Warning: I haven’t been sleeping well, so rambling is upcoming.
I’ve done some posts about this being the tenth anniversary of some huge losses in my life, but today I am reflecting on a year ago.
Last September, I sang with the Smith College Alumnae Chorus for a choral homecoming weekend with Alice Parker. One of the posts I made afterward was about visiting the memorial tree for our friend Beth who died during our senior year and the chapel where I had spent so many hours. I had always intended to write another post about friendship and Smith women, but didn’t for reasons that will probably become clear later on in the post. I’m hoping to give a taste of that topic now…
I love to spend time with Smith women, especially back in Northampton. It is always special to me to see my roommate Mary with whom I share such a deep connection that we pick up conversation as though we weren’t a couple thousand miles apart the vast majority of the time.
I was blessed to renew ties with two women, each named Cathy, whom I had known during my Smith years, although they were in different class years so I didn’t know them as well. It may not come as a surprise that our best times for sharing revolved around food. Cathy R. invited us to a lovely farm-fresh al fresco lunch with her family who had travelled with her and we talked about farming and New England and family and medicine and art and photography and how some of us would have been at the Climate March in NYC that day if we hadn’t already committed to being at Smith for the weekend.
Cathy K. lives in the next town over from Northampton and invited us to her home after the concert for appetizers before going out to dinner. Her family owns a couple of local stores that sell specialty foods, wine, prepared foods, and more. Everything was so plentiful and delicious that we never did go on to dinner but spent hours eating, talking, laughing, and sharing. Family, education, politics, losses, music, career changes, hopes, the future, new directions. It is so seldom that one has an opportunity to discuss with such depth and breadth. I am profoundly grateful that being with Smith women so often leads to these heart-mind-and-soul-enriching conversations.
I was also grateful to have re-connected with Anne, who is a wonderful poet and who graciously accepted a copy of the chapbook I had assembled the prior year for a local contest, even though neither the individual poems nor my editing abilities were advanced enough to warrant doing so. She sent me valuable feedback and advice and has since looked over other poems for me. She is one of my poetry godmothers!
Now, a year later, the Alumnae Chorus is coming up on a deadline to sign up to tour in Cuba next July. And I can’t do it. Within this next year, both E and T plan to finish their master’s degrees and our travel time and resources need to go to supporting them. I also must admit that the thought of touring Cuba doesn’t really appeal to me, especially in the heat of late July. I am such a delicate flower that I would probably wilt!
And yesterday was Grandma’s (my mother-in-law) birthday. She has a problem with admitting her age so I won’t reveal it here, but this year was especially difficult for her because last year at this time we were in the throes of trying to determine what was wrong with her back. It turned out that an osteoporotic compression fracture in a vertebra led to its collapse and a long year of pain and complications and medications and therapy and ups and downs. Well, a lot more downs than ups.
Her elder son and his daughter came to visit for the weekend, which was nice, but it also was a reminder of how much she can’t do anymore. Grandma was trying to wish away the last year, which is painful to watch.
It’s also a reminder of how stressful the last year has been. Exhibit A: my outbreak of shingles last December. Lucky for you, I’m not going on to the rest of the exhibits. I am doing better with giving myself a bit more distance, but it is still sad and concerning and draining.
Especially in September.
I’m working on getting myself back into a better place. I actually managed to sleep a five hour stretch last night.
I’ll take all the progress I can get.