Moms Columns & Blogs

Archive-February-Part 11-Rush to Judge & Friends, Just Like the Song

“Rush to Judge”

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  I long for the days of before…  At the time, those days often seemed frenzied and demanding.  I got caught up in the hectic pace of our everyday life, and lost sight of our many blessings, wasting so much precious time and energy on unimportant ‘stuff’.  I miss all of it…I’m trying to ignore regret…focusing instead on today’s issues that threaten to overwhelm me…  At times I would like to run away, but no matter where I go, there I am; I cannot escape myself…  Whether I want it or not, this is the life that He has given me now…I am giving it all that I’ve got…on faith alone…  

My new ‘Mona Lisa’ smile has arisen in response to the strange looks I’ve received over my pink hairdo.  Occasionally there is commentary to accompany the raised eyebrows, along the lines of ‘coordinating with your shirt I see’ and ‘trying to look young’.  I’m sure there are other remarks that are not nearly as kind, but so what?  I like it.  Brian would be smiling.  That’s all that matters…but it has me thinking about the old adage ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’.  How often are we judged on the basis of our appearance?  I obsessively wear some kind of pink every day, sport absolutely no makeup (nothing new), and my clothes are falling off (I cannot stand to eat).  I am pale and drawn and exhausted; I am what I am (clean).  Since I am the person in question now, I’m much more conscious of it…  

This awareness has come about over the span of several days…  John and I attended a swim meet for Grace, arriving just before the start; the pool area was extremely crowded.  People were packed in like sardines.  We found a space to stand near the turn end of the pool on a top row of bleachers; from here we could see part of the races.  Sitting was not an option if you wanted to see anything due to the mass of bodies on the lower bleachers and pool deck.  Bottom line, it was hot, uncomfortable, and loud.  This is normal, and in spite of these conditions, most swim parents are friendly; however, my experience this day was different.  I actually had a grown, middle-aged man look at me and roll his eyes while jockeying for more space; eventually he knocked my purse (from between my feet) two rows down and then turned his back on me without a word.  Now maybe he was having a bad day, but I truly believe it was my hair.  That quick.  That simple.  Pink hair = Unworthy.  I must confess, I intensely argued with myself for the balance of the meet.  I finally decided against saying anything, choosing instead to let it be a lesson to me on how not to behave.  Initially, though, in my anger, I really wanted to tell this man…  About how this woman with pink streaks could teach him a thing or two on how bad a day really could be…  About how instead of fussing over results and resenting the four-plus hours he was spending to watch his SON swim for LESS than six minutes total (give or take), he should be thankful he has the opportunity to do so…  

My next ‘ah ha’ moment came at the grocery store.  The cashier seemed bothered by my lack of responsiveness to his ‘Did you find everything you needed?’  Initially he saw a kindred spirit (he was sporting gauged ears); my pat ‘Yes, thanks’ however, changed his opinion, marking me instead as a borderline rude, wannabe tweener female.  How could I explain to him that the neatly ordered boxes of Cocoa Puffs, Lucky Charms and Frosted Cheerios made me want to lie down in the aisle and weep?  Ditto Pop-Tarts, Carnation Instant Breakfast, and Quaker Instant Grits…  That my son was around his age…and that this was my first trip to the store alone since he died a few weeks ago?  That if I said more than yes, no and thanks I might break down and bring his line to a screeching halt, embarrassing us both and humiliating me?  Maybe it was best to let him labor under his misperception…    

I have also discovered there are many that look beyond the outer façade…some people simply sense the suffering of others.  Interestingly, I seem to come across many of these folks at various ChicFilA’s in our area…  I’m not sure if they perceive the heaviness of spirit or see the sadness in my eyes; it could be that I radiate sorrow, despite my effort to lock it away from the view of the world.  I must be more careful; I don’t want to burden others every time I step outside of my home.  I have never been good at hiding my feelings, and I simply cannot lie about this.  I need to come up with a neutral response…and try stay home when I’m having a really difficult time.  The problem is, I never know when the heartbreak is going to engulf me…  

What I have concluded is this…appearances can be deceiving…abbreviated responses can mislead you…everyone has some burden to bear, so be careful when forming an opinion… 

“Friends, Just Like the Song”

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  In the past, I frequently wondered if there was something wrong with me, for I have never been easily moved to laughter or to tears.  On many occasions I have joked that I am an old soul; I have been grown up and serious minded since I was a child.  I suppose that in the case of the tears, they were unwittingly reserved for this season of my life; now they come easily, unbidden, and often.  Perhaps someday I will experience laughter in equal measure, although at this point I cannot possibly imagine that happening…  

I am so unsure of everything…of myself…  I have the unshakable sense that I am seeing the entire world for the very first time.  I guess it is true; everything that I experience and do, I am doing for the first time since losing Brian.  My life is now separated into two distinct periods: before June 12, 2008, and since.   Earlier today I heard a song that Brian loved to crank up and sing (off key of course) as loud as possible; it was from a year ago by Tracy Lawrence, ‘Find Out Who Your Friends Are’.  It describes how true friends behave when you really need them, ‘They just show on up with their big ol’ heart’…  Never has there been a time in our lives when our friends were more important, needed, and present, so much so that I am losing track of it all.  I hate the fact that I am so easily exhausted.  I know I am failing to catch something; I lack the energy to even return phone calls or emails in a timely fashion.  I need to write thank-you notes for flowers, golf team donations, and countless other things, but I am frustrated by the generic card stock that’s out there…I have been unable to find anything that really reflects how I feel.  Even though I cannot see the wind, I know that it is there.  For some reason, this thought is with me constantly now, and it sums up my faith in a few words…this is what I want to convey, so I’m going to create my own cards to send…  

John’s golf buddies have been really good about keeping him occupied and out on the golf course; if he ever stops going over there for any length of time, he may decide to give it up.  He has never been the one to call and get up a game, so they have expended extra effort to keep him involved…for that I am very grateful.  When John didn’t have a round lined up before (the accident), he and Brian would often go over together and play…  As hard as it is to be at Pine Lake, it is equally hard not to be…    I have asked several friends to spread the word that we would like for everyone to act as normal as possible around us.  As we walk through this valley of shadows and sorrow and learn to live this new life, we need our friends to be themselves.  They are our landmarks of a sort, beacons of light helping to illuminate our path.  I know that some will not be able to do so in spite of our request.  I also know that some people will no longer be able to be around us at all; we are different people now, our grief is hard to witness, and our nightmare hits really close to home.  If it can happen to us, to someone they know, then it can happen to them.  Some may even feel that we are cursed and that being around us could possibly jinx their family…  My hope is that most of our friends will be as they were before, sharing the good and the bad, everyday ups, downs, whatever, without engaging a filter first…thereby allowing us a glimpse of normal through their eyes.    

Speaking of normal….we have decided to carry on with our 4th of July drop in; it was Brian’s favorite holiday and he would want us to continue this relatively new family tradition.  He was really looking forward to bringing Sunny this year…  I am not sure if we can pull this off…we haven’t had that many people here since the funeral…but the prospect of facing that day alone, I’m not sure we can pull that off either…  So I’ve fired off email invites; tacky, I know, but it’s the best I can do… 

Grace’s swim meets are the most social interaction I’ve managed since that weekend.  They are so large and busy that I can speak with everyone and still blend into the crowd.  I have been so busy with work and keeping up with the girls that I haven’t done much else.  I finally made myself go out and do an hour of tennis with Robert; it was extremely difficult and ranks fairly high on the list of hardest things I’ve done in my life.  My inability to focus was very evident…but I managed to get through it.  The biggest challenge wasn’t physical; the problem was entirely mental.  While I know that Brian would want me to carry on and do the things that I love, playing tennis now creates such a struggle in me that I almost cannot do it.  It simply feels wrong to have fun or be entertained, like I am betraying his memory somehow, not mourning his death properly.   Enjoying anything feels like I am making a statement to the world that he didn’t matter that much to me, that I am fine without him…  Logically I recognize that this is guilt rearing its ugly head yet again, wearing a disguise…but it still seems shady, inappropriate…I have no idea how to assuage this conflict…or if I even want to…

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