How are you? No really, how are you?
It’s the Eve of Thanksgiving so I’m just wondering: Are you feeling the pressure of baking pies, feeling the anxiety of gathering with family who can be judgmental, feeling overwhelmed as you navigate he grocery store crowds, panicking at the thought of cooking your first turkey? Or are you handling it all just fine?
If you’re anything like me, you’re feeling a bit of both.
Yesterday, I faced a heart crushing task. My aunt has been exteemly sick for quite some time—like for years. She’s weak, hardly eats—I wouldn’t be surprised if she weighs 70 lbs. She’s widowed, never had children, and lives alone. No matter how hard my mom tries, she won’t accept help, in fact she won’t answer the phone most days—or even the door. She’s very much a loner and likes it that way. However, throughout her life, her dogs have been the children she never had and when her beloved shih tzu died several months ago, she instead on getting another dog. Our entire family thought it was a bad idea—how can she care for a puppy when she can’t even care for herself? But my mom didnlt want her to be completely alone and so a new little shih tzu puppy named Chaplyn came into her life soon after.
They managed okay at first, (Chaplyn is just the cutest, most well behaved puppy ever), but as my aunt’s health continued to fail, and my mom and dad saw obvious signs that the puppy—although very loved—was not being cared for properly, they knew they had to act.
My mom agonized over the decision. She knew it would be like taking a child from its mother. But then yesterday, out of no where, my aunt called my mom and asked her if she could pick up the dog—caring for her had become too much. In fact, she consented to going to the hospital too if she didn’t feel better soon. So my mom and I drove to her house, gathered up Chaplyn’s belongings, and watched my aunt say good bye to her. I thought my heart might shatter.
As of this morning, Chaplyn is already settled into her new home. My sister and brother-in law and their three girls have taken her in and are beyond excited to have her. Their house is always bustling and they’ve been wanting a puppy for a long time. Even though I’m sad my aunt is without her dog today, it’s clear Chaplyn is in a better environment.
But what about my aunt, the one who says she likes to be alone, the one who is too sick to leave her apartment? She goes weeks without seeing another human being. How can that be a good thing?
If all goes well, and my parents can get through to her, she’ll go to a hospital or other facility where she can be properly cared for—where not only will she be safe from falls, and provided with basic care, but she will interact with other people. Nurses, doctors, and aids are wonderful people who want to help others, and though she desperately needs medical attention, I think right now what she needs more is interaction with other people–even if she doesn’t realize it herself.
Writing can be a very solidary activity. Is activity even the right word? As writers, we love to slip into our own worlds and let our characters drag us along on their journeys. I work at home and so I know how possible it would be for me to never see another person outside of my home (and grocery store and kids sporting events) for days on end if I let that happen.
Some say social media encourages fake relationships. I say they’re wrong. Facebook allows me to stay in touch (even with a like) with people who are or have been important to me at various times throughout my life. I like hearing their stories. I like knowing what their kids are up to and hearing about their accomplishments. Sure some posts can sound a little self indulgent even bordering on bragging at times, but I try to keep all that in perspective. Besides, reading Facebook posts are like reading mini short stories that my friends have written. I get a feel for their voice, learn what they’re passionate about, see the conflicts they face and even know when they reached a milestone or a personal goal. I feel connected to them that way on some level and that makes me happy. It makes me feel connected to a bigger place.
Twitter provides a different connection for me. I’m connected to so many more people there-most of them whom I’ve never met face to face. But to me that detail doesn’t matter. I’ve met amazing people this way who share my interests, goals, frustrations, and successes. I’ve also learned so much by staying connected on Twitter. I wouldn’t be half the writer I am, and my manuscript wouldn’t be half as good as it is if it weren’t for the topics I’ve learned there or the people I’ve met.
Communities and communication come in many shapes and sizes and what community you belong to or way you communicate with other people really doesn’t matter. I realized yesterday more than ever it’s just as important to belong somewhere—to a church, a school, a workplace, a grocery store, a writing group, a team, or even a small group of friends. Connecting with other people is the key to experiencing joy—in whatever form that may be.
I’m so thankful to be connected to all of you who know me through this site, or thorugh Facebook, or Twitter, or in person. You make my life better every day and it means the world to me. 🙂
I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving and hope it gives you the opportunity to connect with someone else too. I’m off now to make the pies—apple, cherry, and pecan. Well, I actually bought the pecan. (Shh, don’t tell.) I’ve never eaten pecan pie so really how can I be expected to make a good one? But I will go slave over the other two and hopefully resist the urge to eat them today!
Hugs to you all, my friends…see you next week!