Saturday, December 09, 2017

Flashback Weekend

Plans to shop and dine with Cal today were cancelled due to his coming down with a flu. I decided I wanted to drop off a care package anyway. When Pat balked I said, "I won't be able to do this forever, someday he will have someone else to take care of him."  So off I went like Little Red Riding Hood to deliver homemade candies, banana bread, soup and Dunkin Donuts 1.5 hours away.

On the way I conjured up different memories of traveling this route, mostly in the wake of Adam's death, to visit the boys. I also tried to imagine what Adam's state of mind was after Christmas 2015 that led to his suicide. It wasn't terribly painful, surprisingly.

I surprised Cal at his door, but I think he was happy. I did his laundry, changed his bedding, took out the garbage, washed dishes, , helped hang a picture, picked up some quarters and some Sprite at the gas station, and we managed to talk as well. He had a couple of personal blows recently, but handled them well. Life continues to throw curveballs at us all.

We discussed Stranger Things, and I forgot to tell him ever since I started watching, my bathroom lights have been flickering so maybe Adam is trying to communicate with me...or it could the new electrical system we had installed. You gotta watch the show.

I had a feeling I would hear the song Africa today and sure enough it was the second song I heard on the radio on the way home. I have my own past associations with this song, but now I clearly consider it Adam's song, ever since I found out he and Kelsey used to belt out the chorus to each other. He told her it was played at Bill's and my wedding, and I found this so endearing. BTW, it too, was played on Stranger Things. I belted out the chorus in the car along with some tears. A Peoria station was playing a Flashback Weekend from 1979-1982. I wondered why I hated Journey and Styx but liked Cheap Trick and Boston? Little Red Riding Hood arrived safely home, with no big bad wolf, although I did see what looked like a jackal at the Duncan Mills junction.

The rest of my weekend was spent attending a concert of incredible opera music and seeing the movie Coco with friends. Both were top notch. Best opera voice and Disney movie I've ever seen.  All in all, it's been a great couple of days. If I manage to fight off the germs I was exposed to, I will consider it a roaring success.

Friday, December 08, 2017

The Practice of Yoga

Yoga is the first physical activity that felt right for my body (well, maybe the second). I was never good at any sports whatsoever, I hate to run, I didn't start exercising regularly until I was in my 30's, and I'm a horrible dancer. The only reason I can think I wasn't the last kid picked for teams in elementary school, is that I might have been prettier than some of the other un-athletic girls.

When I stepped into my first yoga class in 1997, I was surprised to find it was much more difficult than I thought, in an exertion type of way. If I really exerted myself (which I tend to do, because I like to do things well and right), I found the poses could be very challenging especially when held for longer periods.

My first teacher, Pam, is the gold standard I have held all my subsequent teachers to. Her style of teaching is very precise, and she is explicit about the placement of all body parts and the pattern of the breath. This was an excellent introduction and foundation, and when I did branch out to other teachers at other studios and retreats, I felt comfortable that I was taught the fundamentals and was able to participate without feeling out of my league.

One of Pam's tenets I heard many times was how important daily practice is outside of class. She even had a habit of going around the room and having each student report how many times they practiced that week. For 16 years, I would say, "O" "1" or maybe an occasional "2" and wonder when this daily practice thing was going to affect me.

Then along came 2013. I was having a really hard time accomplishing the workload I was given as a 4th year school social worker. Not to mention the emotional toll a new coordinator had on me. I lost 19 pounds in 3 months time. I was commuting an hour to work each way and felt I had to be at work by 7:00 a.m. in order to keep on top of my new schedule. That meant I was getting up before 5:00 a.m. five days a week. I decided early that year that I would get up early enough to start about a 15 minute yoga practice each morning to help me cope with stress. I credit this routine with getting me through that year without walking off the job.

Then along came 2016. I was keeping up my daily practice because I found it was good for my mind, body and soul. Thank goodness because Adam's death was an overwhelming blow, and I needed anything I could anchor to to get through those first anguishing months.

So here it is almost 2018, and I have found a yoga class and my daily practice that help keep me sane, flexible and grounded. It has truly become an important force in my life.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Every Step

There is someone who has been with me every step of the way, my rock steady for 25+ years. Our most devastating year was 2016, of course, when we lost Adam. We lost ourselves at times, too. The image comes to mind of Pat visiting me at my Topps grocery store bakery job, with a 3 year old Adam (Nuke to him) on his shoulders. He would often pick him up at daycare, and spend the evening entertaining him while I worked. During this time the notorious "grape video" was made. Adam and I both appear a bit uncomfortable in front of the camera on a tripod, as Pat fake stuffed grapes up his nose and made iconic "Pat" jokes. He introduced Adam to Terminator 2, the "thirty dollar gun" and "Edward Cigarhands," our crusty and scary next door neighborhood drunk, who teased children with a rubber snake.

We have held each other up when the other was down, even when we didn't know it. Through the recent cancer scare, Pat has gone above and beyond to support me, and I don't give him enough credit. This blog's for you, Pat. Here's to 25  more 💙 (foibles and all).

Friday, November 17, 2017

Heart Shaped Pillow

It's still sinking in: I have an oncologist. I have been to his office twice, and it is an ominous feeling. The staff go about their business like any other medical practice, but I can't shake the idea that death is hanging from the ceiling. I look at the other patients and feel 'sorry' that they are here, too. I feel like they are doing the same. I have driven by this office hundreds of times, and never pictured myself walking through the doors.

Even with the "least bad" breast cancer diagnosis, and being given the choice not to do radiation at this time, I know I could be back with worse news in my future. It's like that door is open, and I am always at risk now. That said, I'm not dwelling on it, or living my life any differently.  (self doubt says I should be living more joyfully or as if each day is my last)

When I came home from my second surgery, the hospital gave me a pink bag of goodies. A heart shaped pillow, obviously hand sewn was included. It is just the right size to fit under my arm and take the pressure off my incision. It is also just the right size for hugging when I sleep. That simple pillow has given me great comfort on this newest journey.

Saturday, November 11, 2017


My boss warned me about this. She calls it Sudden Temporary Upsurges of Grief (STUG). After a year and a half since losing Adam, they are farther apart. In the words of a wise mother I know who lost a son, "It doesn't get easier, but you get more used it."

It's difficult to think about events of two years ago (fall 2015), when we had no idea Adam was in trouble. Here's how a mundane thought morphs into a mini-grief attack: I learned yesterday Hannah is attending the national Musicology conference this weekend in Rochester, NY. Two years ago, Hannah was at the same conference which was held in Louisville, right in Betsy's backyard. In fact, she stayed with Betsy. That was the same weekend my parents, Eli, Cal and I all traveled to Betsy's for Ethan's starring performance in Man of LaMancha. It was a really special, fun time when everyone was happy and we didn't suspect anything was wrong in the world. A mere three months later, Adam would be dead. That's how my mind goes.

October 17, 2017 was an especially hard day. I remember crying in the morning, periodically during the day, and that night. I don't know why. I wrote: I feel like Adam is being left behind by friends, work pals, even some of my own family. Today was a sad day, a down day. Sometimes just thinking of anything that happened while he was alive makes me incredibly sad.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Health Update

After four days in my PJ's, I felt like going to work Tuesday. Wednesday evening I felt well enough to walk two miles at the Y. I guess that was overdoing it because my incision felt really bad afterwards. Well, certain movements invoked stabbing pain. Intermittent.

So tonight I am just taking it easy after three full days work. I should mention I met with my doctor yesterday and the pathology report was great. I will see an oncologist after my incision is healed to plan for radiation and follow up meds to ward off future cancer.

It's still sinking in, and I had a mini breakdown talking to my boss today.  I realized how much I miss my kids. All this activity and built up stress kind of hit me. I felt like I kind of sucked at work, but those weeks happen.

I am grateful to be alive, healthy, and loved.

Monday, October 30, 2017

A Batty Story

My mom brought over a case full of old letters, grade reports, and various other yellowed documents for me to peruse while I'm convalescing...I seem to enjoy reading my own letters the most, fancy that.

I came across this letter from me to my parents which was dateless but I'm guessing was around 1983, when I was living in Des Moines and going to Drake. The odd thing is, Betsy had mentioned this incident a few weeks ago, and I had no memory of it. Then lo and behold, I find this:

I see what you mean about these boring letters. Well, let me tell you about when I was asleep on the couch one night with all the windows open and I awoke to hear flapping about the room. I froze in fear. Then I screamed to Stacey in the next room that there was a bat in the apartment, and she yelled, "Crawl in here quick!" So I hit the floor, wrapped in a blanket and crawled as fast as I could to the bedroom, and was let in the door to the bedroom when the bat was flying across the room the other way. We huddled scared shitless in the same bed all night and ventured out of the bedroom the whole next day only to the bathroom, covered head to toe, of course, in a comforter (bat proof). Even today, I throw a fit when a window is left open for a night, and I think the sound of the refrigerator is abt abat (see I get nervous typing its name).