Life has been pretty wild for our family lately.
After Hurricane Sandy hit and and we were displaced from our apartment for ten days, I remember thinking “This will only make us stronger. We will remember this as a difficult time in our lives, but mostly an adventure. We are so lucky to be safe and healthy.” And that is all very true.
During the night on the third day after we returned home, we were awakened by our neighbors screaming and pounding on our door begging for us to wake up. The electricity was out again, and as I entered the foyer I could see and smell the smoke trickling in from the doorway. I knew before I opened the door that there was a fire, and walked into a wall of smoke and frantic neighbors. Justin and I grabbed the kids, wet & threw towels over their heads and made our way down the six flights of stairs with the rest of the tenants of our building. As I stood outside shaking, reeking of smoke and holding my family, I remember feeling like I was finding out exactly what I am made of-right up close and personal. The fire damage was minimal as it was contained in the elevator shaft, but I have never in my entire life been so terrified.
Several weeks later one weekend morning as I was dressing Beau, our building jerked as though a somewhat moderate earthquake had just hit Manhattan. Justin The Californian lept out of the shower shouting at us to “hit the doorways! EARTHQUAKE!”. It wasn’t an earthquake, though. We came to find out that a drunken tug boat driver had let a massive barge run right into our building. We were all fine of course, if not shaken up a bit. It was just another thing, and our sense of humor was getting a serious workout. We laughed a little, I was so thankful that it wasn’t actually an earthquake-mostly because when there’s one, there’ll likely be aftershocks. As minimal as it was, it was exactly what I needed to tip me right off of my mental cliff. Nothing was certain any more-not when our home and our safe place was constantly being compromised.
These things have all made us stronger, yes, but in so many ways they weakened me as well. My nerves were bolstered and then knocked down like a stack of Linkin Logs. The short stretches of sleep I’ve gotten used to since Beau was born have been riddled with persistent nightmares about fires, earthquakes and other disasters. My heart races and my knees get weak if someone bumps my chair. There’s a scared little girl hiding behind the grown-up facade that I must wear for my children, my husband, and even my own self.
That’s just between you and me, though.
I suppose the greatest thing I’ve learned in the last year-and the reason that I bring this all up-is the power of positivity and seeing the good in all situations. We have our health and we have each other, and that is all that matters.
These most important lessons rise to the surface on the days when clinging to the good is the greatest task of all.
The last couple of weeks have been really difficult for us once again, though this time our health was compromised. On the third day of Zoe’s spring break, she caught what I came to refer to as the Worst Virus Ever, sending her to the emergency room because she couldn’t keep anything down-even the Zofran they gave her.
This virus was awful and systematically took out Beau, Jack, and eventually even me. I spent Thursday in the hospital again with all three, this time as Beau received IV fluids and Jack was tended to in the next bed. I didn’t catch it until the others were feeling better and Justin was in mandatory four day-long board exams-the exams that will (or won’t) allow him to practice in California once we move back this summer. “Intense” doesn’t begin to cut it.
I admit that I came very close to losing hope. None of us have ever been that sick, and by the time it was my turn-a time when I was needed still in their recovery-I was completely devastated.
There were beautiful moments amidst the awfulness and wall-to-wall sickness when the ibuprofen and Zofran kicked in and allowed smiles and restfulness.
We even managed to make some painted coffee filter Easter decorations and a trial run of dyed eggs.
We are all finally on the path to full recovery, and for that I am endlessly grateful. As bad as these things all are, all of them were temporary and they lasted just long enough to teach me a little more about life and being a grown up.
…And that I am really, really looking forward to moving closer to our team-our family and support system.
We had a beautiful Easter; The sun came out, the kids had a blast hunting for eggs in the apartment one last time, and I made a very successful glazed ham for dinner. The happiness and togetherness was the very best medicine of all.
Life is challenging lately. My emails are overflowing, the apartment should be cleaned, laundry needs to be done, but if there is one thing that I’ve learned in the past few months it’s that I must focus on what is most important. Even though I hated seeing my family this sick, we all slowed down and appreciated each other that much more.
Just before things get really hectic around here with Justin’s graduation, Disney World (!!!), and our move back to California, perhaps the perspective is something we needed. Regardless, I’m looking forward to beautiful days ahead-with a few new earned feathers in my headdress.