The unexpected aftermath

I am happy to report that life is pretty much back to normal.  I'm driving, walking quite normally and even found  myself running through a parking lot in the recent rain!  I get a bit tired towards evening but that is nothing I am going to complain about.  I am blessed with recovery, health, and wonderful family and friends.  

Going through my ordeal, I had a lot of time to think.  A LOT of time.  One place my mind continued to return to was my children.  It brought me back to the last month I spent with my Mom before she died. Something I don't think I could have ever grasped without experiencing this hiccup in my health was the fear she felt about us, her kids, upon her departure from this physical earth.  I know she didn't fear dying in the sense of where she was going, in fact I think a part of her looked forward to seeing her parents again.  But there was this look she had when she would look at us, her kids; a look created by an emotion of which I have now felt an inkling.  She was worried about US. What would happen to us after she was gone. What has she left untaught? On what experiences would she miss out?  Would she miss the opportunity to hear "Mom, you were right?" a couple more times?

Not knowing what was going on with my health, I spent some time thinking about these same things.  Not the bread and butter stuff about how they would get to school or piano lessons, or if they had their homework signed. I thought about the long term stuff, the stuff that isn't really fitting to discuss at their current ages, but they eventually need to know.  

For instance, I have not yet told my boys to NEVER sleep with a woman before his wedding night.  This isn't for the obvious reasons most would think.  They need to know that NO woman can ever, ever, ever know just how badly they each grind their teeth and thrash around in their sleep before she is legally bound to one of them.  I worry that they will end up as eternal bachelors because the exhaustion a woman will endure trying to catch some REM sleep will be grounds for terminating an otherwise great relationship.  They need to know that on any flight they fly on, they will be asked to stow everyone in their area's bag in the overhead compartment.  So they should just expect it.  They will need to know that the highest shelf in the bathroom is not the acceptable place to store the toilet paper, even if it makes perfect sense to them and is easy for them to reach.  They need to know that many will try to squash their sparkle, and they will tell them to be tough and stoic. They need to know a kind and empathetic heart will make them vulnerable, but it will be worth it.  And so it doesn't take until they are 35 to figure this out, like it did with their father, if a girl walks all the way to your apartment (which is the complete opposite direction of hers) and then offers to bake you cookies at her apartment, SHE LIKES YOU.  Oh, and listen to your sister's opinions about potential girlfriend because she will have insight that only a woman possesses.

For my daughter, there are so so many things I would want her to know. Things about life, love, pregnancy, marriage... the list goes on and on.  For her, I think it may require a book.  I've mulled over  the idea of a writing a book for a while, but never much more than just a fleeting thought.  That was until I went through my crippled chicken-walker phase.  And maybe that is what was to come of that whole event, my rediscovery of my love for writing.  

For about 2 months, my family weathered an unknown storm, and now in the aftermath, I continue to process the experience (which by the way was finally called an Atypical Migraine resulting in physical manifestations, or in my kids' words ' A really, really, really, really, really, really bad headache.') I know that life is too short to leave things undone or unsaid. So, soon I hope to  start to put words to paper (or in reality, fingers to the keyboard) and start expressing the ideas that have played in my head for a while.  A written record of advice for my daughter, and all young girls really, to use as they navigate through the murky and hormonally driven existence of their teens to twenties.  So stay tuned as I begin the adventure of writing a book!

Take Care of Yourself

ChAoS in MOtiOn
Take Care of Yourself

            I really didn’t think I was ready to write this piece yet, but all week, the words keep rolling around in my head and won’t leave; I will accept that it is just time to write this piece. 
            In one of my earlier pieces I mentioned that I run with a hanky.  Technically they are handkerchiefs, and there is not just one, but several of them and they all were my Mother’s.  My mom came from a softer generation that carried these pretty pieces of cloth in their purses for those tears or sniffle needs.  Very unlike me rummaging for a McDonalds napkin in my overflowing purse filled with tiny tractors, a sippee cup, rocks, half-melted tootsie rolls stuck to pennies and play keys that make noises at inopportune times, like during a sermon.  It didn’t occur to me until writing this that maybe I should just put these handkerchiefs in my purse like she did, but I’ve never needed them like I need them when I run.
            This December will mark ten years since Mom’s death.  She died far too young at 67 years old, and two weeks after I learned I was pregnant with our oldest child.  She had spent most of the last 5 years of her life coupled to an oxygen tank, the result of a lifetime of “not smoking.” See, she “didn’t smoke.” I mean she did, but only as much as one can smoke in the bathroom, in a house with seven people and only one bathroom. One. So she did, but never in front of hardly anyone, especially her family.  So to see her succumb so severely and quickly to emphysema was especially difficult.  I would not wish what Mom had to endure in those last years on anyone. She would struggle to breathe, become anxious because she couldn’t breath, thus increasing her need to breath and the cycle was horrible to watch.  We talked frankly in the end about her beginning days of smoking and I remember her saying, “We didn’t know.  It was just the thing to do. We just didn’t know…” her voice trailing off. 
            There may have been other things she said to me in the end, but what I remember as her last spoken words to me were, “Take care of yourself.” And I told her I would. She said again, “Take care of yourself” with a look I will never forget. If you can imagine a look that combined love, regret, hope, wisdom and more love, that was what I saw in her eyes.  I understood her wishes for me: health.
            Like a lost relationship, we don’t really grasp the desire for good health until it starts to slip away from us.  Sometimes it is a permanent slip, but other times if we are lucky, that which slips is just a wakeup call to us, reminding us that all relationships, even that one with our body, needs nurturing.             
            After Mom died I ended up with all of her pretty delicate handkerchiefs.  I also started running a few years after she died. She was my Mom, and she told me to take care of myself, so I listened.  The delicacy of the hankies and the harsh physicality of running is quite contrasting.  But she is with me when I run, usually tucked in by my heart. And it is not lost on me that I am remembering my Mom by using something I wipe snot and sweat upon. But if you had known my Mom, she would have found the humor in that fact.  When I run, I sometimes hear her, usually when I really need it, when the negative voice in my head is telling me to just bag it and quit.  I hear her when I’m asking myself questions about life or parenting.   I feel her in that mile when an eagle has flown in front of me 3 times while I’m lost in my thoughts of missing her.  And I always hear her in that last push to the finish line, the biggest fan screaming “GO DIANI GO DIANI GO!”
            In less than two weeks I will toe the line of my first marathon and I can only hope I’ve made her proud with her wish for me to take care of myself.            She will be with me for the entire 26.2 miles that day, tucked by my heart.