Riding in the Dinghy Behind the Boat

DSCN0712Have you ever felt like you’ve missed the boat? Like you have a feeling that you should be paying attention, something is happening or about to happen – something important, something life-altering and you just can’t quite figure out what it is. And if you’re lucky somewhere down the road you figure out what it is.

Yeah, that’s me right now. I think it’s probably the time of year. Something about ending one year and beginning another leads to introspection and reflection.

But, also, December marks the anniversary of my Grandmother’s death. 26 years ago my Grandmother went to bed one night and just never woke up. She had an undiagnosed brain aneurysm. She was 66 years old.

I guess that’s part of why I’m starting to wonder if there’s something I’ve missed. 66 is way to young to die, especially of something that could have been caught, even back then. There were warning signs and if she had gone to the hospital for testing when the doctor suggested it they would have more than likely caught the aneurysm in time.

You may be wondering why she didn’t go to the hospital for the testing. We wondered too. I’m not sure how we figured it out, but what it came down to was that she didn’t want anyone else to have to take care of my Grandfather. None of us knew how hard it had become to take care of him.

My Grandfather had suffered a stroke 15 years prior and was deteriorating steadily. He couldn’t see, was having trouble walking, and was developing dementia. By the time my Grandmother passed he couldn’t make it to the bathroom in time most of the time and had no idea who anyone was.

None of us knew how bad it really was until we moved in after my Grandmother’s death. I was 15. In a matter of weeks my whole life was uprooted and I lost just about everything. Sure it could have been worse.

Sure there are thousands of people out there who have had it worse. I can appreciate that. I understand. If you get nothing else from this and the rest of my posts please know that I understand how some events can change the course of your life over which you have no control. How painful they can be.

I would like to say that I was the world’s youngest practicing stoic back then but, as you know, I don’t like to lie. I was angry and afraid and abusive. I blamed everyone and everything and God. I gave no thought to the pain and anger my parents must have felt.

Or the pain my Grandfather felt on his good days because he lost his soul mate. I say good days because most days he thought my mother was my Grandmother and he had to be reminded she was gone. Then he would cry.

It is only now, looking back at that as an adult that I realize how truly heartbreaking that was. Perhaps I had to find someone to share my life with first before I could understand. Perhaps that’s why I’m questioning whether or not I’ve missed something.

If this experience has taught me anything is that life is short and it can be over in the blink of an eye. It has taught me that I’m not the only who can be hurt by circumstance. That blaming others going through the same experience is perhaps the worst thing anyone can do.

So maybe I didn’t completely miss the boat. I may be riding in the dinghy behind the boat most of the time, but I do catch up sooner or later. And that’s the beauty of this crazy thing we call life. As long as we’re willing to take a look at our life and learn from what hurts us most we can and will figure out what we’ve missed.


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