Being the geek that I am I was very excited when I turned 42 because now I was the answer to the Ultimate Question. Now that I am 43 I thought it was a good time to look back at last year and see what answers I really found.
As you all know there were two very big events in my 42nd year. One I knew was coming, had been planning for it and still wasn't sure how I was going to deal with it. That was C leaving for college. As a West Coast parent when your only child announces they plan on attending college on the East Coast you go through a bit of denial before accepting it to be true. He was leaving. And he wasn't going to be a short drive or even a short plane ride away. Coming home for a weekend here and there was out of the question. When he left it would be for long periods of time. I always make the joke that parenting is all about taking this crying, smelly bundle home and taking care of it, feeding it, teaching it manners, putting up with it through the terrible twos, the even worse teens and then when it becomes someone you would love to hang out with it leaves...All of a sudden it wasn't so much of a joke as a reality. (Though to be fair he was pretty cool to hang out with all of his life, even when he was a smelly mess)
And it was horrible. I cried the ugly cry. The first weekend we were back home and he was gone I became a Facebook stalker trying to see if he was online and okay. I worried when he got sick for the first time and I wasn't able to check on him and make sure he wasn't getting pneumonia. When the first big snow storms started coming I double and tripled checked that he was warm enough and had the right clothes. I kept an eye on his money and made sure he didn't need anything. And you know what? He was fine. School was good, he was taking care of himself...just fine thank you, Mom, but I'm fine...and his life and mine rolled along. Every time I took him back to the airport after a visit I cried again, but not the ugly cry and not for days. Just the "I'm going to miss you" cry. And now that he is back in school for his second year, I miss him again. But I know that he and I will be just fine. And that this really is the way it's supposed to work. My job with him is done. Now I just get to come in for assistance and consulting duties here and there, but the real full time work is over. And that's okay. Good lesson, good answer.
The next major event I knew was coming, eventually, but I didn't plan and I didn't expect it and I really didn't know how to deal with it. When Dad died in June it was one of those situations where you realize very quickly there are no right answers. There are no absolutes on how to deal with everything. You just put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward. Dad's death and the trip home and the following months have been full of more questions for me than answers. I miss my father terribly. Which is so very odd to me as I haven't lived in the same state as my dad for decades. But knowing he was there, and would be there gave me an anchor I didn't realize I was using.
The sadness creeps up on me at unexpected times. When Brent and I were stationed in San Diego we were friends with a young married couple who had a toddler daughter. When the guys were out to sea and Bailey would get overwhelmed with the world she would throw herself down and cry..."I just miss my daddy!" The other day while cleaning the bathroom I had a moment just like that. The sadness came in a wave and I thought..."I just miss my dad."
The only answers I have right now are to keep moving. And to think about the life he led and the examples I can take from it. He was a good man. A strong man. A family man. He loved my mother more than life itself and loved us kids just a shade under what he felt for mom. He was deeply religious. He was a staunch Republican. I always tell people when they ask that my family is the Religious Right. Though I will never share his religious or political beliefs I know that one of his favorite country song lyrics was "You have to stand for something or you'll fall for anything." That I can believe in. Family. Friends. Love. Belief. Those are lessons I can take with me and cherish and try to be the daughter he would want me to be. Still no answers, still a lot of questions.
The rest of the year was filled with my normal array of trying things on and taking them off. Ice skating lessons were a hit. I need to find another round of them to take as I enjoyed spending time on the ice. I am not graceful, speedy or what you might call good at it...but I enjoy it and I think that's the important part.
Knitting was another try this year. I wish I would have discovered it when I was quitting smoking years ago. It's good for me for keeping my hands busy, but it didn't do anything to quell my mind. I might knit a half dozen scarfs but I don't see me doing anything else with it. It just wasn't for me.
Photography and I had a come to Jesus year. I stepped up from my point and shoot camera that was finally dying after years of service and got a "real" camera. I read some books, I watched a few online tutorials, I asked questions of friends. And I discovered that I like to take pictures. I am a fauxtographer not a photographer. The "real" camera went up for sale and a lovely new point and shoot was purchased. The fact that it's red fills me with joy every time I look at it.
My latest career choice came to an end. I discovered that the reality of the situation was that I used massage therapy and going to school to become a LMT as way out of Advertising. That my initial thoughts on it were really the true ones. I loved going to school. I loved learning more about the human body and learning ways of helping people through massage. But it's not a calling for me. I have pared down to where I work on a few friends. And I enjoy that. I like the time we have to visit and I like knowing that I am helping them be better at things they love doing through massage. But I don't call myself a massage therapist anymore, I don't consider it my job, I am not accepting new clients and I am trying to decide if I want to keep up my licensing or let it drop. That will be an answer to search for at 43.
Writing...well...writing. This is a complicated one. I tried to set up a deadline this year to actually get something published and I rebelled against it just as badly as I would rebel against someone else setting a deadline for me. As many of you know I also had a little moment of insecurity when Blogger actually showed me how many people are (or are not in this case) reading this blog. And even though technically that happened in my 43rd year I will lump it back with the big 42 lessons. What I have come up with is that I still feel like words are magical. I still feel like if I can get the right combination of them I can make you understand the way I see the world and if you share back with me I can understand how you do. When I read a book by a talented author I am always in awe of the world they created. When I read a funny status update from a Facebook friend it can make my whole day better. So I will continue to write. If I ever publish then I will publish. If I don't, then I don't. If I spend hours writing a blog that only 5 people read, then that is the way life goes. But I write because I love to. And that's a pretty good answer for me.
I also made some new friends and lost some old ones this year. A few of those losses were hard to understand and process and some of them were understandable and a long time in coming. Discovering that someone you have been friends with for a few years cannot understand your point of view and you cannot understand theirs on something as basic as racism is a hard lesson to learn. But it was a good one as well. Even at 42 people were still coming and going in my life. Making it better, richer, fuller and more interesting. I know that at 43 that lesson will be learned again. And probably at 44 and 45 and 46....
So there you have it. For my brief time as the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything I really end up a wash. Maybe if I had actually known what the question was I would have done better....