Shiva birdwatching on the sunporch…
As I’ve written about in recent posts, this has been one of those periods where Life drops a lot of stuff on you and you either sink or swim; we are swimming fast and furiously. In April I had a total hysterectomy to remove George the tumor; in May we lost our wonderful cat of thirteen years, Kasey; in June we lost my might-as-well-be-brother John, and in July we lost our soul dog Cooper suddenly. There were other things; Dan about killed himself working seven long days a week at the theater leading up to his retirement in less than two weeks; we found that an important retaining wall needs to be redone, that a mysterious goof in the city’s mapping of our property that was never caught almost caused us to lose a small triangle of property…that part of our ninety-seven year-old house sits on. Unreal! Dan has hit DEFCON 7 in needing to schedule upcoming surgeries that he has put off in his dedication to the theater. I can’t help but wonder if someone is going to town on a Gainey voodoo doll. We have begun saying, “Worst. Summer. Ever” when another not-so-good thing happens- trying our best to bring some much-needed levity to it all.
Keep looking for that beauty in life!
While I’m going to be honest about my feelings and say that it has been overwhelming, painful, and scary at times, I refuse to let this dark period do anything but make me feel grateful for the good, and for the many lessons that came and are coming from each challenge that we face. Along the way, though, I’m going to let myself feel what I need to feel to process it all and move forward. I just have to believe that all of this tough stuff is paving the way for positive change, for something good. I already sense it; as fall approaches, change truly is in the air.
Just this morning, I decided to walk Sophie down to the UAB Band practice field to watch some of the Marching Blazers’ rehearsal. The new band director is wonderful, and- in an odd twist of fate- he was in my middle school band my second year of teaching in Florida. Oh, do I feel old! It is always fascinating to me how people can weave in and out of our lives. This new year, my sixteenth at UAB and my thirty-first year of my teaching career (seriously?!), will be filled with change; change in the band that I work closely with with its new direction, and change in my duties as I take on more responsibility in the department.
On the way down the hill, I decided to walk by the elementary school, still unable to make myself walk the stretch of sidewalk where Coops collapsed before she died. As I approached the school, several children were running on the sidewalk by the school- obviously an attempt by a teacher to burn off some 1st grade energy. These beautiful African American children saw Sophie and literally began to jump for joy. They ran toward her and then froze, afraid that she might bite them. I was able to say confidently, “Hi! She is very friendly- don’t worry! You can pet her- her name is Sophie.” The smiles on their faces and their gentleness with Sophie absolutely melted my heart. If my beloved Coops had been with us, I would have crossed to the other sidewalk across the street to avoid the children at all costs. Sophie was very sweet as we watched band rehearsal; such a different paradigm from the past nine years.
‘Vampira’…after roaming all night, she sleeps like the dead during the day.
Our new cat, Shiva, has continued to be a challenge as she (hopefully) settles into our home and our lives. She has demonstrated some aggressive tendencies, and bit me pretty badly – unprovoked- the night I came in from a business trip. She alternates between affectionate (on her terms) and looking at us like “You must be an axe murderer!’, running around like her tail is on fire. We are working on behavior modification and are getting some pheromone diffusers and supplements to help her adjust. We really want this to work- we see great potential in her and will give it time. Sophie continues to stay glued to my side.
We are thinking of other changes- instead of Christmas at home, perhaps this year, Christmas at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, or south to the beach with Sophie. It’s time to change things up- and honestly, we are afraid of what Shiva would do to our usual big Christmas tree filled with precious-to-us ornaments. I am so often stuck into my routine, but am trying my best to be open to change. Change is life, and life is change. It’s time for me to work on letting go and letting life happen, whatever that may mean. Both Dan and I have the strength to deal with whatever comes our way. Together.