Carry OnTuesday: Is there anybody there?

English: Memorial to William Huskisson Tilghma...

English: Memorial to William Huskisson Tilghman Huskisson, died 1865, grandson of Emily Huskisson’s sister Harriet Millbank, who married into the Tilghman family of Philadelphia, in Eartham parish church, West Sussex, England. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Miranda wakes up in the middle of the night, sobbing. Her sister, Emily was in her dreams and she is confused when she wakes up. She sits upright and clutches the cheerful flowered comforter to her and cries out “Em, Em!” Her boyfriend is beside her and is gently shaking her shoulder and whispering soothing sounds. “it’s okay, baby, it’s okay” he says but she looks at him and whispers to him “is my sister Emily alive or is she dead?” and he responds softly, “Hon, I’m sorry, your sister, Emily, died a long time ago..” By then she is lucid and she remembers and she curls up, her head to her knees and shakes uncontrollably.

She knows logically her sister died years ago. Why is she still having these dreams, these nightmares? Is it that she just wishes it wasn’t this way? Just a few weeks ago her boyfriend was away on a business trip and she slept in their bedroom alone and she felt frightened at the sounds of their small, ranch house. It was raining and their house creaked and the wind pushed branches against their house, she thought that animals or maybe people had come inside. “Is there anybody there?” She asked in a childish voice, not realizing that if there were, they probably wouldn’t have said something like “Well, hey, yes, it’s me the burglar, my name is Roger.” She was frozen in place, clutching her pillow to her chest, breathing heavily and praying it was nothing. She stayed like that for an hour until the winds died down and she could fall asleep, drained from all the stress.

Her younger sister, Emily, had died of leukemia when she was a child. Emily was five when she died and Miranda was ten. Emily could not pronounce Miranda so she called her “panda” and that was her nickname for as long as she could remember. To this day, ten years later she still had night terrors almost every night. Nothing could soothe her, nothing could make the memories fade and she thought, like her parents, it would stay this way forever. Why would it change?

How do you explain the death of an innocent child? What reason can there be to take the life of a baby? A beautiful five-year old girl with big brown eyes and brown curly hair who had never done anything wrong. She deserved to live while some other brutal killer should have been taken. Miranda had anger in her still and didn’t know if it would ever dissipate. How could she make sense out of her baby sister’s death? How could anyone even dare try?

There were no answers, she finally came to that conclusion. She would never have an explanation or anything that made sense to her and her parents. Her life would go on without the love of her baby sister’s but her life could never be normal, because nothing made sense once her sister died. Nothing would ever make sense again.

Haiku Heights – Wisdom

HooHaa 52 - Looking In-Looking Out (Week 48)

HooHaa 52 – Looking In-Looking Out (Week 48) (Photo credit: Grizdave)

Age, like fine red wine

makes us learn lessons to hold

in our memories.

**********************************

Try, fail, start again

I wish I had known that then

I was too frightened.

**********************************

Look in my blue eyes

they store the secrets of life

ask, I will tell you.

What I Learned From My Daughter’s Graduation (Plus Love Does Not Die)

Dad and Angel

Dad and Angel (Photo credit: nualabugeye)

“Live life simply. Be kind. Do what you love, passionately. Make mistakes, fail and start again.” At my daughter’s high school graduation yesterday, we heard quotes from Steve Jobs and Dr. Suess, no one mentioned getting an MBA or Harvard Law; it felt like the world was undergoing a much-needed change and this was the generation that was going to do it. I felt like Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young were humming “Teach Your Children” in the background and I felt proud.

Class of 2012, you gave renewed hope to all of us aging baby boomers who sat and listened with smiles on our wrinkled faces and aching feet. Yes, I have bunions and hammer toes and I did take my sandals off to walk in the grass for a few minutes but then I realized my daughter would never forgive me if she saw me or G-d forbid, heard about it through a friend, so I ran back to put those stylish pink flower flip-flops back on.

Graduation was a lovely distraction and a glaring omission. It was held on Father’s Day and my dad passed away almost ten years ago. My mom was there and my in-laws but not MY dad. I believe in angels and signs and that the dead communicate with those of us left here on earth. Love does not die when someone leaves the earth, I know that for sure.

Right in front of me stood a man, ducking to get through, that looked so much like my dad had looked, wearing the exact shirt my dad used to wear, that I gasped and caught my breath. “I thought that was Dad” I squeaked to my no-nonsense mother who refused to even listen to my “angel moment.” I knew, I knew in my heart that was my dad’s sign, he has always been present for ALL important celebrations. In my heart I knew that while it may have not been him in the flesh, it was his angel, a sign for me from him. Thank you, Daddy.

I wore the dress my daughter picked out for me, the shoes, the necklace, (or as she used to pronounce it when she was little Neck-a-less”) I can still hear her young voice in my head if I try hard. When I saw her walk in before the program started, I took a photograph of her in my mind that I hope will stay there forever. Her beautiful blonde hair, straightened for the joyous occasion, hanging from under her blue cap, her blue gown flowing from the breeze on a sunny day and her bright smile and wave when she saw her grandmother and me. It was a rare glimpse into her world and it made me so happy.

After the reception I knew it was all about her and her friends. In our excitement we forgot to take pictures as a family, how can that be? We’re human and we got caught up in time and it simply slipped our minds. That’s what memories are for, photographs that stay in our heart.

You are starting a new journey, my beautiful, grown-up girl. You are fearless  and strong, independent and wise. There is no doubt in my mind that if you want it badly enough, you can change the world. Keep the faith; I know you will do great things for this world. I know it in my heart.

An Empty Chair: Father’s Day and Graduation, 2012

English: Chair

English: Chair (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tomorrow is Father’s Day, it’s also the day that my daughter, my baby, graduates from high school. My father, her grandfather will not be sitting near me, holding my hand, smelling of after shave cologne. His arm won’t be around my mother’s arm, excited to see their granddaughter walk across the stage, beaming, to get her diploma. He died almost died ten years ago, not seeing any of his four grandchildren graduate.

He will be with me, inside, a huge hole in my  heavy heart and in the tears that I will most assuredly shed. I will wipe them up with a “Vienna hanky” the soft, cotton handkerchiefs that my father always had, that my sister and my mother and I shared upon his death. They are thin now, like transparent paper but some have his initials on them and they are very important to us.

My daughter’s graduation should be a joyous occasion but it too brings mixed emotions, as most everything does. An “empty nest” a sign of us aging, her new life just beginning. I try to be as festive as possible for my husband, father of our two children but he is not that caught up with the Father’s Day holiday as much as I am and frankly he has lower expectations. I don’t blame him at all. Mother’s and Father’s Day were adorable when the children were young but at almost 18 and almost 20, something is lacking, like true sentiment. The kids go through the motion with plenty of reminders but that’s about it and that’s all we can expect at this time in their lives. Hopefully, if they have children of their own one day, they may appreciate us more; they will be able to relate.

I am looking forward to tomorrow with a mixture of excitement and dread; I will try to hide the dread as best I can. My daughter and my “second daughter,” our friend Christina, will be graduating from high school and going off to college in August. I have watched these two special girls grow up. Christina and her family have lived across the street from us since the girls were about three or four years old. They played together every day; they went through the monkey phase together, the gymnastic phase, horses phase and plenty of others together. While they both have other friends, I think their friendship will last in the future.

Christina reminds me of a young me, she is innocent and kind and wears her heart openly. I know what she is thinking and feeling by just looking at her face or hearing her voice. I want to protect her and prepare her for life but of course  I know I can’t do either of those things. My own daughter is more street smart, independent and fearless. She hides her feelings, she is very private, harder to read and fiercely independent.  Tomorrow, when their names are called to go up on stage and receive their diplomas, I will clap and scream, for both of these beautiful, strong and smart young women.

Congratulations to Jillian and to Christina!

Carry On Tuesday – I Can See Clearly Now

JAMES MOES

JAMES MOES (Photo credit: btm)

“I am so, so pretty. People stop me on the street to stare at me and smile; the feeling inside me is one of great joy and wonder. I’ve never felt like this, I think to myself, in my dream but it feels delicious and I am incredibly happy, the happiest I have ever been. I am light on my feet, I dance in time, swirling around in my pink and black lace dress. I can wear high heels that don’t hurt that match my dress impeccably. I am loved, I throw my head back with its brown tendrils perfectly curled and laugh.

I met James when I was fifteen and he was sixteen. Once we met we were inseparable; we went on picnics all the time. He knew how much I lived going on picnics, our hands getting sticky from the sandwiches, thickly sliced multi-grain bread, sharp cheddar cheese, smoked ham, stone ground mustard, small, sweet pickles and those salty potato chips that we bought at the store. Dear, sweet, handsome James. James, the grown-up man with the sly, boyish grin whom I met by chance, two years before. His car was stuck and I was with my new puppy and he seized upon my puppy like a child seeing Santa Claus. Apparently, his own dog, also a German Shepard mix  had recently been euthanized, and I think his pure love and excitement to see my puppy made him light up from the inside out.  He picked up my dog and held her in his arms, laughing and the dog loved every second of the attention. I liked watching them together. More than that, I liked James, putting his arm around my shoulders, his fingers combing my hair, sniffing my hair and murmuring how good it smelt, like flowers and the ocean and sunshine. We were meant for each other, James and I, it was a love that was so good and pure, based on friendship and romance and companionship.

We would grow old together, we promised one another but before that we were busy!  We had three children together, two boys, Tom and Eric and then we had our baby girl, Nicole. Oh, my, we all made a fuss over the baby girl. In fact, she was called “baby girl” for most of her life. She was just the sweetest thing and oh, how she could just get everything she wanted out of her daddy, why he would just fall to mush if she asked him anything, why anything at all.

We had a good life together, he and I. We were destined to be together until the last breath he took. I can see clearly now that not everyone has this type of love in their lives. I know we were meant for each other the first time I saw him. He used to kid me about that saying I was such a “romantic” and he would shake his head and laugh but I knew he thought the very same thing.

Now, I sit, alone, in the hospital. I lie in the white bed with the nurses who come clucking to take blood and do tests and all I hear are the clang clang of bells and the pager screaming names of doctors. Lord, the last place to go to get some healing is some damn hospital, that’s for sure. I try to think of the good old days but when I try to talk about it, people just look at me like all sorts of crazy.  “There was no James” they say. “You were never married” they say firmly.  “You have no children, does anyone visit you, they ask?”Why do they say these horrible, mean things to me? I don’t know why, but I always shake my head and scream when they do. Last time I did that they put some stuff in my mouth and held my arms and I slept for a long time. I didn’t feel like me when I woke up, I was all confused for a real long time.

I don’t understand why they say these things. I just know that I was happy once. Once, long ago. Maybe in another world, maybe in my imagination, like they say. It just sure beats living my last days here, in a small, dark room with no light. I have no spirit left inside me; I lie very still hoping that death will take me quietly because I’m scared of pain, very frightened indeed. Just let me go, Lord, just let me go.  I want to be with James, we will be together again. I know, what I know and no darn fool can tell me otherwise. Please, Lord, just take me now.”

Plinky Prompt: Who Is The Most Famous Person You Have Met?

  • English: Ellen DeGeneres in 2009.

    English: Ellen DeGeneres in 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    Meeting Someone Famous

  • Define Famous For Me…
    I’ve said hello to Diana Ross, John Travolta, and endless movie stars. I met Bob Barker when I was six and my parents snuck me into a taping of “The Price Is Right” when we visited Los Angeles. I’ve offered Dustin Hoffman coffee (well, me and six other people), I sat next to Vanessa Williams (I observed her complexion when she was promoting that Pro-Activ skin care line) at a conference. I saw Robert Redford in the lobby of the building I worked in and couldn’t believe it was him. More importantly, I even (I’m embarrassed and I’m sorry) met and told President Clinton that perhaps he should eat a hamburger (even though he is a vegan)( SORRY ELLEN DEGENERES) because he looked so gaunt and I worried for his health. I admit it, mea culpa.
    BUT, I don’t care about fame or fortune, title or level. I never have and I never will. I care about how a person treats me and others and I am not easily intimidated. I don’t consider Paris Hilton or Lindsey Lohan famous, sorry, I just don’t. Famous people? People who have changed the world for the better, people who have helped people. I would love to meet Ellen Degeneres (or Oprah when she still had her wonderful daytime show-she gave me such inspiration) because they want to make the world a better, more loving place and yes, to me, they are famous. It’s not fame that interests me, it’s character. I’d be honored to meet Ellen or Oprah, two women who have strength, love, generosity and humility. To me, that’s the definition of FAME.
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Haiku Heights – Ordinary

Sunshine

Sunshine (Photo credit: therealannogus)

She slips unnoticed

white gauze framing her pale face

against the window

*****

Sunshine, clouds and rain

bees buzzing, children laughing

celebrate today.

*****

Tell me your story

you are lovely and unique

as everyone is.

Plinky Prompt: What Energizes You?

  • What I Need To Live
  • What Energizes Me?
    Bowl of cherries, cloud lighting Hope energizes me. That one word popped into my head as I read the question to myself. It’s true, I need something to keep me alive, something to believe in, to give of myself. HOPE. After a grueling year I have survived stronger, wiser, a little more sure of myself yet less sensitive. I have finally made myself a priority, trying to disengage from unhealthy relationships without cutting ties completely. It was not a fun time but I limped through it, sometimes curled in the fetal position, sobbing, other times screaming out loud, angrily.
    I need hope in my life, something to look forward to, even if it is the smallest thing. Taking my puppy for a walk, doing a random act of kindness, seeing the sun after two straight weeks of rain, eating the first ripe, red cherries of summer. Little things energize me; it’s a hard world out there, we need to make our own happiness. Find a little happiness in every day, remember it.

Carry On Tuesday – Only In Our Dreams

Eating Shiva

Eating Shiva (Photo credit: Mirror | imaging reality)

I felt virtuous when I sat, eating an open-faced veggie burger, with stone ground mustard and drinking ice water. I don’t feel the same way now. It’s three hours later and my son is having a barbecue for his friends. He came running up the stairs with a freshly charred hamburger on a bun dripping with ketchup and a slice of cheese slithering on top, shining with grease. I did not hesitate, I ate it  in one minute and I’m paying the price, in fullness and actual physical pain. I can’t lie; I have enjoyed it immensely along with the toasted marshmallow he brought up too. I know this game very well.

It started at birth with me, a six-week premature baby having to stay in the hospital until I gained enough weight to be able to come home. After that, my mother overcompensated and then I went full speed to fat or what they used to call “chubby.” I can pretend to eat healthy food now (most of the time) but I know that I will always be the fat, round, girl, that I have always been.

My mother could never figure out why I never wanted to go shopping when I was a child and a teenager, how could she not know? I was a very slim child only from age five to six until she decided to fatten me up, relentlessly, wherever we went. The Nestle’s Quik was at my side, spooned generously into my milk at every meal, like a religion.

Last year, I gained forty pounds when our house was demolished by termites and carpenter ants and we had to stay in a hotel, in one room, three of us and our dog, our disappointment and our dreams, dashed. My husband was also on medical leave for a snapped Achilles tendon, our sixteen year-old daughter cooped in one room with us while our house was built again from bare walls. That’s when you know who your real friends are, because it is at their house you are sharing a meal, they are asking you in and treating you like family, it saved our souls and sanity.

The only comfort in our lives was that our son was away in college was missing the trauma we were living through, and FOOD. We ate out at restaurants, two or three times a day. It was clear we were not eating healthfully, we were eating to comfort ourselves, dessert for lunch and for dinner every single day and night. French fries with your sandwich? Yes please. The only decision to make was what flavor milk shake we wanted, vanilla, strawberry or chocolate. Candy bars, cookies and crackers were stored in our hotel room like paper cups.

Piles of cakes and pies, white tendrils of coconut smiled down at us from its vanilla perch. Chocolate mousse cake winked at us from its place on the revolving cake display, cheesecake with strawberries, we denied ourselves nothing. Deep, deep down I knew what was happening though I chose to deny it; only in our dreams did I believe that we were not feeding our depression. When times were easier, better, we would deal with it. Then, we couldn’t cope with one more detail, one more restriction.

In three and a half months we moved back into our completely disorderly yellow house. For months we didn’t know where anything was. There are still boxes missing, items that some day we hope to find. I started taking responsibility for my unhealthy body. I worried about my heart, I started slowly and decided to eat more vegetables and less red meat. In the end, I lost forty pounds with another five to ten to go. I drink ice water with lemon instead of soda. I try not to have dessert but lately I have been craving something sweet. It’s a slippery slope; I have to be very careful.

I know I am the same chubby girl I was when I was little. I will always be that child in my mind and body; I will always be the last girl picked for any team sport, the fat kid, the ugly, stupid child. I don’t measure up, why should I be able to do something when my parents always said I wouldn’t be able to do it?

As we get older we make our own choices, we slip away from the past and make up our own rules, our own belief system, we cherish different qualities than those that we were taught. I taught my own children that they can do anything they want and they can do it well. Whatever they want to do they should do it with pride. There is nothing that they can’t do, nothing they can’t succeed at; in my heart, I love and like these two people. When they were young, if I was fearful for them, I hid it, because they had the right to experience life through their own feelings and not become unnerved because of mine. That, is what parenthood should be about. This was my gift to them; the gift of freedom, freedom to choose, but most of all, freedom to believe in themselves, knowing, always knowing, that I believed in them too.

Mellow Yellow Monday – Honey/Baklava

A plate with one piece of baklava.

A plate with one piece of baklava. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Honey, from the Honey Bee Farm is so comforting.  It is eaten on toast with butter, it is swallowed with lemon to soothe a sore throat. It’s natural, it is  used instead of sugar, it reminds one of childhood and peace. Honey is a universal food, used in many countries all over the world. It is used to make sandwiches with peanut butter and bananas in the US or in Baklava, in sweet pastries from a number of countries all over the world esp. Greece and Turkey.  Honey is warm, liquid gold. It is so perfect when the nights are cold and you need comfort, honey, slowly swirled in a cup of chamomile tea.

Rebuilding Plan Bee, Hashoo Foundation, Gilgit...

Rebuilding Plan Bee, Hashoo Foundation, Gilgit, Pakistan, honey bee farming, mountain honey (Photo credit: Hashoo Foundation USA – Houston, TX)