Love as if your heart isn't fragile

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Posted on 8/5/2022 in comments

Grief, Guilt, and Loss


Can you feel grief without also experiencing guilt? While I’ve been fortunate to not have experienced a lot of loss in my life, in my experience the two always go hand in hand. There’s always the feeling of not having done enough. Of not having tried hard enough to stay connected. Of the conversations that won’t be had.

When I was in El Salvador for a week, because of COVID and the kiddo not being vaccinated, I decided we would stay close to home. I also decided, since we would be staying close to home, that we would work on potty training. I didn’t love not being able to see as many people as I wanted, but the low contact seemed necessary. At the time I was also thinking we’d be back for two weeks in December. She’d be vaccinated by then, hopefully COVID would be even less of a problem. I’ll see everyone then, I thought.

That decision gutted me in early July when I found out an aunt died in late June. We had talked about seeing her but it was hard for her to get around and I didn’t want to be on public transportation with the kid because potty training wasn’t going well. I consoled myself with the thought that I’d see my aunt in a few months and she’d get to meet my little girl.

I’m almost 50 years old. You’d think I’d be more aware of the fact that people that have known me all my life won’t be around forever. But that’s not the way my brain works. That can’t be the way our brains work, can it? To constantly be thinking that a visit, a moment, could be the last visit, the last moment with someone. That seems emotionally exhausting.

The last time I saw my aunt was in 2018. When I forget she’s passed, I just think of her living in El Salvador, going about her day to day life. And then I feel that pang of sadness, followed quickly by the guilt, again. I console myself by reminding myself that in those three years I emailed and called her, gave her updates on the baby, sent photos and, during the lockdown that affected all of us, I helped as much as I could. So the three years didn’t pass in complete silence but, still, the decision to not see her a few months ago, for now, seems so heavy that it overshadows the efforts of the last three years.

So it goes. Life goes. Whether we’re ready for it or not.

Posted on 7/28/2022 in Dailies | comments

Not too much attention

After five years in the same job, at the end of the month I will be transitioning to a new position within the county system. I don’t hate my job - although as with any job, there are frustrations. But it’s not a need to get away that’s driving the change. Rather it’s a question of what’s next? I’m looking forward to the change in focus. While I will still get to use the skills and knowledge that I’ve accumulated throughout the year, I’ll be focusing on different issues that I’ve previously had some experience with but nothing full time. What I am not looking forward to is the transition and all the attention that that brings.

In a Jerry Seinfeld show about a decade ago, during the Q&A, a woman in the audience yelled out that it was her birthday. Seinfeld wished her a happy birthday and asked how old she was. The woman did not reply. So he quipped, “so you like attention just not too much attention.” That has stuck with me because that’s me.

I like attention on my own terms when I’m in the mood. I’m not always in the mood. So all this having to announce that I’m switching jobs and having folks react to it, it’s a lot. And because it’s not exactly a promotion people are asking why I’m leaving the current position. Telling folks who have been doing the same job for a decade (or more) that I don’t hate the job and I just need something different - well, I might as well be telling them I don’t like bacon, brownies or pie. They all seem to elicit the same “I don’t understand what you’re saying” reaction.

So I’m ready to just move on but still have two more weeks to go. Meh.

Posted on 3/10/2022 in Dailies | comments

I used to love my birthday

As the title states, I used to love my birthday.

I don’t anymore.

And no, it isn’t because I’m 13 months away from turning 50. Although, as with anyone that is close to turning fifty, I do find myself wondering, “Well. How did that happen?” Because, yes, inside I feel at most like I’m in my early 20s. Hell, somedays I might bump that down to about 15 and can’t understand why I have so many bills to pay.

But no. The reason for not loving birthdays anymore was the cancer. Admitting that fills me with such a sense of guilt. The fact that I had cancer and was cured of cancer should make me love life, right? Should make me want to celebrate my birthday even more, right?

Before 2015 and the cancer diagnosis, I would count down for weeks until my birthday. I looked forward to the day. Even when most years the actual celebration was me maybe just taking the day off and going to the movies alone. It wasn’t about parties (because I’ve only had a handful of birthday parties in my lifetime) and it wasn’t about the presents - though obviously those are fun to get.

It was just an uncomplicated joy about having a day where I could be happy about it being about me - even if I was the only one who was aware of the day.

While I can pinpoint the change in attitude to the year I was diagnosed with cancer it’s definitely a mystery as to why the change happened. I don’t know the why of it all. I just know that that particular joy is gone. It makes me sad that what used to be a happy (if silly) time of the year has been replaced by a bit of apathy and a lot of guilt. I tell myself it’s okay. After all, there are plenty of people out in the world who don’t care one bit about their birthdays. It certainly isn’t anything to worry about. I’m not depressed. I don’t dislike my life. Maybe not caring about getting older is just what happens when one is closer to the end than the beginning. I could be completely wrong about it being a result of the cancer diagnosis and it this change in attitude might have happened regardless.

There’s no real way to know.

What I know is that I miss that old excitement. And in 7 years, I haven’t quite figured out how to get it back.

Posted on 2/17/2022 in Dailies | comments

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