Monday, June 22, 2015

The hardest day of the year

I sat in her chair. I got an appointment that morning by the skin of my teeth. Literally, someone else was booking at the exact moment for that exact time. So thankful that other woman had wiggle room in her day, because I didn't.

Last week was unexpectedly full, despite weather interfering with plans to visit with a good friend, or work in the yard, etc. Health issues for a kid kept us bound home too. I have a towering reading list looming over me, and I don't think I can do it. I'm not superwoman after all, even though I rock yard work and invisibility. I felt so much like I've been running and still too far to go.

I spent Saturday morning running around: dance studio, Walmart for a red tank top for Lanie and a friend's daughter, another stop, back home for lunch, the hair cut, to David's to hug him and give him the pictures I took, then to the in-laws' for a cookout. Sunday had its own schedule of to do. I sat in that chair. It had been winter when I last got my hair cut. I'd been hoping all week to work it in, and couldn't.

"I'm seeing relatives I haven't seen in months tonight," I told her. "I'm so glad you could fit me in ..." And then talk, the talk no one talks about, the kind where people who want authenticity don't really want to get sucked into your honesty and either stand back in discomfort or in judgment. But she didn't flinch, maybe because she's heard it before from her chair, and certainly because she'd been there too. Because weight gain, and feeling so very unpretty, and please fix my hair because that's all I can fix right now.

"I even bought myself a shirt--at Walmart," I said. It's all I had time for. And this was how desperate I felt--to change the outside because the inside was so broken. I got a lipstick. And wrinkle cream. A shirt. A hair cut. I even impulse purchased a pair of earrings on my way out. I recognized it for the crazy it was, the desperation, like some shopping version of an ice cream binge. And the conscience that said, "You are enough" was told shut up as want overrode self-loathing. In the end, I knew this desperation was just all I could do to make the outside of me feel and look as normal as possible. The inside was a wreck. Father's Day does that to me.

It was great to be with my in-laws. Great for my kids to see relatives--even a cousin to play with! I felt safe among the company where I really learned hospitality. And when Uncle Jeff brought out the M&Ms, two full bags for each child (including two for a little friend who accompanied), I wanted to cry. Their thoughtfulness and generosity always blow me away. There was a lot of laughter, and I appreciated having sisters. We cut out when it was dark, right during a spectacular lightning show, and headed home.

I'd had grand plans to bake a scratch cake for my sister. But I realized, again, I can't do it all. Erin and I got potatoes at the store, and I picked up an ice cream cake. Had just enough time to make potato salad and iced tea, prep the sandwiches, and cut up the remaining blackberry cheesecake bars to put out.

I spent the morning crying for a friend who thinks it's his last summer because of stage four cancer. Crying over a text from another friend whose father is in hospice now, and she wanted to tell me that the family photo I took of them all last fall is at his bedside and brings her comfort. Another good friend is struggling at a second year without her dad on top of so many disappointments and issues. And my head was full of its own.

We celebrated my sister and I put a candle on her cake slice, and on Dad's and Shane's slices. My gifts seemed too small and not enough. I wanted to take them back, or at least not be in the room when they were opened. But I stood there and smiled in my awkwardness, hoping for normal.

"Don't you have a gift for Shane?" my sister asked.

"The kids gifted him this morning," I answered. 

And if the day's success is measured by full bellies and smiles, then it was a success.

They said words like thanks, goodbye, see you in five months. Her need is on the outside. Mine is on the inside. I sank back into the shadows. And now I understand why Camera 4 was my word for the year.

I returned to counting blessings. Thankful for my man, my kids, for family in all its various forms. Thankful for Monday.

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