No, I’m not turning 50. I have a few more years before that happens. But I know a number of people who are turning 50, like Nina, my darling Douglas’ sister, who reaches that number tomorrow. Here’s the cake I made for her. It’s a Lithuanian Coffee Cake–the recipe is from the famous Claire’s in New Haven. I liked going to Claire’s when I needed a treat while I was studying at Yale. (But I think I remember the cake with more fondness.)
Doug is going to be 52 in October, the same age my cousin Andy would have been on August 5th. Andy died a few days before, after seven years of fighting cancer. He left behind his wife Chris, and two lovely young women, Hannah and Madeline. My heart is filled with sympathy and compassion for them and their great loss. I can’t even imagine it. And I hope for them, for peace, for comfort. Nearly 15 years ago, my mother sent me a reading that I often turn to when I look for comfort when someone dies. And thanks to the beauty of the internet, you can read it right here.
During the past two weeks since Andy died, thoughts of Douglas, family, loved ones, friends–far and near fill my heart. Losing someone in this family of mine makes me look hard at my life and question what is really important. I have all these commitments related to my job and my art practice, commitments that seem to come before family. And the question that keeps coming up in my head is what can I really change so that I can spend more time with my family? There are certain expectations and commitments for my job–but is that what really comes first? How do I keep on my tenure-track without losing what is so important to me?
One step is teaching my students to manage and run PRESS, my summer/fall project, without me. This requires me to step back, relinquish control and to trust them. We’re working on it. A couple of them can operate and clean the press without supervision–yet I’m still not ready for them to fly solo.
Another is to just take the time and make the time. To not get that “just one more thing” finished, and instead sit with a friend, make a phone call or write a letter. Can I do it?
How do you do it? How do you make time for your family, friends and loved ones in your busy world?