What is normal? I'm not so sure anymore. Nothing about this year has been normal so far. From the ice storm to the eighteen day power outage and Sissy's unexpected death, 2009 has been one big stressful surprise after another. Frankly, I'm pretty tired of being in the running for the Suckiest Year Ever Award. And while things have felt kind of surreal lately, life does go on, and things are slowly falling back into place. Yesterday was a little better than the day before, and today was slightly better than yesterday. The school bus pulled up the street this morning at 6:40. The electric bill came right on schedule and Bitchiest Clerk Ever was still serving up sandwiches at Subway. There is security in the routine. That's why preschoolers will watch the same video over and over without tiring of it. There's something comforting in knowing what to expect, and I take comfort right now in the rote. It feels good to go back to making dinner instead of dipping up a neighbor's casserole. I look forward to going back to work tomorrow. And running on my lunch hour. And taking Teen Angel to work. And watching a funny show on TV. And giving the dog a bath. The routine is what pushes us to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving when we don't feel like it. It's what puts us in the position to accept the laughter when it finally comes bubbling up unexpectedly. It's why I took time out today to buy mama's Mother's Day gift, to put a roast in the crock pot and to clean out the refrigerator. It's how I will find normal again. While I'm not sure when or how normal will get here, I'm pretty sure it's going to sneak up on me. And that's one surprise I will enjoy.