Saturday, November 25, 2006

Wrestling With the New Normal...Oh great something else new.

I have to admit that one of the most interesting things said to me when my father passed away in May is that now the search begins for the, “new normal.” The statement caused me to scratch my bald spot; okay, head, when it was said to me. Later when there was really time to think about it I thought it was sound information for filing and possibly for using on someone else, but the information would probably stay there in the file because things would never be normal in my life again.

Suffice it to say, two people were right in their thinking on the idea of normal. Sure we can dig through Webster's for some definition of normal, it would be a well thought out description, but everyone's baseline for normal is different. One person's normal temperature may be 98.6, my normal runs closer to 97. some think that it's normal to want vanilla ice cream while others think it's normal to want chocolate. Personally, neither seem normal to me. But I'm a man who likes the less normal flavors.

Thanksgiving was the holiday that became my holiday with my parents. Each of my three sisters began their own traditions as they established their families, when all of us were at home, Thanksgiving wasn't a big day, we were just all at home. Me, being single, my Thanksgiving was most often spent with the folks. There were years where I spent the holiday at the table of friends, included as family of choice. I've always been grateful for those moments. Yet I enjoyed the idea of being with my father and mother because it felt normal.

With Dad gone since May, there are things that in the last seven months have come to feel far less normal. Father's day didn't feel normal, walking past the Father's Day cards in the grocery caused me to cry. I know the meat manager felt embarrassed about the ground chuck prices when he saw me standing there wiping away tears. There was no birthday card to buy this year the middle of September. I bought the others that I needed, but felt like I was forgetting someone, knowing full well that I wasn't. All of it just didn't feel normal.

Thanksgiving I sat at the table with my mother, sizzling steaks in front of us, the only, “normal” holiday dish on the table was green bean casserole. It was hard to look to my right at the table because that's where Pop sits...sat. I made it through the noon meal okay, it was the evening meal that oddly didn't feel normal. I missed him and I missed him dreadfully, I came to tears while at the table, ready to push away and go to another room, my mom took my wrist and kept me there, patting the back of my hand and simply said, “Dad moment?” I nodded my head knowing that she completely understood. She is being introduced to the idea of a new normal too.

I admit now that there is a search for a new normal. The introduction to the idea comes slowly and quietly. There is a new normal, it just takes some getting used to. I suppose that it's easy to want to fight it because it feels like a virus, something that your body knows isn't right and doesn't want there, so it makes war against it. Time must be the antibiotic that comes along to take the fight out of the normal and give the new normal a chance to take over.

All of this isn't just about death of a loved one or death period. It's about those major life moments when things change and the world is rocked. It could be natural disaster, it could be moving from one house to another, simply changing homes, (that one threw me for a loop also several years ago.) It can be about a job or the break of a friendship, it can be about an accident that leaves someone unable to find their old normal. It can be about having to break old habits or even an indiscretion that breaks a marriage or puts someone in trouble with the law. It can be about something really silly like the the change in the formula of your favorite bread...don't get me started on that one.

So, I bow to the experience of another, there is a new normal, it just takes some getting used to, just like the old normal did, I guess.

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