Bloody mud piles, play
dig your mean gut, soul, under
Won’t cry over you.
Bloody mud piles, play
dig your mean gut, soul, under
Won’t cry over you.
It was like watching Mikhail Baryshnikov springing across the stage,so handsome, so technically perfect; exactly like that, as I
drove my old clunky gray car down the street and gasped. A beautiful, strong deer with antlers danced right in front of me, crossing the road. I slammed hard on the brakes, very hard, not to injure this beauty. I hadn’t really thought of the car or of myself. It was like a beautiful ballet dancer I had seen long ago, so gorgeous and delicate yet so strong. I waited to see, with cars honking behind me, if more of
the family was about to cross as well but no, this deer had crossed the road by himself.
The Turning Point was one of my favorite movies when I was young. The romance, the intrigue, the ballet. A girl growing up to be a woman, a mother and her best friend, secretly jealous of each other, egos fighting egos. The best friend trying to mother the other woman’s daughter. Comparing lives as if they were comparing tastes in a food competition. The daughter learning to grow up and realize the truth about love and being in love and people and their true characters.
My Baryshnikov danced across the street to an admiring audience of one.
Circle of Life: Death & Rebirth
This is the time for introspection, to put things in order not just for my house, but for me. My life lesson: I have clung to old friendships far too long, they are dead, like the crumpled crisp brown leaves on the yard. Friendships where I am the only one who is trying. You can’t force a friendship and your real friends, your true friends are always there. “The past” is a nice memory not a basis for friendship.
It is the second week of November, I look out my window and see gray skies and naked trees. There is no more sun peeking from behind blue skies, I mourn the sunshine, the flowers, the bright, orange, red, yellow leaves of the Fall that used to embrace the trees. What was once my favorite season is now seen as the precursor to the worst season, Winter.
Winter is on its way, people are dismissive and say “add layers of clothing” as they stuff themselves into scarves and hats, mittens and feel warmer but not me and not anyone who shares the chronic illness of Fibromyalgia and Hashimoto’s Disease. Those words taunt us, they are a joke, a cruel comedy, a farce. Nothing helps, the winter chill goes through our bones and latches on like a one huge tick, sucking blood. We are always exhausted, we have no energy, we have what seems like the flu without the fever, every day of our lives. In the winter our bones and muscles are stiff, unyielding and painful.
Many times I don’t get dressed. My nightgown becomes my party dress and my pajamas serve as my jeans and sneakers. I know when I am in a ” Fibro Flare” when I cannot wear anything, that strains against my body. My body is bloated and the jeans make angry red imprints on my stomach even though they are the right size for me. If I have to be outside, as soon as I come home I literally rip the tight, restricting clothing off, my bra, my pants and change into loose, soft pajama bottoms and a well-worn tee-shirt. It is only then I can breathe. To people with chronic pain, Winter is a slow death, a Tragedy.
After a long, bleak winter, when the temperatures get higher and we have weeks of rain, my body and mind change. My body hurts because of the dampness and the changing weather but my heart knows that soon I will see buds springing from the ground to show off the first fashions of Spring. One day out of the corner of my eye, I see several bright, green buds pushing their way from the deep, dark earth. It is the promise of Spring fulfilled, crocuses have pushed their way above ground: Hope. Once the crocuses have sprung forth, soon we will see the burst of color dancing before our eyes. It is a ballet I love to watch. I never get bored. In a matter of days the forsythia bush in my back yard has sprouted brilliant, bright yellow lights, buds and I know that we are safe and loved.
One day, the sun pulls out its lazy arms and stretches, beams its beautiful smile and soars to the top of a deep blue sky. It is officially Summer, It is time to Rejoice, to take advantage of every single day that we have been given, a reprieve, from pain, from gloominess, a treat. I enjoy the summer as much as I can. Even though extreme heat is not good for chronic pain patients, it is good for my soul to look outside and see the painting of flowers and sun and hear the laughter of children riding their bicycles in the neighborhood. The sun, makes me happy, it does affect my mood. It softens the world around us, like a soft, romantic filter on an otherwise hard life. I am grateful for the sun, every single day, it is time to Celebrate with friends: joyous laughter, food, children selling lemonade, dogs running around outside, people holding hands. This would be my final act.
Tiny ballet feet
twisted in pointe shoes of pink
scatter like scared mice.
Birds of flight, soaring
escaping sadness, run free
My soul cracks in pieces.
See, touch, my scarred heart
Compress air, laid out to die
A faint beat slows down.
I withdraw within
You can’t see me, I’m not here
Pain turned me to steel
Ballet dancer hides
Behind make-up and feathers
It’s all illusion
Green eyes dance and smile
Hiding a scared child
Relatives of the young ballerinas brought flowers to the performance. Everyone brought red roses for their little star. Everyone but me. My little ballerina did not like roses, her favorite flowers were daisies. Bright, cheerful, white and yellow daisies. While some parents looked at us askance, I knew when I saw my daughter’s face light up with joy and excitement that my precious ballerina was unique. I bought her a big bouquet of daisies and her face was lit up by happiness, her blond hair, gleamed in the sun, and her arms clutched her special flowers. My daughter, now seventeen, still knows exactly what she wants, she has always known. She planned her birthday parties four years in advance and while her blonde hair is now darker, she is as unique as ever, a vegetarian, a unique soul. Though she no longer loves daisies, she doesn’t know what her favorite flower is anymore and there’s plenty of time to figure that out, it’s perfectly alright.
Snow sneaks in softly
on muffled, ballet mice feet
She lies on her bed, my seventeen year old daughter with her long curly blonde hair swept up into a messy top bun that looks exquisite. She has headphones plugged into her computer listening to music, she instant messages friends on her red phone and does her homework simultaneously. She doesn’t know I am looking at her and I hide the tears that start rolling down my face. She is a senior in high school; her criteria for looking for a college is for it to be “far and pretty” emphasis on far.
I’ve been through the college admissions process last year with her older brother. But, this child, this girl, is my baby, the one that clung to me like a little a warm nesting animal burrowed in my neck. This was the child who only wanted me and I was always there for her, picking her up when she screamed, soothing her at night. She called me “Mama.” Her first memory is being “sprung” from her crib by me and I remember that day as well. A small, eighteen month old child engaging me with her big blue eyes and devilish smile, she melted my heart instantly.
I miss the little girl she was. I wish I could scoop her into my arms like I used to when she was a child. Even a hug is asking too much, I know. I still remember how it felt though. I can’t remember what I did last night for dinner but the softness of her skin and her wet sloppy kisses on my cheek are unforgettable, as well as the sound of her infectious, devilish laugh.
My daughter knows what she wants at all times. When she was a mere child she planned her birthday parties three years in advance and never changed her mind. When she was younger she did ballet, wearing a pink leotard, a pink tutu, tights, and tiny beige ballet shoes. Her hair was in a bun covered by a pink, lacy barrette. If I had to recreate her in dance she would now be a modern dancer, leaping through the air like a gazelle, wearing scarves in vibrant colors, her hair loose and wild, moving with the music.
She is a vegetarian and always has been since she was a baby. When I tried to feed her meat baby food she spit it out immediately and laughed when it hit me on my face. To this day, she does not eat meat, she loves all animals, especially our dog. She shows the most affection to our dog whom she hugs and kisses and confides in. I love watching her long arms around our dog’s neck, whispering her confidences to her.
She is incredibly smart, private and can buy five outfits on the clearance rack that look gorgeous on her within three minutes. She takes after her grandmother when it comes to style, it definitely missed my generation. We do, on occasion, have our mother-daughter feuds. She will stare me down with those hardened blue eyes and say as condescendingly as possible: “you’re not wearing THAT are you?” or “what exactly are those pants you’re wearing, tell me they are not sweat pants!!” Sigh, and I thought I looked fashionable, I refused to change.
I will always be here for you, beautiful girl. I’m holding on to these last months when you still live at home. I can’t wait to see what second semester will bring: the prom, the senior musical, the college of your choice. I know you will have a lot of fun; be happy and know that I am happy for you.
Sweet lips, melt, quiver
Taste of chocolate melting
A ballet of lust.
My goal in life, since I was five years old, was to become a mom. I thought getting pregnant would be natural and beautiful but it seemed we needed a little help. After two and a half years of painful shots, medication and an every day visit to the infertility clinic for blood work and ultra-sounds I finally was pregnant. I collapsed to my knees behind the closed-door in my stuffy office and kissed the dirty gray carpet in gratitude. I cried with happiness, one hand already covering my tiny belly.
My son was born and we called him Buddha baby, he never cried, he was always happy, a smiling, compassionate and outgoing kid. He was my miracle baby, my first born. I went to every baseball game for my son, sitting in the bleachers in the rain, and sneaking away to the car to warm myself up.
My daughter came, naturally, twenty-one months after her brother was born, screaming on top of her lungs as she entered the world. I remember going into her room and lifting this red-faced baby girl to my shoulders, she would take a deep breath and her whole body relaxed into my neck. I was her only source of comfort when she was a baby. I was there for every ballet lesson and dance recital, holding a bouquet of daisies, her favorite flower, in my arms like I was nestling a newborn baby‘s head.
I did everything for my kids and I loved doing it. This was the career I decided on and I wanted nothing more. I stayed home with them even when they got older because I knew they needed me during the tough middle school years. They would never admit it but they were happy to see me when they got home. Working moms called me “old-fashioned” but I didn’t care.
When I was 50, I went through menopause and my body fell apart. I was diagnosed first with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an auto- immune disease. When Synthroid, did not help me at all, I warily shuffled from one doctor to another, every bone and muscle and joint in my body screaming with agony. My internist had given up on me, she stormed out of the room while I was laying there on the exam table crying in pain. After visits to many different doctors I was finally diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. I felt like I had the flu, every single day and night, with no fever, my personal definition of Fibromyalgia.
My life changed after that. I became the mom “before” I was sick and the mom “after.” I felt that I was no longer the mom you could always count on. I prefaced everything by saying “If I feel okay that day,” and “I’ll call you the morning of…” Luckily my children were fourteen and twelve but it was now Dad who got up, made breakfast and lunches and dinner. Me? I was asleep, always asleep and in pain.
I felt lost and sad for years, not being able, physically, to be the mom I once was. Now, I am dropped off at an entrance to anywhere we go like the handicapped patient I am. I sit alone, on a chair, when all the other parents and children go on a campus tour to see the entire campus. I cannot walk that far. I don’t want to be an embarrassment to my children or a burden for my husband. I want the kids to remember the mom I was before I was sick but I know they don’t. They probably just remember me as I am today. I am not the mom I was before my illness even though my heart remains unchanged. I am the mom that they have now and because of that I have tremendous guilt and a lot of residual, emotional pain.