Dangling doesn’t feel good. A life lesson about closure.

My 31 year old son was diagnosed with a brain tumor when he was 11.

There, I said it right up front. I didn’t do that when I first started my blog at www.thewellnestedlife.com over a year ago.

When I wrote the story below, I tried to be cagey. I thought it would peak the reader’s interest to dangle some words like “prayer” and “child neurology” and “hospital,” without giving them the full story.

As I’ve grown as a writer, I’ve learned that being cagey is a turn-off for readers. A little intrigue might be OK to draw them in, but within a blog post, there has to be closure. I’ve learned that

“Dangling” doesn’t feel good.

It’s a good life lesson isn’t it?

It’s why I’m working so hard to finish the memoir I started 20 years ago.

Here’s the story about one of the steps I took to pick up where I left off (with some minor edits. I’ve grown as a writer, after all):

 The box in the attic: On writing my memoir.

A few weeks ago, I took a deep breath and got the box down from the attic.

When we first moved into our old house 10 years ago, the attic was infested with spiders. Spiders are supposed to be good, right?  They eat all the other nasty bugs. But a bug is a bug and I don’t like any of them, especially when they’re invading my turf.

So I slowly transferred all of our storage from cardboard boxes to plastic bins, having read somewhere that spiders don’t much bother with plastic bins.

But the box was still a box. I have no idea why, with all the sturdy, tightly-lidded Rubbermaid up there, this priceless vault endured as cardboard, slightly mangled, softened, and duct-taped together.

Well, if I’m honest, I know exactly why. Avoidance.

After I had brought the box down, I set it on the office floor and tentatively opened it. I breathed a sigh of relief when nothing creepy-crawly climbed up my arm or skittered across the mishmash of notebooks, folders and pamphlets.

Then I looked at what I had been avoiding, other than spiders:

•A prayer that a colleague had given me

•Medical appointment receipts

•Pages copied from the “Textbook of Child Neurology”

•An “About Depression” booklet

•A hand-drawn diagram showing how multiple childhood disorders overlap

•A publication about Astrocytomas

•A “Welcome” guide to Children’s Hospital in Boston

•A small packet of removed stitches

Thumbing through the densely packed material, memories and emotions came back to me from another life, it seemed. Tears stinging my eyes, I whispered aloud, “Did we really go through all this?”

One thing I didn’t find was a Good Housekeeping magazine from that era—1997.

How could I not have kept that? It was a critical part of the story.

So I put out an SOS to friends and family, and eventually found and ordered the issue I wanted on ebay. That package arrived while I was away for the holidays. Yesterday I finally opened it, flipped through the musty pages and found the article I was looking for. The caption under a picture of an adorable little boy read: He regressed until he kind of disappeared.  I completely understood.

So now I have all the pieces of my puzzle before me. I can pick up where I left off on the memoir that I started almost 20 years ago.

Telling the story will be slow, painful, infinitely rewarding and uplifting.  I hope you’ll stick with me through it.

[A footnote: I had been providing a link to my original posts on www.thewellnestedlife.com (the blog that I am slowly abandoning), when I update them here. I realized that makes no sense. As long as I keep my stories, there’s no need to have them in two places. Going forward, when I update a blog post here, I’ll delete the original.

Gulp–it’s like losing a little piece of me.]

In full swing after 30 years.

About 30 years ago, we got a porch swing.  A few years earlier, we had purchased our first house, a modest old Dutch Colonial with lots of charm hidden behind its 1960’s updates.  It had a large front porch – deep enough to gather with friends or spend time in solitude, contemplating life.

The swing didn’t cost us a dime – a good thing in those early days of parenthood and home-ownership.  We got the swing with coupons.  My in-laws ran a corner grocery store, and the manufacturers’ coupons they collected from customers could be redeemed for merchandise.  Like S&H green stamps for small businesses.  I had helped to organize the coupons so I got to pick my prize.

Back then, I had this Good Housekeeping vision of a home with hard wood floors, tastefully sponge-painted walls, and neatly folded bathroom towels.  Ahh.  The serenity that such a house would bring.  A porch swing would be the perfect finishing touch.

The swing arrived in a box, assembly required.  But we were painting the outside of the house, and I was working full time and going to school at night, so it stayed in the box.  Over the next 20 years, we tore apart the house and raised two boys, both of which wore me down.  We rebuilt the house, room by room, but the swing never got assembled.

When we moved to our current old house 10 years ago, the box ended up in my brother-in-law’s garage loft, in “temporary storage.”  Then the tiling and patching and painting started up again and the porch swing stayed put, suspended in time.

This past summer, at a book club meeting on the host’s big front porch, I grabbed the coveted spot on her porch swing. I could have spent the night there.  Something about that back-and-forth swaying suits me.  Being an introvert, I spend a lot of time “in my head” as the expression goes, meaning that I think a lot- about who I am, my life, and the world.  I’m always trying to figure it all out.

I came home that night and said to Michael, “We’ve gotta get that swing from your brother’s garage and put it up.”  With just the two of us now in the house, and fewer house projects left, there was no excuse.  So we got down the box and opened it.  I wondered if it would be missing any parts.  What if it was infested with bugs?  But all the pieces were there and the wood was pristine.

So after 30 years, our porch swing finally has a home.  When I sway on it and contemplate my life and the world, not all the pieces fall into place, and the picture is far from pristine.  Nothing like the glossies in a Good Housekeeping magazine.  But that’s not the point.  For me, the more moments and spaces I create to nurture myself – what I call being WellNested –  the better I can figure out how to make the world a better place.  I don’t have that answer yet, but I’ll keep swinging on it.