Bad News Cannot Be Broken Gently

I found out today that a friend of mine has lost her husband in a freak accident on the weekend. He fell off a cliff in a nature reserve near Cape Town. Within seconds, a young healthy man, father of three and loving husband was reduced to a tragic statistic.

Was it only last week Sunday when I met the whole family by chance at the mall? We talked briefly and my friend told me that she was traveling with the kids to visit her family in Italy on Tuesday. Now they are all on their way back to say last goodbyes. I am guilty of anger, of thinking why him? Why, when there are so many deadbeat fathers,  good-for-nothing boyfriends and abusive husbands? The short answer- there are no reasons. Those with strong faith may console themselves with saying that the Lord chooses the good people early, and perhaps this is a comforting thought. But death has no discriminatory taste; it takes the young and the old, the good and the bad, the rich and the poor, the ugly and the beautiful. It is nature’s cruel way of reminding us that we are all equal, that health, happiness and the presence of our loved ones are never to be taken for granted.

If I live long enough to see my next birthday, I will be grateful that I am living to see 40, like I am grateful to have seen 39, some people aren’t so lucky. If  I do not live long enough to see my child at high school, then I should feel fortunate to have witnessed his first word, his first step and received his first hug. I am not immortal, nobody is, and fearfully I also acknowledge the mortality of my own child. I can only hope that he will outlive me. In the meantime I want to lie down to sleep next to him, and breathe his warmth and feel grateful that we are both alive.

But before that I will light a candle tonight, for a friend who is traveling through the darkness of night and the darkness of grief, to face a  reality straight out of a worst nightmare. I am praying that a mother will find strength and courage to carry her children safely through it. I am praying that she will find comfort in their love as they will in hers. I am praying that one day they will all smile at the memory of a husband and a father, rather than cry at his loss.

I do not know what to say… Life is so cruel sometimes.

22 Months : Willful

Stubbornness is rearing its ugly head and my sweet little toddler is sometimes not so sweet when he insists on doing things his way.

The pattern of returning home from the day care is getting more challenging for mom as I try different trick to convince, cajole or even force Robert to head in the direction of home.. Of course he needs to show me many things along the way, the signs of the security company, where he points out the zeros and some letters he is starting to recognize (namely X and E ). Sometimes he just gets frustrated with something and throws himself on the ground which makes my patience and nerves fray.

Once we reach our gate he also has to take the keys from me and find the key himself to put in the lock.  He normally takes his time, especially when I have a heavy load of groceries or when I am in a hurry to get to the bathroom.  At least he learned now not to linger too long at the gate of our building because I always remind him that there is another key to turn at our front door. I have to think up new tricks and keep him interested and moving in the correct direction.

I am still learning to deal with this new toddler stage, and it is difficult sometimes to control my anger at my son’s unruliness.  When he is frustrated, he sometimes gets into fits of anger, or looks me straight in the eye as he does exactly what I warned him not to. It gets hard sometimes not to respond with my own fit of temper, even when common sense tells me that it must be real tough dealing with the world from his perspective.

Today was another beautiful day in Cape Town, a welcome change after all the storms and rains.  I wanted to take Robert for a walk and perhaps to the park, but we never really made it as far as the park. Once we arrived at the promenade he insisted on getting out of the stroller and pushing it.  We did not make much progress because he would refuse my help in steering and then end up hitting the roadside or the garbage bins.  Later he started collecting small rocks and pepples from the sidewalk and depositing them in the stroller, and of course this was the most interesting activity, and no amount of encouragement would convince him to  move forward towards the playground.  At sunset I took matters into my own hands and we headed back. I still needed some things from the shops and it normally gets cold once the sun sets.

Real shopping was done quite late because I made the mistake of going past the bookshop which had its winter sale, which meant that we arrived at home late and had to fast forward to bedtime routine.

A Rough Patch

I ran into a friend yesterday as I was going back from a walk along a very cold beachfront.  She said she found this blog by chance and she liked it. This is the first time I get independent feedback on my writing in this corner, and I am really pleased.  She wondered -among other things- what happened after the cream cupcakes and why I have been away from this blog for so long.

The short answer is that I have been overwhelmed with so many things.  I figured out this month that while I juggle so many committements and responsibilities it is impossible not to drop one ball or the other at any given time.  It is challenging enough when things are running their normal course, but when things start to go wrong it is plain awful.

It all started in the middle of last month when I was called at work to get my son from school because he had pink eye. I haven’t blogged about it at the time, but this turned out to be the first of a chain of ailments. He later had diarrhea which lasted almost a week. The week after that he developed a cough, which turned out to be a pneumonia, we spent two days in the hospital for that.. soon after that he had another ailment a combination of stomach bug and sore throat with temperature.

Between the middle of May and today I visited the GP at least five times for Robert and once for myself, it has been rough. In the middle of all that I had two demanding freelance projects to work on and on some days I had to go to my day job… It was just too much.

At times like these, and I am merely human, things start to drop or come close to unraveling.  I needed leave from my daytime job to attend to my son in hospital, and I had to extend both my translation and proofreading assignments. The level of care I took at the household level went to near zero. The chores that did not relate directly or indirectly to the well-being of my son were postponed indefinitely. My clothes lay in a pile,  I wore the same thing two days in a row, and I ate whatever was left on Robert’s plate.  I know it sounds desperate but sometimes you do what you have to do. The worst though was the lack of sleep. I survived on four to five hours of sleep a day and worked every free minute that I had..

Even within my own set of priorities things started to suffer. My son had to put up with a preoccupied mother,  I arrived frequently late at my day job,  I had to phone sick once, and had to leave early at least twice because of my son falling ill at school. It is small wonder under the circumstances, that I neglected this blog.

During this difficult time I also came to realize that the way I am doing things is not working. Sooner or later something is going to give, and I do not want to breakdown or loose my health. I need to be here for Robert.  Some of my responsibilities and commitments need to be rethought, delegated or let go off completely. Maybe then I will have more time to devote to things that give me pleasure like blogging, knitting and reading. Amen.