Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Times Are A-Changin

Is it a midlife crisis when you reach a certain age and discover you want something completely different out of life than what you already have?  I guess some people would call it that but I don't think it is.  I think it's self discovery.  Over the past year and a half to five years, so much about my life has changed and it continues to change.  It's scary and exciting all at the same time.

Things started to move in a different direction when my dad got sick.  I dedicated a year of my life to his care.  Maybe that doesn't seem like a lot, maybe it does.  To me it does.  Because I continue to be the go to gal for my parents.  They have come to depend on me a bit more than I care to admit.  And I struggle with it.  I struggle with my own feelings of wishing they were more independent.  They can be, they chose not to be.  And I try so hard to force the issue.  But you cannot teach old dogs new tricks.  They are dependent.  And it will only get worse.  To some degree I allow it I suppose, because they will not do things for themselves.  They just refuse.  So my feelings are, on the one hand, resentful.  Resentful that I don't have the help with them I need or the the time to pursue my own dreams because they take up a lot of my time.  On the other hand, I am thankful that I am able to do things for them that they need.  I hear myself thinking, "when they are gone you'll be so happy you were able to be there for them."  That's true, I will be.  But at what cost to my own personal well being?

Through these years since dad's illness, I felt in the back of my mind that life was passing me by.  That I had nothing for myself.  That I needed something for me.  I had my websites, and they kept me busy.  And then, all that changed.  It was time to move on from the main website, the one I have had since 1998.  And on January 20, I did.  And when I actually did it, I felt a weight lift from somewhere deep inside.  Don't get me wrong, the site was very good to me.  I met some wonderful people and had some once in a lifetime experiences.  But it weighed me down.  It blinded me to how empty I was feeling.  It masked how I was feeling inside.  And now that it's gone, I feel ready to pursue new challenges.  I want to do more, see more, experience more.  In my own mind it seems so strange.  How could ending a website bring all these feelings out of me, especially since it was something I loved?  I don't claim to understand it.  I know that since ending it I have wanted so much more from my own life that I didn't know I wanted before.

Changes are coming.  I'm actively pursuing work.  I love my little business but it's not enough for me anymore.  The work is sporadic and not fulfilling.  On the one hand change is terrifying.  Who would hire me after being out of the work force for over 10 years?  I don't want to change who I am, I want to change what I'm doing.  Is my purple hair going to be a problem?  Probably, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.  And what if I fail?  What if things don't turn out how I think they will.  But the thing is, I can what if myself to death.  There will always be a scary "what if" lurking somewhere.  I have a pretty amazing support system and I'm really excited about the future.  There is something to be said about breaking out of your comfort zone.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Do You Believe?

I woke up this morning with a start.  It was later than I usually wake, around 9:15 am.  I had been awake for part of the night/morning and finally fell back asleep somewhere after 7 am.  Immediately I realized my heart was racing.  I had been dreaming about my friend J who passed away in late March.  We were sitting at a kitchen table.  If I really look around it was not my house, it was not her house.  It was not the house I grew up in, which is where I usually dream dreams of being at home.  It was my Grandma's kitchen.  I don't really know why I would dream us in my Grandma's kitchen, J had never been there. But if I had to guess I would say that it indicates that J and Grandma are together.  But I don't know.

I had so many questions for J, mostly about what is going on with her family.  Very recently I have been aware of a situation within her family that is most unfortunate.  It happened after she passed.  So I asked her about it as I fussed around trying to make coffee or something.   She sat at the table, looking so beautiful and so peaceful.  If I really think about it and concentrate on this dream, someone was in the living room waiting, and I think it was my Grandma.  Sure wish she had come into the kitchen to say Hi, but I think she was there for moral support for J. 

We spoke about the situation and she told me how she knows her son will get through it, that he is strong and has good support in his dad.  I was relieved to hear that because watching from the sidelines has been difficult and I keep wondering if I should reach out to him and see if he's OK.  It cannot be easy for him to be going through this so soon after he lost his mom.  She told me that he has, of course, moved back home and things would be OK.

We didn't talk about her but I could see by looking at her and being near her that she looked at peace.  She told me she was fine.  She looked the same as always.  She had her hair, she wore her glasses.  She was my J and she didn't want to dwell on herself, just wanted to assure me her son would be fine.

So, do you believe that was an actual visit or just a vivid dream?  I believe it was a visit.  It's happened to me before with a friend who had passed away a long time ago.  M was only 21 at the time, I was 22.  He died of a brain tumor and I was devastated to lose him.  I had a very hard time coping.  It was my first serious brush with losing someone so close to me.  It was several weeks, maybe even months after he passed away that I saw him.  I could not get him out of my mind and cried a lot.  Then one morning, as if in a dream, he appeared to me.  He sat on the edge of my bed looking almost luminescent.  He told me he was fine, to stop worrying about him and to go on with my life.  I was filled with such peace after that and was able to move on.  I've never forgotten him or that visit, obviously, but I was able to move past it. 

I think you have to be open to such visits for them to actually occur.  I would give anything to have them more frequently.  I would love to see my Grandma, J, M.... hell even Butthole can come visit me if he wants to!  It's beautiful and meaningful and has given me a sense of calm about losing J.  Seeing her looking well and knowing my Grandma is with her, showing her the ropes if you will has been amazing. Maybe it's crazy to believe that, but if something like that can give me peace, so be it.  I'll take the crazy label.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Life is Too Short

Regular readers to this blog know that I recently lost a very good friend to cancer.  Yesterday I was handed another reminder of just how short life is.  It was my niece's first communion party.  My brother had told me about a year ago that his good friend JA has cancer, pancreatic cancer no less.  Devastating news.  JA is literally the only friend of my brothers that I ever liked. Ever.

Bro is 8 years older than me, and so we never really hung out in the same crowd.  He didn't approve of things I did and in general he always acted more like a father than a brother.  But JA is cool.  He's a super nice guy and he always had my back where bro was concerned.  I remember when I was just out of high school and between jobs.  Bro got into a pretty serious accident.  He was working landscaping at the time and was on a tractor when his shoelace got caught on the gas peddle.  He couldn't get it out and was thrown from the tractor with his foot still attached to the gas peddle.   The tractor dragged him for a bit, tearing his shirt off and then most of the skin off his back.  It was horrible!  His back was completely raw.  He came back home to stay with us while he was recuperating.  My mom was too nervous to do the things that needed to be done for him, like change his dressing several times a day and clean his wounds, so I did it.  I took care of him for several weeks while he recovered.  I didn't do much of anything else.  And then JA came over to see him. JA took me into the kitchen and said, "go... go out.  Do something else, I'll stay with him."  A much needed break that he knew I needed, and I went.  And I never forgot it. A bond was formed that day.  From then on he was my friend too.  JA is someone I love.

When he got married it was like he was my kindred spirit.  Married on Halloween, he and his wife had a costume wedding and he was Frankenstein and she was Bride of Frankenstein.  I think those who know me know how I feel about that!   It was awesome!

In the best of times, or the worst of times, JA was always there.  When my brothers friends were calling me a freak and asking bro why I looked the way I looked, JA had my back again.  He stood up for me with the closed minded.

And now, on the occasion of my niece's first communion party, bro told me JA would be there.  My niece is his goddaughter after all.  But he wanted me to know that JA looks drastically different.  Both bro and sis in law let me know that he is almost unrecognizable. And I thank them both for preparing me.  Because I don't think I would have been prepared for what I saw when JA came in.  He had aged a lot and was so painfully thin it's hard to even imagine, let alone see him.  It has been less than a year since I last saw him and it seems like way longer.  He was still the same JA as always though, even given this dreaded illness that he is trying to fight.  I tried hard not to talk about that, when you're going through it, do you really want to keep telling people about your treatments and things?  I imagine not, so I didn't bring it up and we just talked about general stuff.  He stayed a little while, ate well and soon had to leave.  In all likelihood that was the last time I will ever see him.

When the party was over, I thanked my sister in law and bro for letting me know what to expect ahead of time, and still, I wasn't prepared.  Sis in law said that he told someone at the party that he doesn't have much time left.  And that is when I broke down.   Much like J, JA is exhibiting a strength and dignity that I am simply in awe of.  I didn't want to lose J, and I don't want to lose JA.  I know I have zero control over that, but it sucks.  I hate it.  I don't want to lose people I love.  Who does really huh?

Life is too fucking short.  The more things like this happen, the more I tend to reexamine my life and want to make some changes to it.  Being content with sameness is unacceptable anymore.  I'm 46 years old.  I'm not getting any younger.  If something happens to me, like with J or JA, will I have a full life to look back on?  I don't know.  I know there is something missing.  I know there are so many things I want to do.  I know that I am going to go after what I want.  I just wish it didn't take such devastating losses to wake one up to these truths.