Posted in advice, aging, escape, family, Life, love, People, random, Uncategorized

No Promises


“There are no guarantees in life” – who hasn’t heard that phrase, many times, or even said it yourself? It’s pretty much the go-to saying for situations where something tragic or shitty has happened, and there is no other explanation but that. I mean, I’m sure there are others- probably super religious people bring God into it (I have been guilty of this a time or two, not because I am super religious, but because I am a big, faithful believer in God’s perfect plan for us all, no matter how awful things may seem), which probably isn’t very comforting for anyone besides the person saying it. When life deals us, or maybe worse, someone we love, a crippling blow-there is often a desperate feeling of not knowing what to say, or what to do, or how to help, if help is possible. That’s the thing, though- we feel this way because sometimes, there really is nothing. Nothing you can say, do, help, that will be of any use at all. That’s a hard one for us humans.

There is something to that phrase, though- “There are no guarantees in life”. I know most of us don’t dwell on it, but it’s true. Life holds much promise, but makes no promises to anyone. None at all. Sure, there are all kinds of inferred promises we live under the impression of, but they aren’t real. They make us feel safer without actually being of any use at all- sort of like the “Oh Shit!” handle on the passenger side of your car. We make a lot of assumptions from the very start about our lives, and everyone around us encourages this, and does it themselves. We assume we will grow up. We assume we will be teenagers, move out someday, get married and have kids, perhaps. We assume that we will grow old, and that someday, far, far, down the road, we will die. For lots of us, that’s the way it goes. For others, it is not.

By the time I was twenty-two, three kids I personally knew, had died. Being young at that time, those lives lost made an impression on me, but not the way they would have now, if that makes sense. At the age I am now, these deaths would be kids my daughter knows, and it would devastate me.  Even as I write a blog about there being no promises in life, I want to say “Parents aren’t supposed to outlive their children!” Knowing as I do that parents outlive their babies every day, it still seems like a rip off of the worst kind. It seems like the most unjust thing, ever. But it’s a chance we take, knowing, God forbid, things happen. We take what life gives us and hope for the best.

It’s sort of a miracle that we can even function in the face of all of this uncertainty, don’ t you think? That we aren’t terrified to go to sleep, let the people we love out of our sight, bother having children at all, knowing what we know…I mean, doesn’t it make you think we must be the most optimistic species out there, that we just go on about our business, cheerful, hopeful, unafraid- when any second could be lights out? Obviously, we don’t go around thinking that way (I don’t- I sure hope you don’t either!) or we’d go nuts, but the fact that we can just tuck it away, in the back of our minds, and not let it bother us much…that is amazing! I have certainly had moments, and even short phases in my life, where I was struck to the core by existential dread. I think we all go through it, here and there. It is sure as hell no fun in that bleak head space, when you aren’t sure what you are, can’t vouch for what you’re actually made of, and all your faith in what happens after we die has disappeared, leaving you frozen with fear of the unknown. “I want out!” I remember thinking to myself, in the grips of one of these little bouts. “Out, where?” I recall thinking immediately after, “It’s too late- the minute you are born, you are trapped on this ride, and the only thing worse than being trapped on is being let off.” Naturally, this thought did nothing for my panic, and I was forced to spend the rest of the night (isn’t it always late at night when this particular fear strikes?) practicing deep breathing into my pillow. With the light of day, the fear diminished, silly looking when I wasn’t so alone.

You may be wondering by now what the hell got into me, to make me write this. I’m sure it’s not one of my more hilarious reads. Well, it’s like this- as some of you guys know, I am a medical coder at a hospital. I won’t bore you with the full description of my job, but I do NOT do actual patient care. I work in the Health Information Management department, which you probably know as the medical records department. I spend all day, every day, reading charts for emergency room patients, then pulling from those charts the diagnoses so that the people in the billing department know what happened and how much to charge.  99% of the time, the charts I see are for people who come in, get some help, then go home. Anything more serious, and the patients are admitted, which means someone else codes their charts. So most of the time, it’s simple, average stuff.

But sometimes people die. When it’s old people, it’s sad, and I don’t feel great about it, but at least, usually, it was quick, and they had a long life. When it’s younger people, though, that is hard on me. Many times I have cried over a chart I was coding- not all of them deaths, either. There are terrible things that happen besides death-leukemia in a seven year old, metastatic cancer in a patient who thought they’d beat their disease. Burns on little babies…you name it. But the kids in their twenties who don’t make it, that kills me. The people my age who just drop dead- that scares the crap out of me. It’s not too uncommon either. Since I’ve worked in this field, I’ve had to see a lot of things I could have avoided, otherwise. I don’t know if it’s a good thing or not, to be so aware of our frailty.

Then yesterday, on Facebook, I see that my friends boyfriend has passed away. Like, out of the clear blue sky, gone. She is someone I have known a long time, but not well enough to know anything other than that he died, and that he was our age, and that I can do nothing but offer my condolences. Pray. Another dose of reality, like a palm to the face, urging me to snap out of it! This is it, man, THIS moment, right now. This is really all you’ve got, because the next one isn’t promised. Do whatever you can to make this one shine. There are no guarantees in life, you know.

Posted in family, kids, Life, love

Dear God

Dear God-

Hi! It’s me again. I’ll tell you up front that I don’t have anything really urgent to talk to you about, so if you are busy, you may want to get back to this later. Not that I doubt your multitasking skills for a minute, I’m sure you’re way better at it than your average human being, but…you know what I mean. I just wanted to check in, let you know I am still here, I haven’t checked out on you. I hope you don’t mind that I am putting you in my blog. I figured I could kill two birds with one stone, you know?

I’ve been a little down lately. Seems like no matter how hard I try, things around here stay about the same, if not worse. I know I don’t do everything right, not by a long shot, and I don’t pretend that I have a clue about how to create the family and the results I long to see. I can see the end result in my head, but I don’t know how to get there. Maybe I just don’t have the right personality for domestic stuff. Maybe I just don’t have enough help…it would be nice if all of us around here could pull it together and work as a unit for once. It seems like we all just live together and have totally separate lives. This just isn’t the way I thought it would be.

I know I should be grateful, and I AM! I know how lucky I am to have two healthy, beautiful daughters, a fantastic and well paying job that I like, and coworkers who are like an extension of my family. I know how lucky I am to have a house at all, let alone in a safe, pretty town half a mile from the beach. I’m SO lucky to be healthy, to be safe, to be loved. I’m not trying to downplay any of that stuff. I let you know all the time how thankful I am to be where I am in life…I think I know better than some how much worse it could have turned out for me. And I know I will NEVER know as well as others do what it means to really be without. Even at the worst times in my life, I could always count on a roof over my head, food when I was hungry. All in all, I’ve lived a pretty blessed life.

So you’ll have to forgive me for being so selfish and telling you that, still, I want more. Can we talk for a minute about this relationship I’m in, God? I know, I know- I can FEEL you rolling your eyes at me, up there. I know you have much more concerning issues on your hands, like global warming, the middle east in general, and the end of times right around the corner. I get that, in the big scheme of things, my love life is really a non-issue, but humor me. You, he, and I know the whole story of us…you know how hard I have tried, how many things I’ve worked through, looked past, compromised on. You know the doubts I’ve struggled with since the very start. All of that, to wind up here-ambivalent, stuck, distanced. My heart is just out of forgiveness, God, and I don’t know how to move forward from this place. I don’t even want to forgive anymore, and that has been the one thing I had that assured me there was still really love between us. Without it, it’s like my heart is completely closed. I know he feels it, my disconnect, and I don’t want to make it hard on him, but I can’t help it. I’ve got nothing left, and there’s no way I can pretend differently. I start to feel bad about it, then it occurs to me that he absolutely brought this on himself.

Obviously, I can’t go on like this for very long. So the big question is, what now? I know it’s really up to me, that I didn’t seem to ask for a lot of advice when I was making all the decisions that led me to here. I don’t expect a giant arrow in the clouds pointing me to my dream life, or an email with a power point slide show detailing my options and all possible outcomes. Although, come to think of it, I wouldn’t turn that down, either. I guess I would just like to ask for some clarity, soon. If you could please help me pay attention, so I don’t miss possible answers. If I could just have a head that is quiet enough to really think this through.  If you could maybe help me feel certain when I hit on the right idea, instead of doubting myself into inaction like I’ve done so often. God, if you could please  just help me not be afraid. I’m choosing to hold onto unhappiness because I am so afraid of messing everything up.

It seems so wasteful to work so hard for something you thought was possible, only to find that it could never have become that thing, no matter what you did to help it along. I want to be happy, God, and not because everything is perfect and I am so accomplished and polished and wonderful-I want to be happy the way you are when your heart is peaceful, and you aren’t constantly on your guard. I want to relax, God. I don’t care if that means I have to be alone…I will miss the familiarity and companionship, for sure. I will miss having someone that is pulling their share of the weight of this life. But I will not miss hunting for the true story underneath his words. I will not miss the loneliness that comes with loving a man you cannot risk trusting. I will not miss the fear of all of the things I don’t know yet. Every day of our life together, I have felt their presence, a constant undercurrent.

Please help me be strong, sure and kind- help me not let my mean nature complicate things. Help me to remember that he is a good father, a hard worker, that he probably did the best he could, too. He’s just working with a different set of tools than me. If there is a way to mend this, God, I am all ears- I’d like to tell you that I don’t see how, but you’re the big miracle guy, here, so it’s your call. I don’t want to hurt the baby, and she loves us both so much. I don’t want to complicate my life by changing everything, AGAIN, but I believe I am of no real use to anyone like this.

Other than that, God, I think all is well. I am always glad, at the end of a day like this, that things tend to look less impossible in the light of day. Thanks for this beautiful life.