Thursday, December 18, 2008

Balancing Act

Little Lakes in Winter

It's hard to figure out what the balance is.

I've been back in seminary for three weeks, kept up with the reading, written two papers, missed some meetings, gone to chapel, avoided chapel, hung out talking to people in the library. Most people have no idea what to say to me, some feel compelled to offer the most appalling platitudes, and a very few seem to know how to be present to someone who feels as if she is wandering around on a planet in a distant galaxy. My first real venture outside my protective cocoon of family and friends, and it wasn't easy.

I spent some time one evening with the committee that oversees the ordination process for our Presbytery. Everyone was supportive and encouraging and did what they needed to do to mover things along. In my former life, I tended to exude tremendous zest and stamina, and I am self-aware enough to recognize how steeply that level of engagement has declined. I suppose they must still have seen a spark of the old Gannet, and I am grateful for that, and for their willingness to hang in there with me.

I am exhausted. My estimate is that the grieving process, day in and day out, takes about 500% of the energy required for a normal day in life as usual. Every few hours of effort requires many times over that number to recover. Every encounter with a baby, every strain of Christmas music, every symbol, whether liturgical or secular, is another invitation to the practice of endurance. Our mail carrier is out sick and the substitute has not deigned to come by all week (I finally called the post office tonight), which may be a good thing. Fifteen weeks, and condolence cards are still arriving (well, they were) but now now they are mixed in with those for Christmas and Chanukah. A lot to take in.

The Lovely Daughter is home from Oregon and the sound of her laughter from the living room is a very good thing. My father was supposed to come and visit for a couple of days but decided that the weather was too risky, so we have a clean guest room, if anyone wants to stop by. We have a little tree, mostly decorated. And we have reservations for Key West starting on Sunday, where we are going to continue our efforts to come to terms with lives far outside the orbit of the ones we had planned.

I guess we are all right.


Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

You're so right about the energy. Holidays are some of the roughest times for those who grieve. You remain in my thoughts.

Sarah S-D said...

glad there's l.d.'s laughter in these difficult days.

Lovie said...

Oh Robin, I think of you so often! I have found myself thinking of you even more in the last few days as I received news that my niece just lost her very healthy, young husband suddenly over the weekend and just from reading your blog, I see just a hint of the journey she must now find herself on. I wish I had a roadmap to help her, but the cartographers can't even begin to have the imagination to create such a creation.
I am mad as H--- about it, and suspect that is only the tip of the iceberg for someone in your or her shoes must be feeling.

Magdalene6127 said...

Sending love and prayers from afar.

Carol said...

Healing thoughts and prayers continue to flow your way. I so hope that the saltwater and sunshine provide some of that healing. It's good to hear that the LD is laughing.

Rev SS said...

what Carol said!

Stratoz said...

"wandering around a planet..." there are many paths to that place. But I am so glad sparks of the old Gannet made it. I want to blog about eternal genes. millions of years of mutations apparently can't touch them. There are aspects of our true beings that stay no matter what.


Quotidian Grace said...

Blessings on you and your family as you continue the journey. I hope the trip to Key West goes well.


bean said...

we leave for overseas today - hoping for a distraction for my dh from the holidays having recently lost his dad. found him in the kitchen yesterday sobbing. such an empty hole.
sorry...not trying to be bleak..i hope the travel is a useful distraction.xoxo bean

christine said...

Dear friend I have never met,
I send this hug to you-from one mother's heart to another-this season that has so much joy, so much laughter...and hold you close for just a minute to allow our hearts to touch---and soothe one another's sorrow.
just know I think of you often...and remember you in my prayers. with love, Chris

Kathryn J said...

I wish that I could come take advantage of that clean guest room. I'd give you a hug and not offer platitudes or advice - promise. I think it has been an amazing act of courage to return to seminary. I am so pleased but also, in awe.

Thinking of you - sending love.

Jennifer said...

I'm on the lookout for an appalling platitude zapper.
If I find it, I'll send you one.

Gannet Girl said...

Jennifer, you made me laugh out loud! (For which I am very grateful.)

I did, in the last couple of weeks, tell one person to stop talking and start listening, and another that he should "drop that sentence" from his repetoire. Both of them would-be pastors, I might add.

I kind of like the idea of a Super-Squirter Zapper of some kind,though.