Relationships

 
 

Where Am I?

Where am I?

That’s the question I’ve asked myself on waking this past year.

That probably happens to us as we get older, but I’m not that old. Yet.

“Where am I” came as a result of what seemed like constant traveling since June 2016.

IMG_8829A funeral, a birth, a reunion, a contract, another birth, an illness, a visit, more visits, a hospital stay, a conference or two, grandbaby sitting, visits, a 60th anniversary celebration, more visits, oh, and an eclipse. That briefly sums up most of the reasons for my going and going and going. A few times I stayed put. Six weeks were the longest I stayed anywhere and even there I left and returned on short stints.

At least half, or more, of every month our house sat empty, except for the occasional scorpion wandering through or a random spider spinning lies.  I was gone so much that we debated moving, on a permanent basis, out-of-state. But the stars didn’t align and it never felt right.

When I was away from home I missed my bed, my friends, my routine. But when I rfullsizeoutput_5eeturned I was anxious to leave again. The emptiness of a vacant house can wear on a person. And by vacant, I mean empty of people, not things.

I got in a bunch of amazing hikes though and a couple of campouts. I hiked in the snow as well as in the heat, but most importantly, in the mountains.

I experienced winter, which I haven’t done in decades. It’s a fun novelty when you know you don’t have to endure the full six months of it. Well, it’s fun unless your flight gets cancelled due to the weather and it’s nearly Christmas and company is due at your house that day while you’re in another state. Good times. But then, that resulted in a side trip to see my cousin, which was an unexpected bonus.

Through it all I learned to relish my personal space. Airplanes don’t lend themselves to emotional comfort if you’re an introvert with a fairly expansive personal bubble. (And an expansive backside.) And yet, on the other hand, I learned to cherish hugs and physical touch and actually being in the same room with the people you love. Phone calls and texts and video chats are great, but none of that compensates for the real thing.

IMG_8997I drove a few times to my far off destination. A debate still runs in my head if road trip or air trip is more comfortable, emotionally and physically. Eleven hours in a car can race by if you have an engaging audio book to keep your mind occupied.

Those people who travel as part of their job are troopers. Kudos to them for waking up in a different hotel, city, country, or hovel.

MSH has traveled for work most of our married life. I thought he had the kushy part of that deal, since he left me with the kids and went off to work (and sleep) without constant interruptions and demands. He’d fly home every few weekends to visit us. Until this year I didn’t realize what a drag air travel can become. Until this year I didn’t appreciate all he’d gone through living alone, living away, living out of a suitcase.

I love that man more than ever before after this year’s experiences. I’d prefer keeping our traveling to trips we take together.

fullsizeoutput_5eOf course, I’ve got to book a flight today for a trip next month. It’s definitely one I’m looking forward to as it involves some of the grands. So when I told a friend I was done traveling, I guess I only meant temporarily.

If home is where my heart is, then I’ve been home this entire past year. My heart is always with MSH. My heart is with my children and grandchildren. My heart is with my parents and siblings. My heart pounds right here in my chest reminding me to live and love life where I stand. No matter where that is.

So, where am I?

I am home.

~~~~~

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” ~ Ursula Le Guin

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Categories: Family, Relationships, Travel | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments
 
 

Finding Somewhere Safe

“Just take me somewhere safe.”

If someone answered that way when you asked them if they needed a ride, what would you do? Where would you go?

MSH saw a man looking a bit lost and bewildered, carrying a backpack and a sleeping bag. He bought lunch for the guy at McDonalds and chatted some. Said he was a veteran but hadn’t seen combat. He said he had a family out of state, five kids and a wife. He seemed nervous and a bit uncertain. Parts of his story didn’t make sense with other things he said.

He didn’t want to go to a shelter, or to a VA hospital, or a food kitchen. He finally just asked MSH to drop him off at a shopping center, near a spot where a group of guys had gathered with their restored cars. MSH asked them if any of them were Veterans. A few were, so he explained about this man he’d tried to help who, in the meantime, wandered away and couldn’t be found again.

When MSH told me about this encounter my worry meters buzzed. Such things make me wish I could fix the world. But of course, that isn’t possible.

I’ve read recently about Mother Teresa who, when asked about the huge task before her, replied….

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” ~ Mother Teresa

I’m surely no Mother Teresa, but I do try to make a tiny difference where and when I can. I help at a local Food Bank from time to time. I donate to charity. I offer my services regularly in a variety of volunteer opportunities. On occasion my home has served as a sanctuary of sorts.

notre dameWe have a family friend or two who drops in from time to time. They see our home as a safe place to land, or a spot to score a slice of bread, which really means a slice of caring and a listening ear. Once, on sitting down at the kitchen bar to some fresh homemade bread and strawberry jam, one of these friends said something about finding sanctuary in our home.

That caught me off guard.

Sanctuary sounds like somewhere sacred and set apart and rare. My home? A sanctuary?

Another friend I know has told the story of a man at church who asked her why she sat in the hall during part of our worship service. She replied that she felt awkward and out of place because she’s single and so often seemed left surrounded by empty chairs rather than by mostly-married worshippers of our congregation. This kind, younger, married man, sweetly put his arms around her and hugged her tight. She proceeded to sob. She said she hadn’t been hugged by a man in decades and felt his kindness in that platonic squeeze. From that day forward if he is at church he has saved her a seat next to him and kept a lookout so he could pat the chair and let her know it’s saved just for her. My friend found sanctuary in a house of God in the most unexpected of ways.

I know this man, and he’s no Mother Teresa either. But he saw a need and has done his best to fill it. He’s a saint in one person’s eyes.

The word sanctuary finds its roots weaving through Middle English from French. Before that it started with the Latin word “sanctus” which means “holy.”

Anything we do to alleviate another’s sadness, to lift a person’s burdens or to cheer a weary soul is a holy act.

We can all provide sanctuary, if not in actual brick and mortar, at least in deed and action and maybe even in word.

Perhaps the sanctuary we provide is simply the small space around us as we provide a reassuring hug, a human touch to a person aching to feel loved in some small way. Maybe we rub a set of tired shoulders for a few seconds to push courage and fellowship into weary shoulders.

Perhaps the sanctuary we’re in is a porch swing where a heartfelt conversation takes place, temporarily lifting the weight of worry or sadness.

Perhaps the sanctuary we create is in the holding of our bitter tongue, the forgiving of long held grievances, or a word of thanks. Perhaps our smile creates a sanctuary that carries someone through to the next way station for disillusioned travelers.

Mother_Teresa_1985_croppedAnother quote by tiny but powerful Mother Teresa says, “The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.”

Are we tossing coins when a slice of bread is needed? I hope not. Are we giving out bitter sponges soaked in vinegar when a glass of cool water is all that’s required? I pray not.

To be completely honest, I have turned away when a need was evident, mostly because I doubted my ability to lift or cheer or make a difference. Sometimes my own needs kept my eyes looking inward and I simply couldn’t or refused to see another’s need. Sometimes I’ve just been world weary myself and needed my own sanctuary.

We aren’t always on one side of the equation. As humans we often find ourselves on the other side of needing. That helps us feel compassion when the roles switch places again.

Hopefully I learn and apply the knowledge when facing a person in need of sanctuary.

“Take me someplace safe,” the weary one says, “wherever that is.”

I hope I know where that place is and how to get there. I hope others are also willing and able to help as well.

~~~~~

“Perhaps the most important thing we bring to another person is the silence in us, not the sort of silence that is filled with unspoken criticism or hard withdrawal. The sort of silence that is a place of refuge, of rest, of acceptance of someone as they are. We are all hungry for this other silence. It is hard to find. In its presence we can remember something beyond the moment, a strength on which to build a life. Silence is a place of great power and healing.” ~Rachel Naomi Remen

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Categories: Being Human, Relationships, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Cat Tuner Changes his Tune

I didn’t plan this, but a year ago today I wrote this post about my Dad, the cat tuner extraordinaire. Strange, sometimes, how life circles back around.

Dad brought their cat inside the house (it’s definitely an outdoor cat) shortly after I arrived here and told me a story.

A week or two ago Dad says their cat went missing. When Lulu finally showed up her back right leg was dragging behind her and she acted out of sorts. Dad looked for obvious injuries and found none. No bleeding, no cuts, no scrapes, no missing fur. After a bit of thinking it over and talking with Mom, he decided to take the cat to the a local vet. The estimated wait time seemed too long, so Dad headed to another vet in the next town or two over who could see the cat right away.

After an exam and some tests and X-rays the vet determined the cat’s ligaments and tendons in that back leg had torn somehow. He could repair it with some surgery. After talking it over with Mom, (who is not a cat person, nor a pet person of any kind) Dad agreed to the surgery.

What?

Who are you and what did you do with my real Dad? 

So for the past week he’s been giving doses of antibiotic to Lulu and babying her like I’ve never seen before. Even Mom has let the cat sit on her lap and rubs its soft gray head until the purring vibrates some inner chord of contentment. That purr soothes Mom in return. And voila, a calmer Mom makes for a calmer Dad.

The stitches came out yesterday. The vet’s assistant commented that she’d never worked with a calmer, more well-behaved cat. No hissing, no scratching, no meowing, just Dad and Mom holding the trembling mass of fur while the stitches got snipped.

Not enjoying the car ride.

Not happy about the car ride.

The three of them make an interesting group.

  • Long haired Lulu with her back leg shaved, limps along like every movement hurts beyond contemplation, and yet she can carefully jump up on a chair or climb the stairs.
  • Mom who’s got the usual aches and pains of her age along with the effects of her stroke and seizures, sitting on the porch swing with Dad.
  • And Dad who last year didn’t like the porch swing swinging, but now doesn’t seem to mind it, who used to hobble about like an old man just for laughs, now hobbling about like an old man, but taking on some of Mom’s tasks, and keeping up with his own.

It’s almost as if the cat’s injury endeared them to it and made them all feel more connected. They’ve had to slow down and become content to stay put a bit more.

I asked Dad if his cat-tuning ways had changed tune. He denied it. He said something akin to, I’ve still got plenty of other cats to tune, or something like that. He’s just a mischievous twelve-year old at heart. But he’s also become more tender-hearted this past year, more attentive to Mom, more in tune with her and what she needs. It’s as if her injuries, and consequently her dependence on him, have endeared her to him more.

And Dad’s ministrations and attention to Mom have made her more affectionate and appreciative toward him.

Interesting turn of events, wouldn’t you say?

I think so.

None of them are the same as they were a year ago. In big, drastic ways. Mostly for the better in spite of, or maybe because of, the tough road. Who would have thought?

Sounds like a harmonious song to me.

 

 (For Twitch, who went to kitty heaven yesterday.)

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Categories: Family, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Giving In and Saying It Anyway

The earth somehow keeps spinning.

The earth somehow keeps spinning.

I’ve resisted as long as I can.

The voices have occupied my head for a day or more now. Ignoring them makes them grow louder. Sometimes what you want and what you need oppose each other like two big scary dogs, teeth bared, back hunched, a low growl, narrowed eyes, hackles up.

Fine. I give in. Here it is. The thoughts that have raced through my head the past twenty-four hours.

I’m not a Mother’s Day fan.

There. I said it.

What?

You want an explanation? Do I really need to give one?

Seriously, this year I decided to let go of that whiney, complaining, high expectations, nonsense that surrounds a holiday to celebrate motherhood. I had determined to embrace the joy, the beauty, the gift of life attitude of this greeting card holiday.

I nearly lost my Mom this past year. Twice. Heart stopping in its possibility, that thought has haunted me the past day. Haunted me since last July the first time it happened.

I’m sorry, but I can’t let my mother die. That can’t, won’t, shouldn’t, couldn’t ever never ever never happen. My life would come to an end if that happened. You see, there’s this spiritual umbilical cord-like thing that attaches her life to mine and mine to hers. Her blood beats in my body. I’m part of her and she is part of me, in more ways than the merely physical.

We might go a week or two or even a month without talking on the phone and six months or more without seeing one another, but the connection of daughter to mother is strong and undeniable and filled with comfort and power and this undefinable somethingness I can’t find a word for.

How does anyone survive the death of their own mother? And then, how much more pain is there on Mother’s Day when your mother isn’t there to call on the phone, or have over for dinner, or send a card to?

I don’t ever want to find out.

When my best friend died five months ago part of me broke loose and has rattled around inside me trying to find a landing-place. So far it just keeps banging around, running into things, pinching, jabbing, stabbing, clanging about.

She left behind four children who today celebrate, mourn, cry, thrash, scream, yowl, sob, pretend, remember, deny, cherish, ache. My heart hurts for them, for their unspeakable pain and loss.

Then I think about all the mother’s that might have passed away this year, last year, all the years and such sorrow washes over me. How does the world keep spinning in the face of such things?

I have no idea.

I do know that Mothers possess a singular sort of magic.

Maybe it’s sort of like this. Some thing in the power of motherhood pushes life forward, keeps this impossible ball spinning on its axis, gives us strength and will to put one foot ahead of the other, and whispers in our ears, “Live!”

 

 

Categories: Death, parenting, Relationships, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Long and Winding Road to Here

My parents invested in an encyclopedia set not long after they married. As a bonus to that purchase they also received “The Bookshelf for Boys and Girls,” a set of nine red volumes of stories, folk and fairy tales, poems, nursery rhymes, songs, history, crafts, and science.

Mom read to us often from those books. I recall sitting on her lap or beside her as the words that accompanied simple line drawings came to life. Occasionally an illustration filled an entire page with bright colors and the words faded into the background as I imagined myself into the story.

photo 1-2Even on days when my mother didn’t have time to read, I still looked through the books, drinking in the drawings, remembering stories and poems, planning which ones I wanted her to read next. We wore those books ragged, until the bindings broke down and pages tore and went missing. To this day I love Aesop’s tales and the simple rhymes of early childhood.

A decade ago, while perusing shelves at a small local used bookstore, I ran across a complete and unsullied set of these books. You can only imagine my stunned and delighted response. If they had cost ten times as much as I paid I would have still bought them. As it was, they were a steal. I consider those volumes some of my dearest friends and most cherished possessions. They serve as a link to my tender childhood years and a witness to my love of all things written.

A love of reading and anything to do with words settled securely as the foundation of who I would become because of the time my mother spent reading to me. Her willingness to let me rifle through those pages without worry over how gentle I was or how pristine they might look on the shelf, also planted a seed of familiarity and comfort with the written word.

photo by  Richard Benson

photo by Richard Benson

Occasionally as a young’un I’d see a child’s printing set for sale somewhere and my coveting genes kicked in. I craved the opportunity to hand print a book, letter by letter, word by word with a black stamp pad and alphabet stamps. Obviously I had no concept of what such an ominous task would require. Coming up with the money for this desired prize never happened, so a self-stamped, self-published book stayed a distant, unreachable dream.

I adored attending school, learning new things, from early kindergarten, “we walk on the right side of the hallway,” and onward from there. I also adored my teachers as they held the keys to knowledge whose doors I so very much wanted to pass through.

In first grade our teacher gave an assignment that I ran with. “Write about other things you can do with a pencil beside writing.” I filled my page rapidly with idea after idea of uses for a simple pencil. I felt as if I’d invented some clever, never before conjured ideas. The next day our teacher read my little essay to the class. Such pride never before filled a child’s heart as mine did that day. Then the teacher told me I had “a very creative mind” and that she “expected great things” from me.

In response I threw my all into writing assignments and anything requiring even a modicum of creativity. This lasted well beyond first grade.

Writing became so ingrained in me that when I hit those confusing years between twelve and eighteen I turned to the written word to make sense of it all. I filled notebook after notebook with whatever was cruising through my head. And at that age, one’s head spins at incredible speeds. My journals became my best friend, my confidant, my therapist, and my outlet for stress of all kinds. I’m not sure how other kids survive their teen years, but I got through mine using a number two pencil and reams and reams of paper.

I spend what seems like too much time right here.

I spend what seems like too much time right here.

Then in college one professor in particular praised my writing with abandon and kindness. This professor encouraged me to put a few more years behind me and then write like mad. I’m afraid I put a few too many decades behind me before I let myself go crazy with my writing. Those decades can fill volumes though, if I’m only brave enough and creative enough to put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard.

Five years ago I sat next to a young woman at a volunteer day. She struck up a conversation with me that led us to learn that we both loved writing. She suggested we form a writer’s group. I thought it sounded like a glorious plan. She had the chutzpah to follow through and find a couple of other women to join us. We four started writing five years ago last month, and haven’t stopped.

All these experiences have taught me something about myself that I hardly dare think out loud and yet I’m about to say it here, in public.

I am a writer.

I owe thanks to a mother who read to me, a set of wonder filled books, a teacher’s praise, a strange but effective coping mechanism, a professor’s encouragement and my writer’s group. Thanks to such a convergence I proudly refer to myself as a writer.

I write so that I know what I’m really thinking. I write so that others can see things through a slightly different lens. I write so that someone can say, “ah, that is exactly how I have felt.”

Mostly, I write because I simply can’t help myself.

**********

 

“Everyone has talent. What’s rare is the courage to follow it to the dark places where it leads.” ~Erica Jong

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Relationships, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

What I Miss About You

photo by Richard Croft [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

photo by Richard Croft

Dear Kathy,

So apparently there’s no texting allowed in heaven or I’d have heard from you by now. Dang it.

I figured maybe, just maybe, you’d get a split second or two to do some reading, since you love to read. So I thought if I wrote out some thoughts I’d had lately, you’d get the message somehow. Call me naïve, or silly or weird, I don’t care.

Also, you’ve been on my mind more than ever, imagine that. I find myself thinking of things I need to tell you about, and then remember you aren’t close by to just drop in and have a chat with. So I’ve been kind of keeping a mental list of things to talk with you about. Maybe you won’t mind if I drop you a letter once in a while to sort of make sure I’m staying connected with you somehow.

For my first letter to you I’ve come up with a list.

It’s a list of just some of the things I’ve missed about you since you left almost a month ago:

  • How insistent you are about being on time, and others being on time, too. Like a contract, you always say.
  • Seeing your face light up when you think about, talk about or get a text or a call from your husband.
  • How you always say, “love you” when I leave, and how I know you mean it.
  • Hearing about your wild and crazy daycare adventures.
  • Being completely comfortable in my skin with I’m with you. No need to weigh my words, or be careful about what I say or do.
  • Finding you sitting in “your spot” on the third floor at the Mayo, when I wander up from parking the van. That smile I get when you see me finally come around the corner.
  • How you don’t like it when we end up wearing the same color shirt to go somewhere together.
  • Getting a text from you asking “what ya doing?” and knowing it means I get to spend time with you.
  • Talking about books and movies and kids and husbands and life and death and religion and politics.
  • How you watch the clock for Sonic Happy Hour to roll around.
  • Eating pita bread and hummus while we talk nonstop, then being too full to eat our Fatoosh salad or Kabob.
  • Picking up a conversation with no glitches or strangeness after two or three or even four weeks of not seeing each other.
  • How you aren’t afraid or hesitant to ask for what you need or for what you want.
  • Finally being over a cough or cold so I cold come hang out again.
  • Having you help me make sense of the latest weird development in my strange life and how you say it makes your life seem normal by comparison.
  • Taking photos of your blooming bushes or my wildflowers to show you, or having you point out the cactus in bloom when we drive.
  • Feeling at home in THE CHAIR in your room and talking about nothing and everything.
  • Getting fries from McDonald’s and a Frosty from Wendy’s.
  • How vigilant you are when babysitting your daughter’s stuffed animals and dolls.
  • Saying it like you see it, no sugar added.
  • Just being together whenever and wherever.
  • Feeling like one of the cool “in” people when I’m with you.
  • Knowing I have someone who totally gets me without having to lay it out in detail.

So that’s all I can think of at the moment to tell you about. Except, I’m feeling pretty lucky to have you for a friend. You’re one of a kind, in case I forgot to tell you. Oh, and I love you and miss you like you can’t believe.

I’m guessing you’re busy being all angelic and stuff. I get that. So don’t worry about trying to get in touch.

Mostly I feel like you’re right here in my heart anyway. I can hear your voice in my head, telling me to crank the tunes, open the sunroof and enjoy my Diet Coke. I’m trying to do just that, cuz you’d want me to. But, it’s not just the same without you in the passenger seat.

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photo by Reinhard Dietrich

Try to stay out of trouble up there.

I miss you.

Your bestie,

Kami

Categories: Cancer, Death, Friendship, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , | 8 Comments

Who Reads the Instructions Anyway?

My sister cleaned out her office a couple of years ago and passed on a poster to me that I’d always admired. I rolled it up, took it home and set it aside for a while. Recently I found a frame and hung the poster in the guest bath.

Now I notice people are spending longer in that bathroom than usual.

It’s a poster filled with awesome ideas. Just reading it takes a few extra minutes than you’d expect. But then, it also makes you think, so you reread parts of it. That’s the sign of some great information in a good format.

I wish I’d thought of it, but I didn’t. Someone named H.Jackson Brown Jr. back in the 1990’s thought of it. I looked online and guess what? The same copy I have on my wall is online as well. Must be a classic.

If I counted correctly there’s sixty-two great thoughts on being a better person. Implementing even one of them would improve your life. It’s all relative. Maybe some suggestions are impossible or unreasonable or go against something you believe in, but mostly, it’s simply sound, logical ideas for having more happiness in your life.

The rest of today’s post consists of just that poster, nothing more.  No comments from me even.

And you don’t even have to visit my guest bath. Happy reading!

instructions

Copyright 1991 H. Jackson Brown, Jr. Published and distributed by Portal Publications Ltd., Corte Madera, California

Categories: good ideas, Joy, Relationships | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Good Grief and other Nonsense

My internal weather.

My internal weather.

“The only education in grief that any of us ever gets is a crash course. Until Caroline had died I had belonged to that other world, the place of innocence, and linear expectations, where I thought grief was a simple, wrenching realm of sadness and longing that gradually receded. What that definition left out was the body blow that loss inflicts, as well as the temporary madness, and a range of less straightforward emotions shocking in their intensity.” ~Gail Caldwell, Let’s Take the Long Way Home

I read this book by Gail Caldwell a while back. Before I’d met my best friend. It was an interesting read back then. I even quoted it several times in this blog post last year.

Now I’m rereading the book as a roadmap, trying to find my way out of this jungle I’m lost in.

I had no idea I’d feel this way. I thought I’d feel sad, of course, after Kathy’s Myeloma wrenched her from life. But this isn’t anything like any sadness or depression I’ve ever felt.

There’s real, tangible physical pain. No one ever told me about that. People don’t discuss grief actually, so when would I have learned this?

And I have only one channel in my head that comes in clear enough to see or hear, the Kathy Channel. Twenty-four hours a day it plays. That bluish light that a TV screen throws out haunting the recesses of my head day and night. Oh sure, I hear and see other things. I go about my day at one-quarter speed, doing dishes, moving laundry about, showing up at places I said I’d be at.

But the background buzz, hum, light, music and weather consists of Kathy. She’d find that funny and pathetic at the same time. Glad I could humor her, sorry if I’m letting her down.

I can’t find a remote to change the emotional channel I’m stuck on.  And it takes more energy than I have to look for it and figure out the buttons if I stumbled onto it.

Insert exhaustion photo here. Picture whatever fits for you, I can’t think that hard today.

I feel successful when I get dressed. When I eat. When I carry on a conversation without saying her name or referring to her somehow.

Please don’t ask me to go to the grocery store. It takes hundreds of steps to get to the dairy section, and more energy than I have to lift the gallon of milk into the cart. And then seeming miles away the produce section waits, the logic of its order lost on me. And the loudspeaker blaring, do loudspeakers do anything else but blare? Obviously the overnight restocking crew cranks the music up and no one ever turns it down. How am I supposed to think through this grocery list with so many bad songs from the eighties and nineties blasting away at my every thought? And heaven forbid I should see someone I know. I dig up my cheerful face, drag out my pretend untired voice, pull my shoulders back to give the illusion of standing up.

I attempt all the right responses.

“Fine. Great. Tough. Getting through. Life. Goes On. Thanks. Sure. Uh huh. See ya around.”

Then I cave in on myself. I want to curl up in the shopping cart and sleep, right there beside the salad dressings and croutons and bacon bits. Pull some cereal boxes over my head like a bad blanket.

But that would indicate some kind of madness or lack of sanity or a grip slipped. So instead, I stare at the grocery list and find something on it that tells me what I should do next, if I can go home yet.

All this from a mere five-year friendship.

I can’t begin to fathom a twenty-five year marriage with half of the duo gone. It’d be like a body with no skin, all raw, exposed nerves and internal parts on fire with rage, salt encrusted, oozing.

Someone should do something to fix this. This can’t be right. Aren’t there rules or laws that make this kind of pain illegal or impossible?

Categories: Cancer, Death, Mental Health, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

The Odd Ways We Say Goodbye

Everything drips with symbolism lately.

photo 2-1 copy 5

Whether shiny, sparkly or pale the gold looked stunning next to green boughs.

I’ve undecorated the tree this afternoon. It’s time to let go. In fact, it’s past time. The needles are dropping faster, brownish tan slowly outshines the evergreen color. Sure, in a certain light, night-time,with just the small twinkle lights on, it looks vibrant and adds such ambience to the room. But in reality, a fire hazard stands in the living room.

When we first became acquainted, this tree sent its voluptuous pine scent wafting about the entire house. I thought it seemed happy here. But truly, it was simply on its last few weeks of a life spent outdoors, gazing at the stars, tucked in under the snow, basking in the sun, drenched in the rain. Then it found its life cut short and quickly waning. For a brief span of time it glowed and sparkled with beauty and light and life, its last bit of energy expended giving joy and lifting hearts.

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A well-lived life draws to a close.

But now, fully spent, its time has come to move on. Perhaps a few of her needles will become part of the mulch that nurtures next autumns flowers into a radiant bloom. Perhaps a chill night will be brightened and warmed by her last few embers. Perhaps in years to come a photo of a decorated tree, fallen over with the weight of too many ornaments and not enough balance, will lighten the heart of an aged woman. Or another photo of that same tree redecorated and standing proud and straight with a sweet smiling man at her side will bring cheer into a grandchild’s mind.

This sweet Christmas tree oversaw a bittersweet holiday.  It did its job with honor and aplomb. If there were medals awarded for Christmas tree service above and beyond the call of duty, this tree would have earned and worn an extras star of honor.

Now a small brass angel oversees the last of the boxing up of the gold and white bulbs, the untangling of the white lights from the branches. Tonight that tree will look up at the stars once again and dream.

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A few baubles waiting to get boxed up for another year.

Tonight, my living room will feel empty. I’ll walk in and feel lost knowing something important is missing. The empty spot will continue feeling empty regardless of the rearranging of furniture or placing of photos and lamps.

Now you see that I’m a silly, melodramatic woman, with far too much time for thinking and not enough to keep my mind and hands occupied.

I keep saying goodbye in such odd ways.

Maybe this year, this new set of twelve months, will be spent doing just that.

Categories: Death, Holiday, Memory Lane, Relationships, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

I Would Have

I’m using the Sandwich theory today. When you have to tell someone bad news slip it in between two good things. Not that the middle thing is bad news. Really it’s just something we hear in various forms but we don’t really listen.

Or is that we listen to but don’t really hear?

Whatever. Pay attention to the middle today, okay?

This sandwich is kind of like a good and healthy middle filling that we should choose to eat, enclosed by homemade bread.

Here’s one slice of bread:

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I didn’t promise the bread would be delicious, did I? Oh well, it’s a classic anyway.

Here’s the flavor packed protein filled goodness of today’s sandwich:

Erma Bombeck wrote this back in 1979 at the same age I am now, and many, many years before she passed away..

“Someone asked me the other day if I had my life to live over would I change anything. My answer was no, but then I thought about it and changed my mind.

If I had my life to live over again I would have waxed less and listened more.

Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy and complaining about the shadow over my feet, I’d have cherished every minute of it and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was to be my only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.

I would have eaten popcorn in the “good” living room and worried less about the dirt when you lit the fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

I would have burnt the pink candle that was sculptured like a rose before it melted while being stored.

I would have sat cross-legged on the lawn with my children and never worried about grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television … and more while watching real life.

I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband which I took for granted.

I would have eaten less cottage cheese and more ice cream.

I would have gone to bed when I was sick, instead of pretending the Earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren’t there for a day.

I would never have bought ANYTHING just because it was practical/wouldn’t show soil/ guaranteed to last a lifetime.

When my child kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, “Later. Now, go get washed up for dinner.”

There would have been more I love yous … more I’m sorrys … more I’m listenings … but mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute of it … look at it and really see it … try it on … live it … exhaust it … and never give that minute back until there was nothing left of it.”

Here’s the other slice of bread:

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Insert your own rimshot at this point.

Hey, you can’t always take life too seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.

Just three little somethings to let your brain chew on for a while.

Happy Sunday!

Categories: Humor, People, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

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