I’m out of the habit of writing. My life, which had been relatively mellow (for me, anyway) for a few months in the fall, became extremely busy with pre-holiday, pre-vacation tasks and a sudden uptick in consulting work in December. School ended, we took off for California immediately, and all I’ve been able to manage here since my return are some photos of our trip. I don’t beat myself up about such things, but I’ve missed this space where I can sit and think and write and process life for a while.
Life is strange right now. The highs are high and the lows are low, and I find myself floating between these poles, often quite quickly, feeling neither here nor there, just doing what needs to be done. It’s hard to know what to write about or even focus on, in this life of extremes.
I’ve felt surrounded by death for the past few days, deaths which have been particularly shocking because it’s been young people who are passing away. Within 24 hours I heard of three people younger than me who had died; two of them were relatives of friends and I didn’t know them, but one was the incredible, young, energetic executive director of the music studio the boys attend for private lessons. It is so hard to fathom the loss of someone who was so full of life and apparent good health just a few weeks ago when she sold me the beautiful bag her mother had made for her to sell to the students, with the hand stitched name of the studio on it. At the time, all I could think of was how proud her mother must have been of her daughter’s business venture and success when she made them – I visualized her, living out of state and carefully sewing these beautiful bags for kids to carry their music in to lessons at the studio and this image moved me to buy one – and now I picture that same mother grieving this illness that led to the sudden loss of her young daughter and it’s more than I can stand to think about.
In the midst of it all, at the other end of the age spectrum there’s my grandfather in Massachusetts (the one I spent time with last fall when my grandmother was in the hospital) doing very poorly. After spending a week in the hospital with a blood infection and cardiac problems, he was moved to a skilled nursing facility yesterday; he won’t be going home this time. He’s asleep much of the time, but somehow still manages to crack his favorite old jokes in his awake, lucid moments. His body is failing him and we are not sure how much longer he will be with us. This leaves my grandmother living in their apartment alone, blind, and often confused, still deep in her denial of aging and death that has, no matter how frustrating for the rest of us at times, probably been what allowed them to live independently into their 90s. I had to make the difficult decision yesterday not to try to go spend a few days with her next week, much as I would like to help her. My cousin is there now and my parents will be there later in the week. I am not prepared to leave my home or work life behind again after our recent two weeks away, and have some major conflicts this week; unless something significant changes (e.g., there is no one else to visit with my grandmother and take her to see my grandfather each day), I am hoping to get grounded here before flying off again. It was hard to make this decision, living as I do by a “family first” motto, but I am at peace with it. I can’t do more than I can do.
The lows are very low.
And, as is the case so often, in the midst of being hit over the head with death of people far too young and the difficult realities of the end of my grandfather’s life, there is simultaneously new life on its way. Tomorrow we will celebrate the upcoming arrival of my friend and partner-in-crime-colleague Lorell’s baby girl, due in just a few weeks. I’ll be hosting the staff and mothers from the clinic here at our house, and enjoyed preparing the house, shopping for food, and buying all sorts of pink decorations to hang on my walls today. (Truly, there has never been this much pink in our home!)
Further, there have been some bright spots in my first week back at work and I feel hopeful that 2010 is starting off to be a stronger year and full of new possibilities that I look forward to pursuing. Back at home, I had a fun night out with a wonderful friend on Wednesday, and the boys are currently the best of friends and spent the day playing together non-stop and peacefully. They seemed to bond in a huge way over the winter break, having no other kids around on a consistent basis. It’s remarkable and makes me so happy.
The highs are very high.
Without a doubt, this is life: highs and lows. The difference at the moment is the intensity of each, and the speed with which things are happening. It feels a bit like six months of ups and downs have been fit into a few days, and so I’m taking it slow whenever possible, sitting down to watch TV some evenings, getting the house professionally cleaned in preparation for the party, and sleeping in until 8 AM today.
And so I’ll hang out here in the midst of the chaos and be grateful for the chance to sit in a warm house by a cozy fire and think about it all for a while, because really, what a huge privilege this life of highs and lows is.