2017 is in the rear view mirror — I’m really not sorry to see that crazy year go. You? From historic wildfires, horrific terrorist attacks and political scandals, to the solar eclipse, 2017 was a doozy. Walls and bans were touted and torch-carrying white nationalists marched freely. In stark contrast, across the world people walked in never before seen numbers in peaceful Womens Marches. Symbols of hate were toppled and guns continued to flourish with little constraint. Harvey and Irma decimated tropical oases and long overdue awareness of sexual harassment gave birth to the #MeToo movement. The rich have gotten richer still while the poor get poorer.
Yup, 2017 was really a whopper – and not always in a good way.
Even in the worst of times, (and this year ranks in the top ten) we can grow, be humbled and learn. Looking back, I need to unwrap and process a few things about last year before I throw the door wide open on the new one. While I still write 2017 on checks, my oh-so beautiful Christmas tree stubbornly still stands and too many sweets linger. But, if my pharmacy’s shelves, stuffed with hearts and candy boxes, are any indication, apparently Valentines Day is around the corner. Knowing I’ll have to make peace with the old before I can welcome in the new, here are a few tiny reflections on the year that just left the building:
• Awareness. Before last year, I was literally a political sleepwalker. I never watched or read political thought, and my voting behavior consisted of little more than flipping all the switches on the family party of choice. It wasn’t until my granddaughter cast her first vote 5 years ago, that I stopped short. It was a shock to realize just how blithely I had ‘opted out’ of wanting to know. My sweet girl’s interest in learning about issues that affected all of us ignited my shame at never having given that mature move a thought! In that election, I left ‘mother may I’ far behind and reading, listening, discussing have become part of my persona. MSNBC is my go-to TV, NPR in the car and I’m as aghast as anyone else at what has become the ‘norm’ in our political theater. Ignorance is no longer an option. Vive la resistance! Continue reading
I don’t know who she was. I don’t know her name, age or where she was going that sunny Saturday noon. But a few nights ago I was told that she, an unsuspecting passenger in the car that hit mine that Saturday — died. I had wondered, in the days since, if she and the driver, not much older than I, were alright given the force of the crash. The truth did not set me free, if indeed I had needed it. Instead, her death hit hard and I grieved for a woman I never knew, who was merely a bit player in a sad, now deadly scenario.
I should be used to life’s wayward swings, its errant pendulum. How else could I explain the crazy things that happen in mine and everyone’s life? Could there another explanation for why, leaving my husband for just an hour, I came home to find him dead of an embolism? Was it his crazy luck of the draw or mine; God’s ‘plan’ or the universe blinking? Whichever way we toss the cards, we’ll never get to hold a full house for long. Even if we get a straight flush in our grasp, none of us hold on to it forever.
Accidents don’t come with a bell around its neck.
When I envision that fateful day, just 3 weeks ago, I wonder what might have changed the trajectory of each of our fates. Maybe I could have browsed longer for gifts or took another route home. The mom driving the car behind me, could have taken the kids that usually sat in the empty car seats instead of likely leaving them with her husband so she could run some quick errands. And the car barreling toward both of us? What put them on that road, in the wrong lane and speeding without slowing down. Were they going to visit friends, grandchildren, even an early movie? All I know is that something went terribly wrong that noon hour and a woman is dead because of it. The driver? I have to think a spirit is broken, and a heart is heavier than the weight of all three of the cars.
Just one moment can change everything. A momentary lapse in judgment or ability can happen and, in a blink of an eye, something irrevocable happens. That kind of realization can cause a mighty kick in the gut.
Message received. Continue reading
You know when you take off running — just to slam to a dead stop? (No pun intended) Seriously, I was running to catch the door of the bank last week, just as it was closing — and completely missed the curb. My bad. Actually, it could have been worse – a lot worse. Lying on the cement, two things came to mind: is anything broken and, of course, did anyone see me. No to both, thank goodness. Luckily, my only casualties were scraped knuckles, one bruised elbow, a ripped pair of jeans (which still didn’t make designer status) and a completely raw knee. Ouch. But, hey, I wasn’t a “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” commercial.
What really tripped me up, though, was the smackdown of my confidence. I’m usually a pretty strong chick. I cry easily and am a total pushover for everyone I love but I take care of myself (almost as well) as I took care of my kids. Yet, one misstep on a curb and I’m suddenly back to Grief 101. What the…?
More than the raw sting of my knee, it was the raw absence that greeted me at home that really got to me. Somehow that morning, I was still surprised that my husband wasn’t there to ask what the heck happened. He’s has been gone for a year and a half and it should be pretty clear he wouldn’t be answering the door. So why was I suddenly caught between a surprise pity party — and getting the fraud of the year award? Continue reading
Dr. Seuss always nails it.
You are YOU — just a wee bit different than you were ‘before’. The first time you check the “widow” status on a form, have to change your emergency contact or start to say ‘honey, I’m home’ and realized no one is there, you are a different you. And it sucks. But it’s life now. Whether it happened with no warning or after months of dread, the title ‘widow’ is as foreign as if you shucked your identity for the Witness Protection Program. You feel like you woke up on another planet — without rocket re-entry to your old life. This is it.
My husband is gone almost 10 months. I should be used to the title but ‘widow’ still doesn’t compute. To totally absorb it, means I need to accept the basic fact that my husband died and is never coming back. Before you think I’ve lost it entirely, of course I know he’s gone. I know he’s not just on a business trip; he’s not on a road trip. I get it. I’m the one who found him that fateful night.
Cancer perched on the sidelines of every facet of our lives for years. Often sneaky, even silent, sometimes we ‘almost’ forgot it was even there. There were more emergent battles to fight. Debilitating treatment side-effects that dogged him constantly that we both knew would never leave. But sometimes even the most upsetting can be business as usual when you’re immersed in the day to day and you almost forget the gorilla waiting to pounce. Continue reading
They say a knight in shining armor is a man who never had his metal tested. I met a few of them; I even dated them. You know, the dudes whose metal suit was actually tin foil. That’s why I almost missed the knight whose armor had as many dings and tarnishes as his car bumper. He was the real deal. He fought his share of dragons, especially the most fearsome of all. And when you constantly battle the beast, even the most deepest of loves have emotional jousts. But then again, as I stood all those years beside my husband, he had way more than his ‘metal’ tested. His spirit, self-confidence, courage and self-esteem were tried way beyond what most people can tolerate. And each time, he got back on that horse (or green Nissan) to battle another day.
Today is this knight’s birthday.
He loved everything about medieval knights. He had a little room full of toy collectible Knights of Agincourt who hung around castles he painstakingly crafted. This was a guy who took supreme pleasure in sharing his love of those men in armor with our grandsons at Medieval Times for their 5th birthdays. I could never decide who loved the pageantry more – him or them. The last time we were there, we joked that we had to rest up before we took one the smallest of the teenies but that will never happen. Grandpa knight died barely 2 months later. Continue reading