Springing from sleep, leaping from the morning covers, and evening slumber, there is hope. Wise-eyed spirit, young and full of possibilities, even in middle age. We find hope in the sunrise, in the successful procedure, in the phone call, the text you never thought you would see again. We have hope when the flowers rise from ashes of winter’s demise, and when the first bird chirps after violent storms. Hope is breath. It’s the first cry of a newborn baby, and the first breath after that dreaded heart attack. Hope mends us, prepares us for another day. Hope is the blood of life, and the life in death. Without hope, we are shells of ourselves. Hope springs from the spirit of love.
I drive your car now, the Cadillac. The very one that I teased you about. I remember saying that you were too young to drive such a car at only 63. ‘Cadillacs were for old people’, I said. I still see them, the clones of your car, and even though I’m in yours, I still look for your burst of blonde and your bright grin. I wait to see how fast you’re going so that I can scold you for your lead foot later. I miss that lead foot.
I fell in love with her a few months after you passed. I made a weekend trip to Nashville and began to truly appreciate her smoothness, her dependability, but most of all- her power. Her power was like butter for my crusty bitter grief, like a soft and sleek lubricant for my blistered mood, and fast couldn’t go fast enough for this used-to-be granny driver. There is something consoling about speeding, something that screams ‘Life is short. Make it count. Feel alive!’. Anything that reminds me of your warm hug, your proud smile, and your glassy eyes that almost never shed a tear have been like blankets I carry along to console me when the world turns cold.
I’ve driven our car now on lots of trips. It carries me well, with lots of room for all of my baggage, warm seats for my cold rump, and lots of nifty compartments still housing your chap stick, your lighter, and your hand cream. You might even say that I’ve accepted this granny car with open arms.
There is a downside to our Cadillac. You’re not in there.
If I go with someone else, and pull back into our parking lot at work and see your pearl white heap of pride, I feel instant giddiness like I did when that car was a beacon of hope because you were inside our office, waiting to direct me, waiting to fill my ears with your laughter, your gossip, or your story about the movie you slept through last night. It’s like that dream that you really wanted to have, only you had to wake up and face the reality of it’s falseness, only to realize your heart was broken again. It’s like being dumped over and over and over and over….
Would I change those memories? Would I erase them from my mind? No way! I carry you with me regardless of whether or not I carry your ‘stuff’ or not. Those things no longer matter to you. I do. I always will. The fact that I’m a mom too tells me that.
So when you’re up there watching only the happiest moments, when your legacy swoops in and fills me with the courage I never summonsed in your lifetime, that’s when I feel you the most. That’s when I know. This is our Cadillac, and yes…you are still driving. 😉
Seven hours of staring at the long and not-so-winding road. Seven hours of listening to the same four CDs, the same sibling arguments, the same milling around for more snacks of blueberries & beef jerky. This was the same seven hours that reminded me of the old game ‘seven minutes in heaven’ that we all remember from our little middle school co-ed parties. The nerves, the anticipation, the imagination getting the best of me, all of that rolled into seven LONG hours of road trip left before we were all back to these dark clouds that have become our life.
It was only this time last year that I was counting my blessings. I couldn’t believe how kind life had been since mom’s passing, how easy everything had seemed. I was entering into a new relationship with the man of my dreams, the one I had ‘ordered’ from the universe itself. I had just spent the weekend becoming Reiki 1 certified, and work was going splendidly down the path of growth and prosperity. I had an assistant who was organized, and quite the initiative taker, and she would be my first assistant ever. I was blessed to have her running the show while I was running the business. I was lucky. Blessed. And I loved every minute of it, all the while feeling that tinge of ‘it can’t last’ that always seems to swoop in and sabotage things. I didn’t order THAT! Or did I?
Fast forward to now. I am still blessed, and still lucky to have the man of my dreams at my side through thick and thin. I am still blessed, and still lucky to have two very healthy boys who I love with everything I am. I am still blessed, and still lucky to have an assistant who knows the company inside and out and gives as much as she can of herself to make things run when I am away. But I am struggling with family issues, past mistakes, poor choices, and silly decisions made during less confident, and less courageous periods of my life. It just goes to show that we can only sweep the junk in our lives under the rug for so long until it starts seeping out of the edges, forming unmercifully into blinding tears at the most inopportune moments of our lives. Generally, it all happens at once too, just like a great big crap-storm from which we are never truly prepared to take cover.
So now that we’re home, and swimming in this flood of muck created by the jaws of strife, it’s almost reassuring to know that if we’re going through THIS NOW, we will be going through much MUCH better stuff later, because that’s how life rolls. And maybe next time that ‘it can’t last’ voice switches on, I will switch it right back off into the great big crap-storm of not-my-problemville where it belongs. Be lucky. Feel blessed. I do. Just because I’m here to write this.
When you know that you’re supposed to be with someone; that there is no one else in the world so perfect for you. When you know that that someone makes you happier than you knew possible. When you sleep more peacefully with that someone than you do alone, because you feel safe, secure, and protected for once. That’s when it’s easy to become frustrated with circumstances, but that’s also when you know, that as long as it takes, and as long as you need to wait, you absolutely will.
As a single mom of two wonderful boys, I find myself frustrated almost every Friday night. My boyfriend and I had 6 months of every other weekend spent together, bonding, getting to know each other, exploring cities and cultures together. But in light of current circumstances, i.e. one of the dads cannot be trusted to keep my child, we have had to put our ‘alone together’ time on hold. There was no question about that. His safety/ happiness is first.
Where does that leave us – two star-crossed lovers, crazy about each other, and always wanting more? Well, it leaves us in the hands of Faith. Like everything else leading up to ‘us’, this time just makes us appreciate one another more; makes us enjoy time alone together exponentially more, and gives us time to fantasize and daydream about how we want our lives to be…until that fantasy becomes a reality.
Love isn’t ever perfect. There are always obstacles, challenges, and battles. But when you find you’re one, the peace sets in, and God whispers gently ‘I got this’. The amazing thing is that he truly does. As for ‘mine and me’, I don’t ever question that. God has been in this relationship the entire time. There has never been just HE and I, and that is how I KNOW this is forever.
The sun is popping out of its long and frozen hibernation like a kernel of corn, transforming into yummy popcorn goodness. It’s not stretching. It’s a freebird. It’s sprinting from those guarded gates of winter, like it’s spent the last decade in dark captivity. The sun is inspiring, as are the daffodil blossoms, the small buds of baby growth on branches, and the faces of everyone out enjoying this circus we call life. You find them in parks, stores, coffee shops, hiking trails, restaurants, bars, book stores, and right outside your front door. They are life blossoms.
We are life blossoms. We have hope because of the holy spirit, and we have life because of God – just like the sun, flowers, buds, and even (yes) the popcorn! The miracle of spring is simply this; we know that every year the cold will sneak in, take-over, and eventually begin to smother us in its hopelessness. For a while, we hold onto it like a blanket, until we realize that its more of a grudge than a blanket. Enter our yearning for spring. We remember its splendor, if only vaguely. We reminisce. We dream. We long for the kind of hope that only happens when the Earth starts rousing in her sunrise.
Eventually, the universe grants us our wish through it’s masterful Creator, and we transcend from sorrowful and hopeless has-beens to elated and enthusiastic can-bes. And life is worth it again. It’s a cycle. We can’t appreciate Spring without first experiencing Winter. Not entirely anyway.
This picture was taken almost a year ago. I’ve lost my mom since then, and my boys have grown a combined 7 inches, and 15 shoe sizes. I’ve been through more heartbreak in one year than some go through in a decade. But I’m not complaining. I’m savoring.
Those sorrows have led to a deeper appreciation for life, so much so that Spring lives in my heart now. I don’t need to wait for it. It was in there all along, beneath the cold snow-frozen ground that encapsulated it. I don’t resent the Winter, the coldness, nor the sadness. Underneath it all lies me and the hope that lives in the knowing that life goes on, Love lives within, and Spring has sprung brighter because of the darkness.
The hardest part of saying ‘hi’ is that one day, inevitably, you will have to say goodbye. I was thinking of this the moment that I met my new assistant. I was also thinking this at the beginning of every friendship and relationship I’ve ever experienced. Maybe that means that I am a pessimist. But maybe it just means I see the big picture, and I’m a realist. Whatever it means, it doesn’t mean I’m special, depressed, or crazy. And although it sounds a little negative, it doesn’t mean that I am without hope.
My mom said goodbye to my father when he took his last breath. My stepfather and I said goodbye to my mom as she took her last gasp of life. Goodbyes are as much a part of hello as life is to death, light is to dark, and happiness is to sorrow. Without question, goodbyes are the hardest part of life.
When a mom takes her child into his first day of Kindergarten, when she helps him move into his dorm, when she watches as he takes vows to his wife, these are all goodbyes that build up to the biggest goodbye of all; the one where hello never happens again. When the first frost seals the earth under ice, or the last leaf falls to the ground, there are more goodbyes that will eventually lead to more hellos. Each season, each person, each relationship, each friendship, each day, each moment has its own beginning and its own end. In life, the hardest part is the endings, the final chapters, the changes, the breaking of hearts, and the loss of hope that ultimately leads to new beginnings, and new hopes.
I like to think of us as trees in this way. My freshman year of high school, our English teacher gave us the assignment of writing from the perspective of a tree of our choice. In retrospect, I could’ve been a smartass and written ‘ouch’ on the sheet of paper, I guess. But instead, I chose to be a cactus. I thought that was a clever choice. I mean, being a cactus has its advantages if you really think about it. It’s self-contained and independent, requiring very little rain, low maintenance, a tiny amount of moisture, and almost no nutrients. Yet it thrives in a barren desert, with only a few companions. It also has the built in protection of thistles; pokey little reminders that to get close, one could get hurt. It protects itself from strangers trying to uproot it from its comfort zone. But a cactus is lonely. And in my older age, I would choose differently, no matter how much I would like to believe I can fly solo and be just fine.
Today I would choose to be something more like an Oak. Oaks have rings, which is how scientists gauge their ages. Rings are subtle reminders of beginnings and endings, like wrinkles. Forest fires bring death so that birth can transcend goodbyes and lead to more hellos.
What I’ve learned from so many goodbyes is that I can’t lie down in an attempt to avoid the hellos. Every goodbye builds character. I heard someone say this once. If this is true, many of us have more character than we know how to handle. And that is okay. At the point in our lives where we say our final goodbyes, we will hopefully be able to look around the room and see all the many hellos we’ve had throughout life. Those give us full lives. They are the very reason it’s hard to let go, but they’re also the very reason we kept fighting against this goodbye. They are the ones that keep living with the memories of that first hello when we entered their lives.
No matter how bad the pain that followed the farewells, each life enriches us, teaches us, builds and wrinkles us into fulfillment. So in a sense, the hardest part is also the most satisfying, the most beautiful, but also the most meaningful.
We will all be uprooted eventually, but the rings tell our stories, and the other ‘trees’ get to tell those, so that they too can share the legacy of hello and goodbye. Life goes on, until it doesn’t, but it’s the growth that measures and defines us in the end.
As we drove under the overpass where she jumped to her death, I could almost hear her thoughts.
There’s too much to overcome. It’s not worth it. There’s no way this pain will go away. Ever. This is the easiest hard way out I know, and it’s the only way to be sure that I won’t have to face these demons anymore.
So many deaths, so little understanding of what goes through their minds. I have personally known at least four people that have taken their own lives. This one is a girl I did not know. But it’s easy enough to get wrapped up in the wondering and the questions when her face and moments of her life are plastered all over Facebook for us all to see. Her life is quite literally flashing before our own eyes. There was no note, and no one offers an explanation as to why she felt that she could not go on. Maybe that knowledge alone is what she brought with her on that fateful and fatal night that she decided that giving up was all she could give.
My first experience with suicide was a good friend of mine back in the 6th grade. With his sick sense of humor in tact, he ironically took his life by ‘kicking a bucket’ and hanging himself from his bedroom ceiling. As we later discovered, Glen had a very violent and abusive childhood, and chose to end his life rather than to endure more disappointment and pain from those who were supposed to love and guide him.
The second was my 2nd cousin, who took her life after learning that her husband of 10 years had been having an affair for at least half of those years. And the third was a girl that had just become a close friend weeks before she shot herself. She was a freshman in high school, and she was being molested by her step-father who was a police officer. Her mom denied her daughter’s allegations, and Lisa gave up hope and ended her life cuddled with a teddy bear to silence the shot. The fourth suicide was within the last couple of months, when my friend Kelly shot himself on the side of the road. No one understands that. He was full of humor, smiles, and gratitude for his vocal talent and his children, who were his life.
I can honestly say that there have been many times in my life where I felt as though I could not go on, especially after my dad died when I was in sixth grade. I believe that what has always been a deal breaker for me regarding suicide is my faith. When I think of being created by God in his image, the last thing I truly want to do is destroy myself. Somehow, I think, that I would also be destroying some part of God. I also reflect on how everyone around me would be impacted by my sudden departure. That stops me in my tracks. And of course, as a mom, the thought has never taken any traction whatsoever. I cannot destroy my children, no matter what I face.
Suicide angers me. I have not walked in their shoes, but I have felt their pain in my own flesh and heart, and I know deep inside that there is always tomorrow. And while we are not promised anything in this life, we are promised that if we keep trying, eventually we will understand all the bad stuff. In the rear-view mirror, the bad stuff was only a fleeting sting – like a shot – and the good stuff eventually takes over, if only we give it time…..