|sorry about the reflections. I took an i-Phone photo of
my senior portrait hanging on the wall.
The past two days have been challenging ones. My mood has been all over the place. Jerry and Jonathan turn around and walk in the other direction when they see me.
Yesterday, I went to a funeral of one of our parish’s patriarchs. He was in his late 60’s and had a beautiful wife and family. He and his wife were high school sweethearts and married for 47 years when he passed away. His three adult children gave the most beautiful testimony at the funeral. They honored their father and all he had taught them.
It got me thinking about time. The past and the future. How much I have left or how little. The gift and curse of time.
Today I attended a charity tea with my Mom , my sister, two sisters-in-law and three of my nieces. As I looked around the room, I saw so many faces from my past, ladies from the church where I grew up, their daughters who went to school with me, and now even a few grandchildren. The march of time.
My heart felt heavy for those three hours. I wanted my girl beside me. I wanted Courtney to be laughing and sipping tea with her cousins. I wanted to share in that mother/daughter moment that was happening again and again all around the room.
I thought of the scene form the movie “Steel Magnolias” where Sally Field has just laid her daughter to rest in the cemetery and her friends have all gathered around her and are telling her how strong she is. She screams at them “I don’t want to be strong. I just want me Shelby back!”
I am grateful I kept it together until I started home. Then I remembered…my 30th High School reunion is tonight.
I am so not that freaking old…or am I??
I was awkward. I laughed too loudly, talked too much, had zero self confidence. I struggled for four years to find my feet. I was not an academic nor was I an athlete. I wasn’t a drama kid or class president. I did work on the school newspaper my junior and senior years, but even there I stood outside the circle.
I know I wasn’t alone in this journey. I am sure all of my classmates went through similar things. After all, that’s what high school is for. Figuring it out.
I just feel like my life is so very different now. I have experienced things that many others have not. I hope they never have to. I have no idea what I would say when people asked what my world looks like.
As I drove home this afternoon, the tears came as I thought “I just want my Courtney back dammit. I just want this all to be a really bad dream. I want my daughter here with me. No matter what her abilities, I just want her back.”
I am not going to get her back. I know that. This new reality sucks. My daughter is dead. I don’t want it to be true. But it is. There is hole in my life the size of the Grand Canyon. It is vast and deep. It is scary and I am alone in it.
Thinking back to those high school years, as I drove home feeling so sad about my girl, I realized that they helped prepare me for caring for my Courtney. I learned to stick up for myself in high school and to go my own way, even when it was not a popular choice. This translated into being the very best advocate I could be for my daughter and learning to think outside the box with her care.
I learned that it’s not what you know, it’s WHO you know. This translated into being able to find new physicians for my Courtney because of old acquaintances. These physicians saved her life more than once. I also learned that being kind was more important than being in a clique. This has been the most important lesson for me. Kindness to all, no matter their status in life. It’s the golden rule.
Tonight Rockville High School, Class of 1985, will be dancing and celebrating the past, where life long friendships began, where legendary tales will be told and where everyone is 17 years old for one more night.
I wish y’all well. Have fun people! It’s going to be a good time I am sure. Hang out, play a little Journey, dance like no one is watching and have a drink for me.
It is a precious thing. We don’t know how long we have to be here. Some of us will find great success in this world, others not so much. Some of us will suffer great loss while others don’t.
I will continue to march to the beat of my own drummer, even though sometimes I am the only member of the band. I will continue to love my daughter, even though she now stands behind the veil of death. I will do my best to leave the sadness and the sorrow behind and concentrate on the joy of the present moment.
One step at a time…