I’ve had a sense of dread for the past few days. Sometimes I know things before they happen. Or rather, sometimes I know that something is going to happen, but not exactly what. It is God’s way of saying “be on guard”. But sometimes it is just a physical thing, because I’ve gotten out of synch.

I’ve not been following my routine, certainly. I’ve not been exercising like I normally do and I’ve been eating more junk food and less vegetables. I know better, but it happens. When things are going well, it is easy to forget that all the stuff I do to get well is what got me there.

So maybe that was it. Or not. It is hard to figure out these feelings sometimes. Sometimes I feel like a big radio receiver, but I don’t know what channel I’m listening to.

As I’ve mentioned previously, things have gotten worse with my parents-in-law. She fell and got a concussion and broke her leg. She was put in the hospital, and then rehab. My father-in-law has early stages of dementia as well as Parkinson’s. He thinks he can take care of himself, and usually he can.

We all thought everything was fine for now. The kids, and by that I mean those of us in our 40s, are aware that things will get worse soon, but we didn’t think it would be this soon. The parents are playing chicken with the idea of the nursing home.

But now, my father-in-law has gone missing.

Yesterday he went to visit his wife in the rehab center and got lost. He wound up about an hour away from his home. He didn’t think to have a map with him, and his GPS needs updating apparantly. He drove around for three hours before he called for help.

We thought that was it. We knew that it was going to get worse, but not this soon.

Today he tried to visit her again, and we don’t know where he is. My husband has notified the police.

He’s very calm about it, which is unlike him. I’m grateful.

And now I know where the sense of dread was coming from.

I’ve been praying about this feeling for the past few days, while also getting back into my diet and exercise routine. I’ve come to a sense of calm about it – to accept that whatever happens is God’s will. To be thankful, even, because I need to remember that God is always in charge.

It isn’t easy.

Normally, when something difficult is going on in my life, I have had at least some small role to play. Even though I’m trusting that God is in charge, I’ve still got my little part that God wants me to do. I know it isn’t everything, or even anywhere near the majority of the work. But it is something, and that something makes me feel better.

I can’t do anything now. Well, I can pray. And trust. And breathe through it. I can’t control any of this. I have to keep reminding myself that whatever happens is whatever is supposed to happen.

UPDATE. He showed back up at home – seven hours after he left. He claims he got confused, and he had bad directions. He’s safe, for now.

Alone, lonely

I was at a restaurant once and a husband and wife were there with their two young children. The mom needed to go to the restroom. The dad was left in charge of the children while my mom was away. The children were fine for about a minute and then they started to lose their minds.

The children started crying and wailing inconsolably. They wanted their mother and their mother had simply gone to the bathroom. There was nothing that dad could do to make them happy. It was as if they had never ever been on their own and they didn’t know how to take care of themselves. It was as if they didn’t know how to live without their mother right next to them taking care of everything for them.

This isn’t limited just to children.

I know a guy whose wife has died recently. She was sick for year with cancer. They didn’t expect her to die. In a way, though, it was an expected death because it wasn’t an accident like a car crash or a tornado. They only knew each other for three years, and she was only 42. It is all very sad.

He’s had all the leave that his workplace can give him, but that never is enough. Five days isn’t enough to process a death, even if you’ve had some time to warm up to the fact that it might happen.

He forgot to eat for three days. His clothes started to smell and are rumpled. His hair isn’t combed.

He reminds me of those children. It’s as if he doesn’t know how to exist without her right next to him. Surely he knew how to feed himself and take care of himself before they ever met. But now he’s forgotten.

I’ve heard many stories of husbands dying or remarrying less than a year after their wife dies. Interestingly, the same isn’t true for wives.

All of his friends and coworkers are looking out for him, but he has to pull himself out of this and start taking care of himself. We can’t rescue him from his grief.

It reminds me of baby birds. Sometimes they can’t make it on their own. Sometimes they don’t have the strength to fly. Sometimes they die. Is it fair to them to rescue them, when they don’t have the ability to take care of themselves? That is only a sort of half-life.

3:30 crash

Young children can only handle so much. Around about 3:30 in the afternoon they start to lose it. They start to become not quite human. Parents don’t seem to notice this because they don’t have perspective on the situation. I have worked in customer service for most of my life. I have had the advantage (?) of seeing this happen over and over again every day for many years. Around about 3:30 children start to have what is sometimes termed “a meltdown”. They start to cry and get whiny and fall apart.

One mother even said “I’m just going to smack him right in the mouth.” about her whining child. I’ve seen other mothers very impatient with their children and think that they are just being difficult. I’ve seen other mothers just stare at their children as they flop on the floor, crying and wailing loudly. They have no idea what is going on, and no idea what to do to stop it.

Children aren’t being difficult at that time of day. There’s only so much they can handle.

Do you expect to get a gallon’s worth of milk out of a quart bottle? It isn’t possible. Children are the same way. They just don’t have the capacity that adults have.

Children are not small adults. Children wear out a lot faster. Children need rest and food and water a lot more often than adults do. And by food and water I don’t mean candy and sugar and caffeine. That only makes it worse.

It isn’t fair to expect a small child to be able to go the whole day on limited resources without falling apart. You have to understand their limits and work with them. It isn’t the child’s fault that they have been out all day. Children don’t have control over their environment or what happens to them. They feel very frustrated and they don’t have the words to express their frustration. They express them in the ways that they have. With their limited resources they express that they are unhappy by crying or wailing or holding back from going anywhere. Sometimes they resist a change in their environment because it is a way to exercise control.

The whole issue is control. They don’t have it. And that is the problem. Around mid-afternoon they start to lose their self-control so they try to exert control over whatever they can. Sadly, at that point, nothing will soothe them because they just don’t know what is wrong. Sadly, many parents don’t either, and they don’t notice that their child’s inconsolable wails have little to do with anything obvious. It looks like they are crying about their dolly, or their shoe, or their brother, but really, they are crying because they are at the end of their rope because they are worn out.

When I was working at the Chattanooga Choo-Choo I often saw families that were all worn out come mid-afternoon. They had small children with them and they had been adventuring all day long. The children were not about to sit down and be still and calm while mom was looking through the craft store. I learned to dread that time of day because the parents always got frustrated with their children.

The children were just being children. There was nothing wrong with them. They were doing what comes natural to them when they are worn out. The problem is the parents who weren’t parenting. The parents were not taking into account the natural limitations of being a child.

The parents were not being kind to the children. It wasn’t fair to the children or anybody else around them. In order to travel or be around small children, you need to plan ahead to avoid problems. It is good if the whole family can have a nap some time shortly after lunch. If that isn’t possible, then at least have everybody sit and be quiet in a cool, darkish place for at least 30 minutes. People recharge better if they are away from the harsh stimuli of heat and light.

Most of all, make sure that they have had enough food and enough water. This does not mean candy bars and sodas. You have to give them the right fuel in order to keep going. But it’s also not fair to push them beyond their limits. Don’t get frustrated with them – they can’t help it. Learn from it, and plan ahead.

Exercise exorcises

I don’t exercise to fit into my clothes. I exercise to fit into my body. I exercise to fit inside myself.

My body and brain don’t feel right when I don’t exercise. I feel sluggish and stupid. I feel out of sorts.

I exercise so my joints work without hurting. I exercise so my muscles are strong enough to lift what I need to lift. I exercise so I can sleep well.

I exercise so I don’t get angry all the time, so I can think more clearly, so I can have some space in my head for the thoughts I want to think.

Exercise shakes out all the rusty bits. Exercise stops me from feeling rusty in body, mind, and soul. Things just work better when I move.

Every now and then I’ll take a break. Every now and then I “cheat” and I’ll not walk at lunch, or I’ll sit while checking in the inside book drop. Every now and then I just don’t want to go to the Y. Usually I’ll spend the same week eating sea salt caramel gelato, sour cream and onion potato chips, and drinking Yoo-hoo chocolate drinks.

The only person I’m cheating on is myself. I feel fine for a bit, and then it catches up with me. Then I feel terrible, and I hate being inside my body. I’ve put bad stuff in it and I haven’t done anything to get it out.

Exercise exorcises.