The last month has been rough. My husband and my son both had eye infections, and it's a bit of a miracle I didn't get it as well. My husband isn't the sort of person who sits still very well, and since his eye infection was viral, and he works in a clinical environment, he had to stay home for a week.
The week goes by with him getting more and more restless by the day, cleaning the house, coming up with projects, tearing apart my desk so he could build something better...and when he was cleared to go back to work, I was relieved. But, that only lasted one day.
He broke out in hives, and we still don't know what caused it. He was in such bad shape that his fingertips and some other areas were swollen enough to be discolored. Benadryl barely relieved the discomfort. Last Sunday they ended up putting him on corticosteroids, which finally cleared it up.
That's all a simple "what happened" written out here. All very matter-of-fact. What's missing is the fear we had through all of this. The confusion we faced in not knowing what was going on. Having everything thrown off, because I was just establishing a routine after being diagnosed with high blood pressure. My whole world has been thrown off kilter. So, the last week I've tried to catch my breath a little. I had a good appointment with my doctor where he told me to come back in a month instead of two weeks. I was preparing for NaNoWriMo and getting the house back under control.
Sunday I found out my uncle, Rick, had been struck by a car while he was crossing the street, and killed. I live in Phoenix, and he lived up in Ogden, Utah. He's lived all over Utah and California through my life. Always traveling, always restless. Uncle Rick was a musician, a singer, and a product of growing up in southern California in the 60s and 70s. They grew up literally across the street from Knott's Berry Farm, and spent way too much time at Disneyland.
The thing I remember most about Uncle Rick is, he wasn't always entirely grounded in reality. He was kind, sweet, full of wisdom and odd advice...but he was a dreamer, and he didn't stick to one place for long. He bought me my first legal drink on my 21st birthday while my mom kinda hesitated and protested half heartedly in the background because she'd just started going back to the LDS church and was trying to get me to go back, too. I mean...he was just so cool. That's also when I met his second wife, Aunt Deborah, who is an artist and also a free spirit.
It's hard to put things I know about him or think about him down into words. He didn't live close to us, ever. But I always heard about him from others. From my mom, from my grandma, from my aunt and my other uncle. Uncle Rick was the oldest of four, and apparently a bit of a pain in the ass to grow up with. When Uncle Robert broke his arms, Uncle Rick dangled spaghetti just barely out of reach in front of him. When my mom was on the Ferris Wheel with him, he'd rock the carriage while they were at the top, telling her stories of kids who fell to their deaths by doing the same. He had a band in high school, and would get embarrassed by my mom's clothing choices, refusing to acknowledge they were related. (In all fairness, I don't blame him. My mother's taste and style have always been questionable, at best.)
I spent summers visiting my grandma's house (until I was 14 and my grandma moved to Idaho) with his daughters, Lindsay and Kelsey. Kelsey was a little too young for me to really get to know, but Lindsay is an awesome cousin and she was fun to hang around with. Of all my cousins, she's the one I know the most and feel the closest kinship with. Maybe I didn't get to know Uncle Rick all that well, but I could see him reflected in the kind of person Lindsay was, and is. Irreverent, making some noise in the world, and a good person at heart...if a bit of a pain. (All the best people are a bit of a pain.)
So, as I come up on Samhain, honoring my years as a pagan/Wiccan by looking back over the last year, I've lost a lot this last year. I lost May, a fan and friend I met 14 years ago. I lost Rebecca, a coworker of mine who left behind two adorable young daughters, and who helped our training batch stay a little saner, a little more joyful, as we went through hell together. My dad had to close shop on the gallery he'd established to honor his dad. I lost my job and a little bit of my faith in humanity from watching the worst things you can imagine play out for me day after day. We lost beloved pets to the extreme heat of the Phoenix summer. I lost a bit of my youthful disbelief in my mortality by finding out I have a heart condition. And finally, I lost another piece of my family.
But Samhain isn't about mourning. It's the night when the veil is thin, and we honor those who have gone before us. They are not lost. They are waiting to guide us to what comes next. For all that I've had to let go of this year, I've gained. I published my first book. I gained many friends who enriched my life. I have gotten to know an author I've respected for years, and gained a friend in his wife. (I know, FB friend, not exactly BFFs here, but she's kind and supportive, so it totally counts.) I took risks and self-advocated for, like, the first time in ages. I left a job that was doing harm to my mental health, before I did something rash. I caught a potentially deadly heart condition before it actually killed me. We just got four baby chickens to replace the ones we lost. And finally, I gained more pieces to my family, as my step-son married an amazing girl back in January.
It's been a hard year, but it has not been without reward.
I know that this has rambled quite a bit. I had a lot of fear and pain that needed to be let go. To be condensed and looked at, and finally dispelled with a reminder that it hasn't all been darkness and gloom.
Here's hoping that the next year brings more light, more peace, deeper connection, and greater prosperity for us all.