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6/22/16

Death has no eyes

Is there an idea or thought that hangs over you like a perpetually cloudy day? When I became a mother three years ago, I suddenly realized the weight of my life. I suddenly had REAL responsibilities (not that my responsibilities were fake or insignificant before I became a mother) that would impact my children. Consequently, I became filled with anxiety about so many things--the job I had, the house we lived in, the food we ate, the places we took our kids to, the relationships we built around our family. When I became a mother, life felt REAL. It felt heavy and consequential. But there's one idea/thought/fear that has won out as being the biggest, most scary...

life without my husband. 

Our marriage isn't perfect, but it's healthy. I don't fear divorce like so many other couples. I fear losing my husband too soon to death. My husband's dad died when he was 44. My husband was ten years old when he said good-bye to his dad. My husband's grandpa was also 44 when he died. 

Today my husband attended a funeral for a colleague who passed away from cancer. He was only 36. 

He left behind a wife and three sweet babies (one of which was in my son's class). My husband texted me after the funeral while I was at work to tell me that it was more difficult than he thought it would be. I called him right away, and his voice cracked when he explained how difficult it is to realize that these three kids would grow up without their dad. I think he remembered the pain of missing his own dad while growing up. 

And I keep thinking about this man's wife. I have to swallow a lump in my throat and blink back tears each time I think of it. I can't begin to imagine the pain she must feel. 

I turned 30 this week, and Nate and I realized that I have spent a third of my life with him. Save for my immediate family, Nate is the only other person who has stuck with me over the years. I met Nate when I was 18 years old and in my first year of college. We were in a few choirs together, and I took notice of his clean-cut appearance, how often he laughed, and how many people seemed to like him. He was doing practicum work that year at a few schools, so he was always in a shirt and tie--a clear contrast to my holey-leather moccasins, my love for Clove cigarettes, and my Bohemian spirit. There was just something about Nate that I was immediately attracted to despite our visible differences.We started dating at the end of my first semester of college, were engaged by the time I started my second year of college, and were married by the time I started my third year of college. I became an adult with Nate.

He taught me how to pay bills, how to not run away from conflict, how to persevere during times when I only want to eat chips and watch every Gilmore Girls episode. He teaches me to fight for things I believe in and for the people I love. He teaches me what it means to love unconditionally when he still loves me even after I throw away something important of his. He's mellowed me out and helps me to see the bigger picture. He kills trash-can possums*. He keeps me grounded. He washes all my dirty dishes and fixes things when they're broken and mows our big-ass lawn. He encourages me to take risks and lets me know that it's okay to mess up. He helps me to be patient when he leaves his shoes all over the house (seriously, why does he have so many damn shoes?!?). He laughs at my jokes, and his wit has rubbed off on me. 

We looked much younger 10 years ago...

Today, Nate is nearly 10 years from 44. And I keep thinking of a line from one of my favorite novels, The House on Mango Street. In this section, the narrator--a girl of about 10 years--processes her aunt's death:

"[...] I think diseases have no eyes. They pick with a dizzy finger anyone, just anyone..." (Cisneros 59). 
I know that like diseases, death has no eyes--that it picks people who don't deserve it, people who are too young to die...and this is what scares me.

*This winter I found almost grabbed a possum that was playing possum (so predictable...really, possums need to up their game) in a trash can in our garage. I was emptying it into our real trash can so the garbage company would take it. My hand grazed its fur because I thought it was one of our dog's old toys...it wasn't our dog's old toy. It was a real live, hissing, bitey possum. I begged Nate to just kick the can over so the angry little fella could run to the cornfield near our house, but he told me it would eat the kids. 

6/21/16

To The Husband Whose Wife is Struggling With Anxiety

Note: This piece was published on Her View From Home last week. It's a more serious piece that stemmed from my experiences working with my husband to help get my anxiety under control.

My husband and I have had some tough conversations about how he can help during bouts of my anxiety. It hasn't been a comfortable experience, and it's not something we thought we'd face when we got married ten years ago. I think anxiety or other mental health issues can catch couples off guard. I don't think I ever exhibited symptoms of anxiety as a kid; rather, my anxiety has developed in my adult years in response to several life stressors crammed into a short period of time (infertility, a failed adoption, two big moves, new jobs, a career change, foster parenting, and adopting two kiddos with prior trauma...all within 5 years). I struggled quietly for at least two years (though, looking back, I feel like the anxiety developed two years prior to that) before I finally let my husband in on my struggles. I'm hoping this piece will be an encouragement to wives who may be struggling alone with their anxiety and a support for husbands who find themselves in uncharted waters.

Here's a teaser of the letter....
This is not something you signed up for when you married your wife. Likewise, anxiety is not something she signed up for.  Anxiety is not a choice for anyone. The choice you do have, though, is how to deal. You and your wife could allow anxiety to define or destroy your relationship, or you could write a new story for your marriage–one where anxiety is not the main character; one where the bond of two people becomes something worth fighting for even among the tumult of anxiety.
Click here to read the full letter.

6/20/16

Mother Runs Essential Oil Diffuser in Living Room, Everyone is Cured

Note: THIS IS SATIRE, so calm down. I actually own an essential oil diffuser...and did you know that spell check isn't even cool enough to know that the word 'diffuser' is actually a word?!? I am WAY ahead of the curve here. Anyway--I had a piece published on MockMom, a section of Sammiches & Psych Meds. This proves that I really am funny, so you can all quit rolling your eyes at my jokes. I digress. I love the MockMom section; the satire pieces on it have given me some much needed laugther. I'm feeling really freaking excited to be a part of that community. Here's a teaser to my post, "Mother Runs Essential Oil Diffuser in Living Room, Everyone is Cured." 

"I put a few drops of orange oil in my diffuser, and suddently my toddler, who was just recently screaming for the blue sippy cup instead of the green one we gave him, calmed down. It was magic. He sniffed at the air, gave us a toothy grin, and then blithely drank out of the green sippy cup. Pure magic."

To read more of this post, click here!