So here’s my Friday 5, with the addition of 7…
New Year’s Day was great, one of those lazy, napping, reading, hanging with friends kind of day. I stayed at my friends’ home after ringing in the New Year – and the next day we all cozied up in the living room, watching bad TV, eating cookies while taking hours to decide what to have for dinner that night. Later in the month I was asked to be the female chaperon on for the confirmation retreat. I’d never chaperoned before and was excited for a weekend of fun, getting to know some great kids, and personal reflection.
My world was rocked. On a Friday night I learned my friend, Bob, was sick, very sick. Saturday he was admitted to the hospital. Monday he was diagnosed with cancer and we’d know details Tuesday. Tuesday we found out it was bad, very bad. Tuesday night I brought dinner to his house for his daughter and grandson. We cried and talked and drank a bottle of wine. I stayed the night. In the wee hours of Wednesday, February 8 the phone rang. It woke me up, I looked around and realized it was dark still – I knew it wasn’t good. His heart stopped; so many hearts broke. He was my dad’s best friend. That was the worst phone call I have ever had to make.
Just when the rhythm of life seemed to be getting back on track, I got word of the death of another family friend. So many of my childhood memories include Gail and her children. Gail was another daughter to my grandmother, and for a long, long time a dear friend of my mother’s. My heart broke again, this time for her children, whose father had died years when we were children; and for me. Gail is probably the closest person who could have answered so many questions I have about my mother and my childhood. It was at Gail’s funeral that I saw my mother for the first time in over a year. A few days later I went over to her house to talk. It didn’t go well, and instead of reliving it again, if you want to know more you can read here and then here.
The dreaded birthday month; and another family friend’s death. It was in April that I realized how depressed I was beginning to feel. I was disconnected with my friends, not getting the message of a friend’s birthday celebration until late (and wondering – still wondering – if I was really meant to be invited or if, because I asked about it, it was a pity invite); and having my game night b-day celebration be a bust. But I did have a great time at a church event, winning myself an auction item for a self-birthday gift, and later in the month getting to watch my cousin’s final collegiate tennis tournament.
The first 5k of the year, and a cold, windy and rainy one at that. But…it was for Lurie Children’s hospital and we got a sneak peak at the new hospital and got to be part of a Cake Boss taping (and got to eat some fabulous cake). Well worth the wet walk. A family reunion of sorts also happened when my uncle, his wife and kids came down for a Mester’s reunion (a much deserved fun time for everyone as those three we lost earlier in the year were all part of this group of misfits)
All work and little play – the culmination of a lot of work happens in the first two weeks of June after those two weeks it’s recovery time and planning ahead for the remainder of the summer.
Things begin to fall apart in early July. Dave Matthews at Alpine Valley, after a year off, was supposed to be the highlight of July, pre-vacation…but it was the start to the downhill slope of a major depression struggle.
My two week, road trip vacation with a friend was canceled, and it felt like my friendship was canceled too. Instead I spent my two weeks with a horrible tooth ache, and a loneliness I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Things began to turn when, months earlier I had signed up to participate in the Color Run (my 2nd 5k of the year), thinking my friends had signed up too. I notified them when I got my reminder email, and it turns out no one followed suit. And instead of not doing it…I chose to go and participate, on my own. I had a wonderful time, and realized that I don’t need my friends to want to do all the same things as me – I can just go out and do them on my own if I want. Sure, it would be that much more fun to have friends with me – but they’re not wanting to do something shouldn’t stop me from doing something I want to do.
How quickly the summer went by, suddenly the program year is back in full swing and work is busy once again. I got to spend a quality night drinking wine in front of a fire, on the driveway, with a dear friend – something that I totally needed at that time. And the next week another friend and I did the Dandelion Run (5k #3) in Waukegan, once again a cold, windy and rainy race. And I put my faith and ability in God’s hands when I was asked, at the last minute, to be the female chaperon for the confirmation class retreat. A new group of kids and a new venue – I didn’t think I could handle the crazy schedule between driving 3 hours and back in time for work Sunday morning – but I figured that if God didn’t think I could handle it, I wouldn’t have been asked to. So I did, and I found a new part of Illinois that is beautiful and worth exploring further.
Looking back on my calendar, it is nearly blank! Mid terms and school in general took over my social life, but I did make it out for Halloween, which was a great night catching up with friends.
Just when I thought the year was going to end on a high note, I got a phone call from my dear friend in St. Louis. Melinda (who was diagnosed with liver/colon/gallbladder cancer in May) was being put into hospice care. Thankfully a planned trip to St. Louis to attend a fundraiser for her, was in the works for the following weekend. The weekend was bitter sweet. I got to spend some quality time catching up with Rae and finally meeting her two boys (okay, so I had met her oldest son 4 years ago, but he was just a few months old at the time), and because Melinda’s condition had turned grave so quickly, more and more Alpha Xi Delta sisters were signing up to attend the fundraiser – and I got to see and visit with so many! But it was that night that we got word that the end was near. Sunday afternoon Rae and I took dinner to Melinda’s house, for her twin sister, husband and family who were caring for her. I got to hold Melinda’s hand and whisper to her that I loved her and that I thought she was amazingly brave. I got home Monday afternoon, and just a couple hours later I got word that she had passed on. Thanksgiving was a teary-eyed day for me, I had so much to be thankful for – including a handful of new guardian angels looking over me. And the promise of a new year soon to come. And to recover from all the Thanksgiving festivities, 5k #4 – The Ugly Sweater Run, with two friends – one that will have to be repeated in the new year.
I don’t know that I could have packed much more into December. Final exams, papers, projects and presentations. Christmas shopping, parties, gift exchanges, cookie baking, and house decorating. And finally, a few days of rest to reflect on the past year, and set some goals for the year to come.
2010 was a year of transition. My dad had a stroke, I moved in with him (30 miles away) and began a life of commuting, then my job changed and I began working Sunday mornings. Put the two together and my social life went out the window.
2011 was a fun year. I got into the rhythm of commuting and having a social life. My friends welcomed me to their guest room any night I wanted, so we could go out and I wouldn’t have to worry about driving all the way home.
2012 was a year that tested me. Tested my faith in everything – myself, my beliefs, my friends, my family; and I know I am stronger for it, but I am still figuring it all out. What I am glad, though, is that I began filling my life with things that I am interested in doing and not relying on having someone to do them with.
I cannot wait to see what 2013 has in store for me. I plan to continue with school, working towards an associate’s degree and eventually transferring to a bachelor’s program somewhere. I plan to continue to working towards a healthier lifestyle, pushing myself to exercise more and harder, and to eat better. I am, supposedly, in line for a bump in salary next year, and if that comes true and I am able to, I plan on making an appointment with a counselor to help me work through my many issues.
Cheers to the new year!