God Bless Us, Every One!

I Love Christmas Movies, in particular the classics.  And No, I don’t mean Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase or Elf with Will Farrell.  I mean the True Classics like It’s a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed, or A Christmas Carol with George C. Scott or White Christmas with Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney.

I had watched so many of these great classics this past week to really get into the Christmas spirit.  One of the best scenes in A Christmas Carol that resonated with me especially this season was when Bob Cratchit is carrying his son, Tim, home for Christmas Eve Dinner.  They pass kids playing and skating on ice, and Tim looks at them, obviously longing to be out there. His father assures him that one day soon, he’ll be out there too, playing with the rest of the children.  And Tim replies “I’m quite sure I will.  I feel myself getting stronger every day.”  For the first time, in all of my years watching this movie, I actually knew how Tiny Tim felt.  And we even having matching crutches 🙂

The Holiday season tends to bring up ranges of emotions.  From the happiness of seeing family come into town.  To the joy of being off from work.  To the excitement of seeing kids opening presents.  To sadness of missing those whose place setting is no longer on the table.  It’s an emotional time of the year, since the holidays bring out the best, and sometimes worst, in people.

I myself had an emotional holiday season.  I had many highs and lows.  I had really great days, and some pretty lousy hours.  I was surrounded by family and friends much of week, and ran into a few Scrooges along the way.

The Holidays are the busiest time of year, I have found.  And when you are not starting your day with a full tank of gas, the nonstop action of Christmas is especially exhausting.  I had 6 straight full days where I was on my feet the entire time, and trying to find quiet places to rest my eyes each day.  However, it’s the one time of year when everyone is in town, so I wanted to try to stretch my limits. I didn’t want to miss a thing.  And I didn’t.

I managed to get in morning therapy every day this week too. I had to push myself through a few times, but it felt so good when I got off the treadmill, with another accomplishment under my merry belt.  I decided this week I would test myself by doing back to back full days in the office, to see if I could manage. I made it through Day 1 with flying colors, but really struggled through Day 2.  As always, I am looking for my boundaries, and I believe that I have found one with work.  No two full days in a row at the office.

This was also about the time I ran into Scrooge.  Grouchy, Cranky, Unhappy Scrooge. Here I was with my Christmas Cheer in full effect, snazzy festive cane in hand, my smile ear to ear, and my upbeat inflection obviously in my voice.  His cold demeanor and depressing attitude instantly deflated me.  I almost called him Ebeneezer, but decided it was best to bite my tongue.  I actually walked away and shivered from the chill he gave me.  Blech.  It took a little while to shake that one off, but I reminded myself that you just don’t need to be around a Scrooge.  Let him take his Bah Humbugs somewhere else.

This week was also my annual Christmas Dinner with some of my most favorite friends.  We met at a friend’s house, and each brought a platter, and multiple bottles of wine.  I tried to nap earlier in the day, to save up my energy, but I was just too excited to rest.  This was always a night that I look forward to every year, and I knew this year would be no exception.  We also made it an Ugly Sweater  Themed Party.  I got my beauty at Kohl’s, and I actually felt bad buying it.  I was snickering as I held up the sight of snowmen and snowballs on a zip up sweater, because the woman next to me was buying it for real.  I add a few accessories—- a plastic angel pin, a mock turtleneck and put christmas colored earrings in my ears— even the second and third holes that apparently are still there.  Off I went!

I have felt very vulnerable these past few months since I got sick.  You lose a sense of confidence and security when you have to rely on people to do mundane things for you.  Make your lunch.  Help you off the couch.  Buy your groceries.  Open the door for you.  People do it, because humans are inherently good.  However, it takes a toll on your psyche because you wonder if you’ll ever be able to make your own lunch, get up off the couch yourself, shop at Genuardi’s and get through that revolving door again.  You wonder if anyone will every look at you again and see you for who you were before you got sick, instead of with sad, sympathetic eyes wondering what happened to you.  It’s a vulnerable time because, as a single gal, you wonder if a man will see past the temporary cane and the slow gait, and see your heart, strength and resilience, not a woman with GBS.

I felt many of these emotions at dinner.  Some of it was because I was in a safe place where vulnerability is embraced and supported.  Some of it was the holiday season which always brings out the sentimental side of me.  Some of it were the bottles of Pinot Noir, Malbec and Cabernet that I willingly helped to polish off with the others.  I didn’t realize how much I had been struggling emotionally with GBS since August.  I knew how much physically I had been struggling, but I think I have hit my emotional limit.

And the time seemed right, and safe, to just crack, a little.  I was circled by hugs, love and support.  I didn’t need to be strong Suzy that night.  I could just be tired, beat up and frustrated Suzy who needed her friends to pick her up that night.  It’s a scary thing to be that vulnerable and open.  I wasn’t always like this.  I used to keep much more bottled up inside, and figure out ways to deal on my own.  However, when you find good, true friends that you can be your most vulnerable self with, consider yourself blessed.  It’s okay to be scared, because true friends will be scared right along side of you.

The best part of the party is the simplicity of it– Good Friends, Good Wine, Good Laughs.  It was one of the best nights I have had in a long time.  I spent much of the next day thinking about how truly lucky I am to have these women in my life.  As Clarence, the Angel from It’s a Wonderful Life says, “no man is a failure who has friends”.

I walked into the Loos Family Christmas Dinner the next night.  I was so looking forward to this dinner ever since I got the invite this week.  I couldn’t believe my luck that this amazing, tall, NY accented family would all be down the street from my house during Christmas.  I marked it on my calendar, and made my body promise to hold out through Friday night. I would NOT miss this.  Since Margaret lives so close to me, I decided to be brave and drive there myself on Friday Night.

As I walked down their driveway, wine, fruit tart, tea cookies in tow, I stood at the bottom of the stairs wondering how I would get up the steps with no help.  Luckily for me, my best friend Katherine, by my good fortune, happened to be walking through the kitchen at the very time I was struggling with my stair dilemma.  She whisked open the door, barreled down the stairs and grabbed me for a big hug.  Within moments, her two brothers were outside, grabbing everything out of my arms, and offering me support up the stairs.  The help was immediate and appreciated.  My arrival was announced, and I was instantly surrounded by hugs, kisses and love.  Just like that.

I sat and watched the Loos grandchildren opening up their gifts, squealing in joy by the latest Lego Set that arrived, the newest Heelys that were being tried on and the coolest Hunger Games Shirt that had just arrived by UPS minutes before.  As I sat in the living room I thought to myself, I am a lucky girl because this is my extended family.  This is a family that no matter how long it has been since I have seen them all, it’s like we’re back on West Prospect, and I’m riding my Huffy Bike up to visit them (See Big George).

It will be 30 years in February that I met them, and this Christmas, I am grateful that they are part of my life.  I talked with Little George about how I was doing, really.  And I told him the truth.  I’m tired of being tired, and I’m sick of being sick.  It’s stinks.  So, he and his wife Cathy promised that when I get my legs back 100%, I’ll be back in Manhattan, and we’re going dancing.  I can’t wait for that date.  Suzy Tarheel would be making another appearance in the City that Never Sleeps.  And Suzy Tarheel will be up all night with her!

I made an early departure from the Loos Christmas Dinner. I had come for exactly what I needed.  Family Time with my extended Family. I also left with a box of Dunkin Donuts K-cups and a really cute Kate Spade travel bag!  It was another very good night.

Finally, I spent the rest of the weekend with the Carney Family.  Saturday and Sunday was filled with so much laughter, that I got my ab  workout for the weekend sitting right there, in my parent’s sunroom.  Christmas Mass was challenging.  Right from the start, I struggled.  It was hard getting through the glass door by myself since it swings open with the hand I use for my cane, so I was flustered when I walked in since I couldn’t get through the door discreetly.  You forget how much sitting, then standing, then kneeling to standing, then kneeling to sitting there is in the Catholic Church. I had a whole hour of PT just going to church.  And Yes, I was the person in the communion line holding up the pace.  But, it’s Christmas, so no one lapped me.

I was pretty mobile on Saturday and Sunday, and I’ll admit, I was struggling physically.  I had done two full days in the office, plus two additional long days of therapy, working from home and Christmas parties.  I was at my physical limit.

I brought my new-found favorite energy drink, FRS, and dove into it early on Saturday and Sunday, to give me an extra boost.  I woke up Christmas Morning at my parent’s house, and was able to enjoy some quiet conversation with my Mom in the Sunroom before anyone else arrived.  It was a really great part of my day– the sun was shining, the gifts had already been open, I had a piping hot cup of coffee in my hands and my mom and I had time to reflect.  Another year was in the books, and I counted my blessings for all that had been bestowed on me this year.

As I sit here writing this post, I realize that I am still tired.  It’s been a really long week.  I have had a bumpy few days, but a week that I’m glad to have had the chance to feel, live and endure.  I have heard from so many people these last 3 months since I launched my blog that in some way, my writing has mattered to them.

I’ll be honest, I write mostly for a selfish purpose.  Writing helps me clear my head and put life back into perspective. It helps me work through the clutter that is in my mind, and shows me all that I have accomplished, especially on days when I feel I have done so very little.

The most rewarding part of writing is having something that I have written recited back to me.  It’s remarkable.  While I realize that writing has made a significant difference in my life, knowing that it has touched someone else’s makes my journey much more bearable.  I promise to keep writing, if you promise to keep reading.

God Bless Us. Every One.

Thank you for joining me on this journey.

Suz

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5 responses to this post.

  1. I really enjoy examining on this site, it has superb posts. “Never fight an inanimate object.” by P. J. O’Rourke.

    Reply

  2. I believe this website has got some really great information for everyone : D.

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  3. Posted by Emily on January 3, 2012 at 4:16 PM

    Suzy,
    Of course we will keep reading. I look forward to your posts and I love that you are able to open up and honestly share your experiences.
    It was fabulous to see you for the Christmas celebration!
    May you have peace, happiness and continued healing in 2012!
    Love, Em

    Reply

  4. Posted by katherine major on December 30, 2011 at 2:25 PM

    We loved sharing our holiday with you, Suzabell.
    Keep your chin up, and don’t forget to invite me when you go dancing in NYC.
    -Katherine

    Reply

  5. Posted by Christine O'Day on December 27, 2011 at 5:49 PM

    Suzy…i love reading your words. you keep that fighting spirit! i am thinking of you and cheering you on from new jersey 🙂
    all good things for you in 2012!
    xo

    Reply

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