It’s the End of World as We Know It . . . Not!

When it comes to the end of the world, I’m generally a pretty optimistic person. I don’t believe there’s going to be a Zombie Apocalypse, and although talk of nuclear war or diseases like Ebola frighten me, I don’t think that the human race is going to be wiped out within my lifetime. Perhaps I’m burying my head in the sand, but I just don’t think it’s going to happen in the next few decades or even the next century.

On the other hand, I sometimes have weeks like the one that’s wrapping up right now, and I start to harbor all kinds of secret hopes that the end of the world would just hurry up and get here.

Yeah, it’s been a bad week.

Money is tight and things are getting shut off and I’ve had to start asking for help. My pride is at an all-time low, but the positive twist on that is that I’m getting really good at groveling. And begging. I’m also arguing with my daughter, something I’ve never really done before. She’s always been my “easy” child; apparently, the first sixteen years of her life were just part of an elaborate scheme to soften me up for her seventeenth year.

I feel like I’m running, scrambling, spinning in circles with no time left to just sit down and breathe. My house is such a mess that I’m thinking about stringing some yellow tape across the kitchen and telling everyone it’s a crime scene. Then maybe I won’t have to go in there and do anything about the dirty dishes or –God forbid—have to cook for anyone for a while.

It dawned on me this morning that my last social outing was the hour I spent on the bleachers with other moms while our sons had baseball practice. Before that, my only recent social interaction was the two hours spent wrangling seven year-olds at my son’s birthday party.

I need to spend time with someone I did not give birth to. I need a social life. Come to think of it, I need a life, period.  I’m a mom, yes, but aren’t I also something more? When do I get to be A.J.?

Life can be pretty funny, though.

This morning was terrible. Awful. As I said, it’s been a bad week, and it just sort of built up to an even worse morning, made almost unbearable by the fact that today just happens to be one of those random days when my pain levels shoot skyward for no real reason. I’ve been in so much pain that it’s all I can do to keep from just lying down on the floor and giving up on trying to move at all.

I dropped my kids at school, came home, and hit my breaking point. I sat in my car in the driveway, bawling. I’m talking major tears here. The kind that actually dripped off the chin and got the front of my shirt wet. I did some big time ugly crying. I did the whole sniffle-sob-whuffle-whimper thing up the steps and into my house and headed for the mirror to see if there was any way I could make myself presentable for work.

And then . . .

Photo courtesy of Debby Steinman
Photo courtesy of Debby Steinman

My co-workers had the giggles today, particularly while crawling upside-down under the tables with gloves and putty knives in search of dried gum. Later, one co-worker showed off pictures of her beautiful new grandbaby while another had pictures of her own very happy little baby boy. One woman was fretting about some scary medical procedures she is facing, and the other women all made time to give her smiles and hugs all day long to let her know she is not alone.

Later, when I went to the Elementary school to pick up my youngest child, I fought back tears again while talking to another mom. She hugged me, offered to take my son to the school dance with the carload of boys she was taking, and even brought over a special occasion dress for my daughter to borrow.

And now . . . I have two hours alone to catch up on my blog, write my next chapter. Two hours to breathe and remind myself that there are some truly beautiful people in this world who are always going to reach out to others.

Life can be pretty funny. Seems like every time things are at their worst and I’m feeling lost and alone, someone comes along to make me smile or even laugh out loud.  Someone shares a bit of kindness when I least expect it. Smiling isn’t going to give me more money or make it possible for me to make my bills; laughing isn’t going to take away my neck pain or heal the crushing loneliness that hits me from time to time.  And all of the adorable baby pictures in the world aren’t going to magically grant me the time and energy to clean my house. Nothing that happened today is going to take away the problems that had me in tears.

But you know what all of that smiling and laughing and adorable baby pictures can do? Give me the strength to face all of the other stuff.  Strength and hope, and a firm belief that the world isn’t going to end any time soon.  It can’t, because there is still too much good that would go to waste if the world ended tomorrow. It can’t, because right now the good in this world outweighs the bad. Some days, it’s not by very much, but it’s still enough.

Relax, folks, the world can’t end as long as there are moments like this:

Seriously, could this kid be any cuter?
Seriously, could this kid be any cuter?

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This is a Finish The Sentence Friday post: “When it comes to the end of the world . . . ” hosted by Kristi from Finding Ninee, Nikki from Redboots, and Jena Schwartz. Please take a few minutes to check out what some of the other bloggers did with this sentence!

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Is the glass half-full or half-empty?

There are days in my life when the glass is half-full, but there are also days when it is half-empty.  Then again, there are days when that glass is nothing but a pile of shattered glass and melting ice on the floor.

Whenever someone mentions the half-full/half-empty analogy, I am reminded of something that happened when I was fourteen years old.  Mom sat us down at the kitchen table and told us, in a matter-of-fact tone, that the she had breast cancer.  She explained the words chemotherapy, radiation, radical mastectomy.

There was nothing to say.  Mom was nothing if not efficient, and she answered all of our questions before we asked them.

I was really young and stupid.  I thought I could make it better with a dumb gesture.  I went to the sink, half-filled a glass with water, and plunked it on the table in front of her, saying something like, “It’s half-full, Mom.”

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There was, of course, much eye-rolling from my older sisters and deafening  silence from my mother, and I mentally kicked myself for being such a moron.  The incident was never mentioned again until nearly eight years later, when the cancer came back with a vengeance and Mom told me that my gesture had been a source of strength for her the first time around.

Ha.  Score one for my inner optimist.

Life sucks sometimes.  People get hurt and people die, and most of us suffer unbearable losses at one time or another.  But the sun comes up the next day, and we drag our sorry asses out of bed, and we trudge through the next day to face the possibility of more pain, more loss, more heartache.  Some nights, we cry ourselves to sleep and pray that tomorrow never comes, but that damn sun comes back again and again and hope keeps rising with it.

I could cry because I lost my mom at 21, or I can be thankful that I had her for eight bonus years.  I can rage about losing Dad at 31, or I can thank God I had a chance to reconcile with him before his death.  I can whine and wail about everything I lost on June 21, 2011, or I can be grateful for all of the miracles that kept my children and me alive when the tree fell on our van.  Seriously, how many people survive something like that?

To be honest, I still struggle with that one.  It’s one thing to be grateful; it’s another thing entirely to keep my chin up when I’m in too much pain to remember my own name, or when I have a flashback triggered by something stupid like thunder or a car wash or the color blue.

But overall, the glass has to be half-full.

If it isn’t, why are we here?

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