Saturday, December 29, 2012

2012 – The Year the World Didn’t End

It’s ten-after-three in the afternoon, December 29th, 2012 and I am contemplating the conclusion of another year.  So much has happened in just the last few months that it almost seems like the first part of the year didn't happen.  All this year there had been talk of the great Mayan Apocalypse of 12.21.12 – a day that actually slipped by almost unnoticed in the end.  But so much has changed that maybe in a way my world really did end and I am just now coming to terms with just how different life is.  I entered twenty-twelve never thinking I would be here right now.  Plans were in place for me to graduate with my Bachelor’s degree last May, our finances while decidedly more touch-and-go then when Erhard was alive seemed to be holding together, and my brother Steve and I embarked on a whirlwind of outings that brought us closer together and me some real measure of comfort as I learned to deal with life as a widow. 
And then September happened and everything just fell apart.  Steve became seriously ill on my birthday (September 9th) and entered the intensive care unit the next morning.  Within the span of a week-and-a-half I was reinstated as his power-of-attorney-for-health-care and I had to make the fatal and horrific decision to stop life support and let him go… while still in shock I reached out to my sister-in-law just at the moment she was calling me to let me know that her brother (and my brother-in-law) Mike had died suddenly four days after Steve.  That had to be the most surreal conversation I have ever had in my life – the two of us trying to come to terms with the fact that BOTH our brothers were suddenly gone.
School became a blur, even as I had made the decision to graduate in December (something that didn’t happen) and scraping together the money for my brother’s final expenses and some large expenses coming due at the same time wiped out every extra cent I had without the possibility of any more self-generated income.  I suddenly became a dependent again – something I can’t begin to describe.  Ever since then I have lived in the margins of my mind – equal parts focused and determined and desperate and grief-stricken.  October and November blended into each other, the holidays came and while there were moments of great contentment and joy a part of me felt out-of-sync and emotionally absent.  Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew there were solutions to be divined and made tangible but they were always elusively just out-of-reach.  I am left feeling helpless and free-floating in some abysmal mire waiting for the mental fog to clear even as I reach for just about any substance to keep my mind altered. 
Now as the clock ticks off the last hours of the year I am again faced with new situations that I would truthfully just rather not deal with but for which there is no other choice but for me to act in a responsible manner.  Early next month my sister, Angela will undergo eye surgery to restore her vision.  The concept of Angie as blind and frail at 49 years old never pinged my radar but as of this Thanksgiving reality came home when she came for dinner and it was obvious that her health had taken a serious downward turn.  The prospect of one more caregiving role is almost too much for me to contemplate but here I am. 
If I should dare look away from this situation and focus on my own life I am left contemplating the fact that my car is now seriously on the fritz – needing both a new thermostat and tires.  I am so far behind in my schoolwork I have decided to not enroll in any more classes until I can complete the legion of incompletes currently on my transcript, even though that means I will have no health insurance and only six months before the first of my student loans need to be factored into my expenses. For the first time since Erhard’s death not a single bill has been paid this month and I am not sure that there is enough anywhere to cover the cost, despite the fact that both kids and renteds have stepped up to fill the gap.  I can’t even bring myself to gather up the bills although I know instinctively that I will have to have this done by Monday.
Yet as I looked around this morning after waking up hours later than usual because I was unable to sleep until past seven-this-morning I felt a security and contentment as I gazed around my cluttered, mismatched home and realized that I loved this place and my life and I had to ultimately prove that no, the world really didn’t end. 
I know that I face months of therapy and assistance before my equilibrium returns completely but for right now, this moment, I am okay.  I am safe within the cocoon of a loving, large, raucous family and extended family and that none of us are willing to watch the others sink.  Sitting at my feet is a mixed-breed puppy too large to be recognized as the baby he still is, offering me his warmth and comfort and unconditional love.  The house is dark yet the lights on the Christmas tree twinkle brightly just a room away reminding me of the riotous mix of colors and styles that make up the life and the living space I occupy.  I have just gotten up and lit the candles in the foyer that keep watch over the memorial to my mother, brother, and husband.  A little less darkness in a space that is far more used to light than gloom. 
While far from gourmet there is food in the cabinets for human and critter alike (both dog and six-cats worth). Beyond my melancholy I know there is still joy and love enough for me and everyone I care about… even if reaching it is more laborious than I would like.  I am content with my humanity, my spirituality, even my weight – which curiously hasn't changed much in the three months I have stepped away from daily measuring and recording – a small tidbit of trivia that actually makes me quite proud.  I am not where I want to be but where I am is alright for now. 
I have not given up on the idea and practice of interdependency even as I wrestle my ego into submission whenever I have to ask one of the guys for something – even something small.  I have a role to play in this world and something to contribute even if right now I don’t know exactly what that is… and somehow, in some strange weird bohemian kind-of-way that knowledge comforts me.  Life is broken but repairable.  Just like the nooks and crannies and garage spaces I have cleaned out of late I can clean out the clutter of my loneliness and despair and make room again for contentment.   Routine activities bring me solace.  The simple acts of life maintenance remind me that I am really still alive – that once again, the world really didn't end.
I am not sure exactly what 2013 holds for any of us – there is always the hope that it will somehow be better than what came before, but no guarantees come with living this real life.  If I could wave a magic wand over my world I would enjoin the spirits of the universe to bring us safely back here twelve months from now better than we ever were in the past – that all of us will find 2013 a cherished year.  But I have no magic, only a ditch-digger’s shovel resourceful enough to find serendipity alive and well after the sweat and tears dry.  

Thursday, December 27, 2012


It’s snowy and frosty outside… the quintessential White Christmas.   Right now the house is quiet, neither man nor dog yet roused from their slumber.  I am reflective maybe even melancholy as I gather my thoughts to write this.  Last year this house was still reeling from the death of our beloved father and husband, Erhard.  This was the day, one year ago, I found out my brother was in the hospital – the beginning of the ordeal that would eventually take him from us.  This year they are both gone, joined un-expectantly by my brother-in-law Mike.  The loss threatens to wash away any joy.  Last year at this time there was at least the security of finance – and Christmas was a time when I could be generous, this year we struggle to make even basic obligations and the gifts under the tree are few and meager.  So much has fallen into ruin.  But in the midst of this I can hear the refrain of a beloved hymn:  “Yet in the dark streets shineth the everlasting light…” and I am reminded of all that we still have…
This was the year I had to let go and allow others to take care of me – something I have never done (and still find excruciatingly difficult).  The gnawing dependency slays my ego but warms my heart.  As a family – birthed, extended, and rented – we grew closer to each other.  And in the end it became all right.  Less stuff, but more care.  Commitment trumped currency.  Sense overrode sentiment as I made decisions that I thought impossible just a year ago.  But in the end it came down to love – and I found within myself a love for all my friends and family that surpassed what I could bequeath them, because now I had nothing tangible to give.  It showed itself in a myriad of random acts of kindness.   And I am reminded that Christ, unlike Santa, did not enter the world bearing an arm load of material gifts.  He came and gave himself. 
To each and every one of you I give myself this day.  My love, my gratitude, my energy, and when possible, my optimism… when I am in grief I ask you gather round and remind me of your love – and how that never fails.  I am not the only person that has lost loved ones during 2012 and I am aware that for others of you this day may well be tinged in grief as well.  Let us reach out to one another… each of us pointing to that everlasting light.  I wish all of you… sincerely… a joyous day of celebration in remembrance that our hope has re-entered the world – as a child – pure, unabashedly in love with us all, ready to steady us as we count down these last days of 2012.   

TWELVE, TWELVE, TWELVE -- 12.12.2012

An apocalypse (Ancient Greek: ποκάλυψις apocálypsis, from πό and καλύπτω meaning 'un-covering'), translated literally from Greek refers to a revelation of something hidden, although this sense did not enter English until the 14th century. In religious contexts it is usually a revelation of hidden meaning - hidden from human knowledge in an era dominated by falsehood and misconception. In the Revelation of John (Greek ποκάλυψις ωάννου, Apocalypsis Ioannou), the last book of the New Testament, the revelation which John receives is that of the ultimate victory of good over evil and the end of the present age, and that is the primary meaning of the term, one that dates to 1175. Today, it is commonly used in reference to any prophetic revelation or so-called End Time scenario or to the end of the world in general. WIKIPEDIA

Armageddon (from Ancient Greek: ρμαγεδών Harmagedōn, Late Latin: Armagedōn) will be, according to the Book of Revelation, the site of a battle during the end times, variously interpreted as either a literal or symbolic location. The term is also used in a generic sense to refer to any end of the world scenario. WIKIPEDIA