Have you ever noticed how cyclical life is? Everything is going fine. Then everything is going great. Then everything is in the crapper. I suppose it all evens out in the end. Sometimes when everything is great, it's hard to imagine it won't always be. Sometimes when life is shitty, it's hard to remember things will get better.
When you have a family you have moments where so much is going wrong for one or more of your family members at the same time it's almost comical.
A boss of mine once told me a story about his entire family puking 24/7 with the flu. He had four kids so, along with his wife, that made six people barfing in one house at one time. They only had two bathrooms in their home. He lived in a cold climate and he told me he went outside one night to escape the smell of vomit. He said he stood outside in the snow in freezing temperatures just so he could puke in fresh air away from everyone else.
I don't know why, maybe it was how he told it, but I laughed my ass off at his story.
At that particular moment, he must have wondered how much worse life could get.
Every year, at the beginning of spring, there is a huge butterfly migration through Orange County. Last Friday I got my car washed. Saturday I spent a good part of the day at Steed Park in San Clemente watching PR play in a baseball tournament. It was a beautiful 80F (26.7C) day. Driving home PR and I watched in horror and disgust as butterfly after butterfly went splat! splat! splat! against my windshield.
As one particularly large butterfly made a horrific three inch yellow smear on the windshield PR shuddered in disgust. When I got home I looked at my now yellow smeared windshield and thought about all those butterflies I slaughtered by driving home.
Then I thought, "Isn't that just how life goes sometimes? You're flying along all happy and joyful and then life goes splat!"
I'm such a deep thinker.
Aren't you impressed?
It's because I knew what I was coming home to.
TR was in our family room, teary-eyed and melancholy. She had a box of tissues at her side. She'd just seen her boyfriend off at the airport and her heart was breaking. RC was the sickest I've ever seen him. He was laying feverish, despondent, with swollen glands, and unable to swallow on the couch in our living room. (He still is.)
RC looked at me hopefully as I walked in with the mail. I handed him an envelope. He opened it and handed it back to me. As if the kid wasn't feeling bad enough already from his illness, it was a rejection letter from his top pick of colleges.
My heart broke for him right then.
It's a mother thing. It wouldn't have been so bad if he was healthy and himself. Instead, it was a swift kick to the groin when he was already down. Painful.
Very, very painful.
I gave TR a one-armed hug (that's what I do since my accident) so she would know I understand heartbreak. Because folks? I do understand heartbreak. I got some Advil for RC and took him a glass of ice water. I tried to come up with motherly things to say.
"You'll end up where you're supposed to be," I said.
He didn't respond.
"Things happen for a reason," I added.
"What more could I have done?"
The kid worked his butt off, took, and excelled, in every honors class, has an exceptionally high GPA and test scores. It wasn't enough for his dream school. Never mind he's been accepted to nine other colleges so far, several of them offering him scholarships. The school he dreamt of, the school he worked his ass off for, rejected him.
He'll be fine. It's one of life's disappointments and we all go have to go through things like that. It's just too bad his came on a day when he had a 103 fever and felt like shit.
I walked out of the room for a few minutes.
When I walked back in I couldn't believe what I was seeing. TR had joined her sick brother. She'd gone to him, sat down next to his feverish body on the couch, wrapped her arms around his neck in a huge hug to comfort him. Then she began bawling. RC gripped her in a bear hug and his eyes welled up too. Seeing them together like that, brother and sister, comforting each other when they were both feeling so down tugged at my heart strings.
That's when it hit me. Long after Briefcase and I have gone to The Big Beach In The Sky, they will have each other.
And you know what? That's a very good thing.
© Twenty Four At Heart