Monday, December 31, 2007
You were exquisite.
Would I have understood your splendor before?
You were so young when I left the hospital last, so young and eager to blaze new trails. We closed raw chapters together this year going through rest of Mom's things...going through the rest of mine. I said goodbye to a beloved pet and adopted another. I discovered a loving protectiveness for my father and a sweet gentleness in his weathered hands. My love for Nick grew as I freed my heart from the bonds of grudgery and found the courage to ask for help.
As I approach the second anniversary of Mom's death, I feel the sadness settling in. It will always be this way; I am not vacant. This year, the sadness does not suffocate.
Thank you, 2007, for kindness, love, ambition, and strength. You have healed me, and I can once again dream.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
We sent this picture with our Christmas cards. It seemed to be well received. I stopped by the grocery store yesterday to pick up more Fancy Feast for the fluffy one, and I did something I swore I'd never do—but this is me imbibed with the Christmas spirit and antidepressants! I bought several "feasts" for her that at one time seemed a bit extravagant, but I think that she should be able to eat white meat chicken and whipped egg soufflé with garden greens on Christmas, dang it!
It has been such a wonderful season for me. Yesterday, I was baking cookies for Dad with the amber glow of white Christmas lights and flickering candles while listening to Josh Groban singing "O Holy Night". It all just felt so right. I stopped by my aunts' yesterday while I was in the area and they gave me my present early (just in case the forecasted snow storm wreaks havoc on tomorrow's brunch date). They gave me the LOVELIEST piece of bakeware—ohmigosh I am so in love with it! It has the prettiest, most delicate floral-filigreed pattern with a rattan holder—it is like they saw the picture of what I wanted in my mind and found it!
Sophie ate the wrapping on her present this morning so we gave it to her early. She's been mostly good, though we've noticed that the tree now looks slightly slanted in its base. This can be mostly attributed to a good daily climbing from the feline that seems to be getting bigger and stronger every single day. So, the run-down: Christmas with Mom's family was last Sunday, Christmas with Mom's sisters is tomorrow at brunch if the weather holds out, Christmas with Dad's family is Monday for lunch, Christmas with Nick's family is Monday for dinner, and Christmas with Dad is Tuesday for lunch. When we went through the list of invites (of my family gatherings versus his), Nick exclaimed, "I'm getting screwed!"
Yes, well, that's the way that it is.
You all have a very Merry Christmas!
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Mentally, metaphysically, I embrace my philosophical understanding of life. I wrap my arms around the peace and calm that rules my mind and tempers my tolerance. It is a maturity that allows me to complete my current science course and academically discuss Darwinism without feeling as though my spirituality is being threatened. It has allowed me to accept my weaknesses and ask for help. I found this empowering.
It hasn't been easy accepting my depression. I am a happy person, an optimist that makes Brenda gag with my sunshiny giddiness. It is a trait that I inherited from Mom; she was difficult to read, too. It went so long undiagnosed because I always attributed the woe to other things.
Yes, I feel sad, but I just moved away from home and maybe I'm a little homesick.
Yes, I feel sad, but my mother was just diagnosed with end-stage Cancer.
Yes, I feel sad, but Mom was just told that she has three months left to live.
Yes, I feel sad, but I just picked up my life and moved 1,200 miles.
Yes, I feel sad, but my husband just left.
Yes, I feel sad, but my mother just died.
Yes, I feel sad, but I am in constant pain; I am sick...my health is hazy.
Then, one day not so long ago:
Yes, I feel sad...but why?
I am not one of those ignorant people who disbelieves in mental disorders. My genetic makeup is of two sources seeped in anxiety and depression. I grew up surrounded by people on Prozac and Lithium. But, I worry how to assimilate in a world of people who know not such illness. It took a bit of convincing to get Nick to accept that it was not his fault that I wasn't happy. It wasn't anybody's fault. With the encouragement from a friend at work, I made an appointment to speak with my doctor.
In the last few weeks, I have noticed a difference. My smiles are rooted deeper than my face. My mind is sharper, and I no longer feel worthless. Speaking with the doctor crumbled my bravado. Telling someone the depth of the evil inside of me felt shaming. "I am the one that spreads cheer, not the one who needs it!" I thought to myself. I have since accepted that this process was not a compromise of my strength, but an extension of it.
My mother taught me open-mindedness. She regularly reminded, "Everyone has a story!" This is my story. I may be on medication for the rest of my life, but I do not feel inferior. I do feel light, I do feel really and truly happy. I have kept my diagnosis quiet until recently because I feared how other people would react—but I feel so good. I trust my true friends would not deny me such freedom.
So, this is me. I have depression, but it does not define who I am. I am also flat-footed, knock-kneed, and arthritic—you're not going to hold that against me, are you?
Sunday, December 9, 2007
My history course is titled "The American Experience Since 1945"; I am now studying Indochina and France's fall at Dien Bien Phu. The breadth of my knowledge before this course? Well, let's just say that I've been head-banging to the chorus of "We Didn't Start the Fire" that keeps streaming in my head.
Dien Bien Phu falls, Rock Around the Clock...
Am I really this pathetic?
Saturday, December 8, 2007
In the bustling atmosphere of the sporting goods store, we hold one another's hand so as not to become separated. Nick finds golf balls on sale and we work our way to the cashier. I live with someone who cannot stand Christmas movies, Christmas carols, Christmas-anything until the week before the big day. I hum "Jingle Bells" beneath my breath and wait for the eye-twitch. Oh well, Sophie's feeling festive and has participated in the chewing of the Christmas cards and the stealing of the Christmas cards pen. She also rearranges the tree ornament during her free time and adjusts the placement of the gold beading. What a good little Christmas cat.
After the long line shuffle to the cashier, Nick finds fault with the scanner. He tells the employee that the scanner is wrong, that the item is on sale. In a line longer than Pinocchio's naughty nose, the employee calls up to the golf department while another employee tackles the escalator to head to the department himself. It turns out that the sign was poorly placed and the golf balls were full price. With gruff, he tells the team of sporting goods employees that he no longer wants the items. As we walk away, the smoke billows from his ears and he says, "THIS is why I hate Christmas!"
Monday, December 3, 2007
Saturday morning, I could barely conceal my glee—nix that. I didn't conceal it at all! We were going to cut down our own tree. I grew up with a real tree year after year, and the artificial sort just doesn't do it for me. We would always go after school the first Friday in December, my family and I. Charlie and I would be little Michelin Men in our snowsuits (we used to get much more snow way back when, our first snow fort dug out by Thanksgiving!) and the four of us would squeeze into the cab of Dad's old pickup truck. Mom would lead us in a round of Christmas jingles and we would take turns telling each other what we were most grateful for. Always, we said family.
The light would dim as we made our way to the tree farm of choice, and the four of us would pile out in the thick snow to look for the perfect tree. We always found it. Charlie and I would grab onto the tree as Dad carried it down to feel like we were helping and we watched in glassy-eyed awe as they secured it to the truck. By then it was dark and we were numb with cold. Gratefully, we crammed back into the cab of the truck with the heat blasting.
At home, Bing Crosby crooned as Mom warmed milk on the stove for hot chocolate with candy cane stir-sticks. I looked forward to it year after year. This year, I looked to reclaim that feeling of absolute wonderment and warmth. Nick and I traipsed out Saturday morning. Earlier in the week I exclaimed, "Oh no! I don't have winter boots!" Nick reminded me that there was no snow on the ground. Oh, yeah.
We weaved along the lines of spruces and I hopped sporadically, unable to contain the thrill. Just as we found THE ONE, the snow began to fall. I flopped my head back and stuck out my tongue, hoping to catch a flake. Back at home, I wish I had heeded my mother's advice that trees always look smaller in a forest than in a living room, as our tree exceeded the height of the ceiling by ten inches.
We set it up on Saturday, monitoring Sophie to see how destructive she was going to be. We left it undecorated that first day, hoping to ease her into the newness of it all. The lingering presence of evergreen was hypnotic and I was light in carefree in the memories of Christmases passed. Sophie was mostly good, but not so much that we didn't keep a spray bottle at hand's reach. Sunday, we decorated.
As was evidently clear during the initial phases of trimming, Sophie would be a holy terror with the decorations, the gold beading in particular. This in mind, we have a "mostly" decorated tree, the bottom void of anything that might tempt the cat to wreak havoc. As you can see from the picture, she's at the bottom waiting for a moment when nobody is watching to get into a little mischief.
I set up the nativity scene in made for my mother seventeen years ago, much to Nick's chagrin. (I am not sure where his dislike of nativity scenes stems, but I will have none of it.) Besides, mine is beautiful, if I do say so myself. Boughs adorn the stair railing and the large window, and we have received our first Christmas card. Saturday, we received up to a foot of accumulated snow and I am recording Nestor tonight on the Family Channel. I love the build-up—LOVE!
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