Sunday, April 19, 2020


Don't talk about your grief.

Don't talk about your grief.

Don't talk about your grief.

This in my inner monologue when someone asks how I am.

Don't talk about your grief.

Don't talk about your grief. 


0% of the population wants to know that you feel so incredibly grieved that there aren't adequate words in the English dictionary.  No one knows what to say.  Nothing can be done anyway.  Talking about grief is futile.  Literally nothing comes from it. 

No one wants to hear that I miss Goose so much that thinking of him suffocates me.  I drown in it constantly.  I parked next to a truck that was almost identical to his last week when I picked up my dinner.  I just sat there for 20 minutes.  It was indescribable.  I have never, in my near 42 years on Earth, ever felt so devastated over losing someone as I have for him. 

No one wants to hear that I miss my step dad so much.  That I feel such tremendous guilt.   It's like water.  It takes the shape of every vessel that will hold it.  It finds every single crack and fissure.  I read through his medical records.  I got to the end.  I got to his code sheet.  I can only imagine his final thoughts.  Where do I put that now?  How?  HOW do I close my eyes again and not envision it? I can't tell anyone.  This must be borne alone.  You cannot pass this intimate knowledge to anyone else who loved him. 

Don't talk about your grief.

Go to the desk and plot out your next project.  Overwhelm yourself with work because then you can't hear yourself think.  You can push it aside because you have a mission.  This is your bandage.  This is how you patch up a gaping hole.  You busy yourself until enough time passes that it's manageable.  But I've worked and dodged and dodged and worked and I still can't. 

Because I work so much that I exhaust myself so that I can crash from the weight of all of the projects.  I'll sleep better if I'm so tired that I can't keep my eyes open. 

Only, when my eyes are shut my brain creates beautiful scenes where I hear Goose's voice and see his face and he cares.  And I can walk into Gavril's apartment door and he's laying on the couch with his bible in his hand and he is smiling that famous, huge smile.  I wake up because I know it's not real.  Then I wake up with those sounds and images and  it's torture. 

Don't talk about your grief. 

There's a fucking pandemic.  And I'm crying over a not relationship and a dead stepfather.  This is ridiculous.  The world has bigger problems.  So I do what I can to help.  So much so that I forgot Gavril's birthday.  Now I feel guilty because I didn't make a cake or toast to his name or honor it in some way.  I couldn't figure out why that date kept sticking in my head.  When I figured it out, 3 days too late, I hated myself.  He's in my living room, on a shelf, in a pathetic black box.  I can't go sit in there right now.  Don't talk about your guilt.

Don't talk about your grief. 

Facebook isn't the place to air your dirty laundry - according to a bunch of know it all's who have support systems.  You have your husbands and friends and mom's and dad's.  My therapist is closed because of the pandemic.  My friends don't have money or security.  I have both.  SO DON'T TALK ABOUT YOUR GRIEF. 

Don't talk about your grief.

But, everyone is there for you if you'd just ask.  Tell people you're fighting to get out of your bed every day again.  Reach out.  I'm here for you.  We're all here for you.  Just don't talk about your grief. 

It's okay to be on medication.  But my doctor's office is overwhelmed and there's a line.  And, I can manage a week or so without my antidepressants, right?  As I type with unrelenting tears and a monstrous need to go lay in bed again.  Forever.  Just don't talk about your grief. 

Don't talk about your grief.  DON'T FUCKING TALK ABOUT YOUR GRIEF. 

It's trivial.  Don't you know that so many things are going on?  Where are your fucking priorities?  There are sick people.  Your friends are out of work.  And your pathetic ass is crying about a guy who didn't give a fuck about you and a dead step father that no one knew you had anyway.  So don't talk about your grief. 

Work 40 hours.  Help 3 kids with school work.  Run a business until your fingers bleed.  Be there for your friends and if you can't then the least you can do is not talk about your grief. 

They will think you aren't okay.  They'll tell you to count your many blessings.  You'll get annoyed because you are okay.  You just aren't always.  And you are usually okay because you have counted your many blessings.  Then they won't talk to you again for a while until they think the coast is clear and we can go back to memes and jokes or cats.  And you don't talk about your grief. And you'll be hurt because you just needed to cry but now you've made it weird.  You can't explain that you're simultaneously holding the world up by yourself and being completely crushed at the same time. 

It's all okay, as long as you don't talk about your grief. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Seems Like It's Been Forever That You've Been Gone

I don’t remember the exact moment or what day it was when I lost myself.  Was it before? Was it during? I’m sure if I retrace my steps I’ll find it.  But it’s a waste of time, to a degree. Looking back on the last 4.5 years or so I can see the mile markers now. 

I’d been through a hell that I don’t think I fully recovered from.  In spite of myself and outward actions of vomit mimicry and an occasional (constant) hex or hiss - I am a hopeless, deep, thorough romantic.  I believe in love at first sight and waltzes in the kitchen while making dinner. I believe in giving your heart so fully to another person that your outlines start to blur (but simultaneously enjoying separate interests).  I believe in love so deep that flaws and quirks are parts of a whole person and you love them unconditionally and unwaveringly. I believe that you love someone how they need to be loved, not how you want to be loved. That means that every up, down, fall, setback, hurdle, accomplishment, stressor, success - every thing is supported unequivocally.  You want to become a race car driver? What do WE have to do to get you there? You want to go back to school? I’ll hold it down while you study or quiz you on whatever it is you’re working on today. Teammates, tag team, crutch, shoulder, partners - I helplessly believe in all of it. I shudder at it because that means giving over complete vulnerability to someone else and trusting them with every cell in your body.  And that, my friends, instills debilitating fear in my normally fearless soul. That is giving someone total power to annihilate you and hoping with all that you are that they don’t.  

I minimized who I was because I so wanted those things.  I settled for things because I justified it as “I can’t realistically expect someone to see past my previous broken relationships and the ‘baggage’ of children.”  Logically, at the time, I’m not exactly a catch. I was pushing 40, I’d been married twice, and I have 4 kids. Anyone who wants me is probably fucked up. I sold myself short.  But I did it because I was blinded by affection, attention, loyalty, and love. I consider myself an intelligent being. But I get straight up STUPID when it comes to those things.  If my mom was alive, she’d tell me because I’m a Taurus and ruled by Venus. Seriously, I have no vices or addictions. I have never had an addictive personality. Love is my heroin.  Once I succumb to it - that’s it. My brain is fucking gone. And I want so desperately to feel that with someone I will ignore each and every red flag and find a way to justify it and empathize.  I will look for the good in every situation and sometimes that is my Achilles Heel.  

So, when my music tastes were not shared - I didn’t hesitate to change the station before I was finished listening to that song.  If the show I was watching wasn’t a mutual like - I had no problem turning it off and handing over the remote even though I was still watching that.  When I started to put on some weight from recovery and got a bit bigger than I was when we met - well, I can handle dropping a few pounds. When the outfit I was wearing didn’t match (it’s my thing, I don’t like matching!) I would quietly go upstairs and change.  It didn’t matter to me if that breakfast request was going to take 3 hours of prep - I loved you. You had a long day and didn’t want to hear me - I can wait because I’m sure my day would just bore you anyway. Oh, the kids are too loud so I can just send them to grandma’s.  Your dad is an asshole, so I will go ahead and run interference for you. Things went bad with your ex and kid, let me take that fight for you because you work hard and it’s too much. Sure, I’ll cover all of the bills with my check - they’re my kids and it’s my responsibility to cover their expenses.  I’m not big on shopping or buying things for myself anyway and I’m a penny pincher on top of that so it won’t bother me. I can just stop talking, or feeling, or expressing, or being - Because I can handle that better than you can cope with me doing. It’s easier to change who I am entirely than for you to accept me for who I am.  My accomplishments were merely the result of the direction of someone else. The talent that I have in my two hands and my artistic ability - I owe to someone else and they are not mine. I wouldn’t have done what I did without the strict instruction of someone else.

There were times I drew the line - I will not quit my volunteer gigs or my business to focus on chores or maintaining a household.  I held on to that part of me. I think it’s what got me through the day. Then I had a breast lump and swollen nodes that couldn’t be explained.  I walked into appointments alone because work schedules clashed and my appointments were early. I was always used to doing those things alone - this wasn’t different.  I mean, I spent an entire pregnancy and had a baby alone, so this is a cakewalk. Only, it wasn’t. I was breaking inside. But I thought that if I just loved a little more, a little harder - I’d get all those things I was looking for.  They never came. And then the dam broke. He crumbled under the weight of all the things that I tried to shoulder for him. Unfortunately, it was at my child’s expense. Then it was at our marriage’s expense. I turned to my loyal friend - Anorexia.  Then I broke. I was sick and everything I touched turned to shit in my hands. I found something that I longed for but sick me can’t make rational decisions.  

All the things that were promised were broken.  That professed love and adoration was poured into a younger vessel that he worked with.  Every person in my life replaced me with something or someone else. Work, volunteering, friends….. I was worthless and expendable.  This is not where I wanted to be. And, this was all my fault. This was both implied by me and expressed by others. My fears were all validated.  No one wants a 40 year old woman who’s “been around the block.” “Those guys just see you as an easy target.” “I am all that you will ever get.” For a while, I bought into it hook, line, and sinker.  

I quit Anorexia.  I had to pull it together.  If I’m ever going to find what I was looking for again, I cannot be like this when it comes.  My thought processes CANNOT include withering away to nothing as a means to resolve conflicts.  I cannot accept responsibility for every single thing in another person’s life. I will not assume blame for things that happened before I even got in the room just because I tried to help fix it.  Not everything is my fault or responsibility. I’ll help get you through the tough stuff. I’ll be supportive and have your back - but in the end, your shit is your shit. I’m cleaning up my own mess and not asking anyone to make it all go away.  

I changed who I was for someone else to love me and they didn’t love me.  I sold myself out and lost anyway. I think that was the hardest realization to accept.  I lost anyway. The last 9 have been about me finding my worth. Maybe I never really knew what that was before. I do now though, more than I ever have. I have to teach my children that love is not fundamentally changing who they are, it's not making someone fit your mold, it's not following them, tracking their calls, cutting off their communication with friends or family, it's not diminishing someone or being threatened by their successes, making someone bear your burdens, or threatening suicide if they want to leave. Or vice versa. If someone wants to leave you, you let them go.

It's been a hell of a ride. Hopefully, it's almost over.

They Say It's Your Birthday!

My hand felt so small in his.  He led me from the car to the grassy spot next to the pond.  He'd have a paper sack filled with fries in the other hand.  She'd take a seat on the concrete bench a few feet away.  No sooner than we got there, we'd be approached from all sides by dozens of hungry ducks.  They knew we had food.  They knew it was for them.  I'd drop fries in the pond and wait for large fish with big mouths to swallow them up.  I remember being so excited.   He'd go sit next to her and they'd talk about their day while I spent my starchy currency on giggles with feathery fowl.

Sitting on that bench now seemed so distant from that memory.  But I still felt so small.  This time, older and wiser, I didn't feed the three ducks that approached me.  I did take their photo but we didn't interact.  Those people are so far away, this old cemetery is my version of connecting with them.  And, because it's also a cemetery, it was perfectly acceptable to sob uncontrollably while talking to people who weren't there.  No one looked concerned.  I let the tears flow and was uninterrupted.  I thanked them for leading me here.  I hate it when people try to comfort me.  Sometimes, I just want to be sad and I want to feel it.  But being an orphan crying for your dead parents makes others uncomfortable.  They want you to stop. Either because they don't know how to react or they don't want to face that their fates will someday be the same.  Or, it's just awkward.

Sitting in a cemetery, having a meal, taking a stroll, taking photos, walking, giggling, smiling, feeding ducks - those are usually met with sour looks or shock and disbelief.  Or accusations of morbidity.  For me, it's just how it was.  It was and is natural.  My mom introduced me to the practice of picnics in cemeteries.  Later, when I became a volunteer for that same cemetery I learned how normal the idea really was.   learned that so many others share the idea that cemeteries aren't "dark" at all.  That cemetery has been a part of my life since I was still in the low end of the single digits.  And, I hope it always will be.

I took a drive through and stopped at all of our favorite places.  Johnny, Stickle, McMillin... Angels made from various stones for myriads of reasons are people to me.  Each place brought different memories.  This tour was different.  It felt different.  I started in the spot I shared with my parents and ended in the spot where I wed my favorite person.

I left and headed to get some fryer fresh donuts.  I passed where she worked even though the building she worked in has been replaced.  I went down Brown Street where I walked with my friends and brought the Oldest to buy video games.  Drove past my old haunts.  The feeling of being connected again was cathartic.  It was necessary.  It was where I grew up.  And, on the eve of my 40th Birthday, it just seemed right.

It got kind of late.  I got in my new-to-me car (a gift of debt to myself) and started to drive home.  There were 3 ways I could have taken.  The route she always drove, the highway, or the road less traveled.  I chose the highway, to get home faster.  Instead, I took a wrong turn and took the route I needed the most.  Soon, I was driving by places that I had forgotten with memories deep in my brain.  They all lit up like Christmas as I rolled past each one.  The Keyhole restaurant that served delicious bread and had Monkeys dressed like famous people on the wall.  Their old house on Salem.  The hospital where I had my Oldest and Youngest sons.  The store where we used to buy chicken.  Hara Arena where I shared oxygen and a roof with Kurt Cobain, Chris Cornell, Dimebag Darrell, Jeff Henneman, Trent Reznor, White Zombie, The Breeders.... so many other bands that I can't remember at the moment.  I shared those moments with friends who are traveling among the stars now.  I drove past my first apartment, my first home, my old doctor, our dentist, our store.  All these memories overcame me.  That accidental wrong turn was really a much needed sprint through Memory Lane.  (Thanks Mom)

The vast gratitude that I have for every single moment - it's powerful.  How lucky I am that life has taken then turns it's taken.  Even the excruciating days.  I'm grateful for every hardship, every tear, every tragedy.  Just as I am grateful for every smile.  I have seen so much and there is still so much left. 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Mick "Feisty" O'Malley

He sat there, snuggled into the corner of the box opposite his brother in May of 2000.  He was teensy tiny.  Their mother had been hit by a car and died a short few weeks after birthing them.  Seeing them, I instantly melted.  Losing his mother so soon didn't bode well for the runt of the litter.  No one expected him to live.  No one expected much of anything from him.  Even I didn't expect what came from this precious kitten.

His days were spent playing "King of the Chair" with his bigger brother and another rescue that we took in.  He was named for Mick Foley, the hardcore wrestling legend.  He fought spots on the wall, the vacuum cleaner, and feet.  He attacked me in my sleep and nestled himself in my hair to catch his own zzz's.  He really was the smartest of them all.  And the most loving.

A few months in, my landlord decided that cats were a "no".  So, we had to re-home all 3.  Mick went to live back at home with my little sister and parents.  Our dad always proclaimed his undying hatred for cats and dogs.  Which was ironic because we always had so many.  He secretly loved them.  I would walk into my parents home and find Mick relaxing on my dad's lap.  My dad would make an elaborate scene where he pretended like he didn't know the cat was there and put him on the floor.  Much to Mick's confusion and chagrin.  Eventually, my dad confessed that Mick was the best cat he'd ever known.

Shortly after Mick's first birthday, my 'ma passed away.  I moved back home to care for everyone and I was reunited with my Mick.  But my dad decided to sell the family home and move to an apartment down the road.  Mick was none too happy with this decision (much like the rest of us).  He took matters into his own paws and walked back to our house.  Somewhere along the path, he became entangled in a fox trap.  He was found by house painters with the trap on his foot.  They, in turn, called the police and the humane society came to get him.  They removed the trap and boarded him.  When he didn't return home, my sister knew something was amiss.  She insisted upon finding him.  Miraculously, they did.  However, the paw was in serious pain.  He had become infected.  So, the week of Thanksgiving, he had his toes amputated.

We changed his bandages.  I'd hold him down and tell him how much I loved him and how we were just trying to help when he'd fight.  He'd calm and let us work.  Sadly, the infection had traveled too far.  He had to have his entire leg removed or die.  At 1, he lost one of his back legs.  For months he was depressed.  His playful self had been tamed.  He didn't do much of anything.  My dad and youngest sister moved away and Mick went with them.  Within months, my dad was gone.  His last days were spent with Mick on his lap.

Mick got bounced around but went wherever my sister went.  He befriended a kitten, Sally, who was missing an eye.  They looked so much alike.  He took her under his wing.  Of course, stability isn't anything our family has ever known.  My sister was living with my aunt and was forced to let go of her pets.  Mick came back to live with me again.  By then, The Middle Son was a baby.  Mick adapted to the household and the move well.  He was always there.  Crapping in my dryer or the bathtub in the winter and spending summer days and nights catching whatever was slower than him.  His feisty side was always there.

Mick was a formidable hunter in spite of the missing leg.  Once, he took care of a pesky rodent that The Oldest kept in a cage in his bedroom.  You can never get the visual of finding half of a hamster in a cage out of your mind.  Really.  You can't.  It's upsetting.  Another time, he caught a rabbit and let it loose in our living room - still alive.  Mostly, he would bring us mice or moles or bugs.  Sometimes he would eat them whole and puke them back up on the floor.  Cat ownership is pretty awesome.

He got very sick once right before I had The Youngest Boy.  I remember begging him to eat something.  He just laid on my bed, uneating, unmoving.  I resorted to force feeding him.  The thought of losing him physically hurt.  He bounced back, though.  He never left the immediate parameter of the house, no matter where we lived.  The Oldest and I think that losing his leg so early in life saved him.  He always stuck close to home after that.

He was kind of an asshole.  Knocking water over onto guests.  Attacking my feet while I slept.  Sleeping on my face.  Barging into my bedroom every night.  Stealing the last piece of bacon.  Demanding to go outside but not actually going outside.  Begging to get in the front door so that he could immediately go to the back door to get out.  Like walking around the house was a chore.  He wouldn't kill the mice in our garage.  Pee on every bathmat I ever owned.  Puke everywhere on everything on everyone.  Finished my hot fudge sundaes.  Beat the shit out of bottle caps.  Knocked down every cup in the house.  Peed on my house slippers.  Peed on kids' back packs.  Ordered $667 worth of Hello Kitty memorabilia on Amazon.

He was also gentle and loving.  If you were sad - he would comfort you.  He'd come right up to you and rub your face with his head.  He'd nudge you.  He would let you hold him.  He'd snuggle you at just the right time.  Like he understood that your tears meant that you were hurting and he knew to love on you.  If you were sick, he'd bring you chicken soup for your soul in the form of purrs and pats.  He loved popcorn and potato chips.  He loved ice cream and whatever you were drinking.

When we made our move to our current home 3 years ago, he moved in with The Oldest in his room.  Peas in a pod, they were.  They began speaking the same language.  The Oldest knew when Mick needed something.  They had a very regimented routine.  The Oldest gave Mick his all.  They kept each other company.  They were best friends.

In the last year, his age started to catch up with him.  The last several autumns he'd get really sick and I'd think it was the end.  It wasn't.  But, he wasn't bouncing back like he used to.  Last summer, some jerk of a kid hurt his back leg.  We thought for sure it was the end.  I put him in cat diapers just to try to do something.  Back then, I thought it was the end.  He pulled through, in true Mick fashion.

Trips down to his basement were too painful.  He moved upstairs, onto a heater vent, to warm his bones.  He'd sun himself under the tree or in the flower bed.  He loved the outside during the summer.  Eventually, he stopped trying to catch everything.  He began to watch the wildlife around him.  I'd come home from work and he'd get up from whatever spot he'd found and come in with me.  He'd wrap around my legs and I'd yell that he was trying to kill me.

He'd had several near death, close calls in the last few months.  He got so sick that I'd made "THE" appointment.  I'd sobbed on him the whole night before, praying for more time.  On our way out the door, I noticed an area on his leg and touched it.  He bit me.  Minutes before being euthanized in March, we discovered an injury from fighting a raccoon.  He missed death again.  The infection was stubborn though.  More stubborn than we thought.

His face swelled and wounds at his neck seeped.  The vet said that he didn't back down - since the injury was to the front of him, it meant that he put up a hell of a fight.  The infection overcame him though.

I came home from work early to find him comatose on his spot on the couch.  The Oldest took him out under his tree for the last time while I called our vet.  Together, we carried his limp little body in for the last time.  We hugged him and rubbed his head and told him that we loved him.  We held him until his purrs stopped.  He hobbled along Rainbow Bridge.  He took my heart with him.

17 years is a long lifetime for a cat but it wasn't enough.  Especially the little one that no one expected to survive.  He used all 9 of his lives, and then some.  He made every single day better.  It's been 3 weeks now and the pain in our hearts is still very raw.  He's home now, in a box on the shelf.  Next week, we are taking part of his cremains to my dad so that they can be together.

He wasn't just a cat.  He was never just a cat.  He was a small little furry person with a loving soul and hilarious personality.

Until we meet again key, I love you.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Parents Just Don't Understand

My youngest son started playing for a local, recreational soccer league when he was in Kindergarten.  He's ending 4th grade this year.  He has been a winner (undefeated season - yay Grasshoppers!) and a loser.  He's played with a ruptured appendix (DOCTOR APPROVED - and I have proof!)  2 seasons a year since Spring of 2013.  That's a lot of soccer!  He learned so much and gave his best every time.

2 years ago, we got a call from his coach and that was pretty much the only contact we had with her.  She either didn't show up for practice, didn't tell us where practice was, or came for the last 10 minutes of the session.  And parents just stood there watching their kids kick a ball around, waiting.   I made some calls because this was unacceptable.  The division coordinator told me to step up.  So I did.  I'm not a soccer laureate and never will be.  But, I decided that doing my best was better than nothing at all.  8 little boys were watching.

Those few weeks were so hard!  I had no clue what I was doing.  I stayed up all night reading rule books, looking up drills, working playbooks.  I didn't want to let them down.  They were a great set.  I know one, in particular, is going to be in the newspapers someday.  We lost like crazy though.  There was so much. politically speaking, that I didn't know was a thing.  Like - other coaches will purposely play more men on the field when they know that your team is short but also better.  Or one coach lady that insisted on being an asshole at every opportunity.  And for what?  She won't be accepting any World Cups. Some refs are rude and on power trips.  The only thing they can do for jollies is be mean to a bunch of little kids and unpaid volunteers.  I also learned that adults really do ruin everything.  Listening to moms belittle their 8 year old boys on the field.  It broke my heart.

Somehow, I'd always end up with the short team or the team where another coach accidentally took 2 of my players.  I met a lot of boys with enormous hearts.  There's one set, my Fall 2016 set, that will forever be my all time favorite set.  No offense to any of my other kids.  But this set had this electric chemistry.  They were HILARIOUS.  Practices were a blast.  They were kind - to each other, to other opposing teams, and to me.  They took all things in stride.  One little guy broke his arm and couldn't play the first few games.  He never missed a practice or a game - even in the rain.  He still supported his team.

After 4 seasons - this last group broke me.  The kids are awesome.  They aren't the problem.  The first game, a woman didn't know she was sitting next to my husband and started gossiping about me and my parents' business.  My parents have been dead for 16 years.  I worked in their store when my dad was diagnosed with cancer.  I left my printing career to help them.  And 18 years later some parent is talking shit about it at the soccer field next to my husband and kids.  The next game - a dad started saying awful shit to my kid during a game.  Did I mention that these parents are parents for MY team?  They didn't realize that I was/am friends with everyone they were sitting around because I have coached many of their kids.  I asked the dad, and anyone else who wanted to shit talk on the sidelines, to step up.  Show up to a practice.  Help me coach.  Not a single one bit.

But this week was the final straw.  Another dad was yelling during a game.  He was yelling so loudly that he got into it with another parent from the other team.  Parents from our own team were upset with it.  What's worse is that the boys on the field stopped looking at/listening for me because he is so much louder.  Thanks dude.  Thanks for not stepping up when I needed help and only running your mouth when it was show time.  The Board asked him to stop.  I asked him to stop.  He refuses to listen.  His inability to control his mouth is more important.  He is ruining a game for boys under 12.  Including mine.  I'm not just a coach - I'm the mom to one of these kids.  Young men need role models - not more yelling.  One of these guys is a teacher at a special school.  Not for kids with special needs.  Extra smart kids.  Not Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters.  When I mentioned that I work in a foster care agency, he assured me that none of our "riff raff" would qualify to go to his school as they have an application process that weeds out kids like ours.

I have 2 jobs.  I work for a foster care agency where I put in as much of my brain as I can to help improve lives of kids I'll never meet.  I try to do a small part to help the office run smoothly.  I'm a small cog in a beautiful machine.  As an abuse survivor, I do have an understanding of what they have gone through.  My second job, as a paralegal, is something I picked up again to help an old friend.  Honestly, I do not *need* to work.  I'm fortunate to not be struggling anymore.  But, my friend needed me and I get to work from home for him.  So, I don't miss out on time with my kids.  I have a business that is finally flourishing!  Business is at a nice, steady pace and I'm doing what I love.  I volunteer in my daughter's class.  I help her teacher with whatever she needs.  I helped at lunch.  I help with parties.  I help wherever my hands will be useful.  I volunteer at The Middle Child's school.  I get to listen to history projects and speeches.  His teachers are phenomenal.  Recently, I became affiliated with an organization that dresses up as super heroes for charity events.  I get to be Wonder Woman!  Yesterday, I attended an event in honor of cancer victims and survivors - some were not even 3 years old yet.  So, yes, I did the Chicken Dance as Wonder Woman for charity.  I still teach the world about my hometown via a local cemetery that homes some pretty big names in innovation.  Not only that but I am actually a mom to 5 really great kids.

I come from a long line of volunteers.  Their obituaries read like novels.  Their work impacted hundreds of thousands.  I want so much to take the life I was given and do something meaningful with it.  I wanted to show my kids that "I can't" isn't a thing.  I took hours out of my week, away from my own children, to coach 10 more boys.  And, my thanks is some guy who can't shut up.  We are always going to be met with opposition.  That's not a reason to give up.  But sometimes it is a reminder that you can do good somewhere else.  So, I'm packing up the cleats, the nets, the cones, and my megaphone.  The Youngest Boy is boxing up his jersey collection and his shin guards after our final game today.  We're off to our next adventures.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Disposable Teens

Another member of my pack passed on, just before Christmas.

Ron was the glue.  Most every event that ever happened in the history of all the things - he was the integral part.  Whether he drove us there or provided the party location - he was the key.

I met Ron on a chilly September Friday night.  Thinking on it, I can still feel that moment.  I feel the crispness of the air.  I can smell the Fall.  I remember that I was wearing a black shirt and black pants with black combat boots.  My hair was in a pony tail to show off my 1993 undercut.  He walked in - in all of his 6'4" intimidation.  He was wearing black jeans and a black and purple windbreaker.  Ron was a huge guy.  Like, seriously huge.  He wasn't just on the football team - he was the football team.  He was 18, the oldest of us all.  He was so quiet.  And so much the opposite of his exterior.

I'm blessed enough to have this initial encounter immortalized on video tape.  That night changed my entire existence.  That night I found my family.  From that night forward we convened in my bedroom or in Ron's van or at his house.  He had this cat, Garfield, that probably saw more than the average cat would or should ever see.  His whole bedroom was this phenomenal mural of Star Wars.  It was commissioned by his father who passed away just before we met.  He was truly a geek in the most exquisite of ways.  He tore through books and could quote just about any poet and philosopher.  He refused every offer of alcohol even though he'd procure it.  He'd deny any hit from a bowl or bong.  He'd push away the cigarettes.

He was so kind and gentle.  He showered us with lavish (in teen terms) gifts filled with great thought and deliberation.  I wish I could find the necklace he got me.  It was Egyptian styled - blacks and golds.  He was one man that could make the most hilarious of euphemisms for masturbation (Robin and the Batpole was the best) and still have the taste of a gentleman.  He was so shy and reserved... at first.  He was a puzzle that you either wanted to figure out or leave completely alone.  I loved him instantly.

He'd take us to concerts - Pantera, White Zombie, The Breeders, Slayer, Tool - And because of his size, he'd let me sit on his shoulders so that I could see the stage as I was so small.  Once, I got totally shitfaced drunk on ridiculous amounts of Mad Dog and I took my clothes off.  Gently and carefully, he covered me up and protected me.  A lessor man would have taken advantage.  For his chivalry, I planted on him his first, grape flavored, french kiss.  He was classy enough to not speak of it again.  He was the first man that I'd ever feel safe next to.

Eventually, his resistance to alcohol gave.  And slowly behind it came the pot.  And cocaine followed.  He got into several car accidents where I worried that I'd never see him again.  Now, that moment has arrived.  I can remember walking behind him through The Narrows Pet Cemetery, leaves rustling under our feet.  I remember thinking that it'd take a force of epic proportion to take him down.  And it has.

My heart hurts so much.  Similar to the way that it did when Steve passed earlier.  I can feel the lump in my throat climbing and tears are waiting for more opportune moments to break free.  My dear friend is gone.

And these are the moments where time hasn't passed.  I don't care how many years it's been.  He was still in here - in my heart, in my soul, in my identity.  He is as much a part of me as I am.  Because we formed each other many years ago.  For some, there was some implied expiration date on this friendship.  A relationship shelf life that I don't believe exists.  If I have once called you a friend - time does not prevail - love does.

I love you Ronald McDonald.  Thank you for being a formative energy in my life.  Thank you for picking me up when I called.  Thank you for giving me a chance.  Thank you for the years we shared in our rooms and cars and homes and beings.  Thank you for being safe.   Thank you for Come As You Are.  Thank you for the big belly laughs and my first hit from a 6 foot gravity bong that required me standing on your bed when I was 17 years old.  Thank you for the trips to Taco Bell.  Thank you for being there for the birth of my first child and for standing at my first wedding.  Thank you for accepting me.  Thank you for allowing me into your life for the time that I was.

I will miss seeing you from time to time and sharing a laugh and memory.  May you fly free from the pains that bound you on Earth.  Someday, I hope many, many years from now - I hope to see you, Ryan, Jason, Bryan, and Steve again.  Maybe hang out like we did for just a minute.

Monday, August 8, 2016

The Long Kiss Goodbye

Light spreads in between the the leaves of the magnolia tree and falls into the kitchen through the window.  A brown, Gucci purse, sat on the side of the table.  The walls needed painted as they bore the tell tale signs of young children.  The chairs were haphazardly spread out.  The remaining paper plates positioned at each seat indicated that tiny hands created lunch.  The tile on the floor was cold from the AC that was running.  They were patterned white squares with overlapping, black diamond shapes.  Some of the doors of the oak cabinets were open, revealing either dishes or non perishables.  The phone on the counter was ringing.  Small voices echoed through the room, ignoring the call on the line.  A man's bellowing exclamations about the, approximate, 100 lights being on as he shut the garage door behind him, drowned out the flowing, girly giggles.  He is carrying a gallon of milk in one hand and a plastic bag of groceries in another.  He reaches for the fridge to store the milk while a little girl tries to inspect the bag for treats.  Another girl appears and they ask, nearly in unison, what he got for them at the store.  A little boy dawdles in, curious about what the girls are doing.

A woman comes in, looking worn out, and asks what he purchased.  He retorts with something sarcastic.  She wants to go out to eat for dinner.  He chooses the restaurant in Lewisburg.  She hates Lewisburg.  She wants to go to Cracker Barrel.  One of the girls chimes in with a vote for Lewisburg.  The other sides with the woman.  He asks if they are all going to go out looking like that.  Now, all 3 ladies join forces to barrage him with hurt looks and whining.  They all go their separate ways and their voices trail off into different directions while they change clothes.  

They reconvene at their starting point.  They have all freshened up and they are all excited.  They haven't decided on a destination.  They argue it while determining which car to take, who gets what seat, and if she's going to be smoking those God Damned cigarettes all the way there.  One by one, they go out the front door, turn right onto the path towards the driveway.  The door closes, their sounds diminish as they approach the green van and pile in, and it backs out onto the street towards the sunset.