Sunday, October 23, 2016

Day 23 of 31 Days of My Single Life

I went to my grandma's house yesterday. It was my second time since she passed. I heard for others it had been hard, seeing her home in the process of being gutted so it can be occupied by new owners next month.

As I walked through every room, I opened up each cabinet, pulled out every drawer--my last chance to save anything of my grandma's before it is given away to thrift stores. Things I had overlooked before as unnecessary to keep now became dishes I could point to in my own kitchen years from now and say, "These belonged to my grandma." Or to my future children, "These belonged to your great-grandma."

Walking through her house felt so familiar. It didn't feel like just any house. It felt like what it was: a place I have been visiting since a baby. It's where we celebrated Easters when I was little, every single Christmas Eve up until the last few years, many many birthdays while growing up. There's where the mushy squares of artichoke tortas and salami-wrapped Bruno peppers went, there's where the candied walnuts went, there's where the pile of Christmas presents went.

But I didn't feel the pain that others attested to. It bothers me, and yet every time I start to think about my grandma being "dead," something inside of me immediately counteracts with "No, but she lived, she is alive, she was alive, there's life here, the memories are alive, her memory is real." I don't seem to want to really focus on her being "dead." Even just saying it (which I have often) feels unrealistic--harsh and unrealistic--or just a matter of fact with no reality bearing on it.

I completely accept that she is not here anymore, that she is not present anymore, that she will never be present again. But that's as far as I have gone emotionally.

She was just always there. I am afraid that I will forget--I didn't capture memories like Cam Jansen with her photographic memory. She was just always there. It wasn't like I had to intentionally go visit her and make those unique, memorable moments. I am afraid of losing a 31 year relationship in the myopia* of present-tense life. She was always part of my life. I am afraid that if I do mourn, I will be resigning her to a rosy-colored, grainy picture or start remembering her through a gauzy cheesecloth.

"Dead" has such finality. "Dead" relegates something to the past. But right now, "is" and "was" seem interchangeable.

I am willing to accept that she is not currently here anymore. I am not sure if I am ready to put her in the category with the dead and gone and buried in a casket, lying still and pale and covered over with dirt. I am afraid that death will swallow up her life. But, I don't think it needs to be that way. I think she can still be living. That when I remember her, I don't think of how she is dead, but how she was alive. Not how she is not here, but how she was there for 31 years. Not that I won't see her anymore, but that she interacted with us every birthday and holiday, and gave me porcelain dolls and M&Ms and cookbooks for all those years. I'm afraid of losing the reality of her life by focusing on her death. I know that is not how it works, but I'm afraid that's how it will happen for me.

Maybe it's just a matter of saying it, solidifying it with printed words that won't be blown away with the wind.

While looking through my grandma's belongings, a friend called who also lost her grandma. She reminded me again of what I already know. We carry part of our grandmas with us always. Their lives affect us and our values, even if we don't realize it until the "aha, this is because of grandma" moment.

I guess it's really made me reevaluate the word "life," the concept of living, the concept of what life is, having a meaningful life, the value of all human life, and the value of a single life. The value of lives past that are so quickly forgotten. The seed of life that continues on because when one person affects another person, that person affects another, and life is sprouting in hearts because we stand on the shoulders of those gone before.

I guess I am reconciling life vs. death and figuring out how to hold onto one while accepting the other.

I ate the one on the left today, picked from my grandma's garden.
The irony of nature--life in the midst of death.

* says I'm not using this word correctly, but I'm almost positive there's a word similar to this that means self-focused. So it's staying.

Day 22 of 31 Days of My Single Life

I went to my grandma's house today. In the midst of her death and the selling of her house, look at the life I found in the backyard:

More tomorrow.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Day 21 of 31 Days of My Single Life

Today I am a woman.*

I put in a new vacuum bag without any assistance. Unless you count the 7-year-old that was curiously watching on.

The blessings of living with your parents into your 30s are numerous. You are still living with a family, so you continue to interact with people that are not your peers, help each other out with unscheduled little things, eat traditional meals, save on rent and utilities, watch I Love Lucy with your mom, etc.

The downside of living with your parents into your 30s is that you may never get the opportunity, or have the necessity thrust upon you, to replace the vacuum bag on your own.

Fortunately, we got "Robbie" now at home--one of those robot vacuums that spins its way across the floor unassisted by human hands--and so I took our normal vacuum to school. And because it's Fall and leaves flutter their way in with every traipse of little feet across our classroom floor, the vacuum's belly is gluttonous with debris and needed to be changed out today.

Ask not what your vacuum can do for you but what you can do for your vacuum.

*This phrase reminds me of Buddy Sorrell in The Dick Van Dyke Show when he had his Bar Mitzvah as an adult and turned to his mother and said, "Today I am a man." Coincidentally, if you Google the phrase, you will find websites and books about bat mitzvahs.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Day 20 of 31 Days of My Single Life

Lying in bed, about to put my phone on the nightstand, when I remember I haven't done my daily post.

I'm sad my future husband won't know my grandma.

That's one of the not nice things about marrying later. You miss out on parts of each other's lives. If you believe that our pasts are part of our presents, then it's sometimes sad to think the other person will only know the present-tense you and won't immediately appreciate what has led to this.

I struggle back and forth. Part of me is a firm believer that everything in my past is an important part of my life. I want those parts communicated because they are my story.

On the other hand, have you ever seen pix of someone 10 years earlier or they tell you what they used to be like personality-wise and you thought, "Ooh, I'm glad I didn't know them then." Sometimes it's a prettier picture NOT having to deal with earlier copies of a person.

But the people that knew them then, do they know that person better than you do?

Is the present-day persona of you a more accurate representation of yourself than the collected years of you culminating in the present?

What does this have to do with anything practical? Good call....

I wish my future husband had been able to meet my grandma.

I hope he gets to meet my Bella dog before she gets old and dies.

I hope, well, that I am not single all my life.

That's not being desperate. I love my life. I'm happier in my 30s than I ever considered being for most of my 20s. But, well, God did call marriage good. And, I believe it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Day 19 of 31 Days of My Single Life

Responsibility is a big deal in my world right now. In my classroom I often encourage students to "Take responsibility for your own learning." (That's teacher-speak for "Do your work without me having to tell you to.") Responsibility is one of our school's Student Learner Outcomes: We will be responsible and take responsibility for our actions.

What you hear yourself saying over and over has a tendency to start seeping back into your own life.


Sometimes we have to pull up our bootstraps and take on responsibility. Ok, I'll be in charge of that.

Sometimes we have to draw our boundaries and let someone else take responsibility. I don't know, that's not my jurisdiction. Ask so-and-so.

Sometimes we have to take responsibility for how things happened. Oops, yeah, that was probably my fault.

Sometimes we need to hold back and allow others to keep the responsibility they have undertaken. That's their baby, so I need to let them make that decision.

Sometimes we feel the pang of other people trying to push responsibility on us that isn't ours. You should know this even though you don't.

Sometimes we must have grace when no one is responsible, everyone wants to deflect responsibility, and you are being affected by the lack of leadership. This was inconvenient, can we do this differently? No, I'm not accusing you of doing it--ok, maybe I am. Ok, maybe no one is responsible, and I just need to keep my frustration to myself instead of trying to peg someone with it. *sigh* Next time we'll do this differently.

This is real life. At home, at work, with friends. Things happen and we're tempted to take charge out of someone else's hands or pin the guilt on an innocent party to make ourselves feel better or deflect responsibility for something we were in charge of or take on more than we can handle.

I come back to truth. If, when I stop and reflect, I realize it's my fault because it was my responsibility, I need to acknowledge the truth, even though it hurts.

I come back to grace.  If someone is frustrated at me because they mistakenly think I was responsible and fumbled, or if something did not happen to my convenience, I need to have grace and not transfer that frustration onto an innocent party.

Responsibility is HARD. I'm thankful God carries us where we are.
I love this pic. It's Boston in the summer. One day I'll visit Boston in the fall...

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Day 18 of 31 Days of My Single Life

My confidence was on shaky ground during today's program practice.

I am wearing a lacey shawl/jacket thingy. While talking with the accompanist, I kept grabbing my lace tails and twitching and tying and pulling. My face kept contorting, my hands pulling my skin this way and that. Basically, I wore my lack of confidence physically evident to all.

The one golden highlight is that I was with a team. Our elementary teachers are in every sense of the word a TEAM. We work together. We depend on each other. We divvy up tasks according to strengths, weaknesses, passions. My team was with me today. I didn't carry it alone. I needed them, and they acted where I was weak.

Nice little bow to wrap this up: I'm single in marital status, but I depend on other believers to support me when I'm weak and carry me in prayer as needed. Do you as a single (or married) have a team to help you?

Monday, October 17, 2016

Day 17 of 31 Days of My Single Life

Monumental disaster. Panic. Run me over with a bus. If I die before I wake...

Those are some of the phrases that crossed my mind after today's practice.

See, we have a school concert on Thursday, and today was our first practice on stage, in front of (dead) mics.


To the moon, Alice.

(Not to be confused with "You want the moon? I'll throw a lasso around it and give it to ya.")

Bury my head like an ostrich.

Change my face to look like Jean Arthur instead.

I couldn't help it! Cover your eyes! Don't look! AAAAAAaaaaahhh!


Nice little bow to wrap this up: Failure is one step on the way to mastery. Failure is not the final word. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try all over again (tomorrow!).

With crinkle ribbon sticking out from under the bow: Later in the day a student told me they were so embarrassed they couldn't do something. I was able to tell them I had been embarrassed by the music practice, so I was spending my free time working to make it better. I encouraged them to practice til they got better. Growth mindset for kids and adults alike was happening today!