Whirlwind

Should it be ice-cold and windy in May? I heard a lone, sustained shriek ripping through the dark late one evening. That certainly didn’t feel quiet and unobtrusive, like this:

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My busiest week in May is still going on.

Her sophomore year of college has come to a close. She and I hauled her stuff down 3 flights of stairs, just as she and I hauled it up three flights when she moved in last September. And just where did this year go?  How can we stuff life into these boxes… move here or there, walk upstairs and down, and the earth still spins on… seven billion of us, walking, waking, eating sleeping, studying, driving, working…. what are we all doing down here? And here are two of us, moving out of college, and God knows what we are doing, watches us, sees the boxes… and time is ripping right through my days like a knife, splitting them wide open and exposing how short and fast life is….

A whirlwind flying through; she was here for less than 24 hours, then left immediately for a special trip (me- jealous of this trip), with one of her good friends… friends since they were three years old. They were in K3, K4, and K5 together, and her friend’s mom and I also became good friends, too, and we began home educating at about the same time, for independent reasons but similar timing.

The girls grew up together, we’ve had so many co-ops together, participated in so many of the same activities. How could it have gone by so very fast? They were just sitting at my dining table doing art projects not too long ago. I remember her birthday parties. We had book clubs all through elementary and middle school. The girls wrote and acted out plays, wrote stories… so many creative and good memories. Many Thanksgivings, many New Year Eves, some Easters, they’ve called,  knowing there is no other family nearby, and my kids would say “yes” and I’ve sat at their table often through the years. The whirlwind of time… slow and fast at the same time….

And now the girls are both in college and still very good friends. They have a third friend, too, who also grew up with them. And how could it be that all three of these young ladies are all so beautiful, inside and out, all care about truth, love God, and all three smart as whips… all received full tuition scholarships to three different colleges? One is pursuing law, the other one speech therapy, and the other one medicine. Did any one of us orchestrate their paths crossing?

I told both girls (and so did her mom) how lucky they were on so many levels. Not only is this a very special trip, one they’ll always remember, but also because of their friendship.

Starting on this particular journey, not knowing who or what would be along the road, I am thankful they are friends. Who did I meet, who would I meet, on some of these solitary roads? Her mom – one of my good friends – we used to have a yearly tradition of celebrating our birthdays, which are both in the spring, we used to hold each other accountable in some things… and she was someone who spoke a truth when no one else had – and though I know it’s true- always true- I remember hearing it spoken plainly, clearly: some things are never right, never right, never okNo, some things are not; they are never right, never ok.

So many stones, blind spots, so much stumbling, and I’m thankful to see some good… especially when I’m feeling like all of the things I haven’t done and am not doing are flying past me at break-neck speed… I feel all of my failures so keenly. Will this be how I’m remembered? I don’t know. But I feel it and yes, it concerns me. And so it’s good to see something good.

She’ll be back for just a few days, then will move into an apartment (an apartment!) for the last 2 years of college with 3 other friends. I didn’t move into an apartment until after I finished college, so I suppose this move came sooner than I expected, because an apartment is essentially like… moving out.

She has a paid summer science research job, which will cover her rent and food for the next year. Amazing. It’s one of the research positions she very much wanted, and maybe she will even get published. All good things. She’s such a nice person, too. Cares about people. Loves God. Doesn’t hold grudges. Everyone loves her. Even two years after being out of speech and debate, I have other folks coming to me and asking about her, and remembering her, saying such nice things about her… she made such a positive impact on others.  Just where did this child come from?! 

I’m very happy for her, I’m glad she is living her life, and doing all these things. I really like her friends and her roommates. She warned me last summer that it would likely be her last summer at home because of exactly this reason: summer jobs, research, internships, etc., and I knew all year-long that this is what she was planning on. Of course, I didn’t know what job she’d eventually have, but being out-of-town was a real possibility.

She’s had a great sophomore year (in spite of the migraine headaches caused by a fall and a concussion last year). Toward the end of her first semester, while studying for her finals, she called me and said she was ready to drop out because of the migraines.

What does a parent do? Listen. I listened. And it wasn’t the first time I’d gotten that kind of call. She’d been in so much pain last fall, needing to sleep every afternoon when the headaches hit, which no pain medicine would help. She said once she wanted to separate her head from the rest of her because of the pain. Can you imagine? Those were her exact words. This was a bigger thing than anyone initially realized, this is a long haul, a long healing. Ironically, one of her speeches during her senior year of speech competition, which won, was about “pain” and how it isn’t supposed to always be this very bad thing. She spoke about the spiritual, physical, emotional aspects and benefits of pain… what good can be had and learned from pain. Yes, that was her speech topic, taken from her life experience until then (with all of her therapy and other things she had experienced up until that point)… and then she found she had been given the opportunity to live it in a new way. I told her, and she also said it herself, that going through all of that will make her a better, more compassionate physician. I don’t know the answers to “why” of her situation, but it definitely changed the trajectory of her college life: no study abroad was possible because the migraines caused a domino effect as she had to completely change her course load to deal with it (no summer course last summer in organic chemistry- she had to drop all notions of taking any summer classes last summer). I wasn’t even sure she’d be able to go back to school last fall and tried to mentally prepare her for that possibility. I even spoke to the school to learn what to do incase she was not able to return for a semester. Would it affect her scholarship? What sort of status would that change into? How long could she be in that situation? All of those questions… I met with them personally and asked.  But, she forced herself through it. The first two weeks went well, so she thought she was mostly better. But that turned out not to be the case. For the girl who loves to travel, not studying abroad for a semester was a big deal,  and she had to learn to deal with it, and she still wishes she could somehow make it work.  Even now, it’s all a waiting game: will her headaches subside enough for her to study for the MCAT, which she has to take next year? Only time will tell. 

I’m in the middle of one of the busiest weeks of May, and today is a long and busy and full day with two big events (having a booth for the forensics league in the morning,  and then emceeing my kids’ forensics club annual banquet in the afternoon and evening… a yearly event, but as club leader I have the job this year).  I realized last night I need to say something… and sometime today I will come up with something to say…. Long day ahead, but when you can’t sleep, you just can’t sleep, and at 5 am I wonder if it’s even worth it to to sleep, even if it’s just for an hour before it’s time to get up and go and step back into the whirlwind….

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