The 80’s song by the Australian band Men at Work comes to mind as loss once again comes knocking on our door. The longer we exist on earth, the more frequently this unwelcome visitor appears at the threshold.
I lost my parents in 2009 and 2017. My father-in-law passed in 2014. Recently, two classmates passed as well. In November, I had to put down our 16 year old feline family member after being diagnosed with renal failure.
Over the weekend, my sister-in-law called to inform my wife that their younger brother was no longer with us. He was only 46 years old, but had lived with diabetes since childhood. My wife looked at me and said “now there’s only 7 of us” referring to the four members of our family, her sister and spouse, and her mom.
While longevity is certainly what we all wish for it does come with this caveat. The longer you live, the more frequent visits from loss will occur.
But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. I Thessalonians 4:13-14 NKJV
In past years, we would alternate each year who would write the Christmas newsletter that would be included with our Christmas card. In 2017, that traditon ended as a result of two painful losses we suffered that year. They were always a great way to wrap up the year and look forward to the coming year. It is in that spirit that I write this blog post.
2021 began with us in Texas assisting Renee’s mom following major back surgery. I was able to telework from there for the IRS as a Contact Representative. That is just a fancy way of saying tax collector. At the end of the month, we returned to Utah for a few days before the family went back to help mom while I remained. February passed with us spending our anniversary and birthdays apart for the first time.
As Easter approached, the family would return and this time only Renee would leave to help mom. The rest of us stayed in Utah until Mother’s day when we would all remain under the same roof for the first time since January. Renee spent 6 months helping her mom and was happy to be back together in Ogden as was I.
Summer was filled with swimming lessons which Karri enjoyed greatly. In June, we met up with Jim as he traveled from San Diego to his new home in Colorado with his pups. We would pay them all a visit in July to see the new place and spend some time together. Summer ended and Karri began kindergarten.
As Fall arrived, changes began to occur professionally. Jesse and I would both start new jobs. I reapplied to the school district after the part-time job I had previously held was made full time. The position with the IRS which allowed me to telework was moving to the next phase where I would begin placing levies and liens against taxpayers. I was not looking forward to that and was grateful to be offered a position as Site Tech at a nearby high school.
In November, we traveled to California to attend San Diego Comic-Con after missing it for several years. It was the largest crowd we had been around since the onset of the pandemic. With all attendees required to be fully vaccinated and wearing masks, it was good to be back amongst the fans.
As 2021 comes to close, we hope the challenges we faced in the past year will not be repeated and that many new blessings await us in the new year. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours.
Each of the logos above is from one of the schools at which I have taught or been a staff member. After graduating from Christ for the Nations Institute in 1992, I served as a youth pastor and began teaching 4-6th grade in the church’s private school. I would eventually move up to 7-12th grade to teach and coach athletic teams. In 1996, I attended Oral Roberts University working during the year as a student worker and over the summers coordinating faculty payroll.
After moving back to California in 2003, I was employed by Excelsior Education Center as a computer tech and an instructor. I taught at the high school for a short while before moving to the Prep Academy, their junior high. I even attained a California teaching credential. I left education again in 2006 until I rejoined the Silverado High School staff as a computer tech in 2015. I left that position in May 2019 to join my family in Utah after a prolonged and unplanned separation.
In September 2019, I became an office assistant part-time at Bonneville Elementary School entering attendance. In April 2020, I transferred to Ogden High School after securing a position as a part-time computer tech. Unfortunately, the pandemic forced my resignation and another departure as I began teleworking for the IRS full-time helping taxpayers with their tax debts.
After the computer tech position was converted to full-time with benefits, I reapplied with the Ogden School District. The position was not offered to me and I remained with the IRS. A few months later another computer tech position within the district became available and I reapplied. I am now returning to education at Ben Lomond High School and the “Friendly Fighting Scots.”
It’s exciting to be going back to where I once belonged. Whether it was as a teacher or a staff member, I always enjoyed being in education. I hope the rest of my career is spent there.
I bit the bullet and opted to reactivate my FB account. However, in doing so I chose also to reduce the number of “friends” as well. Having been unfriended myself without notice, I am certain their will be unintended hurt feelings. It is an odd thing how we allow people we have shared a common experience with at some point to have continued access to your life. Does being a classmate, coworker, sharing a common interest or bloodline mean I grant you continuous unending visibility of the details of my life?
If anyone is upset about no longer being a “friend” on social media, my apologies as that wasn’t my intention. I just realized I had allowed far too many people a window into my life. I spent a year away and during that time, only a handful made contact. Some on social media were only in my life for a short period and have not been a continued presence since our paths separated. I am still available should they decide they need to talk, but most didn’t miss me while in my exile.
If my life touched theirs in some significant way on our journey to eternity, it gives us so something to talk about at journey’s end. I am not pursuing large numbers of followers or friends and hope those that remain are there to contribute to my life and not just stand by and obseve.
Almost a year ago, I exiled myself and deactivated my Facebook profile due to the divisiveness and vitriol it was injecting into my daily life. I do miss seeing photos of family and friends as well as sharing in their triumphs or comforting them in times of loss. However, the stances some “friends” would have expressed over the wearing of masks, the election and subsequent insurrection are not missed.
I joined that social platform to reconnect with others and share things about our life such as birthdays, trips or prayer requests. I found myself confronted with views I found troubling and contradictory to the faith I live by. When I spoke to those contradictions, I was told I thought I was better than others and attacked. I do not think I am better than others, but silence on wrongs is something I should never do nor advocate others to replicate.
So I sit and ponder whether to reactivate my account on that platform or continue my exile. Do the pros outweigh the cons of doing so?
On August 27th, I was preparing to start my day of telework when I began to feel pain in my chest that radiated up into my neck and down my left arm. Knowing that my father had a heart attack at 38 and died after one at 67 (on this date 11 years ago), I promptly made my way down the hall to awaken Renee. She drove me to the ER where the pain intensified. I spent several hours there while the doctor ran multiple tests concluding that there was no evidence of heart damage. I was prescribed aspirin and nitroglycerin for emergency use. While picking up the prescriptions, we decided to get a flu shot as well.
The pain was less intense, but continued until the following morning. At that point, the pain disappeared and I felt like a rung out towel with very little energy. My BP which was normally around 130 over 90 was registering at 90 over 60 all that day. Renee consulted with a virtual nurse who recommended a return trip to the emergency room.
Upon arrival, the staff ran the same tests as the day prior. However, this time the reaction was much different as I was told to strip and was connected to IVs and had defibrillator pads placed on my chest and back. The electrocardiogram and blood enzymes now showed that I had suffered a heart attack. I also had a fever which puzzled the doctors who hadn’t considered the flu shot I had while having a heart attack the day prior. I was admitted and moved to the cardiac care unit.
The following morning, I was given an echocardiogram and saw Renee for a moment before being taken for an angiogram. The angiogram revealed that I had an artery that had closed causing the heart attack. The artery had reopened and the cardiologist decided to place a stent to restore proper bloodflow. There were also two arteries in another part of my heart with 60% closure.
I spent 24 hrs more in the hospital before being discharged with new prescriptions and lifestyle changes to make. I was given two days off of work and told to avoid stress for two weeks. My manager allowed me to watch colleagues instead of diving back into my workload the 1st week after the heart attack. The following week, windstorm damage kept me from picking up a full workload. The building my phone was tied to was without power all week long.
A full two weeks after the heart attack, I resumed a normal workload. The 1st day seemed to go quite well. The 2nd morning I was to continue working brought about a very different outcome. Even before I could start my day, my nerves were on edge and I had a pit in my stomach. Anxiety began to consume my whole being to the point where my hands started to tremble. As someone who usually has very strong self confidence, this was out of character. Fortunately, I had a very understanding manager that gave me a day to relax and observe a colleague for the day. I had heard of heart attack victims suffering from depression, but this anxiety was highly unsuspected.
The next day I resumed a normal work schedule with the knowledge that anxiety like depression could be lying in wait for me. I got through the day ok again. I never considered that a physical distress might prompt a debilitating mental distress. There is a history of mental illness as well as heart ailment in the family tree.
I must now work on both my physical and mental well being as part of the recovery process I find myself living out. The Bible sheds light on my heart health and this new battle against anxiety. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23 NIV
As the end of another year approaches, it’s time for the sending out of our annual Christmas newsletter. If you don’t receive it the old fashioned way, you may dowload and read it here. We wish you a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Our granddaughter arrived on December 5th to end our year on a high note. She is adorable and will be thoroughly spoiled whenever we have the chance. Our year end Christmas letter is available for your reading here. Once again, if you want more current information on us, friend us on Facebook as it is updated more frequently than this blog which has now been relegated to once a year posts.
Another year has passed and the blog has been a desolate place since I last posted anything. If you tried coming here in the last year to find anything out, I apologize for the lack of activity. Facebook is the best way to keep up with us and our activities throughout the year. We have had highs and lows this year which are catalogued in our annual Christmas newsletter that you are free to download and peruse. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
I don’t think the blog world has missed my infrequent posts on this website. Facebook saps any desire to write posts on this blog so I recommend anyone reading this that is not already a friend there, add me now to keep track of the Zeliff family exploits. Time as expected has continued to march on in our lives. Another year has ended and another is set to begin. If you desire to read a recap of the events that transpired in our lives over the last 12 months, I encourage you to download our annual Christmas letter linked below. Hope you and your family have a blessed Christmas and a happy new year.