One of the first things we have to do when we dip into a depression or funk or mood is determine what is the right response. For me is it always a combination of quietness, reflection, and writing about it. I’m not seeking encouragement from anyone, I am writing only because the writing helps me and because I’m trying to give you the best “up close” look I can give you of as much of this journey as possible.
Tried to sleep for a while, but well-meaning nurses kept interfering, you know, by taking outstanding care of me. They have all been blessings. Sleep not coming, depression continuing to dance around the edges of my mind. When I listen closely, it says things like this:
“You’re washed up.”
“Why pretend you’re okay with this? You’re no hero.”
“You’re never going to be as good again as you were a week ago.”
“You’ve had your last good day.”
But rather than focus on the messages I am hearing, I hope you will think about the ones you hear. Because we all hear these kinds of messages at times. That’s normal. The big question is when you hear these voices, do you listen? Do you indulge these thoughts? Do you believe them?
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And so it begins again — the feeling that I am losing my daughter. That somehow, despite the glass being half full, and something about girls always loving and needing their daddies, and something about how I will always be the first man who mattered in her life, I am, once again, losing my daughter.
I have already lost one, and I was right. Though I love her as much as I always have, and I’m sure she feels the same, things have never been the same. Though she still sleeps here sometimes, it feels like she visits — even when it’s for months on end.
And so it was that I was sitting here last night watching television while my current senior in high school was sitting and doing her homework, I looked over at the table where she was sitting and that thing happened, where all the breath feels like it is suddenly sucked out of my lungs, and my eyes well up, and I instinctively look the opposite direction, which after 25 years of marriage and raising girls together, is a dead giveaway to my wife that I’m doing it again — looking at one of my girls, and loving her, and marveling over her, and mourning deeply that I am losing my daughter.
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I’m feeling better today than I have in weeks. I am back at the office and don’t have time to write a fresh new post, but hope this will at least marginally interest some of my readers. This is from a Facebook post I put up today, which in turn was based on an email I recently sent to a friend.
Tech I predicted would succeed/adopted early:
1. Palm Pilots. Early adopter and managed to get a lot of other people to buy them too, who in turn convinced others.
2. Smart phones. Early adopter again, buying what became one of the first broadly successful smart phones, the Palm Treo 600.
3. Microsoft Office. Long ago, there was a little old package called Word Perfect that looked like it might take over the world. Though I preferred it greatly to Word, and wish it had won out, I nonetheless switched to Word when I first saw Word in action, and predicted it would eventually be dominant in the market over Word Perfect, and certainly over Lotus Notes.
4. The web. I know this seems ostentatious, but hear me out. In 1995 I went to a conference for youth leaders in churches. Over 500 youth workers were there, and when the speaker asked for a show of hands, I was one of fewer than ten people in the room who had a functioning website set up for my youth group. That means I was in the first 2% of people in that room who understood that this was going to be important.
5. Facebook. Back when everybody was still on MySpace, a little company called Facebook started allowing people who didn’t attend Harvard to set up an account. I set mine up and my first friend was Kristen Hendricks, who was then a student at Harvard. I started telling everybody how cool it was and that MySpace was trashy compared to Facebook. It took another couple of years, but eventually people switched over and now, of course, the general response is “WhatSpace?”
6. Firefox. Though Firefox has lost market share to Chrome, I was an early Firefox adopter, using it when nearly everyone was still using Internet Explorer. The reason I eventually caught the Chrome wave is because my loyalty for products never extends even an inch beyond beyond what the product can do for me. The moment something else comes along that works faster or better, I scrap whatever I’m using and adopt what’s new.
7. Gmail. I got into Gmail during its overly-long beta phase. I received my invitation from my friend Carter Clark.
8. Chrome. I think I downloaded and began using Chrome almost the first day it was available. At that time it was very fast, but incomplete, and was sometimes frustrating to use. Now it has basically replaced Firefox as the go-to alternative browser. If you’re still using IE, Download Chrome and give it a shot.
9. Google Apps. I set this up years ago for my church when it was mostly being used only with huge organizations.
Why did I list all of these? Because I have a knack for being “early in” on a lot of tech things. Not sure why, but I do. Based on that, I have some tech recommendations for you.
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Have you ever been in that place where you seem to be surrounded with horrific things? As I write, two of my closest friends on the planet are fighting cancer. This morning I got word that an amazing young man with cancer, for whom I had done premarital counseling and then his wedding in 2010, succumbed to his disease this morning. I gotta be honest, it’s starting to get to me. I’m sick of cancer.
Jessica and Jeff on their wedding day
Yes, we pastors and counselors are the people frequently called on to do funerals, to talk/walk people through their darkest times. This is a deep privilege. Though I have never looked forward to officiating a funeral, I always find them to be one of the most valuable things I do. At the same time, I too have my moments where I just wanna scream, “ENOUGH!” I’m sick of the way people have to suffer. I’m tired of seeing cancer and death work their disgusting chaos in the lives of people I love. I’m sick of young lives cut short, dashing ebullient dreams against razor rocks. It makes me so angry, I just want to — do…uh…anything? That’s it. The helplessness. The sense that all there is to offer as you watch a loved one suffer is words which, let’s face it, everyone knows are totally insufficient. I’m really, really sick of cancer.
My theology doesn’t accommodate this.
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Letting go of anything/anyone we love is never easy, and letting go of our children is surely one of the hardest things we will ever have to do. I was dialoging with a close friend about that over email recently, and she so beautifully captured the agony and ecstasy of the letting go season of life. I thought it would resonate with those of you who are there, or who have been there.
Having kids close together is overwhelming when they are little and need so much attention. It’s also scary when you realize that in a very short time they will be leaving and we will be the ones hoping for their attention. Reminds me of that scene from Hook, when the Robin Williams character is so caught up in work and his wife is trying to get him to see what he is missing.
The first one leaving just leads to the next, and the next. I feel overwhelmed by it at the oddest moments. I find myself scrutinizing the time we have spent with them. Did we read enough, talk enough, play enough, listen enough…my stomach gets tied in knots at times and then I realize that I can’t change any of that. I can only try to make the most of the time we have left, without making it seem too desperate.
I almost don’t want them to realize what I am doing. They might feel weird. And I am so excited for them at the same time. New experiences, sorting out their beliefs, meeting new people, becoming more of themselves.
So strange…it does go by so fast…
[Image courtesy of rhino neal, licensed under Creative Commons]