I feel like everything is exploding these days.
Work is a total disaster zone. I don't like to blog about work, so I'll just say that I have too much to do, too little time to do it in, and too many personnel issues keeping me from the tasks at hand. Why can't we all get along? Sigh.
My immediate family is in good shape, thank goodness. Going home each night is a joy, even when the kids are not joyous. In truth, the kids are often defiant these days, testing limits and struggling with the transition to having another person live in our house. The Z situation is without a doubt to the good, but it's a change, and change is hard, and when you're four, when things are hard, you whine a lot and pitch fits about things that to an adult are totally inconsequential, and you save all of your crappy emotions for your safe person, which for M&R is, of course, me. Sigh. But still, being home is truly a refuge for me right now. Z is lovely and helpful and I'm beyond thrilled that this situation that I had so long desired is everything I had hoped it would be and then some. Maddie and Riley are completely hilarious, sometimes even when they are pitching fits. The home front is keeping me going right now.
Outside our little nuclear family, the broader but still pretty immediate family struggles. My stepbrother and his wife are on the skids, which has repercussions for my mom and stepdad. I feel for all of them. We're gearing up for our annual pilgrimage to see John's family in Michigan, which is searingly emotional every year, and although it's ultimately positive, it's certainly intense and draining.
An old friend of John's called me the other day out of the blue. He and his wife are people I have always admired and enjoyed, although we have not spent much time together. They are just good people, the kind of people who upon meeting, you know you can immediately trust and respect. His call was a ray of sunshine, but from behind a dark cloud: his brother has metastatic pancreatic cancer. It's like a knife to the heart. To make it all even that much more intense, his brother just got married a month ago.
My whole body aches with empathy. I gave John's friend—my friend, our friend—the URL to my blog to give to his sister in law, with the warning that it might be too much for her to deal with right away. John's friend is a doctor, so they don't need any medical advice, not that I'm qualified to give it, but John had access to some (at the time) pretty cutting edge chemo that not everyone could then get, so when I've heard from others facing a pancreatic cancer diagnosis, I've often shared that information. These friends don't need that. They need friends. I'm glad they felt they could reach out to me; I hope I can give them some of what they need.
These are not the only friends dealing with cancer. They are just the most recent. We're too young for this. Or are we? Is this just a part—the crappy part—of being in your late 30s? Is this when you suddenly wake up to find that your parents are not young, just young for their age, and that you and your friends are not immune to the scourge of disease and the tolls of time on the body? When does it stop being a fluke, a mistake, and when is it a horrible but unavoidable part of life? In the end, no matter. It's not fair, and it's devastating.
Maddie and Riley are reaching a point where it's a real challenge for me to pick them up and hold them for any length of time. I have not been sentimental in bidding farewell to babyhood, but this transition feels as huge as the weight of their cumbersome bodies. To pick them up and carry them, this is to be the mother of a small child. To no longer be able to do so is to be the parent of a big kid, official. Like so many other things in life, this is a painful if ultimately good transition.
I'm nostalgic these days, for my old body, for small children, for John, for the invincibility and endlessness of life in my 20s. I don't want to go back; what was difficult and painful on that journey to where I am now would be too much to bear again. I would make the same choices. I am without regret. But I am overwhelmed by the fullness of it all, and how that fullness it seems to be bursting out in uncontrolled and uncontainable negative ways. We were reminded in church on Sunday to slow down, and there is wisdom there, I think. I am walking rather than running these days, doing less in the evening, sleeping more, getting by on the minimum. I feel a need to hoard my reserves; each day draws on them in unexpected ways.