Friday, December 29, 2006

In the midst of sad news and in a rainstorm, Danny turned eight today. Happy birthday Danny - cuddling your stuffed manatee, dancing with abandon at your pizza party, always eager to make friends. You are a sweet mystery - grow in health and joy little one.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

More death. More sad news, I almost said even sadder because there's something about the compelling despair of suicide that shocks and hurts. But I don't know what I really think. Is it sadder to have life snatched when you are doing a great job of living it, or sadder to fall into such a pit that you don't desire to live it anymore and are willing to take the drastic act to end it. I guess my true feeling is that comparing sadnesses is just stupid and doesn't work. Both things are seriously sad and there's no reason to measure.

Anyway, while Ruth and Chris were laughing in the kitchen making their neighbor Barbara's recipe for taco soup for everyone's dinner, Chris cell phone rang. The news was that Barbara had killed herself and had mentioned them warmly in the note she left. The funeral is Saturday. Ruth had talked to me about Barbara, a woman about my age who had a very hard life. Ruth knew she was suicidal (because she said so). She was in despair about emotional cutoffs in her family and feeling hopeless about the new career course she was setting (because of some professional misbehaver on the part of a professor). Ruth had talked to me a bit about Barbara and her hard story - her level of despair, had even given her my phone number. But Barbara had not called. I wonder if she had already decided to kill herself before she went to see her new grandson for Christmas. I guess we'll never know.

This is so hard. It is the first death of a friend for both Ruth and Chris and the first suicide (both of them lasted longer without either of those losses than I did as a young woman) Ruth feels guilty that she knew Barbara was seriously considering suicide and she (Ruth) maybe didn't do enough to change her mind, call authorities or inform estranged family members giving them a chance to mend fences. It seems to me that she and Chris both did what they could, but it is and is going to be hard for both of them.

They are going to the funeral Saturday morning with their other neighborhood friend, a Korean war veteran who has been very helpful to them this year (rides to the mechanic, shared meals, lots of good talks). I am impressed with the way they have made connections in their current neighborhood and life, and with the way they support each other in difficulty.

Before the funeral, in the midst of all this news of death and dying, we will celebrate Danny's eight birthday tomorrow. Lafe and death do dance cheek to cheek always. SOmetimes its just more obvious than others.
This year is ending with sad news. Professional objectivity is necessary to be helpful to my clients. I can't let their needs and troubles trigger my own needs and troubles - can't want anything back from them other than that they show up, pay, and work on their work. But that doesn't mean I can't like, respect and even love them. And when they have sad news in their lives, I do feel sad. This is one of those times.

I had been concerned about my thirty six year old client who had a biopsy the week before Christmas on a lesion recently found in his brain. They did the MRI because he insisted that the blurred vision and headaches he was suddenly having were not right - not just a stress response, that his body was screaming something was really wrong. The doctor resisted his request for the test but did reluctantly and scathingly allow it. There is a lesson there for all of us I guess. Insist.

The biopsy results came back not just malignant but terminal within two to eight months. This man is 36 ( so with regard to bracketing I need to remember that that was the same age Kerry was when he died, and he is happily married (only got married in October but the relationship is much longer, five years I think) to his true love. I see so many couples who are together for all kinds of material or insecurity reasons, who aren't good to each other, who don't treat each other well, but this couple is the real deal - true partners in love and life. In their relationship, their connection to their families and community of friends, and their own personal growth they demonstrate so much of what is the best about being human.

The young man who is dying was given the super hero nickname "The Includer" by his best friend and it has stuck. So there is a good sized group of young couples really reeling from this news and many of them are clients of mine. This is the kind of situation in which I believe that I am especially able to be an anchor - a servant of the old energy that surrounds birth and death. And sad as I am, I am also thankful.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Tonight I went to the annual sing along symphony concert with old friends and grandchldren and their Daddy. The Austin symphony has learned that people want to SING at a sng along and made almost the whole thing participator, not performance. Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph, and Santa made in the flesh appearances. Danny chose to go down to meet Rudolph - so extroverted and confident. KK sang the whole concert, able to read the words off the screen and follow. Zachary seemed a little overwhelmed by all the sound, but clapped in time to "Litter Drummer Boy. I felt overwhelmingly tender toward everyone there with me - though missing those who were not there. Joanna had to work, and Ruth , Bob and Chris aren't backint own yet.

I enjoyed the Christmas concert so much, though Christmas isn't my holiday. I also am glad we went, and were able to take the children to, a Channukah party on Sunday night and sing by the light of many mennorahs. Saturday night was a Christmas party in Sorpus with Bob's school family. I am doing holiday events bt a little at arms length, not fully connected. I wish I felt mre deeply involved in making hlidays good for others this year. I feel more like I'm enefitting from a sweetness in the air - not contributing much - disorganized - but very thankful to feel loved.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

tired tonight and fighting feeling down. KK has flu like symptoms, Danny had chest pains at school yesterday and its hard to know if he's coming down with flu too or if there's something else - he's had so many odd symptoms in his life - mostly eye and joint. I love those children so and hate it when they suffer. My own daughters too - having to work so hard, both of them. Life feels hard - and sometimes life just is hard. Nothing wrong with hard.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Mild weather again and not much to write - just scrap booking like crazy finally. I was so blocked and Ruth got me unstuck. It feels good to be taken care of by daughters. All of the mass of phtographs is finally falling in line - still lots of work to do, but I finally have a handle on it, at least for now.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Tonight Joanna I were out after work the cold light of the full moon after work, waiting for KK's ballet class to end. It was a special time - unhurried because class wouldn't end til it ended. Joanna started talking about the reasons she believes and wants her children to believe in the mysteries of Christmas and St. Nicholas. She wants them to feel that they can offer up prayers and wishes and that some good and loving entity will care and make an effort to grant their wishes.She wants them to feel magic and mystery in the world always, and especially this time of year as the days shorten. She spoke with great intensity and love for her children and with the kind of belief in Christmas mysteries that I feel around the presence of tree spirits and fairies in the wood - a childlike belief rich with hope, but also aware of every day reality. I can't put all she said into words, but it touched me. I believe in mysteries too, though a different set.Then KK came out of class straight into her mother's arms - tall beautifully shaped little dancer carried to the car nuzzling with mommy - so little and so big. The big ballerina at the desk, monitoring the coming and going of the dance students grinned when Joanna lifted KK - just a moment of tenderness and connection. And then we got to show KK the moon which she said was so bright she thought it was a light, then a crescent peaking out from behind the clouds.

When I got home I found out in a message from an HCC friend that it is St. Nicholas day. It was sweet that Joanna shared her particular mysteries with me on the night of the saint of whom she was speaking. I'll have to ask her in the morning if she was aware it was his day.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Quiet Monday externally. The moon is full and silver in the cold sky, sparkling - the long night's moon. THe night's are long and getting longer for two more weeks - the days shortening. I like this time of year, with winter falling like a curtain. Zachary played in the yard this afternoon then ran in and flopped on the couch under two quilts. I asked him what was wrong and he looked at me like I was nuts. "Me cold." he declared and was polite enough not to follow up with "duh." It was cold but clear and bright - beautifully softly blue. I forgot to write yesterday thatt Bob and I saw an eagle flying south along MoPac when we were driving home from the park yesterday - clearly a bald eagle with white head and huge wings. They do winter on lakes north of here but we rarely see them in town - a treat.

Internally, I'm valuing personal and Constitutional freedom more than usual after spending much of the afternoon writing holiday cards to prisoners of conscience all over the world - people Amnesty International has selected as individuals incarcerated and in danger because of their efforts in the area of human rights.

I have two quotes for the day, both from Barbara Kinsolver.

"The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope."

"It's what you do that makes your soul, not the other way around."

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Bob and I had this weekend pretty much to ourselves - a surprise. Joanna got to have time with her kids and we were unexpectedly on our own. We got the chores done, washing, grocery shopping, precooking, and grading (a test about equivalent fractions on which many of the kids did pretty well) - cuddled lots and slept in both days - took a walk at Town Lake last night and another at McKinney Falls this afternoon. The season is shifting - from bright full fall last Monday to faded almost winter today - a few leaves still clinging to trees but the bare bones of branches beginning to stand stark against softly pillowed sky. It was good to have time to ourselves though I find myself missing the kids this evening now that Bob is gone back to Corpus.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Cool afternoon, no wind - KK is going to Allison's birthday party with a dolphin gift in tow. The girls are lovers of dolphins and dream of training them together someday. Joanna is taking her boys home this evening while KK is with Allison and Bob and I will have an unexpected couple evening, a nice surprise. I'm reading Barbara Kinsolver's Animal Dreams which is worth reading for the language and the sense of place in a small Mexican and Native American influenced town called Grace Arizona. The main character went through medical school and then decided being a doctor wasn't a match for her - that she couldn't do it. Of course I decided the same thing, though I didn't go all the way through med school - changed paths after getting in. I think I was right about myself, that I am better as therapist than I would have been as doctor, but sometimes I feel like I took an easy way out - running from blood and guts, overwhelmed empathy, long hours, sexism, and a systemwhich felt too impersonal. I don't think I'd change what I chose, but thinking about the road not taken is interesting and a bit unbalancing.

Friday, December 01, 2006

The temperature hovers around freezing and I'd best get my layers on and get to the bus stop. It should be a busy but pleasant work day. The young therapist to whom I have been subleasing my office for a couple of years will be out of my office - her books, toys etc. today. That will be good for both of us. She is able to afford her own space in out building now and I'm delighted her practice has grown as I thought it would. She's good at her work with kids and teens and I wanted to help launch her by providing affordable space - but now I'm really ready for the office to belong just to me again. I think I will keep it cleaner and feel more connected to it now that it belongs to just me again. She and I are going out to lunch with her sweet red haired one year old in tow to celebrate the change.