Someone gave me this advice..."you can cry while you are doing the dishes" many, many years ago when I was in my 20's and facing down alcoholism. Basically, what they were saying, of course, is that even when you are feeling sad and a bit overwhelmed by emotion, you can still take care of the business of daily living. This advice rings true for me, nearly 30 years later, and I definitely had to follow it last week. I was facing an overly busy week. I had over-booked myself, which is a habit I really thought I had made some progress with, but it showed up last week, in spades. Over Christmas break, we got a new puppy, who is adorable but who is a new puppy and, thus, requires lots and lots of patience and energy and attention. I already have one dog whom I refer to, affectionately, as "Mr. Needypants". I knew exactly what I was getting myself into when I granted our youngest's 10th birthday wish (he has been asking for five years) for his "very own" puppy. Anyway, I had agreed, months ago, to chair a fundraiser at P's elementary school. I am a seasoned volunteer and have headed up many projects, so, again, I pretty much knew what I was getting into. I also run things on the homefront because my husband works a LOT. Plus, it was the first week back after Christmas break. I knew I was facing a very busy week so I prepared myself as best I could - I worked hard to stay on top of tasks around the house, I went to bed at a reasonable hour every night, and I committed to working hard with a minimum of whining. What I was not prepared for was what life brought my way (apparently life did not know I was over-booked and a touch overwhelmed). My elderly mother had a minor health crisis, so I had to fit in trips to the doctor and the pharmacy. Then, I got a call that my cousin, a man who just turned 60, and who was in good health and had always taken care of himself (normal weight, didn't drink, didn't smoke, etc.) had succumbed to a vicious attack by the H1N1 virus. He was a very interesting, humble, witty guy. I knew he had taken ill but I thought, we all thought, he would pull through. He served in the military, and was a career CIA employee who had been stationed in the Middle East (he would never have told you about the CIA by the way, both because he was discreet and because he was humble) but a VIRUS took him out. I was and am very sad about his death, as are many, especially the wife and family he leaves behind. Less than 24 hours later I received a call that one of my sister's, who was having what was supposed to be rather routine surgery, had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Again, 60 years old and otherwise very healthy, with a very healthy lifestyle. The shock set in. I was angry that I was so busy and committed that I felt like I couldn't even sit down for an hour to properly grieve. I decided to keep moving, and honor the commitment I had made to the school, and keep walking the dogs, and keep my household in order. In other words, I "cried while I did the dishes". At the end of the week, I was blessed with some time to myself, when I could properly give my emotions their due. I have spent a lot of time thinking about my cousin, and being in contact with some of the family. I have been in contact with my sister (and our eldest sister, who was by her side throughout the hospitalization and initial diagnosis). I am going there (she lives in Eugene, Oregon, which is about a 7 hour drive, south of where I live) to take her to her second chemo appointment. They believe they caught it early enough, and that her prognosis is good. Because she is of normal weight, and does not smoke, or drink to excess, her surgery went well and her recovery looks good. I don't mean to make this about me, but I know my excess weight would work against me in a similar situation. It works against me in most situations. I am not in denial about my weight, or compulsive eating. I am locked in an on-going struggle, and actively seeking assistance to sort this out. It is ultimately up to me, but sometimes it does not pay to go it alone. I have my first therapy appointment tomorrow - there will be plenty to talk about, and I am willing to sort through it. In the meantime, I am grateful that I took the time, several years ago, to drive from Bellingham, Washington to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, through crazy lightening and thunderstorms and scary flash flooding (we were waved off the I-90 freeway by a brave state trooper who was standing in the lane warning off travelers, that's how bad it was). It was worth every minute, every mile, every dollar, every ounce of energy, to spend time with my cousin and his family and other family members. I am grateful that I will be able to spend time with my sister, and offer any assistance and tender, loving care, that I can, as she fights a scary battle. Time spent with those we love is never time wasted. None of us has any guarantees so I want to be as loving as I can, for as long as I am here. In the meantime, I will go about the business of daily living, finding some comfort in the mundane, and, if need be, I will cry as I do the dishes.