Happy Birthday, Son

Candles spell out the traditional English birt...

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It’s two days before my son’s 19th birthday and for the first year ever, he’s not with me, his mom and his family. It’s his first year of college and he is having an incredible time; I couldn’t be happier. But, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss him today and that the thought of him made me cry with selfish sadness. I feel sentimental about my boy, now a fine young man, and I have to get used to the fact that he will be spending his birthdays partying with his friends for many years to come. I know his family is still important but we are in the background now and one day in the future he will celebrate his birthday with his own family.

He is perfectly fine spending his birthday away from his family, it’s just me feeling a little blue. Can you blame me? Wasn’t it just yesterday that I shopped for Thomas the Tank Engine? Or even the horrible fighting games for X Box 360 that we reluctantly bought him when he was older?

I know he still remembers his favorite surprise “Batman” party when he was four when his cousin and his aunt flew up for the party; that was an event he will always remember. Our daughter, his little sister, was terrified of “Batman” and clung to our mother’s helper, Erin, for dear life. He went from “Batman” to beer in a hurry, it seems. I guess I haven’t completely caught up.

Of course I sent him a birthday box last week with sweet treats and a card with a check but I just feel something is missing. That something is him. Right about now I would have been wrapping packages and scurrying to find the special cards that I bought and saved. We would put his presents on the “birthday table” and wait for him to wake up and find them. The whole family would always crowd around the birthday girl or boy, mom and dad. It was always a lot like Christmas every year. Birthdays are really big in our house. Huge.

So on Thursday, I will be wishing my first-born a happy birthday over the phone; I’m scared to “skype” with him because I think I will cry. No matter what, even if I say one word, he will know my infamous “shaky voice” and I don’t want to share that with him on his birthday, his special day. That’s just the type of kid he is, he picks up other people’s feelings in a second, picks up on the same emotional radar that I have. I love you for being a great kid and a wonderful young man. I’m happy and proud to call you my son.

Happy Birthday

Love Always, Mom

Home Is…

Wood damage by C. herculeanus

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Home? What Home?

Home means nothing to me now; it hasn’t meant anything for the last SEVEN weeks and it won’t feel like anything for at least four – six more weeks. A simple kitchen renovation (that we saved up for) became a nightmare financially, physically and emotionally. Our contractor found  hidden damage and rotten wood…IN …EVERY….ROOM. Nothing was spared from carpenter ants and termites; rotting wood took the place of our souls in that house. We live in a one room small hotel now, three of us and our dog. In some ways, this feels more like my home to me now that my actual tiny house in the suburbs.

Once our old house is rebuilt I still won’t feel at home, I know. Because of all the renovations and rebuilding, there is dust and wood shavings and dirt everywhere. EVERYWHERE. Even after an industrial cleaner comes in to rid the place of toxic chemicals, it won’t feel like home because nothing is where it is supposed to be. We have mountains of boxes and plastic crates piled mile high and every scrap of writing paper, toothpaste and shampoo, olive oil and jars of tomato sauce, books, shoes, cutlery…..everything you can imagine is put away….somewhere. I don’t have the joy of moving back in because moving back in leads to three more months of cleaning, putting things away and organizing.

I went into our house today and realized something; the only thing that is worse than not living in your house IS visiting your OLD one, with black tar paper all over it, windows being realigned, dust, dirt and SAWDUST everywhere. Nothing is familiar, nothing feels like or smells like home. I have no home; I really just want to cry.

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Someone I Wish I Were Closer To

Two Sisters

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*”She Rides In The Front Seat, She’s My Older Sister”

* song by Carly Simon

I didn’t have to think long for an answer; the question was already answered in my mind and in my heart before I stopped reading the prompt. Who would I pick?  My sister. We look nothing alike but many people say we sound exactly alike, especially on the phone. Sounding identical on the phone came in very handy for practical jokes when she grew tired of talking to a guy or a girlfriend and handed the receiver over to me; I joyfully took over. No one ever knew, we laughed about that a lot, it is still a funny memory. We tricked our dad all the time he could never tell us apart on the phone, tricking mom was a challenge but we even got her once or twice.

We may be connected by blood but we don’t really have a lot in common. Our mother and father used to call us Day and Night, probably not a good thing to encourage a warm, trusting, sibling relationship but they were right. You probably could not find two more dissimilar sisters if you tried.

We are opposite in most everything. If I love a movie (Ferris Bueller) she will hate it. If she recommends a Doctor (she did) I hated him on sight. We have no preconceived notions it’s just that are tastes are so different. When she picks out a present for someone she buys what she would love to have; when I buy a present I think of what the person will like based on who they are.

Our hearts must be wired differently as well as our personalities. I’m trying so hard, so deliberately NOT to push buttons or start a fight. We have the same issues for each other yet with different circumstances. I feel like I walk on eggshells when I talk to her and she feels the same way about me. There are dangerous, hidden explosive mines that should probably all be detonated by now but I’m afraid they are not. They explode a few times a year and I’m being conservative.

I always wanted a Hallmark sister, I longed to buy one of those cards that said “To My Sister And Best Friend” but I couldn’t. I wanted us to be the two sisters in the photograph above, loving, sweet, bound by an indescribable connection. I wanted an older sister to play with me, someone I could rely on for support and warmth. Someone that would teach me things about boys and make-up but our five and a half-year difference and our different styles made it hard if not impossible. She probably wanted another person like herself, more adventurous and wild but we can’t seem to meet half way on anything.

I love my sister, I wish we weren’t that different but we are. Understanding each other will never happen; now we are trying for acceptance but that’s really hard too. I wish my sister was my friend, I wish she was my best friend but she isn’t. I wish we didn’t have the complicated emotional history we have; we’re the Yankees vs the Red Sox, the chocolate to vanilla, our pet names for each other were “stupid” and “ugly” and that just sounds so wrong. But, we were also “tuna fish” as we said good-night to each other through a fake wall partition and “peanut butter,” and that exchange usually lasted a good ten or fifteen minutes or more. Until one of us started to get tired and then we would ask good-naturedly “What time is it?” just to prolong our simple game.

My most favorite memories when we were older and our parents would still be sleeping but she and I would wake up and gather around the kitchen’s white formica table and sip coffee together and talk. In the end, she is my only sibling and when our mother dies we will have our history and memories to link us together. Maybe then, we will be able to put away our differences and cling to what we have left: each other.

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The Moment ( HS Graduation 2011)

Cap Toss

Image by Herkie via Flickr

I never knew how high and wide the big white High School graduation tent was until I stood under it. I didn’t realize how massive it was until I wandered through it.  I walked through the aisles under the tent saying “Hi” and “Congratulations” to people I hadn’t seen in years.

I didn’t know how I would react when my son’s name was read over the microphone yet instinctively we stood and clapped and cheered and roared. I saw a young man walk back to his seat in slow motion; I didn’t realize it was my son; his face  looked so grown up. Teenagers age, I think,  once they put on their High School graduation caps and gowns; he looked six inches taller and six years older too.

It’s all a blur, the speeches and the people you smile at, familiar faces that you have seen in elementary school recitals or a middle-school play. The friends that you hug warmly are the best, closest friends that you have, that you have talked to all year, day in and day out, wondering anxiously if you and your child would ever make it to this grand day. We hold on to each other for an extra minute, sharing this surreal moment, not believing we are actually, finally, here.

They officials on the podium made an announcement to please refrain from clapping until all the students names have been read. Yeah, right. I felt sorry for the first few kids whose last name started with “A.” Those parents were very well-behaved; it just took one family to start…  There were further instructions from the podium to NOT clap for each student so I felt perfectly justified playing my silly game of selection. I did NOT clap for the kids that had ever been especially mean to my son (starting with kindergarten through 12th) and for the mean-spirited moms, dads and kids that everyone knew, were the culprits of spreading ill-will. It was like a silent victory lap for moms and dads; besides we all did the same thing.

I was proud of my self-control, all my sadness, tears, and sobbing began months before the actual event. On the day of graduation I smiled and laughed and was so proud of my son and the amazing young man he has turned out to be.  I was also filled with pride when his three best friends names were called, we shouted and clapped for each one. I will, undoubtedly, miss my son when he leaves for college but also, I will miss his friends, “the posse” as I called them or “The Entourage.” I have no doubt that they will see each other when they come home from college, but this long, lovely chapter of best friends and video games, parties, dinners, dates and diners has ended. I will miss that and my special group of “The Moms.”

Just when I thought the ceremony was over, the President of the High School, told the students that they had officially  graduated. The blue caps were flung in the air with unbridled joy and excitement. There was a deafening roar from the students and all my self-control evaporated in that moment; I burst out crying. It was so emotionally intense; it was captured in my mind and heart forever.

The graduates beamed so much that it looked like they were lit up from inside with joy and pride.  They were shining, like new copper pots or brand new pennies, excitement dancing in their eyes. Congratulations to my son and to all his friends and classmates; Congratulations to the Class of 2011!

Swedish Fish Are Mood Elevators

2.28.09

Image by absenthero via Flickr

Sometimes all we need is a change of attitude. Or a good night’s sleep or the morning light that makes evening’s horrific problems seem not so bad after all. It’s hard to wake up grumpy after nine hours of sleep. My back is a little better so that’s an improvement and I  hear the cardinals tweet their beautiful songs right outside my window. It’s raining but the light gray skies look hopeful, almost as if they were encouraging the sun to come out and play.

I found a diner that serves carrot cake by the slice but ever since I saw it I haven’t been back to buy it. Just knowing its available is good enough, well, until tomorrow when I go back, hand them my cash and run.

Writing about my narrow angled glaucoma last night made me feel relieved. It had never occurred to me to write about it before and I find that strange. I can post about Fibromyalgia but this horror, this reality, had subconsciously become my scary secret.  It’s as if before I had avoided a part of my own reality: I’m scared to death of going blind and the procedures themselves are excruciating. Help me. Please.

Tonight I will break apart the multi-grain French loaf that I bought at the store yesterday, warm it up and eat it with olive oil or butter and a chunk of sharp white cheddar cheese, and honey and that will be my dinner. I will drink diet vanilla Coke out of  a wine glass and celebrate being alive, celebrate yesterday being over.

My headache throbs incessantly and will not go away. Weather? Stress? Fibromyalgia? Life? These days I’m a single mother of two active and self-involved teenagers that dance around me. There is no real communication or help, because they are only concerned about themselves and their private worlds of friends.  I lost it today, saying I was not “their maid” and they need to help out. At 16 and a half and almost 18 and a half they should really know better but they don’t. Age appropriate? Probably. Annoying? Definitely.

I am looking forward to watching Modern Family tonight on television while eating Swedish Fish. Yesterday was the first time I ever had a Swedish fish, I took a few out of the bags I had bought my children and tried them. I now know why they love them. The texture is smooth, slimy, sugary sweet and strawberry? I eat them gingerly not wanting to tempt the pain of TMJ. Even so, Swedish Fish (and no, they are not paying me) truly are a delicacy, because other than ginger-lemon cookies, they are all I’ve got.  Sugar therapy. Works for me.

The Emotional And Physical A, B, C’s of Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia Awareness

Fibromyalgia or any other illness combines physical symptoms AND emotional ones. This is a blog post that is not original. I just borrowed it from friends because that’s what friends are for! Here are mine:

A- Anxious, Aches, Achy, Anxiety

B- Bloated, Blue

C-Cramps in feet, legs, hands…etc, CURE??????? (not).

D-Depressed at times, Denial, Disapointment to others?

E-Embarrassed, (no) energy

F- Fatigue, Fibro Fog, Forgetful, Fat, FRUSTRATED, Fearful

G-Grateful it’s not life threatening

H-Hands that are swollen and ache, Hurt

I-Incomplete

J-Joint pain, joyous for a good (day, hour, minute)

K- klutz, I trip, I fall and I am uncoordinated

L-Lame, Limitations

M-Medicine, moody at times

N-Neuropathy

O-Oh what a pain in the ass this really is for all of us.

P- Pissed off, Pain

Q- (no clue or rather, qlue)

R-Realistic

S-Sad, Suffering, Savella

T- Tired

U-Unsure

V- Very tired, very frustrated, very much want carrot cake

W-Worn out, weary

X- Xanax for anxiety (the same answer everyone else gave!!!)

Y- Y? because I love you……

Z-zzzzzz’s for sleeping a lot

My Spring To-Do List

Blooming Forsythia

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There are beautiful yellow forsythia blooming, an occasional purple crocus, the beginning of grass seeds growing. There are rain showers all the time, gray skies, rain pelting down from the sky like rock stars playing and dancing along with their jumping guitars.

I always have the same thing on my spring to-do list: cleaning, getting rid of the old, broken stuff, the clutter, the sentimental memorabilia that should not be sentimental anymore. Keep the memories, but get rid of junk, plastic gadgets, piles of magazine articles, painful shoes. Old toys and old clothing from my teenagers should be given away in black trash bags to be picked up by Big Brother, Big Sister. I need to declutter my brain, rid myself of the layers of thick, molten dust both on the furniture and in my cloudy head. I need to get rid of so many things so I will be able to move ahead, in my mind and in my life. My children are not little anymore, they need me much less, soon they will be off to college. I don’t want to be here surrounded only by old memories, I need to make new memories, not cling to the past. I need to emotionally accept the difference and move on.

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If You Could Read Minds, For A Day, Would You? (Plinky Prompt)

The Crystal Ball

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  • If I Could Read Minds
  • When you say “hello” I know how you are feeling….
  • I would definitely read minds, but not to freak you out, I have a small amount of that ability already. I didn’t ask for it or train for it but I have always been super intuitive. I sense things, feel things, when others don’t. I have learned not to be scared of it, not to be proud of it but just to accept it and honor it. I have always been a very sensitive person (sometimes it’s a gift, other times it’s a curse) even when I was a child.
    I’d want to know if people were true to themselves, are they lying even when they are complimenting me? Are they truly kind or do they just want recognition. Truth and honesty hold a lot of weight with me; maybe because I am a Libra; always a Libra no matter what that new horoscope alignment says.
    There are times when a blink of an eye conveys a message to me, often I can feel and understand what is not said in a conversation. Sometimes, when I call people and they answer the phone with a simple “hello?” I will say “what’s the matter?” I’m not always right and since I am so sensitive I can read more into something that is there. But, I’m right WAY more than I am wrong. The only exception, I am not good with certain things when it comes to myself because my own anxieties or emotions overwhelm me and I am not objective. That’s when I need my sister or one of my two best friends to listen to me and separate the anxiety away from the reality.
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Relay For Life – Cancer Foundation

Tonight my daughter shined with the satisfaction of accomplishment and goodness but she couldn’t outshine me, her mom, who looked at her with the greatest of love and pride. She’s a leader though I am not sure she knew that until recently. She was always, ever since she was a baby, doing her own thing, to the beat of a different drummer; she followed her own drumbeat and didn’t care what others thought. When it was time to graduate nursery school with all her little classmates, Jillian insisted on wearing her blue Cinderella gown to the ceremony, there was no talking her out of it and in the end, I’m glad she knew what she wanted so strongly. She hasn’t changed.

When I saw my daughter tonight at the Relay For Life, Cancer Foundation Event, with her arms outstretched to hug me I wanted to hold her tight and never let her go. “I’m so proud of you” I murmured into her soft blonde hair. And I am. She collected over 1100 dollars to donate for cancer research but it’s so much more than just that. She has developed into a beautiful, strong, young woman with conviction and strong emotions, strong principles and an incredibly large heart.

If you’ve never been to a Relay for Life activity you are missing out. Everyone seems to know someone living with cancer or has lost friends or family because of it. This event is to honor and remember all friends, family, loved ones.  It is a such a moving ceremony and the kids in high school organize it. My daughter being one of those organizers.

There is a Survivors dinner and a Survivors walk around the track; it begins with Melissa Etheredge’s beautiful song, blaring over the speakers “I Run For Life.” Last year I bawled seeing my friends walk around the track. This year I was smarter. I clapped and shouted to cheer them on, I didn’t cry or let them see me cry this year. This was their night to shine, not mine to distract. I am honoring them in their fight, I am mourning the people I have lost to cancer.

At 9:30pm when it is very dark out, the luminarias are lit. Luminarias are white paper bags that you pay ten dollars for in order to honor or remember a loved one who has or had cancer. They are filled with sand and placed around the track with a candle glowing in each one. You can write an inscription on them or decorate them.   I didn’t see the one I bought for my friend I lost to cancer this year, but it didn’t matter,  I’m sure she knew, it was there. There were many bags for a friend of mine who is has been living with cancer for a number of years now. Her daughter, and now her son, lead the event. To see their whole family, arms around each other, walking together during the survivor’s lap was both heartbreaking and beautiful. I think of this friend all the time; I made her family dinner quite often when she was sick so she didn’t have to think about food. I tried to nourish in whatever way I could; in whatever way she let me in and allowed me to help.

Another vision in my head this year, that will stay with me forever, was a mom or a friend of the mom who take a picture of one of the luminaria bags that had been written by their children in memory of their dad. That image will stay with me forever. She kneeled down on the track and used her cell phone to take a picture of the luminaria, that was written with “I miss you Daddy” and covered with red hearts and yellow flowers.

I feel thankful and blessed that I can go to the event and when we leave, we leave with an emotionally packed heart and never with a dry eye. The girls on my daughter’s team  and all the other teams  sleep over in tents though sleep is a questionable word. My daughter swears she will pull an all-nighter and when my sweet, strong and amazing daughter says she will do something; it happens; no question about it.

I am in awe of my daughter and I admire her, for the person she is, the person she has become. A lovely and beautiful young lady with compassion and tenderness and yes, great individuality and strength; a star, whose life makes mine shine brighter.