Time has seemed to have changed since the early days of January with the passing of my sister. I have days of fierce inspiration, creativity and accomplishment, then the world turns upside down and reality reminds me that I am not intended to be alone to create or accomplish or live a "normal" life. 

There are days when I look at my life and think that you couldn't have made it up if you tried. I never would've guessed that my life would've turned out the way it has when I was younger. When I was growing up, I assumed that I would marry a man who taught at the local university just like my dad did and that we would live in the same house in a college town and never move. Instead, I married a man who would first be a soldier and then a special agent for the CIA before becoming a security specialist for Walmart. I never would've imagined losing my second child just four hours after he was born. I never would've imagined losing my sister twenty years later. 

I never would've imagined such a life when I was younger.

I spent the first three days of this week at our local hospital keeping my mom and dad company while my mom recovered from knee replacement surgery. She sailed through the operation just fine, only to scare the daylights out of my dad and I later that afternoon when her blood pressure and heart rate dropped drastically and the entire ICU staff came running to her aid. They got her stabilized and all the monitors calmed down and thankfully, there were no more episodes. I realized during all the excitement of nurses scrambling about the room, that I would never make a good nurse because at the first sign of crisis, I would probably break down in tears, just like I did when Mom almost lost consciousness. 

My mom and I had wonderful talks during her recovery time in her room while Dad napped on the couch by the windows. We talked about marriage, we talked about grief and what an awkward emotion it is. We talked about Julia and we talked about Christopher. We discussed how best to answer the innocent question of how many children do you have (we decided that the truth is always the best answer). We talked about the new-to-us invention of dry shampoo. I told her funny Meghan and Joe stories and she told me funny Dad stories. She slept off and on, falling asleep suddenly while mid-sentence, only to wake up minutes later to finish up what she was saying. We talked about the different nurses and how nice everyone was. We talked about how much marriage changes your life, about how we can't imagine a world where we weren't married to the men we chose. We talked about how neither of us believe in destiny, that we believe rather in choice and that we would never want to know what is in our future. We talked about how being cooped up in her hospital room and how looking out her hospital window across the busy road and interstate in the distance felt a bit like being in an airport terminal in a different city, just how surreal it felt to be in a world filled with people in scrubs and surgical masks taking care of patients to the incessant background music of beeping monitors.

Surreal is how my life has felt since the beginning of the year, really since I first found out about Julia's cancer. Everything changes and I am learning how to adapt, how to put aside myself to take care of those that need me more. I am also learning to finally be assertive and braver than I have ever been in the past. I have the mind set now that there is nothing worse than what I have already been through, so why not try something that scares me to death? I've survived the hardest experience that anyone can survive, so what're a few "no's"? 

This is just another new normal.