The Life I’m Living: Car Accidents, Job Descriptions and Making Turkey Meatballs

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I am wrist deep in raw eggs and ground turkey, basil, rosemary and thyme. The peach-colored meat squishes through my fingers as I mix it with the homemade breadcrumbs I just pulverized out of gluten-free pretzels. It’s 1:30 in the afternoon and I am standing in my stinky morning workout clothes making turkey meatballs for dinner. I am telling you this because I do not like to cook. I do not enjoy the thinking up of a meal, the shopping for and prepping. I do not like managing the timeline of dinner, serving up various dishes nice and hot. I do not like begging my kids to please come to the table, not in a minute, but now. The day-long journey into dinner distracts me, pulling me away from a million other more important, more interesting, more pressing thoughts, endeavors and pursuits. It’s that annoying fly that won’t go away no matter how many times I swat at it.

Except somehow, today, it isn’t.

It’s been five days since the car accident.* For five days I’ve been moving in slo-mo, early to bed, waking groggy, a little headachy. For five days I’ve sobbed uncontrollably alone at the kitchen table and wept silently on the way to the bathroom. I’ve hugged each of my girls tightly and for too long, making them wonder what’s going on as I breathe into their long, clean-smelling hair. I’ve said “yes” instead of “maybe” and “just a minute” and “we’ll see.” I’ve leaned in to my husband’s broad chest and remembered all the good things he is. I’ve cancelled lunch plans and doctor’s appointments and stopped myself from filling up next week’s calendar and the next.

In this slowing down, I’ve thought a lot about my uncle. Two months ago, he found out that he has pancreatic cancer. I visited with him and my aunt last week – a beautiful visit on a sunny southern California day. I’d meant to fly down and take care of them – run errands, cook a meal, crack a few jokes – but they ended up taking care of me. They took me to Descanso Gardens, where we marveled at the blooming camellias, drank in tulips of every shade from claret to canary. Lilacs scented the air with their delicate perfume. I fingered blades of foreign, pink-striped grasses, wracked my brain for the name of a certain purple flowering plant (lupine) and inhaled a fresh arugula salad at the café.

Back at their house we ate some more because that’s what people do when life is thrown into stark relief and the line is drawn between the possible and the impossible. We eat for comfort and comradery, but most of all we eat for the power and courage to cross that line. Right now, for my uncle it’s difficult to eat, so we did it for him: bacon and maple flavored potato chips and Garden Salsa Sun Chips, chocolate chip cookies and Snickers bars, hummus and Israeli salads, baked chicken and baguette. Vodka tonics.

My aunt, who is caring and asking, advocating and scheduling, doling out meds and keeping us all in the loop, is an amazing, vibrant force. “This is my job,” she said, not with resentment or resignation, not with feigned enthusiasm or heavy-duty sadness. She said this as if it were her next logical assignment, because it is. This is the life she is living.

For five days now I’ve been thinking about the life I am living. What is my job, here, now? For so long I’ve gently refused to settle in to this life all the way, as though it’s some kind of way station to my real life, the one where cooking dinner, worrying about screen time and filling out camp forms doesn’t define me. The one where I have oodles of time to write and my thoughts aren’t stopped in their tracks by interrupting children and a vomit-prone dog, high-flying hormones and myriad must-dos.

I often feel as though I should be doing something else but life gets in the way. Really? Isn’t it the other way around? Shouldn’t life – caring, feeding, eating, listening, loving, saying “yes” – be what I’m doing and the rest of it be nonessential, hopefully pleasurable, add-ons? For today, my job is making turkey meatballs for dinner in the middle of the afternoon. Cooking for the people I love is not the worst job in the world. I’m not saying I’m applying for a full time position, just that in this moment, I am living my life, determined to cross over the line and into the possible.

*Neither I nor the other driver was hurt. Just a bit shaken up.

This is a Finish the Sentence Friday post where writers share their versions of a completed sentence. This week’s prompt is, “The things I’ve seen this morning…” and is hosted by Kristi of Finding Ninee and co-hosted by Leanne Russell. One of the first things I saw yesterday morning, even before drinking my coffee, was two pounds of ground turkey in the fridge. The rest is history.

 

26 thoughts on “The Life I’m Living: Car Accidents, Job Descriptions and Making Turkey Meatballs

  1. Once again, Lisa, I fall into the spell of your words, the rhythm of your reflections, the space you put into thinking about life grabs me and holds me. I’m glad you were not hurt! I sense the shake in you from it and from your uncle’s illness. It makes me think of a door that has opened and you have chosen to acknowledge and enter, letting it impact how you see your days and engage your life. Wanting it to be now, now when everything is as you imagine. I love this reminder that this one day is a one time offer.

    Like Jena, I was struck by this–
    I often feel as though I should be doing something else but life gets in the way. Really? Isn’t it the other way around?

    Thank you for sharing yourself and being here in my life. with best wishes. xoxo

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  2. As I’m sure you know, this resonates deeply with me. Well, except for the bit about not liking to cook. But the desperate wish to reclaim space, to slow down, to both feel fulfilled by what I have and not let go of the dreams that remain that are awfully hard (impossible they feel sometimes) as a stay-at-home parent. I love you and think you are amazing. You are forging your path, Lis, even when all that’s ahead is mired in squishy pink meat and pancreatic cancer and vomiting dogs and life. I know it’s hard. Boy do I. I am so happy you’re safe, and I’m grateful for you and your uncle and aunt that you went to spend time with them. xo

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    1. Your words and understanding mean so much to me Em – love you too. It’s an ongoing process/journey/experience and I’m realizing I cannot do all the things at once, only some of them and then, only some of them some of the time. It’s disappointing in a way but also a huge release to just be and not do. xo

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  3. Oh yeah…I hate the whole dinner thing. And being in a car accident makes you realise how things can change in a flash…how vulnerable we can be. Writing is a great way to work out these things.

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  4. So glad the car accident wasn’t more serious.
    So so sorry to hear about your uncle’s cancer though. Glad to hear he had loved ones to take him to where the scent of flowers and the bright colours were all around.
    Sounds like your aunt is lucky to have him and your family is lucky to have you too.
    Those meatballs sound delicious.
    🙂
    Beautiful post.

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  5. Oh Lisa! I feel at once sad that I did not know about your accident because if I lived next door, I might, and I wish I lived next door, and also so grateful that you’re all okay. The turkey meatballs… the cooking, yes, I cannot stand that stuff, except for when I can… which is rarely but more so when I’ve been shaken up.
    Love love love you so very much. I hope you know that. I can suck at reaching out and checking in but I think about you all the time. Tuesday, I wore the bracelet that you gave me and tried to tell somebody about you seeing the colors of writing in your head. You said it better. I miss you. Love what you said about “life gets in the way? really??” because OH SO RIGHT>

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    1. If you lived next door, that would be the best. I would make you turkey meatballs anytime. It makes me SO happy that you’re wearing the bracelet, that you ARE with me even though we are thousands of miles apart. Your love and support means the world. xo

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  6. This is everything that I learned in a nutshell when my mom passed away suddenly last May. Learning that lesson had changed my life for the better. Glad you and the other driver are both safe.

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    1. I’m so sorry to hear about your mom Maureen. Life’s lessons are sometimes so quick and harsh and sometimes slow and sticky like molasses. I’m hanging out here in the molasses taking it day by day. Peace to you. xx

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  7. Oh Lisa, I’m so sorry about the car accident, and so relieved you and the other driver are alright. But it sounds rather traumatic. I understand the dinner angst – I feel it too, and rail against it despite the incessant inevitability. Wishing you kindness to yourself.

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  8. SO glad you weren’t hurt, but it’s bound to have an impact and…I hope you give yourself plenty of time and keep your goalposts wide for the time being. No expectations. No ‘should’s, because these things ricochet through our psyches and come out in strange and surprising ways, even if we’re physically unharmed*.

    Love that you’re taking time to reassess and think about the who and why and how of where you’re at, and…I’m glad you appreciated cooking dinner, even if it’s not your calling 🙂

    *I say this as one who doesn’t take her own advice.

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  9. I love this! So beautifully said, as always! (And I swear, I could have written the section on your feelings about dinner! I’m soooo with you!)

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  10. Lisa, I’m so grateful you’re physically unharmed. And for this: “I often feel as though I should be doing something else but life gets in the way. Really? Isn’t it the other way around?” Sending you so much love in and for the slowing down and being.

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