Ugh; a Job

Stop asking me when I’m going to get a job. Thank you.

Yes, it’s a topic that needs attention. But please understand that on February 17, 2012, I lost my career. My Facebook page lists my position as COO of the Fowler family. That was spot-on at the time of Adam’s diagnosis. After his diagnosis, my job became managing him—his appointments, his medications, his behavior. Driving him where he needed to go. Attending appointments and surgeries, etc etc. I don’t need to belabor the point.

Upon his death I lost a prong of my career and personal identity—wife. Gone. In an instant. Suddenly someone else. But who? Who knows? Still haven’t figured out that part of it.

Despite no longer being a wife I was still a mother. This mothering came at a critical time for my children and I was so crippled that I didn’t know how I would provide what they needed. They put up with a lot and accomplished much of what they have without, perhaps, the presence they needed from me. On the other hand, perhaps my unavailability taught them an independence that has served them well.

Now my children are in college and active mothering is off the list as well. (Oh don’t give me that philosophy about always being a mother. You know what I mean—providing active service to my children. I am now in the reserves.)

In my previous life I was very happy with my career, *which I had chosen*. My tasks were different every day. I was active, carrying out the demands of my family. I was a project manager, chef, laundress, personal shopper, accounts payable and receivables clerk, gardener, just to name a few. Now no one needs me to do those things. How can I just jump into something else?

Because I’ll tell you, the last thing I can cope with is appearing at an office cubicle every day at 8:30 wearing an outfit from J Jill’s Wearever collection, sitting under a fluourscent light while bored co-workers interrupt what I’m trying to accomplish or while darting out for a “meeting” which is nothing more than a couple of hours of chest-butting by my esteemed colleagues. No thanks.

The dinosaurs didn’t recover when the asteroid hit the earth. Well Adam’s death was an asteroid hitting my earth. I’ve spent my time since that day first just trying to function, second making sure that my kids weren’t going off the rails, and then learning to take care of the tasks Adam always took care of, learning things like how to do home-maintenance projects myself and how to do man stuff like changing the car battery, dealing with piles of paperwork that still haven’t been completely sorted out, well you get the picture.

I know I need to get a job. I need a job not only for income to keep me from diving prematurely into my life insurance policy, but also to occupy myself and ensure human contact, to give myself a sense of accomplishment now that I am no longer a family manager. Please understand that I have to find a new life purpose, not just a hamburger-flipping job. It’s a process, and I haven’t had much brain power to flesh it out and pursue it. So please be patient.

There are people in this world who must have a job/career for personal fulfillment. I’m not one of those people. I would be perfectly happy spending the rest of my life diddling around the house with various projects, doing some volunteer work, that kind of stuff. Apparently that’s not enough, though, so I have to figure out something else.

Yes, it’s been two years since Adam’s death. But those years have been full of attempts to heal, reacting to the needs of myself and others like a pinball hitting a lever, my father’s decline and death, and now maybe I’ll have time to think and figure out that new career.

If you have any ideas for me, just know that I love making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, as the saying goes. Taking something that’s down-and-out and fashioning it into something beautiful to be loved again—a manuscript, a house, a chair, a yard, you get the picture. (My life, maybe?)

Thanks for your time.

Archaeology

Pretty sure I’ve said this before but it bears repeating. The hardest moments are often routine tasks that startle you to memory. One prepares well for events—anniversaries, birthdays, life passages like graduations. The tiny things stab you, though.

A couple of weeks ago, finally, I steeled myself and opened the bathroom drawer where Adam had kept his medicines, creams, and notepad recording every day’s weight and body temperature. I had dreaded it like the plague. My mother got rid of Dad’s medications right away, but I just couldn’t bear to open that drawer. His writing there on the pad. The sheer number of bottles. In the medicine cabinet, the bottle of Biotene necessary to soothe the dryness his medications caused. RadX. Keppra. Decadron. OMG I could live the rest of my life without hearing those trade names. I just shoved them all into a plastic grocery bag and headed to the local police precinct, which has a disposal unit for expired medications. I got in and out of there as fast as possible, trying not to look ashen as the precinct clerk gave me a stare that I’m sure was only in my perception. I felt like a squirrel burying a nut. Hurry! Before anyone sees! And knows why.

At least that one I knew was coming. I’d made a pact with Dr. B that if I would get rid of Adam’s meds she would order some business cards with her current address instead of scratching out the old address on the old, fancier cards. Well Dr. B?

Today was different. I was cleaning out the office that has been mine, Adam’s, Will’s, and now that Will has gone to school, mine again. I am deeply and inexplicably driven to get rid of the Ikea file drawer that’s in that room. I hate it. It squeaks when you open the bottom drawer and I’m just sick of it and its companion desk that is in my basement. Anybody? Free to anyone who can get them out of my house. Will hadn’t used the file drawer for anything other than a surface to pile things on, so I decided to clean out its remants, vacuum it out, and ready it for another home.

There they were, in the second drawer, probably 500 of Adam’s business cards. Stab. Stab. Stab.

Seeing them was so like seeing his notepad diary in the medications drawer. Proof positive that he was here, that our life together didn’t happen in some dream state but happened right here on this planet. He was a sentient, smart, funny, talented hardworking guy who was my husband and he was here. And now he’s gone and the business cards have to go in the trash can. Well except for the hefty handful I banded and put alongside the set of work diaries on the shelf.

But to see them there, in the trash can (I mean, why on earth would one keep them?) is hard to take. A physical reminder. Not some fuzzy memory but evidence, archealogical evidence that he was here, and now is gone.

Can’t wait to clean off the bookshelves.IMG_1415

Sick and Tired of being Sick and Tired

Wow. What a month. A week at the beach with relatives from far away and near, a week home to get the kids packed for college, moving them in with our dear friend Doug, next morning picking up another dear friend at the airport and heading straight back to the beach with her and my lovely neighbor, and then home late on Wednesday. And I’ve been fighting a low-grade stress-induced virus ever since.

So much I wanted to do but I have no energy and am wracked with body aches, a sore throat, and an earache. I know what this is and so I don’t have to worry about it, I just have to get through it. Aggravating.

It’s so hard just to sit here, though, waiting for it to pass. Over the years I’ve learned a lot about patience, but it seems those lessons have flown out the window. I’m itching to get going, but still I must wait. Argh!

There’s a lot to tell you all about, and I hope to start writing a few essays for publication over the next several weeks. I guess that’s what I should be working on while I wait to recover from this virus.

Stay tuned, friends.

Conflicted

When random things hit you it’s really hard to make sense of them. Is there a thread? I can’t see one.

The extended fam had a week at my beach. My week has ended with the sore throat I always get after a stressful event. I’m trying to figure it out. It was supposed to have been fun.

Last night it was all I could do to fall asleep. I went to bed feeling judged. I’m almost 52 years old, a widow whose children are going to the colleges of their choice this fall. It seems my sense of self-confidence should be riding pretty high.

Instead, my dreams last night were full of challenge and conflict. In my dreams, my reliable daughter missed her first day of work at The Limited (has she ever even shopped there??) and this, according to her when challenged in my dream, was the fourth opportunity the company had given her to show up for her first day of work.

Also in my dreams, my father was speaking not only coherently but eruditely to someone, I don’t even remember who, and all I could do was sit back and be amazed that he was suddenly speaking so well. He suffered from ephasia for the past several years before he passed away in early April. I was really excited that he could finally speak. At another point in my dream, Mom and I ran into Dad at a mall. We had become separated but Dad had navigated through the newly renovated mall to find us at the very complicated train station that served the mall. We’re from a small town. We have no experience with trains serving malls.

When I awoke I was overjoyed to realize that Dad had visited me in my dreams to tell me that although I don’t sense his presence around me all the time, as I do Adam’s, he was there, and he was his whole person and fully functioning, just as I have hoped. I’ve been pretty upset not to have been aware of his presence, so this was really good.

So why the introspective, self-flagellation today? I’m not really sure. A combination of unrealized expectations, my late husband’s birthday on Wednesday, the skunk-eye from the elders whenever we were together during the week, the upcoming departure of my children for college, the annoyance of my overly focused-on-me dog with whom I’ll be left in two weeks’ time. Who knows? All I know is that there’s not a big-enough rock for me to crawl under. Hopefully I’ll figure it out and solve my issues, but tonight I’m still confused.