A Child’s Perspective

Change is usually hard and requires persistent effort, often stopping and starting. There have been at least two times in my life when change has been basically immediate. One of those two times was spurred by my daughter when she was quite young. I was a single mother for most of her growing up, and being a single parent is hard. I had quickly abandoned physical punishment when I realized it simply did not work with her. But, when I really needed to get my point across, I would yell.

One day, she tearfully told me that I frightened her when I yelled. It pulled me up short. I wanted her to understand. I did not want her to be frightened. After she went to bed later that day, I went into the bathroom. I wanted to understand from her perspective, as best I could. I intentionally recalled my feelings of frustration and anger and even isolation. I recalled the details of the incident. Without vocalizing aloud, I looked into the mirror and “yelled” at her again. I was shocked. No child should see that face. I was mortified.

I never yelled at her like that again. I was still a single parent. Parenting was still hard. I still got angry and frustrated. But, I never relied on the energy in my face and voice to communicate. I was not the perfect parent. In fact, I keep realizing more and more my human shortcomings, all these years later. But, I did temper that one reactive behavior. Immediately.

I am grateful she told me how my actions made her feel. I am grateful, for some reason, the full weight of what she was saying was not lost on me.

That’s a heavy way to begin a Thanksgiving post. But, since then, I have been fairly interested in how children see the world and how we, adults, can see ourselves more objectively.

After our Thanksgiving meal this year, I let my daughter’s oldest daughter, 3-year-old E, have my phone so she could look through the photos I had taken of her helping me cook earlier in the day. She quickly transitioned to taking new photos with my phone. Lots and lots of photos (more than 50?). How lucky that digital photography, existing on our phones, means that small children can experiment and develop an eye without prohibitive film-developing costs!

Today, I looked through her photos, deleting the ones of walls, floor, slivers of the tops of heads, and ones unbearably out-of-focus even with auto-focus technology at play. And, then, I started really looking at the remaining ones. This is what I saw (no photos shared for the first three):

  1. Her mother and I having great conversations while I held her 1-year-old sister. Those were lovely pictures until I saw, the pictures of . . . .
  2. . . . her dad, making joyful smiling eye contact with her with the most obvious love and focus.
  3. Some great self-portraits, trying out different facial expressions. No duck lips and none perfectly framed from above, but all with curiosity and intrigue while looking at herself — and fun.
  4. A study of this cup of a little juice mixed in with her antibiotic that represents the negotiated peace deal for taking said hated antibiotic twice a day for her ear infection.
    Pink cup in foreground of a table with empty Thanksgiving plates, flowers, and the arms of one of the diners seen in the background. Inside of a pink cup showing a few mililiters of reddish fluid (a mixture of juice and liquid anitibiotic).
  5. Her sister’s new food tray, which she also has, that they are loving.Teal toddler's food tray with rice dish, sourdough bread, pomegranate seed, and mashed potatoes in the main largest section with cup and dishes in background and an adult arm and child's body in the background.
  6. Her beloved two-wheeler. It is just happenstance that her dad’s walker, in use after his severe leg injury, is also captured – but it, too, is a snapshot of a huge event in their lives.
    Pink and white two-wheeled child's bike with training wheels next to a walker with a black coat draped over it.

And then my photos were next (previous in time) in the sequence. Between the severe poison ivy reaction and then the allergic reaction to prednisone and only taking two days off from work, my kitchen in the background is a disaster zone. But, these are some of my favorite pictures. Do I wish the background was pristine? Sure, I guess? But, the joy on E’s face while whipping cream and mixing pumpkin pie spices into the sugar and everything else are the absolute best and I wouldn’t trade them for the world, least of all for a clean-kitchen backdrop. Life is chaotic and messy, but we find joy anyway.

Child's body wearing a "Star Wars" shirt with four spice jars built into a bridge tower. There is a metal bowl in the foreground with chopped cranberries and walnuts as well as an orange and a blue measuring cup.

Spices are sage, tarragon, basil, marjoram, and thyme.

I fear things for all the world may be getting more chaotic and difficult. Hopefully, we will still find joy while trying to mitigate the harm and improve our interactions.

Not “If You Want It Badly Enough”

I am unsettled and trying to settle.

I mentioned at the beginning of this summer that things were really terrible. They were. They got worse. I jettisoned everything extra out of my life to make time, energy, and to keep emotional reserves to absorb the effects. I was stepping gingerly, breathing lightly, as time unrolled, hoping maybe things were finding a new equilibrium . . . . only for my son-in-law to have a serious accident at work about a month ago.

  • Any exercise routine I had has been gone all summer. Any lunch breaks at work, gone. I even stopped reading my news sources or doing foreign language practice during my 15-minute breaks.
  • On weekends, I stopped attending any of the various worship services, virtually or in person. Things were just too topsy turvy with regard to time demands and I was wondering about just focusing on my daily reflections instead anyway.
  • For two weekends in a row, I worked hard on the backyard . . . and got hit so hard by poison ivy that I am on a prednisone taper and had to take two days off work and I continue to struggle with the reaction. I am just now beginning to cough less from having it in my lungs, too. I am very grateful for the prednisone because the edema has gone down and I no longer have fluid running freely down my arm and from my neck, but, otherwise, prednisone and I are not friends.
  • I am closing in on the one-year anniversary at my new job. With that comes a natural reassessment of whether I have the balance for which I hoped. Given that we have weathered a lot this summer, yes. In light of my original hopes and dreams, though, no.
  • Little 3-year-old E is very very sick with a flaring illness that we do not have a handle on. It is heartbreaking.

That is the setup for the unsettled feelings right now.

  • I need to exercise.
  • I think, for some reason, the communal type of worship is important, either because of community or as part of hallowing the day or marking the week or something. I’m not sure. But, I think there is an unexpected loss there.
  • I am shocked at how quickly I became uninformed when I stopped reading my daily news sources. Shocked, I tell you. That is disconcerting.
  • I don’t want to give up on my other professional goals.
  • I wanted to do some more yardwork today, but I was too afraid. The new addition of coldness finally appropriate for November, wind, not having enough clean clothes that I wanted to use for only the yardwork and then straight to the washing machine, and knowing rain is forecasted in the next day or so was just too much for me to overcome. I did not battle the poison ivy today. I did not visit my new little transplants or care for them. But, I lost time trying to force myself to do it.

In other words, things are out of sorts.

What I want:

  • To figure out a schedule, even with these new parameters of our lives, that allows regular scheduled exercise that I enjoy. I think that is my mental homework for tonight.
  • I guess to add a worship service on the weekend back in? (and keep up my daily sacred time). Or come up with a more formal weekly personal observance?
  • Start reading the news again. Not sure when . . .
  • Start working on my personal professional goals again. Not sure when.

See? That’s the thing. It is not that I am being lazy or just not doing these things. I have no idea how to make this all work. I didn’t even get groceries this weekend and won’t be able to tomorrow, probably, either. I’m just glad the laundry is in the washing machine right now.

This wasn’t supposed to be a complaining post. This was supposed to be a post in which the writing led to answers.

A Good Thing

But, I do have good news. I am near the end of an EMT recert class. (Luckily, I know this stuff well enough that I did almost no reading or studying – just showed up for class, did assignments, took exams.) Usually, you can just keep up with your continuing education, but I was moving between locations and not working in that capacity . . . so the recert class was the best option. I had two things left to do: upload NIMS (National Incident Management System-Incident Command System) certificates and recertify my CPR. NIMS. I took NIMS many many years ago and the last time I tried to download those certificates it was pure hell and never did work. I think one of the classes had updated and my last name had changed and it was sooooo long ago. I was resigned to but dreading just taking them over (and everyone knows how terribly designed those tests are). I did the first class, took the damned test, went to download the certificate . . . and there were all my certificates, sitting there in front of me on the screen, from having taken the courses previously. I kid you not. I about fell out of my chair with happiness. All the certificates are uploaded. CPR class is Thursday. So, that was a good thing that happened today. A very good thing.

Also this week:

When I decided to plant one of the persimmon saplings at the bottom slope of my driveway, I had forgotten that there is a runway of rainwater runoff after storms that travels down that way. We had a big storm recently. I was delighted to see that the natural path swerves around my little tree. I hope it does well in that location.

Trees in early autumn. Large tree has prominent knots on trunk.

The knots and just general character of this big tree caught my eye as I came home from work the other day.

Chancing Compassion

As of Tuesday, the minor work on the Hügelzaun/berm divider has already been undone in one section, the most important section to me. In one sense, it is likely part of a larger positive step. At the same time, there is some sadness in it, which I alluded to in my previous post.

In that post, I did not share one of the photos I had taken. It is this one and it shows the buildings on the property bordering the back edge of my lot. There are old rolls of carpet to the right, just out of the frame.

When I came home for lunch on Tuesday, I went to investigate a sudden amount of loud activity over there. The building with the blue tarp hanging from the roof was being demolished. I chatted with the two guys doing the work a bit. They thought the house was being flipped. They asked if I was okay with them driving their equipment on my property a little in order to get good position to clean the debris, even though it would probably tear up the soft ground. I told them it was fine. A day or so later I went to look. The ground was not too bad, but my first branches of the mound structure were gone. I had to laugh at the sweat I had poured into moving them into position just days prior! No matter.

But, this whole thing has made me reflect again about that house and my interactions. I am a bit sad. I keep asking myself if I should be carrying guilt.

There have been a couple of times in the past few years when I knew I should think carefully and choose my decisions carefully in otherwise somewhat ordinary scenarios. Overall, I had the luxury of time to think through those decisions. But, I sensed that these particular decisions would carry forward.

Regarding this adjoining property, there were many times in the last year when I could have called the police, when I considered at least officially documenting some things, when I could have chosen to be angry and take a hard stance. When I bought the house, there was a “No Trespassing” sign that specifically faced that house and was nailed high up on one of my trees. I should have realized that was a red flag. That sign mysteriously was on the ground several times before I just took it inside.

I never did call the police on my neighbor or his associates. I never did try to verbally (or in writing) stop the trespassing (though I was mentally designing trees/shrubs along that line but had not gotten to the Hügelzaun idea–as a screen and demarcation, knowing it would not be an absolute barrier). Most importantly, to me, I think, is that I was genuinely caring and open when I did interact with the guy who lived there. I listened to his story, even if I did not buy his wares.

He no longer lives there (though I think he is still alive, somewhere). Everything about the situation is tragic. When we witness tragedy, including slowly unfolding tragedy, we wonder if we could have done something to prevent it. I guess this is a mild form of moral injury.

But, every time my mind wanders there and analyzes it, the answer is honestly “no.” I could not save him from the path he was on, and it would have been condescending for me to assume so. I can feel sorrow for the pain without shouldering guilt that is not mine.

Which brings me back to those moments of clarity–clarity not of how to proceed in my interactions with him but clarity that, whatever my decisions, my actions were important.

I am grateful that something nudged me to pause, to evaluate, to proceed carefully, and err on the side of compassion, both this time and in a few other recent times.

I read a sentence on another blog today (Magdalene’s Mission):

He [a particular volunteer] makes it possible for suffering people to survive so they can figure a way out of the dark places.

Peace, Love, & Hygiene, Vol. 72

As least I did not add to the darkness. I hope he finds his way.

The Hügelzaun Experiment

I bought this wonderful little house just over a year ago. There is so much story behind that one sentence, but I’ll save that for another day, another post (or two).

I knew from the beginning that I wanted to do something marking the borders of the property for many reasons. Mainly, I wanted to traipse freely and do projects and sit quietly and observe in the small wooded section behind the house without worrying I was going into the yards of my neighbors.

But, also, I had concerns about the neighbor directly behind me (through the wooded area) when I first moved in. Legitimate safety concerns. I was constantly trying to balance trying to be more community-minded and open with using wisdom and paying attention to internal alarms. That house is now empty (not as a result of anything from me–I really was trying). I’ll leave it at that.

Back to the property lines: At first, I thought of a second chain link fence (I have a fenced-in portion for my dogs – but there is a creek, so it would have had to be a separate space. But, chain link was so unnatural in this more-natural area of the property and, because of the creek, I would have had to parcel up the land too much. Plus, I wasn’t even sure it was feasible among all the trees.

Then, I thought of planting a line of trees and bushes to make a screen and a hedge. But, I was afraid that those particular neighbors would trample the young bushes to intentionally destroy them or just out of carelessness as they regularly visited the creek and cut through to this side of the neighborhood. And, how do you dig holes for root balls in an established wooded area? Nonetheless, I was at the researching native plants stage (slooowly).

Then, I saw a infographic for Hügelkultur as I was quickly scrolling by on Facebook. That was it! The inspiration I was looking for. I had plenty of old tree branches lying around that I did not want to send to the landfill but was still figuring out their purpose here. It would be natural, blend in with the wooded area well, and demarcate the property lines that I had had surveyed a year ago. And, now was the perfect time as someone seems to be hauling trash away from the property behind me, probably in preparation to put it on the market.

So, while I waited for the power to come back on post Tropical Storm Ian today, I was hauling rain-soaked decaying branches around in near 100% humidity. I did think it was apropos that I washed a cute little twig out of my hair on the same day that I finished reading Rooted (by Lyanda Lynn Haupt).

I was also removing debris that was caught on the footbridge over the little creek and figured this was the perfect place to deposit it.

I will be honest. I have no idea what I am doing. I don’t want to delay starting this project until after I have researched and learned all the things. So, this will be a learning-in-process and adjusting as I learn — an experiment. I figure I will be slow enough that I hopefully can not do significant harm to the land and its habitats.

Very glad to have an excellent pair of boots while working around a creek after a tropical storm.

Surveying the world the morning after Tropical Storm Ian. Luckily, we were mostly only dealing with a lack of power.

Grandma’s Puppy Camp

I am dogs-cat-bunny-and-puppy sitting for my daughter.

I am happy to report that New Puppy flies in and out of their dog door with no problem. She also pees and poops outside happily and regularly. But, New Puppy does not seem particularly concerned about also peeing inside.

As a little background, I was not allowed to have pets growing up. Thus, the start of my adult life proceeded through the following rapid sequence: graduated from college in May, first career-type job started in July, rented my first post-college apartment, went to the animal shelter and adopted a puppy. I have basically had dogs ever since.

At first, I only adopted puppies. But, when my young daughter’s beloved Black Cat died, I was regularly checking the kitten status at the shelter. I had been told that “kitten season” was delayed because of the cooler weather. On one of these stop-bys, there were still no kittens, but I immediately fell in love with a 5-year-old Coton de Tulear dog. (We did eventually get a kitten too, the one who grew up to be White Cat.) Oh. My. Goodness! I had no idea how much easier life could be if you adopted an adult dog who was already housebroken!

After Little Dog passed on, there was a puppy adoption again. Then, my two current dogs were adopted as adults.

So, it is not surprising that my daughter’s first two dogs of her own have been adopted as adults. She is amazing with animals and, of course, she got to experience housebreaking the puppy we got while she lived at home.

But, life is kind of busy with a 1-year-old and 3-year-old and both parents working and life, and they have only had New Puppy for about two weeks now.

The best way I have found to housebreak a puppy is to use a crate when you are not home or cannot watch them like a hawk. If they are out of the crate, confine them to the room that has the doggy door and don’t take your eye off them. The second they start to sniff for a pee spot or squat, one sharp “no” and hustle them out the doggy door (with lots of praise and love when they finish outside).

New Puppy and I were doing pretty good with the peeing because she generally wanted to stay in the same room with me. But, after I fed her, I knew she was going to need to poop — and dogs are notorious for seeking a bit of privacy when pooping inside a home. Looking around, I realized I could slide the couch down to block one doorway and slide her crate down to block the other doorway.

So, here we sit. In this one room, all together. Of course, all three dogs seem to be happiest right around my feet and Gentle Giant sits and pants his hot breath right across my hands on the keyboard.

We only have about 30 hours left of Grandma’s Puppy Camp, but I figure whatever progress New Puppy can make in that amount of time is probably the best gift I can give to my daughter and her whole family right now. (Plus, I am kind of sick, so the sacrifice is not that big.)

Wish us luck!

UPDATE

New Puppy did great in the remaining 30 hours. No start-to-have-an-accident episodes at all. Hopefully, the little bit of additional learning she achieved will stick and transfer once regular life resumes and she again has freer roaming privileges.

Goals vs Flow?

Will someone please tell me how to get everything done I want to do every day? Prioritization and organization and schedules are not enough of an answer.

My coworker has a garden that is producing well — I’m sure due to her dedicated care. She gave me the eggplant, squash, zucchini, and cucumber. So, one of my plans for this weekend was to use at least one of them (in addition to the cucumber).

But, I had other plans this weekend, too. It came down to today.

So, let’s review today, shall we? My amazing grandchildren had a sleepover last night with me. When we got up, we had pancakes for breakfast and then bath time (ie, includes play time). I got them out and dressed just in time for their parents to pick them up just before I Zoomed in for a church service. That went until noon. Then, I napped — because, did I mention I had a sleepover with a 1-year-old and 3-year-old?

Then, I found two eggplant recipes and made my shopping list. One was the main recipe I wanted to try (Eggplant and Buckwheat Patties) but this Brown Rice with Eggplant and Cheese Custard recipe was the alternate in case I could not find the ingredients. Sure enough, not only did the store not sell any celery with leaves still attached (some weird kind of modern commentary surely is waiting to be made on this), but also no buckwheat groats. Another day then — I wasn’t going to go look at another store tonight.

I had wanted to make the patties because I like other things I have made with buckwheat. But the real reason was because the patties were to be cooked on the range versus this recipe that used the oven–twice. That is why I have not been sharing new adventures with vegetarian recipes lately — North Carolina summers are too hot to be using the oven, if you can avoid it.

By the time I put away the groceries, relaxed for a few minutes, and read over the recipe again, it was 9:00 pm. But, I really wanted to have this dish for leftovers this week. So, I started cooking at 9:00 pm. I wasn’t really feeling a musical accompaniment tonight, so I put on a podcast. And what always happens with podcasts for me? If they are worth listening to, there are often notes I want to take, which you can’t do while you are cooking . . . agghhh

This layer, on top of the eggplant and before the
custard topping, was just too pretty not to photograph.

Anyway, it is well after midnight, now. The cookbook calls this a “meatless version of Greek moussaka.” I am embarrassed to admit that I have never had moussaka before. I cooked the rice with 1 tsp of salt and added 0.5 tsp salt both to the tomato/onion mixture and to the custard (because this book never uses salt, I have found).

I can’t really tell if I like it. If I make it again, I will definitely add more salt to the mixture and the custard as well as salt the eggplant slices. Maybe more pepper, too. I always cut back on the pepper, but I probably should have used all the recipe called for. It is not bad, just underwhelming. The walnuts add a wonderful texture, though. I am hoping that, after the flavors meld, I will enjoy the leftovers more in the coming days. We’ll see.

Also, how lucky am I to have an amazing and generous coworker?

In the end, while I would not have changed a single thing about what I did or how I did them today — I did not do nearly all the things I wanted to do. I wrote most of this post while it baked. How is this acceptable in life? It is not one of my favorite parts, to be honest. I don’t like making choices of what not to do. I want to do it all.

Off to bed – I have to work . . . today.

Recipe was from Rodale’s Basic Natural Foods Cookbook, 1984. pg. 308

Next Project & Next Conundrum

A next project and a conundrum were already brewing. But, I have been reading When by Daniel H. Pink and I moved them both up in priority.

There are two issues:

  1. I want to supplement my swimming, but something with A/C due to the the unbearable heat-humidity combination during the summer afternoons and evenings here.
  2. I want to have the type of social interaction that is not scheduled – people I like but that I meet up in a completely unscheduled, unplanned, no commitment type of way. Especially now that I have dropped both volunteer positions.

I had a previous solution that addressed both problems: I had found a group exercise class I was very interested in that met multiple times during the day. Perfect. I could show up to whichever session I wanted. But the demands of my current schedule and responsibilities are not allowing it very well.

Now, I need to come up with separate solutions.

The Next Project

The project addresses supplementing my swimming.

I have great gym equipment that I love (major pieces came from Craigslist).

The equipment is in a perfect space in the basement. No A/C, but definitely cooler down there. The perfect space, except . . .

except, it is kind of dark down there, and I never finished unpacking.

The pile of stuff remains after the move because I have no easily identifiable places for the items. It is depressing to see it or even think about it (which is probably why I have not yet picked up the stuffing from obliterated dog toys that you see on the floor).

So that’s the project: Make the basement gym more inviting so that I will use it. That means dealing with The Pile, fixing the lighting, and fixing one of the doors down there.

The Remaining Conundrum

The conundrum is how to increase my social interaction options in a way that works for me.

I am an introvert. I like to think that I would be a happy healthy hermit. I do lots of studying and solo hobby activities that I truly love. Truthfully, though, I probably should supplement my work and family interactions with other social encounters for optimal balance and better breaks from my discretionary work (When).

Given the resulting limitations on my schedule from the previous disastrous month, I don’t know the answer to this one. Yet.

Harmonious Emotional Dissonance

Life has been really hard for the last two weeks. Just one thing after another. The events mostly centered on my daughter’s family, but I sorrow when they sorrow. And, I was/am feeling my own grief from my own position in relation to the events and their consequences.

Additionally, because I offered to be available to assist them, the events were radically changing my life too. I asked for (and obtained) a different schedule at work, starting tomorrow. This new schedule means I will lose my treasured swim-at-lunch time and, in fact, I will not have time to leave the building at all — which is terrifying for my overall wellbeing. I have a good job and work with good people. But I have an interior cubicle. No windows to the outside. It’s a fancy cubicle, but it is still a cubicle –no sound buffering at all. I (and most workers) do better with an actual break. And, not only was I losing my lunch swim time, I was losing all options of swim times at my current facility.

I stepped down early, effective immediately, from a current volunteer position. I was thinking that I really need to also take a leave of absence from another volunteer position. But first, I just took a week off so that I could make a well-thought-out decision.

I started to panic. I felt like I was going to disappear as an individual. No swim. No volunteer work. No lunch away from the office. More time dedicated to being mom, mother-in-law, and grandma. As much as I love those roles, actually those aspects of one single persona, I was terrified of losing absolutely every other part of my identity, interests, and even health. Of course, I did not tell them.

How could I not help? They are my life. I have the ability to help them.

But, as panic started in full force, I cast around for another swim location and another gym. I have been swimming at a place that is also a gym–the new places would be split. I was actually starting to feel fairly excited about the two new options. I did a test swim Friday morning and loved it. I had a call in to the new gym but had not been able to set up an appointment, yet . . .

and then yesterday happened

Yesterday, my daughter and son-in-law were in a significant wreck. The car is totaled. They are banged up and shook up.

Honestly, it was all too much for them (and close to too much for me) before the wreck yesterday.

It is too much.

I took the leave of absence from the other volunteer position. I sent the email last night.

It’s kind of weird, though. It really is too much. It just is. But also there are these factors for which I am grateful. And somehow, I can kind of balance them both without either one of the feelings diminishing the other. The pain and sorrow and frustration are not swept away or made okay or set on a shelf or “happen for a reason” or are seen from an “eternal perspective” or are lightened by the gratitude. They are all still very terrible. As they should be. It is an honest feeling of grief and frustration and of being overwhelmed.

On the other hand, the gratitude is pure and unsoiled by the events they pierce with their light. To mix metaphors, they are anchors or touch points of steadiness. In the photo, they are the rocks in the stream of sadness (except I do not normally think of streams or creeks as being sad, but, in this case, the water is a good fit for how we were already encompassed about by the sadness and difficulties that were filling every nook and cranny of our lives).

My gratitude:

  1. I was here. I was home, here in this area, 1.5 miles from the accident when my daughter called. If I had not changed jobs, I would have been 1 hour and 45 minutes away as she sobbed, unable to reach her quickly.
  2. My grandchildren were not in the car. Often, my grandchildren spend the night with me on Saturday night. I run an accumulating sleep deficit throughout the workweek and I really need it to be Saturday night and not Friday night. But, my daughter called me Friday night and asked. My first inclination was leaning towards trying to persuade her to the usual Saturday night. But, they had lost power due to a thunderstorm (so no A/C here in the Southern part of the United States during the summer) and had no anticipated time of power restoration and they had fun plans for Saturday evening. I suddenly switched gears and agreed. Because of that, their 1-year-old and 3-year-old were not in the car with them during the accident. In fact, my daughter and son-in-law had just picked up breakfast and were on their way to my house to share a meal before taking their kids back home with them. Even though they did not have to go to the hospital, they are bruised and sore. The children would have had soft tissue injuries too and they would have been terrified by everything, including the fact that all of the air bags deployed. There was also no warning they were about to crash.
  3. I had car seats. For months, I have either not driven at all while my grandchildren were with me or I have switched vehicles with my daughter. About three weeks ago, I suddenly decided it was time I bought a set of car seats just to give me more flexibility. I decided this one night after they had spent the night and it was a rare absolutely beautiful summer evening outside. I would have taken them to a playground but I had no car seats at the time. So, I made the investment (they are expensive!). Because I had car seats, I could go to my daughter when she called. Also, later in the day, I could leave car seats with them.
  4. I had Imitrex. I get debilitating migraines. I had run out of Imitrex and the annual prescription was long expired. I had moved, changed insurance, and changed healthcare providers with the change of job. I hate going to the doctor more than almost anything in the world and will delay until my back is against the wall. I had been out of my prescription for months because of this. I only finally made an appointment because I missed a day of work and would have missed another day if it had not been a holiday. I woke up with a migraine yesterday morning. But, I had the Imitrex on hand and that was critically important so that I could keep my grandchildren here longer and let their parents go home and rest a little after the accident.
  5. Imitrex exists, it currently usually works for me, and I have decent insurance. I do not take any of this for granted. [Political rant: Functionally true access to healthcare for everyone benefits all of society.]

Harmonious Emotional Dissonance. The grief and the gratitude are separate entities. They do not blend well with each other despite being part of the same composition. Dissonant. Mixing metaphors again, they are a mixture, not a solution. Their discrete simultaneous existence feels natural and appropriate. Harmonious.