“Life goes on with or without you, time stops for no one!”
Here’s what we may think of ourselves, and our troubles, a lot of the time:
But we quickly learn, throughout difficult periods of our life, that it isn’t really like that at all.
I’ve been away from this blog – literally and figuratively – for nearly eight months. What used to be a way to exercise my creative muscles has atrophied with the movement of time. Meanwhile, life has gone on.
In a way I feel like Brendan Fraser’s character – Adam Webber – from the not-so-highly acclaimed film, “Blast from the Past.” Adam is frozen in time (1962) in a bomb shelter for 35 years while the world above the shelter continually changes.
Many of you know that these seasons happen in life. Maybe not 35 years – for some people it may just be days, while for others it can last decades: “lost time” due to tough situations, hard years, tough working conditions, and/or tragedy with family or friends.
Maybe it was my way of coping with grief – to not enjoy something I get so much pleasure out of: expressing myself through writing.
We moved from California to Nebraska in what ended up being one of the longest winters on record. While maybe not the toughest winter, it did call for endurance, with the last snowfall coming in May.
We knew we trekked here for a reason, but why we moved, we weren’t quite sure. Our thoughts were that it was to be close to family we hadn’t been near in more than 15 years. Or to be there for Mom, who had suffered a stroke in 2007.
Cate and I were able to spend quality time just before Christmas, and on Christmas Day, with my mom and dad among other members of the family. It was the first time like that in so many years, and one we will certainly remember.
Dad always said, “Never let ’em see you sweat.” And to a large degree, this is a philosophy I also live by. That’s what made it tough when dad was hit by the first stroke on New Year’s Day. We were talking with him on the phone when at one point his words started not making sense.
Thankfully, it was just a mild one (a TIA), and he recovered very quickly. Within days, the slightly confusing speech had become normal again. Dad, Jim Monaghan, was a fighter. He came from the generation that toughed it out, “walked it off,” and didn’t go to the doctor. But this time, my brother was able to convince him to go to the doctor and have things checked out. They performed tests, gave him medication, and after this momentary blip, life went on.
While this was occurring, I was in the middle of starting a new job, in a completely new location. The hours are long and the work is challenging, requiring intense focus throughout the day.
At the same time we were preparing to move in to a new house (February 1st was the move-in date). It was a lot at once. We all go through “what doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger” times, don’t we; those dig-deep passages of time that forge our character and prepare us for the future.
On January 17th, a second stroke hit Dad, and this one was massive. After a lot of difficult decisions and watching the breakdown of Dad’s health, we moved him to hospice where he passed away peacefully on Valentine’s Day.
As the days have turned into months, since his passing, it’s been like coming out of a deep San Francisco fog.
I’ve learned what many of you have undoubtedly experienced, and what Robert Frost penned so eloquently:
“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life — It goes on.
Always fall in with what you’re asked to accept. Take what is given, and make it over your way. My aim in life has always been to hold my own with whatever’s going. Not against: with.”