Friday, July 31, 2015

Blue Moon

Tonight is the Blue Moon: the second full moon of the month.  This is a rare occurrence.  It happens about once every 3 years or so.  I'm not going to go on about the history of this term -- that's easy enough to look up if you're interested.  Instead, I'm going to talk about what the Blue Moon means to me.

Why, beyond the obvious mathematical reason, would there be two full moons in one month?  Is it because the moon didn't feel she got it quite right the first time and needed a second chance?

The last blue moon was in August 2012, almost 3 years ago.  I remember it well, because we were stilll in the old house, trying to sell it.  It was a stressful time for us.  So, I took the opportunity to be silly with my kids and we had ourselves a Blue Moon party with blue glow sticks and fancy cupcakes on our deck at moonrise. It was fun.

Around that time I was corresponding more and more with Norman. Quite possibly my feelings were beginning to change as well.  Perhaps this blue moon was signalling that it was time for a second chance for me as well.  And that weekend the kids and I went to mine Herkimer diamonds and to visit Howe Caverns.  During our tour of the caverns, Ilse wanted me to stand on the illuminated pink calcite heart in the "Wedding Chapel." Standing on it meant that I would find true love within the year. And I did.

And now, today, what does THIS blue moon mean for me?  This blue moon finds me blue, like in the song, having lost my love. Why can't I have a second chance, like the moon, to shine brightly?

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Little Lion Man Returns

This week there was a celebration at the Villa of Hope's LIFE House.  Max successfully completed the LIFE program, a substance abuse recovery program.  Now, I am not naive enough to believe that we are all done and set for life:  I  know that there are many challenges ahead for Max (and for me).  But nonetheless, it is a real victory for him.  He succeeded by allowing his true self to shine through.  I am very, very proud of him.  And I could see tears gathering in the corners of the staff's eyes: they are going to miss him.

As for me, I found myself surprised when we got home.  I retreated into my room and cried and cried. Such a wave of emotions: Joy, Hope, Fear, and . . .the Sadness of missing someone who was instrumental in this journey.

But most of all, it's Hope.  Every day is a fresh start.  When we can talk to each other openly and without fear, then we can work things out together

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Little Lion Man, Late Summer 2014

Weep for yourself, my man,
You'll never be what is in your heart
Weep little lion man,
You're not as brave as you were at the start
Rate yourself and rake yourself,
Take all the courage you have left
Wasted on fixing all the problems that you made in your own head

But it was not your fault but mine
And it was your heart on the line
I really fucked it up this time
Didn't I, my dear?
Didn't I, my dear?

                       Mumford & Sons - Little Lion Man Lyrics 

When I first heard this song in 2011 I was in the midst of a very ugly divorce.  It made me weep for my not-so-little man, who had just turned 12.  It made me think of all the possibilities that were closing to him because of the divorce: how much more difficult after school activities were going to be to manage, how music lessons were going to be an even greater challenge, logistically.  Little did I know that I would be shedding far more tears for him a few years down the line, and that he would be in much greater peril.

Max started using marijuana, I think, in the spring of 2013, shortly after we moved into our new down-scaled house.  We struggled with that.  But other things began to happen that I tried to dismiss: cash occasionally seemed to go missing, as did some of my prescription medication.  A subtle shift of attitude crept over Max.  He was less interested in things he previously was passionate about.  Grades, not so great before, took a nosedive, as did school attendance.  He spent more and more time in his room, less time with his family.  Soon he had new friends: friends I knew nothing about.

This summer things came to a head.  His behavior turned belligerent and violent.  I discovered that he was using much more than just marijuana.  We got him into an outpatient drug treatment program.  Not only did that not work (he refused to engage in it) but it actually made him more hostile.

Where I am Now, or, The China Problem

It  is summer solstice today, and Ilse is done with 6th grade. It is nearly 8 weeks since my hip replacement and in 2 weeks I will be allowed to fly without danger of forming blood clots. Too bad I'm not welcome to fly to China.
These next few weeks would have been filled with anticipation and activity preparing for a long journey to Yangzhou, China, to visit someone who was very, very dear to us: my almost-husband, Ilse's almost- step-father (indeed, she referred to him as her step father almost from the start). We were family, no question about it.

Norman chose to end our relationship.  As I see it now, this really came in stages: first, last summer when he decided that what we had was less important than accepting a teaching job in China.  Although I understand his reasons for it, (he was having trouble finding suitable employment here and we were in financial trouble) it should have given me pause that he didn't have the serious discussion with me that this kind of decision merited, given our status together.  And then he announced that he was EMIGRATING TO CHINA AND DID NOT INTEND TO COME BACK. Some of his actions supported this -- he immediately stopped all of his local job searches -- and some did not -- he packed quite minimally for someone who said he was emigrating.  He said he wanted me to move to China with him, and he still wanted to get married.

He left in October. In April, I finally had the hip replacement that freed me from the chronic, debilitating pain that I had suffered for years, and was looking forward to flying to China with Ilse to spend time with Norman. But a few days after my hip surgery, I received an email from Norman stating that he "wasn't feeling it anymore," and it was over.  I tried to get him to talk about it.  It didn't make sense to me: for Valentine's day he had sent me 2 dozen long stem roses, saying that the miles could not change his love for me. But all I could get out of him was: that was how I felt then, and this is how I feel now.

If you weep about someone on the other side of the earth, can they feel it? Can they know that you think of them hundreds of times a day? I wish he could experience my pain -- our pain. Maybe then he would understand that my love for him wasn't something I just wandered into, something to fill the gap between Now and the Next Thing, not just something that was "great while it lasts": I loved him with a fierce forever love, a love that can endure separation, a love which does not take kindly to being broken.

I daily traverse the landscape of our love: East Rochester, where he worked for a time, where he took Ilse and Abby to the carnival; Wegmans; Trader Joe's, where the manager gave us flowers because he thought we were so cute; Tom Wahl's, where he took Ilse for the best root beer floats; the Erie Canal.   And then there is also the landscape of our shared youth in Albany county. . . Everything in my day is full of traces of him that I can't avoid.

Letter to my fifteen year old son

Fall 2014

Oh, my dear Max . . . I am so, so sorry.  I know you are angry that I filed a PINS* petition against you.  You are likely also hurt:  how could your own mother say these awful things about you in a publc forum?  I don't want to say these things about you; you forced my hand.  Not only did all the measures we tried to intervene not work, but with every step you became more determined to not cooperate. Your behavior is not only out of line, it's off the charts.  There is something desperately wrong.  You have so much anger, so much vehemence, but you refuse to look inward and examine what it's all about.  It's scary.  It's messy.  It doesn't follow the rules of logic and so you don't want to deal with it.  In that way you are very much your father's son.

This petition feels like a failure to me: I have failed in some aspect of parenting for your teenagehood to turn out this way.  I know that you hate hearing about your "potential,"  but you are a brilliant, creative, vibrant person.  I have tried everything I could to avoid taking this in front of a judge.  But all the trying and caring in the world have not been enough. I am incredibly sad.  I am heartbroken.  I hope that one day you will back on this and agree that it was the best thing I could do for you at this point.

Your loving mother

*PINS = Person in Need of Supervision.  A young person (up to age 18) who is deemed to be "ungovernable."