One fine howdeedo

Let me catch you up on the past 48 hours.

One of the best people on the planet, who has been fighting cancer and winning every time the catabolizing bastard raises its disgusting head, thinks it might be back.

The boys finally agreed to ditch their beds for a bunk bed. Little guy screams a lot at night, both in his sleep and wakefully needing my presence. Turns out the toddler bed was too small and when he kicked the walls of the former crib (that kid sleeps like the kung fu master in Shao Lin vs. Lama) it woke him up. Now in a bigger bed he just screams all his dreams in their entirety. Without waking up. “No! No! I said no! Go away! Mommy go to sleep!”  [I swear on all that’s true and good that was last night at 2am.]

In the process of putting together the bunk bed I had to disassemble that restrictive toddler bed. The one I put together as a crib seven and a half years ago, seven months pregnant with the biggest right turn my life has ever taken. My babies are really and truly gone, the last few hex screws said.

A dear, dear friend who has been with our family for every high and low for the past 30+ years died last night. I hope it was painless and I hope her wonderful friends heal knowing what a special friendship they shared. I have lots of treasured memories and photographs and I consider myself very lucky to have had her in my family’s life.

A member of the family rodentia has apparently chewed through our emergency box and has tasted everything but the bandaids.

Two friends have told me stories tonight about their friends dying and leaving small children behind. And one told a story about a child dying and leaving parents behind.

My eldest child, whom I adore and who drives me nuts at least 50% of the time, turns seven in a few days. First slumber party.

My youngest child, whom I adore and who drives me nuts at least 50% of the time, turns three in two weeks. First real party.

Syria is breaking my heart. North Korea is breaking my heart. The frogs, the bees, and the icebergs are breaking my heart. A solid percentage of Africa and Asia are breaking my heart.

The house needs to be cleaned, furniture moved, lunches made, food cooked, feelings stuffed down and ignored, others feelings fanned out for everyone and their cat to see.

What?! Oh, you know what I mean.

I know that this is what life looks like. Life, parties, fear, death, hope, constant low-level panic, love, really loud dreams, and rats.

And there’s only so much crying I can do. Because there are only so many ineffective, preschool-made bean-bag ice packs in the freezer. And a forty-year-old woman who averages 5 hours of sleep a night and two showers a week can’t possibly be seen wandering aimlessly through her day with puffy eyes.

Because if someone asks me what’s wrong, I’m going to tell them.

Life and death are what’s wrong.

17 thoughts on “One fine howdeedo

  1. Wonderful post. Especially the low-level panic. I’ve finally accepted the fact that I will always have it now that I have children to worry about… new normal. Thanks for posting.

  2. Oh, I’m so sorry. About everything, from the rat to the passings and everything in between. Sometimes the cancer and the other sicknesses are almost enough to completely overwhelm a person, to make everything from cute progeny to chocolate seem like not enough. But hang in there (yes, one of the most awful, useless sayings ever), if only because you know how this loony life-thing works–just when the horrible days are so horrible, you get a not-so-horrible day, then a better one.

    Thinking of you and yours…

    • Hey, Kate.

      I always though midlife crises were selfish and petulant. Now I’ve learned that a big component of freaking out around 40 is that friends are getting sick and dying, divorcing, watching their kids get in serious bad situations…the second half of life is decline. And that’s a lot to realize when you’re not actually in decline yet.

  3. As a 40 year old mother of 3, my oldest 9 and my youngest just turned 6, I can relate to that sadness when it smacks you in the face that, “Holy Crap! They’re not babies anymore!” It hits me hardest when my oldest constantly reminds me to never hug or kiss him, or tell him I love him in public. Even at home, with no friends around, if I go to him a hug or a smooch on the top of his blonde mop of hair, he pulls away, saying, “MOMMY! You’re embarrassing me!” As much as it makes my heart ache, I know I have to respect his growing autonomy. I too have experienced a lot of death in my close family in the last few weeks, and see it at the beautiful Hospice where I work as a Social Worker 1 or 2 days a week. You’re right that it all can really, for lack of a better word, suck. But you’re also wise enough to see the hope and light in the corners of it all. Hang in! ~ Ilene

    • Thanks, Ilene.

      I like that they’re not babies, even though they were pretty amazing babies. Sleepless, adorable, hungry amazing babies. Every month is so different. I just really got hit with putting the crib away.

      Death is what it is. I wish we as a culture talked more about it and accepted it better. The whole “embalm and preserve and deny” of our popular postmordem rituals creep me out.

      But my feelings aren’t the point. So.

      • Agreed. First, that it is nice when they sleep all night and can help carry in the groceries! But it’s a smack in the face when you finally realize the tiny hangers aren’t working anymore. Those little moments, like take taking apart the crib, hit us like bricks. I actually cried when I had to throw away my daughter’s first favorite pair of underwear because she was just too big for them. Like birth, death is a pivotal point in everyone’s lives. Denial won’t make the pain of either go away, and can rob of us of the small joyful moments in the middle of life’s greatest challenges. On that note, I’m off to work at the Hospice Unit…I’ll be back to read more of your work because it makes me think, cry a bit, and laugh a lot! ~Ilene

        • Thank you so much for your work in hospice. It always strikes me that those in genuine need—terminal illness, chronic pain, advanced age, debilitating loneliness—really need good, smiling faces to make them feel connected to the reality that they are very much human.

          I have a post about that coming up. Stay tuned!

  4. I am so sorry. Some periods of life are just awful and filled with emotional roller coasters, and all you can do is just survive them until they are over. But yes, yuck, especially to cancer.

    • It is true, though, that of all the ups and downs of the past two days, the worst we actually have is a rat gnawing at our earthquake kit. We have a healthy and rather awesome family. But none of us are just our nuclear family, right? I feel selfish making it sound like I have any right to had a horrible day because of their pain, but I do hurt for them.

      Thank you for your gracious sympathy, though. Very kind.

  5. so moved by this post. It’s taken me this long, 30 + years to understand (ish) that this is what life is. A mixture of all of the ick and the joy at any and every given moment. Every day, as I am rushing around like a decapitated chicken, swearing under my breath, wondering why in the f*@king hell raising small children is so hard, I see glimpses of a time when I will beg for these years back. There is no utopia we are working toward. We are in it. With all of it’s ick and joy.

    • It really is. And most of the time the ick is pretty manageable, though it stacks up and weighs me down a bit. Most of the time the joy, relatively rare by ratio of minutes in the day, is still enough.

      And even when waves of raw sewage hit me emotionally, a stranger’s smile or a child’s laugh still overpower my melancholy. I do love those moments.

      Mindful of the joy is good. Mindful of the ick is good as long as it’s not wallowing. I think.

  6. Wow.
    You pretty much summed up the reason/s I haven’t been writing lately…Life and death are what’s wrong.
    Except for some weird reason, I don’t feel like writing about it, for the first time ever.

    • Sometimes it feels too personal, sometimes taking your breath away also means taking your voice away.

      You’ll write again. When you’re ready.

      Good luck with the ups and downs.

    • I’m s o glad you read this post today. I’d forgotten how last March felt. And honestly, this year is better. Still people dying and still people having parties and still people driving me crazy and still people having joy and fear and excitement.

      Still life.

      Happy March!

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