Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Day

Another Memorial Day comes around and we are busy with the barbecues, the plants, the yard work -- all the usual activities of a three-day weekend coupled with nice weather.

On Memorial Day we remember the lives that we've lost in defense of our country. I also think of the toll that war takes on the men and women who manage to come home.

Thank you, all, for the sacrifices you have made -- sacrifices of life and of health, so that the liberty of the United States would not have to be sacrificed instead.

- Catherine

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Basketball and meat.

I was going to blog yesterday. I was going to blog today. I really was.

Instead I've handled urgent matters that cropped up at work and attended #7's Memorial Day Weekend basketball tournament.

The basketball tournament was the first I think I've ever attended. I've watched single games here and there, but never a tournament of game after game.  #7 is, officially, a freshman in high school and will play for the freshman team this winter.  He will spend some time training this summer (as he will for freshman football), and this weekend's tournament was part of that training.

I raised a daughter, so the "boy thing" still seems so very different at times. The male rituals of back slapping, fist bumping, low fives (high fives must be out at the moment), etc. is sometimes amusing and still a little foreign.  The coach would gather the team in a huddle (is that what it's called in basketball??) to give them advice and direction, and at the end of that little session, the team would touch fists together and shout a pep cheer.

Which sounded strangely like "Go Meat!"

I'm sure that's not what they said.

But all I could think of was the silly Hillshire Farms commercials of all those men at their backyard barbecue grills.

The tournament is over and we are hoping for a Sabbath of rest and relaxation tomorrow.

Unless the weather's nice, and then I'll be out planting our flower beds and containers.

That's okay, too.  I'll post pics when I'm done.

- Catherine

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Random Dozen - the Wednesday meme

Okay, folks, it's Random Dozen Wednesday.  If you want to play along, you can link your own answers over at Lid's 2nd Cup of Coffee (click on the image above).

1. Would you rather host party or simply attend a party?  I love to host parties!

2. Tell us about the most memorable party you've been to.  Oh my. That's impossible to pinpoint. We have killer parties! I can think of one that was memorable for the amount of unpleasantness that took place, but I prefer not to focus on that.  So, let me just say that all of our parties are memorable for one reason or another. And my favorite parties always involve lots and lots of family members!  I blogged about our latest party just the other day.

3. What is one thing you hope for in the after-life?   Eternal chocolate. Okay, I'm just kidding.  I long for the opportunity to learn the truth about things that have puzzled me in this life.

4. What do you enjoy most about sunshine?  The way it sparkles and plays on water -- ocean, bays, rivers, water falls, running streams  -- it lifts the spirits and dazzles the eyes! 

5. When you attend a bridal/baby shower, do you prefer to bring your own gift or chip in with others to buy a larger gift?  Bring my own. I like to go to places like TJ Maxx or Tuesday Morning and find unusual, high-quality items.

6. Would you rather have a FREE week of having your house cleaned or all of your meals cooked for you and your family?  Cleaning. Hands down. I hate to clean and love to cook.

7. What song describes your mood today? I've recently become a big fan of Celtic Woman and have been listening to their songs most of the time.  "Caledonia" has been running through my head most of today, and the longing for home in the song seems to be speaking to me at the moment.

8. What is something you received for your own bridal shower/wedding that you still own or use? (If you are not married, feel free to sub a gift you received a long time ago.) At my bridal shower I received a green bathrobe that I still pull out and wear on cold winter mornings and evenings.  It's voluminous and incredibly warm . . . and faded, and stained, and rather un-presentable to the world at large. But I can't part with it.

9. Your favorite flavor of ice cream is?  Chocolate. What else????  I also like Moose Tracks.

10. When was the last time you felt "tested?"  This past weekend when I became frustrated once again with the way Satan exploits human frailty for his own evil purposes.

11. "[Fill in the blank] is a food that once I start eating I find really hard to stop."  Oreo cookies. I literally cannot have them in the house because I not only eat that entire package, but I become instantly addicted and will go on eating them for months. They're like crack cookies to me. Truthfully, it's rather scary to find myself enslaved so completely from just one cookie. So I don't eat Oreos and I never buy them to have in the house for any reason.

12. "-----" is the best motivation.  The Holy Spirit is the best motivation. I'm not saying that in a bid to be super spiritual here -- heck, my track record of response to God's leading isn't all that great. But I say He is the best motivation because those things that He calls us to do always turn out to be huge blessings in so many ways -- not the least being the spiritual growth we receive in the process.

Thanks, Lid, for hosting the weekly meme!

- Catherine

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Another trip around the sun.

Today is #4's birthday -- she's 26 years old!

In case you didn't know, #4 is adopted from Korea. Her dad (my former husband) and I took her home in our arms when she was just three months old.  I remember falling hopelessly in love with the little toothless grin on her face when she was handed over to us at the airport.  I remember that there was no way -- NO WAY -- she was going to sit in another car seat after spending all those hours on planes (her travel time, with flights and layovers, was about 24 hours in all). She screamed. She arched her little back and pushed with her feet as best she could.  I got the message.  I held her in my arms in the back seat all the way home, entreating her dad to be careful on the notorious NJ Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway. Fortunately it was something liked 2:00 in the morning, which is about the only time of day that those highways aren't busy.

From a chunky baby with cowlicks in her dark hair, she has grown to be a lovely young woman on the verge of a new life.

Mama and Abbi in 2007.

The whole blended family in 2009!

Abbi and Rich in 2008.

Happy Birthday, Abbi!
Love, Mama

Monday, May 24, 2010

Ah, the weekend . . .

We had a weekend of ups and downs.  Really Dark Valleys and really High Mountaintops, that is.  I'm choosing to focus on the Mountaintops.

Except to say that we had snow on Saturday.  Not exactly a Dark Valley, but annoying as all get out since it's well toward the end of May now.  Hmph!

Okay, on to the High Mountaintops.

A family party was planned to celebrate #6's completion of his truck driving course, receiving his Commercial Drivers License complete with hazmat endorsement.  He's certified to drive anything now.  It was #6's moment in the sun and we were so proud of him.  Dad made a little speech, everyone applauded, and stepmom cried. There it is.

Lots of good food and fun company for the afternoon -- that's the order of the day for all our family parties.  Most of the kids came over early to help with food preparation, for which I was truly thankful.  We all piled into the kitchen, cutting fruit and cheese, making salad, putting out dips, crackers and chips, and on and on.  No one got cut with a sharp knife and there was minimal bumping into each other, despite the fact that there were seven or eight of us working in there.

#7 outdid himself in food preparation, seasoning meat, cutting fruit, making salad -- even making a batch of gluten-free brownies for his Dad to eat.

Later that evening, when everyone had gone home, Tim and I put our feet up and vegged out on the couch in the family room. As we mindlessly watched TV, Tim's phone rang.

A family member.

One with whom both of us had had a difficult relationship for several years.

We began to talk.

To our utter astonishment, in less than 20 minutes, God had answered our prayers with a miracle of reconciliation!  I know we shouldn't be astonished, but this really took our breath away. Tim and I just looked at each other when the phone call was over, marveling at how thoroughly God heals the things that are broken and how good He truly is.


Really, really, really High Mountaintops.

- Catherine

Friday, May 21, 2010

Morning encounter

Hank Williams Jr. and I met up with a couple of neighborhood kids this morning.  Hank and I were out for our morning walk. The kids were making their way to the local elementary school. A girl and her younger brother - she about 10 years old, he about 7. She pushed herself along on her scooter while he walked beside her.

It was inevitable that we would meet since they were heading for the same corner, coming at a right angle to our route. Hank was eager to greet them and strained against the leash as we walked up the block.

At the corner, Hank stopped. The boy turned to me and I said, "he's friendly." Immediately the boy made to pet Hank's head, at which point Hank decided he was afraid of the boy and began to jump around and bark.  I quieted Hank and instructed the boy to simply put his hand out to Hank's nose for the customary introductory sniffing ritual. Eventually the boy graduated to patting Hank's head, receiving a friendly lick in return.

The boy mentioned to me as an aside, "we have three black labs at home."

"Wow!" I replied, "that's a lot!"

"Yes, and four cats," he said.

"You have a zoo of your own," I observed.

He nodded in agreement. His older sister had been silently watching the encounter from a short distance away. She piped up at that moment, not wanting to miss a sisterly, though friendly, swipe, "Three dogs, four cats, and my brother."

We all laughed, and then the kids turned to continue their way toward school.  But first, the boy said goodbye to Hank and then turned to me to bid me a quiet goodbye as well.

We went our separate ways, but I went with a warmer heart on this cold Spring morning.

Hope your weekend is warm and wonderful!

- Catherine

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The prayer on page 89

About 20 or 25 years ago, I purchased a very tiny, pocket-sized book entitled Thoughts in Solitude by Thomas Merton. Of all places, I purchased it from a rack near the cashier's stand at one of the Smithsonian's gift shops (cannot remember which museum, though). I purchased it for one reason -- this prayer that I found on page 89 as I thumbed through the book.

"My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.  I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone."

This is, without doubt, THE prayer that has touched me most profoundly over the years. It speaks of absolute trust in God, even when we cannot see where we are going or why we are on that particular road. It speaks of a plan for each of us that is much bigger than our little individual worlds.

The little book where I found this prayer keeps getting lost in the house (in fact, the book has gotten lost in every house I've lived in since I purchased it), but it ALWAYS turns up again without my looking too hard for it. And it falls open to page 89.

- Catherine

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Random Dozen - the Wednesday meme

1. What is one really fast, know-by-heart "go-to" meal to fix in a pinch? Baked tilapia (the frozen fillets from Costco cook in 30 minutes) with rice and whatever veg or salad is handy.

2. What is one item you won't leave home without. (Purse and license do not count.)  Tissues, because I sneeze a lot.

3. Where is one place you never tire of visiting?  England

4. Share one factoid of your family's history.   Just one!?  Eeek!  I got a million of'em because I've done a lot of family history research.  Okay, here's one: on my mother's side, my great-great grandfather was Jewish, born in Poland, and came to the U.S. to escape the pogroms of Tsarist Russia. (All four of his kids married outside the faith, so that was the end of our Jewish lineage.)

5. Complete this sentence: "Once upon a time I ...."  was slender.

6. If you could win a one year's supply of anything, what would it be?  Really good dark chocolate (why would you want a year's supply of anything else?)

7. "One quirky thing you may not know about me is ...."  I like garden gnomes, although I'm fussy about how their facial features look -- not just any old garden gnome will do.

8. You have one dollar in your pocket. What will you buy?  A bar of chocolate. What else???

9. "One thing that always makes me laugh is ...."   My dog suddenly taking it into his head that it's time to go out and play -- without any prompting from me, he grabs his toy and prances to the door while looking at me expectantly.  Gets me every time!

10. What is one thing you could do today to help yourself reach a personal goal?  Get away from my computer and clean the house.

11. What is one thing you could do today to bless someone else?  Call a friend.

12. What is one thing you're looking forward to soon? Celebrating #6's completion of a truck driving course that will set him up with a solid career. School never came easy to #6 and we are thrilled at how well he did in the course. We're having a family picnic on Sunday to celebrate his accomplishment!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Random Stuff on a cloudy Tuesday afternoon

It's Tuesday afternoon. In about 10 minutes, some 200 check requests will be put on my desk, each one of which requires my handwritten signature (electronic not allowed).

Shoot me.

So, while I wait, I will take a few moments to blog.

In NJ recently, I was very careful NOT to use my cell phone while driving -- because it is totally and completely and absolutely against State law to be on your cell phone while driving.  I had to wonder, though, at the signs on the Interstate highways that flashed the following message: "Traffic Info: Dial 511"


While in NJ, I visited with an elderly aunt. The difficult one. Notorious in the family for picking fights, misconstruing information, and generally being about as narcissistic and bitter a person as I've ever met. She's 83 and hasn't mellowed one bit since her childhood (going by my mother's stories).  I've kept my distance over the years because the stress of it is more than I can handle. But she's 83 and it was time for me to see her.  We had a perfectly lovely visit, including lunch, and it was all going swimmingly . . . until the end, when she informed me that she had written me out of her will.

Well, all righty then.

I figure she can leave her money to anyone she wishes. But taking the time to include a whole paragraph in her will that specifically writes me out of her will?

I feel so . . . infamous.

- Catherine

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Slackest among slackers

Slacker. Slaaaaaa-cker. That's what I've been all week.

To be fair, I was on the run for most of the eight days that I was in New Jersey. I saw my elderly aunts and uncle. I visited with my stepmother and family. I visited with my brother.

I took my camera but felt disinclined to take pictures.  Refer to title.

Oh, and lest we forget the real reason for my trip to Jersey, I worked.

I met.

I dined.

I made small talk.

I defended my budget.

I asked for new software.

And I am very happy to be home.

I landed at 6:00 Thursday night and my hubby was there to meet me. Ahhhhhh. There is nothing quite as nice  as coming home to someone waiting for you in the airport (and nothing quite as bad as coming home to your solitary and cold car parked in long-term parking).

We then had a whirlwind weekend, working all day Saturday at my parents-in-law's home, doing their Spring yard cleanup and planting. I could hardly get out of bed this morning, my muscles were so sore from the unaccustomed movement. 

I wish I'd taken pictures, but please refer, once again, to the title.

Today -- my Sabbath -- I made roasted lemon chicken, picked up a garden gnome at Costco (I have a thing for garden gnomes), did laundry, and am now in the middle of making bread. At 9:30 p.m.  Oh well.

I'm glad to be home and a little overwhelmed at trying to get caught up again.

Oh, and my kid -- #4 -- was accepted to the graduate program at the University of Alberta. Go Abbi!!!

Okay, that's it for this Sunday night. Talk to you soon -- I promise!!

- Catherine

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day

So, the first Mother's Day without my own mother is over. I had a good day, remembering Mom. I miss her terribly, and I still want to talk to her all the time.  One of the very last responses she made to anyone before she passed was to me, when I was talking about how Jesus was coming soon and how I would miss her. I treasure that precious moment when she reached for me as I softly spoke to her.

Since I am in NJ at the moment, I took the time yesterday to visit my mother's sisters.  It was good to see them again and to talk about Mom, to tell them more details about her passing.

Today I visited with my brother in the morning and then drove down to see my stepmother and the family (including my beloved stepsister).  My stepmother has finally decided to move to a retirement community. Packing up the house that she lived in for 40 years, and which she shared with my father for 25 of those years, is difficult. Rather like prying a snail from its shell. But she recognizes the many benefits of living in a gated community where she will feel safe and where there are neighbors looking out for her. She will also be living closer to her son and one of her granddaughters. I never lived in the house that she and my father shared, but I'll miss it all the same. My father loved it, and I always felt welcome there, too.

Happy Mother's Day to all out there -- to those who are mothers by birth, by adoption, and by choice.  You are the best!

- Catherine

Friday, May 7, 2010

Flashback Friday for Nat'l Teacher Appreciation Week

I thought it would be fun to do the Flashback Friday this week, hosted by Mocha With Linda (click on the logo above to go to Linda's blog).

Our task is to tell about our favorite teacher(s) and how they influenced us.

There were three teachers in grade school whom I adored and remember vividly: 1) my third grade teacher, Mrs. Siedentop; 2) my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Sloan; 4) my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Blehart.

I'd found school to be a total snooze-fest during 2nd grade. The teacher that year was newly out of college and was still finding her way when it came to handling a classroom and making lessons interesting. I was bored, to put it mildly, and tried to find any and every excuse that would let me stay home from school on any given day.

Come third grade, all that changed. Mrs. Siedontop, although young, had taught for a few years. She was kind, she was interesting, she used lots of visuals in our work. Due to overcrowding, all four of the third grade classes were bussed out of the main elementary school building each day to the old two-room school houses in our district. Our school house was the furthest away, so in hindsight, that must have meant that Mrs. Siedontop and Mrs. Murphy (who taught in the other classroom) had dramatically shortened class time with their students. It seems to me that Mrs. Siedontop made the most of it. I enjoyed the work that year so much! We did arithmetic drills in teams, as I recall.  Mrs. Siedontop kept track of each team's progress through charts drawn on the blackboards that were affixed to each segment of the folding (old fashioned) classroom divider wall. And she also encouraged me to knit! Since I often finished my classwork earlier than the other children, Mrs. Siedontop encouraged me to bring my knitting to school and work at it while the other students continued to work. I found it difficult, but I wanted to be like her, so I knitted through most of the year. Didn't accomplish much, I'm afraid -- I never really got the hang of knitting well -- but it kept me absorbed while the others were working, and it gave me a point of contact with my teacher that had nothing to do with school work.

Fourth grade -- back in the main elementary school building again, in the classroom of a seasoned teacher who had traveled to Europe on more than one occasion.  Our Social Studies lessons that year were focused on Europe, and I was entranced to hear Mrs. Sloan talk about what she'd seen with her own eyes about the places we were studying.  She loved opera, too, and a portion of one memorable lesson about Italy was sung recitative-style by a brave girl in our class, at Mrs. Sloan's suggestion. (It wasn't me -- I was too shy.)  Mrs. Sloan was a very classy lady and I wanted to be like her -- sophisticated, refined, kind and interesting.

On to fifth grade, with a teacher new to our school but not new to teaching.  Coming in as our teacher at the half-year mark, Mrs. Blehart had just moved to our town. I liked her instantly. She was fair, firm and interesting. (Do you see the pattern here -- I really needed my teachers to be both kind and interesting!) Mrs. Blehart taught us how to make an outline by insisting that we outline our Social Studies notes all year. I remember struggling with that because I wanted to write too much in each line, but it was an excellent exercise and a learning experience that stood us in good stead as we moved on to the upper grades. To my delight, she and her husband had moved into an apartment complex down the street from us while they waited to find a house to buy. I remember with pleasure her invitation to go on a bike ride one Spring afternoon. She checked with my mother in advance, of course, and I awaited the day with much excitement! I don't remember exactly where we rode, but I enjoyed her company and getting to know her a little bit outside of the classroom.  I don't know whether she did that with any other students or what was the impetus behind the invitation, but it remains, for me, a great memory of a great teacher!

I actually reconnected recently with my third grade teacher, Mrs. Siedontop, through Facebook, and it has been fun to see a glimpse of her life 45 years later.  When I knew her, she was newly married. Now she is a grandmother of grown grandchildren. Mrs. Sloan and Mrs. Blehart, I believe, are both passed on now. I never had the opportunity to see them again after I moved on to the district's middle school. In hindsight, I wish I'd gone back to visit at some point, to thank them for all they did.

If you wish to play along and join the Flashback Friday fun, you can link up your own post over at Mocha with Linda!

Have a great weekend!

- Catherine

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Random Dozen -- the Wednesday meme

I know it's Tuesday night, but I have to leave at "o'dark thirty" tomorrow morning, so I'm posting this now.

1. What was the last thing about which you procrastinated? Doing the laundry from my last trip. I hate having those huge loads to sort through.  Of course, since I procrastinated, the pile just got worse and ended up being a completely monumental chore. Which I whined about to any who would listen.  Are you listening?

2. How long does it take you to fall asleep, and do you sleep through the night? It varies now that I am in middle-age. I sometimes go right to sleep and sometimes lie there for an hour or more.  I almost never sleep through the night -- my bladder has awakened me nearly every night since I was in my mid-20s, so at the very least, there is a visit to the facilities. And sometimes it's just plain old insomnia and I stay awake for hours in the middle of the night for no apparent reason.

3. Which decade would you choose to exemplify your favorite fashion styles?  Hmmmm.... well, I am a fan of the the long dresses of the early 19th century (Regency style, with Empire waists).  I know the women wore corsets underneath them, but I'd go without the corset and just enjoy the freedom of movement.  I would love to have the option of wearing them whenever I felt like it, while retaining the option to wear my jeans whenever I want to as well (because I also can't live without my hip-hugger jeans).

4. What is your personal best dish to feed a crowd?  Beef stew -- I have a killer recipe.

5. Are you an impulse shopper? What was the last thing you bought on impulse? I am definitely an impulse shopper. The last thing I bought on impulse was a magnetic cutter and cutting board set for my craft room. To be fair, I did have a coupon for 25% off, but I really didn't HAVE to have it. (Sure do love it, though!)

6. What is one wish you have for your own funeral? I'd want people to tell funny stories about me so that there is laughter.

7. If it's true that joy is found in the simple things in life, what does your joy look like today? The sunshine outside.

8. What is your favorite type of bread?  Homemade.

9. What trait do you fear developing the most? (Laziness, greediness, grumpiness, etc.)  That's a tough one! I guess I wouldn't want to be small-minded and petty.

10. What trait would you like most to develop? The ability to forgive people easily and quickly.

11. Which room in your house best reflects your personality? Why? The family room, which is cozy and casual.

12. How do you maintain balance in your life regarding, work, family, church, other organizations and activities, and blogging? I try to have a real Sabbath on Sunday afternoon and evening -- relaxing and doing things only for enjoyment rather than because there is work to be done.  We also try to reserve most Friday nights for family time with #7.

If you want to play along, you can blog your own answers and link up with Lid's post at 2nd cup of Coffee.  Thanks, Lid, for hosting this weekly meme!

- Catherine

Saturday, May 1, 2010


Will Owsley, longtime guitarist for Amy Grant and an incredible musician, died yesterday from an apparent suicide.  I cannot tell you how this saddens me. I saw Will Owsley perform with Amy and he was just amazing on that guitar. I witnessed the soundcheck for that concert and know that he was also an amazing and perceptive, all-round musician.  He leaves behind a wife and two young sons.

What drives a Christian to the point where they think God can no longer carry them?  I still don't understand  the thinking.

But I nearly went that way myself a few months ago, so I certainly understand the feelings.

The last three years have taken a toll. I've blogged about them, usually trying to be funny. But today I need to be serious about the whole thing, because I have finally reached a milestone in my recovery from the events of those three years.

Here is the chronology:

On February 1, 2007, my dad passed away unexpectedly from an undiagnosed perforated ulcer.   I spent the last week of his life with him, and, in the end, I'm the one who had to phone the doctor and request that my father -- my own father --  be taken off life support.

82 days later, Dad's brother (who had been perfectly fine at Dad's funeral) passed away unexpectedly from bone cancer.

In between those two events, my mother was diagnosed with cancer of the bile duct and faced a radical surgical procedure that would leave her fighting for her life the rest of the year.

Meanwhile, in May of that same year, my daughter graduated from university.  A scant three months later she left to take a job halfway around the world, in South Korea.

Right after that, I sold my Salt Lake City area condo and moved to Pocatello to live full time with my husband, putting an end to the "commuter" aspect of our marriage that we'd been putting up with six years.

In hindsight, I probably should have known, as this confluence of events was unfolding, that it would be more than I could take. But I was brought up to keep soldiering on, to persevere. And I'm a Christian, right? -- so I figured that, while it might be challenging, I would handle it with God's help.

2008 arrives -- continued worries about my mother's health, which did not fully recover after the surgery in 2007.  Plus, it looks like I'm finally in menopause, which is something of a relief, but still carries a whole lot of unpredictable and intense hot flashes and other uncomfortable physical manifestations of the change.

2009 arrives. Mom undergoes a grueling three months of chemo, only to find that it didn't have any effect on the cancer that had reoccurred on her pancreas and liver. She is given 6-12 months to live.

On November 1, 2009, after a valiant fight, Mom passes away with me at her side.

First I was in shock. Gradually, as the winter wore on, I began to feel completely overwhelmed by life. I was sad all the time and I found it increasingly difficult to function normally in the real world. The smallest things would upset me out of all proportion. I was exceptionally angry. And I sat paralyzed at my computer for more hours than I care to admit, unable to do anything. It was a dry season that lasted far too long.

Finally in the middle of one dark January night I seriously considered downing all the ibuprofen in my medicine cabinet, figuring that Costco's large economy size bottle would do the job.  I searched my heart as I thought about taking this step, reminding myself that there WOULD be people devastated by this action I was contemplating.

But I really didn't care who would be devastated. I didn't care how hurt they'd be or how bereft my absence would leave them.

And at that moment, I realized I could no longer handle by myself what life had been tossing at me for the last three years. I also knew in that same moment that I was NOT thinking correctly and that, no matter what I was feeling, I had to stay right where I was, sitting on the couch until morning arrived and Tim got out of bed. Because then I'd be safe from myself.

I called my doctor that morning and was in the office within two hours.

The upshot -- after resisting medication for many years, I began taking an anti-depressant. A mild one, but I'm sensitive to meds so the effect was stronger than the doctor thought it might be.

It's also a slow-acting anti-depressant, taking 8-12 weeks to come to full effect.

Three months in, I don't know why I waited so long to get help.

Within a week I felt more capable of handling everyday life. Within 4 weeks I was clearly regaining my confidence and feeling better about interacting with people. At the 8 week mark, I took up racquetball and resumed riding horses.  At the 12 week mark, I hopped on my motor scooter and zoomed around town without worrying about the traffic (yes, I was careful, of course -- but last year I was so paranoid about the other vehicles on the road that I didn't ride very much at all).

All that said, I'm not feeling like a new person. Not at all.

I feel like my old self again.

This is the Catherine whom Tim recognizes as the woman he married. This is the Catherine #4 recognizes as the mom who raised her. This is the Catherine #7 recognizes as his goofy stepmother.

I write this as an encouragement. If you are so low that you don't want to live and it's been a while that you've been in that place -- please see your doctor and consider the options.  The first medication they prescribed for me  didn't work - it immediately made me feel too detached from life -- but I called the doctor the very next day and they changed my medication without question.  I've committed to staying a year on the medication and then seeing if I can taper off and function normally.  That's a plan that my doctor approves.

In all this, did God fail me? I had certainly been praying all this time and I suppose there are those who would say that my faith wasn't strong enough. Well, I say this: God did not fail me, nor was it a question of my faith not being in the right place. I could see God's hand working in my life in many ways along the journey, as anyone who's read my blogs on grief will know. But I was so worn down that my brain chemistry had changed, which perpetuated and deepened the problem.

Truly, it was God who provided me with a great doctor who instantly understood the problem (she'd lost her husband unexpectedly a few years ago and she is just about the same age as I, with the same hormonal stuff going on). I feel incredibly blessed to be able to resume and enjoy the life God has given me.

If any of this sounds like you, don't wait to get help of some kind. You, too, can be your old self again.

And oh, how I wish Will Owsley had been able to get help before he hit rock bottom.

- Catherine