Saturday, March 26, 2016

Easter weekend

This weekend nine years ago included a visit from my parents to Columbus, Ohio - where Scott and I lived at the time. They stayed in our little Clintonville home, and we celebrated Easter together. My mom had gone through several rounds of the experimental bio chemo that we clung on to as hope for a recovery from the metasticised melanoma that had enveloped certain parts of her inner body. She was tired, her appetite, energy, and spirits all put on tilt. Hair gone.

I was pregnant with our sweet baby boy twins, and we turned to my swollen, ever-growing belly for smiles and happy anticipation.

I don't remember much about the weekend... Can't remember if we ate out or in, played board games or took walks. Mainly, I remember going to Easter service together. Again, I cannot recall if at the time I believed my mother would die. I'm guessing I was in that limbo mental place, as so many loved ones of those with cancer are... Aware that it can be over soon, hopeful that it won't, uncertain about how to plan living in the meantime...

We got seated amongst the many at worthington Presbyterian church, an absolutely beautiful sanctuary with aesthetics all around. I'm sure the sermom was dynamite, the speakers on point, the choir performance perfect. But it was when we all stood to sing as a congregation that I lost it. I don't even know the name of the song and couldn't hum it, despite what I'm certain must be its fitting and popular nature to be featured on Easter morning. Something about the trumpets. And I was standing next to my fatigued mom in her purple knit hat. And I was pregnant. And I silently wept. Drippingly, quietly sobbed. Unprepared, I had no recovery plan in place except to stand there trying to pretend that I wasn't crying while those pretty instruments and the congregation's voices carried on in happy triumph. I really did think I was quiet. I - to this day - do not believe that my mother and father, right beside me, and I know that my husband, on the other side of them, had no knowledge of the puddle of tears splatting to the tile floor below me.

But the stranger in front of me did. Out of nowhere appeared a bundle of tissues. She didn't turn. Our eyes didn't meet. They just appeared over her shoulder.

She knew. I knew she knew. She must've noticed our family as we sat down. She must've seen my mom's worn face, the absence of hair peaking from beneath her hat. She must've noticed my belly, knowing by my youth that I was a first-time mom. I knew she knew. I just did. In my imagination, she had lost someone too. Her husband? A child? A friend?

I composed myself with those tissues and the strength that her kindness gave me. And when the service ended, and we all gathered our things to turn and leave, I lipped "thank you," for fear that saying it out loud would require more tissues. And I think we two strangers embraced. Maybe I made that part up, but I seem to remember touching in a familiar, understanding way, as if she was letting me know that she understood.

I lost my mom a few weeks later.

That gesture of kindness has stayed with me. I think of that woman every Easter. And, inevitably, the trumpets every Easter bring more puddles.

Friday, March 25, 2016

The hook

Been thinking about the manner of speech "letting myself off the hook." I've used it a bunch recently as I dedicated the past two days to doing just that. I had a sudden realization on Wednesday (when kids had snow day, Scott was home too, I went for a short nap and emerged 4 HOURS LATER) that I was pretty darn depleted. My inner voice was saying mean things to me. And I know when she is disturbed, I better reel her back in or else I risk a hostage-seize-of-my-real-voice situation. The action plan is pretty darn simple: no action. I dedicated from that moment on Wednesday until I felt some restoration (or my family kills me, one or the other) to actively being inactive - except for the basics. I call it "My Responsibility Cleanse."

Here's why: I have spent a few years getting comfortable with the fact that I have ADHD. For awhile I didn't believe the professional who tested me, therefore doubted the actual diagnosis. Then for awhile I kept sorta quiet about it out of shame and embarrassment.  And now that I am somewhat comfortable with it, I intermittently completely ignore its effects upon me (not out of pride or ignorance... Just lack of self-knowledge and forgetfulness). Until my brain lashes out at my failure to take care of it and give it rest.

We all have an achelies tendon. This is mine.

And while some people need to cleanse their guts after the digestive track becomes exhausted, I need to cleanse my mind from remembering, planning, prioritizing, time managing, and generally thinking much at all. Basically, I need to take a break from responsibility. So hence the name "Responsibility Cleanse."

Depleted is a yucky place to be. Whether it be he result of an over-worked ADHD brain or an over-worked set of muscles or an over-stressed lifestyle or whatever. Depleted is where - at least for me - the inner disturbances start taking root.

Back to "letting myself off the hook." We use this phrase to communicate that, in effect, we really know and believe we ought to be ON the hook. And by being off of it, we are somehow abandoning responsibilty


And yet, I have to say that, although joking that my family was going to throw me out if I kept this up much longer, nobody has truly suffered from my failure to be on the hook. The kids have to find their underwear out of a crumpled pile of clean clothes instead of getting it out of their drawers. The crumbs and undone dishes and scattered toys are just fine where they are. I'd say that the only downside here is that we might be more vulnerable for a mice infestation. But wait - we already have mice. So no harm done there. The kids are buying their lunch instead of me managing their self-packing job (read: more work than doing it myself). So I'll just splurge less on a specialty Starbucks drinks and dedicate to school lunch money. OK by me (at least for now). I have lots of emails in the "requires further action" folder, but I know they're there. And if the the deadline for doing-whatever-I-need-to-do-with-them strikes before I put myself back on the hook, then - well - someone will either remind me, give me an extension, or I just plain wasn't meant to do that x, Y, or z.

So i guess what I'm saying here is that "the hook" is really just my own expectations of myself. Everybody else doesn't really care whether I'm on it or not. I would argue... Duh duh duh... That even God could care less about how I define my hook. His Hook (notice I capitalized the H in God's hook for  effect) is something else. And although I'm in an never-ceasing quest to learn more about what God's desires are for me, I'm guessing it includes less edges and sharpness and rigidity as the hook I seem to subconsciously be aiming for.

So, let's be more willing to be "off the hook (lower case)." Slang seems to think that unbridled, untethered feeling of liberty is cool. And I think God would, too.

P.S. I'm in a robe in a hotel. By myself. Drinking wine out of a styrofoam coffee cup. How off the hook is that?

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Time for a few photos... gonna get better gonna get better gonna get better!

 Baby girl Campbell and Mama
 I got to see my niece, Ava Josie Johnson during a recent trip to Louisville
Look at this bro-sis bond!!!

Birthday mix-up

So, Sullivan's birthday is coming up, and I was picking his brain about his little milkshake celebration. He decided to invite a few friends to a local diner where not only can you enjoy old-fashioned milkshakes but also benefit from an accompanying arcade game area.

He begins listing off more than a handful of kiddos in his class. I interrupted at that point to suggest that for birthday gatherings, "We really want to invite the friends we are close to."

Seemed to be digesting.

"How far away does ___ live?" "How far away does ____ live?" "How far away does _____ live?"


Once he latched on to proximity, he refused - like a bulldog - to let it go. So, even repeated attempts to clarify the misunderstanding have only led to a return to that criteria. I finally just lied and said each of his favs live equidistant from our house.

Give that kid a criteria, and he will meet it. Give him a map, and he will follow it. I love this nearly-7-year-old literalist of mine.