Thursday, April 17, 2014

Promises, Promises

Wow, I have never gone so long without writing a blog post.  Over two months!
Writing this blog is probably one of the most rewarding, gratifying, fun things I have ever experienced.  It has given me a chance to do the things I love the most: write, make people laugh, reflect on subjects that seem interesting or current, brag about my adored children and grandchildren.   I have received feedback, not just in comments, but in e-mails, from strangers telling me how much something I have written has touched them, encouraged them and/or inspired them.  Unfortunately, I feel I have been letting myself down in not keeping the blog current. I suppose part of that lapse is because things have changed so drastically since I started writing it.  Although it also could be because I have been so sick.  But surely I should be capable of at least a few words?  I am really disappointed in myself.

I had promised myself I would write certain number of posts per week, or even as few as one per month.  I’ve tried giving blog posts catchy titles, to remind me to keep on schedule, like Photo Friday.  This one would be a no brainer, I thought.  I have a zillion snaps I can tell stories about.  And it had a built in reminder.  Who could forget it was Friday?  Well, me for starters.  “No brainer” seemed to be the operative phrase here.

Then I had the brilliant idea of combining a prayer with a clip of something funny.  See afore mentioned no brain.  Anyone else would have realized, practically immediately, there just aren’t that many amusing prayer subjects out there.  At least not ones that would lend themselves to a laugh-out-loud video clip.

I have sadly neglected my other two blogs as well.  The one about books should be the easiest thing in the world to write, as it is a subject I can go on about for hours.  My MS Renegade blog has also been left flapping in the breeze.  There is so much to say about living with MS, so much I could share with others that might help even a little, but I keep breaking my promises.

However, as we all know, promises break all the time, don’t they?

Sunday, April 17, 1977, I became a mother for the first time.  I promised myself I would be the best mother ever.  I read every book I could get my hands on.  I embraced new age theory, breastfeeding, the family bed, marsupial mothering.  The counter-promise was apparently an emotionally fulfilled child, the most important thing, of course.  But for me, of a peer group that was fraught with challenges between the generations, the other exciting assurance was true and deep friendship with my children as they grew.

My darling children, circa 1990
Best intentions notwithstanding, being human, I have not been a perfect parent.  I did not come close to the lofty goals I set for myself, although I do not believe I was all that bad.  I had enormous fun with my children, was graced with tremendous joy in watching them grow as people and mature into adults that I was so proud of, people I was so happy to spend time with.  We had fun together.  We traveled together, got together and played board games, made each other laugh.  And despite my failings, I thought we were still friends.

But those promises have shattered as well, with agonizing estrangement from two of my beloved children. 

As I have written before, the year I turned fifty my children and my sister threw me a spectacularly affectionate and loving birthday party.  It was a blast.  They planned it as a surprise and later told hilarious stories of how much fun they had organizing it.  I was thrilled and grateful that they had taken so much trouble to make me happy.  But, taking things completely for granted, I had stupidly assumed these relationships would simply continue to flourish and thrive.  These were literally my best friends.  They publicly announced their love and admiration for me at the party.  But what changed?   Were they making it up?  Had they always despised me but just kept it to themselves?  The promise of loving each other forever seemed to be there that wonderful day, but appears to have evaporated into thin air.  The void this has left is unspeakably painful and literally causes me to howl with grief at times.   I have lost so much already, to lose them on top of everything is unbearable. 

Thirty seven years of memories as a mother flash through my brain, all organized around my overpowering love for my children.  And underneath all I can see are all the things I have done wrong, despite my best intentions, despite my promises.

I will continue to try to write my blog despite being broken hearted and miserably sick.  While I was given a blissful reprieve by the steroids, as I predicted, my symptoms have returned with a vengeance. The cancer has spread yet again and a trial of chemo started 10 days ago had to be stopped when the side effects, particularly shortness of breath, became untenable. Without chemo, I do not have a great deal of time left.  My doctor ordered a hospice evaluation this week.  By continuing to write, I want to share successes and achievements.  I want to laugh.  I want to write commentary on issues that matter to me.  I want to live until the end.

I am surrounded by loving, fun, supportive friends who cheer me on and celebrate my writing.  I cling to the premise that there must be a reason for this cordon of support, this core of loyalty and affection.   But this is not easy.  The individuals who are so bitterly angry with me, family members that I loved and trusted, assure me that my wonderful friends are kind to me only because they don’t know what I truly am: an evil, selfish, manipulative liar.  

For someone like me, with inherent Low Self Esteem, it can be easy to buy into such a pronouncement.  After all, it comes from people who have known me their entire lives, people who profess to know me better than anyone on the planet.  So they can make such a proclamation, right?

But here’s the thing…I cannot accept that.  While my heart is utterly shattered by the estrangement from my children, I have to believe that God surrounded me with the love of my friends, my remaining children and my grandchildren, as a comfort and a gift.  His love is a promise I have to believe in.  It is the only thing that can keep me going.  I will pray for the few who harbor such animosity towards me, that they might find peace and tolerance and maybe even reconciliation.  But I will rejoice in those hundreds who celebrate me and who share joy and generosity of spirit. 
I will be honest.  It is devastating having cancer, MS and very few treatment options.  But missing my children is worse than all those disasters put together and has rendered me a sniveling, weeping, sloppy mess. As part of an effort to stay calm and strong, I am trying to meditate and pray.  According to the medieval mystic Julian of Norwich, this assurance, this promise, comes directly from God’s mouth:

"All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well."

He promises!  And when my knees are buckling with grief and fear, that promise is holding me up.  Thank you, Lord. 



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