Some thoughts on tragedy and grief

Tragedy strikes us all. As an individual or as a family…even as a nation.

1997

There was a drought in the Texas Hill Country, the lake was low, and winter was ending. Every day people would walk past our pier and look out across the cove and pray for water to fill it up.
Pray for rain, our respite from the drought, our savior from the brutal heat of the summer to come.
Water to irrigate gardens and fill wells, water to quench the thirst of our neighborhoods that depended on the health of the lake.
Eventually the water came. It rained for days, storms to usher in the bloom of spring. There is nothing like the Texas Hill Country in the spring. Should you ever get the opportunity you should visit in mid-April. It is just gorgeous.
The lake was regaining its vigor and the drought was ending.
Eventually the clouds parted. The water appealed to two fishermen that I loved more than anything.
They trolled out in a fishing boat on a bright, sunny afternoon, off to catch a few fish for dinner or maybe to add to the freezer. They kept our fridges stocked with fresh fish, and were just going to play.
Before the end of my day at school a storm blew through and made everything glisten as the sun came back out. I stayed for choir practice and went home a little later than usual with a friend.
I knew something was wrong when there was a police car outside our house when we got home, but no one knew anything. They just knew the storm had blown through and the men hadn’t returned home.
Surely they were just on the wrong side of the lake waiting it out on a beach.
One hour past, then four, then it was morning, and then it was 10 am.
We heard nothing except the boats going back and forth on the lake and the occasional shutter of helicopters overhead.
They never came home.

2009
My sister had finally agreed to go to a rock in roll bar with me that I sort of adored to see a band that I had loved since I was a kid. We had friends who were going to meet us and plans for dinner and drinks.
A night of fun.
As the hour drew nearer to our fun evening people cancelled.
I hate when people cancel last minute, but they did, so it was just going to be my sister and me.
We were determined to have a good time. We went to the restaurant upstairs and ordered some food. We watch people tottering in 5 inch stilettos. We laughed at how we were the only two out of I don’t even remember how many that made it to the show.
I don’t even remember who was playing.
We had never had a sisters night out, so we hung out and talked for a while.
Our drinks arrived and so did our food. We talked about our kids and jobs and life.
Then the phones started ringing.
Her husband had been trying to get ahold of her, but she didn’t answer, so he called my phone and I picked up right away.
“Where are you?”
“Scout. Why?”
“Dennis was in an accident. You need to go to Austin.”
“Okay, we will be there as fast as we can.”
We left our food uneaten and rushed from the building. We didn’t know what we were going to see when we got to the hospital, but we knew we had to go.
My sister’s neighbor kept the kids while we were gone.
We drove. A drive that normally took 4 to 5 hours took 3.
Again we waited for a man we loved; only this time his body was with us. It was his soul that was missing.
The life force that made him our father even though we were grown when our parents met.
We waited the night and a day. We waited until the tests were run that said he was coming back to us. We prayed for his soul to find its way home. We held hands and rested our heads on the cold tile of a hospital waiting room floor.
My mother waited in his room. Talked to him. Tried to coax him back. Tried to feel the warmth of his hand in hers for as long as she could.
He never found his way back.

2013
The last two days have brought great grief to the cities of Boston and West. Gut wrenching losses for families who had been having nice normal days. They were out for a run. Home watching TV. Sitting watching the world. They were participating in life.
Some of them were accomplishing dreams. Others were at work.
I was at work Tuesday. I followed the story all afternoon and late into the night. Pausing only while at home and holding my kids just a little tighter. I let them fall asleep in the living room snuggled up that night. There was nothing I wanted more than to hold them and make them safe.
Last night after I put the boys in bed I logged into Facebook and immediately I saw photos of a fire at a plant in Waco. Then I turned on the news and it had exploded.
Not just exploded but ripped a town apart. It will take years for them to come back from that.

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I only have a few words of wisdom when it comes to loss of those you love and rebuilding the life that you know. I don’t know if anyone who has lost in these tragedies will read it, but maybe the people who are reading need to hear it as well.
It takes time to cry. It takes time to feel the loss. It takes time to really understand that they’re gone and never coming back. It takes years, sometimes decades, to move on.
I don’t think we move on really.
I know that in my life the losses just became dull aches that resonate with how I try to appreciate each breath I take.
The losses have taught me to see the effects of my life on others. How one decision can cause a ripple effect that goes on and on and on.
It is easy to get mad and take your grief out on the world, but don’t. I got mad when I was so young and my grandfather got taken from me. I got so mad that I eventually rebelled to the point where nothing mattered but how I felt. I took my grief out on everyone, but no one ever understood that or forced me to deal with it. Don’t do that.
Don’t bottle it up and bury it thinking that everything is okay. You’re here, you’re safe, you’re moving along. You will crumble from the inside and become immobile.
Grieve. Heal. Cry. Get angry, but don’t get mad.
Most importantly love. Love is the most healing of emotions. It creates strength were there may have been none and warmth that lasts through the cold.
I pray that love surround you and that God bless your life with many years of happiness that far overshadow this dark time.

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Home is not a Location

Yesterday I asked…What is home to you? Is it a person, a place, a thing?

I have always thought like Pumba…”Home is where your rump rests!” I was 15 when The Lion King came out and since we moved so much as children I found truth in it. Home really is wherever you make it.

Or so I thought at 15.

Now at 31, I am reconsidering. I think, like a commenter yesterday, that home is the feeling of comfort that you have in your soul. A wholeness not brought on by location or surroundings, but grown to fruition within ourselves…or at least I’m starting to think anyway.

I’m not there yet. I learning. I’m growing, but I’m not there yet.

I have been researching my own past to try to determine when life changed so dramatically for me that it creates tension where there should be none. Since it is February 21st is doesn’t take long for me to understand when that break happened.

When I became a shell and less of myself.

By this I mean that I have spent the last 15 years trying to fill a void that can’t be filled by anyone but myself or God. I believe I have a strong faith in the Lord, but it is today and this day for the last 15 years that makes me know I am weak of faith.

Maybe it’s just this day in particular that makes my faith weak.

February 21, 1997 is the day we confirmed and found my grandfather’s body in Lake Buchanan. He and our pastor had been fishing and got caught in a storm on February 19th. They suffered hypothermia and drowned.

I cried for days, weeks, years even.

At first I had the rest of high school, my activities and my job to fill the time. To fill the void.

I thought little but of the schedule and what had to be completed for the next goal to be reached. For the next accomplishment to be met. As good a show as I could put on I found no happiness in any of this. I finished high school in 1999, without a plan. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do. Go to school. Don’t go. Get a certificate in a profession. Just go to work. I had no freaking idea.

June following graduation I watched my 2 year-old niece. Just me and her for the whole month. I stayed busy, we went places, we did stuff. July I went on a trip to Europe. The first week planning, two weeks there and the last week of the month I had a decision to make.

Go to the recruiter and become a military private or go to school until I figured out what I wanted.

I chose school. Then I got bored. Some people just aren’t built to sit and learn in a class room. I’m one of those…but may still go back. I’m deciding that now.

When people ask if I would repeat high school again…go back in time…knowing what I know now I respond immediately with a yes. I would go back because I would have knowledge of the accident that was to come and I would spend more time with my grandfather. I would listen to his words and take notes on how to do things. I would want to be near to him. I miss him. Even now as I write this out the tears flow…and yes I’m at Starbucks. Receiving stares from people who know nothing of what I write.

Each of us have an adult that we are close to in our youngest days. For me it was him. I know he wasn’t perfect, but I worshiped him.

I lived with my grandparents from age 12 until I was through high school. The first years we were there I could be found, when I wasn’t at school, helping my grandfather. We had a garden, we built a shop, we made a bigger garden, we fixed up the house, plumed a sprinkler system, and I learned more than I can ever remember. I was his shadow.

The gravity and immediacy of this loss have haunted me. My dreams. My fears. My life.

I feel myself getting close to people and then immediately recoil knowing that some how I will lose them and I don’t want to feel that kind of pain. The pain that rips your soul from you…even if just for a while.

I can honestly count the number of people I have allowed to get close to me since high school on one hand. The people I still depend on for emotional support don’t need me to dig into those feelings. They have always been here and they don’t need me to mention it.

I am trying to open up to people. Trying to not push as much as I want to, I know sometimes I am an utter failure in this, but I’m trying.

I have tried to fill the void of his loss with rebellion. Yes…I rebelled, but I’m not much of a rebel.

I have tried to fill the void with a marriage. Terrible idea.

In my need to be whole I try to patch up the broken. I try to fix the other people I see in need. I can recognize the pain in their eyes because I feel it in me. I recognized that pain in my ex husband’s eyes and made thousands of failed attempts to help him. Ending with the realization that you can’t fix what doesn’t know is broken.

Behaviors learned from parents are the hardest to break. For me it’s chocolate, coffee, and delicious food, for my husband it was vodka,  prescription drugs, and ignorance. If there is a problem take something…it will disappear.

Only it doesn’t.

The problem is there for the partner – the true partner – in a marriage. They are forced to handle the situation and eventually because they are broken themselves they just learn to tolerate the experience. The life that would drive a normal person from the relationship becomes their link to wholeness.

I was happy because I was making him happy. Innocence and inexperience are tragic flaws in the hands of an addict.

Relationships with everyone I was close to became secondary to the relationship I had with him. He became my home because together we were one.

It is a tolerable existence when it is just two people living life together. You know there will be ups. You know there will be downs. You learn what will fill the downs to make them come back up. You live life as they teach in AA, “one day at a time” but nothing is ever normal to the world on the outside looking in, even if it seems normal to you.

Then the two create a third person. A child, helpless and innocent. A person that needs protection. A person that needs your constant attention.

Eventually you recognize all that is broken in your life. I had the realization that I was still broken.

Broken of spirit.

Broken in soul.

Broken to the point of not remembering who I had been. I tried to leave…but the hole would tear back open.

The hole that had been left by the death of my grandfather had been filled by this man, although I didn’t understand this fact. So, I would go back. I allowed myself to go back because he made me feel whole. He made me feel like I was home. I found comfort in the pain because it gave me a reason to be where I was…I was home.

It’s funny how so few letters it takes to change hole to whole to home.

Where is home for me?

I now understand that it is not in location. It is not in the people that surround me.

I have to find it with in me. I thought I had found it within me, but days like today…or maybe just today…I recognize my void is still here. Still waiting for me to fill it. Still waiting for me to understand what I have missed all these years.

If you seem to be in a holding pattern, as I explained yesterday, what do you think you are missing?

I think if we figure out the source we can find the resolution that will create wholeness.

Where are you? Your roots?

Home? Sure! Pick a Starbucks…any Starbucks.

Lately I have been writing to you from a comfy bench seated at my local Starbucks.

I should work here I have been here so much.

Honestly though, life has a way of just not working the way I plan it to, and I am now in a holding pattern. I am living more of a creative existence, but even creatives need a paycheck. That will happen. I have faith that it will happen. It has to because that’s just the way things have to work, even if that means temping for peanuts.

Hey! Did you know that Starbucks has a bar scene?

Really?!

You didn’t know? Well, neither did I until lately.

Maybe it is just my neighborhood Starbucks that does because a high seated stool is just where many guys like to sit around here.

Right now I am staring at three guys who look like they are regulars. I say regulars like you would bar regulars. The kind that every bartender recognizes and calls by name. These guys are calling each barista by their given name and perusing the public looking for bait.

They check out each girl and drink their luscious blend of bold or blonde.

Heck – even the coffee is sounding sexy!

These guys are not.

Did I mention that?

They seem more like the three guys at a sports bar discussing (with intensity) their most recent conquest. (Not that I can hear what they are saying.)

Two look dressed for work at one of the local refineries and the other is in basketball shorts and hi-top converse shoes.

Guys – if you are wearing Cons…keep the pants on…unless of course you are on your way to work out or just left the gym.

This guy didn’t look like he’d been in one in a while…I keep my original statement…wear jeans.

With this I would like to tell you a bit about my holding pattern.

Many parts of life that have been left up in the air are sorting out.

Custody situation – Done. Mark it off my list for 2012.

Divorce situation – Done. Mark it off my list.

Place to live? – Have one…but not where you would think…at least not where I planned. Once again my mission to move home blew up in my face. I am still stinging from the embers.

It’s funny really how this continues to happen…but I keep trying to do it.

Einstein said, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”

So does this make me insane? Constantly trying to move back home. I have moved…a lot…I have moved across the country even and NEVER have I encountered the level of hardship that moving back home presents. Seriously.

Two years ago I quit my job and moved into the unknown. I started out headed to Connecticut, ended up in upstate New York and everything worked….it could have worked better but either way it worked. It was an amazing adventure.

Right now…all I am trying to do is move three hours west and NADA.

I feel like I should just stop. Network, work, freelance for hire, and make day trips for meetings, but apparently I am supposed to be here for a reason unbeknownst to me.

When God presents me with his resolution I will be sure to share it with you.

So, until I figure out what this next step is that I am taking I will be coming to you live from my local Starbucks, possibly becoming a regular and perusing the local clientage.

Okay – maybe not.

I leave you today with a music assignment. Listen, hear the words, and think of home. Where is home for you? Is it a place or a thing or maybe even a person?

I will think on this. I think I am trying to replace a person because I was home when I was with my husband…now that is insanity…until tomorrow…

Recovery Part II

Today is Valentine’s day. My friends keep telling me it’s Singles Awareness Day. I keep telling them, no it’s Liberation Day. The newly single have a bit of a different perspective even if we’ve been working on it a while.

Part of recovery is the acceptance of yourself. Being comfortable in your own skin. Being happy alone with a movie and an empty room. This is a slow road. It’s one of those roads that is different for everyone, in length and in topography.

Imagine you are on a road trip. You gas up, you load up, you’re ready to go and excited (or at least built up the edge to go.) Let’s say your setting out for the three thousand mile trek from Houston to Seattle. Every now and then you have to stop for gas. You have to stop for food. You have to stop for drinks and for breaks to stretch your legs. You leave the jungle of this massive city and hit a few bumps about four hours out. You hit the hill country, you survive and now you’re out in the plains. Smooth sailing for a long time. The road is pretty straight. you have a few bends, but on the whole you’re feeling good. You’re making great time. Then you have to stop for gas. Then you have to stop for the night. The next day you arrive in New Mexico, passing through the mountains which can sometimes be treacherous. Eventually you’re back in a plain, or at least a valley. You’re tired of sitting in the car but you know that it will be worth the pain. This pattern repeats for a few more days. You get excited, you get bored, you get disgruntled, but you power through and eventually you reach your destination. It’s there sparkling in the sun (you happen to arrive on a sunny, warm day.)

This is recovery.

Starting the journey (even if half forced) you get excited. You gather your resolve. You know what you are looking for and you go after it. Sometimes though you get lost or you reach a point that is bumpy. Sometimes you have giant mountains in your path, but you must conquer them. You must go forward. You must put this one choice in front of you. You have to make a conscious effort to reform your world. You must change your way of thinking, of coping, of loving, of living. You and no one else can take this road. It is a lonely road.

It’s the goal that you’re after though and you have to keep that in your mind. Somewhere in your subconscience you have to remember what you are seeking even if it would be easier to numb out or ignore the world. When you get that way you turn on some music. Begin to clean the house, because while you cleanse your home you cleanse your mind. Buddhist monks (I think) teach you that your surroundings are a reflection of what is going on internally.

If you are surrounded by disaster that is the reflection of self.

Even if you have to start small, you have to start somewhere.

Take it.

Own it.

Part of recovery is finding good support. Whether that support is from family, friends, a community group, church or Al-Anon, get support. If the people you turn to do not support you drop them like a hot plate.

They don’t deserve the best of you if they can’t accept the worst of you. (I believe Marilyn Monroe said something to this effect.)

I know some that may be reading this may believe recovery is only for addicts. But it is not. It is for anyone who is surviving something in their past. Anyone who has been to their own hell. Anyone who is the victim of abuse, violence, a crime. Anyone who is hurting from the choices they have made on their own. Labeling the process seems trivial and many times it is not given this name, but really that is what we are doing. We are recovering.

Below are some resources from the web for any number of possibilities you would need to be recovering from.

Depression Alcoholism Abuse – Mental/Physical Eating Disorders

There are so many more. A base website for anything that you may have encountered is HelpGuide.org.

If you are simply at a point in your life where you need to change something reach out to friends. Call your EAP and set up to see a counselor. Work through it, life is so much better once you work through everything that is going on inside.

One of my favorite things to do is listen to music. Over the last year my favorites have been (and not in any particular order)

Foo Fighters – Wasting Light

Eminem – Recovery (He speaks to exactly what we are all going through…if bad words bother you don’t get the explicit version.)

Ray LaMontangne – Gossip in the Grain

The Civil Wars – Barton Hollow

Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More

Blue October, Christina Perri, Adele, Cee Lo Green (When I am in a mood I love F— You…it sets all right with the world), Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan, Florence + The Machine (Bury that Horse), Kings of Leon, Journey, Chevelle…I could go on and on.

I simply find music that speaks to me. Find yours but make sure it sends you a positive message. Reinforce what you are trying to do, don’t hinder progress because you’re not really listening to it. The brain hears everything even if we are being passive.

Surround yourself with positive energy, positive people, try to be a light in the dark for others. It is a fact that if you help others in your darkest hour it will help light your own way out of the darkness.

Above all remember that we are all struggling with something. It may not be right there on the surface, but it is there. It is very real to them.

Live in peace, love, and kindness to all.

Meg’s Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very-Bad Day

“Eh…” gritched Michael at 5:30 am. “wah..wah…WAH”

I roll out of bed and walk to the crib. I check on him…cover him back up and proceed to stumble to the kitchen, eyes shut.

Remove sippy cup lid…wash lid…drop lid…”damn!” I think. Open eyes.

Open dishwasher, remove clean sippy, pour fresh milk into fresh sippy. See chocolate icing from last week – think of chocolate icing…mmmmmmm…..but so not on my new diet.

Close fridge and remove chocolate icing from brain. Close eyes, stumble back to room. Cover Mikey up again…give milk.

Mikey screams…he doesn’t want to drink it, just hold it.

Lay back down in own bed…place pillow under left leg as I had received a cortisone shot in the hip yesterday morning.

Check time on phone. 5:34 am

I can sleep for a little while longer! I will get up! I know I can do it!

Roll over, shut eyes…Bu-bye Megan.

Roll back over in what I think is five minutes…and it’s 7 am. Shit! I’m late!

Jump out of bed, turn on shower, Mikey screams. I run into other room Wake up Elijah, get Michael out of crib. Run to bathroom for shower.

Rush shower. Michael pulling curtain every three seconds…he wants in. No! No I say!

Dash through closet put on something to wear…knock on the door. It’s the sitter!

Throw clothes at Elijah, yell at Elijah. Run a comb then put mousse in my hair. Race out the door.

Forget lunch. Forget to sign Elijah’s folder. Forget to bring laptop.

Trip over trash exiting the house…take trash to dumpster.

As I am exiting the apartment complex a man is riding a bike…he drives out in front of me, scaring me, and me slamming on the brakes so I don’t hit him, scares him. He almost falls off his bike. I sit a minute, we nod at each other as he pedals off and I pull out onto the road.

[Here is where I should have known to just go home.]

Facing the highway…black kitty cat darts infront of me, from out of no where and into the woods. Proceed to highway access road.

Shaking my head and repeating to myself…You can do it! You can do it!

Oh and remember…it’s foggy today. No visibility so there is no sunshine to brighten my day in the most literal way!

Drive the .5 miles to the nearest McDonald’s for a McMuffin and a coffee. As I am turning in I see that the secondary lane is empty and there are two cars waiting in the main lane. I proceed toward the secondary lane…slam on brakes…again.

Woman in second car noticed what I was doing. Honking and accelerating, playing bumper cars with our vehicles, she scoots up as quickly as possible to second lane. Nearly hitting me in the process. I let her through. If she is in that big of a hurry she must be having a glucose issue so I forgive. Start a status update text on how messed up the morning has gone.

Glucose intolerance lady must have had a super extra large order because it took ten minutes to go through that line. That’s too long…especially when I didn’t leave the house on time.

I NEEDED COFFEE and I NEEDED FOOD!

Really I should invest in a microwave and heat up an egg bowl.

[No dice. Then it would taste microwaved and I would rather be late. 😛 ]

Eventually get status updated. Get food and get back on the road.

Traffic. Fuck. I am Fucked. With a capital F! I will never be on time as long as I live in the boonies. Okay so it’s not in the boonies, but it’s just further out than say…midtown. So everything is further away.

Fog, Cars, Stupid people…I bow to the time God’s and go the back way to work. It’s a little longer, but there are fewer people trying to run me off the highway.

I end up behind a tractor trailer going 45 in a 60…I know it’s foggy, but PLEASE I’M LATE!

12 miles later, I turn, no longer behind him I accelerate. Faster, faster, oops too fast. Check for police…Whew! No police

Flip through radio stations…Adele! I love Adele. Turn it up! Sing out loud! Watch people in cars next to me looking at me crazy. What can I say?! I love Adele and I can sing like her! You would sing out too!

Arrive in the land of Pears…and turn down by my old house…think about Troy. Deep breathe…proceed to work.

Arrive at work 23 minutes behind schedule! Ugh! What a morning!?

But no it’s not over…as I arrive my eyes start to burn. I still don’t know why. They pour liquid like a bartender serving shots! I look like I have had a few shots and haven’t in weeks!

Through my blurry eyes and constant burn I read through emails and reply to friends online. I help students and talk to my coworkers. I read through my new feed from Media Bistro and watch some insightful videos.

Around 9:30 am as I was browsing available jobs on MB, I found one in Austin. A little company hiring for entry-level management positions…read through. Hey – I can do that!

Start the application…part 1, done. Part 2, done! Part 3, done! Part 4, Not done…I typed, I thought, I gave very good, personnal replies. I hit save!

And everything was gone…to that point it had taken me TWO HOURS to fill in every box with the information that would best send the message of who and what I am and NOTHING!

It disappeared!

I closed the window, told the boss I would be going to lunch a few minutes early and I left.

Don’t the Fates understand! That is supposed to be my next job! Don’t they understand the day that I have had and just needed that information to SAVE! No they don’t. They don’t understand. They aren’t in control.

So, I whisper to God. I eat my lunch while typing this post. I reopen the tab and I type out the answers again. This time clicking the little save button as I go.

Oh the trials of the “School of Hard Knocks.” I am the current mascot.

Many blessings for you and yours today as the day will inevitably end delightfully. I am certain!

Thank you little sister for supplying me with the image of the day!

The Morning After

The world looked a little brighter this morning. My apartment was clean. My kids were bathing. I even woke up at 6 am without the alarm! Shocking!

Yesterday was a great day. I disabled Facebook and joined the WordPress censorship blackout. I spent the day listening to TED talks and joining various debates and conversations. I took a test for a job that I have applied for and I have no idea if I did a good job or not, but working the math muscles that I haven’t used since I was 12 was fun! (I took the hard math classes in school. Simple fractions and word problems I haven’t done since 1992!)

What was so great about yesterday? 18 Senators revoked their support for the “Stop Online Piracy Act” and the “Protect IP Act” – this is amazing. Not only that but somewhere in the neighborhood of 4.5 million people signed petitions to let their voice be heard.

I watched the speech of Clay Shirky at TED yesterday as he explained the dangers of SOPA. Here it is for you to watch.

I watched the Mikko Hypponen speech on the three tyes of online attacks. Stay informed…watch this…

I also watched the video of Larry Lessig from 2007 that covers the topic “Laws that choke creativity”

As well as another speech from Clay Shirky from 2005. Facebook wasn’t even out to the masses yet, it was still a MySpace world. The differences between collaboration and institutions.

These were amazing speeches that covered pretty much this topic.

                “The world is changing, as it changes so must we. We are connected now more than ever before and as time passes we will continue to grow closer together. We must adjust our way of doing things and learn new methods. We must share our research and information and not hoard it. There was a time with idea sharing was difficult, but that is not now.”

Also I watched the UH Professor Brene Brown’s speech on Wholeheartedness. That’s a speech that would make you feel alive…or at least recharge your batteries. Her original research was on human connection. The internal workings that make us human. What is it about us that makes us different from every other species on the planet? We experience vulnerability. It is as we recognize our vulnerability that we are able to take the next step into wholehearted.

Anyone who knows me personally knows that wholehearted is how I live. Heck if you have been reading this blog long enough you know that. I encourage you to look within yourselves and find that place at which you can live with your entire heart.

Yesterday was a great day by all accounts and today is the morning after. I have courageously decided to hand in notice this afternoon…I’m without livable apartment or permanent childcare at the moment and life has reached the tipping point. Either realize my potential or stay here and stagnate and watch the courage to live disappear. Today is going to be a great day. Enjoy it!

What do I need right now?

What do I need now? A hug. A big bear hug that says “everything is going to be alright.” You can’t get those hugs from just anyone. It must be someone close enough to not let go too quickly; especially if in fact I do crumble and start to cry. They better know to not let me go.

I wrote not-so-long-ago about coming out of a depression that I had been in…but this week I feel like I am back there. I think if I were allowed to I wouldn’t have gotten out of bed today. Honestly. Would. Not. Have. Gotten. Out. Of. Bed. Today.

Lucky for me I don’t have that option. I have to get up. I have to go to work. I have to make sure the boys eat. I have to make sure I send notes with them to school and their folder is signed. There is so much that HAS to be done that I don’t have the option of becoming one with the bed. No matter how appealing that might be at the moment.

Anyway…this evening I am thankful.

Thankful for my friends. Thankful for my children. Thankful for the possibilities for the future. I don’t know how it’s all going to turn out yet, but I do know the journey…well…the journey is the best part.

Some day I will be here again...

Life and Loss…

Okay – so I was never able to go finish my last post…the day is now kind of a blur. But I had intended to…this week has been a blur.

We could call this post a lesson in coping.

Really.

Life has had a sinking feeling this week. Try as I might to not let it, it does. You see…the part of last Friday that was some how deleted from my post was the part where we said our good byes to Nanny.

Last week I randomly posted about my husband’s grandmother discovering she had cancer.

Well…over the course of that week she made a life ending decision. She didn’t want to suffer, and she didn’t want to be a burden on her family. She began refusing food and water. Although she had always said she would do this if she ever found out she had but a short while to live. I for one never thought she would actually have the force of will to follow through. Nanny was stubborn when she made her mind up about something, so it really doesn’t surprise me.

After work Friday, after my morning spent making decorations for my office, I was walking out to the car when my ex husband called and gave me the news that she was refusing sustenance. ‘Huh?’ Shock filled my belly and the realization that Friday I would have to say goodbye hit me.

How do you say goodbye? This is the thought that went through my  head on the way to pick up my youngest from the babysitter.

I am 31 years old, you would think that I have some experience telling people goodbye, but I don’t. The loss in my life has been the sudden, tragic kind. We have never gotten to say our goodbyes to find closure in a few whispered words. We have to work it out over time. We have to come to terms with our grief after the fact. We haven’t had the opportunity to receive closure in the relationships unless we found it with in ourselves. That is a process. That in some cases (as with my grandfather’s accident) takes years.

I was thinking this would be different. I was thinking that I would get to say good bye.

As last week had gone on I had considered the fact that we were going to lose Nanny, but the doctors had said three months. I guess I clung to the idea of three months. When my sister in law called and told me that it could be as soon as with in two weeks, that was still not enough time.

Is there a length of time long enough to satisfy love when you will never be able to speak to them in person again?     No.

As it happens in life I never got to have that final conversation. I went to Nanny’s house and sat with the family for a while Friday afternoon, she never woke up. We would hear her breath, we would listen for movement, but nothing happened. She never stirred.

I had made a commitment to my great-uncle to pick him up from his group home Friday evening. If I had not been there to pick up my uncle he would have thought I hated him and didn’t care about his feelings and would have questioned me about it every time that I see him from now until forever. He is mentally handicapped and some things he just doesn’t understand. He is an 8 year old in a 75 year old’s body and though he has the longest memory of anyone I have ever met, he doesn’t process things properly. He wouldn’t have understood having to wait because my ex husband’s grandmother was dying. I am not sure he understands the extension of life outside of our own family. It wasn’t until 2002 that he had ever lived outside the home of one of his own family members. Even then his group home is owned by very old friends of our family. He is well protected and cared for, bumps in his plan don’t work well.

Anyway, I didn’t get to say good bye. I was there, but I hold the opinion that she was already gone. I looked in on her in her bed and what I saw was not the person that I knew. What I saw was the pallid veil of death that was slowly taking her body as her soul must surely have already been in heaven. There was breath left in her body, but there was no emotion on her face. She lay a shadow of her self in the bed she had shared with her husband for so many years in a house that had seen so many holidays and childhoods.

Turns out that my goodbye was said a month ago as I was leaving her house after our Saturday morning coffee and honey buns. “Good bye Nanny, love you, see you again soon.” I did…she just didn’t get to see me.

There is much to learn from her life. My sporadic series Phenomenal Female Friday’s will be about what I learned from her life.

A Farmer’s Market Remembers When

Yesterday I bought some raisin bran muffins. I shouldn’t have because I am dieting and these are certainly not diet food, but they just sounded good. This morning as I took my first bite I was taken back in time, nearly 25 years. I was sitting on a bar stool in my grandmothers giant kitchen. Eating her Post Raisin Bran recipe version of a bran muffin and sipping on a glass of milk. I can smell the musty coming from the basement and feel the golden shag carpet beneth my feet.

My grandmother, we call her Mema in true Southern fashion, didn’t think she was a baker. She would play and throw things together, but she didn’t think she was very good at it. Well, I beg to differ. If she had been a bad baker I wouldn’t think these amazing bran muffins could rival hers. Until now I hadn’t had a bran muffin other than hers, so maybe I am just partial and they are not the same.

Isn’t it funny how material things can transform a moment? A muffin, a song, or even a smell.

Any time Alanis Morrisette comes on the radio, it is once again 1994 and I am a freshman in high school – nervous laugh, fuzzy hair, and all. To narrow songs down to “You Learn” I am in the backseat of my friend’s car trying to get back to normal after a “dam” party so that I can take a Spanish final. I don’t remember how the test turned out. I think I passed. I remember Bart’s mom pulling me out of the room and telling me to take it down a level. Thank God a friend of mine’s mom was our sub that day. Whew!

The smell of Curve reminds me of my little sister who wore it for years. So it also reminds me of the bedroom we shared until I graduated high school. Dark wood paneling, old twin beds and a TV that had enough of an NBC signal to sneak episodes of “Friends.” Mal’s scent has evolved over the last decade, but she still keeps a token bottle on her dresser. Perhaps she too gets transported back in time at the smell.

I spent this weekend doing things that I love, but at each turn I was reminded of my marriage and it made me sad. I went to the giant Farmers Market near the Heights, and picked out vegetables and helped one of my best friends find a pinata. The only other person I had ever been there with was my husband and we used to go all the time. I miss lazy Saturday mornings of haggling with the veggie farmers and exploring their most unusual treats. Then the smells in the air. The sounds of the busy street. The people all around yelling in Spanish and Vietnamese. Could it really have been six years ago?

This weekend I sort of longed for the nostalgia. If you read my post from Saturday you know that I haven’t been doing that great, but I will be better. Weekends like this of remembering and recalling the things that make me happy help. I am slowly rebuilding who I am and deciding the things that I need. I know some day every thing will work together and those, “Song remembers when” moments will grow fewer and farther between. I will build new memories with new people. I will forget the bad times. I will be able to tell my kids about all the fun I had with their dad.

If you are in a place of pain, sometimes what you need to do is wallow in it for a minute, allow it to soak in and hold you immobile for a moment. Except you need to remember to let it go, allow it to fall away and move forward. Let the “songs remember when” so that you know that you don’t have to.

The How and Why of the Forbidden Button

I think how you handle people who want nothing more than to see you squashed like a bee has a lot to say about who you are. For example, do you lash out at everyone or do you accept it with a deep sigh and move on?

Inevitably there will be people in your life that just don’t like you. There is no rhyme or reason other than your existence pisses them off.

I wish I could answer why for you, but that is between them and God.

I just don’t know.

I am going to admit this not before God and everybody…there are sometimes things about people who I just don’t like, don’t understand, and although I want to put out the effort to be nice and agreeable I just don’t care.

It’s like the  Pythagorean theorem you had to memorize in high school geometry, but don’t remotely remember now. You just don’t really care!

So, I guess sometimes that makes me the hater. Oh well.

Sometimes you got to stand on your own two feet and say, “I don’t like you very much and you’re not a very nice person.”

Now back to the subject of handling your own haters…people who just don’t care. I think there are several ways to handle them.

You walk away.

You smile and nod and when you can you escape.

You find a way to admit to yourself and to them that you want to click the “un-friend” or God forbid the “un-like” buttons on Facebook and IT’S OKAY!

You don’t reply to the extreme email.

You don’t immediately call them back when the phone rings. Or – Gasp! – You hit the ignore button on your phone!

I am not saying this to be mean. I am not saying this to be pointed or tacky.

People just need to learn when to leave and when to cleave. You need to let go of people you just don’t like anymore. You need to learn that no matter how tight a family may try to be most of the time, in many families, those relationships are not what they appear to be.

As for Facebook…look at your friends list. Who do you just really not care to hear from ever again? Click the un-friend/un-like button…come on! It’s Liberating!!!

Love and prayers to you all! Happy Thursday – cause tomorrow’s FRIDAY!!!