Simply, Jack

Newest Addition

Newest Addition (Photo credit: FrankGuido)

Days go by that seem ordinary, nothing really special seems to happen that you can remember. Maybe, we are just too tied up with our everyday lives to take a breath, and break down our day into moments, seconds, even. I try to do that but more often than not I forget and the days blur together like wet watercolor paintings. Once in a rare while something happens that makes you stop right in your tracks and hits you in the heart and stomach like a wonderful, joyous sucker punch. Yesterday, it was meeting Jack.

Even while I am writing this my eyes tear up and I honestly can’t explain why exactly. Is it that for once something good happened, some miracle answered? That the child I met was so beautiful, angelic, almost ethereal ? I was absolutely honored when I was introduced to her son, Jack. His lovely, pink-cheeked mother, looking exactly as she had years ago, introduced me and Jack held up his hand to shake mine. Something my 19 and 20-year-old children would never think about doing. Was I crying about the miracle of Jack or did it evoke memories of the miracle of my son, a junior in college and daughter, a sophomore in college to me? Each their own miracle and I do not say this lightly.

We had a rough time getting pregnant with our son, two and a half years of infertility treatments, shots, blood tests, ultra-sounds, medication, driving to the hospital at 5:30 am for my blood to be tested, for sonograms, back at night for more blood tests, shots. I did all of this in silence because back in the early nineties, no one talked about infertility. It was a shameful secret. My colleagues, boss, family and friends would make such hurtful comments and jokes all the time about “So, when  are you going to have a baby?” Grandparents were no different but finally we had to tell them; we thought they would be more sensitive but they weren’t. People say remarkably ignorant and cruel things even though that is not their intention. I’ve always watched my words to other people but this cemented it. When we conceived our son it was indeed a miracle. Our daughter, 21 months later, was again, another wonderful miracle. Just as I was about to call the doctor for treatments, I learned I was already pregnant! Now we are blessed with two kind, smart, wonderful young adults, it seems like just a minute ago that they were still young.

Jack’s mom is a kindergarten teacher who worked across the hall from both of my children’s kindergarten’s teacher. When I ran into her yesterday I knew exactly who she was. I am the type of person that never forgets a face. I, of course, thought she had no idea who I was but she stopped me, she remembered me and my name and my children. This time, I was the one who was shocked and incredibly touched. How amazing that she remembered me! How could that be? That was always my role.

Then there was Jack, beautiful, angelic, pale skinned cherub, Jack. I remember he had to fight to live, I think he was premature but I truly can’t remember the details. I just remember there was difficulty and when he was born, even though I didn’t know his mom directly I was euphoric. I was so thrilled that I ran to buy a present for her son to welcome him into the world. It didn’t matter if she knew who I was or not, I didn’t care. As someone known to be sensitive to other people, her joy was mine too.

Seeing her face yesterday was more beautiful than a sculpture, she glowed with happiness and with pride.  I was so touched by her happiness and by young Jack. I thought about it at night and obviously today too. Jack, maybe when you are older your mom will show you this but just know: that as much as everyone loves you know, you were loved by many people before you were even born. It’s like you had your own fan club waiting for you, every single day.  We crossed our fingers, we said our prayers because your mom is such a special and warm person we knew she deserved a boy exactly like you.

Dedicated to JP and Jack.

Photograh: credit to photographer

words and lyrics by John Lennon

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Yellow Magic Madness #29 Spinning Yellow, Out Of Control

Wheel

Wheel (Photo credit: Today is a good day)

I am a very

spiritual person and so I pray. Tonight, my oldest friend is in the ICU, his kidneys have failed him. We were born one day apart, he never let me forget that I was older by one day. Our mothers met in the maternity ward in our old local hospital many years ago. Tonight he is fighting for his life. Yellow magic, Yellow light, The joy of Yellow, the Hope.

My mind is spinning out of control, like a misguided ferris wheel on the wrong speed, it’s going too fast. He went through a bad time physically last year. I feel like I am living in a surreal world. Right now, all I think about, is him. I’m scared and sad and yes, a little angry too. Please don’t die, please. You had a lonely life, but you have us, your friends. Don’t give up. I am begging you.

10:30 PM : My phone rings, I don’t recognize the number, the voice sounds muffled, I hear loud BEEP- -BEEP sounds every few seconds. My friend has called me, I am shocked, happy, relieved, confused. We talk for only a few minutes, I tell him that “I love him, that all his friends do” he becomes emotional; I was so grateful to hear his voice. Let him make it through this night, and another….just one slow day, after another. Breathe…Breathe, Breathe.

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The Apple Tree – (It’s Really Not About The Turkey- Part 2)

English: An apple tree loaded with apples in i...

English: An apple tree loaded with apples in its upper crown. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Children leave you, like everyone leaves you; you know it is true. Ultimately that’s our biggest fear and the only one that we can’t deny because we know it’s true. We are born alone and we die alone. Children have been leaving us as soon as they take their first step.  Dying is just the last step, in this world at least, but people and pets have gone ahead of us all our lives. It’s the one thing we cannot control, the one thing that causes us the most pain and grief yet we can’t prevent it nor can we heal it. We can’t make it better for others nor can we help ourselves. For me, the only solution I have found is time and letting my pain out like a bursting dam, writing about it helps but it takes a great amount of time to wrap my head around the fact that I will never see that person again. We all grieve differently. Don’t let anyone tell you how to grieve or that you are not grieving the “right ” way. Time does heal, but you can’t expect to forget. Eventually, the memories become sweet reminders of the past.

My children, who have been home for Thanksgiving, for four days, are excited to leave for their other “home” tomorrow morning at ll:00 a.m. They are going back to their respective colleges.  I was surprised to hear how early they were leaving; I know they have a very long drive but deep down I knew that wasn’t the reason. They were ready to go home to their friends, their college family, their parties. I was not surprised at how much they wanted to go back but I was a little disappointed.  I am glad they are their own people now but deep inside my empty womb I felt a pinch of disappointment, of grief. They have left us for good.

Like a sturdy tree, we have stood as a family for twenty years. Now, the tree that once stood so solidly is dropping its apples and the apples are good, they are tasty, juicy and we as parents are proud.  We have made them but they are not our apples anymore, they do not belong to us. They belong to the world, to the men and women who take them home, who love them. Surely, they will remember us, but we will never be their first priority again. It’s a true fact, one you can’t deny and one parents everywhere have to accept. It’s not easy, I know.

So, yes, it was wonderful to watch them grow and to keep watching them, every step of the way. Deep in our hearts, we know, that it will never be the same as it once was. Never. Sure, they will love us in they hearts but they will no longer need us the same way; our goal was to make them independent, remember? I forget too sometimes. They go out into the world to find their own place, to meet their own loves, to start their own families.

We are alone, like when we were born. We will probably die alone, which I know, is a scary thought. Maybe we will be lucky and someone will be there to hold our hand or to whisper “I love you” in our little, paper-thin, shell-like ear, but no one can promise that. We die as we are born. All the steps along the way are lessons to be learned on separation. Be your own person, as much as you can. Love yourself first before you love others.

Carry on Tuesday

angel

angel (Photo credit: M@rg)

Title : Old and wise
First line: As far as my eyes can see
I stare at an old photograph, taken in 1991, of my father and me.  It was taken in my husband’s and my first garden, actually our only functioning garden, ripe with carrots and beans and peas and three types of tomatoes and corn that the raccoons ate. My arm was around my  father’s neck, my dad and I are grinning. We both looked incredibly happy, his eyes: grey-blue, old and wise, saying without words ” I knew one day you would have your dream.”  I am 6 months pregnant in the photograph; it had taken me over 2 and a half years to get pregnant. During that time, I shed more tears than I thought possible. In that photograph, in the late afternoon sunshine, with my dad, both of us were beaming.
During the long phase of infertility however, I was poked and prodded and put through every invasive test known to woman-kind by my doctor and everything was done in complete secrecy. I was ashamed, it was all my fault.
Only many years later did magazines burst into publication with articles describing the shots we had to take, the mood swings, the twice daily blood tests and ultra-sounds, the stress and depression we felt. Back when I was desperately trying to get pregnant, we kept our feelings to ourselves. Sometimes we shared our lives with the other people in the infertility office, a very strange, yet delicate friendship. You wanted your friends to get pregnant but not at your own expense. It was a double-edged sword. Close but not too close.
The photograph before me, which stands framed on my table now, represents both the good and bad; ultimate happiness and deep depression. I was pregnant and standing next to one of my favorite people, my dad. Sadly, he died when both my children were young but at least he knew they were born. No one could replace him for me, no one could have felt more dramatically upset than my mom and I. He was my mother’s husband, but for me, he was my hero. He knew me better than anyone. We had the same personality, my sister and my mother still do. Without our spouses and kids, our nuclear family consisted of three; our mother, my sister and myself; a triangle is a tough combination. I can’t understand how they think.
I’ve had to fight on my own, grow-up, remain firm and I have done that; it’s hard for me to even remember what it was like having someone who understood me so well, having an ally in the family. I look up at the clouds sometimes, I look as far as my eyes can see and beyond that, for a sign from heaven, from my dad. I am one of those people who definitely believes in those signs, that bodies die but souls don’t; that love NEVER dies. How could it? I know my dad still loves me as I love him. When he first died I got many, many signals and messages. As time passed, I got fewer. But I know, if I truly needed him, he would, without a doubt, send me a sign to show me that he is still watching over me and that love is everlasting.

Free Writing Friday: Kellie Elmore: Abandoned

Little Fingers!

Little Fingers! (Photo credit: jmccauli)

Abandonment is like a second skin, it rolls up slowly on my arms like old-fashioned gloves, soft, sleek, black, elbow length. My teeth sink into the word “abandoned’ and “insecure” as if I was in the middle of eating a piece of double- layer chocolate cake. I not only taste but feel the delicious, sweet frosting rolling around my lips; it lives there, it feels at home. I was always a scared child, anxious, what was I picking that up that no one else was? I was always called “over-sensitive” by my mother but I fought hard, independently for everyone to hear my voice. When I was young my voice was low, I was always the good girl, after my father died, the dynamics all changed.

It was the first time my parents had been to a party; my mother borrowed a maternity outfit from her friend Ann. When they got to the party, six weeks before my due date my mother wasn’t feeling well. Her friend Claire made her sit down, she timed the contractions. “It couldn’t be, it’s too early” but sure enough, they called the doctor and he said he would meet them in the hospital. Claire drove my mother and my Uncle Teddy drove my father, I don’t know why, either does my mother, the last survivor of the four of them.

When I was born hours later my mother looked at me and said I looked “like a plucked chicken.” My father said to Teddy” How cute can you get?” Since I was born six weeks pre-mature and only weighed 4 lbs and 6 ounces I was not allowed to leave the hospital. I was in an incubator until I could reach 5 lbs. I was in the hospital for 4 weeks. Back in the 50’s they didn’t the knowledge they have now; I’m sure no one held me except the doctors and the nurses. There were no advanced techniques back then. Moms and Dads weren’t even allowed to enter the room much less caress their little one’s tiny hands. I knew my father had visited every day, after work, he knocked on the glass that separated us, and smiled. My mother’s story has changed a little over time, she had my older sister to contend with and she felt “there was nothing she could do.” I think the error in judgment was telling me the story. What purpose did it serve?

My parents traveled a lot when I was a teenager leaving me alone in the apartment building. I would cry when they left and cry when I saw them wait outside for their taxi but as soon as their taxi left, I felt fine and strong. Being left is not one of my favorite things; I’m better at leaving. Even now, when my children, age 18 and 20 leave for college, I still cry.

When I was a child, every night, I would ask my father questions “Will anyone go to the hospital?” “Will there be a fire?” and plenty more. I needed that nightly repetition of answers to feel safe. That lasted until I was in the third grade when my mom did have to go to the hospital for a small surgery. I was hysterical. I remember pounding the blankets with my fists and screaming “We can’t play the question game because one of the answers is yes!”

When my dad died, eleven years ago, my greatest fear came true, he left me, he left us all forever. I had a very tough time letting go, he and I were so close but I got through it, no one really has a choice and with the slow passage of time I healed very slowly and it took a long time.I grieved openly, never one to hide my feelings. My children were very young, 7 and 9, years later my son confessed he thought I would always be that way, crying endlessly and being sad. I felt terrible and guilty but there was no way that overwhelming grief could have been hidden. He also got to watch me heal and recover, a life lesson.

Life is all about leaving, my children will constantly leave as they grow up, even their first step, as toddlers grinning proudly, they show us they need to leave and it is our job as parents to encourage them. They will leave me or we will leave them. It’s life, and death, sadness and happiness, insecurity and hope. Abandonment feels so familiar, like a dress, perfectly fitted to my body. I know love, I know pain, but abandonment is not only familiar, it feels like my skin.

Plinky Prompt: The Opening Sentence of My Autobiography

  • You’re writing your autobiography. What’s your opening sentence? See all answers
  • Intro of Your Life
  • Ravelympics: Premature baby hat
  • I was born six weeks premature; when the doctor delivered me, my mother said I looked like a “plucked chicken…..”

Haiku Heights: Forget-Me-Nots

English: Forget-me-nots

English: Forget-me-nots (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Longing, green eyes meet

raw, fresh, across a full moon

Instant attraction.

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The joy of my love,

Rose petals strewn in my heart

gift of young, sweet life.              (happy 18th birthday to my daughter, Jillian)

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Thunder strikes silver

Bullets scream out blood, guts, hope

Death of trust and life.

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Carry On Tuesday – The Best Is Yet To Be (A True Story)

Death

Death (Photo credit: tanakawho)

I’m a woman in my mid-fifties now. When I was younger I lived in Boston by myself in a studio apartment; my best friend lived in the same building. We both worked, we ate out every night, we laughed a lot.We were both financially independent, we paid our own bills and ate a lot of Bailey’s vanilla hot fudge sundaes with whipped cream and extra cherries. We shopped often so we could get the Clinique cosmetic bonus at one of the large retail stores.We waited on the Boston streets, Saturdays, late at night, for The Boston Globe and The New York Times to be delivered. My best friend turned out to be a very sick woman with many psychological issues that I put up with until she started lying to me and that I wouldn’t accept, I couldn’t. We barely spoke after that. It took many years for me to see her as fragile and flawed and emotionally damaged instead of holding on to my anger and her betrayal.

I got married when I was 31 to a man I had known my whole life. We fit together like a pair of tan silk gloves, holding hands. We came from the same background, our parents were friends; our wedding was small, outside in Boston, at the Boston’s Women’s City Club, both sets of parents and siblings were there to take part in the ceremony. It was October and the weather was very warm and sunny and it felt like late June.

We struggled to have children for two and a half years of grueling infertility treatments. I was depressed, running my life on automatic pilot: to the clinic at 6:30 am for shots, blood work, ultra-sounds; I then drove to work, sometimes I had to go back to the clinic at night. My goal in life was always to be a mother and I was heartbroken. Finally, one glorious day, I found out that I was pregnant, I felt it before any blood test could confirm it. That was one of the happiest moments of my life, it was 20 years ago.

I gave birth to our son and a year later I felt the same calmness in the shower when my husband told me of recent break-ins in the neighborhood, I smiled.  I felt peaceful and unfazed; I got dressed quickly, grabbed my baby boy and headed to the pharmacy for pregnancy tests. I was thrilled, no fertility treatments needed; my body had fixed itself. In the hottest days at the end of July, I gave birth to a baby girl. Life was complete.

We moved to a tiny house in New York to be closer to family, as soon as we moved, my father became ill, seriously ill. Life plays tricks on us all the time; we had moved so we could have a support system and help yet by the time we got there we were the ones that were helping my parents. It was a lesson to be learned and for others to learn. Don’t move FOR other people, people will always change their minds or their plans or they will move on themselves. Life will make changes for you whether you plan for it or not.

My father was ill for a long time, physically and mentally; he was very, very depressed. The things that had made him so happy in the past left him untouched. His joy of life, for the little things, for food and music and Viennese waltzes were now annoyances. My father died many months before his actual physical death. He died the night we went to dinner together because my mother asked me for help so she could go out with her friends, she needed a break. I went to dinner with my dad, now a stranger to me, we shared a creamy risotto, one of his favorite dishes, and a small, crispy iceberg salad, we drank tap water. There was no light in his pale blue eyes, he was no longer there although he could carry on a conversation very adeptly. I drove him home to his apartment, I convinced him to play “Der Fledermaus” on his turntable, his favorite music that used to blast from the stereo all the way down the hall when I was young. He played it, for me, but he didn’t want to. I even asked him to dance which he did begrudgingly for about ten seconds. He stopped abruptly and said to me: “When you leave here, be happy.” My father died, for me, at that moment. I left after that, he urged me to go, and I leaned against the wall outside, doubled over with pain and grief, my body wracked with sobs. He died six months later, on New Year’s Eve, a day before my parents’ wedding anniversary.

I grieved for years, I still grieve. I was especially close to the father that I grew up with, similar in nature and temperament. I was left with a sister and a mother who were very close and who had no understanding of who I was and how I felt. I was left out, I still feel that way sometimes but it just doesn’t matter anymore. My children were still little when my dad died but they saw their mommy who stayed in bed and cried all the time. My son, years later, said he thought ‘I would always be that way’; his sweet, honest observation made me feel worse. My children are now 17 and 19, my husband and I proudly watched our son graduate from high school last year and we will watch our daughter graduate from high school this year.

When my children were little, in third grade and second, I surprised them with a puppy. A sweet ball of fur from the shelter, only six-weeks old. The most well-behaved dog you can imagine, demure and cuddly who wanted nothing more than to sit in my lap and sigh with contentment. Earlier this month I gave her a big tenth birthday party as I have every year, with my daughter and our friends Margaret and Christina; I even bought hats and paper plates. I took photographs of us.

It’s been only two weeks but now she is dead. I brought her in to the veterinarian because she yelped softly twice but otherwise seemed fine. I felt silly bringing her in to the veterinarian but I did anyway. He examined this perfectly looking dog and said “I feel something.” He kept her there all day for an X-ray and blood tests and I called later that afternoon for the results.

He scheduled her for surgery, the following day, she had a mass on her spleen and he would have to take her spleen out but, as he said, “dogs can live a good life without a spleen….if it wasn’t cancer.” Cancer?  We brought her in to surgery and I kissed her a lot and put my arms around her and whispered secrets to her. Later that afternoon, the veterinarian called, the cancer had spread to 75 percent of her perfect tan, black and white body. He advised and we agreed that we did not want our dog to suffer. Our dog died that day. I had to tell my children and our friends, between sobs and my grief. This was my dog. I picked her out from the shelter, she was my girl. I still cry, I still think I hear her in the house, I wait for her when I unlock the door….

As you get older in life you will have experienced great joy: college and dating, relationships, marriage, children, jobs, pets. They say “the best is yet to be” but I can’t believe that. I wish I thought that there were better things ahead for me in this world but I can’t possibly imagine what they would be. I’m sure there will be moments of joy here and there, but so too, there will be more sickness and death and grief and getting older. I had the best of times, now, I just have the memories.

If I Could See For A Day (Plinky Prompt)

Yawning newborn baby

Image via Wikipedia

  • Imagine that you’re blind, but you have been granted one day to see. What day would you choose?
  • If I Could Only See for a Day
  • No offense, but this is an odd question. In any case, I would pick the birth of my child. Of course, it would be nice if the hospital room was located with a view of a park, with maple trees swaying in the wind, red cardinal birds flying through a light blue sky. The sun would be shining brightly but the only thing I would want to see and remember is the sight of my newborn baby in my arms.

High School, Like Being Pregnant, Only Different

I glowed all through my two pregnancies. I loved being pregnant and felt blessed and  beautiful, healthy and alive and happy. Despite the normal pregnancy disturbances, like peeing every few hours at night, it was a very special time for me.  UNTIL.

Up until the ninth month when I became so uncomfortable and stressed that I couldn’t wait to give birth. It happened with both my children, same time, same bat channel. The angel inside became too big, too frisky and punched like a son of a bitch, incessantly.  I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t walk, I waddled and I couldn’t get comfortable anytime or anywhere. At that point, the little angel you have carried and protected in your womb (whom you have nurtured, sung to, played music for and sang the alphabet song a thousand times)  becomes a devil. The child you wanted to carry forever becomes the baby you can’t wait to give birth to. GET IT OUT OF ME NOW. I’ve had enough.

We have two teenagers in High School, one is a Junior and one is a Sophomore. I often get sad thinking about them leaving home and going to college. It will be “so quiet” I say to my husband as he rolls his eyes upwards. There will be only one year between our son going to college and our daughter. We will be empty nesters and that reminds me of really old people. HOWEVER. In the last six months they have become incredibly obnoxious each in his or her own way. If I start recanting some of the things they do I immediately get angina.  Let’s just say, we are at a point, where we ARE FINE with them to going to college. We might even relish some quiet time instead of all the yelling, arguing, cursing, fighting….that has gone on for years.  IT’S GETTING OLD. FAST. There are certain fights that my son will initiate just to fight. To him, it’s a sport. He will end up yelling up a storm with my husband. To me, he uses curse words that I hate and find incredibly disrespectful. This was the boy I was raising to be a good, solid, young man. You wouldn’t know it from the way he speaks. He apparently hasn’t learned that I am a parent and not his posse of friends that curse together, those macho things. Our daughter, known in the past to, shall we say, interpret the truth differently than we do, provokes her brother, flies under the radar and basically tries to get her older brother in trouble all the time. She often succeeds and while we hear some interesting tales, she will rat him out in a heartbeat if it means saving her own backside.  It may just be her life goal to see how much trouble she can get him into.

So, when the children are packing up their suitcases for college, we will be ready. For a little peace, a little quiet, for doors that are not slammed shut, and rooms that  don’t look like hell holes. Rooms that if, and only if you dare, step inside you are risking your life and your decrepit limbs.

Remember, kids, we love you and will miss you, don ‘t forget to call. Have a safe trip.  Love, Mom and Dad