Friday, December 24, 2004

Merry Christmas my lovely blogger buddies :). It has been a wonderful season for us, and I wish it on the lot of you. God Bless us every one :).

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

And so this is Christmas. Advent really. Hanukkah, too. This has been an introspective season so far. Looking backward, this season caps off a really weird year. We faced a whole lot of new beginnings, all good. We have said a lot of goodbyes this year. Last year I was grappling for holiday spirit. This year my cup is overflowing. I don't get it, but I feel compelled to review it, to maintain a history of it, so here it is.

We faced our very last Pee Wee Football season of my son's young life last year. It was an awesome end. We went to the superbowl. We celebrated with some of my favorite people in the world. It was so very bittersweet. Our time together had come to an end, and our boys were moving on. This was a happy ending. We ran a good race. Yet we knew that it would never be the same. Take a picture. Collect a memory. Goodbye.

My son informed me that he was finished with Boy Scouts. He didn't really want to be an Eagle Scout, that was my dream for him. After 5 years as the Cub Scout Den Leader and 3 years as a Scout mom (popcorn sales, parade coordinating, public service projects, etc. et. al.) I was really bummed out. I felt like I was fired. And I was really disappointed in my son for the first time ever in my parenting of him. Does it matter that he won't be an Eagle Scout? Not really. I'm actually embarrassed about how disappointed I was about this. Just another goodbye. Let it go.

Shortly after this announcement, my dear friend and Cub Scout Den Master lost his son in a freak car accident. This death rocked my world. I can't even write of it today without tears. Tim Jackes, beloved 15 year old son of Hugh and Annette, left this world and entered the next just about a year ago. He was about 2 months away from earning his Eagle Scout status. 2 months. We spent the rest of Christmas grieving. In fact, I think this set the tone for the rest of the year. Goodbye Tim.

Not long after Christmas, my daughter's beloved parakeet died suddenly. She wrapped his little body in a tissue and carried him around for 2 days, weeping and crying and praying over him, convinced that God would bring him back. He was about 2 years old. My husband couldn't bear her grief, (nor mine at this point still carried over from Christmas) so he took her out and purchased a new bird cage (a luxury mansion) and 3 (yes you heard me correctly) THREE new parakeets (because 1 was just too lonely and there were only 3 at the pet store -- so you couldn't buy 2 and leave one behind...) so...Goodbye Joey. Hello Rocco, Sheila and Joey Jr.

My parents officially retired in March. They sold their beautiful waterfront home in Oceanside and moved to our family summer house in Sag Harbor (equally as beautiful, by the way). We threw them a huge party in New York. They were filled with delight. But there was a sadness in this for me. My kids grew up in snippets in their pool and on their dock. At one visit every other year, the quantity of time spent was not nearly enough. The end of this chapter opens the end of the book. The final chapters are ahead, and this is very sad to me. Even though they are likely to have 30 years left (they're only in their early 60s), I am oppressed by the "end of the book" concept. Goodbye Oceanside Road East, Hello Retirement years.

My son ended his Middle School years with high honors and "flying colors". My daughter did the same at the Elementary School. I had a hard time with my goodbyes at the Elementary School. I regretted about a thousand times not having 6 more children needing to go through Elementary School. I wept from about June 1 - June 18 (appx last day of school). My daughter would go on to the same Middle School my son just left. This was okay. But I have no reason to go back to the Elementary School. Goodbye Hidden Hills. I really miss you. Hello High School, I'm not sure I like you yet, but I'm trying....

Shortly after the end of school, we went to Iowa for my husband's grandparent's 70th wedding anniversary. 70th. It was an incredible celebration, as it should be. 4 years ago, Great Grandma and Grandpa Johnson showed us the cemetery where they would eventually rest, and the very headstones that mark the spot. I think it will comfort us one day to have seen how much they liked the real estate. It is an odd but cherished memory. The cemetery houses about 4 generations of my husband's ancestors. It is in the middle of the country. (Really, just about smack dab in the middle of the USA). It was a great trip, and reminded me of the "goodbye for now" concept that I used to know. Hello hope, I see you peeking at me from behind that headstone..

Right after we returned from Iowa, we bought a new home in the most inflated real estate market in history. We contemplated renting our old home for quite a long time. This was something we always wanted to do. We set a date by which we needed to rent it, after which we put it on the market. We sold it in about a day, at an equally inflated price. Although I feel like we won the lottery, I also feel like we closed the door on our oldest shared dream. Goodbye Kimberly Lane, Hello Ortega Highway.

Right before we purchased the house, my daughter had a spiritual breakthrough of sorts. She climbed Jacob's ladder. She battled with God and made peace within the context of a battle I am only just now beginning to understand in myself. She set personal goals and teamed up with God in order to achieve them. So far I am amazed by her life. So much faith, so much fruit. She began to move forward in the power of her faith and the vision of her dreams. Much more to say about all this, but her life is popping. Goodbye little girl, hello young woman of God.

My daughter's life of miracles is juxtaposed by my son's life of disappointments. He was a starter in Freshman Football, first string and Captain. He broke his collar bone in the second game of the season and spent the rest of the season as the water boy. He never complained. He went to every practice, every game (A and B), worked on homework well into the night. He has had huge struggles with the Biology teacher (long story) and battles for a B in that class. (He is used to straight A's). He managed to make the basketball team (extremely competitive -- 75 go out for the team, 17 are chosen) but is not a starter, so he spends a lot of time waiting. We have all had seasons like this. Disappointing. He cannot see the bizillion blessings, because all he keeps hearing is the "no". I can't really help him through this, only pray. He's growing in faith, and it's hard to watch. Goodbye baby Christian boy, Hello man of God.

In the next couple of paragraphs I'm going to list a couple of significant goodbyes, not to belittle them, but to put this history to bed. In early October an acquaintance died unexpectedly of a heart attack. He was 50 ish. I saw him every month for a long time in affiliation with Boy Scouts. After my son quit, I still ran into him in the community at various functions. He was a really good man. His son and daughter were a little older than mine, and he was as busy with their lives as we are with ours. He wasn't rich, he wasn't powerful, he wasn't very sophisticated or that significant of an influence on my life. He was a nice man who was on the same road as I was, and we ran into each other all the time. 2 days before he died, I saw him at a home game at my son's High School. I sold him a hot dog and talked football and scouting. He looked good. He looked well. I couldn't believe it when I heard he had died. Goodbye Artie. I'll really miss running into you in all the familiar places. Godspeed.

Christopher Reeve may not mean anything to you, but I met him when I was a reporter for the Carey Clipper (high school). I would review plays in NYC (rough life). He was in Lanford Wilson's "The Fifth of July" and I waited outside the stage door to meet him (along with my old friend Roz Carter). We also met Jeff Daniels, Swoozie Kurtz, and Lanford Wilson, but Christopher Reeve was the highlight. He signed my playbook, kissed my cheek (which I didn't wash for several days) and discussed my college options with me. He went to Cornell as an undergrad, and after hearing that this was one of my options, encouraged me to go for it. He made my mind up then and there. Cornell it would be. I kept up with his life as it unfolded. I thought highly of him and prayed occasionally for his healing. I saw him on TV right before he died. He looked fine. I cried for 2 days over his passing. I went out and bought the perfume I used to wear (Lauren by Ralph Lauren). I tried to recapture a moment in time. Call me crazy if you want. His passing marked the end of a part of me that was young and dramatic and impetuous. That part seems to have been paralyzed for years. Now I fear it is gone forever. Goodbye Christopher Reeve. You touched my life.

And finally, Debi's Michael. Her Beebo. With puberty came a severe bi-polar disorder. Schitzophrenia (sp?) . Mental Illness. He battled real demons who spoke to him in audible voices. Unlike the many photo moments I shared with her in her office, these days were not pinned up on the walls. I didn't know how hard the last years had been for him and for Debi. They frantically went from doctor to doctor to find a medical solution to his sufferings. They failed. The only peace he ever knew was that which came with the use of Heroine. He tried so hard to stop using and eventually gave in to the voices. As you know, he died of a heroine overdose on November 11. The priest at the formal service reminded Debi that she now shared in the suffering of Mary -- she watched her beloved son suffer in a manner that was outside her control. No matter what could be said of his life, he was now at peace for the first time since he was 12 years old. I have to ask what Debi asks: Why Beebo? Why Debi? Why anyone for that matter? No one is immune. Goodbye Michael. You were your mother's heart and soul. Will I say goodbye to her as well? Only time will tell.

Tim looked a fraction of his age. He died when he was 15 yet still looked like he might be 12. He was fragile looking and delicate, like a boy. Bob Cratchit's Tiny Tim. If Tim embodied innocence and goodness, Michael was somehow the opposite. He looked like a full grown man at 12. He was a big muscular young man, with huge sideburns and a drop dead gorgeous smile. He was testosterone incorporated. He was sexy. He was the bad boy. Yet he was Debi's Tiny Tim. He was handicapped. He was crippled. And Debi carried him on her shoulders every day. Lord, carry Debi. I beg you. Let her know the footprints she sees are yours.

I'll finally wrap this baby up. If you managed to keep reading to the end, I applaud you! and I thank you. This was rather theraputic for me. Despite the many goodbyes, this Christmas, this Advent finds me hopeful, faithful, and maybe even a little joyful (against all odds). The oil is long gone, yet the flame is still burning. Happy Hanukkah. Shalom. May the Peace that passes all understanding be in your hearts and mind this season and every season. God Bless us, every one.