Sunday, September 15, 2013

Missing Sharon and a Lesson on Grief

Lately, I have been missing my dear "sister" Sharon. She's been gone for 7 -1/2 years now, but in the last weeks, the longing for her has returned with an acuteness I'd not felt in some time. The "longing" is an actual feeling in my chest, a heaviness; it's tears just behind my eyes; it's a tendency to pout.

It seems everything reminds me of her. Someone gave me a book called The Good, Good Pig. I cannot even look at the cover without smiling and thinking of her. She'd have loved the cover and the book and it reminds me that we sure shared some laughs and some good reading!

I play my iPod on "shuffle" and all the "Sharon" songs seem to come on. Yesterday, I made a genius list of one of my silly songs -- "Don't Fence Me In" and there were a couple of those songs in the mix. The one that had the tears flowing was "Life A'int Always Beautiful" by Gary Allen. It is a truly lovely song and it's one that came across Pandora in the weeks I sat in the hospital with Sharon. It has ties to that time. Still, I wondered at this sudden renewal of a sense of loss. Something about it just didn't ring true.

The song that really busted me up, though, was "My Sweet Lorraine." Oh, my goodness, this song (and it's story) just has me crying every time. And yet . . . there is also something in the song that has caught my attention. It was this line: "I wish we could do the good times all over again." Isn't that how it is with grief? We blissfully remember mostly the sweet times and we somehow believe or think that if we had a second chance, it would be all those good times.

Finally, I had a speck of insight into my grief! I do miss those good times with Sharon; the twice daily phone calls, the way we told each other the whole truth, her honesty, her sweet smile. And though I'd have given anything to extend her life even a day, I learned so much from her death. This is true not only for  me, but many others as well. We have all evolved, so to speak, in a way that might have been much different were she still living.

I can see that it may not be mainly Sharon that I miss, but "the way we were." I sent my last "Little" off to school this year; there is grief there. My bestie is on a year long sabbatical traveling the country with her family. I'm so happy for her yet I do miss her so. My oldest "big," Alli, is in her senior year --our relationship is a close one but bound to change in the coming months as she traverses her first foray with true independence; it is a beautiful and heart-breaking time. I have gone back to "outside the home" work for the first time since Alli was born. There are a few unresolved guilty thoughts lurking there.

Life is changing, as it always does. Wishing Sharon back from the dead will not shield me from this truth. My part is (as always) to stop resisting and ebrace what is, to live my "yes" to the gift of this moment. 

In fact, when Sharon was dying, I was able to be present in the moment. I was able to say , "This is the truth of her life. I will be with her in her truth." That is how I want to be in the truth of my life this moment. I want to truly enjoy my friend's travels, to savor Alli's senior year without holding on too tight, to enjoy Bennie's first steps away from me, and so forth.

I do miss my sweet sister, and I am equally grateful for all I have learned, both from her living and her dying. Sweet Sunday, everyone!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

You May Not be as Good at Multitasking as You Think!

I used to think I was a good multi-tasker and, honestly, it still says so on my resume. I know it's a sham though. Recently I heard a couple of UT professors (Two Guys on Your Head) speaking about multi-tasking and was reminded that I can't actually do it. To put it bluntly, they said something to the effect of: Humans don't multitask. We only have processor. We can do exactly one thing at a time.

Younger folks are apparently better at looking like they're multi-tasking because they can switch between tasks with less effort and more easily remember where they were on the last task. My teens, for example, texting a friend while working on homework, can remember both where they are on the homework and where they are in multiple conversations. Is it the most efficient way to study? No, but it can be done. Nonetheless, it is still not multi-tasking in it's true meaning; it's actually doing one thing at a time in rapid succession. (There is an exception: behavior that has become automatic - toileting, etc.)  At my age (over 50), I'd have to be re-reading the texts to remember where I was and marking the homework in some way so as not to lose my place. 

This was all too obvious yesterday when I was working in the drive through at the bank by myself for a period. We had 5 lanes open so I had to keep speaking to customers as I worked on other's transactions, remember what each person needed and keep all the tubes in arrival order. I did this better than I thought I could but it was very challenging. I kept hearing myself say, "Where was I?"

So did I just write all this to ruin your day? Not at all. I am actually proposing (for myself and you) an alternative. Maybe it is not necessary to keep so many balls in the air at once.  Our rapidly growing technology may have lured us into thinking we have to stay in touch with all our "friends," take phone calls any hour of the day and night, respond to every text and stay caught up on email and Facebook, but it's not actually true. There is something to be said for driving my car without talking on the phone. There is something to be gained from sleeping, uninterrupted by text. There is preciousness in giving my family my undivided attention.

You get the idea. Some attempts at multi-tasking are crucial. No matter what you are doing, you can't take your eye off that toddler, right? However, a lot of it is not only unproductive and unnecessary, it's stealing quality from my life. When I get home from work today, I'm going to turn off my phone, leave my computer stowed, turn on some music and just enjoy Saturday with my peeps. How about you?