Thursday, December 16, 2010

Open Holiday Letter to our Friends

December 2010

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Dearest Friends:

There are many adjectives available to describe 2010. It was a year of "firsts" for the 4 of us. The Elisabeth Kubler-Ross year of firsts. Joan Didion referred to it as "The year of magical thinking."

That would depend entirely upon your definition of "magic".

Let me put it this way: everything, EVERYTHING was different in 2010. Such as I can recall. I spent many months sequestered away in a dark room, either over or preferably under the covers. The yoga of grief. Grief is definitely a verb. Emotion in motion. EK-R may have coined the 7 stages of grief, however, there really are no rules. Everyone's experience is unique. We all have to work out lifes impermanence for ourselves, hopefully learning appreciation along the way. The children & I are all processing our unfamiliar & new life differently, not wholly without bumps in the road. We are still adjusting to the new "now" as we all continue our forward motion through our respective stages of life.

It was wonderful to have my Mother visit in March, spending her "special" birthday with us. Nicky swooped in after that, helping guide me out of my pea-soup fog depression. She took over & organized the new life in color-coded files (obviously purple is in there for special things). She still understands me better than anyone even if we are so very different. August saw us going down for a "short week" to the Keys. We fulfilled Vic's wish to have some of his ashes spread out over the azure tropical waters that brought our family so much joy over 6 summers. It was there that we all believed all was well & lived out some of our very happiest family memories. Angie came in October for a quick visit & it was so good to have her here. Isn't life strange? I went with 3 friends to our Arizona Shangri-la for an even shorter week in November. It never fails to bring my soul to the surface for a few glorious days of mindful oneness.

Corey, 19, is a tattoo-inked, sophomore, Sigma Chi brother at USF. He has started to settle down, academic wise & also appears to be demonstrating some frontal lobe development - a modicum of empathy, consideration, etc. Of course, he is such a schmoozer, it's probably something he is perfecting on me, the dotty, dotting Jewish mother who laps it up. What can I say? Such an enabler! The fact that he's only 2 hours away had made it possible for more home visits this year, which was nice.

Daniel, at 18, is in full blown "Senioritis". Dreadful time for a parent, let alone a single, white female!!! As a friend said many years ago, "G-d makes them like this so that you want them to leave!" I absolutely adore his quirky, uniqueness but talk about tug-o-war ... Vic always said Daniel was just like him but he never qualified what that meant - I guess "dare to be different" might sum it up nicely. Loyal, funny, yet armed with a Scorpio stinger, usually aimed at me, Daniel walks to the beat of his own drummer. Ever since Daniel was conceived, he has carved his own path. So be it. I love him even as I'm getting rope burns!

So to little mademoiselle Kaelin. Very much the young lady, my 15 year old baby should wear a t-shirt clearly stating "jail bait". Gone is our babycakes. She has become my incredibly capable assistant, often heard calming me down, "it's ok, Mommy" when I get my all-to-frequent migraines. She's a wonderfully happy child who spreads a lot of joy, love & happiness around her. Her beauty is far from skin deep. It emanates from deep within. People constantly tell me I'm going to have my hands full, but I beg to differ. Yes, she's headstrong, but she is compromising & is a very willing spirit & I am truly blessed to have a great relationship with her.

Finally, yours truly. Nothing much to say. It has been very hard for me. I never realized just how enmeshed our lives were. From work to parenting, it was always "we", rarely "me". There are many people to thank for just being there this past year. If you are reading this, you are one of them. Whether we talk or see or don't see one another, in some way you impacted positively in my life, for which I am enormously grateful.

We continue to find new paths for ourselves, some well trodden, others new. We end the year with all children at home together with my Father who will be moving up here finally some time in the coming year. He is recovering from pacemaker surgery but at 85, agrees that the 260 mile round trip journey is not an acceptable option for me or himself.

One thing I know we can look forward to in 2011 is learning elder care in Vero. I am using the word "we" optimistically!

Let me end, as always, by wishing you love, health & laughter, always. One thing that still works wonders is the miracle of laughter. My Mother shared this gem with me an eternity ago. It is a brilliant & timeless.

May your year be filled with love & hugs,

In peace,

Karen, Corey, Daniel & Kaelin

17th Century Nun's Prayer

Lord, Thou knowest better than I know myself, that I am growing older and will someday be old. Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and on every occasion. Release me from craving to straighten out everybody’s affairs. Make me thoughtful but not moody; helpful but not bossy. With my vast store of wisdom, it seems a pity not to use it all, but Thou knowest Lord that I want a few friends at the end.

Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point. Seal my lips on my aches and pains. They are increasing, and love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by. I dare not ask for grace enough to enjoy the tales of others’ pains, but help me to endure them with patience.

I dare not ask for improved memory, but for a growing humility and a lessing cocksureness when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken.

Keep me reasonably sweet; I do not want to be a Saint – some of them are so hard to live with – but a sour old person is one of the crowning works of the devil. Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places, and talents in unexpected people. And, give me, O Lord, the grace to tell them so.


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