Friday, November 26, 2010
What do you say to someone who has just been given one week left to live? Do you say "see you later" (too casual) "Good luck" (too ridiculous) "See you soon" (your hoping NOT to).
Two weeks ago, I went to see my big cousin David. We called him "Big David" b/c he's not only 12 years older than me - but when he was a kid he was BIG and ultimately grew into a BIG man. But, despite his size, he was a gentle giant. He passed away last week to liver (and several other organs) cancer. The irony was that he smoked like a sailor for decades and just days before his death - his own doctor said his lungs sounded fine. No cancer there.
I went to see him (the same day his doctor finally told him to "go home and get comfortable") with several of my other cousins. Although he was sitting up, eating pizza and laughing - he had the look of death in his eyes. You know the way someone looks when they have cancer and are dying. Once you have seen this - you can recognize it time and time again. The cancer slowly depletes all life force, the skin tone, the drive and in time - the will from a persons eyes. It's a robber of the worst kind.
I don't believe in the white gate, a bearded man greeting you with a staff, the angels singing, the grand reunion of everyone we have ever lost skipping together into everlasting life. I think these myths have been past down and twisted into book and story form, generation after generation as a way to give hope to those of us still living. I believe in reincarnation. When we die, I think our spirit frees itself from it's shell, be it old, sick, or damaged and finds a new place to call home. Maybe a California redwood, or maybe a new baby coming into the world once again. None of us have died and actually come back to tell about heaven of the afterlife but anyway.
I sat in front of David and we talked. We talked about old memories I had of him when we were younger. The time he caught me lighting up a cigarette coming out of the movies at 13 but never told my parents, the camping trips, the holiday parties, growing up on Angle Pond. We laughed, and cried a little. I stayed for about and hour then hugged him one last time and said "I love you very much and I'm proud of you". He knew what I meant. He died one week later, exactly as his doctor predicted.
My father says "death is just another phase of life" and although while you are losing someone - these words seems unbearable, unacceptable and too simple for the great emotion one feels at that very moment and often many weeks or months following, it's true. We are born, we live and then we die. If it were only that easy. Just words and actions with nothing attached. I'm 37 and have lost way too many people to this disease. I'm heartsick from saying So Long even though it's just a part of life.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Summer isn't what it used to be. I remember getting off the bus on the last day of school each June and feeling like I had the next "lifetime" off. Now, as an adult - one month simply turns into the next and instead of counting down the days til summer vacation - I'm counting down the months until my full week off. This week, was my week. I should say "our" week. My husband had the week off too. We spent some much needed quality time with the boys (just the 4 of us), took a few fun day trips and enjoyed a few ice cream cones but the joy of summer vacation as an adult doesn't feel the same. When I was a kid - my older cousin Lisa "babysat" my sister and I, and her younger sister Kim - all summer while our parents worked. I say "babysat" very loosely. She was only a few years older than us so we got away with so much more! We'd bribe her for money for the ice cream truck saying "if you don't give us some money, we'll tell that you had boys in the house". She'd fork over a buck for each of us! We were lucky enough to have a pool in the backyard so all of the neighborhood kids would hang out with us from about 9 am until the sun went down. Swimming, climbing trees, eating junk food and riding bikes. I miss that. Not that I miss those days for myself - but I miss them for Cooper & Wyatt. The trust in the neighborhood is gone. The ability to let our children go free and expect them to come back at dinner - is gone. Life was different back then. Life before 80 SPF's, solar swim shirts, bike helmets and bottled water. We survived on eating in the shade, freezer pops and skinned knees. We'd fall, we'd cry - we'd keep playing. And without sounding like an old woman saying "way back when I was your age".... I have to say - there is so much I miss about that life I once knew. It was a life I loved.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Kids say the funniest things. When I say "funny" - I mean absolutely gut-wrenching hysterical. Around the time I pregnant with my second son - my first son Cooper was three, almost four. He was beginning to read all the signs he saw from the back seat of the car. "McDonald's".... "Pizza Hut"...."Home Depot". One day we passed the sign for "Toys R Us". I said "Cooper - what does that big one say?".... and of course he knew - "Toys R Us". A few minutes later he said "but toys aren't us, they're toys". How smart, and true! Then, there was the time I was soaking in the bathtub (about 8 months pregnant and HUGE) and Cooper barged in like they all do and began staring at my belly and breasts above the water line. He asked me if "those" (meaning the boobs) were where Wyatt's eyes were! Yeah - I guess if I was giving birth to a 50 lb alien. Kids say the funniest things. Now, I've got two boys saying the funniest things. Wyatt insists on wearing underwear on his head referring to himself as the "Underwear Queen" (his father is thrilled) and calls rain clouds "filthy" because they are dark. Sure my home is sticky, loud and unorganized - but so funny. Children offer a constant stream of stand-up comedy and perfectly timed one-liners. The best part is - they don't know it. Today, Wyatt didn't want pizza for dinner - he insisted on a "pickle sandwich". Yes, just pickles followed by a cold bath. The kid is strange. Cooper, now seven and almost too cool - wanted a nighttime snack (basically just prolonging the inevitable; going to bed) When I told him he could have fruit - he had the nerve to ask for a "fruit roll up" because according to him - it's made with 100% juice. You literally can't pay for this kind of humor.
Sunday, April 4, 2010
I know - I can't. I'm just saying IF I could go back - things would have been different. Don't get me wrong, there's a lot in my 36 years I wouldn't trade for all the tea in China like my childhood friends, my relationship with my family, and my sense of adventure. I wouldn't change the places I've lived - or the college I chose but I do wish I knew myself as a teenager. If I knew myself at 15 I'd beg me to end the relationship with that guy I'd end up spending the next 6 years of my life with. If I knew myself at 17 - I'd tell me to stop spending my afternoons after school watching General Hospital and get me to join a school sport instead. I wouldn't of been so afraid to fail. I wouldn't of cared what people thought of me, because I did back then I guess like all teenagers do. I never thought I was pretty or smart enough. Instead of being with myself and liking me - I constantly compared myself to everyone else. If only the 17 year old me had the courage and personality the 36 year old does. I like myself more now than I ever have. I would be friends with me, if I met myself now. I guess that's evolution. You grow up slowly liking (then loving) yourself until eventually you retire, move someplace warm and thankfully stop giving a shit about what the world thinks about you. If I could go back - I'd start old and grow young, bringing the wisdom and confidence of old age along with me when I really needed it -back then.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
So, I met my dear friend Mindy for Coffee last Friday. We do this every month or so to get caught up on life, and laugh. We have known each other for about 16 years and I consider her one of the greatest people I have ever known. You couldn't meet someone more honest and open (at least to me) about who they are. I only wish she saw herself the way I do. Our friendship started at an ice cream shop (laughing at customers and eating free samples much like Jay and Silent Bob at the variety store only LOUD and in color) and it grew from there. We ended up working together at two other places including a Lawrence youth summer camp. If not for our boss who was a total ass (and so "ungodly" if you ask me, not that I'm one to talk) we would have stayed through the entire summer for the kids. Min & I were convinced he was a closet drug addict who only took "this damn job" to feed his crack habit. We resented and loathed him so much, we ended up at "Friendlies" in Salem with his boss - THE PASTOR. Who can actually say they've shared a "Jim Dandy" with someone of the cloth? We worked on him for about an hour trying to get the guy fired but in the end our efforts didn't pay off. So, on the next really hot day - we jumped into my jeep during our lunch break and peeled out of the church parking lot after saying goodbye to the children (the only job I've ever quit without a notice!) and spent the rest of the afternoon swimming in Mindy's pool. Every time we see each other now, we go through the timeline of past events: In January of 1994 - we met. That spring, Kurt Cobain died. That summer we saw Green Day and I was sick in the parking lot. That winter - parties at Plymouth and a random conversation with an Italian soccer player. 1995 - obsessed with Tom and Jeff almost to the "stalker" level. Summer of 1996, i move to Atlanta. Mindy moves in with Torin. 1998 - I moved back to NH. 2001 Mindy married a wonderful man (not Torin). 2003 - my son Cooper was born. 2004 - I got married (yes, in that order). Then of course as with all friendships, the bicycle build for two turns into a baby carriage, early nights and carefully planned, sporadic cups of coffee in between sick babies and work deadlines. But really, these days that's all I need. Some good conversation over a cup of coffee with a true friend. Sure, I think often times its the wonderful memories we have with people that keep us together. And even though we're not drunk, throwing lobsters around at a frat party or staying up until 3 am just because we can - we are creating new memories now. "Remember all those Friday nights, when we used to meet for coffee?"