Hospital Room Drama

I was in a coffee shop recently and I overheard a group of women my age talking about tv shows.

“You know what they should let die?” spat one of the women. “Grey’s Anatomy.”

All her friends nodded along, offering better replacements of shows like Scandal, House of Cards, or Game of Thrones.

I can’t handle watching suspenseful tv. I think the world is too icky in real life to watch trauma unfold on screen. Affairs, politics, sex, incest, murder set in the White House or in fantasy worlds just doesn’t sit well with me.

Let me also mention that comedians and actors across many platforms keep joking about how even the writers of House of Cards could not make up the story lines unfolding in our current White House. It’s a crazy, uncertain world out there.

Though if you switch out the Oval Office and drop the scene in an operating room I may consider the suspense just for a moment. I like hospital room dramas.

Ok…. I’ll admit it. I still LOVE Grey’s Anatomy

This show is kinda like the annoying neighbor you grew up with who lived down the street. Its ever-present story line has become background to my life, showing up once a week with really absurd knick knacks for me to examine.

You want the neighbor to be gone but you keep answering the door when they knock, just to see what oddities or treasure they might offer this week.

Even if the neighbor keeps knocking for 13 years.

If you have abandoned this series long ago, forgive my passion. You may want to skip ahead to the photo below, but I’ve still got love to express. TV producers stopped Gilmore Girls and that revival is over, so Grey’s continues to be the show with which I grow.

I’m not ready to let this show die – even though all of my favorite characters have been killed off. There have been so many crises and trauma that all of those surgeons should be in therapy.

I watched the season thirteen finale last night *spoiler alert, spoiler alert* and in an hour episode there was a rapist, an explosion, a fire, a missing girl, a soldier missing for ten years. Choking babies, bleeding arteries, divorce and firings.

I squirmed on the couch as the level of suspense escalated to a level of unbelievable discomfort.  I thought of this blog post that my dear friend wrote on fear.  Her words kept ringing through my ears and I sat watching threat after threat play out at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital.  Jenny writes,

“Many of my fears involve unfamiliar situations I’d be terrified to encounter — assault, debt, sickness. Just knowing these things can happen stresses me out.

I’m not unique in this. As a world, we have greater visibility of fear inducing events than ever before. Videos of disease, genocide, famine, and terrorist attacks are just a click away. It’s natural that we begin to fear things we see affecting others.”

So why, I keep asking myself, do we want to watch these risks, scandals, crises, terrors for entertainment? How much crazy can we absorb – how deeply do we let the immense potential for loss seep into our awareness? Or are we purely being entertained by horror?

Resilience. That’s why.

The world can be scary, threats to our safety, our security, our families, our lifestyles lurk. Sometimes I ask Dylan why we should ever leave our house.

Then I remind myself, “Katie, your dad died at home.” No place is free of vulnerability.

When we keep focusing on the potential for loss, on the threats, on the prevention of pain we miss out on living. Face the fear, choose to live anyway.

All of the surgeons on this show have faced tremendous, outrageous amounts of loss. Body parts and spouses and jail time and positions of power. Mothers and written words and friendship and brain capacity – these themes and tangible absences tangle with real life situations that many of us don’t want to face.

But Shonda Rhimes keeps writing in the necessary themes of resilience – the power of facing our emotions connected to the human experience. She writes in threads of healing, and humor, and love and reminds me, at the very least, that it is an amazing thing to be alive.

On Thursday, even before I sat down for a three hour tv binge, I found an older bottle of champagne that someone had given us when we moved into our house almost two years ago. It was dusty and tucked in the back corner of our liquor cabinet. I was saving it for something special. As if purchasing a home for the first time wasn’t special.

For whatever reason when I got home that evening I pulled the bottle out, wiped off the dust, and stuck it in the freezer to chill. I took down two delicate champagne flutes that we have never used.

When my husband got home from work, I asked him to pop open the sparkling wine. I poured the sticky liquid into our glasses and plopped in a few raspberries in for good measure.

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We toasted to being alive. To Thursdays. To the ordinary. To resilience. To bubbles and fruit and each other.

When all those threats lurk around us, in the news, on tv, in our neighborhoods, we have to choose to celebrate the beautiful thing it is to just simply be breathing. Life is special just cause it’s life.

Shonda Rhimes gets that. I’m working on learning it too.

Thank You For Asking

Raise your hand if making new friends makes you nervous.

I, myself, am a big fan of the established clique. Shamelessly admitting that I’m much more comfortable with my few life long friends, the high school gang, my girls from college.

Yet, as you grow and (gulp) approach the end of your twenties, those life long friends aren’t always as accessible as they once were. Time and jobs and new spouses pull you in different directions.

The Girl Scouts have it right. Make new friends, but keep the old. It’s just easier to make friends when you were in that stinkin’ troop.

One of the bravest things Dylan and I did last year was join a community group at our church. Feeling raw and clinging the cross, we signed up for a weekly gathering of other twenty somethings – young marrieds – you know, the people I rolled my eyes at when I was twenty three.

But at twenty seven, I was feeling desperate for a new community, a place of belonging, and for hope. For socialization with people who were not so entrapped in our feelings of grief and scarcity.

Over the last year these couples have become our friends. We aren’t at a place of complete leaning – vulnerability takes time and trust and repetition. But we are on our way towards walking through life together – one Thursday night at a time.

This Friday, I was invited to one of the girl…. gal?…. woman’s? (we aren’t girls anymore right?) anyway I went over to one of my new friend’s homes and we spent hours talking about life, about our relationships, our jobs, our paths.

And in the middle of the conversation, in a quiet pause, one of the women asked, “Do you mind if I ask about your dad?”

Now these women have known my dad passed, and known that 2016 was brutal. Yet, we had never delved into anything more than surface questions. It is hard to go deep sitting in a co-ed group of twenty people.

“No, I do not mind.” I responded “It is the most comforting thing to share. Thank you for asking.”

And thus began a conversation that was a glimpse into my process, in the sharing of truth in loss, in taking baby steps towards a deeper friendship, and that was a beautiful thing.

A few months ago, I saw this picture. Some grief center created the meme.

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Thanks friends, for taking the time to learn more about me, for honoring that he did live. Thank you for asking.

Also, have you been watching This Is Us? OH MY GOSH get to it. I had been holding off for fear of the intensity the commercials portray. Then, one weekend, Dylan was away and I watched six episodes in a night. Even though we had been planning on watching the show together, I jumped right ahead. I’m all caught up and Dylan is upset with me.

The show is beautiful for thousands of reasons – it’s real, raw, true – the characters complex. And the way they depict grief and its after-effects as they meld in with the celebration of life just makes me feel so much less alone.

This show, it’s a tear jerker. I want to be friends with Randall and Kate and all of them.

SPOILER ALERT – don’t watch if you don’t want to know what is happening in the show.

This week marks the one-year anniversary without my dad. And people have been asking me, “What are you going to do to mark the day?”

We are going to take the steps to honor legacies. Slow down. Take a walk. Wear a hat. Have more fun. Definitely eat a cheese burger. Be like Randall as he takes a stand.

You can stop at 2:32.