Hard Truths and Soft Landings

We trust our friends to tell us what we need to know,

and to shield us from what we don’t need to discover,

and to have the wisdom to know the difference.

Real friends offer both hard truths and soft landings

and realize that it’s sometimes more important to be nice

than to be honest.

~ Anne Quindlen,

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake

In the Cave

How are you holding up? What are you up to?

I’m in bed.

The short response worries me. Not good, I’m guessing.

It’s too much. It’s all just too much.

It is too much. For anyone to handle on their own. Can you talk to me? Tell me what’s in your head? On your heart?

I wish you were closer.

Me, too. You need a physical presence.

I do. Friendship incarnate.

I’m trying to find words. I’m not not answering.

Don’t worry about having words. I know the feelings.

I’m in bed in the dark, in jeans and a sweater and a belt,
because I was fine and then I wasn’t.

Everything about me is tired. Please don’t go.

I won’t. I never do.

That’s true. You never do.

I think it’s trauma.

It is trauma.

It doesn’t seem to be depression or even sadness. That’s the dichotomy in my mind. The confusion. Asking myself why I feel this way. But I think I know the answer.

It’s the events. I remember them perfectly. It’s the ER and the flu test and the prognosis and the promises. It’s like I have to drive through an intersection where my life changed forever. It’s the awareness of where I was. And where he was. And how afraid I was. I loved him through that night.

Are you still afraid?

No, I’m not afraid. My mind is stuck in that room. I can remember everything but the sound of his voice.

What if you stepped out of that room? Instead of being a character whos’ there, be a narrator. Or a spectator.

I can’t seem to leave. I’m trying.

How do you feel? What are the chains holding you there?

I feel so weighed down. Like I have to stay. I was the only one there. If I’m not there, nobody is there.

Do you know what happens if you don’t stay?

He dies alone.

You were there then.

You had to be there then. But what if you’re not there now? I am not suggesting that you don’t want to be there then, like someone else said – ‘wouldn’t it have been great if you had slept through it all.’ I’m not suggesting that.  But what if you watch yourself caring for him. Don’t BE yourself caring for him.

I did it so well.

You did. You did it very well. But he’s taken care of now.

You’re right. He’s taken care of.

I think it’s a piece of me. It gets bigger sometimes.

Of course it does.

You know what? I’m out of bed now.

You are very brave to enter this dark place with me.

You’re not supposed to deal with this alone. And now you’re not.

I came downstairs. I’m reading a cookbook.

In the last three years, anytime I am overcome or overwhelmed, I turn to food. Not to eat it, but to think of how to prepare it. I watched the Food Network for months.  I read cookbooks and food magazines.

Do you feel bad about that?

No, not at all.

Good. Don’t.

I just think it’s interesting to see how my mind works.

I want to read, but I don’t want to think.

I want to read solid directions that lead a to a concrete result.

Thank you for coming to find me in the cave. For coming in and bringing me out. For not just calling my name.

You’re welcome. You needed someone with a flashlight.

And then you came. And now I’m out.

Now you’re out.

How do you feel about chili? Or sausage gravy over biscuits?

An Apolitical View on ObamaCare

I’m apolitical. I’m not Republican or Democrat, right wing or left wing, dark meat or white. I don’t know what I am. I know it makes some of you justice-fighters angry that my feathers can’t be ruffled, but I’m just not wired that way. It’s just not the lens through which I view the world.

So, with all of this hubbub about ObamaCare and health insurance travesties, I have to admit that I’m just biding my time and waiting for the dust to settle. I’m pretty sure God will still be on his throne no matter who is President, no matter how healthcare comes my way.

But here’s where it’s getting to me. I love people. I collect them, it has long been said. And I have built relationships, longstanding and deep, with the providers for our family.

The doctor who has laughed with me in her determination to figure out why I was peeing my pants for no reason and without warning.
The ones who have tweaked this cocktail of medications so I can be a mom who makes dinner and takes her kids to school.
The doctor who gave me his private cell when I was seven weeks pregnant and bleeding, bleeding, bleeding.
The nurse who held my hand and explained that miscarriages can happen for so many reasons and this wasn’t my fault.
The pediatrician who sewed up Tyler’s cheek when the picture fell on his face.
The team who set and reset and reset Tucker’s arm when he was 18 months old and kept taking off his cast.  The nurse who helped me lie down when I fainted twice over my son’s stitches and pain.
The doctor who delivered my sons, who knew my husband and let him watch over his shoulder as the C-section was underway. (Which could creep you out if you didn’t know my husband, the scientist he was, and how he fell more in love with me having direct sight of my uterus.)
The nurses who answered the call when I said, “Call my pediatrician. I want them to know my husband died this morning.” And my friends looked at me oddly, wondering why, but I knew it would matter to these people.
The pediatric doctor and nurse who came to the calling hours with hugs for my children and tears for me, and promises that they would help us, help us, help us.
Those who offered healthcare when my insurance relapsed because the carrier had died and I couldn’t get insurance because of grief-induced depression.
The ones who have celebrated when I didn’t need Ambien every night anymore.
The one who says, “Text me, Trish. I’ll get you in.”
The ones who have treats behind the counter and stickers in their drawers for boys who are brave and loved.

These are my friends. This is my support network. And now I have to decide if I can afford to keep my ongoing history with them.

It’s hard on a girl’s heart.

What I Learned in an Improv Workshop with Tripp Crosby

“You’ve signed up for an improv workshop today, so already I know something about you. You are fun, and you like to try new things.” This is how Tripp welcomed us. So, for anyone who needs clarity, I am fun.

The generosity of strangers.
It is pretty vulnerable to think on your feet, evoke emotion, and respond on the fly with no time to filter. You’ve got to trust that you can trust the people in the room. We were gracious in the giving, and bold in the receiving, as we made each other laugh. These people watched me doing insanely ridiculous things. And I let them.

Improv builds community. We were together for three hours, and if someone had walked into the theater after an hour of our workshop, they would have believed that we were an exclusive group who study improv and work together often. We were so comfortable, tossing our thoughts right out there, to succeed or fail. And if a line started to flop around like a dying fish, then someone else picked it right up and brought it to life.

Come along. This was Tripp’s first rule, and it was a great ground rule. This changes things as a leader of conversation, to openly say from the start, if we’re going to do this together, will you commit to do this with me? Because it’s pretty vulnerable to stand up here and lead. If you promise to follow, this whole thing will be better for both of us.

This is a No Judgment Zone. No judging others, and no judging yourself. I found it much more difficult to follow the second rule. I had so much grace for anyone else, but not as much for myself.

Acting is Awesome.  My friend Joe and I acted a scene together, and this was our prep: “When you hear the buzzer, then you have to repeat the line you just said, but change one nuance in the sentence, and then let the scene change from there. Got it? You’re on a dance floor. Go.”

Just like that, the scene began. Joe and I dove right in, feeding off each other’s imaginations. I broke into my classic impromptu dance that’s kind of a ridiculous blend of square dancing and the running man. Joe asked me to dance.
“To this song?!” I asked, still doing my running man square dance.
“Yeah, maybe not to this song. Maybe another one. I really like to mostly watch at these things, anyway.”
I stopped dancing and joined him on the side of the ‘dance floor’ to people watch. “Look at that guy! That’s insane!”
“I think he’s going to do the splits – woah! He totally did!”
“In skinny jeans, no less!”
BUZZ.
“In baggy jeans, no less!”
BUZZ.
“In NO JEANS, no less! This is crazy!”
“No jeans?! Is this No Pants Night at the bar?”
(I was wearing a sundress.) “Well, I’m not wearing any pants, so clearly, yes, it is!”

Aaand… Scene.

Joe and I kicked it. I’m pretty sure if I ever see him on a dance floor or in an airport for the rest of our lives, we’ll give each other another fist bump and say, “Man, remember when we did that? That was great, wasn’t it?”

Creating is bonding. The people I met in this workshop became my community for the rest of the weekend. This is especially interesting because we all came into this room thinking, “oh, what the heck… sure. I’ll make a fool of myself. It’s not like I’ll ever see these people again.”

And then we were inseparable for the next three days. We sat together, ate together, spent all of our breaks together. We texted to find each other, wake each other, and to say good night. It was instant friendship because we all joined hands on that first day, and we jumped off a cliff together. And when you’re holding hands, then you sink or swim together.

(I think I might need to sign up for an improv class.)

Dangling Participle

A friend of a friend has a little boy named Jerend.

Word nerds that we are, we kind of want to cross out his name and write Gerund.

And then ask his parents if they know they named him a part of speech, and spelled it wrong at that.

It’s probably the mother’s maiden name or something entirely reasonable.

Nonetheless, my weirdo brain wanders like I’m in a candy store of grammar terms.

“Hi, these are my sons, Subject and Predicate. And our dog, Dangling Participle.”