Saturday, July 9, 2016

As any of you who are still checking this have noticed, I haven’t posted anything in 6 months.

Greetings All,

As any of you who are still checking this have noticed, I haven’t posted anything in 6 months. 


I got a message this week from the father of a former student, and it was a sincere request to know how my family is doing.  The honest to goodness answer is….all over the place.  From the outside, we are doing great.  Anya reads so much on a daily basis that it’s an honest to goodness problem for us, in that she’s avoiding doing all the things that she’s supposed to be doing to contribute to the house.  Shelley is slowly moving back into the realm of work, working on a contract basis for the director of her agency.   I am doing just fine at work, and consistently being recognized as a teacher of quality in my district.  We’re all good, honestly.

It’s so strange, however, about the way that cancer has hallowed out a place in our heads, in our hearts, and in our lives.  I think of how a tumor grows, (pardon my lack of actual medical knowledge in the comment that follows.  I am not a doctor, and have no actual medical knowledge beyond that which I have gleaned from random internet sources) in that it sucks the blood and energy and life force out of the organs around it, for its own purposes.  When a tumor is cut out, it leaves this gap, this void.  I imagine that void creates its own problems that need to be dealt with, as Amie’s void has created for us.

That void is pretty insidious though.  For Anya, it manifests in a pretty consistent desire to be perfect…She reacts so harshly to criticism of any kind, such as redirecting her to her daily chores when she sneaks away to read.  For Shelley, I see her just dwelling in this state of loneliness.  Lacking any concrete way to connect that “normal” people have, she spends a lot of time with Anya and I, and never really gets to escape our space.  For me, I am restless.  I’m like a shark most days, doing whatever it is that I need to do to turn off my churning brain.

I’m still running (registered for the Crim and the Free Press ½ Marathon) a lot, and playing video games, and reading Reddit, and reading Slate, and reading books, and playing Magic: The Gathering, and, and, and.  I’ve always been restless, and I’ve always needed more stimulation in my daily activities than most…but it’s been distilled down so much worse than ever since Amie died.  It’s not a good thing, and I know I need to be able to find peace with the silence, with the quiet, with the acceptance of a calm moment, but it’s not somewhere that I’m at right now.  Will I ever be?  Who knows.

I am re-reading (for the 3rd time? 4th Time?) Neil Gaiman’s American Gods right now.  I had no intention of re-reading it, but my niece Allyssa wanted to read it, and well…it was there (kindle version, digital), and I read a few pages and fell back into it.  I was reading this morning and came across this line in the book:

“There are stories that are true, in which each individual’s tale is unique and tragic, and the worst of the tragedy is that we have heard it before, and we cannot allow ourselves to feel it too deeply.”

This passage spoke to me, and forced me to stop reading right there.  It was a perfect way to describe where I’m at right now.  I have felt numb for some time, in regards to the problems that are facing so many others in my circles.  A good friend of mine’s chronic illness has slipped another few notches towards the really “not good”, and another’s wife received a cancer diagnosis that is the pinnacle of “not good”.  That’s not even approaching the horror of the national news that is Orlando, and Dallas, and, and, and.  But I’ve been really unable to open myself to help them, or even talk about it.

I see people’s gaping chasms of pain and awfulness, fully aware of how terrible they are for them, and can’t engage with them right now. I know this makes me a tad bit of a coward, as I have experiences that might be able to help, might be able to at least let them know that they aren’t alone.  But that same void inside of me is just….waiting to leap out and swallow anything it can get its hands on, and I just won’t let it.

I was out for a long run this morning and stopped by Amie’s grave.  I don’t go there that much, compared to Shelley, as I know that she’s not “there”.  But it’s a gorgeous spot, and easily in the path of the nicest run in Howell, and well, it’s where she’s summoned to memory in the easiest way.  People have left her all sorts of things at her grave; stones, toys, flowers, art, and even a small concrete Weeping Buddha.  I was standing there, taking a break and sweating profusely as is my habit, and a wave of unfairness overcame me.  I usually don’t think about how grossly unfair it is that we had three pregnancies, and now have one kid.  (an incredibly awesome kid!)  But it did, and I let it wash over me, and then kept running. 

But I think about the quote above, and how guarded I am with my emotions these days, protecting myself from them, preventing them from tearing me up.  Is that part of being a guy, that process where we don’t want to let ourselves feel, or just the place that I’ve built for myself? 

Long run, it’s not the person I want to be.  It’s not going to help me be a better teacher, or a good friend.  But it’s where I am now.

So, at the end of all this rumination, I’d like to put forth (again) that we’re doing just fine.  Cracked, in some ways, but not broken, and not defeated in the least.

With all of that, a few pictures:

Anya continues to be our own Luna Lovegood (for those of you in the potterverse).  I asked her what this costume was, and she just said it looked good to her, and asked to have her picture taken.

Anya turned 9 in June, and I just love this picture.  So happy.  

Anya reads a lot.  A LOT.  She wanted a "reading" birthday party.  I was scared.  Most people do not read as much as her.

But Shelley and Anya worked out a great plan, and it was a total success.

These are edible books made of fondant (I'm told that's a sort of frosting).  I was beyond impressed with these.  In awe, more like it...

I know this pains some of my friends who went to MSU with me.  We took these for a photo collage for Allyssa's graduation from HS.  It's the only close up family pic I could find.

I made the girls stop the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum on the way to our roadtrip to Arkansas.  It was a great experience, and they even enjoyed it too!  Look how happy Anya is!

(Pardon my hairy legs, please)  This is Canvas.  She's the new addition to our family.

Amie always wanted a kitty.  We posted about it often.  
She couldn't have one, because of the immune system issues.  

It took us a while, and we finally got to the point where we were ready to welcome some new life into our home, and Canvas arrived a few weeks ago.  

She's totally bitey, and in attack mode right now, but every once in a while, she does slow down and become the cuddliest kitten you'd ever want.

I guess, to me, she represents the healing process, and the welcoming of the unknown into your life.  She's new, and she's wild, and she's changing the dynamic of what it means to be us.  

But, I guess that's what living life is, to a small extent, yes?  
Welcoming the glorious unknown into your life to see what it brings?

Hope all is well for each and every one of you.