I have survived the first week of school. It went pretty well. I missed teaching and the kids. There is something special about the first week of school, when the kids are a little scared and trying to make a good impression.
A lot of my students from last year have come looking for me and have asked how my father is. They knew he was ill, but are surprised when I tell them he died. A couple times little girls have actually teared up.
Being back I knew people might ask how it was to be home and how my father is. What I didn’t expect from people is the comment…Wow you had a really long vacation! They seemed to skipped over the terminal illness and death thing. I had a particularly awkward encounter with my neighbor. First she commented on my long vacation, I said I went home because my father was very ill—he had cancer. So then she asked what kind. I said prostate because I don’t know how to say endocrine tumor in Turkish. She said, oh..that’s not so bad, my father has that, then she asked how my father was now. Dead. I think she has been avoiding eye contact.
On my quest to have a more balanced life, I have been going to bed earlier this year. It makes such a difference to go to sleep at 10 instead of 12. It makes the morning so much less painful. On the other hand, it is a habit that makes mornings come early. It means that by 9 am this morning, I had showered, blown my hair dry, had breakfast, and walked the dog. I had tried to sleep in, but to no avail. I have a wedding to go to tonight. I will have to take a nap to be able to stay conscious past 10!
Today is my second wedding anniversary. And the first one Bülent and I have celebrated together! While last year it felt like a surprise that I had been married for a whole year, this year it doesn’t. Not in a bad way but in a good way. This year we have dealt with a lot of things, cancer, chemo, death and despair, and Bülent has been there through everything. He supported me in every way he could, even when when I took a leave of absence from my job to spend time with my dad and flew 5000 miles away—for 6 months.
I am very lucky to have a partner as wonderful as he is. I still feel like I did last year, ecstatic to have a BFF and a lover wrapped up into one. But even luckier this year, because I know when things get tough, things are still good.
I am starting to get back…to what? Not to the way things were, but to a new normal. After the wake and service, everyone else’s life went back to normal. Ours still has a huge gaping wound in it. Nothing works or functions the way it used to. All of us have issues, and daily reminders. There is nothing like starting the day by trying to cajole the dog to do her business. Sometimes she will do so if bribed, but otherwise is still waiting for Dad to walk her.
For the last few weeks I have not wanted to really do anything, see anyone. The impulse to isolate myself is slowly fading. A couple of weekends ago I went to a good friends wedding. I was able to see friends I haven’t seen in five years. I had a great time, and opened up a little more. Friday I met up with a childhood friend I haven’t seen in about 20 years, and we were able to really connect and had fun. I have been off the grid for a while, but am slowly making my way back into life. One day at a time we are building a new foundation for the way our lives are now.