Sunday, January 20, 2013

unpredictably predictable

I have always believed in fate. I wrote an essay in high school-- probably after reading some Shakespearean play-- that debated fate vs free will. My thesis was that it's not a debate at all, but an exercise in irony: we believe we have free will, and are making choices all along the way to control our own destiny, but in fact all those choices are predetermined, being guided by the hands of fate. I'm sad to say my teacher did not get it, at all-- but I'm sure my writing skills did not do justice to the task at hand, either. To be honest, I'm not sure I can communicate it right now, either, but that has never stopped me from trying.

But this is the way I've always felt about things. I was born in the greater Bangor area, but my dad got a promotion and we moved when I was 8. Time passes... and when I get to college, I meet up with a girl who was close with someone I was close with back in first grade. Whatever the reason, I was supposed to know her, and while I thought it was my choice to go to UMF, perhaps the universe had spent 10 years trying to find a way for our paths to cross again. After graduation, I had two job offers-- coastal and mountains. I chose mountains and proceeded down my less traveled path. One of my colleagues decided to pursue his administration certificate, and ended up interning in the very building on the coast that had offered me a job. And in all honesty, knowing that I would have met him either way is still a great comfort, as he died from cancer 12 years ago. Even me marrying WB-- we'd met in anatomy lab when I was a freshman and he a junior, but he was dating someone else. The universe reconnected us at Peru School a few years later, and that time it took.

This week, my bestfriend's mom was hospitalized for pneumonia. The norovirus going around is a particularly pesky one, so this news wasn't terribly shocking to me. The story came back that Pepere took her pulse, didn't like how low it was, and called 911. Bestfriend and I talked about this-- of course her pulse would go down as she was resting, that's the point, but he did the right thing for sure, so who cares what his reasoning was. He and I (fatefully?) were both on the team scheduled to visit a high school down the road from his parent's house, so we made arrangements to ride together and visit them after. As we were waiting for them to get home from being discharged (a way lengthier procedure than was necessary, but that's a different rant for another day) his brother stopped in and mentioned the "clippy thing Dad used to check her oxygen". My ears perked up: my asthmatic daughter learned at age 4 what the pulse/oxygen meter showed, and when the numbers were lower than 95 she was struggling for air. It turns out that last Tuesday-- 5 days before he used it-- Pepere picked one up just to have on hand. When he used it to read her pulse/ox levels-- not just her pulse-- he knew that she was in severe oxygen depletion, and rightly called 911.

How did he know 5 days before Memere even got sick that he'd need that simple little tool? What caused him to miss Mass (something Pepere never does) and check her oxygen levels? We'll never really know what caused him to make those little decisions, but there is no doubt in my mind that it's because it wasn't her time. Had Pepere not made any one of those choices, this story would probably be ending differently, but God took over and changed his path to ensure that the story played out to it's fated end.

As an aside, I know many people struggle with fate vs God's Will. For me, they are one and the same. I also believe that all religions stem from the same God, so no matter what you call him or what your specific belief system is, the same Being is running the show. Call Him God, Fate, Great Spirit-- heck, call him Zeus if you want-- but to me, all faiths lead to the same place.

I don't know why some of the things that happen in my life happen; I've long since stopped trying to understand it in the moment. Sometimes I get lucky enough to find out within a short time span, but most of the time I just trust that the universe knows what it's doing, and that someday it'll make sense to me.

I'm so glad you're still hanging around, Memere. I wasn't ready for you to go, either. I'm glad the Heavens agree.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

being there

On the list of stupidest things I've ever done, attending today's Nordic ski meet is at the top. The universe tried to talk me out of it, but I wasn't listening... but, I guess that's not surprising: I have been known to have a stubborn streak every now and again.

I had overslept-- woke up an hour late, with no time for breakfast or the deeply desired Dunkin stop. The meet was taking place at a school with athletic fields that are on three levels of hills-- I've been there before, and knew I'd need my boots to see anything. I couldn't get it on over the ace bandage, but I figured I could take that off and stuff my foot in when I got to the meet. I'm sure you've deduced by now that was some faulty logic.

And so, I put on the one boot and climbed the hills in my walking shoe.

I know. I could have turned around, and my son would have understood why. WB was with his middle school team at their meet at Sugarloaf, so I was the parent available to be there. It was his first high school meet, and I was 50 yards from being able to see him ski. Those of you who are parents will understand why I climbed that hill, stood by the fence and watched him leave the start line and enter the woods; balanced on one foot as the wind almost blew me over; and recognized his gait as he emerged from the woods the last time to swing around the lower field and climb the hill and ski by me towards his finish. I'd be lying if I said I didn't tear up watching him go by, or if I said it was only because my foot was starting to make it's displeasure known. But watching him ski-- seeing the confidence, dedication, and determination as he made his way around the course-- well, that's why I went, and why I stupidly climbed that hill.

I'd told him I'd be there but wouldn't stay long after, so I hoped he trusted in that fact. I cheered for him as he went by, but who knows if they really hear you or not? When I ran (stumbled? hobbled?) cross country in high school, I could only focus on finishing... but I knew, somewhere, at least one of my parents was there. After he finished, I tried to find where the team was, but I couldn't see them, and at that point I knew I was risking damage staying on that snowy hill. (As I was typing this post, in fact, he texted me-- he tried to get to me before I left, but couldn't reach me in time.) So far, he's unaware of the depth of my folly, and part of the reason for this post is so he might have a glimmer of understanding why I pushed the edge of my physical abilities to be there: I'm pretty sure he won't fully understand, though, until his oldest has his or her first high school meet.

Our job as parents is to be their personal cheering squad, following them around through their various events, giving them support. Sometimes it's advice, many times praise, and every so often a kick in the behind. In many ways, it's all about being there, watching them grow and mature and figure out who they're going to be as adults. As I said before, at least one of my parents was at each and every one of our events. I took it for granted as a kid that everyone had the same experience, but I know now that was never a safe assumption. If it is all possible, one of us will be at each of our kids events, too-- and if it's not, we'll line up someone else. Gramma (and Uncle Uncle) played that role the night of my surgery when Cheer Chick did her Christmas routine at their game. It matters to kids that someone is there watching them. It matters a lot.

Being there was worth the discomfort. I'm proud of you, buddy. Hope you had a good first meet.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

2013 is being brought to you by the letter W

I'm not usually one to bid a fond farewell to the year gone by, but this year is one I'm glad to leave in my dust. It was really the Year of the Doctor: I started in January with an ovarian torsion caused by a pesky cyst, tests for which revealed I also had gallstones. So, in February I had my gallbladder removed, just 17 days after losing half my left ovary. Originally I had planned on getting my second foot repaired in May-- right after the recital. I could not bare the thought of a 3rd surgery in 5 months-- nor could I have another week-plus absence from this group of sunshines. But.... 2 surgeries plus other random maladies rack up the deductible points pretty quickly, so it made sense to do it before the new year. And so, 2 weeks ago I went under the knife again. If I could resolve to do such things, trust me, staying out of surgical suites would be on my list every year.

Last year my resolutions were simple ones-- only 2 of them, really. Write more, and be aware of other's struggles and don't make them worse. I did pretty well on the former... but regular readers of this sad blog should show that I did horribly at the former.

But all this is just avoiding the subject. What am I resolving to do this year? As I said in the title, there's a W theme. I feel like Bert from Sesame Street... except instead of talking about lightbulbs and lampposts I'm talking about visiting Weld on a regular basis, writing more, and walking again. I also want to keep focus on my photography, but I haven't found the W connector for that yet. Hmm... maybe... a women's photography club? A friend of mine said she and some other friends were talking about starting such a thing, so maybe that's the link.

So here's to you, 2013. Let's stop meeting in hospitals and doctor's offices, ok?