Friday, September 1, 2017

Coming Around the Bend

I don't know about you, but I love a good road trip.  If you know me personally, you know I HATE the expressway and love scenic routes.  If you don't personally know me...well now you at least know that quirk about me.

On one hand I love the long straight roads, you feel like you can fly down them and see what is ahead for miles and miles.  The downfall is that those roads can become boring very quickly and you can go into 'auto-pilot' mode, missing the passing scenery the next thing you know you can't remember intersections you went through or signs you may have missed.

Then there are the twisting, turning, winding stretches that keep you on your toes, make you hit the brakes, and go a little slower.  At times these are exhilarating, but at other times they are down right frightening, like the hair-pinned turns along mountain passes in the Smoky Mountains.

Do you see the metaphor I see?  Do you see the road and life in general being synonymous here?

When life is good and your plans are all laid out clearly, you are full steam ahead, but even on the smooth path you can loose course.  Then there are the frighteningly exhilarating times where you don't know what will happen next, you don't know to fight or flee, but you are too determined (or stupid) to pick a different path.

Do you see it now?  Are you remembering your own road trips in life?

This year feels like one big road trip.  Some times smooth, some times questionable, some rough terrain, some potholes from Hell in the center of it all.  Yet I keep driving ahead, always hopeful that the next mile, the next turn, the next sign will lead to better things.

Not that things have all been terrible.  So lets start with a few of the good things first, shall we...

  • I've successfully navigated off the path of anxiety...though anyone who has traveled that road will tell you it is always there, running parallel in every moment, just waiting for you to jump back into it's lane.
  • My son has begun driving as well - literally and figuratively.  He's got his driving permit and can't wait to get a car and have more freedom.  The same as he is about to enter his Junior year and can see being an adult right within reach and all the things he sees with it - freedom, money, independence - though I try my best to 'keep it real' with everything else you never think about when you are almost 18 and think you rule the world.
  • I've realized, for myself, I'm at a pretty decent stretch of road, of life.  I just celebrated 10 years in my job, I continue to chip away at debt and save enough to take a small family vacay to Northern Michigan (if you have never gone you need to go!).  Me and my ginger honey and our blended brood are still going good after 3 years.  It doesn't feel like there is chaos after chaos on my daily agenda anymore...I think this is what I've heard of as 'knowing who you are' and not feeding into the drama anymore.
On the not-so-bueno side, there have been some not great things.  Or maybe it's one big thing that has hit several very important people in my life and my son's life.  
  • In February his paternal grandmother was diagnosed with cancer - for the 3rd or 4th time.  They didn't give her but weeks in those first few days, but 6 months later she is still here and managing her pain with the help of cannabis oil, it has done wonders for her and she still doesn't let cancer win.
  • In May/early June, my step dad informed us that he is battling Prostate cancer, with signs of cancer in his lymph nodes.  This is a a hard one for me, not just because he's been my bonus dad for 20 years...but because he just retired, he should be doing what old guys do - yard work and afternoon naps and watching sports all isn't fair. Then again cancer doesn't care about fairness. And yet he still keeps putting one foot in front of the other as well.
  • Around the same time, my son's paternal grandfather (who's wife I already mentioned) found out he has a non-operable tumor in his throat, again cancer.  It is so bad that he can not eat and only drinks through a straw.  Chemo is really taking his energy and he's lost a lot of weight in a very short time.  I think, as hard as they all are for my son to deal with, this is his worst as his Papa Sivil has always been a mountain of a man, who is now frail and in pain.

When I was Jake's age, I remember watching my own mountain of a grandpa go through cancer of the throat.  I saw it zap his strength, but never his spirit. I watched it decay his body, but not eat away at his faith or peace. It's like I am now sitting shotgun with Jake as he travels down that road I was once on.

The positive to this passenger seat is that I can help him navigate through the feelings and situations he's going through with all of them.  I can tell him to appreciate every second with them, to take time and ask them to tell their own stories so he can keep those stories alive for his grandchildren.  I tell him to say what is in his heart, to not be afraid to cry or reach out for prayers and support.  He, and I, are very blessed to have people who will pray for us, for them.  His wrestling team/family are all there for him and now that he has joined football those same guys, and then some, are giving him even more support.  In the midst of the hurt he is dealing with, all I can seem to focus on is the blessings of it.

Maybe because I know in the times I've only seen the bumps and broken road and darkness, I've missed the good that was there too...the light (even if ever so small) to guide me, the life just beyond the darkness, the sturdiness of my foundation, the people traveling along the road beside me.

I am grateful for this road, for this place in the road.  Even knowing there are bends to come, mountains to skirt around, valleys to cross over.

This weekend, my son is with his father's folks and spending as much time with them as he can before school starts again and time slips away. These are hard days to smile, but I hope they can share laughs and memories, so that when he looks back on this part of his road he will remember those moments over the unbearable sadness.

I will be taking a bit of a rest from the world myself, as much as I can as a mom who is heartbroken for her child. So as much as I wish I could shield him, I have to continue on my own path, trusting he knows I'm here, a call or text away.

So while I enjoy what I can of Labor Day weekend away from actual work, I will be doing a different kind of work - though if it is something you love can you really call it 'work'?  I've far too long gone without putting words on paper, so this weekend it's time to write while I can.  My books are always there on these travels of mine - tucked away in the trunk of my brain, waiting to come out and find life on my laptop (and hopefully someday the best seller list)!  The words have patiently been bidding their time for a break in the travels so I can dig them out and show them some light.  

This is a great weekend to shine.

Here is what you missed!