I’m saying the same thing everyone else is saying. “2016 sucked!” “Let’s burn down 2016!” “What the f*%& happened in 2016 just now?” Some dude opened a Go Fund Me page to save Betty White from 2016. Similar sentiments all around for those who entertained us and inspired us throughout our childhoods.
This morning I heard of Debbie Reynolds passing not but one day after her daughter, the majestic Carrie Fisher. I don’t call Carrie Fisher majestic merely for her portrayal of my childhood modern-day-but-not-modern-day princess. She spear-headed many causes but the one that touches me the most is her advocacy of those with mental illness. But, that’s another blog for another time.
Anyway, I heard of Debbie Reynolds and I just cried. Not because I’m a Debbie Reynolds superfan. And not even due to the tragic deaths of daughter then mother. Celebrity deaths make me sad but I don’t really get emotionally involved in them. (Except for Bowie and Prince. Those hit me hard.) I cried because this has just been a shitty year. Not a blanket statement for everyone. Some people had a banner year. Like, say, for instance, Donald Trump. But quite a few people I know and love had the ever-loving-crap kicked out of them in 2016.
Personally, this year has been the hardest of my adult life. It threatened to crush me. I’ve been tested to the very core of who I am and what I am made of. Who will I be when the dust subsides from the rubble? Will I stay buried underneath the rubble in fear of another onslaught of attacks. Or will I stand in the midst of the rubble, dusting myself off, ready to fight for what is most important to me.
I have many friends who have gone through other difficult trials.
A friend diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer and his only treatment is to do aggressive chemotherapy indefinitely to lengthen his life, but there will be no cure. He’s phenomenal. He said he was going into this thing head-on because cancer would not crush him. And, for the most part, it hasn’t. He’s extremely tired (massive understatement) and communicates when he can. He’s so gracious and always wants to know how I’m doing. He also apologizes for not communicating very well. I refuse to accept these apologies because he doesn’t need to give them. I’ve told him as much. People always say, “They are the last person that deserves this.” And to be honest, nobody really deserves it. But, seriously, he is the LAST guy to deserve this.
I have friends who lost their unborn child almost half way through their pregnancy. They were able to hold their sweet fragile child before laying him to rest. And they’re digging themselves out from the rubble.
I have multiple friends who have had severe mental health diagnoses: bi-polar, ADD, depression, post-partum depression. All so ugly and difficult to find the right way to maintain. The battle seems uphill at times, finding the right medications to settle what it is going on in your brain and body. And the shame of it only adds to the depth of that struggle. Another reason for my love of Carrie Fisher. She said what she had and said she was not ashamed. It’s a hard aspect to accept about yourself. “I’m here! I’m bi-polar! Get used to it!”
Multiple people who have gone through divorce or separation. The 10-13 year mark seems to be the kicker. It’s hard to know what to do when your marriage isn’t what you thought it would be. Or you grow apart. Or you don’t know how to talk to each other without defenses being up. That’s all I can say to that.
I could go on but does anymore need to be said?
Then you add on the celebrity deaths. Some that were very hard to take. It’s not that we hold these people up to be gods (most of us, anyway) but because they influenced our lives. David Bowie influenced my life. I went through all of his phases from Glam Rock to him “Dancing in the Streets” with Mick Jagger. I haven’t brought myself to listen to his posthumously released album. I’m not ready. Isn’t that weird? I never knew him but I feel I did. I’m not ready to go through his things yet.
And Prince. Dear Lord, Prince. As a kid I felt like such a rebel listening to tracks like “Darling Nikki.” Because I was like, 7, and it was rebellious and wildly inappropriate. (Fun fact: He’s the reason you see Parental Advisory warnings on music now). He could shock you but he was a guitar virtuoso and you could hang on every note strum from each string. I sat there as he played from his guitar in the shape of his Love Symbol at his Superbowl Half-time Show. I sat there, mesmerized. And in his concerts he would just move around the stage, just slaying each instrument he put his hands to. Have you seen him on the drums? Watching him perform was an ethereal experience. Also, do you know how many songs he wrote for other performers? “Nothing Compares to You” by Sinead O’Connor… Prince. “When You Were Mine” by Cyndi Lauper… Prince. “Just Another Manic Monday” by the Bangles… Prince. There’s more recent stuff. For instance, songs sung by Alicia Keyes. I just happen to reside in the 80’s. You should just do the research. I can’t do all the research for you.
Back to my point. 2016 sucked. For those who inspired us from afar to those who inspire us near home. You pray that illnesses will not defeat them. You pray that their relationships will survive and be stronger than they were before. You pray for healing of losing a child, and not even knowing exactly how to pray for that one unless you’ve been through it.
Me? I’m standing here…upon the rubble…dusting myself off.
2017, please be nice to us.
I’ve been feeling like blogging again. I doubt anyone will read this and I’m not really planning on “advertising” myself. So, this may just be my own little diary. A very public, non-private diary, but a diary nonetheless.
I recently gave birth to my second child, a precious little girl named Kristi. We named her after my husband’s sister that passed away 1o years ago this November. It was a wonderful tribute to his sister that I was only happy to oblige. And the name is perfect for her. My little Kristi. Pictures to come.
For those who knew me back when I gave birth to my son, they’ll know that I had quite a difficult time with Post-Partum Depression (PPD). I struggled with this for at least a year and half. Within that time my Dad passed away and probably exacerbated the depression I was already going through. It wasn’t only my struggle. It was my husbands as well. He picked up the pieces on the days that I couldn’t pull myself out of bed. He took care of me when all I would eat was a cup of yogurt and maybe a banana. He pushed me to get help. He brought my son to me when I didn’t have the strength to get up and pick him up myself. And privately, he cried and prayed for his wife to come back to him.
It has been a long journey and, of course, this was a big concern during this second pregnancy. It was a concern that we struggled with and whether to have any more children, for that matter. But, we knew the warning signs. We armed ourselves to be on the offensive, heading off any depression before it had a chance to hit. Now, my daughter is just over 5 weeks old and other than a little of those “Baby Blues,” PPD has not reared its ugly head.
A few days ago Paul made this observation. I haven’t been depressed. I’ve made to sure to keep myself from going there, encouraging good habits instead of those that could open me up to a downward spiral. And he said to me that I seem so much more comfortable as mother this time. For me, that is the best compliment in the world.
Yesterday a family friend brought us a full meal. It had all the fixin’s and it was so wonderful to not have to worry about making a meal. In fact, there was so much food, we won’t have to worry about a meal for at least a few days. It reminded me of the two weeks Paul and I received meals after Derek was born. With little to no sleep and caring for a newborn, those meals were an absolute blessing. Or the day my dad died and a friend brought us Boston Market and organized a few meals for the following week. Another friend took me to lunch and provided me with a break from planning the memorial service. I’m also reminded of the time that Paul and I provided meals for families with newborns or that were going through difficult times with the death of a loved one.
It’s so hard to know what to do for a family in need. And frankly, being a family in need, it’s hard to know what to ask for. But having someone bring you a meal is a God-sent. For that one day you don’t have to worry about how you will sustain yourselves. You are given the gift of being able to focus on the task at hand without having to think, “What in the world are we gonna do for dinner/lunch/breakfast?”
All of these thoughts have really made me miss having a church family nearby. A church family rallies for you. They offer support, encouragement, comfort and prayer. Just like Ben and Aaron did for Moses, they hold you up when you’re too weak to go on.
I’m so grateful to our long-distance church family that reaches out to us while we’re away. Thank you for the phone calls, listening ears, comforting words and, most of all, prayers. When facing times like we are, it really highlights the need for a church family and creates a great sense of gratitude that could never truly be expressed.
Much thanks. We love you.
Coming back to Pennsylvania to be with my mom in her last days has conjured up a lot of weird emotions. Whether it is sleeping in the same room that I grew up in, walking the streets of the town that I rode my bike through as a kid or just visiting places that were a major part of my childhood, it is all a bit surreal. But probably the most difficult emotions are the ones I experience as I watch Derek grow and interact with Teresa. The way he gets angry with her when she doesn’t give him what he wants reminds me of how frustrated I have gotten with my mom over the years for the many times we have not seen eye to eye. The way he lights up every time she walks in the room reminds me of the special place my mom has held in my heart my entire life. The way he runs to her whenever he falls reminds me of how my mom has always comforted me in life no matter how hard I have fallen. The way she loves him reminds me of the love that can only be shared between a mother and her first born son. And as I sit with my mom every night watching this disease steal whatever life she has left, I pray, “God, please don’t rob my son of what I have been robbed of.”
Around 2:30am Paul and I were awakened by one of Derek’s toy. It’s this laugh and learn puppy that’s pretty cute. It sings songs and such. But it randomly started up… at 2:30am… waking us up from a sound sleep. Paul and I just stared at each other. Then after it finished singing its song, it said, “Peek-a-boo, I see you!” And then it said, “Bye-bye.” Normally, this is how the toy works. If your kid stops playing with it it’ll say the peek-a-boo thing and then says goodbye. But not at 2:30am, when no one is playing with it.
I know what you’re thinking and you’re wrong. It was not our dog. He gets locked up in the basement for the night.
15 minutes passed and it continued to do this off and on. I wanted to get up and turn it off, but I was scared out of my mind. Flashes of Chucky from Child’s Play kept going through my mind. You know the scene where the mom threatens to throw him the fire and he comes alive with a look of pure evil and bites her. This scene kept replaying itself in my mind. What can I say? Toys that randomly start talking in the middle of the night and wake you from a sound sleep will do that to a person. After the third time of this happening I turned to Paul and said, “Can you please turn that off cause it’s really freaking me out.” Apparently he was too freaked to get up as well. But he had to. That’s clearly the man’s job. He goes into the other room to face the monster while the woman remains safe. I didn’t write those rules, that’s just the way it is. Needless to say, he got up and went and turned it off.
This morning we woke up and compared notes from our weird night. We were both thinking about Chucky and really freaked out. He was hoping that it wasn’t effecting my sleep. How could it not? This freaky toy’s singing was echoing through the house! We also discovered that after he turned it off we were both laying there, unable to sleep, almost expecting it to start singing again.
Moral of the story: No horror movies for my child… EVER! What was an innocent incident turned into the making of a Petroski Home horror flick.
This toy now scares me.