Are my neighbors having more fun than me?
You guys. The other day I put my trash out. Recycling, cans, cardboard, diapers, wipes Grape Nuts box and all. I eat Grape Nuts because Dad did. He used to make jokes all the time about this. The week before he died he ate a bowl of Grape Nuts with prune juice on it. Maybe that's an omen. If you think that Grape Nuts with prune juice tastes good, you are in serious trouble. I remember him pouring the prune juice on and saying, "Dad, did you mean to put milk on there?" and then "Nope.". Well, ok then.
If I concentrate hard enough I can almost remember what Dad smelled like, and what getting a hug from him felt like. Almost. It's been over three years now and the memories that were once so clear, so real an concrete feel like they are now hazy and have the "soft focus" feature that you can put on pictures. I think I remember him a certain way. The memories are reinforced when I talk to my siblings, or someone who knew my Dad, and they remind me that yes, he was that funny, or that he really was such a presence. My cousin recently said that Dad was "a force" at parties or get togethers. He is right, he was. That's maybe why the hole that is left is so big.
But back to the Grape Nuts. A few hours after I put out my recycling, and before the recycling truck came by, someone must have walked by and left their recycling to buddy up with our recycling. Maybe they were worried that it might ruin my crazy party lady reputation to have only black beans, Grape Nuts and farro packages in my recycling. Here is the box that was left:
What the hell? Eggos? Delicious! And I can only assume "homestyle" is even better. Pink beers? I don't know what that tastes like but I like pink and I like beer a lot. And some sort of white wine. Now I think we can all agree that white wine is a waste of time, but still- better than the slowing heating up empty tin of sardines in the blue bin next to the wine! And Cheez-It. I am 100% faithful to Cheetos so Cheez-It's don't really do much for me. But the fact remains- by the looks of our recycling bins, someone is having more fun than me!
This is something that I worry about a lot. I worry about what impact losing Dad and taking care of Mom has had/is having on who I am. I am less carefree, I look at my phone and am expect to see not great news, or a problem to solve. I grind my teeth at night, have to stretch during the day to try and relax my shoulders and often find that I am gripping my hands tightly when waiting for the elevators at Mom's apartment. I can feel myself tense just pulling up in front of her place. It's other things too. I think I'm more cynical, more sarcastic and quick to assume that I should just plan on handling something alone, because no one else will help. When I had it, I never, ever, considered what it might be like to not have a safety net in place. I never imagined a time when I wouldn't be able to call my parents and talk to them about a problem, or know that if I really got in financial trouble, or any other trouble, that they could help. Am I forever changed? Would I be having a lot more fun if it wasn't for all of this?
I think I might be. Our wonderful pediatrician once told us that this stage in life is "just a season" and that there will be other seasons. At the time she was encouraging me to keep going and that my wonderful son would eventually sleep more than two hours at a time. But it holds true here too. This is a season of my life. And I don't want to miss the amazing parts of this season.
It's too easy for me to miss these moments, and to focus on not having babysitters, missing my parents and being bogged down in care-taking annoyances. But my life is right now. Yours is too. So I will continue to try and document signs of this season, of this life that is right now, of the joy that is to be found, right now.