A day, a week, a month, a year

I sit on my deck, drinking my coffee, protein shake already downed. What to tackle first today?

The text comes through from my sister: “I know. Love u all too.” I smile and tear up a bit. She does. She really does love us, faults and all.

She is in the hospital, admitted last night after a trip to the emergency room. They’re still running tests. It is feeling to me like this won’t be catastrophic. And after years growing up in a big family—where ER visits can run higher than your average family due to sheer volume of people—I’m hoping my internal radar is right.

Her response is to my text earlier this morning: “Good morning. I’m keeping tabs on you through Anne and Amy. I’m not going to call because it sounds like you still feel nauseous and I’m sure you don’t want to talk.  But the boys and I are all sending you lots of love. And you know I’ll show up at a moment’s notice if you want me there. Absolutely and without a doubt.”

My parents long gone to a Heaven I still believe in despite my cynicism in other areas, my sisters and I have each other. And our kids. With a few husbands sprinkled in there. It seems a sacred duty now to care for each other as time marches on. When your parents die, you realize no one will ever love you in that way again. But there are other loves—imperfect as they may be. We try to channel that for each other now.

As I hung up with my other sister a few minutes ago, she asked how I was feeling. I told her fine and that I was holding a 13-lb. weight loss. “Can you eat right and exercise for me too?” she asked. “Please?” Sisters are like that. They’re either borrowing your shoes or your weight loss.

Amazing how things can change.

A day. And they’re completely different.

As I try to care for my sister from afar, I’m checking the dog’s nose to see if her temperature is gone. She joined my youngest in a pukefest—sorry, no other word for it—over the past week. I was a small but mighty hurricane with a temperature gun who annoyed my son beyond measure because of the frequent health checks. “MOM. Really? Again? I’m fine.” As I tsk and remind him, “Listen, you. I’m . . .” He interrupts. “I know, I know. Small but mighty.”

I smile. At least he gets it.

My eldest was spared the puking but the sore throat stuck around for days. At the beginning of this virus, he talked of moving west—perhaps to Utah. And I had visions of a bucolic Park City Christmas, snowshoeing in the mountains. Now, at the end of this week, he speaks of perhaps moving south with his father to a state I’m not fond of.

One week. Completely different picture from beginning to end.

His girlfriend says sagely, “Don’t worry. You know he’ll change his mind 25 more times in the space of the next year or two.” She knows my adrenaline junkie so well. He’s always in the moment, revving at rpm’s I can’t even imagine. It’ll make him a great fireman and paramedic. It makes him a challenging son. We teach each other. As souls, we all come into this world to teach each other.

I marked one month at my new job last week. I love that I had the courage to make the leap. I love the beginner’s mind and the pace of a hypergrowth company. I love that my colleagues are adventurous types who are so good at what they do that they craft a life while working rather than working so they can craft a life. The Brazilian who has moved to New Zealand and whose view—shared via videoconference—takes my breath away. The twenty-something who has left crowded New York City and is moving from place to place to find her zen zone. The Italian who returned from a stint in Brazil to his home country—you can hear the contentment in his voice as he speaks of staying there forever. Wanderlust banished. I’ve always had friends around the world. I feel I’m adding to the mix with some really interesting souls.

What I love most, though, is the lack of ego. I’ve witnessed many work cultures and personalities throughout my career. I know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that the truly brilliant—the truly qualified—the true leaders—do not require their teams to genuflect at the altar of their ego. They’re not toxic. They’ve gotten to where they are by being humble enough to continue chasing beginner’s mind. As a result, they rack up new skills like my old roommate used to rack up parking tickets.

I ran into my neighbor Kathy this week. Just about one month ago, her husband died. Her life has changed drastically in that short time. As I walked Bailey, I saw Kathy frantically trying to get her garbage cans to the curb. “I forgot again, Kristine!” she yelled. I asked if I could help and carried her yard waste to the street. “I forgot a couple of weeks ago, Kathy,” I reassured her as we walked. “We all do.” She shook her head at her own forgetfulness and then said, “Thank you. I’m trying to make it to my tai chi class. You know I have to do the seated class now, with my knee problems. But it makes my morning. Especially now. I hate to miss it.”

She didn’t have to say any more. I watched my dad after my mom died. Getting out of the house and having a routine is a lifesaver. And the fact that she lives in a neighborhood where she gets a helping hand with quite a few things now just feels right.

One month. A husband at the start of it, no husband at the end of it.

Last year at this time, I had just returned from a trip with a couple of my college roommates. And I was preparing for a surgery. But I was out and about in the world, free to roam. This year, I stay closer to home. I continue to try to get strong again after my surgery. And I miss my college roommates. One texted a photo just yesterday of several of us from a reunion trip over a decade ago. We were all sitting/lying on a hotel bed. I’m in the middle, eyes closed, mouth wide open laughing. Another has her head in her hands as if she can’t believe what has just been said. Two others are holding hands, the most effusive of the group having grabbed another’s hand because that’s just what she does. If she’s not hugging you, she’s grabbing your hand. I miss these times. I know they’ll come again but right now I miss them.

A year. What a difference a year makes.

Time is a funny thing. Ephemeral, especially if you live in the moment. Live in the moment and suddenly, years have passed. As I write this, a blue jay is piercing the air with his raucous call. And immediately, I close my eyes and am back at my grandparents’ Michigan cottage. I’m in the swing between two large trees on the side of the house. I smell the lake. I hear my grandfather sneaking out to the shed to have one of the beers he has hidden there. He looks back, holds his finger to his lips, and smiles at me. “Sshh, Kristy.” My grandmother is none the wiser for now. But in about 20 minutes, she’ll scour the house and the dock and then start yelling, “Fred! Fred! I know where you are. Get on out of there.”

Papa is the only person on the face of this earth I let call me Kristy. Don’t try it.

Memories of a life.

A day, a week, a month, a year. And the place I usually live—the moment. My life will be, I think, a stringing together of moments. Perhaps this is what a creative life is? I don’t know, as I feel I’m only just beginning to tap my well of creativity. I’ve always been a late bloomer. Perhaps the pandemic—as much as we all wish it not to be—will help me get there. Perhaps it is helping to reshape time in my little world. As one of my favorite writers, Mary Oliver, put it:

“No one yet has made a list of places where the extraordinary may happen and where it may not. Still, there are indications. Among crowds, in drawing rooms, among easements and comforts and pleasures, it is seldom seen. It likes the out-of-doors. It likes the concentrating mind. It likes solitude. It is more likely to stick to the risk-taker than the ticket-taker.”

Well put, Ms. Oliver.

Wishing you all the best of times even as it feels for some like the worst.

Stay in the moment.

57 Comments Add yours

  1. well expressed and written with sincerity and understanding. The ability to focus on what we can do and not what we can’t is a wonderful perspective and things are still appreciated. Staying in the moment of gratitude! thank you for sharing:)

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you for the kind words🙏🏻. Stay in that moment! I do believe it’s where the magic happens.

  2. Masha says:

    Congratulations and blessings on your new job. That’s great on your weight loss, I’m still trying (LOL) Sending healing light to your sister. Stay well and safe xoxo

    1. candidkay says:

      Sometimes I think the harder we try to lose weight, the more we put it on! Thank you for the good wishes, Masha! You’re always so kind.

  3. cozintransit says:

    Congrats on your new job! How did I miss that you had surgery last year? Felt like I was having coffee with you and catching up on your news. I hope your sister feels better soon. Way to go on the weight loss. I hope you and your family continue to stay safe during these times.

    1. candidkay says:

      Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to have coffee in person someday? I am sure we will do it again. And I am sure we will all be hopping on airplanes again. But for now, I’m pretty well grounded. I’m glad we get to connect through the ether. Stay healthy and well! Are you still in NYC? Or somewhere new?

      1. cozintransit says:

        Yes coffee one day…let’s put it out there in the universe. Still in NY – on Long Island. My youngest graduated high school and started college in the middle of this pandemic. So now I really have to figure out what’s next. This post made me also think of what a difference a year makes.

      2. candidkay says:

        Oh boy. I’m not far behind you on the figuring it all out part. Congrats on launching a human during this craziness. It takes fortitude!

  4. This one really moved me. That Michigan cottage sounds like a lovely place. Praying many blessings on this new job adventure for you!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you:). That tiny cottage holds many happy memories. I haven’t returned to try to find it for that very reason. I want to keep it in my memories as I knew it.

  5. markbialczak says:

    Your shuffling of life’s deck to find just the right hand aways helps me thankful for my cards, too, Kay. I’m glad I decided this morning I haven’t checked your blog in too long and might have missed a post. Indeed. May you and the boys be well.

    1. candidkay says:

      Aw, thanks Mark. 😊 Glad I could help inspire today!

  6. modestly says:

    ‘Small but mighty’ rings in my head – Your writing is just hitting the spot today – personal but embracing the commonality of what it is to be human. Lovely to connect again. Thank you for your gift.

    1. candidkay says:

      Such a lovely words to read on a Monday morning! Thank you for reading and commenting. And for your kind words about my writing. I always love to hear from you😀.

  7. I love so many things about this! 😍 I agree with you on so many of these things as well. Even the part about parents now gone and we realize we must care deeply for our siblings because family is forever. So many things have happened in this last year, month, day… a friend in a horrific accident that will take years of therapy to recover and still might not be complete, my sibling’s divorce, my son getting engaged, and everything in between and all around. Live in the moments . Breathe deep the life around you and in you! 😍

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you, Rachel! I’m sorry to hear about your friend and your sibling’s divorce. They say we can learn through Joy or Challenge in this life. I think we would all choose joy. And yet, there seems to be a plethora of us learning through challenge instead. Your son getting engaged is phenomenal news! Especially in this time, I’m so loving stories of love. Blessings to you and your family – and especially to your friend who had the accident. 🙏🏻

  8. Eli Pacheco says:

    I kind of didn’t want this to end. Mostly, because of what it reminded me of right now … that the only thing that matters is the song on my Echo (“Share My Life”), the glass of milk I’m drinking, and the post in front of me. Glad it’s this one.

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, what a sweet thing to say, Eli. One of the nicest things you can say to a writer. And what a great song–I just checked it out. Thanks for popping in!

  9. Roy McCarthy says:

    Best wishes to Sis and smash your new job Kris…tine. You would make a fine life counsellor if you so chose with your empathy and undrerstanding.

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh boy, Roy:). I think maybe a good life counselor if I could channel the patience I’m still working on . . . thank you for the kind words:).

    2. candidkay says:

      And now I’ve just seen what you did there with my name, you rascal😉

  10. mydangblog says:

    Gorgeous as always, and I hope the family is on the mend. Last night, we had Thanksgiving dinner (Canada, you know), just the three of us because of the second wave, and we all spoke of what we were grateful for. It’s amazing to me that day after day, month after month and year after year, I have these two incredible people, daughter and husband, in my life.

    1. candidkay says:

      If we can say the pandemic has brought any gifts, it’s the realization and gratitude you’re talking about. I think it’s brought so many people back to what’s important instead of madly rushing about filling time. Happy Thanksgiving!

  11. Andrew Denton says:

    Beautiful post, Kristine–puke and all! 🙂
    Congrats on the job and prayers for your sis.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! I know I owe you an email😄. Good to see you here! Come on in, the water is fine 🐠.

  12. Hoping that all will be well with your sister and that the pukefest is all over with and everyone recovered!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thanks, Andrea. Oh, I shut that festival down pronto! 🙂

  13. Amy says:

    I hope your sister is going to be okay, my friend… And may Pukefest pack up and skip town, pronto. Congratulations on your new job! It sounds wonderful, as do your coworkers. Agree with you about time. I love your way of weaving stories…. As always, I wish you every good thing… Please take care. Sending love… xoxo

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you, friend! No more pukefest, thank God. And I wish you every good thing right back💕.

  14. Beautifully written as usual Kristine, you know how to express life by standing in its truth…your truth 😀
    And speaking of which, you will know where its meaning lies when you do have that happy bit inside, not a care in the world to bend it. You spoke of it in others, where they don’t feel that they are going to work, simply because they love what they do. I too finally found that ‘job’. I became a Remedial Massage Therapist and each day began, went through and ended with that inner smile because I loved every minute of it.
    Haven’t found your ‘loved it’ job yet? It’s there waiting, you just have to remove the inner bits that keep covering over all that you do, those things we call fears. They like to spoil parties so that we will move, change and become something else…even if for the wrong reason (but none is a wrong reason, they all teach us something).
    But having the courage to change is the key. Have an orange instead of a peach, date the funny guy (even if his hairdo is a little like Carl Marx), instead of Mr Wow pinned on your office wall. And yes, change your job (as you have), it too may have a work trip that will introduce you to…you…in how it will encourage you to change.
    Puking even has its place, it asks you to avoid those situations, if you can. And as your son so pointedly said ‘MOM. Really?’ just to show he too is changing. And for a mom, too bloody quickly you’d say.
    But most of all, and my apologies for intruding, but your heart has shifted. You’ve had loss, been through many terrors (bloody virus), but most of all there is one thing that change does…it asks you to finally just be you, appreciate what you have indeed endured and become the one person this world doesn’t have…you. No longer masking ourselves to ‘fit in’ etc and just be yourself. It is a slow process but a beautiful one.
    A masterpiece is never done overnight but with the strokes of a master. You are indeed that master dear lady, accept her with love and gratitude, she is a keeper indeed 😀 ❤️ 🙏🏽 🦋

    1. candidkay says:

      A keeper! Aw shucks, Mark😊. You make a gal blush. And yes on the “too bloody quickly” bit. Here’s to the shift you speak of. Thanks for noticing🙏🏻.

      1. ❤️ 🙏🏽 🦋

  15. I am also from a large family so I can empathize with you. Our parents have also been gone for many a year. I have three sisters and now three brothers (one was killed by an impaired driver five years ago). I love being part of a big family. Right now we are waiting for news of one brother who just underwent a serious surgery. We all rely on one another for support and help and it is always, always given. So much of what you write resonates with me. I hope your sister recovers quickly. Wishing you all, many blessings.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you, Carol. I’ll hold your brother in my good thoughts. And I’m so sorry to hear about your brother that passed away. My uncle was also killed by an impaired driver. So sad and so unnecessary. Big families keep you grounded, don’t they?

      1. Wow! I did not know about your uncle. I am so sorry for your loss. Impaired drivers really cause so much pain! And yes, big families (or I guess family of any size) does keep you grounded. There is always someone to turn to that I can count on for support and commiseration. 🙂

      2. candidkay says:

        It was many moons ago and I was quite young. But so was he–just 26. So sad . . .

      3. Aw, that is so sad – so much life in front of him. Wishing you an abundance of blessings and peace.

  16. A lovely post, Kristine. Congratulations on the job. That will give you more fuel for your creative mind. Memories are like favorite books. Some are happy, some sad. Some scare your pants off and some give you great peace. For all of that memories are pretty terrific. Thanks for sharing yours.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you, John! It all goes by so fast. And yet some days, so slowly. I know you know this.

      1. I do know. So many memories in 80 years. Also, hard to believe it has been 80 years 😁

  17. I hope your sister is OK Kristine. I really enjoy your writing and find it engaging in a surprising way. And yes, Mary Oliver is a badass! Kudos on stepping into a new job; it sounds like a wonderful environment. Too often I’m choosing the easy or routine path. May you continue to blossom.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! Both for the kind thoughts about my sister and the kind comments about my writing. I’m so glad you enjoy it. And loving our mutual love of Mary Oliver. I am sure you will know when it’s time to step off the path you’re on and onto another one. Always challenges there but in the end, I always think it’s worth the journey. It makes it so much more interesting.

      1. Thanks for the supportive nudge!

  18. Hello, Kay. What sort of organization do you work for? It sounds very amazing.

    1. candidkay says:

      It matches top freelancers with companies who need their skills on a freelance basis. So perhaps those personality types are risktakers anyway. But I love the vibe.

  19. My thoughts exactly…even if our literal experiences are very different!
    Though Mary Oliver is a fav or mine, too! Hope your sis is on the mend.

    1. candidkay says:

      Mary Oliver was just a tiny badass, wasn’t she? I do not understand how anyone cannot just fall immediately in love with her writing. 🤔

  20. Lovely to sit with you awhile and go back through memories… what a year it’s been and at the end of the day we have ourself and do the best we can❤️ Sending love for your sisters recovery and for yourself❤️ We’ve not seen it all yet, and it’ll be ok, we’ll get through it, as long as we remember there is a happy ending waiting for us🥰 much love to you Kristine, Barbara x

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you, Barbara. 😊 You always remind us of the happy ending and thank God for that!

  21. Dale says:

    Well said, Mary Oliver. And Kristine B., too.
    This was a lovely read from top to bottom. Hope the puke-fest is over (ugh.)
    Time has been particularly strange since March, hasn’t it? I don’t bother counting February; we were still not sure what was what…

    1. candidkay says:

      Pukefest appears to be over!🎉 And thank you for the kind words. Time seems to be morphing as we go through this odd period, yes. Not necessarily a bad thing.

      1. Dale says:

        Woot!
        No… not all bad. I’m thinking it has given us all an opportunity to reflect and make some changes.

  22. srbottch says:

    Wow, Kristine, such reflections of good times with fam & friends (except for the puking). That’s all that counts, eh? You stimulated my memories as I sit here with the sun on my back. Such a beautiful fall day evokes wonderful times growing up at home, at college and with the family I created. I’m glad I wasn’t in the Army during the fall. Would have missed so much. I hope you’re staying healthy during the pandemic. Congrats on the new job. Sounds like you stepped out of your comfort zone for a new challenge. Wonderful! Keep writing, I enjoy it.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thanks, Steve! Yes, keepin’ it real with the puking:). And thanks for reading and commenting. I hope I took you down a good path on Memory Lane.

      1. srbottch says:

        Sure did. A little melancholy but I’m that kind of guy, a sucker for the ‘good old days’. Thanks.

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