Monday, August 27, 2012

Retirement

 

For years I raced top speed uphill with a full load on my back.  Some days I careened downhill with no brakes or power steering.

And I did it gladly. I liked my job and I relished the responsibility.

Demands and obligations ruled my sleep, my diet, and my personal life.  Alarm clocks, deadlines, and pressure sucked away at my health and my humanity. 

I didn’t need a doctor, a therapist, or a psychiatrist to hand me a diagnosis.  I gained weight.  I suffered anxiety attacks.  I spent the little precious time I’ve been allotted in this world with people who only wanted what I could do for them.

I stopped enjoying my profession. I had given all I could. I wanted something in return for a change.

I worked top speed until the end, honoring my responsibilities.  I held the line until I handed it to my replacement. I looked out for the very people who would not remember who I was after I was gone.  

Then I walked away and refused to look back.

I kept my old life in boxes. My wardrobe hung in the closet.  Every year for the last four, those things become less and less.

One day all that will be gone.
 
           It took me a while to discover where I was headed. For more than half my life I was someone else.  I have had to learn to trust this new me.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Credo


One of my children adamantly states there is no God.  When a person dies there is no afterlife.  The person just ceases to exist.

Nothing I say or do can change his mind, but then nothing he says or does changes mine.  The basic difference between us is “belief.”

I see a flower and I believe that something greater than “chance” created such complexity.  I hold a baby in my arms and attribute that miracle to more than evolutionary ontology.

I’ve seen ugly in my life, so I know evil exists.  If so, then why can’t good also be a palpable existence among us?

Because I need hope in my life, I choose to believe. 

When reality hits me square on the head, I need the salve of hope to heal and keep on going.  I may not understand sadness or the ugly around me, but I do understand goodness.  I've seen it - a better day always waits ahead.

I refuse to believe that I won’t smile again or love again.  No one can convince me that I was better off not knowing or loving someone to avoid the pain when they are taken from me.

     I need hope in my life; I choose to believe.

I tell my son that only one of us will be surprised that there was “life” after death. If all I did was live a hopeful life and it ended here, so what? According to him, I won’t exist to continue the argument, but when he wakes up on the other side though, I will be standing there, shaking my finger at him, telling him, “I told you so.”

Monday, August 13, 2012

Losing a Child

I lost a grandson a few weeks ago.  His death was caused by a freak household accident that claimed his life within hours.  No one had time to do more than react and pray for the best.

For once in my life I had no words of wisdom for my daughter, no remedy or solution that would make everything better.  I stood by while she heard the words no parent ever wants to hear – her child, her baby, was not responding to everything the trauma medical team was  frantically trying. 

Her twenty-two-month-old child was dying.

One moment her fearless little boy was bombing around the house playing and climbing on furniture, the next he was injured and quiet. What should have been a boo-boo made better with mommy kisses, ended up a fatality.

I try not to relive the horror of that night, but I struggle to sleep.  I wait until my eyes close from exhaustion and I wake a few hours later with a start.  Sadness and fear chase me in my dreams.

I do not dare imagine what goes through my daughter and my son-in-law’s dreams.  They were there.  They saw the baby’s injury a second after it happened.

I’ve lost weight, something that has eluded me for years even though I faithfully follow a diet and exercise at every opportunity.  I am hungry but after a few bites I cannot force myself to eat any more.  What I do ingest does not stay for long.    

I’ve watched my daughter leave behind a full plate of food on the table.

I know that the stages of grief are recursive, that right when you think you are progressing well onto the next stage you fall back onto the first step all over again. There must be a different set of rules of recovery when one loses a child.  Maybe there isn’t any. The universe as you know it has been turned upside down.

Death should come after one has lead a long, full life.  Death should be top-down and not robbing us of babies who have yet learned to create full sentences, tie their shoes, or use the potty like a big boy.

I believe in a good God and in an afterlife.  That is some comfort, but it does not assuage the huge loss and the extreme regret we all feel.  My daughter’s house is full of his and his three-and-a-half-year-old brother’s toys.  His sister and brothers call out his name in play, and his parents set an extra plate at the dinner table before remembering there is one less in the house.   

Our guilt is blanketed in “what ifs” and “only ifs,” but these do not change what happened – one fearless little boy left us all stunned in disbelief, frozen in our pain, cowering at the tragedy we all witnessed.  

Monday, August 6, 2012


 

THE BLOG on BLOGGING:

ELEMENTARY, MY DEAR WATSON


So, you’ve decided to blog.  Let us ponder your options.

OPEN THE POD DOORS, HAL
Why do you want to blog?  What do you have to say or share that isn’t already being said or shared by the other 200 million bloggers out there? Who is your audience? Is it a family-and-friends-only journal or a me-only diary? Maybe it’s an advertisement for a product/creation/business, and you wish to attract awareness/admirers/customers? Is it an exercise in creativity and you are searching for an audience or an outlet for your opus? It is crucial you decide this before you blog.

I HAVE ALWAYS DEPENDED ON THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS
Study other blogs and glean information that will help you decide how to best set up your site and its operation. See what works and doesn’t for your purposes.  Come up with a quirk or innovation that will make it different from the many others. 
If what you envision is beyond your technical savvy, then enlist/hire/beg for help. Will it have links, photos, interactive options? Tabs?  Several pages? Have you considered banners, head shots, color schemes, fonts? Will your blog open onto a full screen, or will your product/text be positioned to the left or the right?
Remember you want to make a good first impression, so don’t broadcast it until it looks and feels right to you. You can always upgrade it or give it a face lift, but your first launch should be your best font forward.
One more thing, consider topics and taboos, subjects you will and won’t do, and decide those with care.

LOUIS, I THINK THIS IS THE BEGINNING OF A BEAUTIFUL FRIENDSHIP
Where are you going to post this blog?  Choose a server that will match your needs the best.  Will you link to Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, etc.? How often you post will depend on the purpose of your blog.  Will you post when the muse amuses you or will you set up a strict schedule? Set your own guidelines but then announce and follow them. 
Remember if you seek a constant readership, you will need to be constant as well.  A reader’s time is valuable and fickle.  If you treat your blog with abandon, the reader will also.

NOBODY PUTS BABY IN A CORNER
Whether it is a me-only blog or you seek extensive readership, once it goes live on the Internet, it is “out there.” It is a web log, after all.  It is also a visual résumé, forever attached with its magnet to the refrigerator door of Cyberspace.
Regardless of that daunting thought, here is your chance to stretch your creative muscles, perfect your skill, show off your talent(s). If you write, grapple with the grammar, insinuate yourself into the syntax, and lunge loquaciously into the language.  If you are a visual artist, post pictures, venture out there with vlogs, and tinker with technology.
Establish your platform, your stamp, your voice.                            

LOVE MEANS NEVER HAVING TO SAY YOU’RE SORRY
If you’ve truly considered what you will blog about and who it will reach, then you are aware of the importance of privacy and ethics.
Unlike a private journal or diary that only becomes public upon your death or the prying eyes of nosy family, a blog is accessible to anyone who can maneuver about Cyberspace. Not only will your creation be public but so will you. Readers will claim you. You will find yourself pinned on Pinterest.  
You might enjoy the attention, but your family and friends may not. Don’t belittle, betray, or blather about them without their permission.  Don’t post a picture if you want to protect their anonymity. If you do, disguise their names.
Also consider if what you have posted – text or picture – represents you well.  Do you want to become known for that? Always be aware of your theme and message. 
Would you rather be famous for a blook deal or infamous for a lawsuit? Remember you still have to show up for Christmas dinner with the relatives, and you might have to face the ex(s) at the grandkids’ birthday parties sooner than you think.