Hazardous Working Conditions

We have pretty much been in our pjs for two weekends in a row. Ms. Amy called me this morning and said she was sick. Again.

"I never used to get sick," she said, sounding a little perplexed at her recent bouts with illness.

I was not as perplexed.

"Hah," I said. "You didn't used to have such hazardous working conditions either!"

Poor Amy. We tend to do a number on our helpers. Sally even ended up with meningitis. Never sure that we gave it to her, but it was pretty suspicious.

The kids have basically been sick for two straight weeks. This was our second weekend in a row to stay in our pajamas. Virginia has a nasty cough and congestion. Wills tested positive for flu and strep today. Never had that one happen before. And poor Eliza just has strep.

So...prayers for sleep. Prayers for healing. And prayers that Virginia doesn't get the flu. She won't be able to participate in her Valentine surprise if she has the flu. And it would be nice if I could come and go from Nana's without having to leave a sick kid (or three) and without having to worry about giving Nana the flu!


When I started my six-hour drive home from Nana's on Tuesday, I was sad.

Really sad.

It didn't help that it happened to be the gloomiest day on record. I didn't see the sun one time as I followed the Appalachians all the way to their foothills. Mist was falling the entire trip- not enough rain to actually turn the windshield wipers on, but enough to need a sporadic swipe.

Obviously, the process of losing someone I love as much as Nana is painful, but I knew there were some other demons lurking around as well.

At first I tried not to think about what was weighing on me. I pulled out a cd case that I honestly don't think I have opened since high school. Abba Gold. Abba More Gold. The soundtrack to Mermaids. Toad the Wet Sprocket. (I think that one is from eighth grade). A four disc collection titled Hitsville USA. Is anyone else embarrassed for me?

After about an hour, I realized I couldn't sing away what was tugging at me.

The truth is that sometimes new suffering opens up old wounds.

As I was standing at her bedside, it was hard not to be aware of the missing generation between Nana and me.

As I spoon fed Nana her yogurt, I thought of Virginia waiting back at home. It was sad to have to be feeding Nana, but also somewhat expected. She is ninety-three years old, and whether she lives 2 more weeks or 2 more years, she is approaching the end of her life. Virginia is supposed to be in the prime of hers.

As I sat there with Nana, I wished Virginia could be with me. Nothing would have made Nana happier. But it's just not possible under the circumstances. It's too long a drive and caring for Virginia on the road is more than a one woman job.

I was grieving for myself. And what I lost. But realizing fully that my loss is only a shadow of Virginia's loss.

All milestones, good and bad, make us look at where we are in life verses where we thought we would be. We come face to face with crumpled expectations. Shattered dreams.

I never thought that at thirty-two, my life would look like this. I thought it would be easier, much easier. I never imagined myself as the primary caregiver to my severely disabled little girl. In all the places my imaginative mind went as a child, it never happened upon this place of suffering.

So what do you do with all those expectations? When you realize they are what hold you back and keep you from embracing joy?

You have to let them go.

You have to embrace new life and new traditions. New dreams and new ambitions.

When you can't move on from the old expectations, they become the burden.

It is not the actual struggle that is so hard. It's grieving the loss of what might have been.

I have to believe that almost all of us do this. We all dwell on the bumps in the road.

And those bumps in the road give us an excuse not to be happy.

If only...

Virginia hadn't been hurt.

If only...

(you fill in the blank)

I admitted long ago that I don't like change. I am very much rooted in tradition. Thinking about Wills staying at school two hours longer next year is enough to bring me to tears.

Apparently, it is even hard for me to accept that I need to create some new dreams.

Thankful for Saturday's sunshine, I made sick Wills take a nap on the trampoline. He slept two hours.

I tried the same thing with Sissy, but she laughs in the face of all sleep!