Sunday, September 25, 2011

Dark Side of the Moon

I've been unusually interested in loss this last week. I come from a fairly - well actually, a very large family. My mother is the oldest of 18 children who all have their own children, grandchildren and some even have great grandchildren. My mother's father was one of 14 children which means, I therefore have a roughly half a million relatives on her side of the family alone. Interestingly enough we have lost very few of them and when they do pass it is either following a long illness or they are well into their 90's. I know it makes us a very blessed family but sometimes I think lack of experience makes it even more heartbreaking when someone is gone.

I've never been a fan of the Fall. As a Spring Baby, I've always equated Fall with death and endings. Oddly, the relatives I have lost all seem to pass in the Fall. The pets I've had and lost...all passed in the Fall. Did I mention I was not a big fan of the Fall?

Labor Day weekend I came home to a lethargic, slow moving dog. My high energy pup never knew the word for lethargic. I figured it was the heat causing her age to finally catch up with her. She was 9 years old after all. After watching her through the next day I decided medical attention was necessary. After two days in the doggie ER the vet diagnosed her with an autoimmune disorder. Having lived with one of those for nearly 30 years, I said, alrighty then and started her medications. Prednisone, Immuno-suppressants, and antibiotics just in case. Oh and the pills to coat her stomach so all this mess doesn't create an ulcer. I knew the drill. I live the drill. It took a few weeks for me to realize none of this was working and my dog wasn't going to survive this illness. Two days later they were telling me that it was actually a tumor on her spleen and that this was the end for her. It was heartbreaking. The next day the mystery of the lost dog was solved as well. A dog I had adopted at the end of August had gone missing for several weeks. The Saturday after losing my 9 yr old, a woman contacted me about a deceased dog they had found in their yard that looked like the pictures I had posted for the lost dog. Last year this same time I lost my other dog and my first pet ever passed in October several years ago. I can't really blame the season, right? Yeah, well I'm not a fan of the Fall.

Then there are the people. My Grandmother was buried in August. My Great-Aunt passed in September and my Aunt in October. This year after burying the dogs I packed my things to head home for my Great-Uncle's funeral. Yesterday, I missed the funeral of my Uncle's ex-wife who has remained connected to our family.

I also notoriously feel awful in the Fall. Something about the change in temps and the dampness in the air. This year it started early. I've been doing well all summer. I've been to Cayman Island and back with little discomfort. This last month I've been struggling to get to the office and back. I'm worried I've pulled something that I needed. Scared I'm losing function. Scared the Fall is robing me again! With that I stumbled on Gitzen Girl's Blog. Gitzen Girl is written by Sara a woman with Ankylosing Spondylitis. She passed yesterday from AS complications. I've spent the week knee deep in her blogs. For the past few years she has been home bound and blogging. The interesting thing about her blog, once I let go of the fear that I was reading my future, I learned a thing or two. Her blogs are mostly about her faith and her daily decision to choose joy. I have to say, that's a lot harder then you would think. Well maybe the world knows it is a hard decision to make. Maybe it's just me who thinks that should be easy but can't always manage to make that choice. Pain and loss, death, and endings, yet still deciding to choose joy is very difficult. Tomorrow morning, up and out and choosing joy. Gosh, I hope I'm not defeated by the Fall.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

We Remember

I had finished my graduate school course work the semester before and had moved to Illinois to do my internship and to complete my dissertation. I hadn't been here more than 6 weeks but I had already let them know that I wasn't a morning person. My supervisor gladly allowed me to work from 9am - 6pm instead of the usual 8-5pm. I was more than happy with that schedule. In my twenty something years of working I had never worked a regular 9-5.

My schedule also allowed me to catch the morning shows as I got ready for work. This particular day I was moving slow, real slow and was actually laying on the sofa watching Good Morning America. I remember the first plane hitting and thinking it was an awful accident. What was wrong with the pilot? How did he not see that huge building? Then the second plane hit and I knew - this was not an accident. I remember listening to the news reporters - I think it was Charlie Gibson at that time - as they went through the same thought process. No one really knew what to think. Were we under attack?

When I arrived at work the people were in a frantic state. Most people were out of their offices and a television was set up in the main conference room. In our brick building with no cable the feed wasn't clear but we still could make out the rest of the story regarding the Pentagon, the collapse of the towers, and the speculations as to what was happening. At the time I remember thinking it was directly connected to our government's foreign policies. For the life of me I could not understand how so many people would be killed in retaliation for government decisions. Hundreds of innocent lives lost - many of which who may not have even known our foreign policies. I was perplexed.

Although, I had many of my own feelings to process, my job was to aid others in their process. Our training director who works wonderfully in a crisis, immediately worked to set up make shift crisis counseling stations throughout campus. I don't remember how many people were directly affected by concerns for family and friends in the New York area.  There were at least a handful that came through to get support as they tried to reach relatives flying that day or working in the World Trade Center. Mostly, the people that came through our stations were people worried and frightened for our safety as a nation. Several hundred miles away from ground zero and we were all greatly affected. We were all affected throughout the entire year and years to come, from those who lost friends and family members to those who were deployed to the subsequent wars. Young men and women, putting aside their education, their future, their relationships and their families to check for weapons of mass destruction, to fight a war that many of us didn't understand.

So today I'm sitting and watching 9/11: Ten Years Later. It is the raw footage of the day as it happened through the eyes of a camera man. It is both heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. It's a little overwhelming but I sit and watch because it's the least I can do. Too many people  have lost their lives in this 10 years so that we can remain free and safe. We Remember.