*thumpthumpthump* Is this thing on?
A coworker asked me other day how the blog was going..... EXACTLY! Which is why I felt it necessary to check in.
In short (ha! is it ever?), I am completely overwhelmed in the professional department and completely underwhelmed in the motherhood department. My hours require me to forfeit nights home with Maddie anywhere from 5-7 nights/week. When you add in her school schedule and my autonomy (on-call) shifts, this means I frequently go 7-10 days in a row without seeing her. True, her father has been great about bringing her into the ER on those longer stretches of time so that I can take a 15 minute break to have some hot chocolate with her and check in on how her life is going, but.... it's not enough. She's going to be 10 next month. I ran a pregnancy check on a 10 year old at work tonight. 'Ick' doesn't even begin to cover it.
Work is work. It's hard, it's emotional as hell, it gets harder as the days-worked-in-a-row stretch even further... but I'm still proud to say I work at the busiest ER in the state, with the best people on earth. We lost one of our doctors this past weekend to a sudden (and as yet unexplained) collapse. She was one of my favorite docs. Compassionate, no-nonsense, strategically and not overzealously potty-mouthed, hilarious, brilliant, warm, and an amazing resource to me over the last six months of my employment there. In spite of her 20+ years of experience in the ER, she never made me feel like shit, like an idiot. And I loved her for that. She was an exemplary role model not only in terms of emergency medicine, but as a mother and a human being. It didn't strike me how much I'd miss her until I walked into work tonight for the first time since she died and truly felt her absence. Every step from my car to the ER felt like my feet were encased in concrete. For the first time since my father died, I felt myself calling upon the spirit of a deceased loved one, asking for help just to get me through the fucking door.
I know this is touchy-feely asinine bullshit, but can you just pretend to be here for a second and get me inside among others who are also missing you before they wind up calling a first response on my panic-attacking ass. Hold my hand, Katie. Remind me to be strong. To put one foot in front of the other, because I have feet, because I have a body attached to them that is living and breathing and somehow still whole. I'll buy you a drink later to pay you back, really. Thank you.
It's true: there are no atheists in a foxhole.
And you leave a big, big hole, my friend.
So that's where I'm at. If I'm quiet here these days, it's because I'm trying my damnedest to hold it together until my work/life balance is, well, balanced. I have a great job, amazing coworkers, a whole new family of friends, a steady paycheck, health insurance, a (knock on wood) functional vehicle, a roof over my head that will soon be expanded, and the support of the most quietly steadfast, salt-of-the-earth partner I've ever known. My daughter occasionally recalls that I am not solely, essentially, at heart, the Evil Person Who Forces Her to Clean Her Room. We put up our pathetic little Charlie Brown Xmas tree over the weekend, and I was so grateful for that tradition, that stupid little marker of another year gone by, the fork we place at the top of the tree in place of a star, an ornament given to me by my mother, a fork I ate off of as a child, to remind me that family, love, food, shelter, togetherness, are all that matter; that through this stupid, mottled, tarnished piece of silverware, my family is still one; my father, still alive, in me, in this piece of shit tree from Walgreen's. 1978. Baby's First Christmas; a pearlescent bulb. A silver sphere from my great-grandmother. A reindeer made of wine corks to remind me that This is What Happens When You Have a Broke Gay Uncle Who Likes Wine at Christmas. Teddy bears with drums I sewed by hand at age 10? 12? A tree made of baked clay, painted by my daughter at age two.
We've dragged this sorry ass piece of shit Xmas tree from our shoebox apartment on Marshall St to its slightly superior neighbor in the same building, to a house with a man who for whatever reason moved on from us, to this place, this apartment, to our current lives, our current selves. Maddie, a nearly-10 year old. Me, an emergency department nurse, and somehow still - if only by a thread, it feels, at times (it's a strong thread, steel and platinum, woven, intact, an AVM gone blissfully, miraculously right) - her mom, her co-conspirator in all things nail polish and rock. And us, still moving forward, still calling on the spirits of those who gave us these treasures, these trinkets on the tree, to keep us moving forward, one leaded foot in front of the other, marching lockstep toward something better, the best we've ever known.
"If you can't pay the rent
go off to work with a proud step,
and remember, my love, that I am watching you
and together we are the greatest wealth
that was ever gathered upon the earth."
- Pablo Neruda