Invictus

Two years ago today, I lost my dad. In the aftermath of the ICU, medical noise, and decisionmaking, we had a small gathering to honor him. I put together several of the multi photo displays, one each for his childhood, young family and work life, and the rest of his years. Many 8 x 10 photos that hadn’t been seen in ages were placed in my frames, resting over pictures of my sons mostly. This process gave me wonderful moments, several of them, where I just looked closely and thought about his life.

Memories frequently trip through my mind, things he said or how circumstances were for him near the end. His last Father’s Day, I gave him a card fairly gushing with praise about all the ways he was a wonderful father through the years. After he read it, he said, “Well, thank you, darlin’, but I didnt do all that.”

There was a time in my younger years I might have agreed, but instead I told him, ” You paid for me to get my degree. When I got my first job, you rented a U-Haul and packed all my stuff while I sat around crying. You drove me to my new place and helped me get settled. When I was on bedrest while pregnant, you and mom came to our aid. In my most desperate days of depression you got me help and did projects around my house. You and mom have been such an important part of my sons’ lives. You are all that. You did all that, and that was just for me.” I have two siblings and there are many grandchildren and great grands. “You and mom have built a family of love.” He gestured toward my mom in the kitchen to say, “It was her. She did that.” His larynx had been removed more than 20 years earlier to treat esophageal cancer, and I was very familiar with his meaning now; it was his response every time the topic of our familial love and appreciation for it arose.

My father’s legacy is far more than his financial success as an entrepreneur allowing him to retire at 50, which impresses me so much now that I’m in my 50’s. Invictus was his favorite poem, and he was the determined master of his fate. His legacy can be found in the loved ones left behind. It’s generations of our family imbued with his positive attitude, honesty, friendliness, and love for each other, and him, above all.

The last Father’s Day gift from me to him.
Invictus
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance 
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid. 

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.

William Ernest Henley

I Will

I will find a new way to weave love and compassion into the tapestry of life that works in my current circumstances.

I will go outside for at least a few minutes every day, no excuses. Even if it’s just out my slider onto the deck, breathing fresh air is good for so many things.

I will finally stop fretting about what strangers or any of my loved ones think of me. The former aren’t thinking of me at all, full stop. The latter have clearly and repeatedly demonstrated that they really love me and only want what’s best for me.

I will choose to live this day, not looking back with longing at how I used to be; considering decades ahead wrecks me. Here I am, so here I’ll be.

Now, I just need energy and resolve.

This Moment

I’m in trouble. Fibromyalgia, depression, anxiety, I don’t want to live this life for 20-30 years more. My husband would be free of my baggage. But I want to be at my sons’ weddings and be a grandma. I have a plan and the things I would need. I don’t want to call anyone. I’ve been crying for hours. This post is in lieu of calling a friend. I know if I call I won’t go through with it. I could tweet about it and Twitter friends would respond for sure. I’m just don’t want this. What’s the point? I didn’t want to die from COVID because I’ve been through bilateral pneumonia with lung biopsy, nearly died. So painful. But this way I’d just go to sleep. I think I will be considering suicide for the rest of my life, whether that’s one day or 30 years. I know my family would be sad but not surprised in the least.

I’m not going to do it today. Going to stop visualizing it. My sons. I’m just going to draw totally inside myself. I have professional help, and I’ll be seeing him.

My purpose used to be weaving love and compassion into the tapestry of life. I don’t weave anymore.

Downshifting

Photo by Scott Webb on Pexels.com

For decades, I’ve been in overdrive. Go, go, go. Career in the early days, babies and books for my husband’s small business, working from home and raising up two boys, and then part-time work. My mom asked me once if I ever relaxed. Admittedly, I have a terrible time unwinding mentally and physically.

Here I am, unable to do much physically due to fibromyalgia, I have hours during which I’m free to roam in my mind. For years, I was intent on “getting better;” if not back to “normal,” at least better. I’d see a new approach or supplement and I’d plan. Now, it’s time to accept and adjust.

I’ve been quite puzzled, looking at this new situation and trying to work it into something positive, purposeful. Over coffee this morning, the perfect analogy popped into mind. It is time for me to downshift. When approaching a slow zone, a driver can use the transmission to decrease speed, shifting down to the appropriate gear, rather than using the brakes as much.

No need to slam on the brakes here; I just need to downshift because miles per hour in this stage of my life are lower. I’ll breathe, look around, and stop when I feel the need. I am blessed beyond measure that I’m able to take a scenic route with amazing support from my husband.

I’m surprised by the clarity and peace I derive from this analogy. It seems silly, really, that a driving memory from days driving across barren desert should assist me in understanding my current circumstances. Hereon, though, when I feel anxious because I’m not busy or planning to be, I’ll remind myself that I’m downshifting.

I do look in the rearview mirror and shake my head in wonder at all those years. Gone, gone, gone.

FATIGUE

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

It’s 11:04 am. I’ve been up since just before nine, a little more than two hours. One cup of coffee, read headlines, and dealt online with a data breach of a previous employer that may or may not affect me.

Although I really want to shower right now, the chronic fatigue that has been a major player in my constellation of symptoms currently is heavy on me physically like a weighted blanket. It lies across my chest, ribs and legs from the hips. Taking a shower is challenging when I feel this way. The last time I got in despite still being drained, following hot tub and rest, I couldn’t stand through my regular routine, and not for the first time. Ended up lying on the floor, half in the shower and half on the bath mat, repeating, “Fuck, fuck, fuck.” Laid there until I could get up and flop on the bed. That was it for the day.

The day, it’s so beautiful. I’m looking out my bedroom slider at the sun shining in a clear blue sky with birds singing. My heart says, “Take a shower! Get dressed! Let’s go clean out the succulent garden of debris from the trees, pine needles and such! Remember? Last night you said we might if the weather is good.”

With the blanket of fatigue layered over pain in my ribcage and neck, the weakness of leg muscles, the vertigo when I move, my brain and body respond together, “Are you serious? Do you remember how this goes? Yes, we have a bath stool to sit on now if we can’t make it, but we’re telling you now, we can’t make it! Maybe, just maybe, we’ll all be ready later.”

My heart knows we’re rarely ready later if it’s this way only two hours in.

C’mon,Take a Shot!

WWPhoto by Isabella Mendes on Pexels.com

With a second shot on Friday, I finished my vaccinations, and two weeks from now I’ll be protected, at least 94% covered. The arena in town is a mass vaccination site.

Four weeks ago, I received my first Moderna shot, following which I got COVID arm. A week AFTER the injection, the site became red, hot, itchy, and painful. Medical articles describe it lasting a week to ten days, but mine lasted three weeks. Other than that, there were no symptoms.

Two days ago, I returned to the arena for my second shot. I’d heard stories about some rough symptoms in reaction to the second. I was shocked when my mom had nothing to report but a sore arm. My doctor explained that the stronger the immune system is the greater the effect. Older people may have fewer issues because immune systems age along with the rest of us.

I felt tired the day of, but the next day I had extreme fatigue, joint pain, arm pain, headache, and body aches. There was a miserable hour or so of feeling nauseous. Today, my arm hurts worse; there is also redness, swelling and heat. I have trouble with vertigo due to fibromyalgia so, although I move to the bathroom like a pinball careening off the walls or furniture, I don’t know how much is due to vaccine vs. regular day vertigo. Joint pain continues, though lessened.

All in all, people moved smoothly through the vaccination site and the fairly minor side effects that may keep a person in bed for a few days are totally worth the peace of mind garnered. Tell you what, these symptoms are much more manageable than after shots in a bar and there is a benefit to COVID19 shots. Can’t wait to see my 82-year-old mom!

What Now?

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Whether disguised as a substitute teacher, a retail cashier, or a garden department associate, I was actually a weaver. My true purpose in life has been weaving love and compassion into the fabric of life regardless of where I am, what I’m doing, or with whom. Reminding myself of this has served to carry me through many a day.

What now? Accepting that I’m chronically ill and now get wiped out just rinsing and loading dishes following a meal, I recognize this is a new day. For the first time in a decade, I’m questioning whether or not my purpose remains the same.

If yes, what opportunities are available to me? I feel like this blog is one such outlet but am skeptical it has an impact on any life but my own. Giving my pastimes a once over, I can see now that I have very much withdrawn into myself.

More likely, I think, is that a new season of my journey calls for repurposing. North as we are, gardening is delayed until Mother’s day. Planting beautiful colors and interesting flora on that day has become our tradition. I’m looking forward to supervising this year and really hope I’ll be able to find meaning anew to inspire in me. For now, I feel an openness to whatever lies ahead and that’s a good place to be.

Later – I looked back over old posts to make sure I hadn’t used this title before. On July 30, 2020 I did post “Now What?” Upon reading it, I realized it was also about coming to terms with being chronically ill, looking ahead through a new lens. Rather than flipping a switch, it is a much longer process to accept this new reality.

The Deep

Sunset over the Pacific from Lincoln City, Oregon; taken by SK Zuelke

It was the waves that called me and they did not disappoint. How could they? Much to my surprise, it was the heaving of the deep that really spoke to me.

The rolling weight pushing the water, high tide or low, was the powerful driver of the waves on top. Between the curling and crashing, the smooth skin of the ocean covered the push and pull of the moon without breaking.

Depression and anxiety roil and wash over me, but in the deep I feel the need to reimagine myself as a person who happens to be chronically ill rather than a patient struggling to return to “normal.” There it is. There’s no going back. This is my new normal.

Uncertain why, I’d imagined that the waves would be healing. Instead, I enjoyed our week at the Oregon coast much the same way I appreciate the view of the forest from bed, through sliding glass doors. Grateful for the wonders of the ocean, I have a new appreciation of the deep. I’m still mesmerized by the waves, even if they are just the frothing on top.

It Took 29 Years to Get Here

On 2/29/92 at 2:29, I married my husband. I was 27 and he was 21, and we’d been dating for three years; I’ll let you do the math. We got married in Las Vegas because my family was in Washington State and his is all in California. We found a beautiful little chapel months ahead and had 50 guests. A very fun wedding weekend it was!

No Leap Day this year, but we’re celebrating our 29th anniversary today, February 28th. This was my parents’ wedding anniversary and they were fortunate to celebrate 60 years together before my dad passed. My oldest sister has been married 40 years and my middle sister for 34. Being married for decades doesn’t denote good luck or an easy path. It reflects a whole lot of communication, some compromise, and staying through those times you really don’t feel like it.

Young people getting married or committing to a forever partnership should know it’s okay to have days where you say to yourself, “I can’t believe I married this person? What was I thinking?” There have been very difficult episodes when I wasn’t sure if we’d make it, and we have spoken the word “divorce’as one of our options. I’ve had serious health challenges that have worn both of us down. There’s never been abuse and I wouldn’t have stayed if there was, and our marriage has not been tested by infidelity.

Take the long view during tense or horrible times if you can. Be partners on the same team as much as you can instead of keeping score. Find ways to laugh a lot, especially when you’re on the rocks, diffusing tension. Explore new things together, even if you have to argue while getting ready or packing the car. Say “I love you” everyday; and when you’re frustrated, disappointed, desperately sad, remember why you said yes to life together. It’s taken us 29 years to get to today and, God willing, I hope to have another two or three decades with this man on this journey.

Rock On!

Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

In the spring of 1989, having failed to make a love connection with the date or the TV show, I decided to call the guy I’d met at the Hard Rock Cafe, the original one in Beverly Center. When I had breaks during the selection and filming process for Chuck Woolery’s dating show, Pam and I hung out at the bar. My friend had come along for moral support, so she and the hot, long-haired bartender had lots of time to chat when I was across the street at the studio.

Over the course of the afternoon, the three of us had a great time with my adventure. Our bartender’s name was James. His long, blond hair was back in a ponytail that went past the middle of his back. Like many in L.A., his day job was just to pay the bills until he made it. He was a guitar player in a rock band. Before Pam and I left at the end of the day, he slid a drink napkin across the bar to me, saying, “Give me a call sometime. Well, unless you have a love connection.”

Our first phone call went well, and he asked if I’d go out with him. Living in the high desert of north L.A. County, where there wasn’t a whole lot to do. I offered to come south to the city for our date. Pam’s daughter and son-in-law lived in their starter home a few blocks off Century Boulevard, about five miles inland from Los Angeles International Airport. Pam and I regularly stayed with Tim and Brigitte, and she came too. I prepared to go out, wearing a black and white checked top, black miniskirt, sheer black nylons, and low black pumps.

As the four of us waited for James to arrive, I got really nervous. What the hell was I doing? And the doorbell rang. When I opened the door, there was an 80’s rock guitar player in black leather pants, boots, and jacket decked out with chains, crowned by his long, wavy hair unleashed. I invited him in. As I walked ahead of him into the family room where my friends were, I mouthed ‘oh my God!’ not sure yet if it was in a good way.

Pam and James said hello. I introduced Tim and Brigitte, and it was time to go. Surprised by his really old, blue beater, just because it didn’t scream rock ‘n roll, I climbed in and we headed toward the ocean.

He’d made reservations at a restaurant in Marina del Rey, so we headed north on the Pacific Coast Highway. The lobby of the seafood restaurant, right on the harbor, was busy. James checked in and went to use the restroom. While I waited, a man approached and asked me about the restaurant next door. I told him I didn’t know the name or type of food. When James returned to me, the guy burst out laughing. “I didn’t know you were dining here. I just thought you were a shitty waitress!” We laughed together, but this gives you an idea how the two of us were perceived by the folks in this swanky dining establishment.

As we enjoyed our delicious seafood, we visited easily. I asked James about his band. He was interested to hear how my Love Connection date and interaction with the show had been, having been a part of the start. I was uncertain about what we would do as the meal came to an end, but James had a plan. We were going to the nightclub next door.

James stood a few inches taller than six feet. As he walked through the restaurant, people turned to look. Was it the leather, the hair? He definitely had a presence. When we got to the dance club, the bouncers told James he wouldn’t be allowed in wearing his leather jacket. When he took it off, they said they couldn’t let him in wearing a t-shirt. I was good with leaving the upscale, uptight venue, but James talked with the guys and was eventually let in wearing his jacket. We found a table and James went for beers. When he returned, he asked, “Do you mind asking the DJ for some AC/DC? I tried but he won’t look my way.” No problem. I was able to catch the DJ’s eye and he was more than happy to play “Back in Black.” The dance floor filled and everyone rocked out!

Music was good; beers were cold and easy to drink. The two of us talked and laughed until last call and lights up. James ordered beers at last call, even though we had nearly full bottles on the table. When the music stopped and the club lit up, James stood up and slid his sleeves down over the beers. “One for the road!” he cheerfully announced and we headed to the car. Statute of limitations are expired, so I admit we drank on the way back to Tim and Brigitte’s.

Lights were out when we arrived, except the porchlight and low light in the kitchen. We quietly walked through to the family room. Sitting on the couch, James ran his hand down my leg, seriously snagging my hosiery. “Cool! The girls I usually go out with don’t wear these. They can usually drink me under the table, too.” We kissed for a while and he continued to shred my nylons with his rings. I think we both knew this wouldn’t be going anywhere, but it was definitely a fun adventure, including meeting at the Hard Rock, visiting through my Love Connection day, and then shaking up the folks in Marina del Rey! A kiss goodbye and James was gone.

Photo by Daria Rem on Pexels.com

However this Valentine’s Day finds you, I hope you feel loved. ❀

What’s Love Got to do with It?

Photo by Nothing Ahead on Pexels.com

Love Connection continued….

Not long after filming a short video for the Love Connection TV show, I received a call from them. They’d shown three clips to a guy and he’d chosen me for a date. He phoned me to set up our outing. I don’t remember his name, which tells you how this worked out in the long run. I do remember he lived all the way down in Huntington Beach, while I resided in the high desert, more than 100 miles north of him. Even for Southern California, that’s quite a distance for a blind date. Even more Southern California, over 200 miles round trip was nothing for a tv show.

I told him we could meet in the middle but he insisted on picking me up at my apartment, something I would never do now, inviting a stranger to see where I lived alone. (I look back at many things I did in my early 20’s and shake my head.) Unfamiliar with the north end of LA County, he asked me to make the plans.

We went to Vasquez Rocks, a bit south of my town. This is a beautiful park of stunning rock formations. People often recognize it because many films and TV shows use this scenery for background.

We drank a bottle of wine and watched the sunset. Having been warned by show staff not to drink excessively, we debated opening the second bottle before drinking it. As the air cooled, we gathered our things and went to a nearby, very out of the way, cozy, French restaurant. The show assistants had also told each of us not to reveal to other people, including wait staff, that we were on a Love Connection date, and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t until after our third bottle of wine that we shared our secret with our waitress. We couldn’t help if folks around overheard. The rock walls and candlelight made for a warm, cheerful ambiance. Although show staff mentioned we shouldn’t accept free items, we really enjoyed the fancy dessert, compliments of the chef.

On the way back to my place, we talked and laughed easily. It wasn’t awkward until we stood in my quiet, little apartment. The magic had slipped away. He used the bathroom which was in my bedroom. “A waterbed!” Explaining he was newly in CA from back east, he said he’d only heard of waterbeds and didn’t think normal people used them. He asked if he could feel it. We sat on the bed and he laid back. Now it was pretty awkward, indeed. I reminded him he had a long drive ahead, he gave me a chaste goodbye kiss, and it was done.

Unfortunately, I didn’t click with the person who called to interview me about the evening. Unable to tell my story, I could react only to questions asked, just as it would be on the show. Even more unfortunate, the questions were salacious and only minimally related to the actual events. Shocking, I know. An example of our mutual frustration, he asked, “What did you think of him?” Me, “He was nice and friendly. ” “What about his looks?” “Um, he had a nice smile and I liked his eyes.” “What about his body?” “Well, I don’t know. It’s not like he’s a body builder.” “Oh, you only date muscle men?” “No, that’s not what I mean.” “Did you think he was sexy? He really liked you. Did you like him?” “Yes, he was really nice.” Round and round we went. Our conversation ended with me apologizing for something, “I hope you don’t think I was,” and he piped up, “A bitch? Yeah.” There was no follow up from the show, didn’t meet Chuck Woolery, no TV appearance. No love connection of any kind. On the whole, an underwhelming experience.

Good news for Pam though; she met a new love through Great Expectations, and they are happily married still. β™‘

Interested in what happened with James Stewart ( real name), the long-haired, guitar player, bartender from Hard Rock Cafe? I’ll write about that next time.

Looking for a Love Connection

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

Having both been single for the past year and having had a great time together, my friend and I agreed it was time to take steps toward meeting new men. I was 24, Pam was 44 or 45, and we were in Southern California. She was interested in joining a video dating agency called Great Expectations. Oh yeah, this was 1985. I told her I’d go with for moral support and I’d try for the TV show, Love Connection. It was a deal.

Together, we went to the closest office of Great Expectations in San Fernando Valley. Pam is warm, funny, caring, and very intelligent. After a short prep session, she made her video, talking about who she is and what she was looking for in a partner. The response was immediate; many men were interested in meeting her, of course.

Next, would there be a Love Connection for me? I called the phone number at the end of the show and was invited to a cattle call (my term, don’t know what the staff called it πŸ˜ƒ). Across the street from the Beverly Center, a mall at the intersection of Beverly Hills, Hollywood, and L.A. We got a drink at the Hard Rock Cafe. Pam stayed at the bar while I went to the meeting. Probably 40-50 people completely filled a room, writing out a questionnaire we were given with cheesy questions like the ones you’d be asked on the show. All the papers collected, the production assistant asked, “So, who here is the most outgoing?” There was a moment of silence so I said, “Me,” raising my hand. He asked my name, looked at my responses, asked a question or two. The session continued. The P.A. said we’d get a call if they wanted us back. We exited one at a time as our names were called. After most of the people left, surprise! those of us left actually had been selected. Those people who were gone? They weren’t going to get a phone call.

We were given information about the show. They happened to have a filming slot open up that afternoon and asked if anyone wanted to get going right away. I shot my hand up but so did another participant. Because I lived farther away, I got the spot. I was filming for the show today! Returning to the Hard Rock, I shared the news with Pam. She was so excited for me. So was the long-haired, guitar player bartender. We all discussed. We may have had a couple drinks before I crossed back to the office. The filming of my video blurb went quickly. Back to Pam and the cute guy in a band who was serving drinks to pay the bills. He gave me his name, James Stewart, and phone number on a beverage napkin. That ends up being a whole different love connection date. πŸŽΈπŸ˜‰

To be continued……

***For those of you unfamiliar with the 80s tv show hosted by Chuck Woolery – One participant watches three videos and chooses which person they’d like to take on a date. Following the date, the two go to the studio where, first, the person who had chosen a date chats with Chuck. Three potential matches are seen by the audience who then vote for which they thought was the best choice. The actual pick is revealed, how things went is discussed, and then we see if the audience made the same selection. Corny, but maybe a fun adventure and, no, I didn’t expect to find a true love connection.

For Pete’s Sake

His smile and laugh are still with us, and I’ll never forget the last words I heard from my best friend’s fiance, “We love you, Sara” as I left to catch a plane back to California. 25 days later, he was gone.

Lying in bed at a friend’s house in California, hanging out with a friend whose husband was out of town, I heard the phone ring at 6 am. That’s probably not a good thing. Then my friend was saying, “Yes, Sara’s here. Just a minute.” Now, I was certain this must be an emergency and, like a child, I pretended to be asleep, trying to delay whatever was coming.

On the phone, my best friend said, “Pete’s missing.” My first reaction was relief. Pete couldn’t always be counted on, and it was a definite possibility that he’d gone out partying with friends and hadn’t come home. Stacy said, “No! He went diving in a frozen lake and didn’t come back up.” She said they’d be searching again at daylight and she hoped he would be found on the edge of the lake, lost and unable to find his way. I asked if she needed me to fly back to Washington, and she said we should wait to see if he was found safe.

As soon as we hung up, I called my parents. Only after I dialed, I realized how early it still was, but my mom picked up on the first ring. ” We’ve been waiting for your call.” They already knew Pete was missing. It was all over the news in my hometown. My parents didn’t think Pete was going to be found alive. I told them I was going to fly up and I’d let them know my flight time.

After falling apart and calling airlines to reserve a seat, I went to my apartment to pack. A couple hours later the phone rang. “Sara? This is Mike. We found Pete and I wanted to let you know.” “What? You found Pete?” “Yes, he was about six feet away from his oxygen tank at the bottom of the lake.” “Who is this?” I asked. Turns out it was a friend from high school who was now a sheriff; when they notified Stacy, she’d asked Mike to call me.

The week that followed was one of the hardest and longest of my life. There were so many tears, hugs, and memories. An incredible number of flowers and plants were delivered. Because it was one of the coldest weeks ever at -50 degrees with the windchill, florist delivery drivers had to make sure someone was home before taking the arrangements out of the heated van; if they stood waiting for someone to answer the door and had to return flowers to the van, they would be ruined, frozen.

In my mind, Pete kept smiling and saying, “We love you, Sara.” It was just a few weeks ago, my hand on the doorknob, saying goodbye to Pete. Stacy was at work. Pete’s saying they loved me had really surprised me, but right away I answered, “I love you too, Pete.” I smiled. Although he and I were really good friends, we hadn’t ever said we loved each other. No way I could’ve known this was our last moment together.

This past summer, I heard for the first time from Terry, Pete’s best friend, his recollection of the last time he talked to Pete. I knew Terry had flown to Florida the day before Pete went diving. I asked if he’d known that Pete was going to dive under ice. He assured me he had no idea. Then he recounted Pete coming by his auto shop the day before he was scheduled to fly out. Pete asked him to go to lunch. Terry explained he was slammed and had to take care of things before he went on vacation. Pete responded, ” You don’t have time for lunch with your best friend?” This request was so unusual, Terry had gone to lunch. A couple of days later, as soon as he’d reached his grandma’s house, Terry learned Pete was gone.

The memorial for Pete was standing room only at the church where he and Stacy had planned to wed. Instead of maid of honor, holding Stacy’s bouquet, I was at the lectern reading “Footsteps in the Sand.” The burial couldn’t occur until spring because the ground was too frozen. Stacy and I had Pete’s leather jacket and jeans to take the funeral home. I took them in, and the person who worked there asked if it was vital that the clothes actually go on the body, because hours under water rendered it very difficult. “No,” I replied. “As long as they’re in there with him.” I felt very uncomfortable making this decision but I knew it was the practical choice.

The death of Pete gave rise to an incredibly close friend group including Stacy, Terry, another friend named Rod, myself, and Pete’s siblings, Ryan and Sissy. We grieved together in our early 20’s and that experience has bonded us for life. We’ve married, had children, and stayed very close. After years, Stacy met and married a great guy. She and her husband have two kids, who are grown now. All of our children know our story. Pete’s name comes up; we laugh at the memories and the mischief that he instigated.

We’re coming up now on the 32nd anniversary of Pete’s death. He knew he should never dive alone, especially under ice, which requires a partner and a lead line, neither of which Pete had. There was still oxygen in the tank but it was several feet away from his body. What I do know is that Pete’s love and laughter continue through us, and he left us the gift of our precious friendships. Love you, Pete.

Thank You

A little over a year ago, I started this blog because I wanted to document my journey through this bout with clinical depression. I’ve had two prior battles so, even as I felt overwhelmed by darkness, I knew blogging through it might help others gain a better understanding of what depression is like. It’s become so much more, as I’ve continued to heal.

As the one year anniversary of Survivingsara.net arrived, I considered ending my blog; but when I logged in that day, I had a new reader. Seems like one or two people choose to follow my blog each week. I am so grateful for all of you who’ve had at least a kernel of interest, enough to hit the button. Including folks who follow through email as well as WordPress, I now have 80 readers! It continues to be a pleasant surprise each time anyone reads my writing.

Thank you so much! I appreciate you and you inspire me to continue. β™‘

Survivingsara.net

Refining Fire

Photo by Little Visuals on Pexels.com

For the life of me, when Anthony Scaramucci and Michael Cohen warned that DJT would burn everything to the ground if he wasn’t reelected, I considered it hyperbolic. Irrespective of the numerous opportunities I’ve had to learn not to underestimate the depths of DJT’s pathological narcissism, for some completely unsupported reason I once again thought, “He’s not going to burn everything on his way out. He’ll have been beaten in an election. He’ll be a loser, which will deflate him entirely. He will finally be humiliated and limp away.”

Well, we’ve seen how wrong I was. It’s been so much worse. The madness has built, layer upon layer, to an apex where we have to dispatch extraordinary security measures in order to keep our incoming president safe from the armed militias of the outgoing. That is mindboggling. President #46 has to be protected from #45.

Our country has endured years of chaos, in part because the person elected to the office of the presidency loved turmoil. No need to recount specifics; from this side of his term, recitation of the many ways he offended, injured, denigrated, and even killed Americans would just be wallowing in the madness.

We have enough difficulties ahead to occupy our time, energy, and resources. Vaccinating all of America will take months, and in the meantime we’re going to lose more loved ones, sometimes whole families. I’m under no illusion that removing DJT from office will be the last we see and hear from him and his mob.

We will move through the fire together, though whether we will be united, unlikely I know, remains to be seen. The challenges ahead could give us common purpose, burning away the fear and mistrust. The USA is so much better than this. I hope we come out the other side of the coming months a humbled, stronger, and more tolerant people.

Politics vs Governing

[I wrote the following paragraphs as I continue to grapple with exactly what has happened and worry about what’s next. I got as far as I did but then thought ‘blah, blah, blah.’ The writing is accurate but not viscerally connected to the current turmoil. That’s what I want to explore. Posting this now. Next one to follow will be my attempt to somehow harness what it’s like, for me, to live in these strange days.]

An interesting conversation on Twitter reminds me that many people don’t understand the difference between party allegiance, and the importance of leaving that at the door, and the work of governing. Of course, that’s a very blurred line if not almost completely erased.

In the past, representatives and senators spent more time in DC, even socializing together. They got to know each other much better than pols who now fly in on Monday and go home on Friday. The calendars didn’t include such frequent periods marked out weeks at a time for vacation.

I’ve seen a lot of politics throughout the years but, at the same time, there were standards of behavior to reinforce the foundation of our democracy and strengthen our identity as one nation under God. No one aired our political dirty laundry when abroad. During a State of the Union address, it was unthinkable that someone would shout, “Liar!” as the president spoke.

Gone the way of polite social discourse, the separation of getting elected and legislating has all but disappeared. The most egregious example I’ve seen is Mitch McConnell promising he would block everything President Obama presented. Not opposing one or two agenda items based on principles, but announcing nothing would pass. He was true to his word. He refused to bring most of the judicial nominees to the floor for vetting and voting. He promised the same for President Biden, but the power was taken out of his hands when Georgia voted for two democratic senators.

[This is where I realized it was just blah, blah, blah.]

These Days

Well, 2021 is certainly a disappointment out of the gate with strange days I never thought we’d be experiencing in the USA. Since March last, the whole world has been suspended in uncertainty, every single person on earth, old enough to comprehend, simultaneously.What energy has been released and where the hell will it take us?

Personally, I’m so happy to report I have cried very little since Christmas. My sense of humor is returning, although my husband may beg to differ. 😁 Today, I stayed out on the couch in the living room for the entirety of my Seahawks’ loss to the Rams. ☹ Following massage therapy yesterday, I felt relaxed for the first time in months, and the feeling is still with me. Getting stronger.