Thursday, January 30, 2014

Miss You Guys

With my sister C and friend Lisa

Oh my goodness, I am absolutely awash in nostalgia today, and looking back on my life with much regret (of course) but also so many joyful memories. I used to think I was pretty good at keeping in touch, but in fact am pretty terrible at it. Boxes of letters and cards attest to the fact that, back in the day, I must have been a decent correspondent, because so many wonderful people kept up with me. Nowadays (and this is partly attributable to the advent of email and texting and evaporating records of the back-and-forth of old communication), a real physical note from someone is a treat indeed, and this is largely because I rarely write to folks myself anymore. Rarely call anyone, either. If you’re on Facebook when I am, well yay, because we just might connect. Otherwise, weeks, months and even years may pass without a peep.

But it is important to me that I say that I miss you. All of you. And I miss me, too. The precocious and (truth to tell) insufferable child, writing reams of poetry and prose and angsting all over the place. The grown-too-soon teen, escaping a challenging home life to leap into engagement at age 17, luckily with the enduring love of my life. The shattered 20-something, losing one sister and clinging to the other. The young actress. The mom of five, living a blur of diapers and feedings and time-outs and bedtime readings. All those Elises, now gone forever.

As I slog on into my late 50s, missing all the versions of me, all the memories of you, I want to send a message. I know I will forget to mention many people but here’s just a sampling…

Here’s to my childhood buddies, especially to Lisa. I’ll never forget reading Life with Mother Superior on the playground at St. Jude’s. Shout-out to my high school friends, including John, Nancy, Molly, Jeff and Paul. We have shared so much beyond our Pius High days, meeting in Atlanta and New York and Philly over the years. Closer to now, I miss Shelley and Sue and Colleen and Monica and feel stupid that we aren’t in better touch. You may not always be geographically near me and I can’t take you for granted. We raised our kids together and that is no small thing.

Besides my sis, I miss my extended family, my sisters- and brother- in- law, and their families. I miss my cousins in New York, all the time. Why don’t we get together more often? I don’t know, and time ticks inexorably on.

In the winter, I miss all my Delaware shore friends.  I also really miss Sher’s composition teacher (former Rehoboth resident), Jim.
With Becky and Dennis in Lewes

You are all so dear to me, and today you all feel very far away, as do the days memories of you evoke.

Missing is an ache that reminds me that I’m alive and, I pray to God, there’s still time.

See you soon, everybody?  Please? 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Faking It

I am just about totally unqualified for anything I do in this world. As a child, I taught myself to read, to cook, to type (with two fingers, the ridiculous method I still use). I received no formal training in writing, acting, or church work. I married my first boyfriend at age 20, with no experience whatsoever in being out on my own.  And parenting? Forget about it! I remember the many bouts of postpartum weeping (me and the babies) as I frantically tore through my copies of Dr. Spock and Penelope Leach for advice.  That the kids turned out well is a miracle for which I take very little credit.

For so many years, I plastered a big smile on my face and faked my way through life, ignoring physical ailments and mental illness alike as I pretended to have it all figured out. Even now, at age 57, when you’d think I’d know better, I am still a master of disguise. Ask my psychiatrist how I’m feeling on my current dosage of meds. He will probably say I’m doing great, when in reality I hate my numbness and lack of emotions. Heck, I recently walked around for four months with a torn rotator cuff and denied the pain!
day of my injury--smiling through

There is value to faking it sometimes, I believe. Steve’s dad used to say that when people asked him how he was he always answered “fine” because that’s what everyone wanted to hear. We all have our miseries; do we really need to bring each other down by complaining about them?  And I have definitely experienced times when the false impression I’ve given of being happy has eventually morphed into the real thing.

So now here I am, on the verge of another role to play—that of grandma. I am genuinely thrilled for Ya-Jhu and Sheridan, and am quite sure they will make fantastic parents. I feel excited and a bit scared about this new little one coming into the world. I have no idea what kind of grandparent I will be, and once again feel as if I’ll be faking it, at least at first. Will I be helpful? Hopefully. Will I spoil the baby? Probably. Will I have the energy to really participate in his or her daily life in a positive way? Who knows, but I will definitely give it my best shot.
Mom and Dad to be!

And if someday my precious grandchild asks me for advice about living, I will say that we none of us are ever really prepared, ever feel truly adequate for all of life’s challenges. Even with a lot more training than I had.  I think that’s a secret we all carry inside of us: that we’re pretending every day. Smiling when we don’t feel like smiling. We need to keep on keeping on through the tough times, and fake it till we make it. Because God knows we’re trying, every one of us.  And maybe trying is the best any of us can do.