I forgot rainbows exist

standard November 10, 2015 Leave a response

I turned the corner, driving that fine line between driving the speed limit and going fast enough to get to school in time to collect the kid getting out of her after-school activity. I snarled at the rain starting again, at my broken windshield wiper I didn’t even know was broken until this morning, at the blister forming in the rain boot that only gets worn once or twice a season.

And then I saw it. And I gasped.

A rainbow. A silly, stupid, glorious rainbow, stretching clear across the sky. A perfect shining rainbow.

And then I laughed.

Because for a minute I couldn’t fathom what I was seeing.

I’d forgotten about rainbows.

What can I say? It doesn’t rain very often in California.

So, I’d forgotten about rainbows.

Rainbows in all their magical, improbable selves. A thing that children color, because they’re so darn pretty and shiny and irresistible.

Rainbows, reminding us that there’s beauty and magic to be found in even the dreariest of days.

I seriously can’t believe I’d forgotten about rainbows.

Just how grown-up and jaded have I become?

What happened to the girl who always looked for the silver lining in every situation? Who always tried to tease the fun out of every moment?

2011 was a brutal year of unending big catastrophes that kept knocking me off my feet.

This year has been less obvious in its relentless sly attacks, and yet, apparently no less draining.

I keep trying to pull myself up from my bootstraps, keep trying to jolly myself out of the gray area I seem to wallow in most often these days, but it’s hard. There are constant reminders about my father. Constant little challenges to overcome. Constant reasons not to smile, but to, instead, force a grin on my face a bear another day.

It’s not how I want to be, not who I want to be.

I want to be the girl who looks for rainbows, not the one who forgets they even exist.

Rainbow

Clawing my way back to joy

standard September 13, 2015 1 response

Last week I went through this past year’s blog archives to find a post or two that I could to enter in the Type A Parent “We Still Blog” contest. As I perused what I’ve written a few thoughts occurred to me.

I’m proud of what I’ve written. Proud of the way my voice sings on the screen. Proud of the fact that I can let my vulnerability shine.

But I’m sad at how sad pretty much everything I’ve written in the last 12 months has turned out.

It was a grim read-through.

I’ve been deluding myself somewhat, telling myself that I’m fine, I’m coping, I’m getting through the days. And, for the most part, it’s very true. The days flow by, the work gets done, the kids are thriving, the house is cared for, and most days, there’s even some laughter.

But reading through my blog was like having the cold hard truth stare me in the face.

The last 6 months have been hard, really, really hard. Instead of seeing everything surrounded by a silver lining of hope and potential, it feels like everything has been surrounded by a dark lining of sadness.

No matter what I do, a part of my heart feels sad.

Please, trust me, I know this is normal. I know this is grief. I know this will fade in time until I’m almost sad it’s gone.

But I’m still ready to take back my joy.

A couple weeks ago, when the school year was just starting, I realized that one of the things that I most missed from the time before my father’s death, the time before all the sad, was my knitting.

Knitting has always been a source of comfort and calm for me. It helps center me and make me feel whole and connected. I always turn to my knitting when I’m facing challenges, when I need peace. I knit on every plane ride taking me to see my father, I knit whenever I was at his bedside, and I knit as he lay dying.

During his last months I worked on a gorgeous scarf made of luxurious yarn that brought me solace whenever I simply touched it. I finished the scarf a few days after I returned home after his death, draped it around my shoulders and felt comforted by this thing I had created as he breathed his last breaths.

And then I put my knitting needles down and walked away.

I told myself that it was too hot, that I was too distracted to focus on the challenging pattern I had chosen for my next project, that the yarn just wasn’t soft enough. I lied.

The simple act of looking at knitting needles made me uncomfortable. The act of picking them up made me downright nauseous.

A problem since I was desperate for something soothing to do in the evening.

Now, I don’t just knit when I’m sad or anxious. I also knit during most school volunteer meetings. It keeps me from getting distracted or doing something rude like playing with my phone while someone is talking. The mere thought of heading into the school year without this crutch to help me get through the countless meetings I attend every month was enough to make me hyperventilate in pure panic.

And that’s when I realized that it was time to take back what was mine.

It’s enough that I lost my father. I wasn’t about to also lose something so essential to my well-being.

I found a super simple project and unearthed some of my favorite yarn. I knit a coffee cup cozy, and another, and another. I started playing around with the design, taught myself a new technique, made another two. (If you’d like one, let me know. I, ahem, have a couple extra.) Then I started a new, slightly harder project.

Now, when I pick up my needles, it once again feels like coming home. I’ll always feel myself sitting at my father’s bedside, but it’s turning into a tender memory, not a panic inducing one.

Taking back my knitting feels like the first step towards taking back my joy.

It’s not going to be an easy process. It definitely feels more like I’m clawing my way back to my joyful life, rather than just sauntering there. But it feels like I’m finally on my way.

I’m spending more time with friends. I’m searching out opportunities to be with people rather than holed up alone at home. I’m looking for rainbows and reasons to smile. I’m cooking again, running again, reading again. Taking things back, one by one. Doing them because they bring me joy rather than because they stave off the panic and the sad.

The sad will still be there, I know that, but I’m going to try to keep it from overshadowing everything. At the very least, it’s not what my full-of-life, passionate father would have wanted. For that reason alone, it’s worth the effort.

Leg warmers

The slightly harder project. Legwarmers for Little L.

It’s my birthday and I’ll cry if I want to

standard July 20, 2015 Leave a response

You know the song. Everyone knows the song. It’s by Lesley Gore. Pretty much the only thing anyone knows her for.

It’s my party, and I’ll cry if I want to
Cry if I want to, cry if I want to
You would cry too if it happened to you…

It used to go ’round and ’round in my head when I was a teen and I threw parties that never quite went according to plan. My dad used to claim he’d met her once, that she was a sweet girl. And now that’s all I can think about.

It’s my birthday on Wednesday and for the first time since I can remember, I have no desire whatsoever to celebrate. I don’t want gifts. I don’t want a party. I don’t want a fuss of any kind.

I just want a day like any other.

And maybe I want to cry.

I know that people around me are starting to think that it’s time for me to shake off my grief, to get back to my cheerful, happy, gregarious self. But fact is, I’m not ready. And I don’t know when I will be.

I’d rather spend my evenings working or watching TV while playing dumb games on my iPod than going out with friends. I’d rather spend time with one or two close friends than a whole group of people. And I really don’t want to celebrate my birthday.

I have been on the other side of grief, watching friends suffer. I know exactly where they are, thinking that enough time has passed, that things should be getting back to normal by now. What I didn’t know, didn’t realize, is that sometimes things never get back to normal, that instead, a new normal is formed.

And that too is griefworthy.

Because what if along with grieving for my father and the relationship we should have had, I also have to grieve for who I was? What if I have to do all that work all while trying to figure out who I am now?

It’s all just beyond exhausting.

So, on Wednesday, I’ll bask in gratitude for the friends who are pretending to understand what I’m going through and the spouse who just wants to hold me while I go through it, and I’ll smile through my tears and try not to think about the one call that won’t come in.

Because it’s my birthday and I’ll cry if I want to.

Lesley said I could and I hear she was a sweet girl.