Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Glasses I can't quite see through...

About a month ago I broke my glasses. I thought it wouldn't be too bad because I had a spare pair. Then I remembered that, to save a few bucks two years ago, I had new lenses added to existing frames, so the spare was four years old. Clearly (pardon the pun) not the correct prescription, and definitely not glare protected. Also, the progressive lens is not uniform, so I have to tilt my head to the side to see even close to clearly with both eyes at once, which leaves me with a constant head and neck ache. I still read, but it's harder, and often one-eyed. Insurance won't cover a new pair until January so I'm making do. And if my makeup looks a bit wonky, well...please just understand. Most things are a little blurry all the time.

I know this doesn't seem related, but hold on. I'll tie it all together in the end. I promise! On October 12, 2013, my husband, Lloyd, fell and completely ruptured his right Achilles tendon. In two places. The last month has been a whirlwind of doctors and surgery and driving. So much driving. For example, three trips to Provo in one week (on the heels of the trip back from Logan where the injury happened) in order to complete surgery, then to Sanpete County 8 days later to removes stitches and cast his leg. Four days later we flew out of Salt Lake to Virginia for a week with touring and family activities every day. And now the three trips to Oak City and back per day to accommodate both my, and his, jobs. While doing all that's necessary for Lloyd, duties which remind me of taking care of a large, frustrated toddler, (he can't walk, drive, dress, navigate stairs or shower himself etc. etc.) I live my regularly scheduled hectic life. Now my vision is blurry for different reasons...fatigue, too many headlights coming at me while night driving, and stress. Don't forget stress.

It's especially entertaining when Lloyd and I try to watch a movie or a football game. He can't hear and I can't see. It's a constant game of “Is that the Chiefs or the Utes?” (I'm going by color here folks) To which he says, “Utes. Did he just say the fence is molding?” I respond, “Why would a ref say that? He said offensive holding. Hey, did you change the channel?” Lloyd shakes his head and laughs. “No it's a commercial."

It's a sad, sad thing. And still blurry.

Another thing that's blurry at our house is boundaries. We have rules, people! And what with some of us injured, some canine, some overloaded with chores, and some battling recovery, the clear lines we'd been operating by have become harder to see, and harder to enforce. Everyone is tense and easily frustrated. And things aren't getting done, which isn't the end of the world, but, for someone like me? Impossible to deal with.

As I'm thinking about blurriness this morning, (and how can I not with these glasses?) I watch an old LDS Conference talk that just sharpens all the lines a bit. He's talking about “light and dark”, but I'm hearing “clear and blurred”...and hope.

“I have a cherished painting in my office that is titled Entrance to Enlightenment. It was created by...the Danish artist Johan Benthin, who was the first stake president in Copenhagen, Denmark.

“The painting shows a dark room with an open door from which light is shining. It is interesting to me that the light coming through the door does not illuminate the entire room—only the space immediately in front of the door.

“To me, the darkness and light in this painting are a metaphor for life. It is part of our condition as mortal beings to sometimes feel as though we are surrounded by darkness. We might have lost a loved one; a child might have strayed; we might have received a troubling medical diagnosis; we might have employment challenges and be burdened by doubts or fears; or we might feel alone or unloved.

“But even though we may feel lost in the midst of our current circumstances, God promises the hope of His light—He promises to illuminate the way before us and show us the way out of darkness.”
-President Uchtdorf's talk: The Hope of God's Light, April 2013, Ensign

With that thought, I leave the house for work in the early morning pre-dawn. First it's not quite light enough to see, and then I find myself driving through fog. With blurry glasses.

But I can see light on the other side.

So even though my vision will be inadequately corrected until January, and blurred boundaries are too slowly reinforced-- Even though I've left lush, vibrant Autumn in Virginia for my dusty sage brush desert-- I drive through the fog this morning, watching the gorgeous sunrise in my rearview mirror.

My life has often been like glasses I can't see quite see through, but the glimpses of clarity I get every so often are breathtaking!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Shhhh. I'm hiding...

Shhhh. It’s a secret. I am spending an hour, an entire hour, alone. I’m alone in the blessed quiet of locked doors where no other voices spit or sputter or shout. No phones are ringing. No one needs a ride anywhere. Just me and my book. And the quiet.

Please don’t tell on me. I feel guilty as it is. It’s past six o’clock and I could have left for home an hour ago. I’m slowly savoring praline carmel ice cream so sweet it hurts my teeth. The light is soft and not a soul is here.

Okay, I’m eating a praline McFlurry in the lobby of my office.

But with my eyes closed it almost feels like a screened porch somewhere in glorious southern autumn near a large pond and rolling hills. Almost.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my home. And my family. It’s just that there’s been injury and surgery, caregiving and so much driving. There's been travel and packing and unpacking, un-medicated people who need their meds, bills bills bills, and dogs. So many dogs.

Okay, two dogs, but one won’t potty train and the other is shredding garbage can contents as we speak.

I know it sounds crazy, but if you were here…inside my head, you’d totally get it!

I’m going home in a few more minutes. I swear I am. Just gonna finish
my ice cream and read a chapter in my novel and then I’ll *sigh* head out.

Losing Suzy...


I lost a good friend recently. It's heartbreaking, in so many exquisitely beautiful ways, that she's not here on this mortal soil with me (even though I know her laughter fills the holy halls of Heaven).

She was a beautiful woman who loved to dress as the spunky young girl that lived inside her heart. It wasn't unusual to see all 6'-plus feet of her Amazonian self wearing cabbage patch kid overalls and curly black pigtails with bows. She had the best cupid bow smile and a laugh that could crack the code of even the snarliest old goats. I know, because one of them was my husband.

During the time we knew her best, she was part of a group of friends supporting each other through some extreme life difficulties. It was an unusual addiction recovery group where we not only knew each others last names, but we met often socially and became close friends. I have seen her at her drunk-on-mouthwash worst and her shiny Sunday tentative testimony bearing best. I love the whole spectrum of her.

We met weekly for a couple of years and cried with both spiritual inspiration and hearts cracking into pieces for the struggling among us. My own husband, who has left his substance addictions behind, but who at that time struggled with depression and rage, was deeply changed by this group. It was better than the costliest therapy. One time Lloyd had broken his glasses and was raging about how impossible it was going to be to solve. He was at Walmart, looking for medical tape to secure them, and couldn't find it. Instead he found me in the checkout line and loudly vented his frustration to me and the dozen other people in close proximity. In an effort to quiet him, I suggested he walk over to the Vision Center and see if they could fix his glasses. He hollered about how “those morons won't be able to do anything!” and then went over to ask. Ten minutes later they handed the glasses to him fixed. At no charge. He had nothing to say about that.

Later, he shared that story in group, and Suzy reached up waving both hands frantically, calling out “Wait! Wait!....You couldn't find medical tape in Walmart and THEY'RE the morons?” We all burst out laughing and the story was often retold. In that moment, thanks to her, he saw himself in a new way. It sapped the anger from his veins, calmed and healed him, the way that group did over and over again.

She told stories about throwing her cigarettes out the window, vowing to quit, and then driving back to that exact spot to retrieve them later when the craving got too strong. She humbly shared her most shameful secrets in an attempt to overcome them. It inspired me. And the rest of the group too. Her honesty, her openness, her wounded warrior self that fought courageously on this shared battleground.

I watched her slowly gain sobriety with panache and grace. When she moved, I saw her less and less, But I got to watch her marry her best friend (another member of our group) in a gymnasium decorated for the Utah Jazz where they both wore jerseys and we sat on bleachers. Yup, she was that kind of girl.

We have lost several members of that group. Some have died, more have driven deeper into addiction, and a few are in and out of jail and rehab. Many struggle. Few have stayed sober. Suzy got her act together at a rehab we helped set up for her. She worked there later with great success, married and had a son. She was happy, thriving and using her life to pay it forward. I was lucky she was my friend.

I don't know how she died. Not sure I want to know. But I know I love her, and the world is not the same without her. Look out, Heaven! I hope you know what you're getting! (And just thinking about her spunky angel self makes me laugh...)

Part of me wishes I could be there to see it!