I went on a date.
Okay, perhaps I should back up a bit.
My life has changed.
In the last 18 months, I’ve gone through a divorce, a move, the discovery of a very present but stable brain aneurism and the death of my brother.
Because I write about what’s happening in my daily life, it’s only natural and necessary for me to fill you in on a few other changes that are taking place. I hope you will continue to read as I share stories of where I’m at– at the moment.
And right now, I am standing half-naked with my head in the freezer.
I’ve heard women talk about it. Even read a bit about it. But for some reason I NEVER ever thought IT would happen to me!
(And for the male readers – stick with me – your wives or girlfriends are gonna be here one day, and this might provide a little insight!)
In just a matter of days I have gone from the occasional cozy-warm flush feeling to daily hot flashes, night sweats, sleepless nights, crazy dreams and hours spent crying over animal videos on Facebook. It’s not pretty. In fact, it’s downright ugly, as I’m sure those of you who have gone through it will attest too. And, I sincerely apologize to the hundreds of women in my lifetime who said something to me about their menopausal state and I shrugged you off like it was all in your head. I’m lining this right up with back pain and contractions. If you’ve never had it, you can’t even begin to understand it. So, I am sorry if I didn’t give you the empathy you deserved. Because God knows I need empathy!
And speaking of God, what the hell was He thinking?
“For you woman, I’ve got the following rights of passages; menstruation, labor and let’s top it all off, late in life when you’re tired and flabby, with a nice dose of menopause!”
So, as I mentioned, I went on a date.
What do dating and menopause have in common you might ask?
Nor should they!
And yet, five minutes before I’m leaving on a date, I’m standing with my head in my freezer. The freezer is packed-full of James’ pancakes. Which I first think about eating, then I realize that they make great neck-coolers. I even contemplate stuffing a couple down my shirt for the drive.
Dating is a good learning tool for me right now. One of the first things I’ve
realized is that it feels good to get dressed up again. When you’re in a long-term marriage, or suffer from depression, it’s easy to not care so much about what you look like. Your sweats and yoga pants become your best friends and the ponytail is the way you ‘do your hair.’ The guy stops holding the door open for his wife and date night turns into popcorn and Netflix’s. (Which is not necessarily a bad date night, if you’re watching Bloodline and not still in your yoga pants.)
So, recently I was getting ready for a date. I’m standing in front of the mirror agonizing over two pair of earrings, trying to figure out which ones would make me look thinner, since I’m wearing clothes from the menopausal-chubby-bloated end of the closet. At that moment,
James comes downstairs. He stops and looks me up and down and up again. And then, in a long drawn out gravelly voice he utters, “Whoooooa!”
(Insert ten year’s worth of images of me sitting in my robe with no make-up on. Had he never seen me “done up”?) I imagined if he could speak, he might have continued, “You clean up good Bobby! I had no idea you had real clothes and real long blond hair.” I would have answered, “Yes James, mommy’s clothes are real.”
The date was lovely. He held open every door and took me for a great meal, which I could hardly eat because I was so nervous.
I spent the entire night talking about James. This may or may not have been a turn off? Or maybe it was my upper lip sweat? Hard to tell.
So much to learn! I ate a half-thawed pancake on my way home. He hasn’t called.
Thanks for all the prayers… the scattering of my brother’s ashes was more beautiful than I could have ever imagined!
My brother Lud passed away last August. His last request was to have his ashes scattered on his favorite beach. Solana Beach in San Diego. That is why my sister Karie and I are here this weekend.
To carry out his last dying wish.
I flew from Nashville and Karie – and Lud – flew from Cleveland. Seems that Lud has some trouble at TSA.
To quote my sister,
“So I separated Lud, between my carry on and my checked bag – in case my suit case got lost. And then, I go through the security line. I walk through with no beeping but then I hear the guy yell, ‘Bag check! Ma’am is this your bag? Do you have any sharp objects in it?’ ‘No. Just my brother.’ The guy looked at me like I was crazy and of course, I start bawling.
‘It’s my brother, it’s my brother, he’s in the Tupperware container.’
(When I questioned my sister on the Tupperware container she said, “It wasn’t used. I bought him a new one.”)
I had prepared myself for the emotions that I would feel this weekend while carrying out my brother’s request.
But I forgot about the other ashes.
The ones from my own life, that I would have to encounter in this beautiful city.
You see, Jim and I lived here from 1988-1994. Fresh out of college, we both got jobs and started our careers here. (My brother Larry and his family lived here as well, so it was an easy decision.) We met life-long friends and enjoyed living in paradise. San Diego is expensive and we were young, working for a ministry that paid close to nothing and barely making ends meet. But the beach was free! So, every day, after getting off work, we would head to Solano Beach. About six months after we got here, my brother Lud relocated here as well and would join us on our daily beach trips. Lud fell in love with the ocean, which is why he wants us to illegally scatter him upon these shores. (Aside note… I am trying very hard to not have this go badly. I’m trying to not to picture the wind and the tears and Lud ending up all over me and my sister instead of in the ocean. Or…the very possible ending of us being arrested. Stay tuned.)
Yesterday I drove to the beach. But at every turn and every corner, I would see a flash back of my life here. Our life. What used to be. That was the gas station where we had that horrible fight one time. And that was the restaurant where we first talked about going into counseling. Oh, and that was the time we…. And on and on and on.
The only thing to do when you find yourself in a sad and self-pity spiral is to call a friend.
“Those were hard years, I cried. I’m so sad.” But instead of wallowing with me in my sorry she said,
“Lm – I will pray that God shows you the beauty in the ashes.
Instead of focusing on that things that have died, why not think about the good that was and the good that remains?” This, I know, is such an easy and better way to live. And yet I forget all the time.
So yesterday I laid on a beach towel and stared at the waves, like I did so many years ago. Same beach. Same sand. And even the same beach towel. (It’s a great one.) As I let the tears fall, I realized the importance of looking at the whole picture and not just one scene. The truth is, Jim and I had some amazing, wonderful times here. We were young and motivated. We laughed and loved and planned for our future. We enjoyed life as best we could. The tears of sorrow turned into tears of gratitude for all the good times.
Relationships sometimes die. People die. Jobs change. Hearts break.
But today I choose to look at the beauty in what remains. The beauty in the ashes.
P.s…. My brother Lud could have never known that his last request would provide a huge opportunity for healing and growth for me. Circle of life. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Pray for us, and for the absence of a wind.