April 8, 2014

Mostly gratitude.

I was sure to stock the refrigerator, the freezer, the pantry, and the laundry room with anything and everything the boys could or would need during the first of my three week absence. Meals for days, diapers and wipes for weeks, enough toilet paper to last the rest of the season.


I left post-it notes reminding him of impending doctor appointments and explaining how to use the washer and dryer. I organized and labeled all medicine bottles by symptom, child, and dosage. I added all of my friends as contacts in his phone, just in case he needed a little relief. I even bought a bottle of Jameson, for the nights when he needed a little 'him' time.

After more than 18 hours in the air and 12 wandering around airports, I arrived a little less than human. It was all I could do to demolish a bean burrito (minus red sauce, minus onion, add lettuce, add sour cream) from Taco Bell and pass the eff out.

I managed quick and absolutely necessary trips to Starbucks, Target, and Nordstrom the following morning and had a fabulous dinner with my girlfriends that night. The next day, I ran around town like a crazy person looking for steel toed boots that weren't hideous, a balaclava, and thermal base layers to wear under my arctic gear.

Then it was time to head north. Way north.

The majority of my days started at 4:15 am and ended around 6:30 pm and I worked Monday to Sunday for weeks on end. I don't think I was ever truly awake until about noon, but what my boss doesn't know won't hurt him. I was in bed and asleep by 9:00 pm, without fail.

My first night at the camp was interesting. I was so exhausted by the end of my first day that the minute my head hit my pillow, I was out cold. I awoke around 1:00 am, shivering. While half asleep I attempted to mess with the thermostat in my room. Fail. It was set at around 61 degrees but considering it was -57 outside, it felt more like ... freezing. I climbed into my arctic parka and tried to go back to sleep. Don't worry, I managed to set the thermostat to 72 in the morning.

Nothing prepares you for arctic temperatures. You can feel it in your bones, even when you're inside, and it takes days for your body to adjust.


It doesn't sound like much fun, and the expressions I receive when recounting my experience are generally a mixture of 'and you're excited about this job because ...?' and 'mmm, no thanks'. But I swear to you, I enjoyed nearly every second of it and the paycheck more than made up for the few that weren't so enjoyable. It was new and exciting and for so many reasons, I have to say it was special.

Frozen tundra. Wild creatures. Rich culture. Big money. Power politics.

The North Slope of Alaska is a special place. It just is. And I am one of a few (thousand) lucky enough to experience it because I work in the oil and gas industry.

Waves of mixed emotions washed over me throughout my trip. I was excited to be there but my heart was halfway around the world. The ten hour time difference, my intense schedule, and my husband's crazy hockey and physio schedules made it next to impossible for us to connect. Thank God for Whatsapp, it made those three long weeks without my whole heart bearable.

The boys experienced a few minor hiccups. The green blanket was accidentally left in the parking lot for an hour, Calder (or Wild Water as we call him) destroyed his crib in an effort to escape, and due to a three hour delay at the hospital while my husband was being fitted for a knee brace, Linden (the pirate, it was Fasching, duh) had to be rescued from kindergarten by my husband's teammates before closing time. They won him over with pizza and donuts. 

Sometimes, hockey players aren't so bad.


For the most part, it was smooth sailing. My boys were amazing. Especially the big one. 

I was greeted at the airport by Linden doing a full-on, long-distance, movie-style run to me. Biggest hug ever. Calder waddled up to me and put his arms in the air. I picked him up and he smacked me across the face - his way of saying he loves me.

Ah, home.

It has been months since my husband's injury and we have both had a lot of time to think and feel. The uneasy and the anxious and the heavy continue to subside and are slowly replaced with acceptance and gratitude and hope.

Mostly gratitude.

Without a doubt, our transition into life after hockey would be remarkably different without the security this job provides. Financial stability, health insurance, retirement benefits, and a handful of other things I am told grown ups value. More than security though, it's ... it's something to look forward to as I pack five years of memories into boxes and say goodbye to a place that will forever be a part of me. It's something to keep me from dwelling on the parts of moving on that will challenge me in the months to come as we adjust to our new life.

None of this is easy, it's a lot of change all at once. But our hearts are more than grateful for all of it.

Change is good. Change is healthy. And we are (mostly) ready.

There is still a possibility that my husband will play one more season at home. There is still a possibility that this upcoming year will be more of a transitional chapter rather than a brand new one. There is still a possibility that my husband will accept a coaching position in some random city and everything we thought we would be doing will fly right out the window again.

Anything is possible, really.

So our plans for the not-so-distant future aren't set in stone, and I kind of like it that way. The hockey life has taught me many lessons; the most important is that nothing in life is certain.

5 comments:

  1. You really are awesome and bold. You did something that I don't know I'd be able to do. KUDOs momma! I am sure your boys miss you a lot but you are doing something that'll ultimately be in your family's best interest.


    But -57 though? YIKES!!!


    Welcome back!

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  2. Wow! The thing I notice by reading this is you sound excited and inspired by this new opportunity. That makes me smile. Of course your funny stories do too. ;-) But it sounds like it's your time to shine.

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  3. We are, but still in Germany! We head back to the States at the end of this month.

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  4. Oh thank you. It was tough but we survived!

    Yes ... so cold. Polar bear cold. ;)

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  5. That sounds like a lot of hard work before you left and after! Change is definitely good. I don't know that anyone is ever 100% ready, but you take the leap anyway and it's amazing where you end up. I remember back in 2001, I made the decision to go to law school. That meant giving up my job and moving halfway across the country where I didn't know anyone. Major changes, but it all turned out incredibly well. Your new adventure will be equally amazing I am sure.


    Also, your kids are INCREDIBLY CUTE!! So adorable the both of them.

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