11-13 May 2018
Time sometimes feels like a black hole. It’s amazing how fast, yet how slow, we perceive time in our lives.
We let time dictate our daily routines from waking up in the morning to falling into bed at night, and everything in between. Time can be our ally and enemy all at the same time.
I’m sure many of you are familiar with Harold Ramis and Danny Rubin’s Ground Hog Day, where Bill Murray’s character keeps reliving February 2 over and over again. There are some days when we have that deja-vu kind of feeling, and I certainly felt like I had similar days early 2017, and it could easily be explained as time playing tricks on us.
I was in a very different place this time last year, but the real driving point is it’s been eight years since I lost my mother, and my siblings and family still feel the sting of such an unexpected loss. We are truly orphans, even in our adulthood. However, we don’t feel as alone because we have a super large family (both a blessing and a curse) and a large network of friends. We are surrounded by them and we keep them close.
Eight years seems like an awful long time; an eternity in fact. And we lost my mother Friday of Mother’s Day weekend, also the weekend of my father’s birthday (May 12). That was a horrendous 36-hour drive from New Mexico back to New York, making a 900-mile detour to pick up one of my mother’s sisters in Missouri because she didn’t have the money to really get home, and it was important to have her there. It was also the last major road trip I would take. It took everything out of me and challenging as I was placed in a walking boot, coming out of a minor surgery, only a few days before.
Time is also like a sinkhole. Ten years before losing my mother, I lost my father. Also, a sudden death. He’s been gone 18 years this November. It doesn’t seem possible.
It will be seven years in August since I lost my brother, and nothing puts more of a hole in the heart or a hole in the line of children as losing a sibling; the death of a child trumps any of this. My siblings and cousins I grew up with are truly my best friends. They are always answering right away. Unfortunately for me and my siblings, we are scared to answer the phone when there’s a call from any of us; we know it’s generally not good news. My poor sister-in-law felt this when she was calling in December about my brother’s 20 foot fall out of a tree. She thanked me for answering the phone. I had no intentions of ignoring the call, even though I knew something was wrong immediately.
After both of my parents’ deaths, some people would say, “This too shall pass,” or “It will get better.” I wish people wouldn’t say these things to someone experiencing a profound death, or even any type of death. The moment of grief does pass, somewhat, but more at a slow-motion kind of pace, but it doesn’t get better. I always call bullshit. This warrants repeating: it doesn’t get better; we simply learn how to deal with it, and the waves of emotions will always crash upon us during holidays, birthdays, other events, and memory triggers. My heart bled for my cousin who lost her brother in December just before the holidays. I understood her grief. I understood her singularity in the universe and all the questions she had. There are moments in life, and in time, where we have to walk it alone because we need to find a way to wrap our heads around life events.
This is where time can be kind to give us the space to do so.
Time can also surprise us: a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new beginning. For my moment in this time, I am shocked that I have been receiving gifts. They are small gifts, but one that warms the heart just the same.
In 2006, my mother sent money for me to buy a rose bush after a major surgery; one that finalized surgeries of a thousand knives. Rose is my birth flower, and the only flower I am not allergic to. I went to a nursery in Albuquerque and the rose bush was planted by my then-husband. The bush flourished, and I know I’ve included pictures of the “gifts,” as I call the flowers, in previous blog postings. The delicate flowers appear at the perfect moments: Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, my birthday, and in August (the month of my parents’ anniversary, formerly my anniversary month, and the month my brother was killed).
When I had to leave the home I’ve lived in for over 16 years ─the home that stole my inheritance to turn it into a really nice place to live, and one that eventually sucked the life out of me─I refused to leave the rose bush behind. I contacted a specialist at the nursery who gave me very specific details regarding uprooting and transplanting the bush. He told me several times, “The plant will go into shock.”
My neighbor helped me, at the last hour, with the uprooting and gave me a large clay pot, with a drain tray on wheels, to keep it in until I become more established to rebury into the ground. The same week as my patio opening, that began with hosting a dinner, I woke up to find two small roses. They blossomed despite the stress of the bush. This weekend, I am gifted with two more flowers. Right on time. They’re small, but I don’t care.
Time will dictate the size and range of robust fragrance from the roses, but I am patient.
Time also slowed down to give me a chance to “soak it all in,” as Southern New Hampshire University’s (SNHU) President, Paul LeBlanc, told my graduating class last year. I have two degrees from New Mexico Tech, and proud to say I’m a Techie, but my dream degree, that I fought and worked so hard to achieve even through a divorce while thesis writing, is from SNHU. I am a proud Penmen! What’s even better is my cousin, also known as my twin, lives 20 minutes away from campus, and I am looking forward to returning to participate in Homecoming.
Time and a calendar dictated this was graduation weekend.
I chose to ignore time after my work responsibilities were done on Friday. I spent the rest of the evening attending alumni and department receptions, then celebrating a friend’s journey to her M.S. degree. During the final evening socialization, I grabbed her and two other friends to toast my parents.
I, along with the petroleum faculty (in town), attended graduation. I don’t know of another department whose admin shows up for support…yet, is the only admin who gets ZERO recognition on Administrative Professionals Day. I grabbed a water for my friend (celebrating her degreee the night before) and stood listening/watching NMT Commencement unfold for another year. At two points I caught the face of a stranger I know as an adulterer and positioned myself to be out of his view during and after the ceremony. I wonder how many other faces judge the way I do or judge the offender as a complete asshole because he’s a narcissist: has no idea what he’s done, the damage and hurt he’s caused, and how many bridges he continues to burn.
After NMT graduation, I went to the gym to get in a hardcore 40-minute focused workout before going home to shut myself in, and away from the world the remainder of the weekend that became another roller coaster for me. BUT, I did make sure Duke got his walk before 10pm, and we had a great walk exploring different paths taken. Sunday was far too windy and vicious for allergies to survive a walk that would include grass, trees and weeds.
Time wears many hats and comes at us in different visions and appearances. Just like the silence we often need to open our ears to hear, we need to keep our eyes open to feel.
Happy Mother’s Day to my readers who are also mothers! Mothers provide a secret foundation to any child they bring into this challenging world, and they should be commended (and spoiled) often.
Congratulations to the Class of 2018 for any of my readers graduating, and those at New Mexico Tech and SNHU. It takes a tremendous amount of grit and perseverance. You’ve worked ridiculously hard to get here. My advice to you: take time off and enjoy life, even if it’s only for a couple of weeks.
Photos: April and May roses.