Thursday, August 22, 2013

Those Little Moments

Saturday was a beautiful day.  Temperate with just a hint of a breeze and none of the humidity that often plagues the city with three rivers.  I allowed myself a few minutes to sit in the lawn chairs I have out in the middle of the yard and prop my feet up on the idle fire pit and admire my just mown yard before the cursed tree that straddles the property line between me and the Mikes began dropping leaves all over it again.  I looked up at the back of my house and thought how I had fantasized about doing this very thing when the house was nothing more to me than a series of pictures my Realtor sent me.  I pondered how the house stacked up against my fantasies and had to admit that it holds up pretty well.  Despite being one of five red brick tiny post-war boxes in a row, it's a nice little house with some unique features that set it apart just enough from the others that I don't feel like I live in a cookie cutter house.  And because of the slope of the yard, the perception of it from the back, where one is looking up at it, is that it is much larger than it really is.  So, for a few moments, I considered my view of my little cottage - looking up at the sun room where I like to sit on Saturday mornings and read, or my dining room that I hardly ever use, but have always wanted and, of course, the kitchen window leading into the world's tiniest kitchen.  But, from the back, you don't know that.  What you know is that this is someone's home in Pittsburgh.  And that someone is me, and for a few moments I was content.

The moment passed as the reality of the rest of the weekend pressed in:  errands to run, finances to juggle, and trying to find creative ways to care and maintain that 61 year old little dream cottage.  The truth is, I can barely wait for this horrible summer to end.  Summers are never my favorite time anyway:  it's hot, it's humid, there's no football, there's no hockey.  What's to love?  Then add to it the challenges of this particular summer, and I really want to put it behind me.  Yet there are moments to hang onto:  the Rush concert in Cincinnati, the day at Kennywood with Marissa and her boyfriend, and the moment she became a college graduate.  But there were other smaller moments, like the time I turned around from my computer to find three of the dogs lying peacefully together in my office, or the time Greg and I strolled together along Walnut Avenue on a pleasant sunny morning the last Sunday morning he was here, or just a moment ago when Charlie cuddled on my lap, or those stolen five or so minutes when I considered the view of my little house and realized I own real estate in Pittsburgh.  Over time, the memories of staring at the computer screen trying to find creative ways to manage our finances as Greg moved back to Texas and looked for work will sort themselves into the bucket with all the other memories of the challenges we've faced as a family.  But, it's the other moments - the memory of seeing a firefly briefly flicker in front of me as Geddy Lee began a song on stage a few hundred feet away from me, or of watching my daughter walk across the stage at her graduation after overcoming both an eating disorder and an addiction - those are the moments that sustain me.  

Sometimes, for those of us who have been tasked with the burden of caring for others or have lost one or more of those we love despite our best efforts, it's hard to figure out a way to carry on.  For me, personally, at first I just powered through.  I look back at this blog and realized I was writing long, rambling entries every couple of days.  I would tell myself they were for others, but who was I kidding?  That was all about trying just to reason out what had happened.  But you do eventually sort of find yourself living life again and finding a way to a new kind of normal, but - as I think I've said before, it's like you were broken and you've been glued back together.  You are now weaker at the breaking point and subject to falling apart again with just the slightest hint of pressure.  So, when do you give up and say you've had enough?  Time to just throw away the pieces.  It brings to mind some of the people I come into contact with in my line of work - people who want to tell me their tale of hard times and want me to help them.  Sometimes the stories break my heart, sometimes I'm not as impressed.  But for those people who are willing to work within the limits of what I'm allowed to offer them, then I'll help them all I can.  Others don't find that help acceptable, they simply want a hand out.  I can't do much for them.  What I want to say - but never do, rest assured - is that life doesn't just hand you a break because you want one.  You have to toil and persevere, and eventually time will work like it does and heal some of the wounds and things will pass.  We'll be wiser for the experience and can take pride in working on through our struggles.  And we'll have those brief moments to cling to - the little gifts that Life leaves us to help us along.  So, when I think back on this summer, I'm going to choose to think of those little moments and try not to dwell on the rest.

Dreaming of when the back of my house looks like this again

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