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"you can cry while you are doing the dishes"

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

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. emoticon
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • MISSB8604
    You are a gift to Spark.

    I wish your sister the absolute best.
    1511 days ago
  • JENNA54
    Gosh this was a great blog for me to read now. My life has changed quite dramatically with the passing of my mum - she was so much part of my daily life, living here with me, so there is a big gap to fill. But I know that I just have to get on with it, while at the same time acknowledging that it hurts terribly to not have her here. I consider myself so fortunate to have a lot of special and very dear memories of the fun times we have shared. I am thinking of you and your sister, and hoping that the outcome is positive, which it does sound. You just never know what is around the corner, so we need to make the most of every single day. You are facing a difficult and stressful time, but you have a strength which I admire greatly and I know you will stay strong. Do the dishes a lot...
    1577 days ago
    Cannie, as always your blogs are so thought provoking. None of us knows when we visit a loved one or friend if it could be the last visit with them. Your visit with your cousin is a vivid reminder how very worth the effort it was. My best wishes for your sister's and mother's return to good health. Have a safe trip to Eugene. emoticon
    1588 days ago
  • DOODIE59
    I am so sorry for all the bad news for your family. We are in control of very little, and sometimes it shows. I would gently suggest you take a day to yourself precisely so that you can grieve and fret, and let your fears out. Then get back to business. You can't hold that pain in. Big, big hugs. My thoughts are with you,
    1588 days ago
    I love that saying! It describes what we have to do so perfectly. I know where you're coming from, I lost my Dad and my 40 year old sister within 3 months of each other. It was inconceivable to me that the world kept turning and ordinary life had to go on. Stay strong!! emoticon
    1588 days ago
    emoticon So sorry you are going through this!
    1589 days ago
    Oh Cannie Love,
    My heart aches for you. We have had a year of losses/shocks here and it doesn't seem to be over.... I understand. As you know life, death, sadness and joy enter and exit our lives like waves. It still hurts when we're caught in one.
    Your blog points out perfectly how even though yes, we need to make our health a priority and tackle those underlying issues, it will not, cannot guarantee us another day beyond what we are granted. Your sister's good health will help her in her situation, your cousin's did not. It's life. You are a busy mama and I know overbooking ourselves happens. GUILTY here! The thing is, you were actively living. Who could have guessed or known all that would happen and wouldn't it be awful live a life of holding back "just in case" of a crisis. It'll all gel again. It always does. I hope your therapy session goes well so excited for you and keep us posted!!!!!
    1589 days ago
    I've had a bumpy holiday season with some of the issues that you have had and found myself down and whiny. When I read what you are going through, I realized that life could be so much worse. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. God bless you.
    1590 days ago
    Oh, Carole, I'm so sorry the year started in such an ugly way for you. I'm really sorry for the loss of your cousin and I'm praying that all goes well with your sister.
    I believe that behind every curve on the road of life there is a meaningful lesson hidden for us. And you seem to have got the right messages from the bad things that this new year brought. Realizing the importance of health issues and the urgency of tackling our bad habits and also the time we should try to spend with our loved ones while we can are all really important priorities that we tend to forget while we're loading our schedules with tons of other things. And last but not least, our feelings and emotions have to be expressed. There's nothing wrong with crying while doing the dishes. Tears are meant to be freed and they'll find their way down our cheeks sooner or later.
    My thoughts are with you through this difficult time.
    1590 days ago
  • OOLALA53
    Zounds, Woman!

    You can cry when it's not time to eat, too.
    1590 days ago
    You brought tears to my eyes. Like you, I often take on more than I should and I got anxious just reading what all LIFE through at you that week that you hadn't anticipated. Good for you for recognizing the importance of family and taking care of yourself and realizing that it's okay to ask for help - whether through therapy or SP or anywhere else. May be all be so wise. emoticon
    1590 days ago
    Damn girl and I think I have a lot going on! Son sorry form the loss of your cousin. That is sooo scary! And ovarian cancer, well that is pretty scary too, but if she is anything like you, I know she will fight and win. I'm with you doll, you know I love you!
    1590 days ago
    Oh, Cannie, I'm so sorry to see you pounded with these difficult situations. You work through each and every crisis with astute intellect and compassion. And somehow keep your feet on the ground (figuratively AND literally) coping, processing and walking to stay healthy & keep your puppy tired.

    I'm glad you can accompany your sister and that you made it a priority to spend true quality time with your cousin and family. You often disparage yourself, but I see only a strong woman with a solid head on her shoulders and a heart as big as outer space.

    Warm thoughts and positive energy coming to you through all this...and frequent cyber hugs when you need 'em!
    1590 days ago
    The New Year has really started with a bang for you.. my thoughts are prayers with you for strength to get through all of this. Hugs, Rhonda
    1590 days ago
    So sorry about your Mom your cousin, your sister. That's the motherlode of stress to be sure. ((((HUGS)))) I am glad that you're going to spend time with your sister. That is so important.

    Right now my MOm (she'll be 85 nest month) is dealing with Alzheimer's and it is so difficult. Bottom line is making the very most of our time together. That is so important.

    Take care, sweetie. Thoughts, hugs and prayers
    1590 days ago
    I'm so sorry to hear of the sad happenings you're dealing with. You have handled your difficult week with grace. I will be keeping you and your family in my thoughts and prayers.
    1590 days ago
    So sorry so many things that are so severe have come together all at once in your life as well as that of your family. Life throws these reminders of how frail and delicate we really are. I was amazed at how important moments shared with my Mom became when she died, moments that were just everyday, non significant things that are now monumental moments I will treasure forever.
    Thoughts and prayers are with you.
    1590 days ago
    Powerful blog. We do indeed do what we need to do while we grieve and worry and fret over crises.

    All best to you and to your sister.

    And condolences on the loss of your cousin.
    1590 days ago
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