My oldest son starts high school in about 5 hours. I hope he is getting some sleep. For some reason, Bear and I aren't. So here I am.......I've spent the last hour or so working through some of this stuff in my head and decided it was time to put fingers to the keyboard, so to speak. Apparently, these are things I needed to work through.......
I graduated 8th grade in May 1991. I had mixed emotions. I remember being so excited about another step toward adulthood and terrified of moving into a new school with lots of new people. I was NOT a social butterfly.
Anyway, the summer started off ok I suppose. There was the 8th grade graduation and dance. That was fun......and a few graduation parties that classmates threw......
I turned 14 midway through June. Nothing special there.....I don't even remember my birthday which means I probably spent it in a field somewhere. That was pretty typical. Anyway, my maternal grandmother was sick. Really sick. She had been diagnosed with colon/liver cancer the summer before and although she managed to come to my graduation, things went downhill quickly after that. We spent a lot of time at their house in Newton. I remember hospital beds and not being allowed in the living room.......my aunt's new husband.....playing cards with my maternal grandpa. My Grandma Diel (Mary Diel) passed away early morning of July 4th.
My brothers and I had spent the night at my paternal grandparents home the night before and when we woke up that morning my parents where there. Grandma and Grandpa Pickens were great, we stayed with them that morning while my parents got some rest and they took us to the Dieterich 4th of July parade. That night my parents took us to the fair.
I think that we went on vacation later that summer. Not very far away, as my Grandpa Diel had alzheimers, aggrevated by the loss of his wife. My mom called every night to check on him but a few times he wouldn't accept her collect phone call. I didn't understand alzheimers. I tried, but until then I hadn't ever heard of such a thing and I didn't understand why my grandpa didn't know me. I remember begging my mom not to make me go to high school. I loved learning, I hated social situations. I was terrified. She made me go anyway.
It was a miracle I made it through that first day without a nervous breakdown. I got lost twice. Ended up in the wrong classroom (sitting there waiting for class to start) once. Thankfully my cousin saw me and sent me in the right direction. I didn't cry. I don't know how I managed that, but I didn't.
I tried to join some clubs. I spent some evenings sitting on my Grandpa's back step because the club function had gotten over early, mom wasn't there to meet me, and Grandpa wouldn't let me in because he didn't know who I was. The boy I had "puppy loved" for 2 years asked me out and then dumped me 2 weeks later because I wouldn't make out with him after school. Less than a month later one of my best friends killed herself.
Fourteen year olds shouldn't have to go to the funerals of friends. And they shouldn't have to go alone. Sure, I had friends there, but my parents weren't.....it was harvest season, you see. I was so blessed by the support of the mother of another friend. I cannot descibe the pain that one feels after a loss like that. I wasn't alone in my pain, so many of my friends were hurting as well, but I felt alone. In less than 3 months I had lost a grandmother, best friend and essentially my grandfather as well. I was barely coping in an educational setting that I wasn't really equiped to handle. I had my heart broken (and the ex was spreading nasty rumors about my moral character). Go me.
I managed to persevere. Now, I wonder how I didn't have an emotional breakdown.
At a band competition the next month I, along with other members of the band, was taken to the ER for frostbite. My parents were not there and my father had to give permission for them to treat over the phone. I was fine, but the trip home was agony. I knew what was waiting. It wasn't the worst tongue lashing that I had ever gotten, but it probably lasted the longest. For several years afterwards it was thrown in my face as me wasting family resources and making bad decisions. Go me.
Holidays that year sucked. One of them was at our home. Just my family and my Grandpa Diel (who was rapidly declining). For some reason, during the dinner preparations, my mother felt the need to get into a huge phone conversation with her sister, in her bedroom. I get that it was probably a hard year for both of them, having lost their mother. However, I was left with dealing with a huge meal. Alone. My Grandpa came in and starting fiddling with things while I was trying to take something out of the oven and I couldn't get him to safely stay out of the way. And I got a little grouchy. My father went ballistic. I understand now that my poor Grandpa had no idea about the safety of the oven in that situation. I know now that he wasn't in his right mind and he didn't mean to be in my way. I was just trying to do the best I could in yet another extremely stressful situation. My father, reading the newspaper in the living room, made sure to let me know how I had failed. Again.
I am sitting here tonight wondering why in the world I was even in that kitchen. I think now that I should have just went to my room, or outside. Let someone else step up to the plate and deal with it. But I didn't. People pleaser all the way, I took responsibility for everything. I always felt/feel like I have to carry the burdens of the world. Lord knows I was carrying a lot of them that fall/winter.
Things did get better in high school. I learned the ropes, made friends, started dating a nice guy. All of my high school years weren't miserable. But when I think of high school, those first 6 months are the ones I remember. The feelings of fear and sadness rear their ugly heads every single time.
I've been praying all night. Praying that my oldest (all of my children in fact) will have a good day tomorrow. A little stress and a lot of fun. I pray that his high school "career" will be shaped by fun, laughter and freedom.
Twenty years later (how could it have been that long ago????) I can see that so many things were out of my control. I couldn't control death, my parents, the weather, other students........I think that considering I did pretty well. But the tears are falling afresh again.....just like they did then. I cry for my friend, my grandma and grandpa.......I cry for my naive freshman self and the little girl that just wanted to be protected by someone........I cry for the girl that grew up really fast that fall and learned a lot of hard lessons the hard way........and I cry for the scars that were left behind. BUT I smile for the woman that grew out of those lessons and scars. They have helped shape me into me. Those scars give me the patience to go over that schedule 1 more time with my son, giving him advice about quickest routes to classes. I know to watch for depression. I rarely send my children into difficult situations alone. I love, love and love some more. And sometimes I learn to let go.
Its 3:45 a.m. and I am sitting here watching Bear, my 3 year old sleep. I just want to go around and hug all my babies; big and small. So many things I can't protect them from. So I pray.
Lord, please guide and protect my children today. Give them courage rather than fear. Help me help them. Thank you for each minute that I have with them. Amen.