The ups and downs of 2013

There is a part of me that would love to tell 2013 to shove it. I have to admit, however, that even with the bad, there were some truly good moments this year.

January and February are a blur for me. I’ll blame school since I can’t recall anything else. I really need to start blogging more regularly, since I do still deal with some post-chemo memory issues. It’s improved a lot, but it’s definitely not what it used to be.

In March, JM proposed to S. The wedding is scheduled for June, 2014. The actual engagement took place on March 28th. I called my dad on the 29th to tell him the good news–and swear him to secrecy until it was officially announced.

I also called my dad on April 2nd, to wish him a Happy Birthday, and tell him I’d try to visit that weekend. He died less than 24 hours later.

I was in the midst of preparing a poster session for ACRL. I almost canceled, but I knew I’d be letting him down if I did. I went, it was a success, and I was glad I’d done it. I managed to get through the rest of winter semester and took on an abbreviated summer session to get my last required class out of the way.

More health scares hit me in July. I ended up in the ER twice for what turned out to be ovarian cysts. It coincided with a family member’s diagnosis of ovarian cancer and the similarity in some of the symptoms scared me until I knew what I was dealing with.

I went camping for the first time ever in August. The Boyfriend and I went to a local state park for a couple of days. I was very surprised at how much I enjoyed it. There were several opportunities for me to be on the shores of the bay that I’d spent a lot of time on in my dad’s boat. It made me feel close to him.

The day Dad died, I called my mom in NC to tell her and before we hung up, she said, “I promise I won’t die today.” I remember feeling a little irritated at the comment. It wasn’t exceptionally helpful. In hindsight, I think she knew something more than we did. Mom ended up in the hospital just before Labor Day weekend. The Boyfriend and I went down there to help my sister navigate the murky waters of diagnosis and prognosis.

When we left, she was doing well. She was transported to a rehab facility in order to regain some mobility before going back home. She sounded fantastic on the phone–for a couple of days. And then she began a downward spiral that she never came out of. My sister who is local drove down to NC with me to say goodbye. She passed away just hours after our arrival.

Even though I’m an adult with grown children of my own, I still feel that I’m too young and stupid to be without parents.

I had no choice but to try to focus on school. Withdrawing wasn’t an option, because the class I was taking wouldn’t be offered again until fall 2014. My sister threw herself into fixing up the house she and my brother-in-law had just purchased in August. My sister in NC was faced with memories of who wasn’t there every time she turned around.

Mom visited me shortly after she died. She walked into my bedroom and sat down on the edge of my bed. I sat up and hugged and told her I missed her. Up until that point, I had dreamt about her every night. After her visit, I stopped dreaming about her.

In November, I was able to spend some much needed time with some old friends. We went to dinner and then to see Toad the Wet Sprocket. I obsessed over their new album for weeks. It’s still in my CD player, though I did set it aside to start listening to Christmas carols eventually.

My stepmom fell and broke her hip just before Thanksgiving. I didn’t find out until two weeks after, which upset me at first. But then I realized it probably would have pushed me over the edge. I needed to get through that final semester, first.

My brother-in-law here had a heart attack on Thanksgiving morning. He’s recovering, slowly, but the added stress on my sister has been a concern for me. All of us seem to be facing so many individualized obstacles, rendering us practically useless at helping each other cope. At least we aren’t alone.

I graduated in December, earning a master of library and information science. I was supposed to walk during commencement, but a snowstorm prevented me from getting there. It didn’t break my heart. I kind of think my parents had a hand in it all.

After months of nothing, Dad finally showed up in a dream that still has me smiling. He and my stepmom came to visit me together, but she left shortly thereafter. Dad explained to me that “We drove separately. I’m headed out to the club with two boats.” We walked outside and there was an immaculate, gleaming wooden boat. It was gorgeous. I said, “I want to go for a ride!” Dad said, “It needs too much work. It’s not ready.” I woke up smiling, and then I was sad because it wasn’t real. He wasn’t there. The more I thought about it, though, the more I started looking at the symbolism of it all. He and my stepmom leaving separately…the perfect boat that isn’t ready for me to ride in it… I tend to be a skeptic in matters of spirituality (organized religion leaves me cold), but this…this meant something. I stopped looking for rational explanations and allowed myself to just accept it for what it appeared to be.

On my way home from an errand today, I started thinking about how glad I will be to see this year end. One could argue that past years haven’t been so peachy either, and one would be right. I keep waiting for my breakdown. Thus far, it hasn’t happened. I’m starting to think that it won’t.

I have lost a husband. I have lost both parents. I have faced a life-threatening illness. I have survived graduate school. I have raised two sons, on my own, who have turned into remarkable young men.

I will not be broken. Bring on 2014.