Fall Musings

Fall always makes me melancholy. I appreciate the cooler temps after roasting in the August heat (which this year extended into late September), but falling leaves remind me of the impending dark cold winter months.

They also remind me of all the times my dad would be in the hospital, the wind and mold infesting his deteriorating lungs with irritated inflammation that usually progressed into pneumonia. That is, until the year that it never went away. 1996.

I was pregnant with our second daughter, and after losing two previous pregnancies, I was struggling with the thought of losing yet another child. I was on bed rest for much of the first trimester, with our oldest at three and a half years not understanding why mom was laying on the couch all day. She would bounce on me trying to get me to get up. Well, the spotting/bleeding stopped, and baby and I both survived that tsunami of emotion in November.

Dad went into the hospital 10 days before Christmas, having various issues. Pneumonia and bowel problems. A scope revealed nothing in his lower gut, but I still felt an impending sense of doom. On Christmas Eve they did a CT scan, not understanding why his lungs were not clearing up. And at lunch Christmas Day, the woman covering for his regular physician strolled in with her entourage and announced to my father that he had cancer and it was already in his liver. As he stated, “that was a bit difficult to swallow with the pumpkin pie.” Said Doctor acted like it was no big deal and calmly stated they would be scheduling him for a bronchoscope the next day to confirm what the cell type was. His liver was full of marble sized lesions–the radiologist had extended the study when he saw “something” in the base of my father’s lungs. Instead of going up further in his lungs, the sneaky crap went down into his liver instead.

He lived a year, which was longer than anyone expected. Christmas will always be a mixture of happy and sad, and the fall weather continues to haunt me with memories. Our oldest daughter also battled these in her younger years, but now loves the fall colors and cool weather as her memories and anxieties of that time fade. Or at least did. Now a new memory will imbed itself in her psyche as her boyfriend’s father slowly fades like the fall leaves as he loses his physical battle with cancer.

Sadness permeates our days as we ache for the hurt we can’t prevent. Mature, strong from her own battles with loss and sadness, daughter struggles with what to say, as though her social work degree should give her all the answers. I hug her and tell her to just be there, reminding her of what she has already done while her love sits at his father’s side. Feeding his dog, being there to listen, and just keeping up with her won studies are enough for the moment.

In my alone moments, I pray for peace, for M’s pain to be controlled, for the youngsters to not lose their faith…because in the end, that is all we have left.

Outside, yellow leaves cover half the yard while others stubbornly stay green, refusing to change or turn loose just yet. I am the green. I don’t like change. But it will come, inevitably.

What now?

Well, this is going to be a different school year. I am having difficulty with what should be a joyous occasion. Our youngest is beginning her senior year of high school. Her sister who is 4 years older was supposed to be a senior in college, but due to health issues (primarily uncontrolled depression), she was unable to even complete her junior year. The future should be full of hope and opportunity, anticipation and excitement. Instead, I am full of dread and fear. Comments in blogs and articles about mothers’ actions and the effects on their children strike me to the core. Reading a preview of Lysa TerKeurst’s new book, “The Best Yes,” this sentence rises from the page like a leering specter:

I struggle with wondering if my inability to do it all will make my kids wind up on a therapist’s couch one day.

We’re already there.

Both of our daughters have been battling depression the past few years. The youngest went through 2 years of intense counseling, and has done well. Our oldest, however, has traveled a rocky road invisible to most who know her. She began showing symptoms of depression a few months after suffering a concussion the fall of her senior year, but thought that just taking a pill would “fix it,” and refused to go to counseling. She completed her senior year, and then started classes in the fall at a local liberal arts college. Things seemed to go well for 2 years. Then, physical illnesses coupled with severe side effects from medications took their toll. Her fall semester was interrupted and she had to with draw before midterms; in the spring, she tried again only to fall ill 4 weeks before the end of the term and had to take incompletes in most of her courses. Finding a counselor with whom she felt comfortable has been a 3 year journey, but when she became nearly suicidal in early May of this year, we managed to locate one with whom she developed rapport.

After a long summer of weekly counseling, frequent trips to doctors, and much prayer and thought, Abby has made progress. But the future is still uncertain. I struggle with wondering what I could have done differently.  Spend much time in the blogosphere and one is quickly overwhelmed with posts from homeschooling mothers and stay at home wives who have lived up to the Proverbs 31 image of a woman who is in charge of her home. (Or at least give the impression they have.)  I don’t even begin to compare. I have worked outside of the home full-time the past 31 years. My husband encouraged me to continue working and the reality is, we really couldn’t afford for me to quit. My “yes” was to continue my nursing career.  (The concerns and frustrations I’m currently experiencing with my job are a subject for another day.) So, I ponder if my decision was correct. Did I really follow God’s calling? Are the problems our daughters face the results of my choice? A quote attributed to Jacqueline Onassis echoes in my memory: “If I fail my children, it doesn’t matter what else I did.” Yikes.

So now what? I can’t turn the clock or calendar back or undo my career choice. (Other nurses’ kids are doing just fine with their moms working full time.) Where do I go from here?

Struggling

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/02/why-writers-are-the-worst-procrastinators/283773/

This article was shared online yesterday by a friend of mine who happens to be a newspaper editor. It really brought home a couple of things to me: one, I have been hanging on to a pipe dream for several years, and two, just as Stephen King has stated, what separates best sellers and natural talent is hard work. (Or something like that.) A major problem I noticed with the article is that she starts with procrastination, but ends with why young adults today come out of college feeling entitled. I am not entirely sure if she is addressing herself (after reading some of the other readers’ comments, I have to wonder), or if she switched gears and didn’t realize it in her effort to make word count for her deadline. At any rate, it still got me to thinking. Yes, I am a procrastinator. But I’ve always thought I procrastinated in writing because by the time I get through dealing with my paying job and household duties as wife and mom, I’m TIRED. What happens when we are tired? Well, for me, my brain and thought pattern are the first things to go. All I want by 10 p.m. is sleep! I am not one of those folks who can function on 4 to 5 hours of sleep, and that pretty much is what will be required if I stick to writing as a true job and not just a pastime. I’m not sure I have the stamina for that. Talent has very little to do with anything anymore it seems. It’s required to get you started, I suppose, but I really have become so accustomed to thinking concisely, to the point, and frequently in incomplete sentences and abbreviations, that writing a full 500 words has become quite a challenge. This post, for instance–I feel as if I have reached the babbling point and how in the world am I going to fill up the rest of the page to make the 500 word challenge (which I have failed miserably at) and still have anything worthwhile to say?

Anyway, I hope if anyone else actually reads this post and finds the link to the article that they will find some enjoyment in it.

Resolutions

“Vulnerable strength isn’t an emotional outburst, rather it’s working through misunderstanding.”

Very important words this morning. Yesterday was not the most stellar of Mondays. I managed to get through most of the day by just taking deep breaths and letting go, but by 8 PM I was tired, frustrated, and really at the end of my rope, although I didn’t fully realize it. I stopped to pick up some prescriptions at a local pharmacy on my way home, and tried to make a separate purchase with my new debit card. That’s when the trouble started. The card would not work. At all. “No big deal,” I thought. I told the fellow that I would just cancel the purchase since I did’t have enough cash. I went back to my car, my mind racing over the past few days’ purchases. Surely I had not overdrawn my account! Then, my youngest called wanting me to bring home “something to make this cough stop.” I explained that we already had cough medicine at home, and that since my card wasn’t working I couldn’t make anymore purchases until I figured out what was wrong. I hung up the phone and tossed it in my bag on the seat beside me. Pounding the steering wheel in frustration, I started screaming and yelling at the unfairness of it all. “She has had this stuff since before Christmas. WHY won’t it go away??? Why is this stuff all piling up? WHY was today so crappy???” And so on for about a mile. I swung into the ATM to at least get my account balance. “Contact distributor of card.” Oh dear. This. is. not. good. Pulling back onto the street, I buzz towards home. My phone dings. I pick it up–the screen is BLACK. Apparently the toss into the bag created another issue for me. Now I have no cell phone.

Anybody else see a trend here? I am FAR too dependent on things. And I let little stuff bug me WAY too much. My place of employment is full of people who have woes far worse than mine. And yet I regress into toddlerhood and create more issues for myself. Suzie Eller wrote the words I quoted above, and in her blog post today she is talking about responding with grace in difficult situations. My issues yesterday evening had more to do with anger at myself in the long run, but I have also been guilty of not responding with grace in relationships as well. Thinking back on how I could have responded yesterday evening, lashing out didn’t do anything but create more problems, and I certainly didn’t feel better after my temper tantrum. It seems the more I resolve to do better in that area, the worse I do.

A side note: I fully expected my husband to really be upset over the phone, which is going to create another expense even though I do carry insurance on it (and the protective screen covering which we paid extra for didn’t do it’s lifetime guarantee job). When I explained what happened (a drop on the floor earlier in the day, unintended, did not help I’m sure), his comment was, “well, things happen.” His usual “I’ll just buy the part and fix it” approach won’t work this time–a replacement screen is $150. Sooo, he is taking it back to the phone store for me today since I work another 12 hour shift and won’t be able to do it myself. Oh, and the bank issue? Seems my email to the bank last week about a new card arriving after the Target debacle triggered a chain reaction. They deactivated the new one before it even arrived at my house because it had been sent out 3 weeks ago. Long story short, I still have money, just no debit card–because I cut up my old one this weekend after finding the new one in the unread mail pile. *sigh* Life’s inconveniences…

And how has YOUR week been?

My prayer is that I respond with more grace and less silly emotion. Stuff happens. I need to get over it.

1 Peter 1:2b, “May God give you more and more grace and peace.” (NLT)

Free Writing (style)

Ok, so I have joined this 500 word challenge and so far have failed miserably. So many things demand my attention. Today, for example, after I did my chronological bible reading, I happened to scan my emails and find a note from my bank-not overdrawn, just an automatic notification about the balance being below a certain level. So I start checking to see what’s up. Seems I wrote the check for oldest daughter’s interim session at college from my CHECKING account instead of my SAVINGS account. Oops. Probably would not have been a problem except for other little shopping sprees we had this week that had I known what I had done I would not have indulged in! So I had to make some adjustments. Also had to call about some insurance issues on other daughter’s car; husband carries hers, my insurance company seems to think I have her on my policy. (We have, for the past 22 years, had the ongoing “battle of the companies” at our house because my husband and I both are stubborn. Being older when we married, we had established accounts and neither of us wanted to change.) The communications I had sent in December apparently didn’t go through and they are still charging my account. This momma is NO LONGER HAPPY! Had a littel conversation, was assured if I refaxed the information tomorrow from work that it would be backdated and my account credited once they received the data. A few moments later I receive a call from the insurance lady. Seems she had done a little more checking and, by golly, the underwriting department had received the info from my husband’s agent! Well well well.
Ok, so those two crises were diverted/dealt with. Laundry in. Dishwasher unloaded. Dishes in sink that didn’t fit in dishwasher dealt with. Eat a bowl of cereal, drink a cup of coffee. Start perusing posts and debating what to write. Doorbell rings. Wait a minute. I’m not dressed in street clothes and don’t know the person standing at the door. Dog is barking his head off. So I don’t answer. Retreating to the bedroom, I throw on daywear and shoes. Daughter at school has texted asking for tyelnol and decongestant that she forgot to take before she left this morning. Answer text. Look at card on front door that guy left—the tree trimmers that are hacking away on the next door neighbor’s tree. I place the leash on the dog and grab my cell to go outside and see what’s going on. Apparently they only needed to ask permission for using my driveway as a dropping point for limbs—and by the way, they will be backing their trailer into my driveway to clean up. Neighbor had told them it shouldn’t be a problem. I say of course it’s no problem, thinking “Well now how am I going to get out?!?!?!” Daughter is texting again. I tell her what’s going on.

*sigh* So I come back to the computer, re-read the goals that I have missed the last few days on the “Lift” account, and decide this is as good a place to start as any. Now that I probably have bored anyone to tears who would attempt to read this, I will edit for gross errors and hit “post.” My sincere apologies for the unpolished sentences. But I think I hit my word goal for today! Yay!