This paragraph is hard for me to write. A Facebook messenger conversation I had recently with an old friend that I haven't seen or even texted in years sparked so many emotions and thoughts for me. It got me thinking about other poignant, even high school romance-tragic conversations I had over the years, and humorous convos that got me through the day or a rough patch in life. My biggest takeaway from all these conversations is that people, of all ages and walks in life, are resilient and stronger than we know. We are innate survivors, even after all the drama, dysfunction, horrible childhoods, and addictions in life.
It took me a week to sit down and write this part. When I was a kid, my dad went through a five year obsession with the singer Don Hehnly. A line of his, "This is the end, the end of innocence," keeps running through my head now. Some adults I know never had an innocent childhood and they had a difficult young adulthood because of this or separate from it. My friend confided in me (I was given permission to share this here) that opiate and alcohol addiction was a game changer in their life. Fortunately, everything is fine now, but the alcohol addiction occurred daily for nine years. A health scare forced a rehab visit and detox. Everything changed, including a better marriage and the subsequent birth of a child. This got to me, not only because it happened to one of my oldest and dearest friends, but because it could easily have happened to me or any of my friends in our high school group. A group of eight or so of us were together almost daily for about six years, exposed to all the same things. It also bothered me that I had no idea this was happening to my friend, but it's not something you go around telling people. When I asked what helped with recovery, faith, family, or friends, my friend said, "All of the above." Anyone who can beat addiction is a hero in my book. If you put in the work daily, like my friend, who attends AA meetings and battles demons by thinking of that little daughter, you are a mentally tough person.
Luckily, on a personal note, I mostly only had drama with some slight dysfunction on a social level in high school and college thrown in. A lot of drama, arguing, jealousy and unhealthy relationships. Most people I know, now and then, had it much worse. No one is deceased though, for the most part, from their tragedies. One of the many reasons I believe there is a forgiving God.
My grandfather explained to me after a health scare he had that the only thing that would kill him is if his children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren passed away before him. He is never this candid and it made me think that his final wish, that his family is settled and happy, has been fulfilled. Now he is at peace within himself. My grandmother has been giving away their possessions for ten years now, with the idea that their death is imminent and she doesn't want to burden our family with cleaning out her and my grandfather's house.
I just had a conversation with a deceased neighbor's sister-in-law. She lost her sister in her forties a few years ago due to cancer. Now, her brother-in-law, who was married to her sister, passed away in the fall from stage four cancer. He left behind their two adopted, elementary-age children. This angel lady and her husband are raising her two children plus her sister's children. They all attend the same school now and have help from their maternal grandparents also. I pray for her and all the above people daily.
Some trying conversations I had in life are when I had to explain to my acupuncturist what an excruciating migraine feels like and why I thought I was getting them. I've shared with a social worker career counselor what postpartum depression is really like and why I will never go back to a career in education. I've had to talk about hormone levels and feminine cycles to doctors and lab technicians drawing blood. A close relative had to explain another close relative's health diagnosis. I lost a family friend to stage four lung cancer and a high school friend to leukemia at the age of twenty-four. Those conversations at wakes and funerals make for good stories and songs.
On a more humorous note, this morning I had to explain to my uncle how Facebook works and how his sister-in-law's Instagram account can negatively impact his Instagram professional account. I laughed for five minutes at his serious, professional expression in his profile picture on Facebook and Insta. My daughter and I laughed even harder when he told us that my eleven-year-old cousin, his daughter, created the account. My brothers and I also had to teach my dad how to use an iPod and a beach portable radio. This is also the same man, when being quoted in a previous article of mine, replied, "I didn't think any of you actually listened to me."
The best was when my mom told my brothers, sisters-in-law and I how randomly a drunk, married acquaintance (mom of three) passed out on my parent's front lawn after being dropped off there by her boyfriend. We were all at their house when this happened in the dead of winter and had no idea anyone was on their lawn. Any story my second grade daughter tells me about the class antics is always funny. I noticed that the little boy with the most warnings all year brought their teacher the biggest, most amount of baby shower gifts today—ha ha ha. My daughter is intrigued yet outraged by any misbehavior in school.
I cope with episodes of Full House, Fiddle Faddle, spin class, and online bargain shopping.
I could go on and on with my stories. To be continued...