Juggling Reality

I’m not the most graceful person – never have been.  I can trip over nothing, miss the lip of my coffee cup, bump into a wall – and that’s just walking from one end of the kitchen to the other.  Would that these were marketable skills.  What I typically balance well though are the variable weights of the thought bubbles in my head.  Have you ever stopped to consider how many disconnected thoughts jump around your mind in a five-minute period?  Some complete, others rejected.  Some stubbornly intractable, others as ephemeral as a breeze.  So we go through our days.

Perhaps it’s the disparate qualities of these thoughts that make them manageable.  When life events collide, and the thoughts are connected despite the qualities that make them each unique – well, that’s another story…that’s the stuff of which headaches are made.  Juggling – it’s not for the faint of heart.

Over the last few days, much has happened that is disparate yet similar.  Andy turned sixty.  My aunt passed away.  Our well temporarily ran out of water – literally.

Sixty is an impressive number.  A bit frightening even though the alternative is far scarier.  And this generation of ours is making sixty look damn good.  My daughter-in-law added a perspective I hadn’t considered – a birthday just makes you one day older than the day before.  Well that just means that Andy is 59 plus a few days.  And he wears it well.  But when he looked at me yesterday and simply said “I’m sixty years old”, I felt the weight of those words.  He is surprised naturally – how did we get here?  I’m still wondering whether or not he’s going to ask me to go steady.

We also had just come home from the funeral service for my aunt.  I hesitate to write too much about her, for as much as I loved her, there are four cousins of mine and six grandchildren who are the rightful authors of her story.  She was a vibrant, social, politically passionate spitfire with a great smile.  I remember lots of family moments at her house.  Her husband and my dad (they were brothers) singing “The Bluebird Of Happiness” before collapsing in tears of laughter.  Laughter.  That’s it.  I remember laughter.  I choose to remember laughter.  And how loving they were to my children.  Her last years were stolen by Alzheimer’s – an unforgiving thief.

And she was the last of my parents’ cohort group.  The last of my aunts and uncles.  It suggests that my sister, cousins and I are now next in this ineffable path.  I find that a difficult thought to hold onto for very long; I want to drop it, so I can pick it up when I’m ready – and yet it feels like it’s covered in Velcro.  I’m not ready for all the ramifications of being a grown-up.  My hunch is none of us are.  I am in love with life and I am angry that it has to end as we know it.  My head aches.  My heart aches.  And the sun rose this morning as it always does.

The well feels a bit dry as you can probably tell.  The well guys were here already this morning and needed to swap out a part, advising us to keep the power off for a couple of hours to give the well a chance to refill.  It seems like good advice.  Sometimes you just have to power down and give it all over.  Cry a bit.  Accept that there are questions without answers or at least fight them with less vehemence.  Let the sun hurt your eyes as it warms your skin.  It’s okay.

RadiatingBlossom.wordpress.com posted a poem yesterday which has stayed in my bones.  It seems a far better closing thought than anything I could offer.

The Thing Is –  Ellen Bass

To love life, to love it even

when you have no stomach for it

and everything you’ve held dear

crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,

your throat filled with the silt of it.

When grief sits with you, its tropical heat

thickening the air, heavy as water

more fit for gills than lungs;

when grief weights you like your own flesh

only more of it, an obesity of grief,

you think, How can a body withstand this?

Then you hold life like a face

between your palms, a plain face,

no charming smile, no violet eyes,

and you say, yes, I will take you

I will love you, again.

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61 thoughts on “Juggling Reality

  1. Mimi as always your beautiful writing leaves me breathless…and wanting more. I’m so sorry you lost your Aunt, but a legacy of laughter is something to be proud of. May your well fill quickly and overflow…

    • Hi Jill – it will – refill that is (though it may take a little longer than our literal well). It’s inevitable – the need to feel the push and pull of feelings that hurt. xox, m

  2. I so get this as you know from previewing my book (thank you). Being next up at bat, adulthood thrust on us, grief large as a mountain range. And yet, somehow, as that poem states – we hold life like a face and say, yes I will hold you again. Staggering.

  3. Hey M –
    My basic comment – life is not for the faint of heart! And loss is certainly inevitable. But memories will last as long as you care to keep them.

    Getting older worries me and yes, the alternative is worse. But remember that all that we need is right here in front of us – if only we take the moment to see it…

    – J.

  4. Mimi, we are in the same place in so many ways…I can tell by how connected I feel to your words. Having come to this place where my children are grown and life is moving by all too quickly…I too wonder how it is that I got here, with so many years gone by…and feeling a bit of melancholy in looking forward. I just keep trying to grasp each day in all its fullness and feel grateful for all that is beautiful in life. Thanks so much for sharing the poem. That one meant a lot to me as well. Wishing you love and peace, dear Mimi.

    • I look forward to your posts everyday, knowing that there will be some magnificent photo and/or poem that resonates with me. I love that we are connected by time and thoughts – that means so much to me. And you are so right – to not recognize the fullness of each day and the beauty therein, is to do one’s self a huge injustice. Much love and gratitude, m

  5. What beautiful writing. I love the feelings your post evokes–both your words and those of Ellen Bass. May lasting joy fill your home and heart again, and soon.
    Russ

  6. Warm hugs in sympathy for the loss of your Aunt SK and curse Alzheimer’s all day long for robbing her last years of all that can still make you smile. I’m very sorry.
    Though I am 6 degrees of separation from the particular moment that had Andy shaking his head in disbelief, I can relate. When I think back to my Greats and Grands, I thought sixty was older than dirt! Since then, seeing my parents, their siblings, and their friends reach that milestone, I thought ‘Well damn, they are doing pretty well for old folk’. Of course now that I have friends of my own whose lives have waned that far, I think “Sixty is not old; sixty is just a number; sixty is the new forty; Sixty? OMG…Sixty! Impossible!” Or something along those lines. Because you’re right, sixty looks damned good these days.
    Here’s wishing the well(s) fill, if not quickly…completely…with the waters of life we all so depend on…xoxo

  7. You’ve wrapped your arms around this daunting and elusive issue so beautifully, honey, as you always do. I hit the big 5-0 this year, and for the life of me I cannot figure out how I got here so quickly. Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was making plans to head off to college?

    I’m holding you close to my heart during these tough days, and sending all the love your heart can hold….

    “Laughter and tears are meant to turn the wheels of the same machinery of sensibility; one is wind-power, and the other water-power; that is all” — Oliver Wendell Holmes

    • It really is both daunting and elusive, isn’t it sweetie? Too big to wrap one’s arms around, too big to be ignored and impossible to give adequate due. I know you’re with me as I am with you – it’s how we roll. I love the quote – and given that we’ve run out of water power (literally and figuratively) I will soon be aloft by the wind. xox, m

  8. As happens many times with blogs, sometimes you get just what you need when you need it. I just lost my father, a good friend’s mother, another good friend’s father, and my best friend’s mother in a matter of days.
    You SHOULD write about your aunt, even though you feel it’s not your story… we all have our own stories about those we love and you may be surprised at how comforting your words can be to her other loved ones.
    Sharing your loss.

    • I am so very sorry that you have had to negotiate so many huge losses in such a brief period of time. I think there are times when all that can be expected of us is that we breathe. I hold you in my thoughts and heart and wish that each memory be a blessing.

  9. OH Mimi, I am sorry to hear of the loss of your Aunt, she sounded like a wonderful lady. I love reading your writings. You are truly blessed and you too sound like a lovely lady. hugs. All the best to you. Always. Renee ♥

  10. oh wow, gooesbumps and even the errant tear sliding down my cheek. Am sorry to hear of your Aunt’s death, and especially of the Alzheimer’s. My dad’s mom went like that, though for her it was almost a blessing as she was a harsh lady and the disease softened her.

    I’m certain Andy wears his 60 years very well and that you’ll do the same when it’s your turn. “How’d we get here?” is a question I can see asking as well. Dunno, but the most we can ask is that our time was well spent. Am all over this concept of embracing it all–even the yucky stuff. Life is all about the living for sure.

    Gosh, though, the no water and power thing would totally put me over the edge. Might be more of an “endure” than an “embrace.”

    Loving your posts always, Mimi. Beautiful beautiful beautiful.

    • Hi Liz, I promise to write you offline as soon as I get water back on (you’re right, it was just about a deal breaker for my state of mind) All of these forms of dementia are so pernicious – my dad (with a different type, but the end result is the same), grandmother, etc.. I appreciate your comments – this was a hard post to write. It’s comforting to feel that you ‘got it’ – up to and including the absence of water!! And yes, to make sure our time is well spent – clearly a primary objective of this gift we’ve been given..xox, m

  11. I have one aunt left (she is 101) that saves me from being the elder generation. Fortunately she is very young and vital and will leave big shoes to fill when she goes. Sounds like your aunt did the same. I am so sorry for your loss. You can tell Andy that the worst thing about being in your 60s is not saying your are 60 or 60-something. It’s that dreadful number that is the next big milestone!

    • Oh Kate, I can’t even begin to think about the next big milestone – we’re just one day away from this one! 🙂 How wonderful that your aunt is enjoying a full, rich and long life – just fantastic!

  12. Stunningly poignant. Even in it’s simplicity, Andy’s confirmation of his “new” age by saying it out loud will affect all of us the same way in this year of years. Unbelievable. Incongruent.

    I am sorry for your loss your sadness and your sorrow. I understand too well how it is a “loss” on way to many levels but as it always hits the heart first may healing come when all of you, individually, are ready to embrace it. May her laughter continue to resound in your soul far into eternity and, lastly, without fail, may her memory be for a blessing. Sending cyber hugs and love.

    • Ah BonBon thank you…a surrealistic kaleidoscope of images, feelings, moments…It huts the heart first and leaves it forever changed. And I will embrace the love that remains, the amalgam that somehow fills the spaces that are left. Her memory will indeed be a blessing. Hugs to you – big ones..xo, m

      • Jo – forgive the brain lapse – I knew I was writing you and was thinking that I had to send an email to Bonnie – go figure – how ironic that I would screw things up when I’m writing about getting older! ❤

  13. There is just so much here, you bring us all to a place of total reverence – for the big things in life, like death and grief and loss and the in between things like aging and embracing our time here, whatever that may entail, and the seemingly little things like when things just go all wrong. You tie them in to one beautiful expose on what life really is – it is all of this, but sometimes it is just hard. So much around us begs us to not admit that it’s hard and not all together; you take the side for finding the grace (that’s your word this year) in all that we didn’t want or expect. Beautiful. And, then ending with the lines of the poem: “…and you say, yes, I will take you, I will love you, again.” shows just how resilient and wise you are. This is a moving post and will stay with me…for a long while. xoxo

  14. Hi and thank you for your beautiful beautiful comment…your words both soothe and sparkle. How do you do that? 😉 These last few days (including the well that has gone dry – tho now we know it’s due to a broken pump) demanded notice and discontent – a cocktail of ingredients too difficult to itemize and not necessarily tasty. And yet, life deserves to be loved – perhaps sometimes with sorrowful indignation as a chaser. It will all be well – just takes a little time and a few tears. Then it is time to walk back into life. xoxo

  15. you express some of my thoughts completely–I am so not ready to be a grown up and my kids keep telling me they are going to have to put me in a home soon–and my answer is–if I don’t have to cook, take me now

  16. wonderful post mimi and i’m sorry for your family’s loss and happy for your husband’s birthday. and happy you have chosen to remember the laughter. ) beth

  17. Mimi, as so many times before, your post shoots an arrow straight to my heart. This one is no exception. Big heartfelt hugs to you my friend. Happy Birthday to Andy. My sympathy in losing your Aunt and my love sent to you heart to heart! xo

  18. Wonderful post Mimi and I can so relate to what you are sharing. My husband turns 60 next week and I only have three senior relatives left two in their 80’s. Life is most interesting….. We just need to experience the ride with as few regrets as possible 🙂

    • Well at least one can say that my erratic thinking is consistently reflected in my hither and yon writing style.. 😉 Just trying to make a joke – a bad one clearly. Thank you pal, thank you.

  19. I am so so sorry about your aunt. It is an added sadness that she was the last of her era for you.
    I am not there yet as my 87 year old mother, an aunt and two uncles; and I still am amazed at their love of life.

  20. Such a beautiful post! My husband also just turned 60. It seems unbelievable because he looks the same (to me) as he did when we met 23 years ago. My sympathy for the loss of your aunt. It sounds like she loved life and life loved her back.

    • I love that phrase “she loved life and life loved her back” – beautiful! And Happy Birthday to your husband (my husband may be a little grayer, but he too looks the same to me)..

  21. a gorgeous weave of thought, physical reality, and life course. That poem is superb. “An obesity of grief” what a concept.

    mayhap we are all bottomless wells…as I go through life markers that seem punitive in their early coming–Jim still has grandmas, for heaven’s sake–I wonder more and more about what comes later…something for sure, since energy transmutes.

  22. Hi Mimi. Since I read this post last night I couldn’t wait to sit and write to you. Your words envelope my mind as I relate to how you feel. First I must say that I am sorry for the loss of your lovely aunt and all that she meant to you. We can’t help being consumed with aging and the next half of our lives and it is definitely bitter sweet. We call up our sweet memories of our lives and loved ones and hope they can our free us from our sadness. Then we have to deal with our aging bodies and skin and try to be okay with that too. Ugh, its such a struggle but at the same time life is great. I really should read the book I bought “The Wonder of Aging”,
    Thank you so much for every single word; you make me smile, you are insightful and comforting. The poem, so beautiful, shows how after the rain we embrace ourselves and accept life on life’s terms. Thank you for sharing and Happy Birthday to Andy.
    Xo Fran

    • Hi Fran,
      As always, it is so good to hear from you. I think I’ll take you up on the book recommendation – it’s timely. It always seems to come back to the duality of things, doesn’t it? Life is great and aging ain’t for sissies. Wisdom is welcome; worry lines are not. 😉 I’ll pass your good wishes along to Andy…and I’m so happy this post hit a sweet spot (though my hunch is that you have many many of those). xo, m

  23. I am sorry for the loss of your aunt. It is so hard when you lose a cohort, family member who is of your parents’ age. I also, liked the poem. It was very moving. You are in my prayers and yes, age is just a few days from another age… good perspective.
    On the lighter part of your post, I am and always have been a ‘klutz!’ smiles, robin

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