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Invisible Ink

It’s been almost three weeks to the day since my last post.

Believe me, I know. It’s been weighing on my mind.

Not in an ‘oh cr@p, I have to post something on that d@mn blog’ sort of way, because this blog has never been like that for me.

It is a labor of love, perhaps sometimes with more emphasis on the latter, other times the former. But it has never, ever been a drag on my life or a chore to post.

I’ve just been out there dealing with real world problems and situations that impacted my time and ability to conceive, write and post on this blog. They’ve affected my time, ability, sometimes even my interest in, or otherwise interfered with writing non-blog things as well.

After I posted last, I was running around helping get Daughter ready for a nine-day school service trip to Thailand over her autumn break. She’d gone last year, fallen in love with the country and working with the children of Burmese refugees, and saved up babysitting funds for a return trip.

The morning after she left for Thailand, I jumped on a plane to go back to the US to visit my parents. I’m never quite sure when I’ll be able to visit again, so I decided to go while I could.

It was a quick trip in that I was only there one week. That may not seem like a short trip – or maybe it’s just because I’m getting older – but I don’t bounce back quite as quickly from jet lag as I used to.

While there, my priority was spending time with my parents and Son who was visiting on his own four-day university autumn break. I did do a little writing, including starting some drafts of blog posts, but my parents don’t have wifi and the set-up they do have is so archaic that it takes forever to get internet connection, and even longer to do them once online.

I know what you’re thinking and no, it’s not worth it to arrange for wifi for them. Or at least not at this point. They only barely grasp using email and Skype, and any change to their established routine will only result in unnecessary angst, chaos and confusion.

Don’t even get me started on the pervasive lack of wifi at local restaurants: I’ve learned the hard way that the internet police at the Panera Bread cafe near them severely limit usage hours during the only part of midday when I could have snuck away (their nap time) to try to get anything done.

No local Starbucks, either.

Seriously, how strip mall/rural do you have to be in the United States to not rate a Starbucks within reasonable driving distance?

Throw into the mix the fact that I’m taking two writing courses, and my attention to blog posts took a further hit. Now you might be asking why I’d sign up for two courses at the same time, and you would be a wise person to do so.

Short answer? One’s local in the Netherlands, taught by my mentor Jo Parfitt, and I wasn’t sure when she’d be offering it again. The other’s online, taught by a favorite American author/writer/blogger of mine; I wanted to take this course now because it’s helping me prepare for some things I want to do in 4-6 months.

Different writing courses, different writing instructors with different specialities and perspectives, different writing foci (for me), same limited schedule. Unless someone has figured out how to get more than 168 hours in a week, I’m left with making the tough calls and shoehorning in whatever I can, when I can.

The reason I share all of this with you is not for sympathy. You’ve all got busy lives with your own litany of must-do’s that are claiming your precious time. I share this because I’ve been asked by a few people whether I’ve stopped blogging for good.

‘It’s only been three weeks, people,’ I think to myself. ‘I’ve checked in on any number of blogs now and then, and found them on temporary hiatus and didn’t automatically assume they were defunct…’

They ask it as if that’s a bad thing, something which would make them unhappy, so I take it they like what I’m doing and want me to continue. Which is very kind of them. I’m flattered. Or they just want me to continue blogging because it makes me happy. Which is also kind.

Whatever the reason for their inquiries, I did not get the sense they were encouraging me to stop. Which is kinder still.

I’ve also been contacted by sweet people asking if I’m okay. Yes, but life is rather challenging right now, and some days are better than others. Visiting my parents was equal parts wonderful, bittersweet and frustrating as he!!.

Believe me, I’m sure my presence contributed a bit to the latter, but I’ve also come to a stark realization: no two ways about it, the intersection of advanced aging and illness sucks.

(If you know me, you know that I can’t stand that word, but it is truthfully the most accurate one I can find in this situation.)

Dealing with my father’s terminal cancer is difficult. He’s started receiving mild chemo treatments to ease (not reverse) things and they’ll scan him in two months to reassess, but for now the prognosis is under a year, possibly under half a year remaining.

It’s hard on him, my mother, my siblings and me, the rest of the family and all of my parents’ friends. But it dawned on me on the flight home that it is actually some of the more challenging symptoms of advanced aging that have tended toward making it all harder still.

We’re also dealing with other family members who are ill, including some particularly challenging developments, things we’ll continue monitoring and dealing with in the days and months ahead.

To add a truly American ‘and then the dog ate my homework’ quality to it all, my dog does have a cancerous tumor on his flank.

In the past three weeks, I’ve taken poor Oli to appointments with the veteranarian for a biopsy, and an ultrasound. Today was the surgery.

He can’t walk for a few days, needs to be carried everywhere and for everything. He’s even wearing large, snap-at-the-crotch ‘onesies’ to prevent him from picking at the stitches. It’s like having a baby in the house.

We’ll find out next week whether we can rest easy or are in for more decisions on unpleasant courses of action.

Let’s just say that I’ve been practicing many of the suggestions and tips for maintaining emotional resilience in turbulent times included in my book. The one about which still more people have inquired.

It’s coming along, slower than I’d like, but I am making progress. I wish it were faster, but when I think about the other things going on, I am comfortable in the knowledge that I’m doing the best I can. And that’s good enough for me.

So in the end, it’s pretty simple. Just because you don’t see the results doesn’t mean I’m not writing. And even when I’m not writing, it doesn’t mean I’m not turning things over in my mind, plotting and planning, getting creative in different ways.

You didn’t think you could get rid of me that easily, did you?

 

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