Who Is In Control Here?

Tuesday ended up being one of those days.  It started off per usual (fighting with Kid E over wearing a winter coat as he headed out the door into, um… what’s that word… WINTER!) and then I did a deceptive little workout called “Isometrix” (I felt almost nothing while I was doing it.  I didn’t even break a sweat, really.  Then, throughout the day and night, I started to totally feel very painful things in places that I forgot I had…).  By midday, I had done my chores, my workout, and I even showered and ran an errand.  I was just about to wonder “What will I do,” when I got an email regarding an urgent request to completely redo the program for a ballet that Kid A and Kid C are performing in this weekend.

It was just me and another mom who make up the Program Committee, so I spent the next few hours mocking up a new one, and then I edited and sent it out for review.  It was a crazy afternoon of paying attention to small details of the program, all while fielding questions about homework, whether so-and-so could come over to play or Kid D could go to his house, responding to requests to make snacks and what was for dinner, as well as getting Kid C to focus and get ready for ballet class on time (Kid A was driving her right after she got home from her tutoring job), and then driving Kid B to her boyfriend’s basketball game before picking Kid D up from his playdate (on time, because last time I almost left him over there…seriously).  Oh, and we were out of milk and stupid Aunt Flo just knocked on my door three days early.

When Sheepdog got home that night, my head was spinning.  He could tell just by looking at me.  I was speaking at high volume and with excessive speed.  I moved about the kitchen like I had eight arms.  I was still doing too many things at one time, mostly because I couldn’t figure out how to gear down.  I even predicted the full moon before the sun went down.  So Sheepdog reminded me to take some deep breaths… like a million of them.  I did, and I felt better.  The wine helped too.

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I had prepared a delicious dinner with my octopus arms and everybody who was home sat down to eat together.  During dinner I announced to everyone  – despite the craziness of the day – I felt like I passed the test.  It had been hard, and my body and mind ached all over, but I had kicked one of those days in its bootie.  Yay, me!  I won this day!  Yesterday was not so good, and who knows about tomorrow, but I felt like I won this day!  On this day, I was in control.

I woke up Wednesday morning feeling really strong after a great night’s sleep.  I got in another fantastic workout (this one was not sneaky at all… it was quite forthright in its delivery of pain and sweat), showered, and went over to my neighbor’s house to hear about her new business.  I met some interesting women over there, and I ended up having a really good time.  I came home, ate a healthy lunch, and soon the boys were bounding off of the school bus and into the house.

Kid D was sitting at the kitchen table doing homework, and Kid E was eating (something other than a peanut butter sandwich… Hallelujah! for another small victory in the food wars) when my cell phone rang.  Caller ID said it was one of my friends from the neighborhood.  Our daughters play soccer on the same team and we do a ton of carpooling and soccer travel together.

As soon as I answered I heard the fear and panic and tears in her voice.  She was driving home from work early because her house was on fire.  She had no idea what would be waiting for her when she arrived.  None of the people in her family were home at the time, but she didn’t think that they were able to get her two dogs out in time.

Oh my goodness.  What can I do?  What can I do?  What can I do?

I was scheduled to pick up the girls after high school soccer conditioning later that afternoon.  She asked me to give her some warning when we were on our way so she could prepare her teenage daughter for the devastating news.  Her boyfriend ended up coming to get her before practice ended because word of the fire had started to spread on social media and they didn’t want her to find out that way, but I, like so many people in our neighborhood and the surrounding communities, have spent the time since I heard the news praying for the family and wondering “what if…”

My head had gone right back to spinning.

Fully aware of my life-long fear about house fires, Sheepdog texted me the next morning and asked how well I had slept.

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That Sheepdog sure is a smart one.

So I’m taking deep breaths, and praying for my friends and about my fears, and I am (trying to) let it go.  And tonight at dinner – despite the craziness of the day or not – I am going to announce to everyone at the table that I am not in control, and that’s even better than what I said before.

Our amazing neighborhood has put together several ways to help our friends in their time of need.  Please pray for them, but you can also help in other ways if you are so inclined.  Email me for further information at tihidiblog@gmail.com.  Rest in peace Layla and Bella.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

My Greatest Fear

I recently responded to a form that posed the question What three things scare you?

I am afraid of:
3.  fire
2.  losing Sheepdog
1.  something bad happening to my children

Answer number three is easily traced back to five or six-year-old me watching in the pitch dark of a moonless night as a house just down the street from mine burned to the ground.  Monstrous, black and gray clouds of dense smoke poured out of the window openings like sand flowing out of a beach bucket that, instead of traveling down to a pile on the ground as sand should, defied gravity and floated up toward the heavens.  I remember standing amongst my neighbors and thinking about the family that lived inside that house, wondering if they had been asleep like I was when the fire started.  Did anyone get hurt?  No matter the answer, their lives would be forever changed.

Losing my spouse, whether to death or divorce, scares me too.  Sheepdog may drive me crazy on a regular basis, but that is mostly because he challenges me.  He doesn’t accept my bologna, no matter how confidently I may present it.  He is my stabilizer and my sounding board.  He encourages and inspires me to be a better person.  He also makes me laugh.  He is my teammate in this crazy relay race.  He is my best friend.  I may get sick of hearing even more than I can imagine about bikes and/or guns, but isn’t that better than the alternative?

As far as my babies are concerned, I worry about any and every one of the following… cuts and bruises, broken bones, heartbreak, wounds suffered at the hands of a bully, sickness, suffering of any kind, emotional scars, terminal illness, death.  And then some.  I don’t worry about them hourly – or even daily – most of the time, but they are there festering in the part of my brain that recalls the smoke and the smell of burning things.  It is the same part of me that is scared to navigate life alone, without someone who gets me like Sheepdog does.

The community where I grew up was turned upside down on Saturday by fatal accidents.  The community where my kids are growing up has been devastated over this past year by more than one unthinkable loss.  And the ones who died were all children.  It is my greatest fear.

The sharp knife of a short life. - The Perry Band, "If I Die Young"

My mind is twisted and tangled with thoughts.  I wake in the middle of the night, wondering.  How do the families affected by these tragedies go forward?  Death happens every day, but some deaths affect us more powerfully.  How do you get through the day when you send your child out the door and he doesn’t come home?  Will something bad happen to my children?  How can things like this be prevented?  Do I have enough faith?  Why, just why?

Words like fate, luck, misfortune and happenstance all come to mind.  The struggling part of me sheds tears for the ones who lived lives that were just beginning, that didn’t get to experience enough of anything.  Moreover, I feel an immobilizing and chest-crushing pain for those who must live the daily struggles that occur in the wake of these incidents… friends, teachers, coaches, aunts, uncles, grandparents, great-grandparents, brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers.  They are the ones who must overcome and live through my greatest fear.

Rest in peace, young ones.  May God watch over you.

Live in peace, family and friends.  May God and angels watch over you as well.

Sometimes bad things happen.  It is a fact of life.  Neither you nor I have any control over it.  We are defined by how we react to the things that life throws at us.  So speak more kindly, love with more passion.  Be grateful for what you have and the life you live today.  Forgive and have patience.  Leave each place better than it was when you got there.

Doing these things will not exempt you from tragedy.  But you will live a life that means something, and that seems to be the best way to pay tribute to those children who were taken from us too soon, before their lives really even got started.

My deepest sympathies go out to the Mainland community.