Today… for the past week… I have felt terrible for my poor sister. She is so so so sick. Just miserable. And today she appears to have contracted a stomach bug on top of the back/abdominal pain she’s been experiencing since giving birth 8 months ago plus the sinus infection she was diagnosed with last week. She called me, sobbing, and it broke my heart because there was not a thing I could do. I sent her to the ER via my brother-in-law (thank goodness for him– he’s amazing), and I listened while she cried, but that was about it. My poor sweet sister. I wish so much that there were something I could do!
“It is through prayer… that one will be given the most powerful light to see God and self.” –Angela of Foligno
Is prayer, for my sweet sister, perhaps something I can do?
“‘To see God’ is to care very little about anything lesser. But in prayer I see my own littleness most clearly. I know how cowardly I really am. My voice is but one drop of water in an ocean of oppression. It will not change the ocean. But it may put it in need of explaining the injustice it can no longer hide, perhaps. I cannot not speak what my heart knows to be true.” –Joan Chittister
Here’s what I know to be true: my sister is hurting and she needs me. I cannot do anything for her physically, but I can send her my love. I can throw out a prayer or two. I can ask God, the Creator, maker of heaven and earth, all the Angels and Saints, to wrap my sister in love, love, love. To give her comfort and peace. To let her rest and to take away her worry.
We are so small in the grand scheme of things, like Joan says… in the world, the universe, all of it. And this exceptionally rough time for my sweet sister will pass. But it most certainly does not feel small to her right now. Her whole world right now is pain and discomfort and worry and uncertainty. So my prayer this evening is for her, to know that I love her, that we all love her, that God loves her, that she is going to feel better in the blink of an eye and this will all be a vague memory of struggle, something that Abby and Stu and their sweet little family made it through, allowing them to look back on their strength.
Do you ever have a moment where you just get really excited about something and have to share? This is one of those moments! And then it spirals. Man, blogging is just happening right now.
My Aunt Susan, my beautiful and amazing aNut, who I have loved forever and ever and who I enjoy getting to love differently with each passing year (more on that in a minute) is married to a man named Ed. And he is from Scotland. And because he’s awesome, and he loves my aunt and is therefore required to love me (except I think he might even if he weren’t actually required) he wore his real deal kilt to my wedding and lets me call him Ed, the Scot, and also plays the “Doctor.” “Doctor.” game with me (because we’re both doctors– the PhD kind)… so I was ridiculously pleased when I saw a series of recent posts on Facebook of my Uncle Ed, on tv, and basically winning a Dead Poets Society competition.
It was too good! All of it!!
Here he is, at the mic, on tv, basically winning…
And then they showed a picture of the audience, including those three people that make my heart swell!! Ed, my aNut, and my Grandma. Love, love, love!!
So exciting! I’m ridiculously proud! And not just because Ed is from Scotland and a PhD in physics and married to my Aunt… but mostly that’s why 😉 Regardless, he’s my most favorite man that any of my mom’s sisters have ever, ever, ever been married to. Ever. So glad he’s in the familia!
Anyway, about my Aunt, who I’ve been thinking about a lot lately (and not just because I’m working on a late birthday present for her– which I am, and it’s awesome), but also because she’s the best person I know at talking about love and relationships between people. The best.
We talked before about how when my sister was due with her first little girl, Emma, I basically freaked out. I was terrified of losing my sister. We’ve all seen Frozen, we should all be watching Once Upon a Time (because it’s awesome), so we all know there’s nothing worse than losing a sister. Television and movies don’t lie.
And neither does my aunt. She was so re-assuring and honest. She told me that Abby would still love me and I would still love her, but that it was true, our relationship would change… and that I would be amazed at how much I would love her little girl.
Right. On. The. Money.
And now she has another one– precious little Claire, who I also adore with all my heart. Abby is different now, because she’s Emma and Claire’s mom, but she’s still my sister and I love her something fierce. And Emma and Claire are so different, yet I love them both in a crazy auntie kind of way. Differently, because even so young, they’re already very different people, but so so so intensely. I was so worried about Abby changing that I forgot to consider that possibility that being an aunt my just change me too. I’m so glad that it did!
The point I’m trying to make here though, most of all, is that the way I love my sister and the way I love her girls, my sweet little nieces, changes the way I love my aunt. Not for better or for worse, but from a different perspective and with a whole new sense of complete and total gratitude for the way she has loved me for so many years. I had done nothing to earn it, except by being an extension of my mom, but now I know what it feels like to love that little being anyway and I can appreciate just how loved I was (and am, of course!) by my aunt.
It’s a special bond, you guys. And I’m so excited that Abby has two little girls and that someday Emma and Claire will be like Rita and Judy (my grandma and her sister), Beth and Susan (my mom and her sister), and me and Abby. It’s a crazy and beautiful thing.
It’s interesting to note though, that Judy had three boys and so did Susan… perhaps that’s what will be in the cards for me! I do like patterns.
It’s day 3 of my wonky work schedule. The morning of day 3 even. And I’m SUPER off. Like way too off for only having dealt with three days of slightly shifting my hours at work.
Clearly, change is not my thing. Not at all.
I’ve got all sorts of awesome ideas and several blog posts started, but… nothing yet.
This week at work, I’m moderating some focus groups for patients and caregivers all over the country. In this respect, it’s a way good deal to be living in the Central time zone, not too far from the east or the west, but conducting the groups after hours means that I’ve had to adjust my work schedule… they just don’t pay me enough to work all those extra hours without compensation, so I’m going in late. Like noon or one-ish and staying until I’m done (like 9 or 10-ish).
It’s a couple of hours. So, no big deal, right? Except… I’m barely functional. Everything is off. I can’t wake up in the morning, I can’t fall asleep at night, my meal schedule is crazy and I’ve been unable to get myself to exercise (with the exception of a couple walks) or to do simple household tasks, like loading or unloading the dishwasher, until the wee hours of the morning when desperation sets in.
My behavior is just bizarre. Clearly, I am meant for a regular 9 – 5, nothing different.
It’s particularly interesting because I spent six years in grad school burning the candle from both ends, constantly working, at work, away from work, thinking hard in the car on my way to and from work… never a moment where it wasn’t gonorrhea, chlamydia, mice, mice, mice on my mind. Maybe I burned myself completely out? I no longer have that capacity, I guess.
And at the moment, I’m completely useless.
That scares me.
I’m a 30-year-old woman who claims to want to start a family (and desperately so!), but can’t manage a 4-hour shift in my activities of daily living.
Maybe the G-man knows something I don’t. That I’m clearly not ready for any additional responsibility in life, because, seriously, look at me…
Or maybe I’m over-analyzing a tired, particularly off week? Half a week, even.
Who knows. But I’m freaking out.
For some reason, this relatively minor shift in hours feels like it has completely removed me from the world I lived in before. It’s been literally 3 days, and I just feel completely disconnected… like I’m no longer living in parallel with everyone and everything around me. Just off.
I suppose, though, that some days are like that… even in Australia. (Can you believe they’re making that into a movie, btw?! Not sure how I feel about seeing grumpy goose Alexander and his terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day on the big screen…)
This morning, I was planning to go into work for a 10:00 am PCORI webinar, but decided to do it at home, on my couch, in my comfies, with a mug of tea instead. It was a good choice. I was already freaking out about the possibility of a 10 – 10 work day and the stress I was feeling was so overly dramatic and unnecessary. This morning of couch surfing and learning and sipping tea and enjoying the view from my window (goooooorgeous day) was a much better choice. A little chance to blog-style reflect on what my deal is.
Perhaps my deal is just that I don’t like to feel disconnected. An interesting observation for an introvert like me. But hear me out…
Although I’m an introvert, I do still feel connected to the world around me. I enjoy the walk into work in the morning, plans for lunch at noon, a short walk with my pup and a long jog for myself after I get home. I like making dinner for myself and my husband, having a brownie on the couch afterward. Doing some writing. I like tucking myself into bed around 10:00 and reading and reading and reading until my eyes won’t stay open any more (and the panic of realizing I shouldn’t have done that when I sleep through another alarm in the morning).
I like routine. That’s not such a bad thing, I suppose.
The bad thing, the thing I’m worried about, is that I can’t seem to deal real well with a disruption, no matter how minor or temporary.
Maybe the temporary is the problem though. Maybe it’s when the disruption becomes the routine, a la the six years of my life spent in grad school, that I actually settle in to the pattern and let it be the norm.
When Curls had her first knee surgery back in October of 2013, using the leash and sling to take her out every time she had to go potty was a major disruption for both Seth and me. It seemed like such a big deal. But we’ve been doing it now for over a year and it has, in fact, become the norm… I no longer even think twice about grabbing the leash and the sling and taking Curly out into the yard. It’s just life.
Well, look at this… a live a ha! moment. Change is hard at first, it requires adjustment, and without the opportunity to adjust into something and let it become the regular, it’s going to feel off, at least for me. I can be off for a week, a week with a wonky schedule, and it’s not going to derail my entire life. That’s reassuring.
Being off this week, to me, feels like a big deal. But my life and the lives around me are going on… moving forward… and I’ll rejoin the march, in step, next week.
So let’s all look forward to that. To getting back on track and feeling like myself again. To connecting with you again on a regular and personal basis. To giving myself grace to be off for a week… yet letting this week do it’s work on me (because it is working, these focus groups, talking to these patients and their families).
Although, my sister brought my soundly back to Earth when I talked about how awesome these focus groups were on Facebook:
Oh snap, Shabsky! She and I are both studying meme-use and sarcasm under the tutelage of our sarcastic meme-using genius of a brother. Abby is learning quickly! I’m impressed!
The letter L is coming, don’t worry, but today I must I interrupt your regularly scheduled programming for a very important announcement.
Baby Claire is here!
My champion Fisky sister was admitted to the hospital at 7:30 am on Friday, June 27th and didn’t stop (or eat any real food!) until she had herself a baby at 9:09 pm. And, as expected, she’s perfection.
World (i.e. readers of Under the Tapestry), please welcome my newest niece, Claire Elizabeth.
This is what really kills me though– Claire with her big sister. And Emma is being a top notch big sister. Turns out, she’s way less selfish than I was when my baby sister came around!
Could they be any cuter?!
It’s times like these when this distance is extra hard. My sister is so much more than just my sister, she’s my best friend, my confidante, my favorite person on this Earth… and Lake Michigan is IN THE WAY of all that at the moment.
Maybe it’s for the best though. Emma and Claire have two sets of devoted grandparents who need to squeeze those cheeks and spoil them rotten before it’s my turn. So I’ll leave them to it… for now.
But get ready, girlies! Auntie Rachel is on her way!
And don’t worry, Fisky Sister, I’m fully prepared for cooking, laundry, dog walking, diaper changing, Lifetime movie watching… whatever it is that you need. I’m even bringing you dairy-free banana muffins! Surprise! Best sister ever!
(Don’t worry, she won’t be reading this right now. She just had a baby… a SECOND baby. No way does she have time for bloggity blogs.)
First thing Thursday morning, I’ll be trekking across the UP (yesssss…) with several books on CD and plans to stop at the lovely little rest stop in Naubinway for a photo op on the dunes of Lake Michigan. Then across the bridge and downstate a ways to Midland, land of these little darlings.
Only a couple more days!
I will likely have some relatively shoddy internet in the interim (making an overnight stop at a cabin in the northwoods with my husband and his family), but I’ve got stuff cooking for the letters L and M… so you can expect them shortly. I just wanted to take this moment to share the most shiny silver lining of all.
True, I have no babies. And I’m having a lot of trouble trying to have babies. As such, it can be hard to watch other people have baby after baby after baby and know that I can’t. It’s hard not to feel broken. But then my sister has one… and wow.
The truth is that someone else having a baby has absolutely no bearing on whether I can or can’t, will or won’t, should or shouldn’t. It’s unrelated. And it’s amazing. My sister has brought two incredible little humans into this world, and even I am surprised at how deeply and how quickly I’ve fallen in love with them.
I’m sure it’s good to be a mama, but I don’t know that good yet. What I do know is that it’s great to be an auntie and awesome to be a sister. And I’m happy to be those things any day, any time.
Because I can’t let my dear friend Dawn down, ever, let’s return to the letter E for just a quick moment.
Now on to the letter F!
April 9th, 1987 was the last “normal” day of my life. I was three and already an old lady in my mind.
The next day, I was sitting in the living room of a family I barely knew when a tall, glasses-wearing, balding man in work clothes came walking up to the door. I yelled out, “Daddy!” and was absolutely mortified when it wasn’t him. I was so embarrassed that the lady I was staying with thought it would be nice to give me some jello. Green jello.
Green?! Salt in the freaking wound! Of all the jello colors… green?! Ugh.
(Note: I have no opposition to the use of green jello as one of many layers in a delicious multi-layered jello salad, which incidentally counts as a side dish rather than as a dessert in the great state of Wisconsin. But green jello on its own? No thank you.)
Before that, I remember being in the hospital with my mom and dad and leaving without my mom. What the whaaaaaat?! As far as I was concerned, it was my mom’s job, passion, life to take care of me and now I was to be abandoned. Abandoned to the not-dad and lady with green jello.
On April 10th, 1987, Abby was born and I was no longer an only child. I had a sister.
I’m a jealous and self-centered person by nature. I realize that sounds super self-deprecating, but it’s the truth and certainly not unexpected of a three year old. (Not so hot at 30; I try to be better.) My sudden realization that I was no longer alone, no longer the sole focus of my parents’ combined adoring attention was basically devastating.
In the months that followed, I came down with a severe case of what the doctor called “Abby-itis”… constant nagging, yet invisible, ailments that required frequent trips to the doctor. Ahhh… attention. Very astute diagnosis, Dr. Stone.
Sometime around high school or so I stopped calling my sister Abalucus (and singing the accompanying song that ended with “Abalucas, you smell like rotten po-taaaa-to peels!!!”) and switched to calling her Shabsky. I don’t know why. It just came to me.
Then she got a middle name– I started calling her Shabsky Balu. Short for Shabsky Baluga. Last name? Fisk. Why? No idea.
(Imagine my shock when I went to google an image of a “baluga” whale only to find out that it’s actually spelled “beluga”… too late to change the nickname birth certificate now!)
Most of the time I call Abby Shabs, short for Shabsky. When I use it after “I love you,” it’s Shabsky Balu (on account of it rhymes and rhyming is awesome). When I’m feeling a little more formal, it’s Shabsky Baluga Fisk. When I talk about her as my sister, I call her my fisky sister. And now you know.
Turns out, Fisk isn’t a terribly uncommon word. Johnson and Johnson’s CEO’s first name is Fisk. Fisk Johnson. And there’s a historically black college called Fisk University in Nashville. I doubt very much that I had ever heard of either of those things back when I started calling my sister that, but it’s good to know that I may actually be able to purchase a Fisk sweatshirt someday when I finally make it to Nashville. (Shhh… don’t tell Shabs!)
My fisky little sister is freaking amazing.
You don’t even know.
(Unless you do know, and then I have no doubt you agree.)
She’s gorgeous, like so gorgeous you want to hate her, but then she opens her mouth and you think “oh, poor thing, such a ditz” and you love her… except then she suddenly puts on some steel-toed boots and a hard hat and tours you around her million story chemical plant, knowing all the ins and outs and pipes and valves (she’s a chemical engineer) and you realize that, actually, she’s freaking brilliant, and you want to hate her all over again. Except you can’t, because she’s ridiculously and crazy and genuinely nice. She’s just so… fisky! It’s the only way to explain it!
After I skipped third grade, Abby and I were far enough apart in school to guarantee that we were never in the same building. I never really knew how exceptionally sad that was going to be though until I went away to college and moving away from my sister was like leaving a little piece of my heart behind.
Imagine the surprise this warranted for the three-year-old self trapped in my 17-year-old body!
I’ve always loved her, but it took distance for me to really appreciate her. She told me when I moved away, “Don’t get drunk. Don’t get pregnant. I love you.” and then made me a bunch of killer soundtracks for life to take with me. I came home that year to watch her run in a cross country meet and to do her hair for her Homecoming dance (I colored the ends of her exceptionally bright blonde hair red with a washable marker– it was genius, she looked so great). We got closer that year, after I moved to the very opposite end of the state, than we had ever been before.
Since then, I’ve felt like my fisky little sister and I are basically intertwined. I love every single second of time I get to spend with her and I miss her always when I can’t. But, to be perfectly honest with you, I got really nervous about our relationship in December 2011 as her first due date rapidly approached.
I knew I already loved my niece more than anything, but I was jealous all over again. I like thinking of my Shabs as Rachel’s sister… I didn’t think I would like very much when Abby stopped being Rachel’s sister and started being Emma’s mom.
Good news, though! They’re one in the same! And as much as I think babies are cool and whatevs, no one is as cool as this crazy little Emma girl that my sister (and her husband, the illustrious Stu man) managed to produce– she’s amazing! A little mini-Abby! And I adore her!
Abby’s got another due date rapidly approaching at the end of June… she’s going to have another little girl, I’m going to have another niece, and Emma, that lucky ducky, is going to have a sister. I know how it’s going to feel for her at first; her world is going to be turned completely upside down. Little does she know, it’ll be the best thing that ever happens to her… because there is nothing better in this world than having a sister. Especially if she’s a real fisky one 🙂
Abby and I have always said that if we ever have a girl, we can’t stop having babies until we have another girl because every girl should have a sister. I know my mom and Aunt Susan would agree. So would my Grandma Rita and Great Aunt Judy. So far, my Shabsky Balu is batting a thousand– good work, Fisky!
What about you? Do you have a sister? Is she fisky? I hope so!
PS: My brother, aka my Stubby little Stubnitz, is pretty dang ah-ah-ah-mazing too. And he’s lucky enough to have TWO awesome sisters. If you ever wondered how wonderful life would be with a sister, he’d be the one to ask. Eh, Tombo?
Also, he’s going to write a book. He’s really good at writing dialogue. Like reeeeal good. Sometimes he sends me snippets of said book via text message in the middle of the night and I always, always, always want to read more. I’ve given him permission to use a couple of my more spectacular blog sentences (mostly because it flatters me when he says he likes them) and I fully plan to be acknowledged right at the beginning. Look for it someday!
Getting my ears pierced was a huge deal to me. HUGE!
My mom took me to Meijer’s (and yes, I know it’s Meijer not Meijer’s, but I’m from Michigan and therefore allowed to make the names of stores arbitrarily possessive) on Carpenter Road to get it done. The woman we paid was Indian and she had a piercing in her nose— I remember being super impressed by that, but also very, very happy with my ears.
My mom and I timed the piercing so that I could take out the studs and put in my first pair of new, real deal earrings on the first day of kindergarten. We even ordered special gem stone earrings from Avon for the occasion– one pair deep green-turquoise and the other a deep yellowy-orange. I think I wore the green ones on the first day of school, and man was I ever proud of them.
You know who else was proud of them? My Great Grandma V, Esther Van der Voort.(although as far as I was concerned “Grandma” was her first name). She lived a few miles from us in Sumpter Township and we used to go there a lot to eat a bucket of KFC in the breakfast nook, look at old pictures, and snack on Windmill cookies. (Mmmm… I still get cravings for Windmill cookies.)
To my Grandma V (yes, she was my mom’s grandma, my great grandma, but we always just said “grandma” and I’m not going to belabor the “great” part at this point in my life) having my ears pierced was an awesome right of passage and something to be celebrated. Every time we came to her house after that, she would give me a little baggie full of earrings from her own collection– how I treasured those!
Truthfully, part of it may have been her participation in the taunting of my sister that I treasured so much… “You know, Abby, you could have earrings too if you would get your ears pierced.” I’m a real sucker for teasing my sister (so sorry, sweet darling, Shabsky Balu– you know I love you, ardently (look it up)).
I must have been in first or second grade when I started bugging my parents for a second piercing. It was obviously out of the question at the time, but they told me I could get one when I started 6th grade.
Ladies and gentlemen, an elephant never forgets.
The second 5th grade was over, I was back to begging. (Please note that this was around the time of the hair, so you can imagine it was relatively easy for them to give in to something that might make me just a bit more satisfied with my appearance.)
Ultimately, my mom and dad relented (good call, parental units), and by the time I was in 8th grade, I had three piercings in each ear and was jonesing for a cartilage piercing… which I got two of when I was in high school.*
Even now, at 30 years old, I still love, love, love my earrings. I feel completely naked without them. So naked that I pretty much just leave them in always and rarely ever change them. Three sterling silver hoops in each ear, one more in the cartilage on the right. It’s my look… my thing… what makes me feel comfortable.
On special occasions, I slip into the big, creamy pearl studs that Seth got me with two smaller pairs of chocolate pearls or two other pairs of diamond studs. Those always make me feel special, too.
Some people dye their hair, wear crazy make up, get their nails done regularly, get tattoos– most people, women especially, have a signature thing. My thing (besides this crazy curly mess on my head– raise the roots!, and this square-jawed robot head… my thing that I can control, anyway…) is most certainly my earrings. And likely always will be. Earrings never go out of style after all. And even if they did… like I would care!
Much thanks to my Grandma V. No matter how old and cranky, arthritic and drug-dependent (sadly), she became, there was no ruining my memory of her– her big cheeks, hearty laugh, multi-colored bingo markers, beautiful tea cup sets, and the earrings that slowly became mine.
*Later, my new-ish boyfriend Seth would literally rip both cartilage piercings out of my ear. It hurt. A lot. But I missed them. So I got one of them re-done with a gift certificate his parents got me for Christmas. Earrings 🙂