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Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away...the Hump Day Hmm

When I posed the Hump Day Hmm questions, I wanted to make the first ones an either/or for myself. My brain went around and around, and I wrote countless discarded drafts about what I'd lose had I missed the last twenty years versus what I'd lose in the next twenty years.

If I forced myself to address the paradox (paradoxes, really) or admit that each is equally potentially tragic---which I think it is---I'm still left without an answer. So I pushed on.

It finally struck me last night that the twenty years ahead of me aren't mine yet. I have no guarantees of them, what they might hold or even whether I get them. It's like the lottery: you play hoping to win but accept that you might not. I realize we more have a reasonable expectation of having the time, but again, we don't know what it holds.

So if I had to choose, I'd say it's harder to give up what I have had, already know and have experienced, the twenty years behind me. And albeit reluctantly and with grief, I can more easily imagine losing the next twenty years.

I'm sure almost forty would seem as old to my still teen self as almost sixty seems to me now. Both cases lose youth.

I dread the thought of missing my daughters' growing up without me, more for their sake than my own, but yes, selfishly, for me too.

And all the rest.

But the truth is, I haven't got that time; despite reasonable expectation, it isn't mine yet.

So were I to lose it, and then wake from a coma, how would I go about reconciling myself?

I don't have to project a future me, since this me would be the awakening person. I'd be pissed off, bitter. I'd have a twinge every time anyone told me a story about my kids---and the twinge would range from grief to fury in some varying degree. I'd feel horribly guilty for the burden I must have been to my family. I'd be disoriented, a late 30s mind in a late 50s body. Nothing and nobody would be as I left.

And where would they be, who would they be for me and who would I be for them?

I know the unusual thing about that Polish man is that everyone, by which I mean his wife, patiently waited for him to wake up. His wife was still his wife, he was still her husband...and probably still the husband she recalled. That's a pretty good cushion for landing in a case like this. I understand the adjustment, but the frame is still there.

Could I expect to have a spouse waiting?

It seems unreasonable, unfair, unlikely. I don't know how many years a person could wait. It seems like that woman must be unusual.

Persistence would have no memory of me, and Patience's memories would be thin, reedy, more likely wishes than fact. They would know I was mother but would not feel like I was mom.

I'd have to earn back any roles left to me.

I'd have to work hard for peace and forgiveness. I think, were it just a bad luck of the draw, it would be easier to get over than if it had been some negligence or similar. But I know enough to know that forgiveness is an ongoing, evolving thing in cases like this, for me anyway, and that I'd spend the rest of my life forgiving and accepting one aspect or another.

I can only hope that the forgiving and accepting stayed ahead of the grief, anger and bitterness, but I'm honest and experienced enough to know that some days that wouldn't be true.

Not many of you tackled this roundtable (so far) but there is still time. I don't blame you, eschewing it. It's a tough one. Unpleasant, frustrating and at times painful, to tell the truth. Still, for me, the exercise was good. I remembered the value in what I have, and accepted the future is outside my control. I remembered to thrive in today.

So here are the few, the brave, the should-be-proud because they tackled this head-on eloquently:

Chani with Forgiving Serendipity

Gwen with A Touch of the Hamlet

Sober Briquette with At This Moment

Christine wrote Hump Day Hmmm

Mary-LUE wrote Hindsight is 23/43

Let me know if you need to be added to this list (and you? oh yeah you need to be. ;) )

Next week (next Wednesday):

Accident of birth

Yes, that's it. Accident of birth. Tackle this from any angle you like: disabilities, geographic or socioeconomic, resources and privileges (or lack thereof), etc. Make it personal (your own story, someone you know, etc.) or general (a world event, current event, situation). Talk about the justice, injustice, and forgiveness (or lack thereof) in dealing with some sort of ongoing inequality due to an accident of birth. Go big or small.

If you need more guidance, feel free to comment or email me to discuss. :)

And thanks to Chani for the idea.

copyright 2007 Julie Pippert


Christine said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said…
I'm still planning on participating and have had the topic rumbling around in my brain since last week. I just have to get to writing now. It is early and for the last few days I've been waking up around 4 and getting back to sleep around 5:30. I think it is a lovely new premenstrual symptom. Well, maybe it is more of a peri-menopausal thing! Blech! Anyway, after I get back to sleep and wake up again, I should have time to write!

I like what you wrote here, the consideration between losing the last 20 years or the next. I've definitely been thinking about losing the last twenty years, a young 20something waking up in a 40something body. I don't think I'm in a frame of mind to consider what it would be like for my children to lose me to those circumstances. . .
Gwen said…
Don't freak me out with that "the next 20 years isn't guaranteed shit" okay? I'm getting on a plane tomorrow ..... :)

I was thinking yesterday about what my children will have of me once I'm gone (because Lucy persists in crying about my imminent death at bedtime; lovely!), and I realized that one thing I can give them is memory. But memory, to be long standing, seems to need some grand events. I mean, I remember my grandmother's aprons and the way she sat on her porch reading the newspaper, but that's about it. I want my children to have more of me than that. The thing is, I don't know that I'm good at the grand event. I'm the parent who's there for the little things. My hub is the playful, shake the cicada tree and show the cicadas mating, throw kids around the pool parent. I'm the boring put the wart medicine on daily, clean the ears, cut the nails parent. And what's to remember of that?

Oh, wait, was that a tangent? :)
Aliki2006 said…
I'm looking forward to reading these...
S said…
I'm not sure, but I don't think I'd have the anger you have written about here...

But I may just be in denial.
Christine said…
This was great, julie.

I, too, really thought a lot about my spouse and what it would be like upon my waking 20 years later. What kind of pain and suffering would he have gone through? Would he have found a new love? A friend published a short story about a man and his wife who was in a vegetative state. It was all about the trauma, the struggles, and the ability to let go.

Tough one.
kaliroz said…
Lovely writing as always.

I didn't take on this Hmmm simply because I couldn't. I thought about it, turned it over and I just couldn't come up with anything.

I'm not very good at the theoretical. (I'm sure I spelled that wrong.) And I've always lived with the knowledge that tomorrow isn't promised -- so I suppose, I don't know, it just didn't really hit me. Not enough that I could write anything coherent about it. (One could argue I write nothing coherent, anyway.)

The stuff about your girls, though, really got me. (Not so much the spouse. I've told him if something like the whole Schiavo thing happens to me he should move on with his life. I don't know if he would ... but in my mind he's settled.) That's really my biggest fear, that time will be taken from my daughter should something happen to me. That she won't have a mother. A mommy. Just a whisper of one.

I'll definitely take part next week. I've already got stuff churning.

Thanks for keeping these going. Off to read the rest.
thailandchani said…
I agree with some of what Kaliroz (who did not misspell theoretical, btw :)

Given my history, I don't think I ever felt really "attached" to life itself in the same sense as most. There was always a detachment that led me to be somewhat removed from the things that happened around me.

I don't say that in the Buddhist sense. In the past, it was not that way at all. It was numbness. It wasn't healthy.

In that way, it's nearly impossible for me to say what it would have been like to lose 20 years of the past.

Honestly, from this perspective I doubt I would have cared all that much so forgiveness would have been very easy.

And that's the link. Attachment must be present for lack of forgiveness. The two are inextricably linked.


K said…
Beautiful, Julie. Sad and wonderful.

If I had gone into a coma 20 yrs ago, I would not have gone on my first date with Roy and my three children would not exist. The thought of waking to nothing is unbearable.

Fast forward 20 years and my boys would be men, my daughter a women. I know that these grown children of mine our good people because they were raised by a loving, good man.
Mimi Lenox said…
Hi,Julie. I just saw your comment at BlogBlast for Peace. Thanks for telling me about the visual problems my site. I will try to fix them as soon as I can.

Playing catch up with answering emails and helping people with globes. If you would still like a peace globe, I will surely help you make one. Give me a couple of days to get back with you. (I'm peacefully swamped)

I love your site! Will be back to read more.

Mimi Lenox
Julie Pippert said…
M-L, I look forward to what you write, when you write it. :) Insomnia (on a cyclical basis) might be indicative of estrogen and FSH (I believe) imbalances. Usually you see an escalation of PMS symptoms. Sorry hon, this is the downside of it. You and I are both on the right side of grownup for this sort of fluctuation. It is usually irregular at this point, so maybe next time will be better. BUT! I'm no MD and should never ever play one on the Internet. If anything gets too bad err on the side of a quick checkin. I went too long and now am...well, anyway. Just take good care of yourself sweetie.


Gwen, hon, you are safe. Remember that saying about the good and young. ;) JUST KIDDING! Have a safe flight.

I find that people will go out of their way to recall parents to children, especially younger ones, whereas grandparents, well, not as much. It's a moot point in your case of course, but hypothetically, your husband, friends and family would make sure they had there's the blog.


Aliki, hope you enjoyed.


SM, dude, you are way too zen for me. I would feel some anger. But we are not the same person and I have a quick temper anyway. I'd trust what you say about yourself.


Christine, yeah you made that point really well, really poignantly. Very tough. I mean like I said, I'd want everyone to live a good life, not be dragged down by a lodestone, and yet, don't leave me, wait for me!


No worries.


Roz, no worries. I knew this one was not the right topic for everyone---I mean none of them can be. That's probably smart you two discussed it. You're supposed to.

And I know, the kids. I'd hate like crazycakes to be their Major Childhood Trauma (or the first anyway).


Chani okay detached as in numb, really good point. You are so right, we only feel things so deeply when we care that much.


K, thanks, and you know, I feel badly I left that out. It's true, I focused so much on the lack of me that I ommitted to really consider what they would have: a great loving dad.


Mimi, cool and thanks!
Unknown said…
Well, I just made it. 53 minutes left of Wednesday here in California!

Here is my link: Hindsight is 23/43
Unknown said…
Julie, BTW, I am sure you are right about the hormone thing. It was actually worse for a year or so, but I attribute that to the sleep apnea being undiagnosed AND extra stress. I am grateful that the insomnia is a rare visitor these days.

The last time I had my hormone levels checked they were okay, but it is time for my next physical and I will ask the doctor to check them out for me... AGAIN! Also, I should really get back on my progesterone cream. I'm too lazy and then I suffer for it!
Anonymous said…
I just found this blog. Are there weekly assignments? How interesting!
My entire blog is about the accident of my birth...
Julie Pippert said…
Emily, Yes, we have weekly topics, posted on Wednesdays. You get a week to ponder and write. :)

I'd love for you to join in, if you like. If you have a post---doesn't matter form when---that you'd lke me to link to to address this topic of Accident of Birth, just email it to me and I'll add you.
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