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Saturday, August 22, 2015

I am an "empty nester"

Wednesday around noon, I became an empty nester.  I took my last child to college.  It is a little more than an hour away and it is a really  nice college.  He will do great there and he started his exit right after graduation in May...really.

All summer, I held on tight and tried to hold him close.  He wanted none of it.  He got a job, he camped, he hiked and he got a life.  He was on his way.

I have no choice now but to figure out what's next.  In my head, Jim and I got married and we began prepping to have a family.  We bought and built a house, got decent jobs and learned how to negotiate differences all in preparation for being parents.  At least, that is how I saw it.  Three years later, along came the the queen, her brother next and then ...the last one.  

We dove in head first and parented.  We sang the songs, we got the mini-van, and we became Mom and Dad.  We even referred to each other as that and still do.  

Now, they are all on their way.  My first is  negotiating adulthood with all of her might, the second one is exploring life with abandon and now my last...in his dorm doing God knows what.  

So back to me...I didn't work on Wednesday, but all of my patients knew that I was taking my last kid to college.  On Thursday, as I showed up to see folks, I was quizzed and comforted.  My patients, who are dealing with illness and end of life stuff took the time to comfort me.  Needless to say, I was humbled.  

Then, at the end of the day, I went to a party for my boss and her husband to be.  The whole office was there and we were celebrating this new union.  Everyone I talked to asked how I was, and if I was doing okay taking my boy.  I finally realized while I talk way too much, I have so much to be thankful for.  These folks don't have to listen and really, they don't have to care.  But they do.  Wow, things like that make my  life so rich... 

It is going to be an adjustment to have more time to do things I want to do.  I mean, I don't even know what I want to do...really.  But, I guess I have time to figure that out.  

So, as I wrap this up, I want to thank all of the folks that asked and listened and comforted me as I negotiate round 3.  This round has the potential to be even better, as rewarding and as holy as the first two round have been. 

Once again, it's about perspective and managing expectations...something I tell my patients all the time.  I guess it's time to take a dose of my own medicine.  

Here's to being an empty nester!  I guess....

We'll tawk tomorrow,
I love you all,
Terry



Wednesday, August 12, 2015

When the rubber meets the road...

A lot has happened in the last few weeks and I would love to let you in on it.  I think it helps me to put my thoughts and feelings on paper and I bet these ideas will give you all food for thought.

Where to start is the problem...

My kids came home from summer safe and sound with only missing "things".  My daughter got her belongings stolen in Guatemala but boxes are arriving on my porch daily from Amazon Prime so she is almost up to speed.  Mac showed up on a Thursday night when the town had it's "music in the park" night and it was an honor to hand him a cold one and hold him tight.  My youngest is getting ready to fly the coop and is doing all he can to make it easy on me so I'm not sad when he leaves...(can you hear my voice dripping sarcasm?)

After I sent the two older kids off to the points far away, I spent my summer not thinking about them much.  Or so I thought anyway.  I talked to them and I "facebooked" (verb) whenever I saw the green light on...but I thought I was cool with the whole thing.  Until they arrived on US soil, that is. 

When I saw my Christie Lou coming up the escalator at DIA, my heart lept into my throat and I ran past the ropes.  Then I held her and kissed her face until she told me to get off!  I was glad to see her and have her home.  I could feel my insides relax just slightly as we drove her home and listened to the stories of the summer and her plans to save the world in the future.  

Then, the phone call came from my Mac that he was on 285 in Salida and would love to come to Meyer's Ranch and listen to music with us.  Then he was turning by the Catholic church and I waited...he walked over and I did the same with him but he is taller.  I grabbed him and held him so tight and began to kiss his face until he cried uncle.  I could feel the tension, worry, or whatever I held in my body all summer start to lessen...my chicks were in the same town and their mamma was happy and peaceful.

I didn't realize that I had been holding my breath (figuratively) all summer until they came home safe and sound...

This summer I also had the privelage of caring for some amazing people and helping them negotiate the end of their life the way they wanted to and the way they lived.  On the flip side, I got to sit in the sh*t with a friend while she kicked cancer's booty.  While I was in the midst of caring for them, it was a little like having my kids in far away places.  I tried not to think about them constantly and how they were doing, but somewhere in my body, I was holding vigil until they were where they were supposed to be...whether that is comfortable and in bed, in heaven with whomever they planned to be with, or done with  treatment and cured!!!

Last Monday morning, one of the patients passed away.  I talked to his wife and she was relieved. When I asked her how she was, she said it was hard to keep from dancing with joy knowing that he was comfortable and on to the next journey while doing the end of this life exactly the way he wanted to.   This guy taught me so much about strength and honor and kindness while having symptoms that were difficult at times.  It was an honor to stand by him.  

He would ask me the hard medical questions about what his body was doing and how long until he was gone.  He asked me to honor his wishes and take care of his wife.  When he was really having a bad day and I kneeled by his bed, he turned to me and smiled when I am sure that was the last thing he wanted to do. 

 When I got the call,  I too was relieved and happy for him.  I sat on the couch and wiped tears of something...joy and sadness, but also relief and some peace in my heart.  Similar to how I felt when my kids arrived home.  

 My other patient got a scary diagnosis and endured weeks and weeks of treatment.  She was exhausted most of the time but didn't  show it.   I waited for her to fall apart just because I probably would.  But not her...she remained engaged in life and stronger than I even thought.  She  could have taken to the bed for days but for her, that wasn't an option...she had kids to love and a husband to keep in line!   So today, after almost 7 months, she got her get "done with cancer card" and when she told me I cried...but moreover, the last part of my heart that was holding vigil let go!!!!  Peace on earth again for my buddy and her family...

So what does all of this have to do with rubber meeting the road?  Interesting you should ask...

Because it is my opinion that life is about who we are when no one is looking....it is when we are facing the most difficult times of our lives that we really see who we are and what we are made of.  I feel like it is so easy to be holy and authentic when everything in life is proceeeding like we planned.  But are we holy and authentic when we are facing the hardest times in our lives....a cancer diagnosis, a loss of a child, a loss of a spouse?  That's when we really know our strength and abilities and how we teach others to learn their own.

I know kids on adventures is nothing compared to the death of a loved one or a cancer diagnosis but it taught me that I have some work to do.  I have to continue to work on the "holy" and "authentic" and "kindness" actions because it makes the world a better place and makes the people around us better for it.  You see, I'm lucky.  This job that people think is so hard...is at times but really it is an example of what life is about.  This summer, I had ring side seat to strength beyond belief, authenticity and what I call holiness as these two folks got through the  most difficult times of their lives...

That is when the rubber meets the road.

We'll tawk tomorrow,
I love you all,
Terry