November is my least favorite month. The only thing going for it is Thanksgiving; you know, that silly little holiday crammed between Halloween and crazy? My dislike for the eleventh month has eased over time but there are still days when I'd be happy to go to bed October 31 and wake up December 1. My track record for outstanding November moments isn't so great.
My father died 35 years ago today. 35 years. It feels like three lifetimes ago but I remember every single detail like is was yesterday. I was 20, my baby sister was 5, and there were four siblings between us. My mother's problems escalated with dad's death and the subsequent secrets that were revealed three days after his funeral. Mom promoted me to 'head of the household' in the ER when we learned dad was dead; the future was far from rosy. This is how I know there's a god or something beyond right now because I survived. I'm sure it was through no help of my own, but I survived.
Two years earlier, also in November, the man I thought I'd spend the rest of my life with took his own life. Worst. Day. Ever. It was many long years before I honestly believed that his death wasn't somehow my fault. I survived. I didn't want to for the longest time, but I survived.
My baby brother was born and died November 30. He actually died shortly after midnight on December 1, but it was the day before when my mother left for the hospital and told me she wouldn't be coming home with the baby. I was five and didn't understand why the doctors couldn't fix him from being 'born too soon.' I remember the brother I never knew and wonder who Richard would be if he had lived. I was sad, I was confused, and I was angry. But I survived.
November 22, 1963. If you remember this day, no words are needed. If you don't remember or weren't born yet, no amount of words could begin to explain. The dreams of a nation died along with a president and November will forever wear that shroud. The world mourned for a long time and never forgot, but it survived, and I survived, too.
It's been four months now that I've been out of work. This is the second time in two years and both were through no fault of my own. I miss the people I worked with and the camaraderie of dealing with the good, the bad, and the ridiculous. I miss the satisfaction of knowing that I've made a difference in someone's life. I miss who I used to be and I hate that I have no idea who I am now. It's been four months of tears, questions, bad dreams, sleepless nights, and a slew of irrational thoughts. I've spent most of the time feeling like the worst possible example of me, and wondering who my husband and children see when they look in my eyes. We taught our kids to always do their best because that's all you can do, but I seem to have skipped that lesson myself. I am doing my best but it doesn't feel like enough. Half the world is looking for work but I somehow, magically should be working, I should have found a job by now, I should...(fill in the blank). What I am doing is resting. Listening to my body. Quieting my mind. Connecting with my spirit. Re-evaulating. Trying to give myself a break. Creating art that comes from the broken places that can no longer be hidden. Learning that even though the world is full of secrets and lies it doesn't have to define ME. Or change my values. Or diminish my truth. I've faced so much worse than the loss of a job and hey - I'm still here. I know I'll eventually arrive at a place of clarity and purpose but it's not gonna happen on this particular November day. I'm not there yet but I will get there because I am a survivor. And so are you.
|TRUST THE CHANGE|
mixed media collage by Laure Janus