I can’t necessarily explain how my first month of summer break has gone. I think my dad described it perfectly as “the beginning of the summer that never was.” About four months ago, I’d planned to spend my summer at home in Maryland, performing in a local production of Macbeth, working and saving money, finally attending Artscape again. But rather suddenly an opportunity to spend the summer out in LA with my brother popped up. Of course I jumped at the chance and quickly cancelled and changed previous arrangements. As Tyler and I were gearing up to leave, my grandfather suddenly passed away. And from that point up until now as I sit however many thousands of feet high in a little Southwest jet on my way to the golden coast, everything became a blur. As a lot of you know, we moved my grandmother into our home and in place of a real nurse, I began to spend a lot of extra time around my grandmother. And very shockingly quickly after that, she too passed away.
I feel a little guilty about running off to a city of stars with no real plans, a very thin wallet and two suitcases packed full of crap. I almost wanted to call the whole trip off, afraid of leaving my family behind after a month that had brought us together in a way that I never could have anticipated.
I’ve learned more in the past four or five weeks than I have in a long time. Things about people, about relationships, about life, about me, about responsibility, et cetera. I can feel that I’m in the middle of an evolution process, as odd as that sounds. I grew and learned a lot about myself last summer while I spent six months with an apartment full of strange girls (who very quickly came to be anything but strangers- strange, sure). But I most definitely was not anticipating the types of things I experienced and felt so far this summer.
I’ve experienced loss before, but never at this scale. My depression had too evolved, from its adolescent stages of simple self-deprecation and loathing into a full fledged concoctive home made explosive composed of an overwhelming amount of new feelings, thoughts, and behaviors mixed with the ever present, ever familiar ones.
For a while, I thought adulthood meant finding the perfect places and times to shroud your crying, and the trick to making your eyelids look less swollen and red. And while I still think that’s occasionally true, I think a big part of it is knowing who you can turn to when things are hard. And those people always seem to be there before you even realize you need them to be. That doesn’t mean Jess or my family would physically be there to hold me while I cried every time I just so happened to break down, but I mean just being able to wake up to a text from her encouraging me that things will be okay and a warm hug from my dad when I looked down. It just so happened that I managed to experience a bit of misplaced catharsis with Jess while we watched the newest remake of Beauty and the Beast. I don’t necessarily know why but I found myself crying while watching the beast sing some really bad new song about something that doesn’t matter.
But my family, above all else, was incredibly supportive of one another. I always thought my mom was one hell of a strong lady, but after the events of late May and June, I can firmly say that my mother is one of, if not the strongest woman I’ve ever met. I wish I could explain to you how I know this, but I think that’s something else I really admire about my mother. My mom has faced a lot in her lifetime and she doesn’t broadcast it. She doesn’t use it as an excuse or a crutch. And above everything, she doesn’t use it to prove to people how strong she is. My mom doesn’t do anything to prove anything to anyone and I adore that about her. There’s such a glorification of people who want to be seen as strong and feel like they have to prove something to someone, so practically everyone nowadays tries to follow this fad. But my mom just does as much as she can as best as she can and as often as she can for others. And it’s incredible to me how much this woman does not only for our direct family, but our extended family, our friends, our significant others, our teachers, and for strangers. On top of that, it never really shows how much it wears on my mom. Sure, I see the side of her that only a child sees at times because of how much stress I give her (sorry mom!), but she always welcomes people into her home with open arms, an open pantry and an unlimited amount of open conversation.
With all of that said, my mother deserves a daily two-hour long massage, a trip to Hawaii, a gold medal and a standing ovation for everything she’s done and experienced over the past year. I’m aware of how difficult it’s been for her recently, but I honestly feel so blessed to have gotten to intimately watch her work. I feel like I learned a lot about how to be a better daughter, a better mother (eventually) and a better human being just from the past four weeks alone.
I could go on and on about the plethora of other important pieces I’ve gained recently, but I’m beginning to feel nauseous, and the kid sitting in front of me keeps leaning his seat back and shoving my laptop and tbh I can’t handle it right now.
I’m excited to see what the next month has in store for me and I welcome the growing pains as long as it doesn’t mean more loss.