Similar yet different, ah, dichotomies.

Sunrise on 12/13 on top, sunrise on 12/14 on bottom

I know that I often joke about my family tree being a shrubbery; it’s funny because it’s true. I am beyond fortunate to have 6 parents, only one of whom is biological. Yesterday marked the four year anniversary of one of the most tumultuous weeks I’ve ever had.

It truly was a tale of two journeys, two paths, connected in time in the oddest way.

I’d received a call while at work from my little sister, she was upset and crying. They’d found her mom, one I considered my own, unresponsive in her apartment parking lot after she’d not shown up to work. They had rushed her to the hospital, though it wasn’t clear which one. After checking on how my sister was handling the news, I asked her to please keep me in the loop and said I would leave work if she needed me. I then called my boss to fill him in. The day was busy and when it wasn’t, I busied myself. I called my mom as well, but she didn’t answer.

As I was preparing to leave work for the day, planning to call my sister for an update before heading home, I received a text from my older brother: “Did mom’s husband call you?” I walked out to my car and replied “No, should he have?” Within a minute my phone was ringing and my brother was explaining to me that our mom had been rushed to the hospital, and was likely going to be admitted to the ICU. He was waiting to pick up my niece from school before heading up to Lafayette.

I sat silently in my car, in a parking lot just west of work, fighting back tears. It was 10 days before the one year anniversary of one of my best friends dying in my arms, and I already wasn’t handling it well- despite outward appearances. “Did I lose you?” came a familiar voice from the phone I had forgotten I was holding. I took a deep, steadying breath and told him I’d plan to meet him up at the hospital for our mom, I asked that he let me know when he was heading that way. We hung up, and I sat in that empty parking lot and had never felt so torn in my life. How was I supposed to be in two places at once, for two moms I love, especially when I was barely holding it together already?

I reached out to a friend in Lakewood, asking if I could come by for a drive by hugging. She said absolutely, without asking any questions, and I made my way to her place safely between the traffic and the tears. Walking in the door, she wrapped me in a hug and when she let me go; her roommate hugged me as well. Both ladies offered me a seat and asked what was going on. I was also informed that my friend’s husband would be home from work soon, and he too would hug me. Knowing I was short on time and short of words, I opted to wait until he got home before sharing what little news I had. More hugs.

My phone rang; my brother was on his way north, which meant I had about 10 minutes to wrap up before I needed to head out to meet him on time. The husband and wife duo assured me I was welcome to come back or to call if I needed anything at all. Their roommate looked me square in the face and said she didn’t think I should be driving. I insisted that I had to go; we needed to find out what was going on with my mom. She said she understood, but that I shouldn’t drive. I became frustrated and told her I didn’t understand what she was trying to tell me and I didn’t have time to argue. She started picking up her keys, wallet, glasses and a book. When asked what she was doing, she said “I’ll drive you.” “That’s absurd, why would you do that?” I asked, not meaning to sound as snarky as I’m sure I did. “Because” she said, “you need to see your mom.” As we walked out the door together and got in her car, I asked “What are you going to do once we get there? You don’t know my mom.” With a slight smile she replied “You’re right, I don’t know her. But hospitals have these neat little areas called waiting rooms. I’ll go and wait, until you’re ready.” We made the trek up north in silence as my mind swirled.

My brother, sister in law and niece all met us at the hospital entrance. The elevator ride was silent, and once on the ICU floor, the roommate slipped away to the waiting room without a word. Perplexed looks followed, but no words came. The ICU nurse was willing to break the two at a time visitor rule, and let us know that she was doing much better and was finally lucid. She was septic but no longer delirious and had calmed down greatly. As long as she continued to improve, she’d hopefully be out in a couple days. We kept our visit fairly short, per nurse’s orders. It did my heart good to see her sitting up and trying to smile through everything she was enduring.

Walking out of her room, I let my brother and his family know about my sister’s mom, at least as much as I could. Since he has the ability to work remotely, he said he’d go up and work from her room the next day so that I would be freed up for my sister. We gathered the roommate on our way out, and went our separate ways. On the way back south, the roommate offered to stop and get me food. Nothing sounded even remotely good and after a handful of shot down suggestions, she let it go.

Once back at their house, I was given a second round of hugs. Another of their roommates was home, and I don’t know if they’d told him what was going on, but assume they did. Without a word, he set a cup of hot tea down in front of me, touched my shoulder and walked away. The tea bag tag had an Aristotle quote that read “All human actions have one of more of these seven causes: chance, nature, compulsion, habit, reason, passion and desire.” I pondered that for a minute, and soaked the warmth of the cup into my hands, focusing on feeling the warmth. I took a small sip before that moment of respite was interrupted by my phone ringing. It was my little sister who said through tears “I need you.” I told her I just needed to know where I was going. “Aurora South” was the reply, and I told her I was on my way.

Again, the roommate insisted that I didn’t drive. Trying to argue with her seemed to be an effort in futility, so we headed for the door and I cut the tag off the tea bag, shoving it in my pocket as we got in the car. Once again the trip was silent, and once again I was met just inside the hospital entrance by one of my siblings. As I wrapped her in a hug, she broke down sobbing. We found a bench for her to sit on, and I sat on the floor in front of her holding her hands while we cried.

We sat for; I don’t know how long, before her father (my sperm donor) came and sat down beside her. He and I made eye contact, possibly for the first time in my life, and it was as though there was an unspoken “There are greater things at play” message exchanged. He let us know the nurses were asking for her, and after making sure she was ready, we headed back.

Her mom’s hospital room was dimly lit, and even though I had heard “unresponsive” that morning, I think seeing my mom sitting up in the ICU gave me a false sense of hope. Though it wasn’t my first, nor last time, seeing someone I love hooked up to machines and a ventilator, I don’t know that I was quite ready. My face gave something away to my brother in law as he sat next to her bedside with her best friend. The nurse was giving an update on her status, which was that there had been no change really. Waiting with the sounds of machines was what our future held. As the nurse left the room, my phone rang again. Without looking, and assuming it was news about my mom, I said “I have to get this” and left the room.

My best friend from high school was on the other end of that call. “I hear you’re having a really bad day. Do you want to talk about it, be distracted or do you need to let me go?” were the words that greeted me. “Distracted” was my reply, knowing full well we’d get to ‘the talk about it’ part, and that he’d tell me what I already knew- she wasn’t going to make it. I meandered up and down hospital hallways, both crying and laughing in turns. By the end of the call, which was maybe half an hour long, he’d assured me to the best of his ability that I was strong enough to handle this, and that he was just a phone call away.

Making my way back to her room, I was met by my brother in law. He asked what was wrong, and I told him, while insisting that my sister not know. She was already a wreck, and while my mom was also in the ICU, she was stable and I couldn’t say the same thing about hers. I didn’t want her to feel conflicted or in any way guilty, because I was certain I was exactly where I needed to be. He gave me a hug and mumbled something about how he didn’t know how I was doing this.

The next day or two are a blur now, and they certainly were then. There were numerous phone calls, doctor visits, consultations and tests for both moms. One continued to improve, while the other did not. At some point, the roommate showed up again at the hospital with Olive Garden breadsticks (that’s all my sister wanted to eat) and a change of clothes for me (that weren’t mine), since I was still in my work clothes from earlier in the week. She also brought my sewing machine and the banner I was working on, because I’d promised it would be done that weekend and while the friends the banner was for were not concerned about it- I absolutely was. Between updates on both moms, trying to help my sister cope and thanking my brother, my boyfriend at the time lost his mind because I wasn’t spending time with him. It was a mess, so instead of trying to sleep in the early morning hours, I sewed in the waiting room and I finished that banner.

Thursday was met with the knowledge that there are different guidelines for kidney donation in comparison to the other organs. Knowing her mom would want her kidneys to be of help, we set forth with the steps involved in that process. Just before noon that day, my mom was released from the hospital up north. I was grateful, while sensing the irony that one mom was going home and the other was going home.

The next few hours were filled with talks with the Organ Donation coordinating team, and deciding how the last few moments should be spent. Songs and lyrics were pored over, until we picked the right 5 to play as she left us. My sister wanted to draw a rose on her mom, the tattoo she never got. Since I didn’t have my car, I didn’t have my supplies. Walking out into the waiting room to see what I could find, even if only dry erase markers, I found not only the roommate but another dear friend, who were there in support of me. That friend also happened to have sharpies in his car, and so the rose was able to happen. I helped facilitate everyone getting their chance to say their goodbyes, even her dad, while my sister never left her mom’s side.

When the time came, there were five of us in the room with her as she took her final unassisted breaths. Much to the surprise of the organ donation team, she lasted through almost all five of the songs we picked, leaving us just before midnight to the sounds of Toby Keith singing “As Good As I Once Was”. It was as peaceful as a sterile operating room could be, and thankfully she fell within the requirements of kidney donation. I physically supported my sister as she held her mom, and I held the knowledge that this tragedy was the blessing other’s had been asking for.

We all left the hospital together, hugged and went our separate ways. I went back to the roommate’s house and slept for the first time in a week. When I woke, I had another cup of hot tea placed in front of me and a hand on the shoulder. This tea bag tag read “Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome” from Booker T Washington. I savored that tea before going for a late brunch with my friend and her roommate.

I think about that week often. I think about the support I had, often times despite my own efforts. Grateful doesn’t even begin to express the depth of feels I have for those who gave me hugs, called, brought food and clothes or came just to sit and hold space, for every prayer or candle lit- my heart still overflows. Every single time I felt alone that week, there was a physical and friendly reminder that I was not by myself- and I never am.

Yesterday I pondered the dichotomy between life and death, tragedy and blessings, loss and gain, and I was humbled. I am humbled. I compared the vibrant sunrise from the morning before to the subtle beauty that met me yesterday. On my way home, I grabbed some breadsticks and I sent my sister roses- just like the one drawn on her mom. I took the two tea bag tags off of my dashboard where they’ve lived for the last 4 years and contemplated their words. In addition to what Booker T Washington said, I’d add that support has to come in at some point. We never overcome things alone.

I listened to the song WFG had given me the week before that tumultuous week. It was a song that became a theme song of sorts, and reflecting on the lyrics and where I was compared to where I am, I dare say I’m on my way. What a journey it’s been.

“And I’m not gonna waste one minute of this life
I got a second chance to do what is right
I’m gonna dance in the rain, and lay out in the sunshine
Take all my pain and turn it in into moonlight

Take all my pain, and melt it with the sunshine
Take all my pain, and turn it into white light
Take all my pain, and give myself a good life”

With a grateful heart,

S

Speak and connect.

As a person, I crave connection. Some people thrive on the surface level “How are you?”s of life, and even if they ask the question, rarely listen for the response. I am not that girl. I see hundreds of people a day, and I ask each one how they are- and listen for their response. The ones who say “Not too bad” are often surprised by my follow up of “Does that mean not too good either?” Sometimes I get a genuine answer.

I want my interactions to be meaningful, even if they aren’t deep. Give me a song recommendation; tell me why you chose it. Tell me about your weekend and I’ll likely probe deeper. Tell me about something you have coming up, I’ll remember and ask about it when next we speak. I’m not perfect at this by any means, but it is something I’m intentional about and I try my best to be present and pay attention. These are, what I would call, easy conversations.

There are some conversations that are more challenging. It has long been touted that the three hardest things to say are: “I’m sorry”, “I love you” and “Please help me”. While I agree that there is some merit to those being hard phrases to utter, some of my best opportunities for growth have come from them. I know I’m fallible and I make mistakes, and owning them with an apology and corrected behavior is growth. Life has taught me to say I love you and often, because you never know when you might not get the chance to say it again. Please help me is the one I struggle with the most, though I have improved in leaps and bounds from a few years ago.

What I find the most challenging at times is speaking my truth. I’ve heard it called bold honesty before, and others have called it taking a stand. Sometimes you have to tell someone you love that they hurt you. Sometimes actions affect you and you need to share that, lest the person be unaware. Sometimes that’s stating your needs, fully knowing that the person you’re speaking with may or may not be able to meet them- but giving them the opportunity. Sometimes it’s telling someone you miss them, when you’re not sure that you should. Sometimes it’s telling a friend or loved one, I see you going down this path and it worries me because I love you. Sometimes it’s sharing an experience and learning that even those with you during that time, were unaware of how it impacted you.

The crux to all of the conversations above is vulnerability. It’s opening up. It’s trusting the person you’re talking with not to hurt you unnecessarily, and trusting yourself to handle the fallout regardless of how it shakes out. It’s sharing from the heart. Many moons ago, one of my favorite teachers told me “If it’s real and from the heart, you can’t say the wrong thing to the right person.” That is a statement that has played in my head over and over again as I’ve geared up to have many conversations.

Vulnerability forges deeper connections and safe spaces. As I step forth today, my desire is to speak from my heart, own my truth and foster greater connection.

In trust,

S

A rose in all its forms

Once as a young girl I had a conversation with my mom about trust, and I likened the process of opening up to a rose. I offered the notion that in order to bloom, the rose needed to know it was secure (safe) in having its needs met- water and sun. The bud in its varying stages of opening was learning and growing, and would eventually open if the circumstances were correct. The rose in bloom was sure of itself and its ability to have the needs met, it was open and beautiful. It seemed so simple then, a rose was either a bud or in bloom.

In my youth, I thought the idea of a single rose was all-encompassing; you were either a bud or fully open. All or nothing, open or learning to be, trusting or getting there; the concept that you could be both open and closed never occurred to me. As I sit here now, I’m shaking my head at my own naivety.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love the premise of a rose in its varying stages being symbolic of relations with others and the degree to which we are open. Instead of a single rose though, I feel as if a rose bush is more fitting. As people, we’re not one dimensional, not by a long shot. It stands to reason then, that we can be buds in some areas of our lives while in full bloom in others.

As I look at my own rosebush, I see quite the tale. Sure there are a few roses that are fragrant and open, beautiful in all that they are. However, if you look closer just beyond the sprawling and colorful petals of the roses in bloom, you’ll see there’s more to the story. There are several buds in various stages of opening, some reaching out a petal or two to test the waters; there’s another that is wrapped so tightly it might as well be in a cocoon. Others have petals hanging on despite the fact that their time to shine may have come to pass. There are petal-less stems just standing, as the only evidence that beauty once existed here. In a few places too, there are rosehips, the fruit and seed left behind by a blossom- the lessons as it were.

My aim this week is to nurture some of those buds tenderly, to have conversations that need to be had in an attempt to provide the right circumstances for things to bloom- even if it scares me. I plan to take stock, and find ways in which I can best support what is already in bloom. I will also take out the sheers and deadhead what is no longer serving me and taking away energy, creating a fresh space for new growth to happen.

Wish me luck!
S

Tech savvy and terrific

Today I am grateful for kind words, helpful spirits and getting things accomplished.

I’ve been delaying upgrading my phone since Sprint is now T-Mobile. That kind of stuff stresses me out and typically causes frustration, largely because I’m a creature of habit and I like my things like I like them. However, after about 10 days of technical difficulties, calls not always coming in or going out, and a few other issues, I had added a visit to the local store to my to-do list this weekend. I even went so far as to reach out to a friend who works for T-Mobile because I knew she’d help and it would have been great to see her face… but she wasn’t working again until Monday. I seriously considered waiting until then, however gravity had other plans.

While disposing of our epic pumpkin carvings, my phone jumped out of my pocket and gave the sidewalk a hug, leaving a spiderweb in the broken glass as evidence of the love they had shared. There was also a growing area of black goop under the glass where the LCD screen had broken. With a bit of an exasperated sigh, knowing I wouldn’t have my friend to help me, I grabbed my daughter and headed off to the store.

We waited around, looked at a couple things and joked while we passed the time. After about fifteen minutes of meandering, a guy asked how he could help us. For the next hour or so, he helped close out the sprint stuff and get me set up with my new phone. He laughed and joked with us, helped entertain my daughter when needed and let her help as the process allowed. As we got ready to leave, I thanked him for being awesome and it seemed to make his day.

What was anticipated to be a stressful and potentially overwhelming thing turned out to be quite enjoyable, and I’m grateful!

We have his card and he’s our new buddy! I love adding kind and helpful people to the circle!

From the new phone,

S

Words, man.

I heard once, years ago, an explanation for why words matter so much: “Words have power and magic, that’s why it’s called spelling.” I always kind of took that to heart, and have tried (albeit failed many times) to use that power for good.

There’s many things out in the world now about words and how to use them; sayings like “Your word is your bond” or principles such as “Be impeccable with your word” and sometimes harsh truths of “No response is a response, remember that.”

I think, if we remember the latter and focus on the former, we’ll be in pretty good shape. If you’re impeccable with your word, and treat your word as your bond, you’ll show up in integrity. On the way into work each morning, I pass an electric billboard that usually has some little nugget of inspiration. The last few days it has said, “What you’re doing speaks so loudly, I can’t hear what you’re saying.”

Believe it or not, the good comes back to you.

That got me thinking about the importance of how we choose to show up in the world. I think, by and large, the merit and character of a person has far more weight than what they accomplish. Who someone is, at their core, trumps their deeds. If you want to be seen as dependable, be someone others can depend on. If you want to be seen as a confidant, be someone people can confide in and know that it’s a safe space to do so. If you want more love, understanding and acceptance- give it away! If you’re doing any of those things, to gain the title or recognition (from a character or achievement standpoint), I think your motives are skewed.

Today, I am grateful for those who share their words with me and allow me to share mine. Free, open and safe, the conversations had within our circle remain there only. I appreciate the trust, the love, the constructive criticism and the assistance. We’re ever growing and learning, and it’s a privilege to get to do so along side some amazing people.

In appreciation of those who encourage me to grow,

S

The little things

How often do you slow down and take note of the simple things? The thumbnail sliver of a waning moon rising just before the sun? The soul gripping notes of your favorite song? The smile on the normally surly guy at work, who’s smile makes you join him because it’s a rarity? The kind words from a friend? The thoughtful gesture by residents at work?

What about the person who let you merge into traffic hassle-free? Or the open checkout at the grocery store? What about the dinner shared with family? Passing a yawn around a group of people, because they are contagious after all? The memories created in simple moments, the inside jokes and bonds strengthened? The song sent by a friend?

There are countless moments in any given day, in every single day, that are worthy of our thanks. These are just a few that my tired brain can come up with after an evening spent with my Brother, Sister Lady, Girl Kid and a Meow. Please don’t take for granted the little things, they have a huge ripple effect.

With love and tired eyes,

S

Pen, Paper and Perspective

Today has been a bit strange, with much time spent in reflection.

I was reminded of a saying today, albeit unintentionally by a friend, that “Paper is more patient than people”. I believe it was an English teacher in high school who went on a brief rant one morning about how paper doesn’t judge, it doesn’t use what you say against you, it doesn’t lie; instead it is there for you whenever you need it, and it just listens.

I took that rant to heart and have indeed written my little heart out more times than I can count since his helpful diatribe. It’s a rare occasion to find me without pen and paper of some variety, because over the years, it’s been my most faithful tangible companion. Despite the fact that you’re reading this on a public blog, my writing is incredibly personal. I don’t share all that I write, not by a long shot.

Today when that pen, with the smooth as silk ink, hit the paper I got lost in a flow of thoughts and feelings. Time slowed as pages filled and as I continued, my perspective began to shift. I wrapped up in time for First Tuesday, perfectly.

Pen, paper and perspective- three things I’m grateful for today.

Write on,

S

The month of giving thanks

When I got to work this morning I smiled at the calendar that said it was still October, secretly relishing in the knowledge that I’d be the one to get to turn the page. Closing the door to last month was a welcome thought, and the fact that it’s now November was an added bonus.

Today marks the beginning of the end of a cycle, one rotation around the sun. In this final month of my current natal year, I enjoy taking stock of where I’ve been and what I’ve done in comparison to where I’d hoped to be. It’s a month filled with self reflection as well as introspection, to see where and how I’ve grown and which areas still need work. Those realizations will lay the groundwork to seeing how my path lays before me, as I decide where I’d like to meander to. By the time my birthday rolls around next month, I’d like to have an inkling of how I’d like my life to feel in the coming year.

November also marks the one month of the year that has its focus on giving thanks. There are so many things to be thankful for on any given day, in every single day. I know many post to their social media during this time daily one thing they’re thankful for, and maybe I’ll hop on that train (likely not). I considered posting it here, and that’s still up for debate. I know it’ll go down in my gratitude journal regardless.

However today, to kick off the month, I was thankful for the colder weather and dreary skies because it matched my mood. The fall colors pop differently against a gray sky, and there’s something about days like today that have me seeking comfort- soup, fuzzy blankets, warmth, hot cocoa. Days like today also make me want to be a bit of a hermit, to come into myself and my space and just be- which is perfect for me today considering what my focus was.

In addition to that, and the ability to write out my thoughts, I’m grateful for true friendship. The long chats that span a multitude of topics, both shedding tears and laughter, knowing that for both of us honesty is the best policy. There’s a comfort in the realness and the vulnerability, the safety that comes from knowing that thoughts can be shared freely and feeling the feelings is welcome. There’s also something magical about friendships that span decades, being able to point out for one another (and in ourselves) where we’ve grown or how we’re handling something differently. I cherish those chats, and I’m thankful for the friends I have them with.

In gratitude and with a smile,

S

Time warps and balancing acts

Stunning sunrise

I’ve written before about how time is a fickle beast, it’s fleeting and finicky. I’ve grown accustomed to the notion that tomorrow may never come and that the conversations we have (or fail to) very well may be the last chance we have to say what’s on our minds and in our hearts.


Sometimes though time does this weird warp thing, where things happening in the current time and space throw you into a similar thing from the past. The last three weeks have been filled with such time warp moments: a robbery at work, the loss of a friend, pictures of times past filled with faces that have passed, making new memories in someone’s memory, heartfelt conversations that felt hard, witnessing a car accident in the same intersection that took a friend by the same means, funerals with memorized lines and memorializing items; all while trying to maintain a sense of balance and my footing in motherhood.


Despite the time warp that each of the things listed above threw me into, and the feelings that went along with them, it hasn’t been all bad. There have been absolutely stunning sunrises, I’ve had visits from former co-workers just dropping in to say hi, I received an unexpected hug from a tutor, some love from a couple cute dogs and I basked in the sounds of laughter from my children and the rustling leaves outside. I was also gifted some beautiful sculptures from a dear friend because they reminded her of my kids, and a pot of flowers from someone at work because she said “I saw them and they are just so you, brightening up things where ever you go.” The kind words, the visits, the hugs and the stolen moments of solitude to start the day, all gave me a lump in my throat and many brought a tear to my eye. These were gentle reminders that even when I feel off balance, there’s support.

To say that I’ve been a bit off kilter would be an understatement. I’ve found solace in my relatively new daily routines. I’ve found more peace in the quiet than expected. I’ve been honoring my desire to go within, to process and reflect. I’m grateful for the understanding of my kiddos, who are being shown that it’s okay to feel your feelings. I’ve also found comfort in camaraderie, in small doses.

Last night while gathered around with friends, I learned that a fun trip out to Las Vegas almost claimed the life of one of my most favorite people. His quick thinking and trusting of his own body, coupled with responsive friends, literally saved his life. There’s now concern over paying for the ambulance ride and hospital visit, as well as the tests and whatnot; but I know that will all get sorted out. I couldn’t express the feeling of deep gratitude I had that I could still give him a hug. When he was done telling his tale, I pointed at him “Come here,” I said, “I need to squish you.” He obliged and I hope that the words that wouldn’t fall from my lips were spoken from my heart.

As I drove home after sharing a meal, playing some games and enjoying some laughter, I thought about what could have been our last conversation. I’d called him to wish him a happy birthday, deciding to call rather than text because I knew they were flying out that night for Las Vegas. We chatted briefly, as they were getting ready and I was close to my destination. I wished him happy birthday, told them to have fun and enjoy their trip, to be safe and reminded them that I loved them. “We love you too!” were the parting words as the call ended.

I will admit, I don’t always tell the people I love that I love them, not outright at least. I think there’s a part of me that hopes they already know. I also know that it’s said by myself and others in a myriad of ways: Let me know when you get home, please. Drive safely! How was your day? I miss seeing your smiling face. I saw this and thought of you. There are countless others so please know, if I’ve said any of these things or reached out to you because my spidey senses were tingling, I care about you. You matter and I hope you know you’ve impacted my life in a positive way.

With much love,
S

I did my eyes for you

Midweek last week, I decided that today was going to be a happy day. Today was going to be spent honoring you, doing things we enjoyed doing. I even went so far as to tell myself that “Sad panda status would be suspended”. Oh, that me of last week was so full of hope…

The me of last week didn’t know that loss would strike again nor how much that loss would make me want to call you, just to make sure you’re alright. The me of last week didn’t know about the lack of sleep and lack of words that would befall this week’s me.

This morning I was unintentionally up before my first alarm, and took the time to try to harness the hope from last week. Where did that me go?

It was still dark dark out, and I muttered to myself about it being darkest before dawn. The bathroom light seemed extra bright and I blinked a few times in protest of the offending illumination. As my eyes focused on the reflection staring back at me, I knew I needed to do something with that. I shook my head at myself, and my eyes lost their focus.

In my mind’s eye, we were back at the house in Littleton. You were standing at the bathroom door poking fun at me for not knowing how to “be a girl”. My hair was down, my dress and shoes were laid out for my first date with Greg, all I needed was to figure out the makeup.

I could hear your laugh echoing in my heart this morning as you watched teen me, the girl with the eye phobia, try to get a mascara wand anywhere near my eyeballs. I recalled the “What…? I know things, okay!” response to the look I gave you after you mentioned using an eye lash curler. For the record, I still think those things are some kind of midevil torture device. No thank you!

My sleepy self regained focus, and once again glancing at myself, thought “Do your eyes!” I’m far less timid about the process than I used to be, but really I don’t do much. Still, knowing that you would have made it a big deal, made it a big deal.

The memory of that day, way back, when you were giving me a hard time about the eye makeup kept popping up throughout the day. Sometimes it was after someone commented on my eyes, others it was just my heart trying to recreate that feeling. See, you gave me guff upto the point when you realized I was getting flustered and frustrated. Your comments quickly went from “Jeeze, what’s wrong with you, how do you not know how to do this?” to “You really don’t need it, you’re already pretty. If he can’t see that, he’s dumb.” I’m pretty sure you even offered to help at some point, which was quickly declined!

That feeling of the balance between “You’re a pain in my ass” and “I love you and am so lucky to have you in my life”… whatever you call that feeling is what I strived for today.

So at o’dark thirty, I did my eyes for you; mascara and purple eyeliner, and I didn’t even poke myself in the eye! On the way into work, I stopped to get fuel and there was chex mix as an impulse buy- checking a box I didn’t even think I needed. RCPM was the soundtrack at work today, and I was grateful on more than one occasion that the mascara was waterproof. Scott and I met up, played some pool and raised some Knob Creek Rye in your honor tonight. The moon was stunning at both bookends of the day.

My heart hurt today, like it has since this day last year. 52 weeks to the 1,918 that I had you in my life, that’s quite a gap. “Sad panda status” was not entirely suspended today, but there were moments. I don’t know that I ever want to acclimate to life without you, but I do hope that in time the “Happy Sad/Sad Happy” feeling gives way to the “Man could he ruffle my feathers, just to smooth ’em out again, brotherly love” feeling that I miss so much.

I miss you friend, and yet I know you’re here, woven in the stories, habits, songs and hearts of those who love you. Thank you for the gift of knowing you. I love you Lewis!