It is going to get better, isn’t it?

This cartoon is me.

Is it you too? Probably.

With election day this week, cases of corona virus surging, work pressures, financial strain and the holidays just weeks away you can’t tell me you aren’t feeling some amount of stress.

It reminds me of how I felt when Nolan left for school a second time, when he appeared to be at his best and chose to attend and live at Valpo University.

I was overwhemed with anxiety.

Initially I couldn’t sleep. I texted him daily. How are you? Did you go to class? Did you take your medication?

I had done all I could before he left for school. I had my responsibilities as his parent and I did the best I could. I had to trust him.

I had to let go.

I called and told him I could not keep checking on him daily . I trusted that he would call me if he needed something. He told me thank you. He understood and I know he was relieved I wasn’t stressing about him.

One month later he was gone.

But you know what? I am still here. Four years later I am still breathing, living, working, loving and smiling.

How did I deal with my worry about Nolan? How do I handle my anxiety now?

Take 4 minutes and listen…

So when you wake up at 3am and your brain starts thinking about all the bad things in the world, all the what ifs, the future we all want to know but cannot predict, and the things you can’t control – try and repeat the phrase.

It might work. It does for me.

Four years

Four years. It is how long we take to get through high school. Through college (that is the plan for most parents!)

Medical school is four years.

I should know how four years should feel. I have done four year tasks many times.

These four years have been painful and slow with my grieving.

The first year is all fresh with firsts – first Christmas, first Thanksgiving, first birthday. The Angelversary. You struggle to focus, you are exhausted.

The second year is horrible. It stings and all the milestone days come again and you are reminded he is not coming home. You are still exhausted. Wake, rinse, repeat.

For me the third year was the year of figuring out balance. How to still function as a full time pediatrician, mom and wife yet still honor my need to grieve.

Fourth year? My grief is still here but the need to stay current with the daily changes in a pandemic world keep me more as a doctor and less as a grieving mom. This world is getting harder for those struggling with loss, addiction, depression and anxiety. I have seen so much anxiety in my pediatric population.

I honor Nolan today, his fourth Angelversary.

I really don’t want to cry all day. I don’t have time for that. Life goes on. This day will come again and again. How many more I will have to live through I do not know. I would rather put my energy and grief today into my purpose – why I am supposed to be here.