On Goodbyes and Growing Up

As of late, (and by “as of late,” I suppose I am talking about the last two years), growing up has had a lot to do with goodbyes. Goodbyes that range from heartbreaking and life-ruining to exciting and full of promise. But handling each farewell as it comes equips me more for the next one.

When I was ten and my family moved from northern Idaho to Colorado Springs I had my first big goodbye; to a town and family and friends that had been all I had ever known. Since then, there have been countless, “See you later”‘s, “Until next time”‘s, and “Good riddance”‘s. I moved schools and cities a few more times, then onto college. And then graduation. People always warn you that people come and go; I guess I just never realized the magnitude of that statement; or just how unexpectedly people come and how quickly they go.

Then there was the goodbye made me grow up immediately. And I still find it unfair that I had to say goodbye in this way, without notice, and without proper equipping. But, in its own way, and as I said, facing this one has equipped me for all the others that were and are to follow.

I never really felt like I had even started to grow up until the October of my first senior year of college. I received a 1am phone call that shook every foundation I had ever laid. My big brother, my protector, and the most loving and carefree guy I knew, had committed suicide. The unexpected and completely unfair finality of our last goodbye simply rang hollow in my ears. I had seen him a few months prior, on my spring break. When I hugged him goodbye and he told me how proud of me he was, I never expected that to be it. He was going to see me at my graduation, he would be at my wedding, a hilarious and protective brother-in-law to my husband, and the most incredible uncle to my kids. There was simply no other future possible.

And now I had to face an entirely new future. One without Tyler. One without my big brother, without the only person who could call me a “little shit” endearingly. The one who called me on Christmas Eve to demand an explanation for dating a boy again. The guy who could fix any car, and made fun of my ’93 Ford Explorer. The brother who had inner demons and struggles with drugs and alcohol. The brother who never let it show how dark things were getting for him. Tyler, who just had to make it to Thanksgiving and he’d be going to Alaska with my parents. Tyler, who couldn’t hold on one more month. Tyler, who let everything go with that noose and left us here without him.

In the year following Tyler’s suicide, I refused to say goodbye to him. I probably have yet to truly say goodbye, but at least it’s less refusal at this point, and more getting ready to face it. About once a month since that phone call, I have to convince myself that Tyler is, in fact, dead; despite him being so vividly alive in my dreams. I’ve dealt (and am still dealing) with my own depression and demons, because if Tyler couldn’t do it, what makes me think I can?

So this goodbye made me grow up against my will. I was perfectly fine living my college-life. Then it all changed. And is still changing as I attempt to figure this all out. I am still so angry at him at times; for leaving me, for leaving all of us. Because now the world doesn’t get to know his stupid jokes, his crooked smile, or his contagious laughter. They don’t get to know his caring demeanor, or see how much he could love just a single person. I still embrace that inner-child, but the demons that haunt me with Tyler’s name make me a little more mature, a little more serious, and a lot more honest in my goodbyes.

I cannot thoroughly express how life-shattering this all was and still is. There are bad days, and there are less bad days. But as life goes on, I know I can’t let it go on without me. So I hold my head high, and continue to live out the final farewell and do what Tyler unknowingly commissioned me to do; continue to do everything I can to make him proud and to show him how much I simply love him.

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The Big Letdown

Almost a month ago, I walked across the stage at the Idaho Center and graduated. I shook the hand of President Alexander and raised my arms in a victory that has been around seventeen years in the making. My parents, my sisters, my nephews, my aunt, two uncles, and my papa made it down to see me and celebrate with me. More friends than I can begin to count also sat through the ceremony with me and supported me in my accomplishments.

I showed my family the life I’ve made for myself in Idaho and I was thrilled. The weekend went way to fast. As people left and the dust settled on Monday morning, my dad just says to me, “Now for the big letdown. We’ve had this huge exciting weekend and now everyone’s gonna be gone.” And it’s true. The last three to four weeks have just been a giant “now what?”

As I said in my last post, I have been applying for nursing jobs like mad; I have gone to one interview and have another this week. So there is possibility and hope. But I still feel suspended in this waiting game. Now it’s in God’s hands. And I’m okay with it.

As I look upon this summer, I already see quite an adventure blooming with old and new friends. I am excited. I have given myself enough time for my Big Letdown. So now it’s time to just start living. It’s summer and I have the best friends I could ask for. Life can start; there is no more school to dictate my time and whatnot. I mean, sure. There is work, interviews, NCLEX, and other things, but those can all be taken one at a time. I can do this.

I had my big weekend and now I get to begin something a hundred times more exciting than I ever imagined. And I could not be more excited about it.

Stuck in Neutral

I am graduating in just over a week. Which is crazy. Crazy enough that it deserves its own blog post. This one tonight is about my job hunt. I am graduating with my Bachelor of Science in Nursing…I’ll be an RN, finding a job should be easy right? That’s what every single person I ever told my major to said.

“Oh, nursing? You’ll always have a job!” What they don’t tell you is the difficulty of getting a job as a brand spanking new, shiny, bright-eyed and bushy tailed graduate nurse. Most people want “1-3 years experience.” Does 3-4 years of suffering in the nursing program count? Because that’s about all I have to offer at the moment.

God is definitely teaching me patience in this. I have applied for 10+ jobs with one hospital, and the other hospital has a new grad residency program that you apply and are considered for among all the units available. I’m not even being picky at this point. If I can just get my foot in the door, I’ll be okay. But, as it’s looking right now, I’m going to continue working my retail job a Pier 1 Imports, barely making rent and other bills, and just wishing that someone would give me an opportunity.

I have had an amazing internship at the Boise Veteran’s Hospital. 800 hours of nursing work on the telemetry unit that, I was assured multiple times, usually ends up in a job! Guess who has no openings for an RN? That’s right. This wonderful veteran’s hospital. So much for that. Hopefully the nursing recruiters will see that experience and it will stick out. Something that will just stick out and say, “Hey, this one looks pretty okay. Let’s give her a chance.”

My evening prayers have changed recently from praying for a husband to praying for an interview. Not even a job right now. Just give me a chance and talk to me!

I know God has a plan. One that I cannot even begin to fathom and it’s going to exceed all my wildest dreams. It just frustrates me that right now, His plan looks like retail. And yeah, I’m questioning it, and it’s totally 100% selfish. But I’ve worked hard! And still am working hard, and all I can see is fabulous Pier 1. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job and the people I work with, but I’ve been working hard for five years to start this life. And it’s just not starting.

God has a plan. His timing is perfect. I know this all to be true, and He has proven himself time and time again. And I know he will in this too. I am so thankful for all that he has done already, I probably don’t say that enough (although can anyone ever thank Him enough for all that he’s done? Probably not). But right now, I just have to remain patient and know that he does have the perfect job for me, ready and waiting. I just have to find it. Like I said, His timing is perfect. It just doesn’t always seem like it when the bills start trickling in.

And in the mean time, I’ll keep working, keep praying, and keep trusting in His plan for me, my future, my career, and my entire life.

Aside

What a Week.

It’s amazing how a week can completely change things. Like, a complete 180º turnaround. Seven little days; and things just start to go right.

I have a friend who has seemingly struck out with men. Or, I suppose, boys. She is absolutely wonderful and deserves the world, and before she left for spring break, she was feeling down about a certain someone who simply lead her on, only to crush her by informing her that he was in a relationship with someone else. She had suffered through a couple rough weeks, and was ready to go home.
Well her and I met up last night to catch up on what happened during spring break, and lo and behold, she met someone. And this guy seems pretty great compared to the others she’s fallen for. And I am so happy for her. She deserves nothing less than the world; and I believe this could be the beginning of something beautiful. Her attitude has completely turned around, and things are simply looking up for her. All this happened in one week. That’s amazing.

My older sister and her family; they went through some rough times recently. She just finished beauty school (I’m so proud of her!), and her husband got laid off. She had some school stuff to pay off, so things were tight. Like, “not sure how we’re going to pay rent” tight. But, the one thing that had changed was that my sister started going to church. I know that my parents and I will both admit, this is an answer to all of our prayers. My sister found a church family who embraced her and simply loves on her and her family, and there is nothing more I could ask for.
So I called my sister yesterday, as I do every Sunday when I’m driving home from work or church, and she tells me all that has simply changed in this past week. All of her student things got paid off, her husband had two interviews, of which he is nearly guaranteed a job; she simply has to apply for her license and she’ll start professionally doing hair; and there is nothing that will prevent her from getting to Idaho for my graduation in May. She simply ended this with myriad of wonderful changes with, “Leeza, I truly believe that this is because I had faith. God claims he is a provider, so I called on him to provide, and he did.” My heart was nearly bursting when she said that; prayers that have been happening for my sister and her family for years were simply answered this last week.

But, as I sit here this morning, sipping my coffee, I can’t help but be frustrated. And I will be the first to admit, it’s selfish and childish, but I am jealous. These people I have clung to, and I love them all to death, and I could not be more excited for them and the opportunities that life has brought them.

But, when my sister says, “It’s because I have faith,” I am excited, and I want to scream. I have stubbornly prayed for things to turn around. For a successful relationship. For something more fulfilling than sitting in my apartment binge-watching Netflix. And yet, I’m still here, on season five of Supernatural. I have “had faith” for years; and God is still making me wait. For what, I have no idea; but I’m waiting. And it’s getting to a point where waiting is almost turning into hopelessness. I start asking “What’s wrong with me?”
“When do I get to stop waiting and start doing?”
“Everyone else seems to be doing ok, what am I doing wrong?”

Like I said, I know I’m being selfish and immature. But when stuff goes right for brand new Christians, it’s just frustrating because I have been dedicated and have loved the Lord and done what is right for years. I mean, yes, I make mistakes, but I acknowledge them; I stand up and take responsibility, but I do try to live by God’s Word; but one can only hear the words “All things work together for the good of those who love Him” so many times before they simply sound hollow.

But, I am a logical person. So while I am frustrated about the outcome of what I am praying for currently, there are other things happening in my life which may be my own form of turnaround. I finished applying at St. Luke’s, so may God has a job for me there. I am graduating in less than 6 weeks; so that’s big. My whole family is coming down for that graduation, and my excitement grows with each passing day. So yes, things are happening.

But, as I’m human and Christian and therefore have expectations, I can’t help but think, “But they’re the wrong things.” But then I quickly stifle that thought and give thanks to God for what he is providing for me.

My turn will come. It’s right around the corner. I can feel it.

(Un)Lucky in Love

Boy and I met briefly in late October, started talking more on Facebook in early November, went on our first date in late November and made our relationship official the first week of December. He was everything I wanted; cute, a gentleman, polite, funny, a nerd, a big family man, and, most importantly, a Christian. Our first date sticks out in my mind because he barely knew me, and yet he still prayed for our Chipotle burritos. Anyway, our relationship was a whirlwind of infatuation. And let me tell you, I fell for him, and I fell hard. I was convinced he was the man God intended me to marry. I prayed for him, I prayed for me, I prayed for us…I did everything a good Christian woman is supposed to do in a relationship. And I never brought up marriage with him. I wasn’t going to scare him off, and I was having fun just being in a relationship with him anyway.

He introduced me to his family, with whom I fell in love immediately. They were loud and sarcastic and hilarious and loving, and it felt like home when I was with them. Boy and I got excited about him meeting my parents in May when I graduate. I was just excited for them to finally meet one of my boyfriends. Anyway, about a month and a half later…maybe not even that long.., and he brings up marriage. He’s positive about it. He wants to marry me. And soon. He told his family and pressured me into telling mine. I tested the waters with my sister first, and she was so supportive. But Boy wasn’t content with just my sister; I needed to tell my roommates, friends, and most importantly, my mom. So I did. And it was all ok. We even started tentatively planning for October.

He called his uncle to tell him everything while he was at my apartment one night. I was doing dishes, but eavesdropping, and my heart just melted as I heard Boy dote on me. I had never really been doted on before…so it was something new and exciting. Then, next thing I know, Boy and I have tickets 2 weeks later to go California to meet his aunt and uncle.

California was wonderful. It was sunny and warm, I got to meet more of Boy’s amazing family, Boy and I even went to Disneyland! As a whole, the trip was a blast, all except Boy’s attitude. I wasn’t sure what was bugging him, but I also knew that my hormones may not have been all synced up, and so therefore, I wasn’t going to say anything until I knew for sure it was him acting weird, not my brain going haywire due to the time of the month. On our way home, Boy and I barely said anything to each other. For me, it was simply because I was tired. That, and I was comfortable in silence with him. He asked me, during our layover in Vegas, “What’s going on in that little head of yours?” And I simply said not a whole lot, because I was scared to ask what was bugging him. Maybe he had spent too much time with me and thought I was annoying? Or some other horribly irrational thing my brain concocted on that flight home.

We didn’t talk much that following week, and saw each other even less. But Friday, February 14, arrived. And I made plans to make a pretty great dinner and then a spectacular dessert. I wanted to treat this Boy that I truly was so in love with. But I was unsure whether he was coming over at all. So I text him and asked. He simply replied, “No, I think the family is doing something tonight.” What? Valentine’s Day? The family? Well…fine. That’s what I said. That’s fine. Because I told him a long time ago I would never make him choose between me and his family because I know I would lose that battle. So Valentine’s crashed in burning disappointment that I couldn’t express to Boy because I hadn’t seen him yet. I wanted to talk about it; was going to bring it up next time I saw him, because I figured it could easily lead to our first fight, and I didn’t want it to be over text messages.

Cut to coffee on Sunday. After awkward small talk, Boy says that he thinks we went to fast. We skipped a step in our relationship and that we should go back to just dating; take marriage off the table. My brain was a mess. I couldn’t really get my mind around what he was saying Well…ok. I mean, I wasn’t the one who put it on the table, so I suppose he can take it off. I didn’t make promises of an engagement in May or a wedding in October. Wait, what? He feels trapped? How can he feel trapped? He built the box! He created this future. I simply hopped on board…Oh, you talked to your dad and uncle. Two men with some of the most unhealthy views on woman and marriage of anyone I’ve ever met. That’s comforting. Ok. Start over. Let’s start over. How? A break? A break. So…like three days maybe? Oh, a week? Well…see you next Sunday then…

Yeah. I’ll skip that week because I was a wreck; nerves due to the fact that this whole thing was crumbling around me and I simply had to stand there and take it. So I go to coffee that next Sunday. Pit in my stomach, yet strangely optimistic. He sits down across from me with his fruity tea. More awkward small talk…Just get to the reason you’re here…

“So what are you thinking?” Oh, that’s how he wants to phrase it? Awesome. Classy dude right here. “I’m thinking that I want to fight for this. I think you and what we have is worth fighting for.”

“I think we should break up.” I get quiet after he says that, because past experience has taught me that you can’t talk someone out of that. Their mind is made up. “I’m so sorry, I feel like such a douchebag.” I half mouth-half whisper, “It’s ok…” “No! It’s not ok! It’s not ok that I’m breaking up with you! Just say something, Leeza. Say what is on your mind right now! I want to hear it!”

Ok. He asked for it. “You think we should break up? What a cop-out. You’ve been obsessed with us having our first fight, and we finally have something close to it and you bail?! I didn’t ask for this! All I wanted was a relationship with you. I didn’t bring up marriage, or kids, or wedding dates, or plan the finances. I didn’t ask you to do any of that, I didn’t ask to be invited into your family, I didn’t ask to be taken to California. All those things happened because of you! And yet, I’m the one that feels like shit! I’m the one who has to deal with the heartbreak because you’ve have the whole week to go home and bitch about me to Mom and Dad and Uncle and Eric and everyone else. And there I was, hoping for the best. So thanks for that. You’re an asshole. A total asshole for doing all this…Why are you smiling?!” He was. He was just stupidly smiling at me.

“That’s all I wanted.” What? “I just wanted to see if you would fight. You say you will, but you never really did. Like Valentine’s day, I knew that would piss you off, and you let me get away with it. Last week I told you that I didn’t think I loved you or wanted to marry you, and you said nothing. You didn’t even ask why. You just accepted it. This. I just wanted to see if that fight was really there.”

“You really are an asshole.”

So we went our separate ways that night, a date scheduled for Tuesday, and content in our relationship. I go to bed, wake up and go to the gym. I take a water break and check my phone and there’s a text from Boy. “Leeza…I’m really sorry but I can’t do this. I thought we could work through this, but we can’t. I’m sorry, my heart’s just not in this right now…” There was more, but it was just a lengthy explanation that didn’t really explain anything. All I could think was, “A fucking text message?” Because really, are we in middle school? But at the same time, if someone is that big of a coward, I didn’t need him or want him in my life anyway.

That day was the last I heard from him. And probably will be. I’m angry that I was treated that way, but thankful that he didn’t waste more of my time. It is just so baffling to me that someone could change so quickly. I doubt that I’ll ever really understand what happened between Boy and I, and I really am okay with that. In reality, I don’t think I’m even that sad about being broken up with, I mean, I am, but it’s nothing new at this point. I guess I’m sad that I got involved in another family that I have to cut out. I’m sad that Mom and Dad don’t have someone to meet when they come down in May. I’m sad that I invested another part of my heart, only to have it thrown back at me.

But, I suppose that this is what life is full of. Unexpected twists, disappointments, heartbreak…I can only pray that when my turn comes around, it will make everything else disappear.