BETWEEN NOW AND THE NEXT FULL MOON by Judy Waldo Bracken

Checking my calendar, I see that my next scheduled event is the full moon, over a week from today. Really? That seems impossible. Perhaps I’ve forgotten to write something down — an appointment, a phone call reminder, a volunteer commitment, or meeting. But no, it all seems to be in order. 

I’ve been trying to clear my calendar for months, years really, and I never actually thought it would happen. Trying to clear it so that I’d be open for the next crisis, the next call from the hospital, the alert from the police, the doctor visit, or the call from my son talking in nonsense statements. Whatever it was, I needed to be unscheduled to avoid the disappointment of having to cancel my plans due to that ever present possibility of a crisis. 

Why would I do this? Why do I feel I have to put my life on hold when someone in my family is not doing well? In looking deeper, I realize how unfair I’m being to myself. I am healthy and strong, independent, financially secure, with plenty of time on my hands. Instead of feeling free, I’m filled with a deep sense of emptiness. Empty nest, empty house, empty calendar. For some reason I’ve been conditioned to put my own sense of fulfillment aside until everyone in my family is happy and healthy. 

It’s time to put something new on my calendar. It’s time to take an “about face” in my thought patterns. It’s time to realize my own happiness is not so dependent on others. It’s time to accept the new family paradigm that includes my mentally ill son as he is or may be with the proper help. It’s time to realize that the challenges that turn our lives upside down and inside out can actually be experiences that strengthen and broaden us and our views of the world. It’s time to draw from my own strength and to continue to fight for my son. It’s time to be content with my life as things are right now. 

The fall leaf colors in my backyard are indescribably beautiful. The dog snuggling next to me is soft and warm. My muscles are exercised from a vigorous swim workout this morning. I’m breathing and my heart is steadily beating. My calendar is empty, but there is plenty to do and think about between now and the next full moon.

 Judy and her sons, Cameron, Ryland, and Stewart with Shorty at the memorial tree for Judy's husband, Bryan, three years ago.

Judy and her sons, Cameron, Ryland, and Stewart with Shorty at the memorial tree for Judy's husband, Bryan, three years ago.