Memorial day launched what may very well be one of the single most insane, gut-wrenching, no holds barred weeks of my life – and as anyone who knows me and is familiar with my usual level of craziness can attest to, that’s saying something. I came into the weekend at a frazzled, high speed run, which is generally how I come into any weekend, especially one attached to a holiday. Work is insane, partly due to the fact that I am trying to make some transitions, so am technically working two jobs right now. My schedule had exploded due to end-of-school craziness on top of during-school craziness on top of spring sports ending, summer sports beginning, field trips, 1st grade awards, 4th grade awards, field day, picnics….and then juggling my caseload with time off so I could attend the proper percentage of all the above without looking like the worst mom ever who misses out on the important days and whose kids say things like, “I was the only one at school today without a board game/raffle item/special snack/parent participant/etc….”
We are blessed to have an amazing place in the river – four acres, river access, right below the rapids. It’s perfect for all the water and outdoor fun you can hope for, and makes us incredibly popular from May until September. Which we love. My husband and I both love to host people, so naturally had groups of friends and family coming and going all weekend.
Memorial Day itself was the final day of partying, and we were feeling particularly blessed in how well the weekend was going – especially since Friday and Saturday brought storms of epic proportion to our area, inducing PTSD-like flashbacks in those of us who experienced the full fury of flooding in 1998, 2002 and 2010 (100-year flood, my eye!). The skies cleared, though, and so did the water, so Sunday and Monday were perfect party days. Well, Sunday was. Monday started out well enough. Then, the dominoes began to fall. I can’t remember the exact order of events, so let’s just quickly list the drama. When all was said and done, we tallied two falls resulting in bloodied limbs, a flipped kayak, a snake incident which let to the hour-long hyperventilation of a very upset young lady, a tipsy tirade by an angry girlfriend (whose sweet boyfriend kept shaking his head and saying, “I’m not sure what I did”), an exploding toilet that flooded an entire cabin (I’m 99% certain which of my sons did it) and an ambulance call/ride to the hospital. I am not kidding. I cannot make this stuff up.
The ambulance part was, obviously, the worst. Beginning CPR on a loved one is a horrible experience, and when that loved one is your precious, phenomenal, spunky 85 year-old grandmother….let’s just say I could have gone my whole life without that experience and not missed it.
The week went by in a blur. Between hospital visits, last week of school events, cramming in at least one day of work and trying to get everyone fed and where they needed to be, I was done by the weekend. Yet, done or not, I still had to make it to football games and birthday parties and finish writing my first original Bible study and prepare it for presentation to the fabulous women of our church Sunday evening….all while fluctuating between hope and despair, depending on the day and doctor opinion at the hospital.
As is almost always the case in times of crisis, we pulled ourselves up by the bootstraps and got everything done. With tons of prayers and help from our amazing support group of friends and family, we made it through the end of school and the Bible study was completed, presented and part of a really great evening.
Last night, we transferred my grandmother home to begin Hospice care. And while we are heartbroken, there is comfort in seeing her more comfortable and happy to be home. I got to sit with her, in her own room, and hold hands and be near her. So my exhausted and saddened heart clung to that as I crawled into bed at midnight to crash and reset for work.
You can imagine, then, my extreme displeasure at waking up this morning with a raging case of pink eye (as opposed to a gently protesting case of pink eye). My eyes had been bothering me last night, but I chalked it up to crying while wearing cheap mascara. Oh no. Not so. I stared at myself (with one eye, since the other was cemented shut) in horror. You know how Rocky looks in the final fight scene of all 40 of his movies? Picture that, just without the cut under his eye and with the addition of crusty stuff. I can say with great confidence that I have never looked worse, unless childbirth was involved. Naturally, I called my husband in to the bathroom to see. Because that’s how every man wants to wake up, called out of bed by a panic-stricken wife who looks like a prizefighter…or Popeye. As he stood there blinking at me, trying to find a safe reaction, I’m sure, I made one of the more intelligent observations of our married life.
“I think I have pink eye.”
Followed by, “What do you think?”
To his credit, he neither laughed nor made any sarcastic remarks. Just stayed a safe distance away and nodded.
At this point, the only sentence I could articulate was , “Are you kidding me? Are. You. Kidding. Me?!?” I kept chanting it over and over as I frantically texted my supervisor, my co-worker, my girlfriend, Steph, who had committed to keep my kids today…… My husband still stayed far away, watching me warily, like he would a crazy person or rabid animal.
Then, Steph texted back. In my time of need, as life was overwhelming and crushing me under its weight, my wonderful, loving, sister-of-my-heart sent this reply:
“OMG! I seriously just busted out laughing out loud. Are you kidding me?”
At which point, I burst out laughing. I laughed until I couldn’t sit up straight. I laughed until tears rolled down the right side of my face (left side tears were trapped behind the dam of eye cement). I laughed until my husband’s look of concern became a look of alarm.
Still chuckling, I cleaned my eye to the best of my abilities and made my way to the kitchen to fix breakfast for my kids….to the chorus of their reactions, which included:
“What happened to your eye?”
“You look like a monster!”
They then proceeded to play a version of “pink eye tag”, which involved jumping out of their chairs, making monster noises and grabbing at each other while yelling, “You have the pink eye! No, you have the pink eye!” I know. Their sensitivity is astounding. This hilarity continued until, inevitably, someone’s orange juice went flying across the kitchen, at which point the one-eyed, angry Mommy monster came forth bringing with her the wrath of God. Game over.
I dropped my darlings off at Steph’s so I could head in for decontamination. While driving into town for eye drops and new make-up (both a hassle and a perk of the pink eye), I said a little prayer. Thank God for our girlfriends. They make us laugh even when the only thing we want to do is cry. They make fun of our horrible days while helping out by taking care of our kids and promising a spa day (that was in her next text). They give us the strength to stand under a hot shower and pry our eyelids apart, get dressed and face the day. They remind us of our resiliency while cherishing our vulnerability. And if we are very fortunate (which I am), they help us to grow, live fully and shine brightly…..even on our darker days.
Solidarity, sisters – even one eye is enough to see the light when your teammates are watching with you.