:: WHY WE BE ::

Boo to false, self-imposed limits, we say. These champion oracles want to live enthusiastically. Follow our trip through projects that challenge, frustrate, and/or scare us. In the end (which is really the middle) we want to live like big bright free and authentically awesome people.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

COFFEE Post 12: Nobody promised smooth sailing… Nobody’s a liar. (Stephany)

I remember my mother and also her mother telling me that “Nobody promised smooth sailing.” I recall thinking that this Nobody was an alright, optimistic kinda fella, although a little “off.” “Sailing” for me as a kid wasn’t exactly smooth, but surely this Nobody would eventually make good on his promise. After all, a promise is a promise! And smooth sailing’s not too much to ask. Right? RIGHT???

Well. Big deep breath… When I get my hands on this Nobody character, his butt’s MINE! I intend to PUMMEL this individual. This Mr. Nobody’s a BIG, FAT, LIAR! Smooth sailing, my backside. Humph. I have a few other choice words and names for him, too, when I bump into him. And a swift kick in the “cookies,” as my sons like to say, is most assuredly in order. (Sorry, John.)

Three big things knocked the wind completely out of my sail in the last two weeks.
First, chronologically speaking, our sweet Maya dog (who came to live with me & the kids after her owner, my mother-in-law, passed away in August) got VERY, VERY, V-E-R-Y sick. SICK. She’s gone from a healthy, muscular almost 60 pounds to a scrawny 38 pounds. They’ve identified some evidence of liver failure or intestinal “issues,” but her lab values don’t substantiate any of that, specifically. Yeah. I know. Basically, two local vets and a specialist in KC are stumped. They have all kinds of what-if and if-then scenarios that we could follow, but each option essentially renders this gentle, loving dog a science experiment with no guarantees. Not good options. Steroids and a special diet should mean she’s gaining weight like crazy, and that’s just not happening. No one knows why. We have until Wednesday of this week for her to gain some weight or for yet another set of labs to show some improvement. After that, if she’s not better, we (the almost-ex and I) don’t see any options. She’s wasting away, and I can’t bear the thought of her suffering. The almost-ex and I agree on this.

Yes, I know. She’s a DOG. I actually had someone say those words to me, and I nearly “Nobody’d” that person. She is a dog, yes, but she’s OUR dog and all we have left of my mother-in-law, AND she’s the one creature who’s been there for me when my kids were at their dad’s and the house was otherwise empty. She’s been my snuggle-buddy, my foot warmer, my companion. She’s not JUST a dog, dammit. I’m beyond sad at even the prospect of her not existing anymore…

Second, my half marathon is not to be. Suckage. I’d taken a week or so off of running because my knee had been giving me some trouble – swelling, pain, the usual. No big deal. On March 11, however, I was walking down the hall after lunch, heading back to my classroom, and my knee completely buckled. It just went out. No warning, no nothing, just GONE. Ship SUNK. I bawled like a sissy girl in the hallway in front of MANY students and had to be helped to the school nurse, finally emerging on crutches and in tremendous pain.

Anyway, on Wednesday, I saw the surgeon, who did the fourth surgery on this knee almost a decade ago, and he decided that I have again dislocated my kneecap, (I really despise the word “patella.” Something about it just grosses me out. Sorry.) something that was supposedly all-but-impossible after they re-aligned the entire joint in 1995. Surgery is almost a certainty, as is the fact that I will not be racing in April as I’d planned. I’m beyond bummed at this little development. I feel ripped off, and I’m frustrated at my aging physique. And this stupid knee??? I could Nobody it, but it’s basically jacked enough at this point. I’m just… I just hate this.

Third, an incredibly special woman, my Grandma Marge, passed away peacefully Sunday at the age of 94. She’s been in ill health for awhile, so it’s not like it was a huge shock. But it was a HUGE SHOCK.

This woman was remarkable! She worked the farm with my Grandpa right up until his health failed him and he passed away 6 years ago, raised kids (GREAT kids, by the way, one of which is my dear Daddy), cooked, cleaned, sewed, and took care of EVERYONE around her, whether you belonged to her or not. She accepted my mother when she & Dad started dating almost 20 years ago, and she took me & my kids in like we were her own flesh & blood, counting us all as HER grandkids and great-grandkids. She was all heart and an absolute character – ornery and clever, honest and spirited, opinionated and kind all at the same time. She was wonderful.

I can’t explain what a rock she was to this family, nor can I explain how virtually impossible it has been to watch my Daddy cry over losing his beloved Momma. I can’t say I’ve done too many things that hurt my heart as much as holding him as he shakes and sobs. His heartbreak is more than enough to do my own little heart in, and my heart is sad all on its own over losing her. (And, later today, I get to tell my kids they’ve lost another grandparent less than 7 months after burying their Grandma Joyce. They’ve been skiing in Colorado with their Dad for Spring Break. A whole other heartbreak I can’t even get into at this point in time.) The only good thing about any of this is that she’s with Grandpa again, and goodness knows those two are doing a mean polka right now. Man, how those two could dance. And he’s shining that killer smile all over his woman, and she’s beaming and basking in that smile… That thought makes ME smile, and in all honesty, I’m happy for her. She’s free of pain, of being tired and unable to do what she wants to do, of being confined to her bed, of missing her dear husband. Knowing that takes the sting off just a bit, it really does. And that’s a little relief in the many waves of loss…

So all in all, my COFFEE goals have taken a back seat to Life things, to the not-so-smooth sailing things. Sometimes that’s just what has to happen. Like it or not, Life happens. Life will continue to happen. And, in all likelihood, Nobody’s not gonna come through for any of us. He lied. There’s no such thing as smooth sailing.

Hug your family, COFFEE friends. Hug your friends. Say “I love you,” especially when you don’t feel it but know you mean it anyway. The waters might not be glassy and smooth, but they’re the waters we get to navigate. And honestly I can’t help but be thankful for the people in my boat, who are banding together to keep this boat floating in the midst of all of this Life stuff… my peeps… and I count many of you among those. Hugs and many thanks for all the kind words and prayers…


Wendy said...

Aw Steph, I'm sooooo sorry to hear about all the crap you've been going thru. I wish I could give you a big awkward (pregnant lady) hug right now. Man, them's some seriously rough waters you've been navigating.

Your Grandma sounds like an incredible human being -- what a beautiful portrait you've painted of her - I'm so glad that you had her in your life. Know that you and your dad and your family are in my prayers. Especially your dad as he grieves so deeply. :-(

And sweet Maya dog.... it's never just 'a dog' when it's yours and you've bonded and been protected and befriended and snuggled and ... all that's deepened by Maya's history in your family. I know it's especially discouraging when you're doing everything you can do to help her heal with no results. What a heartbreak! I'm so sorry. Just know that you loved her and cherished her, and she felt it every step of the way, and she'll be eternally grateful for you.

Chin up, li'l buckaroo... things will get better. Sending buckets and gallons and oodles of love and healing thoughts your way (So sorry to hear about your knee, too! MAN!), Sister Steph.

patresa said...

Nobody gets my middle finger!

Geez Louise, what a rough time. Awfully sorry to hear about your grandma Marge and your sweet Maya and your buggered knee. Grief, disappointment, helplessness.... ugh. These are some of the absolute worst and most painful things.

Big prayers for you and the whole family. Big prayers for the insensitive who can refer to any dog as "just a dog," too, because they're really missing out on the wise and beautiful gifts of the huge, bright canine soul.

amy said...

Oh man, Stephany! You HAVE been through the pooper over the last few weeks. Gross, and yes: big middle finger to YOU, Nobody. Totally inappropriate.

Let me gather my thoughts about these recent Stephany events into a list so they're cohesive:

1. I'm pretty sure that people who say things like "It's just a DOG" (or: it's just a CAT, or: it's just a FISH, or a BIRD, or a LIZARD, or other exotic pet of your choice) are missing a crucial human genome. Specifically, the one that makes us kind, sentient beings. Animals who become part of families make the best family members, because they completely lack guile and dysfunction. It makes their loss so incredibly hard.

My thoughts and prayers are with sweet Maya, you, and everyone else in her human family.

2. Patella. Patella. YES! It DOES have an obscene flavor to it. Well, poop, patella. What the heck? I'm sorry this obscene-sounding body part chose to misbehave right before a big race AND in front of a whole bunch of students. (Some day, and I feel this all the way down to both my patellas, we'll commiserate about body parts malfunctioning during school hours. It is not ideal.)

But then, maybe this is just Somebody Somewhere's way of saying, "Not this time, not this race, Steph." Because maybe you're just meant to be elsewhere that day, doing something you need to do.

3. Grandma Marge sounds like a GREAT grandma! And she lived on a FARM. I love that. (I had a great uncle Calvin who had a farm at the end of the lane my dad grew up on. He had cows, and I really wish I'd visited his farm more often as I grew up....maybe he'd have let me milk one.) (wait! horrors! what if those were MEAT cows? ah well.)

4. I am sending your dad many, many prayers for grace and healing. It's hard to lose a parent, no matter how old you are or what the circumstances. And many prayers of strength and peace to you, when you tell your kids.

5. Sometimes Life just poops all over us. I hate that you got put through the butt wringer, S. Here's hoping Life balances Itself out by sending you nothing but fabulousness and good news over the next few weeks.

6. I love you mucho, Stephany. :-)

Tanner May (Tanya) said...

Oh Stephany. I am so very sorry my friend. I have tears so bad that it's hard to type this. I am just heartbroken for you for all the above. It is so damn hard to lose our loved ones no matter how many years they've lived beautifully. My thoughts and many prayers have been coming your way so I hope that you've felt them. I am also dearly sorry about your sweet puppy. This is just terrible, and anybody who ever mutters the words "just a dog" obviously has never felt the awesome love of that one "just a dog." It is unexplainable truly just how amazing these beautiful beings touch our lives. I am just so so sorry. I am now sending all sorts of prayers your way about Miss Maya. Please hug her from her fan in KC. And finally sister, I am just sick about your knee. That is beyond unfair. I'm here to listen or to just WHATEVER. I truly hope you have the speediest recovery ever, and if anyone can punch Nobody in the gut about this one, it is you.

Love ya girl.

blj said...

ohh Stephany, I'm making really sad, contorted faces and wishing you didn't have to go through all this poop. One of these would be bad enough, but all three crappy happenings at the same time? I'm so sorry about it all and I'm just sick for you. Love that dog as long as you can, nurse that knee back to recovery and keep remembering Grandma Marge the way you just did in your beautfiul tribute. Sending you as many good vibes as I can possibly muster. Love, Becky

Katie said...

Oh Stephany, this is just hard. First, they're NEVER just dogs. Or, like Amy said - cats, birds, lizards or whathaveyou. Sweet Maya is family, and as long as they live in our homes, tend to our hurts, are dependent on us for their needs, and love us even when we don't love ourselves they are a presence whose absence is worthy and deserved of grief. My deepest sympathies and most heartfelt condolances are with you as you go through this most difficult time. I'm so sorry, my friend.

And the knee thing? Pox, a POX I say, on Lester the Molester sounding Patellas!! Arrrghhhh!!! So frustrating! Dang, poop and puke!! And in front of the children, no less. Such betrayal by the body. I'm sorry about this too, Stephany.

What a beautiful tribute to your delightful Grandma Marge. She sounds like she had a full and colorful life, and at the very least had mastered the art of canning, which I hold to be among the highest art forms on the planet. I'm sad for your dad that he has lost his mother. Your mother is still your momma no matter how old and experienced in life you are. A loss is still a loss, regardless of whether it was anticipated.

What a tough time of it you've had, my friend! I'm holding you and your family in my thoughts, and sending you huge, warm, fuzzy wishes - attached to kleenexes, and many head pats and rib rubs to Sweet Maya. She is a well loved girl, and that is a lucky thing in this world.

T-Free said...

Grrrrr. I will kick Nobody in the cookies with you. I am so sorry to hear about your sweet Maya dog and her ailing health, your poor, poor hurting kneecap and the disappointment you must be feeling over the idea of no race and another surgery, and I'm especially sad to hear about the loss of your Grandma Marge. She sounds amazing. I have an 87-year-old grandma who is as active and spry as a healthy 60-year-old, so I know exactly what you mean when you discuss the impact of losing her. They seem so strong and vital that you feel like they will be around forever.

So many hugs and prayers and positive vibes and much good juju is being sent your way from me right now. Hang in there, Stephany. I'm thinking of you. xoxoxoxoxo.