Posts Tagged With: Memorial Day

The Serendipity of Your Birthday On Memorial Day

Dear Kathy,

I find it interesting that your birthday this year also happens to fall on Memorial Day. If I didn’t know better, I’d think you had planned it that way.

I’d really wanted to visit you on your birthday but I’m afraid it’ll be crowded and noisy and I just wanted some quiet one on one time with you. I’d even thought of bringing along some hummus and pita bread to munch. And, of course, a forty-four ounce diet coke, easy ice, with diet cherry flavoring and handful of real cherries.

Instead, I think I’ll come by for a visit in a few weeks, when the crowds have died down (no pun intended) and it’s quiet and peaceful. Hoping it isn’t too hot by then, or too windy. I suppose if your geraniums survive the summer at “your Sarah’s” house nearby then I’d do okay with the summer heat on “the mountain.”

pieces-of-the-puzzleI have to say I have mixed feelings about visiting you. It just won’t be how it was. Of course, what is anymore? Seems like someone took the puzzle that was my life in January, threw it up in the air and let the pieces fall wherever. I think the wind caught a few pieces and carried them away.

Can I also admit something horrible? I’m kinda angry. That sounds really stupid as I write it. All those conversations we had for years about what “now” would look and feel like, all those assignments you gave me, all those things in the far distant future actually happened. At the time of those conversations none of it felt real.

Surreal, yes.

Real, never.

“Now” is here and more real than I imagined and I don’t like it one bit.

See the paisley shape in each one? Not as cool all by itself.

See the paisley shape in each one? Not as cool all by itself.

I’m also a bit aggravated because you set this gold standard for the perfect friendship. Nothing else will ever measure up to that. That’s not really your fault. You couldn’t help it that you were the friendship yin to my yang. Now I’m just a funky looking squiggle, a paisley shape. Dumb and boring.

I keep expecting to run into you. And yet, I avoid going to your house. I’m not following through with those assignments you gave me. I’m a slacker.

Truth is, it hurts too dang much to go over to your place now. Even driving past twists this pain through my back and into my heart and makes an ache that takes days to breath away. I should get over that. Eventually.

I also expect to see you in dreams. I did, a couple of weeks ago. I wrote the dream down in my journal. Reread it a few times. Gave up trying to understand it. Too much like real life. I was hoping for revelation, insight, wisdom, healing, and yes, maybe even laughter. This dream didn’t have any of that in it. But I did see you, your face, that light you have in your eyes. And I heard your bossy, take charge voice, sort of. It had softened some.

This letter probably gets your dander up. You’d tell me to suck it up. You’d say…I don’t know. What would you say?

I can’t remember now. I don’t want to remember. And I do want to remember.

photo-24 copy

translation: quit your belly aching

Actually, now that I’ve thought about it, you’d say, “Kwitchurbelyakn!” Just like that little sign on your stove said.

This was meant as a perky, happy letter. One to let you know I’m okay, even though I miss you. I’d planned it out in my head to start with a great joke, share a couple of funny memories, finish with another good joke and then sign off with some witty remark.

You know me better than that. You’d see through the smoke and mirrors and would call BS when you got done reading a letter like that.

What advice would you give me? Can you just drop me a line somehow? You’re one of the most resourceful, innovative women I know. Surely you can do a workaround to get word to me. A mystery text. A phrase in a book I’m reading jumping out at me. A glimpse of your big smile on someone’s face. Be creative, I’m pretty open-minded about however you reach me.

Tall order, I know. Plus, you’re probably pretty busy reorganizing heaven so it runs more efficiently.

Just so you aren’t completely irritated by my whiney letter I’ll let you know I’ve trolled the internet for jokes and I share them, almost every day. Just trying to stay on the sanity side of the grief thing. It seems to help, some.

This quote by Bill Cosby caught my eye and, of course, I thought of you.

“You can turn painful situations around through laughter. If you can find humor in anything, even poverty, you can survive. it.” ~ Bill Cosby

You did that really well, so I’m trying to keep up the tradition. Laughter, even in the crappy times. So here’s a parting joke, or a party joke. Whichever.

Little Johnny’s new baby brother was screaming up a storm. He asked his mom, “Where’d we get him?”

His mother replied, “He came from heaven, Johnny.”

Johnny says, “WOW! I can see why they threw him out!”

You’re a keeper, no matter how demanding you might get. Try to stay out of trouble, if you can. I know you like to stir things up, have things your way. Try to remember you aren’t the one in charge anymore.

This was probably two years ago or more. An eternity and just yesterday.

This was two years ago or more. An eternity and just yesterday.

Here’s that picture I took a couple of years ago that you photoshopped and sent back to me. I should frame it to remind me of your sense of humor, your ability to laugh in life’s toughest situations. Not to mention, I’d get to see that mischievousness in your eyes. And it’d remind me to be happy anyway.

I miss you a ton.

Happy Birthday!

With love from your bestie,








Categories: Death, Holiday, Humor | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Caskets, Headstones, Tears and Laughter

Somewhere in the top ten worst things to have to deal with as a human being, I’m just guessing here, I imagine picking out a casket or a headstone for a loved one would rank in the horrendous category.


Headstone (Photo credit: Karen_O’D)

Also in that same range of horrific would be picking out your own casket and headstone. Worse, if you happened to be younger than fifty.

Can’t even get my head around those things.

A few years ago Mom and Dad bought their shared headstone. They had it engraved with all us kids’ names on the back. On the front they have their names with their birth dates and then the dash.  The blank after the dash will get filled in eventually. Hopefully not for a couple more decades. They had it set in the ground next to my brother’s resting place. Some fifty odd years ago they had the wisdom to buy a couple of plots when they purchased his. Brian wasn’t even a year old.

Talk about horrific things in life to endure. That’s surely the absolute worst. Losing a child. How does someone survive that? I don’t ever want to know.

They made that purchase to save us kids the expense and hassle. That’s just like them, always thinking about everyone else. Not long after they did this I was visiting and they wanted to show me the headstone. I gotta’ tell ya’ I was a bit freaked out by the idea. Once I got there, I was okay with it, sort of.

A beautiful cemetery. It’s in the northern foothills of the town I grew up in. A green sloping knoll with a few small trees. The view from their plot overlooks the entire valley north to south and east to west. In my younger days we used to visit every Memorial Day, place flowers in the metal vase, pull a few weeds, try to figure out where to stand so as not to be disrespectful. That’s Memorial Day to me. Remembering my brother that I never met, since I wasn’t born yet. But we remembered him.

The last 8mm reels Dad transferred to DVD had scenes with Brian and my other older brother. It felt like Memorial Day watching that. I wanted to reach out and hug him, say hello, ask how things are going up there. Part of me pictures him as growing up, getting married, hanging out with the rest of us. Part of me pictures him staying small, sweet and cuddly. Part of me wishes I’d had a chance to know him.

Isn’t that odd? He’s family though. So it shouldn’t feel odd, I guess.

This isn’t what I thought I’d say today. Surprising what sneaks out of your heart when you open the door a little for something else you stuffed in and quickly slammed the door on.

Maybe what I really meant to write isn’t for public consumption. Maybe what I really need to say about death and dying can only be spoken in the language of tears.

Of course, there’s an exception to that. I know someone who can talk about death in the language of laughter, too. She has a braver and more urgent reason to speak about it. Sure, she cries the words, too, sometimes. But the mixture of the two languages is  part of what apparently keeps her sane in the face of something very nearly unspeakable.

Death and dying.

Tears. And Laughter?

I think I need language lessons from her.


Related Posts I’ve written:

My Closest Friend is Dying

Sudden or Slow?

Riding the Killer Waves


Categories: Death | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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