Six Months

Six months.  That is not a long time in the grand scheme of things, yet a is a lifetime of heartache, tears, reflection, struggle, confusion, anger, loss, grief…I felt each heartbeat of you not being with me in the lifetime of six months.  I still cannot fathom that much time without you.

But there has also been joy. First little glimpses, then moments, a little longer sometimes, and maybe even a day here and there.

And now I can finally say I think I am getting the hang of this life without you. And that makes me sad in a way.  Because I never want to be used to life without you, my mother, my best friend.  But I have to. It has been six months and I have to get it together.

I feel you though, everywhere. And that helps.  But I still miss you more than I thought possible.  On those days when I don’t feel you close, I just whisper to you that I need a sign…and then there it is.  And I feel your arms around me.

I love and miss you exponentially. I think you would be proud of me, of the past 6 months, even though it has been hard.  You raised me strong and to survive no matter what.  And that means without you.  More than anything, I know that is what you want.

I know you have things to do where you are.  You always stayed busy, helping others, so why would you stop now?  Somewhere along the way, I am sure you have found a need to give of yourself and help another.  We will be Ok here.  Do what you need to do. Just visit and show me you are still around. And know that there is so much love here for you, always.

I carry your heart with me.  I carry it in my heart.

Sitcom Moment 3,846: Muesday Much?

I have often said that my life resembles a sitcom, even a dramedy on certain occasions.  These “sitcom moments” are things that happen in real life that would be hysterical if you were watching them on TV…those moments that are so embarrassing or awkward or funny that you would never think that they would actually happen in real life.  But sometimes fact is stranger, and funnier than fiction.

Take this morning for example.  It started out a bit like a Monday (even though it is Tuesday).  Everything just seemed to be going wrong.  My father didn’t want to get out of bed…which means I was late into the office (or later than I wanted and was planning on getting to the office).  Much like a toddler who doesn’t want to get up and eat breakfast, many times my Dad has to be coaxed.  This is time consuming and a bit exhausting.  And then there was no more coffee for that 2nd cup.  Hmmmm, will have to stop on the way to work to grab a cup…

Meanwhile, there is a special review meeting that I should be at my desk to Skype in to join, but since running late getting Dad up and eating, I’ll just dial in…except it isn’t the normal dial in.  This meeting is only a Skype. I don’t have Skype on my mobile.  No problem, I’ll download it. My efficiency cannot be stopped. I am on a roll and  run out of the house, not even taking the time to grab a jacket for the cold morning.

I manage to download Skype for Mobile while driving to QT for coffee.  In the parking lot I complete the many sign in, verification, notification, etc. steps to initiate Skype (I think about 20 in total).  Finally, able to join the meeting!

While on mute on I walk in the store and manage to fumble through the coffee making process…except that there is no sugar canister, they ran out.  GREAT. They do have the little packets of sugar – the ones that contain a half a baby teaspoon of sugar in the large by comparison packet. But I always feel bad about the 25 or so packets I have to put in my coffee, so I avoid the guilt altogether by pouring out the coffee.

As I toss the cup in the trash there is a pivotal moment in the meeting….my boss thanks me for the hard work I have done on my assignment…and there is a pause, for me to say something, anything, some kind of comment back.  Except I cannot find the home screen for Skype to unmute the mic and say thank you…and more silence…then someone says an awkward comment about maybe I cannot join the conversation….and I am frantically searching and pounding on my touch screen phone, cursing under my breathe.  Surely onlookers thought I was having a seizure. After what seems like an eternity, the moment passes and the meeting moves on.

After blowing my moment in the meeting, I reenter my car, no coffee in hand, and notice a loud smell.  Cigarette smoke. My man generously took my Dad to the doctor’s office the day before, but did not air out the car well before parking it for the night.  OK, no problem.  I’ll drive to work with the windows down. In 34 weather. With no coat.  Well, at least I won’t need the coffee to be fully awake.

After prying my frozen hands off the steering wheel, I walk into work with a windblown hairstyle that could have only been inspired by a mad man with an electrical outlet. It was truly an awe-inspiring mess. There are a few double takes from co workers as I pass them and smile, holding my windblown head up high.  If you are going to be a mess, at least be dignified about it.

I imagine a young Goldie Hawn or Kristen Wiig pulling off a scene like that, not something that would be in my life. And that is my Muesday (Monday + Tuesday) Sitcom moment.

I can hear you laughing.

The Routine Order

We all have things that seem to be the bane of our existence. They gym, the dreadmill, I mean treadmill.  The dentist…and for me, routine.  I am a writer, creative and do not like routine.  Until I take a closer look at my life.  Growing up, my mother believed very much in routine, that this is what children needed in order to be healthy.  In addition to three square meals, lots of love and some discipline, we also had a lot of routine.  We had dinner with a certain time frame and went to bed by a certain hour.  We had so long to do homework, chores and piano practice.  She said that routine could bring order into an otherwise chaotic world for a child.  And indeed we did thrive.

But in my adult life, I just seem to do well without schedules.  I do what needs to be done when it needs doing, and do my best to manage time.  And I am constantly running 15-20 minutes late. But lately I am seeing more value in this thing called routine of which she spoke. And I think it might just save my sanity.

Since Dad moved in life has been on the hectic side, running from doctor appointment to doctor appointment, learning to be a caretaker of an 80 year-old and everything that comes with it.  It can be so overwhelming at times.  So what do you do when life gets that overwhelming and big that you can’t seems to see over the top of it?  Routine.

There is comfort in routine, in knowing what comes next and when. It allows for you to free up your time and space to be creative and concentrate on what is really important. It allows you to follow a natural order.  And when you think of the science of it, it makes perfect sense.  Even the human body has schedules.  The heart beats on schedule, we do not have to think about it.  We breathe on an automatic schedule. Our blood and lungs work on schedule and to their tasks and we do not have to think about it.  We go on with our lives.

And that is what I hope to accomplish with this new order, so to speak.  Dad will have a pretty set schedule – approximately when to get up, I will fix his breakfast, then when physical and occupational therapy happen, when his companion care comes over to help with tasks or run errands, when to go to the senior center to meet friends and be social. When he doesn’t have to constantly figure out what comes next, what he is going to do and why, constantly coming up for a reason for existence without my mother, then maybe he can relax and just enjoy.

And maybe I can relax a bit too.  Certain things will be on autopilot, so to speak. I can focus on my work, my relationship, friendships and such. Gears can be shifted to I can just be a good daughter, good friend and co-worker.  This routine may be just what the doctor ordered to get life back to manageable.

And maybe the secret to order is being flexible enoughFlexible enough to work within the bounds of routine but still allow a loose schedule. With exercise we much stretch ourselves, our muscles, to give a little. Life can be messy. And if we are puritanical in either direction of too much schedule and routine or nothing at all, then things can spiral. We feel overwhelmed and out of order.

So I am looking forward to this new schedule that sets the pace for the new year.  I am looking forward to being able to concentrate on what is truly important while the everyday things take care of themselves.  It takes a lot of hard work to put a routine in place, but we are almost there.  And in that order, we can make a life of spectacular.

The New Hope

​This year, 2016, has been tough. And it seems it was a hard year for many people. It seemed as if life imitated art as I read how many of my friends lost friends and loved ones. It seems that this year has tested our patience, our heart, our sanity and ourselves. 

But this year also had some really great moments. In my life, it started with celebrating New Years Eve in the great city of New Orleans with my man. Then there was prepping for the sibling reunion, all the hard work, and the new connections it would bring. What a wonderful weekend. 

Four weeks later, we would loose my beautiful mother. Words cannot describe. The amount of love and support from my family, my friends and my boyfriends amazing family has been truly a miracle that brightened dark days.  

Dad moved in and again life forever changed.  We moved forward with his liver cancer treatments. Two moves plus moving Dad in and putting their place up for sale. Fumbling though being a caregiver, Dad having a serious fall then recovering in rehab over Christmas were a few challenges. 

Then the start of a new job with a fantastic company. A girls trip with my three soul mate sisters, a cruise with a close friend and her daughter, and so much more happened this year, that it would take another year to write. Finding my inner strength was essential, my own voice in a sea of extranious noise. 

My hope for 2017 is to transform the struggles of 2016 into a life so spectacular that it lights up the whole world. To turn all that pain into power, to harness the strength of survival and channel it into love so pure, that it fills the cracks deep within and heals the broken parts of myself.

Finally

We did it. We survived our first Christmas without you. It was hard. Then it was OK. And there were moments of true joy. And then moments where my heart felt it would burst. Through it all you were in our hearts, and I think whispering around us, in the warm breeze, in the sounds of the birds and in the spirit of Christmas. I could feel you close, even if not able to touch you. We will be OK. You made sure we were strong. We will continue to move forward every day and make you proud by finding beauty in this world and many reasons to smile. Love and miss you always Mom. – Me

We all have hard times that we have to get through.  And some are harder than others. This was a tough one.  This was a big one.  What do you do when these times come about?  I don’t know.  My guess, or at least what seems to work for me, is just putting my head down and get through it.  I am not sure that there is a formula for getting through the hard parts.  I know that is not the popular thing to say, as many writers have made millions writing thousands of books on how to get through it.  The secret – It’s just time.  You put one foot in front of the other and take many, many baby steps.  And after time, a lot of time, you look back and see how many miles further you have traveled.

I received many messages of love and support about how hard this first Christmas without Mom would be,  And it was; there were moments that were brutal. I have always said that my life is like a sitcom, but this Christmas was more like a dramedy…Dad took a bad fall and had to be in a rehab facility building up his strength during Christmas.  But we were allowed to sign him bust him out for Christmas.  Never did I think I would be spring my Dad out of rehab for Christmas, but I live for adventure. And I have never seen anyone so excited to be home.

Christmas Eve, after everyone went to bed, I sat on the couch sobbing while looking at the beautiful Christmas tree, wishing, hoping, aching, for my Mother.  I cried for everything I have lost and would never have again.  I mourned the things that we would never do together, my mother and me.  The gifts not bought, cards not given, and adventures not to be had. And I fell asleep for a bit, there on the couch, by the tree with so many of her ornaments.  And I thought I felt her arms around me, heard her voice whisper on my ear. And I woke up feeling very loved.

And there were moments when Joy came in, like the sun breaking through the clouds.  Christmas morning came and there were gifts and smiles and so much love.  Seeing Dad excited, looking at all wrapping and bows and ribbons.  Unwrapping everything with childlike enthusiasm.  And my wonderful man, our second Christmas together, much different than we thought it would be. Watching them both get gifts that they loved. And there were Christmas carols, and the Christmas movies, and Christmas stockings, and then…Christmas dinner.

And I swear I could hear her laughing and see her smiling.  She loved Christmas. And at that moment I knew.  We were going to be OK.  We had finally turned a corner in this thing called grief.  We got thought it, we survived. We laughed and cried and remembered.  And at the end of the day, we were all OK.  And that’s the thing about love and grief.  Even when you feel like it is going to kill you, it really doesn’t.

Today it has been six months since Mom went into the hospital for her procedure.  I met her at the hospital to stay with her so she wouldn’t be alone.  The time spent with her then in priceless.  And we just had Christmas.  And finally, FINALLY, the sadness is not overwhelming. And I think she would be proud.

I looked at pictures of my mother from several years ago when she was still happy and healthy.  She was so beautiful. Always smiling with that mischievous look in her eye.  I had forgotten what that smile looked like, she had been tired for so long by the time she passed.  I choose to remember her that way – beautiful, happy, smiling, free.

And finally I can smile.

The Visit

I drove my father to see his remaining older siblings over the Thanksgiving holiday.  It was a long drive but very much worth it.  Out first stop was Dad’s 93 year old sister.  She is the oldest of them and has been the matriarch of the family since their mother’s death long ago.   It was great to not only see her, but see Dad with her as the two if them had a chance to talk and catch up.

This was the fist time I had the chance to see just the two of them together.  Usually seeing her is reserved for family reunions when many others are around.  I might get a glimpse or two of a conversation between the two of them, but not much more than that.  It was interesting to see the dynamic between these two, and one could defiantly tell that she was the oldest.

It was so sweet to see Dad tell her about what life had been like since Mom’s passing, and her gently saying things to console him.  And then she would give advice as the older and wiser of the two.  One of the things she said has stuck with me.  When Dad was telling her about all the changes in his life – moving twice, learning a new area, figuring life out now as a widower and how much he wished could keep the family compound but it was just too much for him to keep up himself.  She wisely smiled and said  “Yes, but life changes and you must change.”

She lost her husband several years ago and now lives in an assisted living place where she is very happy.  She talked to Dad about how she too had felt the same way but now things are much easier.  That part of her life was over, and she had change too.  She talked about finding comfort in that acceptance. The way she phrased it, with a little smile, it was more poetic than melancholy.  The acceptance of change and going with it. While Dad does not need assisted living, he understood the message.

And indeed there is a beauty in the simplicity.  Life changes.  We must change too. Circumstances and situations change.  Don’t fight it, go with it, ride the wave and go with the current and you will find safe shores.  It happens all the time – we get a new job, move to a new place, start a new relationship, start a family, start a new personal journey.  Our lives are spent adapting to life’s changes.  And life is beautiful.

Life may never be the same, and it is not always easy.  But what we need is often just on the other side of change. The change of seasons brings the colors of the leaves, and we can choose to celebrate the beauty. Little did my aunt know that she was giving advice to me too.  Or maybe is all her years and wisdom, she knew. Maybe what was in that smile was knowing she was giving advice to two during the visit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Glamorous Life

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. – Ernest Hemingway

One of the things I have heard over and over in writing is write what you know; write from the heart.  And I do believe in this when it comes to not only my writing, but others as well.  I write for myself, because these things must come out.  I write because it is in my soul.

Recently my writing has not been glamorous. It has been about pain and grief and confusion and finding your way. Because right now, in this moment, that is what I know.  And that is the thing about life, many times it isn’t glamorous. Many times we are just trying to get through it the best we can.  And those bad times do not last.  Whatever it is, it will not be like this 10 year from now, or 5 years, or 1 year or even 6 months from now.

This space, this pen on paper or words on the screen, is a safe and cathartic place. So it pours out of me in all of it’s raw, unglamorous and unpolished glory.

Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader – not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon. – E. L. Doctorow

When you write from the heart, others will connect with it.  Because you cannot hide the emotion or passion. Or comes out not only in the words, but in the flow and rhythm of the writing.  It cannot be faked or taught.  It just is. And to me, as a writer, that part of the process is sacred.

The best compliment anyone could give me is that my writing made them feel something, made them think. Because the glamorous life is wonderful, but cannot be sustained. We all love to read about exotic travels and adventures. I hope to have some soon. But sometimes real life gets in the way.  Real emotion.

I never understood how the holidays could possibly be a hard time for anyone. It is such a festive happy time.  A time of celebration, giving, and family.  But now after suffering loss, I do understand.  While I still love the holidays, there is an acute awareness now of all those who not with me.  Next year will not be as hard.

No one promised us an easy life, and there will always be tough times here and there.  The secret is reaching deep down into yourself.  It’s about tapping the joy and strength that is  within, where the soul meets the heart.

It is about finding what inspires you, even when it is dark inside.

And it is about being still and listening to the whisper of God’s voice.  At least it is for me.

So it’s not glamorous right now.  But it is real and it is what I know and it is from the heart.  And the heart, no matter how ragged, never looses it’s shine.

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. – Benjamin Franklin