For all that I preach about not “dying with your song unsung,” I’m not doing much of my own singing. My intentions are good. I’m always planning to finish crocheting the afghan I started about 20 years ago, or to delve into the cross stitch project I’ve prepared, to bake some Christmas cookies, to clean the house, to cook for myself, to finish the damn mystery novel already, to lose 750 pounds by next month, to live in the cabin in my head for real.
Is it too late? Have I missed my moment? Does it matter? No, no, and yes.
It matters to me. What has taken me a long time to accept is that it’s okay that this process has taken so long. Though many of those around me have never understood what it takes from within me to slog through each day, I’ve learned to accept that I’ve done a pretty marvelous job. I’ve also learned to accept that it wasn’t within me to: “paste on a smile and feel better,” or “stop dwelling on the negative and think happy thoughts,” or “everyone gets sad now and then.”
Even people who have a loved one afflicted with depression/anxiety are impatient and don’t understand why the loved one just can’t move on. Believe me, we would love to leave it behind in a heartbeat. Are there some who dwell on it and wallow in it? Sure, there are. I’m not one of them.
I’m well aware that there are people out there who would trade places with me. I feel for anyone who is physically ill and facing insurmountable challenges. I’m not trying to minimize any of that. But at least it’s tangible and there is no stigma surrounding it. Enough of that.
Visiting my cousins in Vermont a few weeks ago stirred up a lot of stuff in me. I was truly a happy kid when we lived in Burlington. It made me ache inside when I thought of my early life and the joyous feelings of life back then. It made me glad to see my cousins are living what I’d hoped would be my reality. It drove home the fact it won’t ever be my reality.
I’m kind of all over the place here which annoys me because I like my writing to be organized. I’m blessed with so much: a mom who has done so much for me; a guy who thinks I’m the best thing since sliced bread; a home that is cozy; an ability to use the printed word; a chance to connect with my biological family. And yet, I feel so useless. The brain that allows me to think and feel, the brain that allowed me to be so passionate about my teaching, is the brain that holds me hostage. It didn’t allow me to finish my career on my terms. It made me throw in the towel. It’s hard for me to live with that. I’m not a quitter.
But there is still enough of that little Vermont kid in me: scrappy, happy-go-lucky, quick with a laugh. It tells me my moment may be just beginning and no matter how much my bones ache because of the chronic sate of being overweight, I can slowly reclaim a decent level of fitness. And no matter how I ache inside because of “lost” dreams, I have the ability to create new dreams.
Today I’m going to connect with that kid in a time-honored tradition. I’m going to play the Jo Stafford tunes once found on an old album of my parents, as I’ve done for dozens of years, and I’m going to decorate my Christmas tree.