Monday, August 8, 2011

Bittersweet Rain

Summer is almost over. July was so busy that it was gone in a blink so  I'm trying to hang on to every second of it that's left.

It's been a bittersweet summer.

The joys:  we had our oldest twin grandchildren here for a little over three weeks and our little cutie from Michigan here for the fourth of July.

The sadness: The summer started with the unexpected loss of my cousin after a cancer surgery. A little over a month later, one of my best friends lost her battle with cancer.  A few weeks later, I was blessed to visit with two college friends - one in the midst of chemotherapy and the other three years down the road from her diagnosis.

I've never had a year like this - it started a year ago in July with the death of my daughter's best friend's mother to cancer.  Throughout the year, I've watched the "C" word come into several other friends' lives and turn their worlds upside down.  When you add all of this up to ending the year by  losing two more people that I loved dearly to cancer and listening to two of my longtime girlfriends compare notes on losing beautiful heads of hair and having their energy zapped out of them, it's the perfect storm.   My emotional state can be has triggered by almost anything.  The tiniest little thing can tip my "on the verge of crying" to sobbing.  It seems that I've spent most of the summer walking around in overwhelming sadness which is not like me at all.  Yesterday the scale tipped to either a moment of sheer insanity or genius.

I spent most of the day on our morning porch - my favorite "room" in our house.  It's like a tree house and I feel like a little kid when I sit on it.  You are completely hidden from the world so you can take on the role of snoop or spy with the passersby whenever you fancy. Some little joys of our morning porch . . . 

  • Little snippets of cell phone conversations are almost always surprising - everything from political or work related complaints or jokes to more details about a romantic encounter with a boyfriend than I've ever wanted to hear - nothing new, we've all heard them.  
  • I love to play "who are they and what's their story."  We live near the university so there's usually a different group of people passing by every day as well as some regulars.  There is one man who passes by everyday around 6:30 AM and I can hear him from several houses away because he never lifts his feet up.  He shuffles past our house every morning and he really isn't old enough to "shuffle."  Hard for me to quash my mother instinct and not yell out "pick your feet up for goodness sake!"
  • For the past three days, we've been enjoying the flyovers of the Thunderbirds that were in the Milwaukee Air Show.  Poor Greg, practically every time he came outside observe the thundering roar, the show seemed to shift to the on-ground activities and he missed the planes. 
  • What a great place to watch squirrels and birds.  I saw a squirrel jump from one branch to the next one day and he missed and fell to the branch below his desired destination!  Who knew squirrels ever missed?  The funny part was that he actually looked around as if to see if he could safely hide his squirrel embarrassment, then he scurried off to a hiding place.   A less enjoyable moment,  for the first time in my life, a bird pooped on my head a few weeks ago - disgusting.

Well yesterday, the morning porch was the scene of my moment of "scale tipping" . . . After enjoying the sun for most of the day, the rain clouds rolled in. I started to pick everything up and go inside when it occurred to me that all my life, I've always run out of rainstorms or worked quickly to get my umbrella up.  I always wanted to walk through Central Park during a rain but I never did because I didn't want to continue down Fifth Avenue looking like a drowned subway rat.  This is not to say that I haven't been caught in the rain but I've never intentionally just let the rain pour down over me with no regard to how I would look afterwards . .  . until yesterday.  Sounds crazy.  The rain clouds rolled in and I just sat there and let myself get completely drenched.  And the tears flowed.

I think I had this overwhelming need to feel as alive as possible.  My friends who aren't with me anymore, are in my thoughts nearly all the time these days.  Sometimes I feel guilty because I'm still alive and well in this world and they aren't.  When I play with my grand children, I think about the grand children that my cousin will never get to hold, and I cry.  When I finish a new book, I immediately want to call my friend Sunny to tell her it will be in the mail to her tomorrow.  When I see Katie's posts on Facebook, I think about the things I know about her that her mother never got to know.  I seem to be walking around the world lately thinking about all the things I can do, that they can't and it tips the scale to a sadness that can't exist without tears.

I know this isn't a happy blog to read but sometimes I think it takes sadness to make us appreciate joy and to get us off of our butts.  When I sat in the rain yesterday, I was made so aware once again of what a gift everyday on this planet is and I'm embarrassed that it took me 57 years to just sit and enjoy a summer rain on the other side of the window glass.  My cousin Brent was a fisherman so I'm sure that he learned at a much younger age the joy of a gentle rain while sitting in a boat waiting for the fish to bite.  My friend Sunny was a life-long New Yorker so I have no doubt that she took that walk through Central Park in the rain more than once and enjoyed it thoroughly.  I've never met anyone who's name more appropriately fit them - Sunny had one of the sunniest personalities I've ever encountered.  I always wondered if it was just self-fulfilling prophecy or if her parents had one of those moments when they looked at their new baby and knew it was her name.  She absolutely embraced life at every turn to the point that when we had our last conversation, she didn't want to talk about her pain, she wanted to talk about books, the weather, and the joys of daily life.  

Yesterday, after I was completely and totally soaked, I ran dripping to the bathroom and took a hot bath.  I think it was the best bath I've ever had.  I miss my friends so much.  But I'm going to honor and remember them by soaking up every bit of life that I can - the rain and the sunshine.  

A rose must remain with the sun and the rain or its lovely promise won't come true.

And, it's time to do more than send sympathy cards....

The Ups and Downs of Battling Cancer

The Rare Chair Event - October 14, 2011

PS - Happy Birthday to my mom - a breast cancer survivor.

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