: I get the call that my dad is sick, and I go to my parents’ apartment. It is decided that we will call the ambulance and take him to the closest hospital. He is admitted. We have no diagnosis.
8/31: I go to work. It is the second week of the semester. After work I speed to the hospital and hang out with my mom and sister. My dad is talkative and accuses me of not voting for him. I tell him that of course I voted for him and he says, “Well, then I mistreated you.” I tell him to be nice. We also have a normal conversation, but I can’t remember it at all. Still no diagnosis.
9/1: I go to work. Diagnosis: Congestive heart failure. He had a valve replaced with a bovine valve several years before and now it is leaking. He wouldn’t understand surgery, and open heart surgery is invasive and painful. We opt not to do surgery. We decide hospice is the best choice. After work, I speed home to bake cookies. It is the first day of school, and it is my tradition for my kids. I race to the hospital when I am done and hang out with my mom and sister. I stay after they leave and Jeff joins me. We hang out with my dad. He is really talkative. He isn’t really making sense, but he is entertaining. There is something about hamburgers running a machine? It was a fun night. I am so grateful for it.
9/2: I go to work. I race to the hospital after work. He is moved to N.C. Little Hospice in time for dinner. I get there way before he does, and the nurses show me around. I ask what the average stay is…they answer: three days. I am shocked. I assume we have weeks to go on this journey. I have class, so I meet him there and make sure he is comfortable and dash back home to get on the computer for class. My sister stays with him and eats dinner with him. I know she is grateful for this time. She encouraged him to have some mashed potatoes, “I don’t care for potatoes,” he said.
He shocks the hospice nurses in the middle of the night by getting out of his bed and asking for them to show him to the bathroom. We still don’t know how he got out. The bed rails were up, and his mobility was limited.
9/3: I go to work. I speed to N.C. Little. I get there to find my dad in a very different state than I had left him. He is awake -ish, and dozing. He is trying to talk but very hard to understand. My kids and Jeff are coming to eat dinner. I thought we would be eating with him, but it is obvious that he won’t be eating. I can’t remember if he had been awake in the morning when my mom arrived, or if he had slept most of the day. I think he was out of it most of the day, though. I remember thinking that it must be because he had been up at night. Denial is strong.
My family still comes to eat. We sit with my dad, and then the kids go into the basement to play a little. My dad tries to talk a little. He definitely perks up when the kids are in the room, but he is still hard to understand and still looks like he is struggling. We decide to go get some food, and Sarah hangs back. She tells me she wants some time alone with Grandpa. The rest of us go get our food. Once everyone is settled, I go to check on Sarah. She leaves his room and bursts into tears. He had his “moment of clarity” with her. He sat up and asked her if she would be alright without him. He told her he was leaving soon, maybe on Saturday [which was accurate]. He was going to see his mother and his Grandpa Chris. He was going to read books when he got there. Sarah was a wreck. After several conversations, she was grateful that he told her.
9/4: I go to work. I speed to N.C. Little. I get there to see a sleeping father. He doesn’t wake up while I am there. I sit and talk to him, but I can’t remember what I said. I have dinner plans with my in-laws. They have no idea what is going on, and I don’t really want to tell them. It is too close. It is too hard. It is too much. I check with the nurses to see if it is safe to leave. I don’t want my dad to die alone. They assure me it is fine, and they have my cell number if anything changes. I go to dinner and pretend to be normal.
Jeff comes back to N.C. Little with me. We find a nurse sitting with my dad. She had been sitting with him since I left. She knew I didn’t want him to be alone. I am awed. So grateful. We sit with my dad until 10:00-ish. Jeff leaves to go home. I stay for another hour. I don’t want to leave. The nurses come in to ask if I am sleeping there. I show my ambivalence and reluctance. They tell me to go home. They will watch him. They will call me if anything changes. I am grateful. I want to sleep in my bed, they helped illeviate my guilt.
9/5: I get up early and pack my grading. I am at N.C. Little around 7:00-ish. My dad’s breathing is awful. It sounds like he is drowning. I am upset. I sit with him for several hours, talking and grading, but mostly not grading. The nurses come in late morning to give him a bath. I am weepy, and the nurse hugs me. I tell them how awful it is to witness him drowning, and they quickly correct me. The breathing is not because his lungs are filling with fluid (congestive heart failure) but it is the “death rattle.” This is oddly reassuring to me. I thought he was struggling, but evidently this even occurs with people who are concious that are approaching death. The nurse tells me she has asked patients if the “death rattle” bothers them and they have said no. This helps my composure. My mom arrives. We sit with him. A therapy dog comes to visit. The dog is disinterested. The owner says something like “Dogs can tell when there isn’t any response.” My sister arrives. We decide to eat lunch. The social worker comes at lunch time and gives me books about death to give to my kids. We chat and linger in the living room. Finally I decide I need to go back in to my dad’s room.
The rest I will save for my notebook. My mom and sister and I were all there when my dad passed away. I am so grateful that I was there.
I really can’t believe it has been a year.