The too-short, too-busy weekend

Weekends like this last one make me wish for an extra day for recovery. So much to do, so much fun, so tired on Monday morning.

It started with arriving on my alma mater’s campus late on Friday. Too late to make the formal senior banquet, but that’s okay. Instead of changing into my sassy new dress (which I’m kind of disappointed about…I’ll have to find somewhere else to wear it), I walked into the ballroom, wearing jeans and a sweater, in time to hear the last 10 minutes of the “thank you” speeches.

The bar was closed, but I smiled sweetly and asked politely for two glasses of wine – it was a long drive through crazy Chicago traffic and I needed it. I was cornered by one of the college’s executives who made a weird, sort-of job pitch. I was pinned to the wall as she was trying to talk me into submitting a resume for a newly created position, and “wouldn’t you like to talk to the college president RIGHT NOW? He’s just over there…” Um, no. I just wanted to get my drink on and have a good time. Besides, I cannot relocate the kids again so soon. Would I like to work at my alma mater? Yes. But not now. Not for several years. But, um, thanks?

I was in a particularly social mood, but none of the usual suspects were planning on doing anything that night. Everyone was going back to the dorm or had other plans. Then I found two guys who graduated with me. They were deep in conversation, but after drinking those two glasses of wine in record time, I was feeling okay with interrupting their convo and finding out what they were up to.

I’ve known these two guys since freshman year. Super nice, super fun, and of course, they were eager to continue to drink. We ended up at the college bar (it’s a dry campus…with a bar). The Midwest rains left half of the bar underwater, but that didn’t stop anyone. With only one part of the bar open and the other (soggy part) blocked off with old church pews, it was crazy crowded.

The guys and I found a table just outside the bar and drank until almost 3 a.m. when the bar closed. It was fun. I don’t usually get to spend time with these two, so siting with them and talking and laughing was awesome.

Side note: If I know you IRL from college, I need to get your perspective on one of these guys. The single one. Who graduated with me. Who was looking particularly amazing with some scruffy facial hair and a well-tailored suit. Specifically, why is this guy still single? Why has he always been single? Am I missing something?

It was a rough Saturday morning, since the board meeting started at 8 a.m. I may have fallen out of bed at one point. That sucked. But I was feeling pretty good that morning. Until the beer and brat tent. After the meeting, the board was staffing the beer and brat tent for the annual spring festivities (a go cart race for alumni and one for students). Standing over vats of grilled meat soaking in boiling beer was nauseating, given my activities the night before. I was not sad when I was told I could leave an hour early.

I left campus and went to a local florist. I knew exactly what I wanted. Finding a single sunflower, I set off for the cemetery. Mike’s grave is in such a pretty spot. It’s off a walking trail, near the river. I knelt at his grave, my knees getting soaked and grass stained from the muddy earth. It was the first time I saw the headstone. I smiled as I placed the sunflower. We had a running joke about sunflowers: I once decorated our bedroom in blue and yellow with sunflower accents. He was not amused. I tried justifying the sunflowers as “manly” flowers – they’re tall, they grow food (seeds), they’re not a girly color like pink. It became something we laughed and joked until the end. It felt playful to place the sunflower on his grave. It felt good, it felt right. (My mom was appalled when I told her that I put a sunflower out. She thought it was “awful” and mean. I disagree.)

B and I exchanged a few texts Friday and Saturday – he had a crazy work weekend, and he knew I was on campus. It was nice. I didn’t tell him about visiting the cemetery. That’s still too weird to talk about with someone I’m casually getting to know. I’m not sure when we’ll see each other next – we both have ridiculous weekend schedules through mid-May, and our weekdays are just as crazy. Boo.

Sunday was another busy day. I had brunch with two good friends from my previous employer. I miss them and the wonderful team there, but I don’t miss the hours or the work or the politics of that place. But the people – they’re awesome. We had a good visit, and I hope we can do it again soon.

Quick stop at home to get Ethan and we were off to the craft store. He has his first communion this weekend, and prep for that important event has been a major pain. It’s become focused on parent-driven arts-and-crafts. No where in the Bible do I remember anyone writing about how important it is to design banners, cut religious symbols out of felt, decorate candles, or bedazzle crosses. Yet, for the last three months, it’s been one project after another. I’ve spent at least $100 on art supplies and countless hours “helping” Ethan to decorate all this stuff. I believe the kid should do his/her own work, and I really work in a supervisory role, helping him think it out and making sure images are appropriate for the religious ceremony. But after submitting our banners a few months ago, I learned that I am almost alone in this belief. Many moms took the lead on their kids’ banners (and admitted it to the rest of us) and you’d think they were competing for an award in elaborate felt design. It was nuts. For this month, we had to decorate a nine-inch white pillar candle. And get decorations to stick on it. And make sure all images were compatible with the child’s “spiritual journey” so far. I bought some scrap-book crosses and peace doves, and used sticky dots to adhere to the candle with the words “love” and “faith” Sharpied across the top and bottom of the candle. I’m not an artsy, crafty person. I hated these projects – glad the candle was the last one. It better be the last one.

The rest of the day was filled with some outside work (yay, nice weather) and playing with the kids. Then grading. Oh my goodness, the end of the semester grading. I did not plan this well and I’m way behind.

I was already tired from the amount of activity this weekend, when at 1 a.m., Lauren got sick. Change the sheets, wash her and change her, then put her in bed with me where she played for an hour before falling asleep. Every cough and sound she made, I was on high alert so she wouldn’t puke in my bed (she didn’t, thank goodness). She was super tired this morning, as was I and Ethan, who woke up when she was crying and calling for me.

One more day would have been nice. One more day for recovery. How many more days until the next weekend? I hope it comes soon… Wait, I’m completely booked next weekend, too. Ugh!

Burial

There’s a cemetery on the grounds of Ethan’s school. It’s right next to the playground, just off the school’s parking lot. It’s creeped him out since he started there earlier this year (just weeks before his dad died).

Late last week, Ethan got in trouble during gym class and had to miss recess as a punishment. It was halfway through recess when a school aide came into Ethan’s class to let his teacher know that the kids would be coming in early. “There’s a burial going on and we want to respect the family,” said the aide in explanation.

Ethan’s eyes grew wide, tears filled them, and he freaked out. He got up from his desk and ran to the other side of the room. He started sobbing, wailing. He was uncontrollable.

His teacher, who was widowed about five years ago, hugged him close. She ended up sending him to the principal to calm down before his classmates saw him all red-faced and blotchy from crying.

This caused chaos to the rest of his week. He couldn’t get over the burial that had taken place days before (even though he didn’t see it). He was acting out in class, being disruptive and argumentative.

When his teacher told me about this, Ethan and I were on our way out-of-town. Ethan and I had a deal that if he was good all week, he could spend the night with me (without Lauren or my mom) and help me get set up for homecoming the next day – which I would be working as part of my obligation to my alma mater. Obviously, he had a tough week, and usually I’m a hard ass about this kind of thing, but I couldn’t punish him for being sad. When there was a funeral right there.

We left the school and walked to the car on Friday afternoon. Ethan was crying – probably because he thought he wouldn’t be allowed to go with me. He climbed into his seat and I sat on the floor of the backseat, just below his feet. We talked about how sad we were about the deaths of my dad and Mike. We hugged. I told him how much he meant to me. Then we went to homecoming. Ethan, too.

Since then, he’s mentioned the cemetery every time we pulled up to the school.Things like this are hard. It sucks that there’s a cemetery right next to the school. But there’s nothing we can do about that – the grave yard existed YEARS before the church or the school. There aren’t many burials, and I don’t remember there being any since Ethan started school there.

I doubt any of his classmates were fazed by the burial last week, but Ethan was. Most kids probably don’t give the cemetery a second thought. It’s just part of the school grounds. But it’s a constant reminder to a little boy who lost his dad and grandpa within years of each other.

It’s tough.