I had the opportunity to hang out with some friends that I haven't seen in a while on Sunday night. I met them all when my oldest daughter was wee. Their babies were all wee too. We'd all get together and watch our wee darlings crawl and drool, then, later, toddle and fall, then, run and shout. And now? Well, now these kids are all in jr high school. They are all now busy with their own chosen activities. It's no longer their mom's dragging them to Music Together or Baby Sign Language or some other mom-agreed-upon activity to keep us all from going daft during the years of seemingly endless diapers and mushy goldfish crackers.
Time moves on, kids grow up, it's the way things go.
Life marches on. It's good and natural, and I'm very much enjoying the ride.
But the sucky thing is that we lose some people along the way. While we are procreating and birthing our babies, the generation before us is losing its beloved parents and unlucky others. As our kids age, we age too, and as we age, there is inevitably going to be more sickness and death to witness, then one day, endure.
We know this is how it goes --it's the circle of life, baby. Embrace it!
But sometimes this universal truth can be so in your face, ya know?
On Sunday, for me, it was the dichotomous news from my friend Kate. As I've already mentioned, I've known Kate for many years. In fact, our daughters were really quite tight for a while there, and I got to know Kate's parents and all of her sisters. We were also both involved in a co-op preschool program where you were able to drop off your kiddos for two mornings a week in exchange for working a third morning a week (and taking a night-time parenting class).
It was a lot of work, but the price of free was right, and we all ended up learning a lot, and getting to know many, many quality parents and preschoolers. The evening, adult-only meetings got emotional sometimes, and you often got a real and sometimes quite raw glimpse into the lives of the other moms (or dads as the case may be).
My first marriage fell apart right when my girl and I were leaving the program, she was off to kindergarten in the fall, so would not be returning. But once the news spread, I had the support of various co-op members.
One of those members was Paula, a skinny, funny, Irish woman who does not take any shit.
In fact, when she was having some problems with her husband at one point and he didn't seem to be getting the seriousness of the situation, she scooped up her two kids after he left for work one morning, boarded a plane for Ireland, and took an extended visit to mum. She gave her husband a cross-continent ultimatum, and some time to get his shit together.
It worked. He did get his shit together and she and the kids returned. And they all lived happily ever after.
Well, no, not really. She is dying. This is what Kate shared with me on Sunday. Paula was returning from Ireland a few weeks ago and didn't feel quite right during the journey. Once home she went to the doctor to see what was what, and was informed that she has stomach cancer and only a few weeks to live.
A few fucking weeks to live? But she has a 6th grade son, a 4th grade daughter, a reconstructed marriage. She is in her early forties. A few fucking weeks?
How is that fair? How is that a well functioning circle? How is that even possible?
It's not fair. And the circle seems a bit effed up to me in this particular situation. But it's reality.
Kate told me something else on Sunday night though. Something unexpected, but amazing. Something that tugs that circle in the opposite direction.
She is pregnant. With baby number five!
Wow, right? She's going for it again. Her oldest will be 12 years old when the new baby arrives. But that baby is on the way. That baby boy or girl will enter the world with the same angry cry we all did when pushed out of the womb into the world.
That baby will then grow up, and that baby will eventually die.
Just like we all will.
So, let's remember to love big, okay?
And to take care of each other along the way, alright?