Saturday, May 31, 2014

Saying Goodbye To Le Chateau (And Other Thoughts About Life)

Remember when you were just a kid with no responsibility?
Maybe you had a household chore or two, but really you had a pretty easy life.
Someone else had all of the worry-all of the burden of making hard decisions.
Someone else had to be the grown-up.

Some of us had tainted childhoods. Childhoods filled with fear, pain, abuse and/or neglect. 
Others had cheerful childhoods filled with toys, hugs, laughter and joy.
Sadly, many children had illnesses that prohibited them ever reaching the high ranks of adulthood, 
or mental deficiencies that prevented them from realizing the difference.
Sometimes I think regardless of our childhood experience,  at least there was a little time when we were off the hook and someone else called all the shots.

My week has passed with a few hard good-byes.
Over the past two years since I was diagnosed, there have been many goodbyes of various sorts.
During each of these changes, happy and sad- 
I longed for childhood again. 
I longed to be able to hide behind my mother  and peer out from around her legs(I was a very shy child) 
and know I was safe, protected. secure.

Thankfully, my mother is easily reached by phone for any crisis, but since she lives nine hours away, there is no hiding behind her--and since I AM an adult, for better or worse, she is always happy to listen and provide input-but the decisions belong to me. 
I own my triumphs and my mistakes. 
Adulthood--What a letdown! 

A few days after my last surgery, I got an offer on my house. 
Time for one of those adult decisions I would rather not make-but I managed to make, despite the heavy pain meds in my system.
Having the house for sale was one thing. Actually selling it--was quite another.
If you've read this blog before, or followed it for any time, you know I am married to Bob, we married just over a year ago with his and hers houses--and now an apartment in downtown Dallas.
We moved in order for him to take a new job. 
The houses have been on the market for a few months. The day we've prayed for, but I've secretly dreaded, arrived. To sell or not to sell.
Time to be a grown-up.

My past seven days have been filled with moving out of my house, both physically and emotionally.
I named it "Le Chateau"--I know-who names their house?--We are in Texas for goodness sake- we only name ranches, trucks, children, pets and guns. 
Well- I named my house when I bought it in 2011 because I added many French touches to the interior and because, I'm a little eccentric, morbidly weird and, well, because I just wanted to!
With the help of a close friend,  I shopped, created, painted and refurbished my little chateau until it was a statement of ME! I was healing from a rough divorce and getting in touch with myself again after twenty years of marriage. 
Painting, moving and decorating revived me and brought me back to the person I was before-- I found myself again, and I realized that I really like who I am!  So this little chateau was more than a house, it was my home and very healing in many ways. 

After several months of living in Le Chateau - I met the man who stole my heart- We fell in love in this house, began our marriage there, literally, our wedding was in the back yard. We had holidays there (good ones so good ones- We keep joking that we are going to have t-shirts made that say, "I Survived Easter 2012" -That's a story for another blog!)  and I recovered from my first brain surgery there. 
So yes, this house was truly a home and it was difficult to leave.
Bob and I on our wedding day in the back yard of Le Chateau.
My mom to the far left..I love that she is in the background. 

So, at five weeks post op- I drove two hours back to Waco-(big accomplishment, until this point I had only driven to work- four minutes-) and spent several days packing, cleaning and preparing  Le Chateau for it's new family.

I'm so grateful to our friends, Jason,Tami, Aaron and Alisa for coming by, helping move things and packing.  I'm grateful for friendships old and new-for Stefanie who knows my heart, shares my twistiness and took a few things off of my hands that will not fit in our loft, but that I couldn't bring myself to donate or throw away, for Jason and Tami, who would do anything for anyone at anytime-they are true servants and great friends-they are rescuers who never mind being called at the last minute to lend a hand and for Aaron and Alisa, both friends and business partners- who pretty much forced us to eat everyday we were in town, came and sat on the floor with us on our last night there, and Aaron, who ate lunch with me on the last day, keeping me laughing so I forgot about crying. These two have been great over the past year we've known them-Aaron even drove to Houston when I had surgery, gave me a hug before I went back and stayed with Bob and Kait until I was safely in ICU ( round trip, that's seven hours of just driving and he had work the day before and the day after) We can never thank him enough.

Bob left early on the last day, he took our fur babies back to Dallas.  So, I was alone, just the house and I, like in the beginning. I sat on the floor and wrote a letter to the new owner.  For me, it was a love letter to the house and a bittersweet good-bye.  I walked from room to room, feeling the emptiness,  whispered "thank you" and "good-bye" -and I tell you in that moment--the house and I were one.  I felt it say good-bye, and I knew it was time to go.  I locked the door, 
 left the note with a beautiful hanging plant on the porch and drove away. 

Why am I telling you all of this on my blog about Chari and Arachnoid Cysts? 
Because- for me, aside from the discomfort associated with packing- I got to focus on something else for this week.  Chiari did not rule my world for a change. I did have to rest frequently and take naps- but I was not "Brain Surgery Girl". 
I was pretty much normal for this week.
And I liked it! 

As I drove back to Dallas, I'll admit- I cried most of the way. I started thinking of all of the good-bye's I've said in the past few years. 
Good-bye to a marriage- which meant good-bye to a family that was my family for over twenty years. 
Good-bye to my children that grew up, moved out, went to college, became adults. 
Good-bye to friendships that I still struggle with and still miss. 
Good-bye to my life before Chiari and Arachnoid cyst  reared their ugly heads--
and finally, Good-bye to Le Chateau, my refuge, my home. 
Le Chateau the day before I said "Good-Bye".

As I was driving up I-35E, I rounded a curve, just past the Dallas Zoo exit and caught sight of the Dallas downtown skyline.  Immediately, I felt joy and hope-a new beginning! 
Almost trance-like, I maneuvered my car in the afternoon traffic to my exit. 
As soon as I could, I pulled out of traffic and typed into my phone all of the great things that the aforementioned good-byes have given me: 
-A new marriage, better than I ever thought marriage could be- with a new family that loves me,  new sisters, a new son, a daughter-in-love,  mother-in-law, cousins (should that be cousins-in-law?)--a family that has welcomed me with open arms and open hearts. 
-Grown up children that are now young adults. They have real conversations with me, have meaningful lives, hang out in ICU with me, and bring my grandson over to visit. 
-New friends that while they don't replace the ones I've lost- they take the sting away and are invaluable in my life. 
-My life after Chiari and Arachnoid Cyst were diagnosed--How do I count the ways these lifelong disorders have blessed me? Yes..they are a blessing (I don't say that every day, trust me)
Here are a few blessings I can call by name: Katrina, Misty, Simone, Taren, Tonya, Melissa, Megan, Dave, Vonda, LaTonya, Layne, Kristen...and the list goes on.  
Also, under this blessing category I can list: 
                  My passion for writing as been reignited.
 My life purpose has greater clarity: To reach out to those suffer with these conditions, to be their voice when they feel they don't have one, to hold their hand as they face surgery and during recovery, to let them know they are not alone, that someone does understand and that they are worthy of love, comfort and support.
-My Plan B business has become Plan A in order to keep me away from twelve hour shifts and sleepless nights on call, while still affording the ability to travel, write, speak and learn. 
Through this business I've met wonderfully benevolent, positive people who have helped and encouraged me along the way.

So what, you may ask,  great thing came from saying good-bye to Le Chateau? 
Besides the obvious-one less mortgage payment each month-
I can now stop living with one foot in the past and one foot in the future. 
Bob and I forge ahead with this new life in a new city filled with new adventures, new friendships, and new challenges. 
We do this with joy,excitement and a sense of urgency. 
We are eager to grasp all this life has to offer and to give back all we can to others.

Yesterday, a dear friend of mine, who has leukemia, posted on Facebook that one of the actual side effects of her medication is "inappropriate happiness".
How ironic for a person in her condition?  Yet also, How Awesome! 

So,as I look at all of the boxes I have to unpack, and furniture that needs to be arranged, pictures and mirrors to be hung, with muscle spasms in my neck, abundant incisional pain and a heavy dose of fatigue weighing down my body--I'm smiling and thinking..I've got a little bit of what my friend has.
 I'm inappropriately happy and ridiculously optimistic, it's a side effect of starting a new chapter of life. 
There truly is joy to be found in every day. 
I encourage you to go find yours. 
Even if you are an adult.

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