The other day, a Facebook friend posted a warning about an emotional wake in the area of the country between where she had left one of her favorite people in the world and her home. She had just dropped her son off at college.
Last night, my husband and I dropped off one of our favorite people (our youngest son, Noah) at the airport to catch a red-eye to his next adventure--a year of service at Miriam's Kitchen in Washington, DC with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps.
He was beyond excited, having had his bags ready and near the door of our home for 2 days. We are more than a little bit proud that he is taking time, at 22, to serve in a soup kitchen for homeless people in DC, live intentionally simply, incorporate his faith into the experience, and learn a ton about the real world.
When he was a baby and his brother (unabashedly another of my favorite people) was three, their uncle died from brain cancer. Shortly thereafter, when Noah was three and his brother was six, our beloved pastor died from MS. As a young family, we learned to grieve, and also to celebrate the heck out of life, because you just don't know when grief will run you over like a freight train.
We spent time cultivating things that we all liked to do. A few that have stuck are spending time on our boat and going to Family Camp at N-Sid-Sen in Idaho--something we've done together for nearly 20 years..
This summer, after a host of other adventures, Noah joined us for Family Camp. There was pudding pictionary with his cousins, the big splash context at Aqua Olympics, wakeboarding, tubing, story time, a silly fruits-of-the-spirit song, and a family prayer led by my son.
The next week, we traveled part of the way home and vacationed on another lake, where his brother joined us. There were wineries, more wakeboarding, a multi-generational jam session, naps, deep discussions, and silly games. What more could a mom want?
This past week, we interspersed the details of moving across country with visits from friends, one last outing on the boat, a BBQ in the middle of thunderstorms, a church picnic, and a final family dinner. It has all been ridiculously wonderful. And today, I am in a funk.
I knew I would be in a funk, and this time, I planned for it. I put a lot of room in my schedule today. It is not lost on me that I have the privilege of doing this, and not everyone does. However, the point is, I knew I needed some extra space today to be unreasonably grumpy, feel sorry for myself in the midst of all this wonderfulness, and to just take a freakin' beat to feel.
I slept--way later than I usually do. I checked Facebook for a ridiculously long time. I cried. I did completely non-productive stuff. I pouted. I sighed. I did all this until I started to feel tired of feeling sorry for myself. The dog has stayed close by, as if he knows I might need something soft to touch and snuggle at a moment's notice.
I'm old enough and wise enough about myself to know that A) if I didn't do that, it would come out sideways, probably as some sort of snarky comment toward someone I love who is nearby (no, not the dog) and cause unneeded anguish, and B) that it would be much easier for me to get done what I hope to get done today if I allowed myself that space upfront, rather than trying to drive myself through the day with an emotional flat tire.
There's a line in the movie "Ricki and the Flash" where Meryl Streep is feeling more than a little sorry for herself because her adult kids don't seem to love her the way she'd like to be loved by them. Rick Springfied says, "It's not their job to love you. It's your job to love them."
This wisdom helps me gain solid ground after my mini-self-pity-fest. Before I could let that wisdom in, though, I had to take care of myself. Taking care of my funk made room for me to be able to express that love in healthy ways. Don't forget that part, my friends--caring for yourself. Me and my tea and fuzzy blanket will be hear if you need us.