A Trip It's Been
The past two and a half months have been a journey to the outer
reaches of my known world. Ive always thought of the future
as what lay on the other side of a wall that Id eventually
reach in a slow-paced, timely manner, but somehow I got pole-vaulted
over it with no warning. And now Im picking myself up off
the ground and looking around at an unfamiliar landscape.
Two years ago, when my dad died, I was a daughter with one remaining
parent. When my mom passed away this past May, I became a daughter
with no remaining parents a mid-life orphan. In August
my son leaves for college and I become an empty-nester. Next year
my husband will retire from a 30 year career.
What the h*** happened?
Im nothing if not resilient, and Ive always relied
on this attribute of my personality. But simple resilience doesnt
seem to be whats called for here. A tornado has deposited
me in some sort of Oz, in front of a road Ive never seen
before. Various Munchkins are encouraging me to dance down this
road, but I wonder how to do that when I have no idea where Im
The Me I know has always relied on at least somewhat-familiar
road signs to point the way: College Student was fairly straightforward,
as were Wife and Parent. Divorcee was do-able, as was Single Mother
(even of Teen-Age-Children) and Second Marriage. I managed Entrepreneur
and Writer, too. But somehow those transitions seemed more gradual.
I know that part of my feeling of being overwhelmed is the shock
of my mothers death, and my naturally on-going grief. But
as my brother and I cleared out her condo in preparation for its
sale, I was aware that my second half of life had begun. No longer
do I see myself primarily defined as someones child, or
someones parent. Ive begun to come into my own.
This recognition was brought home to me through a powerful juxtaposition:
My brother and I had split up, and packed up, the belongings of
my parents which we wished to save. I drove back to New Jersey
with about 10 plastic containers and temporarily deposited them
in my daughters room (shes away at college for the
summer) until I could go through everything and haul it up to
To no ones real surprise, I couldnt bring myself
to look at the containers. It was/is too soon. Instead I stared
at the boxes, with their backdrop of stuffed animals from Laurens
childhood. Everything past and present had come
Realizing that I was in fact feeling paralyzed, I decided to
go ahead and move my parents possessions to the attic until
I was ready to re-visit them. That decision helped me to accept
that the time has come to move on. Or as Joan Anderson (A Year
By The Sea) has phrased it recycle myself.
So here I am at Act II. Older and wiser? Definitely older.
The one thing I know for sure is that I have many new experiences
to share, and a lot of additional good advice from what Ive
directly dealt with regarding organization and aging, organization
and down-sizing, organization and college. Plus observations on
our continually-evolving spirits.
I would like to help my readers and clients deal with the challenges
of growing more fully into ourselves even as we care for families
going in different directions. I still believe that every one
of us has something unique to share, and that by telling each
other our stories, we can help to spread that uniqueness around.
In other words, Im back, and ready to pick up the reins
by writing my newsletter on a more regular basis. As always, thank
you for your interest, and your support, and let me know if there
are any subjects in particular that you would like to hear more
As every flower fades and as all youth
Departs, so life at every stage,
So every virtue, so our grasp of truth,
Blooms in its day and may not last forever.
Since life may summon us at every age
Be ready, heart, for parting, new endeavor,
Be ready bravely and without remorse
To find new light that old ties cannot give.
In all beginnings dwells a magic force
For guarding and helping us to live
-- Herman Hesse