Standing in front of Mom’s beautifully organized desk, I find myself unfolding a receipt for a dance class at the local retirement center, it’s country western, and my first desperate thought is can she get her money back?
I know, it’s trifling, but honest.
This is my go-to defense, focus on the trival, avoid painful emotions at all cost, because the truth is I feel tortured by a future that will never be. These are my weapons against reason, and they are worthy until the trigger jams, and the advantage goes to the assailant.
Prior to an untreatable diagnosis of cancer Mom was planning her future.
It was one of those distilling moments when an entire life is reduced to a slip of paper, stamped in red, paid in full.
It points to an unsalvageable reality, and I stand there staring out the window of life, riddled with unrequited pain over a dance class. She’ll never learn the two-step and for reasons unknown this makes me inordinately sad.
I don’t know why this memory comes to mind today, almost three years after her death, but I have a feeling it has something to do with the collective canceling of our lives, as we enter into phase one of our recovery. It feels as if they are working on the broader issues, not pettifogging the details, because I haven’t a clue what phase one actually means?
What I do know is I feel like a cloistered nun, my routines have become sacred rituals, and although the silence can be deafening, I worry that I am becoming overly accustomed to this lifestyle? Clearly, I’ll have to relearn all my social skills, I only had a few, and one of them was a handshake. And by the way I have no use for those triune words, “get over it,” I tend to cling to things as if a dryer sheet, this is my metaphor people, and rolling your eyes is juvenile.
Feel free to use it should you find yourself in a tumble (okay, I’ll stop).
The prognosis is not grand, if we somehow survive this global pandemic, we do so with catastrophic financial losses, health ramifications that will last for decades, not to mentions the devastating loss of life, and the unknown implications of a modified future we’ve yet to define.
That’s my annoying pessimistic side, when she shows up I try to ignore her, but she has a Judy Garland complex, always demanding center stage. Wasn’t it Søren Kierkegaard who said that “anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.”
I say anxiety feels more like disordered restrictions?
This month alone my daughter was forced to cancel her bachelorette party, and as if a long line of dominoes, the rest came tumbling down ~ bridal showers, weekend get-a-ways, vacations, gatherings, celebrations, religious services, dinner parties, and most agonizing of all reservations at my favorite restaurants, all due to an “untenable” virus with enormous range.
By far the most difficult sacrifice has been postponing my daughter’s wedding, tags not yet removed from the beautiful white dress hanging in a closet, while I ruminate on the vision of her walking gracefully down the aisle on the arm of her father, ready to marry her beloved.
We can reschedule these events but they won’t be the same, we’ll need twice the space, and half the guests.
Life may never be the same, but mostly it’s the crippling adjustments, and endless frustrations that are taking a toll. Roy Bennett says, “If you want to be happy, do not dwell in the past, do not worry about the future, focus on living fully in the present.” Is this guy for real?
I now have half a years salary (which isn’t saying much) being held hostage not only by Groupon, but the Airlines, travel services, Airbnbs, the Catholic Church, and a rock band, all refusing to return deposits for plans that have been disrupted by this unexpected pandemic.
Isn’t this considered an act of God?
The Dalai Lama advises, “If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it’s not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.” Can I just say I do not believe any of the above services would refuse to give the Dalai Lama his money back? So I worry, needlessly, but worry nonetheless.
I had to giggle at Groupon’s customer service who diligently tried to convince us that coronavirus is from an infected bat, not God, and therefore our deposit will remain non-refundable. Okay, I get it, sometimes we don’t get our money back, but I refuse to surrender my hope. I still believe there are countless possibilities in any given situation.
That’s where I’m putting my money!
So I stand at my hastily constructed desk in the master bedroom, looking out the window of life, feeling tugged by the future. I read somewhere that just because the things that have befallen us are not good does not mean they are any less miraculous? There is no lack of love, joy, and possibility in our lives, I just have to hold onto this notion for a while longer. As John Lennon claims, “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”
I believe Mom’s learning the two-step in some heavenly cowboy joint with Dad, I remember when he smiled he looked twenty years younger, maybe that’s because our hearts never age.
What adjustments have you made to accommodate our quarantined lifestyle?
- “A spiritual reinterpretation of events gives us miraculous authority to command the winds, to part the waters, and to break all chains that bind us.”
- “Praise and blame, gain and loss, pleasure and sorrow come and go like the wind.” Buddha
- “If you’re going through hell, keep going,” Winston Churchill
- “Laughter is carbonated holiness.” Anne Lamott
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“Clearly I’ll have to relearn all my social skills, I only had a few, and one of them was a handshake. And by the way I have no use for those triune words, “get over it,” I tend to cling to things as if a dryer sheet, this is my metaphor people, and rolling your eyes is juvenile.”
Thank you for finding the humor! It always helps.
What is/was your daughter’s wedding date? I’ve a niece who has started rescheduling her September date to next June.
“pettifogging” and “triune”!! Two this week!! I no longer need my vocabulary word-a-day calendar!! Who knew this old dog can still learn new tricks (or words in this case!!).
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Hi Sue, don’t you just love those words? Especially pettifogging, it’s my new favorite, I had it in the post three times, but I thought that was too “triune,” and took a few out! Bahaha. Oh, honey, these old dogs don’t need any new tricks, see you lakeside in a few days. C
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So good to see your words. I too enjoy having to look up the occasional word that Cheryl graciously takes the time to drop on us.
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Full disclaimer: Gail claims that sometimes I go off on tangents and am guilty of “A Flight of Ideas.” This is one of those times, so now that you have been warned you are responsible for the time you will never get back.
I don’t know why, but whenever you write about your parents and grieving, it stimulates me to think and reflect. My first inclination after reading of the all the losses…(the dance, the travel, the wedding, the handshake, the list goes on and on,) was sadness. But that is not who I am. The other day, we were watching Animal House (7 years of College, down the drain!,) and in it, a professor was discussing Milton, and Paradise Lost. After reading your description of the things we have lost, it made me think have we lost paradise? Now Milton was of course writing about the loss of Heaven, from the perspective of both Satan and man (woman too.) But to be honest, in the scheme of history, we have lived in idyllic times, a sort of paradise, if you will. And now, has our way of life been shattered? Transformed forever?
Let me begin… To start with, I read your response to my last comment on your blog, and as always, it was so uplifting. Then today, I experienced a most glorious day at the farm. The sun was beaming, I was blessed with being around the people I love, and it was great. Mid-morning, two of the most beautiful girls ever came towards me. One, 2.5 feet tall, calling me “papa Mike” was towing around the other, grandma Gail, who was wearing a homemade crown of clover flowers. I had a vision, of Flowers in Her Hair, and travelling to Northern California. I was stunned by how wonderful life can truly be.
It dawned on me, that I have everything I need, and am truly living a blessed life. And I think about the weddings that have been delayed the graduations cancelled, the trips lost forever. We will triumph. I have total faith that your daughter’s wedding will still be a wonderous affair, and am even more confident that their marriage will be even better (I know her parents, and she comes from good stock.) The trips that matter will be re-planned. Lastly, this pandemic has given me a chance to reflect on what really matters. And this morning, they were all smiling at me.
Descartes wrote, “It is the soul that sees, and not the eye.” My eyes see the carnage of the pandemic, and it is truly bad, but my soul sees the glorious response of people who care and will overcome.
So,….Paradise Lost? Hell the F… No!
Forgive me if this song is a repeat (not sure, as the ravages of time march on), but since I truly have everything I need, it fits (plus it is Killer!)
PS Love it when Sue chimes in.
PPS Miss you, will visit when allowed.
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Hi Mike! Oh my, it’s been a delightful whirlwind around here, and I’m just emerging from the debris (chronicled in next weeks blog, so I won’t go into detail here). I really enjoyed your response to this post, it was not only uplifting, but reaffirming of all I know to be true. Yes, there are things we’ve had to let go of, adjustments we’ve all had to make, but I agree with you on all the positives that have been revealed. We’ve been given a gift of time. Time to realign our priorities, recognize the value of family, and spending time with the people we love. I’ve been swarmed with grandkids, children, and a mix of close friends from a distance of course.
As I’m reading your litany on blessings in your life it makes me smile because I’ve been walking around with these same intense feelings of gratitude for my family, this amazing life, and all the good things that are happening in spite of this pandemic. You’re right, people are still getting married and those marriages might be all the stronger after surviving an ordeal like this, and trips can be replanned giving us things to look forward to, and celebrations might need to be delayed but they will happen in some form or another.
I too feel extremely lucky to still have viable work to do, to be able to help out my children, and still remain safe as we shelter in place, keeping our circle tight, and enjoying all the people now docked around my dining room table.
I can’t wait for life to open up again, to gather with you and Gail at the lake, to plan exciting adventures but we’re doing okay with the current restrictions. I so enjoyed reading your comment and realizing how important it is to rescan for the positives especially under the current situation. Thanks so much. Love to you and the family. xxoo
Love reading this as always, xoxo
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Thanks Nana! I so appreciate your love and support. xxoo
The one thing this new normal had given me is more time to read. Love reading your blog.
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Awe, thank you Kathy, I’m overjoyed to see your name here, and that you’re enjoying the blog. It makes my heart so happy! My love to you and the family. I hope you all are safe and well.
I find everyone is finally getting back to realizing material things are not what is important, family is! That making your own food, not processed food, is not that difficult to do and that having an emergency fund IS very important. Great post!
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Hi Diane! You are so right, family is everything! And I couldn’t agree more, cooking together, and sitting down to a large family dinner has been so satisfying and I’m ever so grateful. They say people who understand delayed gratification, who save for the future, and we’re prepared maybe not for a pandemic, but for an emergency are doing okay. We’ve learned some important lessons in a very short span of time. Thanks so much for your comment!
I am frequently guilty of pettifogging. And I think this is a word I need to work into everyday conversation more often! LOL
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Hi Lisa, so fun when I see your name in the comments! Bahaha, love that you’re guilty of pettifogging! Someone has to focus on the petty details! So glad I’m not alone in this. Can’t wait to see this appear in your blog! And thank you for sharing and supporting my work I am ever so appreciative and grateful. xxoo