Climbing Black Butte with a storm closing in
2013 will hopefully be the worst year of my life. I'm not kidding. If it is the worst year then I will have lived a truly fortunate life and if it's not, well, then I'll use what I've learned and deal with whatever may come. A little re-cap before moving on:
January: My sister's struggling marriage falls apart. There is anger involved.
February: We all get the flu - peter, myself and the kiddos. At the same time. After a week of that kiddos develop ear infections and strep, Peter gets pneumonia and I get strep.
March: Tax season. My strep infection comes back and sets in in several places in my body. My mom's knee and hip arthritis deteriorates to the point where moving is painful. I work double hours and help her with errands, etc. Worry sets in. While Peter and the kids are at his parents house, his mom has a medical emergency and has to go to the hospital by ambulance. A few days later she is airlifted to our city and his dad comes to stay with us for a week while she is in the hospital.
April: Tax season in full swing. My mom has her first surgery of the year to repair her knee meniscus. It is minor. The surgery goes well because she is healthy and always has been healthy and active. For days afterward she has excruciating stomach pain. April 11 she ends up in emergency surgery to repair a tear in her intestine. She stays in the hospital for a week and then in a hospital bed rental at home for a month. Recovery is slow and she won't return to work until January of 2014.
May: My sister is served with divorce papers. Miss E's girl scout leader, and the mother of one of her friends begins to lose her battle with breast cancer. Peter hurts his back at work. We are afraid this will be a long-term/career-ending injury.
June: He rehabs his back and I become acutely aware that our family's financial stability is tied to my husband's physical body. I continue to help my parents.
July: After berry picking one morning, my dad sends a text that mom is on her way to the hospital. I meet them in the ER. After many hours, she has another emergency surgery, just as big as the last one.
August: Miss E's girl scout leader, the mother of three children ages 8, 11 and 14 dies after 2 months of hospice care. This same month one of my closest friends moves across the ocean to start a new life in Europe.
September: The kids beloved preschool teacher is put into hospice care for pancreatic cancer. I have to tell them again that some one they know and care about will die from cancer this year. Peter tells me he has a lump under his skin that has been there for a few weeks. After a few nerve wracking doctors appointments it turns out not to be cancer. I became the co-leader of a girl scout troop of girls who's world had been rocked that summer.
October: We take Mr. T to a specialist for the 2nd time to deal with an ongoing health issue. It doesn't help. The dad of Peter's good friend dies suddenly in a car accident.
November: My mom has a hip replacement done. My sister's divorce is finalized. My sister's beloved dog suffers some sort of malady that leaves her unable to use one of her back legs. 2 vets don't know what it is or how to fix it.
December: On Friday the 13th of this 2013, this horrible year, my grandmother dies.
Of course, in that all there have been good things and sweetness. But overall the year has held anxiety, worry, tears and an overwhelming feeling of loss. Sadness. Crying in the car more often than not on my way to work or my way home from work. I have spent more time in hospital rooms this year than ever before. Half way through this year I started calling it the "year of loss" because that is how it felt. This year has re-shaped my family, my relationships and my job.
It has been a year of standing by and watching people I love very much drown. Drown in anger, depression, heartbreak, pain. At first I tried to step in and hold them up and then learning the very hard, very adult lesson that unconditional love does not mean you can save people. You are actually powerless to save them from depressions, bad choices, anger. Unconditional love means you stand on the dock holding out a life preserver and whisper words of encouragement and hope they want to grab it. Or grab the dock, or try to swim. Something. But you can't make them.
Coming out, my sister is healing, my mom is healing (although there is another big surgery ahead), my marriage is stronger than it ever had been (THIS is a huge victory and not something that I at all take for granted) and my family has become closer, more real and softer. I am ready to take my lessons, my more compassionate heart and put this year behind me and move on to a new one.
2014 has had an auspicious beginning and I hope it continued. But if it doesn't, if there is more hardship coming our way, we can handle it. Our suffering has opened my eyes to the suffering of others. We have all suffered losses, illnesses and hard times. Nobody's life, family or marriage is perfect. There is no scale for hardship and we all have to remember to be kind and soft with each other.
In closing the door to 2013 I am looking at this space again. A few years ago I really enjoyed doing my 365 project and then writing that went with it. Then life got in the way. I'm hoping to get back to it again in some iterations. Maybe a 365, maybe a weekly thing. I'm going to try a few things out.