Friday, October 04, 2013

The Silence of Change

On many occasions, I've heard that adapting to change is a sign of maturity, or perhaps becoming "wiser" in some aspects. The types of changes, such as a new job or a new relationship can seem exciting and fun, and for the most part it is. Changes such as moving from one home to a lesser home, divorce or even a death in the family are seen as the most stressful events in our lives. Those are huge changes. We have to adapt, or at least try. We have to learn to ride the storm out grudgingly. I call those the "downgrade changes". I remember when Madelene and I had to rent an apartment downtown. We had no backyard, old twisted up plumbing and a furnace older than the hills that kept spilling out carbon monoxide to which the utility company had to fine my landlord. That wasn't fun because the landlord used to get pissed off at me for reporting it. Well, it was either report it or die in my bed. Although there were a lot of frustrations with that place, there were a lot of good memories in our home as well. We always had friends and family over or just enjoyed our little deck outside 'people watching' --making the best with what we had. We had the cutest little fireplace that did absolutely nothing but glow a couple of small flames from the two pieces of wood you could only fit inside of it. Totally pointless fireplace, but we loved it. It made the place cozy when we had guests over or if we were watching movies at home. My point is -- it was a huge change for us and we adapted.

I remember sitting inside my living room when I got a phone call from my sister telling me that Dad's doctor's visit didn't go so well. They found the big "C". That's when another "change" started. This, being possibly the biggest of my life...of my family's lives. Everyone basically put their lives on hold to try and help Dad with all of his surgeries and treatments and late night hospital emergencies. We were all so exhausted and always half sleeping waiting for the phone to ring at midnight. I always had a pair of jeans and shoes to slip right into near my bed...just in case. I rarely slept that last year of Dad's life.

Another change. Another move. We had to be closer to my parents. All the renovations, new appliances and upgrades had us completely worn out and broke, until the next paycheck. We were trying to settle in as fast as we can so we could focus on the family and not be overwhelmed with innate details that were driving us batty and so were all the arguments a couple can have over these types of changes + with the painting and renovations. And although this was a 'better change', it still had us reeling in from the move itself. When I rescued my dog Lola, that was another huge change for me. She helped me through a lot of rough spots, licking my tears and being the wonderful pup she is. She even helped Dad smile, even if for a little while.

After all was said and done when we finally caught our breath, Dad passed away.

Another change.

This particular change was odd. It felt so unfamiliar. Nothing like this has ever happened to our immediate family before, and we were all so ....silent. It felt like all the noise had completely dissipated into some other realm - the noise of chaos - the noise of Dad's suffering - the noise of the fear of Dad leaving us. And then it happened.

Silence. 

And then change...

The change that occurred here was one of another adaptation - more of adjusting to a new way of living and one that would have us 'resting' while we were grieving. Holidays were different, yet our family became much closer. I finally started sleeping. Even though I was worried about Mom, she was sleeping too, not worried about having to wake up for another emergency. She may have been mourning, and through the exhaustion of mourning, she also slept. They say the deceased may "rest in peace", but I even think that applies to the living sometimes when it's a long run of someone you love suffering. The aftermath is 'resting in peace' --- because God will never give you anything you can't handle. I truly believe that. I also believe our state of mind can really mess with us when we're going through such a traumatic event. It can either break us or make us. I chose to stay close to my faith in God and that alone helped me not to self-sabotage myself or make my life into a living hell. Don't get me wrong, I had some challenging times where I just wanted to give up and say screw it and just do what I wanted, but I knew that what I wanted wouldn't have been the healthiest option for me. I even made the mistake of trying to turn to people who were extremely unhealthy in my life. I thought it would distract me from all I was going through. Almost like, maybe another bad distraction would make me forget 'this one'. 

With autumn arriving, my Dad's favorite season, I'm reminded of him a lot lately. Our lives are so different without that loud resonating voice of his and just his presence alone was "big". Mom's life has totally changed and I'm really not quite sure how she feels about it even though we're together a lot. Instead of catering to Dad and spending all of her time with him, she has now settled into a completely different life - not a bad one - not a "better" one - but just one that's entirely different than what she has always known. She's been with my dad since she was 14 years old for the love of God. Mom and I go out a lot, we go shopping here and there and go out to eat, and when we're home, we do big cooking projects together. My sisters are always there too, helping in any way they can, but most of all, spending time with one another. My mom is the most capable woman I know, so sometimes, I ask her for help! We're all in this together and it's just very comforting. Being together with family takes her mind off the inevitable thoughts that come flooding through - and for us as well. Our family has become much closer, much more unified in ways I've never seen before. Mom rarely went out. It's not that she didn't want to, it was just how it was. Now, she goes stir crazy if she's inside more than two hours at a time. And I think that's healthy while she goes through this enormous change in her life. I keep telling her that it's a new chapter in her life and it's up to her whether or not to make this chapter her best one yet, as difficult as that may be to do. Her faith hasn't dwindled one bit thankfully.

"When your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything." -- James 1:3-4

My mom loves Sheldon...
Life's curveballs give us a chance to prepare us for the next big "change" that comes our way. All my life, Mom has always said, "I hate change!" The other day she hated the fact that she needed new remote controls to her TVs. I got her a new coffee machine and whoa did I get a mouthful of questions and frustrated comments. Now she loves it. Whenever anything small changes, she always rattles off, "I hate change," but she sure is better at it than I am. But I disagree that she hates change. Sometimes, some of these changes are exciting to her -- like a different day has sprung up on her. It takes her out of the mundane and into something 'unknown' --- and to some, especially for me, that's pretty exciting. It makes you want to wake up in the morning and seize the day, while other days may not look so promising. I think it's safe to say that there are many people with the fear of change. I used to be one of them but now, not so much. The more faith, the less fear.

"Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. --Isaiah 41:10

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!