First, I hope everyone had a safe, and happy New Year.
I had a long, and very seriously toned blog typed out … but I’m deleting it, and starting from scratch.
While I do think that what I have to say should be taken a little seriously, in no way do I think it absolutely has to be.
Which… will make much more sense to you by the time we reach the end of the blog. I promise you.
I’ll be honest.. my NYE didn’t start out very exciting. Matt and I stayed at home, and planned on watching movies all night.
We ended up getting a call from a friend of mine, who wanted to drop a late Christmas present off, so we started playing Disney Universe instead. (Think Lego games. Easy, kid friendly games – that still give me problems.)
While all that was going on, I received a message from my cousins wife. I checked it, thinking it was strange that I’d hear from her. I haven’t talked to my cousin much lately, and have barely talked to her.
Not because of any negative reasons, mind you, we just don’t get around to talking much. So, the random message was unusual.
So, on instinct, instead of letting it wait until later, I checked it.
Turns out, my aunt had been admitted to the hospital. And wasn’t going to be coming home.
I won’t bore you with the health details — at this point, they aren’t important. And as terrible as it sounds, they aren’t the main point to this blog. (It’s here, bear with me… it may just take some time to get there.I have a lot to say on the subject..)
Suffice it to say, right now, they are just making her comfortable. And my cousin asked his wife to let me know, so I could let the family know.
Which, is mind blowing just to stop and think about. Absolutely new territory from me.
I’ve always been on the receiving end of the bad news.
When my Mom had her stroke, I was the last one to find out – I was visiting OU with my friend Rachel and her family. I came home, and everyone broke the news to me. My older brother and sister-in-law ended up taking most of the responsibilities/parental roles, to a point. We basically lived at their house for a while, Dad would work, sleep for a few hours, go back to the hospital, then rinse and repeat. I was only a freshman in high school, and Tiffany was 4 years younger than that. We were as sheltered as we could have possibly have been.
Don’t get me wrong, it affected us deeply, and I sincerely doubt we’ll ever forget that time in our lives. I know for me, I often think about how things would be if it had never happened… but that’s a whole different blog post. What we didn’t have to do, was paperwork. Legal things. Financial things. Paying hospital bills. We were just kids with a sick parent, who couldn’t talk to use anymore.
When Dad got sick, I was at RSU. He went into the hospital a few weeks before the semester ended, with what they thought was triple pneumonia. Not good, certainly, especially at his age, but not fatal. I made the decision then and there to not come back to RSU the next year. I was going to stay at home, and help out at home. Between his being sick, and Mom still in a wheelchair, they needed it.
I have a very vivid memory of being at the radio station I volunteered at, and knowing my Dad had made it home from the hospital. I had a slot where I could play a “DJ’s choice” song. Which, meant I could play any song that was radio appropriate in studio, as long as I packaged it. (Simply put, if it was odd or random, or didn’t flow right in the line up, we had to talk before & after it, explain/segue our way into it.)
I played a song by The Hollies called Long Cool Woman. It was one of my dad’s favorite songs. I packed it perfectly. I played a MWK song before hand, (who, conveniently play a cover of that song live,) came on air, made the connection between the two bands, talked about my dad coming home from the hospital, and played the song.
One of the few perfect moments I had in my short college radio career.
That week, when the semester ended, I came home, and knew something was wrong.
Thats when I found out that he didn’t have pneumonia, after all.
They had found lung cancer.
It was stage 4 already. They were going to try chemo, but there wasn’t much they could do.
I cried. Cried more than I care to admit. I was a 20 year old college student, and ended up in my dad’s lap, bawling. Not my most dignified moment, but I didn’t care.
Another moment that sticks out, was when my sister and I were talking in the other room – I can’t even explain how her voice sounded at the time. It was terrible – but she asked, “Why? Haven’t we been through enough with Mom already?”
It was painful to hear. I didn’t have an answer.
Again, we were both scared kids in an unfair situation. Granted, we were 6 years older, we had a few more responsibilities, but still were kids, for all intents and purposes.
I remember running away from the family gathering after the funeral. My cousin, Tiffany, me, and a small group of friends escaped to a local coffee shop. I had red eyes from crying, but we were goofy, had drinks, took pictures, and relaxed a bit before going home. It was nice.
After Dad died, Gail, his caretaker, started taking care of my mom. We loved her like a second mom. She was amazing. Very much so a member of the family.
One day, after Matt and I got married, I went over to visit Mom and Gail.
Tiffany was home from work, and Austin and Tracy, my brother and sister-in-law, were over.
Gail had died during her sleep.
We were upset. Mom especially. I think at this point. I was a little incredulous. How much can one family take?
I took over the job of taking care of Mom. And Tiffany was in Tech, but soon found a graphic design job.
Now, for all intents and purposes, we’re adults.
Scary thought… I don’t feel like an adult 99% of the time.
I feel like I grew up fast, yes. And I sometimes think of all that I’ve gone through, and wonder how I came out of any of it unscathed.
But, I do not feel like a “grown-up”.
I often forget that my husband is two years younger than I am. It seems as though everyone I know who is an “adult” has it together more than I do. They seem to have gotten the invite to the meeting I missed, got the initiation, the guidebook, the works. And I’m sitting here like, “Well. Okay. I feel like I’m still a teen, but, okay!
And now, I have to take on the very grown up role, of telling my mom that her best friend in the entire world, was dying.
I was completely lost.
I didn’t know how to go about it.
So, I did what came natural. I thought back on all the instances I received bad news. And I mix and matched.
To be honest, I channeled a lot of my sister in law. I dressed up nice, had makeup on, tried to “look” put together.
I knelt down, took my Mom’s hand, and told her.
I also went in the other room before hand, to make sure my sister was okay. We hugged, I tried to make sure everything was okay.
Silly thought. I couldn’t make anything okay, and we all knew it. But I had to try.
So, we leave, and head to the hospital.
We get to my aunts room, and my cousin meets us outside.
He tells us whats been going on, that she’s in and out with her coherent moments, and however she reacts – that’s fine, and to go with it.
As he’s explaining all of his, we stupidly asked if he was ok. I mean, we’ve all been there. You know that you hear that question a million times. And no, you aren’t okay.
He answered yes anyway, and we laughed a bit. I pointed out that we knew he was okay because he had to be. He agreed, and said something about joining the club.
Which, made something dawn on me. We were all standing in the hall. His spiel about his mom reminded me of the way I talk to people about my mom. We all looked at each other, and it just seemed like there was this shared acknowledgement of what was going on.
It was like someone had flipped a switch. We were the grown ups.
We’d grown up together (except the spouses. but I digress.). My cousin and his mom were there for Dad’s chemotherapy, the heart attacks that made us stop chemo, and then the waiting. We were kids together, and now we were the grown ups together.
And… are you ready for this…? This is the entire point of all these words I’ve typed out for you to read…
We were all faking it.
And I’d bet you, that the majority of the adult population is faking it as well.
When we got home from the hospital, I had been thinking about this all day. I asked Matt if he felt like a ” grown up.”
He didn’t hesitate, his answer was a resounding no.
It’s comforting, in a way.
To realize that everyone around you, no matter how together they seem to be, is probably faking their way through.
It’s also a little disappointing. When I was little, I was SO ready to feel like an adult. I just knew that one day I’d be so sure of things. Responsible. The list goes on….
But! After thinking for a while…. since there doesn’t seem to be a set way for adults to be… if everyone is faking it…
Why on earth, do I need to be what everyone expects an adult to be?
I don’t plan on growing up.
And by deciding that, and making my realization this week, i actually do feel more like an adult. Make sense out of THAT one…
But seriously. I don’t plan on “growing up” in that sense of the word.
I think I’m going to cherish the bit of naivety I have left.
I’m going to continue to enjoy the little things. I won’t feel ashamed that it doesn’t take much to amuse me.
I’m unashamed of liking pretty dresses, crowns, or anything that sparkles or shines.
I think I’m going to plan out a mid-life crisis- Walt Disney World style.
I think thats what keeps me sane, honestly. I LOVE the fact that we can go over to our friends Paul and Heather’s house… and while I love talking with them, and having our “grown up” time… I can just as easily spend hours talking to their little girl Sofia, and playing with toys, and be perfectly happy. And I can’t help but look at some other “adults” that I know.. and see that they aren’t happy.
I mean, they might be happy overall, but they just don’t look like it. Or they are stressed all the time. Or taking everything super seriously.
I don’t want to be that person. I really don’t. I love the people I have in my life like that…. but I have been through so much already, I don’t want to look back when I’m 50 or 60, and wonder why I didn’t have more fun.
And , along with a few unofficial resolutions that I’ve made this year, I think I’m making that my main goal this year.
I’m going to find a balance between what I perceive as a responsible adult, and a carefree child.
And I’m going to get comfortable, and run with it.