Sunday, July 14, 2013

Things I Loved This Week

I haven't posted one of these lists in a long time. The last time I did was on June 2, where I was squeeing about how much I loved summer coming, and fresh berries, and hammocks in the backyard. The next day I received some of the worst news of my life (if not the worst), that a very close family member had suddenly died, by his own hand. It was like a bomb had gone off in our family, in my world, a bomb that had spread its ash over everything I cared about and loved. I've never cried as much as I did that week. I've never felt so low, I've never felt so alone (I've never realized that in the deepest moments of grief, even when people are all around you, you're alone). I've never been so grateful for a long shower — when you have kids, you can't just be wandering from room to room sobbing and wailing, and I learned that a 40-minute shower in the morning is a place where I could cry and cry and cry... and then wash it all away again and put on your fake smile for the rest of the day. I realized who were the people I could rely on to just let me talk and cry, and who were the people whom I couldn't.

A week later I struggled to return to work. And the entire time, I was overwhelmed with guilt. How dare I feel like this? He wasn't my husband or my father or brother. In some ways he was like a father, he was a rock, he was one of the most important people in my life and had been there since I was born... but I had no right to be feeling like this when his immediate family members had been standing even closer. Watching them try to recover, feeling like I was falling apart, feeling like the ground had given away and I was scrambling with my hands to grab a branch or anything to avoid falling over the cliff, but all I could grab was dirt and rock and none of them would hold me... just made these lists feel stupid. How could I celebrate a robin singing in March when there are people in so much pain? How can I talk about how wonderful it is to be in a hammock when there are homeless people who are sleeping on the ground? How can I delight in fresh summer berries when some people don't have any food to eat, or are so sick they can't eat, or have taken their own lives and will never taste fresh berries again?

Because I have to.

Because if we don't keep looking for the good in the world, we'll be so consumed by the injustice and hatred and evil and sadness and disease and death and grief that's all around us that we'll never recover. We'll all be falling over that cliff. The little things that make us happy, those are our branches. And if we have enough of them, we can use them to pull ourselves back up to the top, to stand on that cliff and realize it's not a dangerous precipice threatening to swallow us whole: it's a beautiful place that allows us to look around us and see everything that's wonderful and good.

In the wake of his death, I've watched his family come together and pick themselves up, determined to move on, sad but strong, and my heart swells with love for all of them. Human beings can certainly crumble under pressure; and human beings can show enormous strength and persistence under pressure. There is so much love and beauty in this world, and we can't lose sight of that.

And so, I'll try to do this again.

1. My son got his first goal in soccer yesterday. He looked shocked when it went into the net, and then turned, raised his arms, and started screaming and jumping up and down.

That's my little blond cutie right there, moments after the big kick. It had been a long, trying week, but in this moment we were both hopping up and down, shrieking with delight (my husband's the more low-key one who snapped the pic).

2. My daughter accompanied my husband to an LPGA event (as many of you know, my husband is a golf writer) and she sat in the car, just one-on-one (which she rarely gets with him) and chattered away. She told him how much she loved living in London, and how happy she was, and how much she was enjoying their summer. And then when they got there, my husband walked up to Lorie Kane, who greeted him warmly and they began chatting. My daughter just stood there, alternately baffled and awed as my husband fired questions at her while holding a recorder between them, and then Lorie looked at her and began talking to her as well. After the interview, they walked away and my daughter said, "So... that's what you do? You just ask people questions and that's your job?" "Pretty much," he said, laughing. "And who was she?" "Canada's all-time greatest female golfer," he replied. Her jaw dropped and her eyes grew big, and suddenly Daddy was a few inches taller and more important to her.

3. My old tabby cat has been drinking water like a fiend and losing weight and I'm worried it's diabetes. I took him to the vet and the vet was very kind and said they don't think it's diabetes at all, that his hyperthyroid condition is just off-kilter and we need to adjust his meds and he'll be fine. That doesn't exactly sound like a happy one to add to this list, but it really, really was. I love my old tabby. :)

4. I took my son in for a hearing test. In November he was diagnosed with a 10% hearing loss in one ear, which upset me deeply, but there was nothing I could do. All I did know is that my suspicion for some time — that there's something wrong with his hearing — was right. This was the second test, where they look at his central auditory system and determine not what his ear canal can actually hear, but what his brain can comprehend as having heard. In other words, the words could be flowing directly into his ear, but if he has no hearing comprehension on that side, his ear won't be picking it up in a crowded situation, and he will appear to be not listening to you. After she ran the tests, she called me in and confirmed — hurrah!! — that he has NO hearing loss on the one side, that his actual ear canals and hearing are 100%!!! Best news of the week. (She thinks that perhaps he was getting over a cold in November and that affected the results.) However, she said for most kids, the hearing comprehension is close to 90% on the right side, 60% on the left. He was 100% on the right... and 0% on the left. To determine that, they put headphones on the subject and there's a conversation happening in the left ear, for example, among several people. In the right ear, someone says a sentence quietly. He has to remove the headphones and say what that sentence was in his right ear. He did it without fault in the right, but couldn't hear a single sentence in the left. She said his hearing is just fine; however, he can't filter out the stronger right-ear noise in order to hear something with his left. Easy fix: I make sure he's sitting on the right-hand side of the room at school, so his right ear is always wide open with no kids on that side, and he can hear his teacher. And when I'm with him in a crowded room, talk into his right ear. She asked if I was having any difficulty with his reading, and I said yes, and she said that's wholly a function of this ear, and gave me new techniques to come at it and she said she suspects he'll be reading in no time. I KNEW IT! I knew he was smart as a whip, and that something was happening to him in group situations, and now I know how to fix it (apparently, by the way, this will correct itself in the next few years so I have nothing to worry about).

5. This article.

6. In the wake of the abhorrent Zimmerman verdict yesterday, a writer friend of mine (with whom I've worked as his editor on his books on Pee-wee's Playhouse and A Christmas Story) wrote this poignant, beautiful piece on what it's like to be a black man in America. I urge everyone to go here and read it. And then, go buy his books so you can see that he's ALWAYS that brilliant. :)

7. The season 3 finale of Nurse Jackie. Holy moly. My jaw dropped when the last line was uttered, and just stayed that way during the entire final credit sequence.

8. This article. While it's not a happy one, this is Stephen Fry talking about his own suicide attempt last year. First, I didn't know he'd attempted suicide. Second, I didn't know he suffered from bipolar disorder. But in the wake of what happened in my family a month and a half ago, I've read numerous things, just trying to find one shred of an answer that would tell me why something like that could happen to someone. And considering I come from a family with a lot of bipolar disorder in it, I've read books, articles, you name it, over the past decade, trying to understand it more. And then I read his blog, where he wrote this:

“How can someone so well-off, well-known and successful have depression?” they ask. Alastair Campbell in a marvelous article, suggested changing the word “depression” to “cancer” or “diabetes” in order to reveal how, in its own way, sick a question, it is. Ill-natured, ill-informed, ill-willed or just plain ill, it’s hard to say.
I've always said a slightly different version of this: if your child has cancer, you aren't ashamed to admit it. But if he or she has a mental illness, you keep it to yourself. But here he actually puts them side by side with one another: they are both illnesses, whether with your brain or any other part of your body. It was a beautifully eye-opening statement, in a lovely, poignant post. Please go here and read the entire thing. (My GOODNESS, I'm giving y'all a lot of homework this week!) ;)

9. I saw Pacific Rim last night and it was AWESOME. And it even has a Desmond Hume moment, really quick, but a moment where a character runs to do something and I half expected him to say, "I loov yah, Penneh." He didn't. But I heard it anyway. ;)

10. After Pacific Rim, we stepped out into the warm night, and my husband suggested we walk across the street for some frozen yogurt. The kids weren't with a babysitter where we needed to rush home (which always seems to be the case); they were with grandparents overnight. It was in this moment that I suddenly realized how much weight is on a parent all the time and how stressed we are rushing from one thing to the next: rushing to children's activities, or rushing to pick them up from somewhere or getting them somewhere, or rushing to your own appointments, or rushing home to finish up work, or feeling like you need to get back to the kids because the person watching them needs you to pick them up at a certain time, or rushing to get dinner on the table, rushing to finish it, rushing to the next thing, rushing home because you haven't seen the kids all day and miss them, or rushing to get the kids to bed so you can finish your damn work, rushing to bed because kids will be up early, and starting over the next day. And I looked at him and said, "Yes. Let's get some frozen yogurt." And hand in hand, we sauntered slowly through the plaza parking lot to the frozen yogurt place, and sat outside taking our time eating it. It was more glorious than I can even say.


Colleen/redeem147 said...

I think your cat's condition being easily controlled by meds is good news.

Lisa-Maladylis said...

wow, alot to digest !!! Now I'll go read Stephens post too since well, I've been there, done that and have the sticker for that club that says I'm bipolar too. Now life has changed alot, still has it's many downs with all this brain tumor stuff i go through but death isn't a option anymore. Life is my option and I like it that way ! Hugs Nikki ♥

yourblindspot said...

Love this. And really needed it this morning. Thank you.

Joel said...

I hear you about the rushing. I have 2 kids in soccer twice a week on 3 different days. And we also got out to a movie - finally saw Much Ado About Nothing at the Hyland and loved it (though the theatre was disappointingly empty). Unfortunately we had to rush back for the babysitter - though we grabbed some sushi to go.

So... Your last post on Much Ado was great, but how about a spoilery review? Must discuss!