Monday, January 11, 2010

Semi-Charmed Life, Pt 2

Okay . . to continue to post explaining the title of this blog, Semi-Charmed Life. You've already heard about the song Semi-Charmed life and how much I loved it back in the day. Now onto why it works as a description for my life as well . . .

Years ago, I signed up for blogger and at the time "LayneNP" was my username for everything so I just went with it when I was deciding the blog address. But at the beginning of 2008, when I decided I was actually going to try out blogging, I knew I had to figure out a real name. I knew that I wanted it to be something that summed up my life, but how do you say that in a few words? What is my life? Family? Friends? Work? School? Diabetes? It's so many things! All at once!

When trying find a way to word something, I have always gone to song lyrics. They just seem to make the most sense to me with their nonsensical lines and profound words. Since Semi-Charmed Life was one of my favorites it jumped out first. And it seemed to fit my life. Because one thing that stuck out to me was that over my relatively short life so far, I'd had a lot of highs and lows, even more so than most. My life has always been a little bit of something good and then a little bad, something wonderful followed by something devastating. So for those of you who don't know a whole lot about my background, a little history . . . .

**Warning: There is some deep, mushy stuff to follow. Turn back now if that isn't your thing!! **

I grew up with the best mom ever and two grandparents who were more like second parents. But I never knew my (biological) dad. (Side note: I hate saying I didn't grow up with a real dad. . because I did, it's just that he was really my grandfather. Still, he was the best dad ever.) My mom and "dad" had been married but divorced when I was a baby and he was just never around. Anyway, I would find out later that my biological dad had diabetes. (Bastard. The one thing I didn't really want from him he gave me. Isn't that always the way. . .?)

Like I said, I never knew him growing up and just as I was starting to ask questions about who he was and realize that some things about my family weren't quite like other families, we got a phone call. We learned in 1989, when I was 7 years old, that my biological dad had died quite suddenly. He was only 42. He was diabetic (also Type 1) and, from what I was told didn't take very good care of himself in his later years and was starting to suffer from complications. He died of a massive heart attack without warning, again likely a complication of his diabetes.

You might think that since I never knew my dad I wouldn't really be affected by his death. But it was actually the opposite. Losing a parent that I didn't know was actually very devastating to me because it represented a path that I could now never go down. If there were any questions I had about my dad or for my dad they would now forever go unanswered. Who was he? What was he like? Why didn't he want a relationship with me? How did he handle his diabetes? Did we share the same frustrations? Did he think of me? Did he love me? These were all questions that were destined to go unanswered and the finality of all that was really hard for me. Not to mention knowing nothing about a person who (genetically) makes up half of who I am. . . that's just . . . well . . . hard.

This is a picture of my dad with me as a baby. It's one of the very few I have of him and I together. I was very young and if you look closely, you can see I still have my umbilical cord. Not the cutest kid in the world, but still not a reason for him to be such a jackass. ;-)

A year after losing my (biological) dad, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent a double mastectomy and held it together amazingly well from my 8 year old perspective. I was scared, but absolutely sure she'd be fine. And she was. Thank God.

The next year, I was diagnosed with diabetes. Yeah, that sucked. 'Nuf said.

I went into my teen years bitter and angry. In high school, I made amazing friends that made me forget all that and just have fun. The good, clean, happy fun. . . nothing harmful. At that point I was just learning to be happy again. I graduated high school in 2000 and was surprised how upset I was to leave home and go to college. I loved the University of Florida and had some of the greatest times in Gainesville but that initial transition ended up being much more difficult that I had anticipated. Then, in 2001, my grandfather (my real dad) was diagnosed with cancer. It was very aggressive but I had been through this before and I was sure everything would be fine.

Now, I'm a skeptic for the most part and use logic and common sense to find my way through life. I'm not much for going with your gut or feelings or premonitions so please remember that when I say what I'm about to say. It was New Year's Eve at the end of 2001 and I was getting ready to go out and celebrate. My grandfather had been diagnosed with cancer for a few weeks and was about to start chemotherapy. For some reason I was getting ready and thinking about the coming year and a feeling just washed over me. I realized that I wouldn't see another New Year's Eve with my grandfather. I say that I "realized" knowing that it sounds crazy because how could I know anything about the future? The doctors were telling us it would be a hard fight but they never said it was futile.

But somehow I knew. It hit me that night like a MAC truck that I would lose him soon. I had no clue how to handle it and moved forward without telling anyone what I was thinking. I didn't want to go back to school that spring semester. I wanted to stay at home and soak up memories of my grandfather. His smile, his smell, his laugh. I wanted more time. But didn't know how to justify staying home, so off to school I went. I came home often throughout the semester to visit. My grandfather's health quickly deteriorated and thanks to some wonderfully understanding professors who let me take my finals early, I was able to go home and spend his last 4 days with him at home.

This is one of my favorite pictures of him and I. I know it's not the greatest. He's shirtless, I'm looking like hell with my PJ's and rocking some serious bed-head. But that's how we were. Happy, casual, goofing off. And he was always right there to look out for me. Seriously. Best. Dad. Ever.

His loss devastated me. After my biological dad died, I lived in (irrational) fear of losing one of my parents (my mom, my grandmother and my grandfather). And the thing I fear most had just happened and it was so much worse than anything I had ever imagined. How could I live without him? Who would tease me at the dinner table? Who would I call for advice on my car? Who would walk me down the aisle? Who would be a grandfather to my children?

I felt as thought I had lost a part of myself and was now supposed to function like nothing was wrong. I cried and cried and cried. I cried myself asleep. Whenever I was alone, I cried. I cried so much it hurt. I pretended he wasn't gone. Anything to kid myself into thinking that everything would be okay again. I don't know if I was clinically depressed. I never saw anyone or took any meds but I was devastated for a long while. It's still hard to talk about him without breaking down. I wouldn't wish that kind of loss on anyone.

And yet, among all this grief and heartache and death and disease, I really had a great childhood. I had amazing friends that are still my friends to this day. I went to an amazing school (Go Gators!) where I did some soul-searching before deciding what I wanted to do with my life. I got my first "F" in college, which for a straight-A-er like me, might as well have been the end of the world. But as a nurse I also saved lives on a weekly, sometimes daily basis. And through it all I had Brad standing by my side, encouraging me, grounding me, loving me.

So when I thought of "semi-charmed life" it really seemed to fit what I was about. Nothing was ever easy and there were heartaches along the way but there was always happiness too. I love my life and I can't wait to see what's around the next corner!

~Layne

4 comments:

  1. Your thoughts are beautiful...I'm all choked up. You were so lucky to have such a great dad growing up. He must have been heaven sent just for you. Lucky girl. My dad died when I was 25 and I miss him everyday, but ohh, the memories and stories my children keep asking me to tell!

    ReplyDelete
  2. thanks for the comment! love your name too. ;) and really, it's the best way to spell it. everyone else is just wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Aw Girl, You've got tears in my eyes! It's stories like this that make you who you are! How you come out of them. It really amazes me how different people would take a situation like your childhood-adulthood and come out of it in a different way every time. It molds and shapes, it's really fascinating! I'm glad you are who you are, that you save lives as a nurse and you love it! Way to go, Girl!

    ReplyDelete