Not seeing you hurts

(written Wednesday night) Yesterday one of my close friends called to say her sister has been admitted to hospice. Today they got the news that she has about 72 hours left of her life. I realize that nobody can predict your death but unfortunately I know too well that hospice is usually pretty accurate. After all, that’s what they do. I sub for her, so as much as I love the work, I feel sad that it’s for this reason. Shopping at the Farmer’s Market wasn’t as much fun anymore. Having her there with me would have been so much better! We definitely would have laughed and had fun. I started with a shot of wheatgrass & ginger to drown the sorrows that somehow snuck into my heart…and moved on to a beer. Sometimes alcohol is the right choice (unless you happen to be an alcoholic, then I’d recommend the gingersnap shot; it’s kickass delicious).

Dying sucks…for those of us left behind. Her sister is heading to an awesomely, beyond human description, phenomenal place. Knowing that doesn’t make it easier. You’d think if would; well, it doesn’t. I was with my uncle and grandma a few hours before they died. I was with my babies, grandpa, aunt, dad and more pets than I care to count when they passed on. It wasn’t until watching my dad die that I was able to look at it as a gift to be part of that process, despite the pain. I think that sometimes the person dying decides if they want you there or not. They already know how much you love them without you being there. I think at that point their energy is already part of you and your thought process. Whether or not you can be with them, they’re already with you.

I had two shots of Jameson for supper (Tebazilena also made me eat the carrots I bought at the Farmer’s Market because everyone knows that whiskey by itself doesn’t make for a sound meal). I can feel my dad with me right now. To remind me, while I cry out the sadness inside, that eventually it will be better again.

My heart goes out to my friend and the emotions she will be dealing with that lie ahead. My heart goes out to the sister that she loves so fiercely whose current journey is coming to an end.

My friend’s brother-in-law called early this morning. Her sister had her own idea of when it was time to go. My friend has her sister’s love wrapped around her now. She’ll need all that positive energy for the long car ride ahead…and for the sucky times when you just feel like hugging them for real.

Time out from Ireland

Okay, I realize I only posted the first 3 days of our Ireland trip and I’m already taking a break but there’s a reason so bear with me.

Spoiler Alert-don’t read this if you were expecting rainbows, sunshine & lollipops in all of my Irish blog postings: Irish people (obviously not all of them but a lot that we encountered)…are not as accepting of us as we have been led to believe. It was a rude awakening. I had tears every day for the first week and a half before I kicked myself in the ass over my fantasy world of expectations and decided to turn things around. (End of disclaimer)

So I’m back home and waiting to apply for a job that is supposed to be posted in August only to find out today that they posted it in July and the end date was August 2nd…the night I flew back in to Chicago.

Elizabeth~ “Are you f***ing kidding me?! Someone had to have done this on purpose so we couldn’t get the job!”
Tebazilena~ “That’s right, you are THAT important that someone specifically went out of their way to keep you from getting that job.
Elizabeth~“I KNOW HOW RIDICULOUS THAT SOUNDS…I’m just pissed off right now.”
Tebazilena~By the way, I thought we were going to start saying füking from now on.”
Betsy~“We’ve already been told that we would never have a full-time job there so maybe the Universe decided to sucker punch us this time so we would wise up and move on to get a full-time job someplace else.
Elizabeth~“I’m also getting tired of our füking Pollyanna attitude about everything. It’s exhausting, Ireland wore me out.”

Early One Morning from the movie Pollyanna, sung by Christy-Lyn in Doolin, Ireland

Tebazilena~“The alternative isn’t worth it. Remember when we were a bitch that whole year back in ‘82?”
Betsy~“We weren’t very good at it and all we did was annoy ourselves. Besides, I’m pretty sure whatever we’re supposed to be doing is obviously not at school. And it’s going to be even more fun than what we were doing.”
Elizabeth~“füking Pollyanna. I want a shot of scotch while we start job searching.”
Tebazilena~“Now see? Even crabbyass can find something fun about this experience.”

So things are a little gloomy in Pollyannaville, our smile is upside down, but we have made plans to go out tonight (after all it is Friday…yay Friday!) with my favorite eldest seester and other jolly party-goers. I will satisfy crabbyass with a beer and a scotch. Then we’ll lie on a blanket under a perfect August night sky and watch colorful balloons light up the sky and I’ll remind myself how lucky I am with what I have right now.

The Aran Islands

We’re waiting for the ferry. A local fisherman tells us there’s a dolphin that comes into the bay and the children swim with it. That sounds like fun until we see lots of baby jellyfish bobbing along the surface. Maybe they don’t have stingers when they’re babies but I think I’d always try having a full bladder whenever I went swimming with the little buggers.

Our first stop was to the smallest island, Inisheer, for a one hour layover. On the short walk from the pier to the local pub we were beckoned by a young man with a horse & wagon (and a cute dog). For ten euro each he’d give us a tour around the island. The island is literally covered with three foot high stone walls that outline rooms…as far as the eye can see. Some had animals in them, most were empty. He brought us over to check out a holy well (there’s a lot of them in Ireland). I don’t feel any holier for having stood there (I have to assume I’m already as holy as I can be). I would’ve drank some of the water or at least dipped my finger in it except that Bella, the dog, walked through it and had a long drink and sometimes an eel from the sea makes its way up to swim around. I decided to just stick to beer. I’m glad we never made it to the pub. We learned way more about the island from Michael than we would have with a Guinness.

We stopped long enough to pick up/drop off passengers to Inishmaan. Between all 3 islands there are less than 1300 people. Irish is their main language but most know and can speak English.

We struck up a conversation with the 3 elderly gentlemen sitting across from us on the ferry. The friendliest of the group, Michael, told us he knew where our B&B was and would drive us there. That changed after we got off the boat and he realized he misunderstood us. Our B&B was on the other side of the island which also made it the closest one, in Ireland, from America (I thought that was pretty cool). He dropped us off at his favorite pub and ordered us some Guinness while he went back and collected his two buddies from the dock. When we were all together again in the pub he called up the lady who ran the B&B (of course he knew her) and told her we were ready to get picked up. We later explained to her that it was not our idea for her to come get us. She mumbled something about him being a crazy old coot.

During our conversations over beer waiting for Maggie to pick us I was asked if I had any relatives over here. I said I was 4th generation Irish and then got an earful from crotchety old crank, Pat, about how I was NOT Irish. He went on about it for a bit and Elizabeth told him to fük off. Okay, so it wasn’t to his face but it should’ve been. I was still emotional from seeing my dead uncle, aunt & dad the day before so it felt a lot like someone sucker punched me. Welcome to Ireland…NOT! Despite the cruel way Pat got his point across I should probably be grateful because it was the catalyst of my mental journey to let go of my idealized notion of the Irish people.

After settling in at the B&B we hired the local taxi guy to show us the sights. His love for the island was evident through his stories. We learned most of what there was to know about life on Inismoor. It’s a beautiful island and although I can understand why people would want to live someplace so remote, I don’t know how well I would do with all that quiet. It is an intriguing thought though.

Over the next week we would meet people that did not welcome us with open arms. They were polite enough but had no desire to have conversations with us. Our accent even seemed to annoy some. It would take me a week and a half of wanting to escape this island and go back home before I finally let go of the romanticized feelings I had built up over my lifetime. They’re no different than the people from where I come from; they’re not friendlier, happier or more welcoming. They’re regular people with regular lives on an island with an incredible history and kick-ass marketing.

All I know for sure is that my ancestors lived, worked and loved in Ireland and their pride was passed down through the generations. I love the music both traditional and modern and now I love the land my bloodline came from. I’m proud of my heritage. I have to learn to not care what anyone else thinks about that.