What Was The First Album You Bought? (Plinky Prompt)

  • My First Album
  • “They will take your soul if you let them so don’t you let them….”

     

    Carole King – Tapestry

    The first album I purchased was a record, a 33, not that it would make sense to anyone in any generation other than mine. It was Carole King’s Tapestry and I remember sitting on the hard, steel beige cover of the radiator in my older sister’s room filled with full-fledged teenage angst. I sang along to “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” and “You’ve Got A Friend.”
    I sang the verses of “You’ve Got A Friend” focusing on “people can be so cruel, they hurt you and desert you”….I had a good friend who moved away and she swore to keep in touch with me. It didn’t happen for many, many years and I was hurt. Deeply hurt. I sang that song, over and over again,while I peered out of the dirty window from the sixth floor apartment building to the dark, empty and cold pavement below.

Because Love Has No Religion

Roses

Image via Wikipedia

I am slowly, very slowly and intensely taking off pink nail polish from my finger nails as if it was the most important task in the world. I feel like a surgeon scrubbing in to make him/herself totally antiseptic. It feels like that to me but I don’t know why exactly. I don’t know the codes or rules for going to a wake but I know, for myself, I have to wipe away every sign of sunshine from my hands because that feels right. My hands look plain, wrinkled, weather-beaten and bare. I’ve stripped off every clue to color because my friend Dawn is dead and the world feels color-less and grim.

I didn’t know what to expect at the wake; I had only been to one wake before in my life and that was thirty-five years ago. We arrived before the official hours and already the room was packed. I saw her husband, John first, and I hugged him, then their oldest daughter who hugged me as if to comfort me. Her middle son  sat tall and straight next to his friends and did not move, his eyes riveted to his mom’s casket. The youngest child was the most heartbreaking of all, he belonged to no one in that room. He was in his own world, going to the casket, returning to his seat, going to the casket and returning to his seat, his eyes on no one, alone in his private world. He sat neither with family or friends, he was in his own fragile bubble, looking younger than his years.

I thought in death, Dawn would look more like herself than she did in the last stages of her life. I somehow expected to feel comforted that I would see my friend as I had remembered her. I went slowly  up to the coffin although I was terrified; I knew it was something I had to do. But, inside my head, like an unrestrained child, inside my head I was screaming with disbelief and anger “this is not OUR Dawn” I thought, “THIS IS NOT OUR DAWN.”  In the coffin lay a woman I didn’t know, an old woman, with too much makeup. They had prayer cards with a picture of Dawn at her finest: natural, loving, with one of her great big smiles and that is what many people said they wanted to remember her by. Even though I felt the same way, the images for the next three nights when I tried to sleep were of Dawn in the open casket, someone I didn’t know, a stranger.

There were flower arrangements everywhere. A huge arrangement made from roses, dark, crimson roses that formed into a heart; it must have stood six feet tall. There were many other flowers, yellow, white, pink, every color you can imagine and as tall as one can dream.

Her husband John, then came over and put his arm around me to show me something. “I hope you don’t mind” he said but we used your letter to Dawn as our prayer.” In front of me, I saw a piece of paper with the words I had written FOR Dawn, many months before she died. It was called “Praying For Dawn” and somehow after writing it, I thought I would take a chance to drop it off at their house. It was meant for Dawn and her family, and yet here at the wake hundreds of people clutched the piece of paper that I had written.

Her family members wanted to meet me, they said they had all read it many times, I had no idea. I do remember that after I dropped it off I got a voice message in the back of my answering machine from Dawn, thanking me and telling me she loved it. I could barely make out her words but I never erased that message.  I gave my condolences to Dawn’s mom and she said “Oh, do you like that prayer, one of her friends wrote that!!!”  Somehow through my trembling lips and tears I managed to say that ‘I was that friend.’ I swear her eyes lit up and she thanked me and told me how often the family loved reading it. She asked ME if she could introduce me to Dawn’s father who had wanted to meet the friend that had written that poem. After the introduction, he hugged me, and then took my face in his hands and said “God Bless You”  “Thank you for writing that about Dawn, you captured her the way she really was. ” He told me he had wanted to meet the person who wrote it and knew I was a neighbor but didn’t want to walk into the wrong house and be embarrassed.”  I told him where I lived and told him that he and his wife were welcome to visit me at any time.

The emotional intensity for me was overwhelming. I was honored that they used my piece of writing at the same time I was in total emotional shock. People were complimenting me on something that I forgot about since I have written many pieces about Dawn in my blog. I looked at many of my earlier blog posts and I practically have a whole book about Dawn.

My husband practically had to drag me out of the door since we needed to get our daughter to her afternoon class. I saw an old dear friend that I hadn’t seen in a long time and we wrapped our arms around each other crying. “I feel so lost” she said, “I just feel lost.” We all felt that way, I think. Lost without a piece of sunshine in our lives, deprived forever more of this gift of a person who brought enjoyment to everyone she met. Dawn was our fighter, never giving up yet she still lost the fight to this horrendous disease. Dawn was our light, she was our strength, there was no one she didn’t like…..well, with the exception of a little dog in the neighborhood….We all laughed remembering that and it felt good.

Two days later I arrived at the church forty-five minutes before the service and again, there were many people inside. The church was beautiful, I had never been there before. The stained glass windows shone from the morning sun, the polished wood seemed inviting and homey. There were many new flowers, everywhere. So many people from our little community were there, every religion was represented, people from all parts of Dawn’s life were there to show their respect: sports teams, education, friends, family, neighbors, some of  the neighborhood kids, friends and their parents for all three children and the middle school Principal. Our community sometimes gets a really bad reputation but when something happens to one of our own, we come together as one. Our little town becomes so protective and so loving of one of its own; it’s happened before. Many years ago when a young boy had cancer, the town rallied together as well.

Both Dawn’s daughter and husband spoke at the funeral. Her daughter is a young woman with the most grace and poise I have ever seen. This young woman will be famous one day, I guarantee it. Everyone was either wiping their eyes or just letting the tears stream down their faces like leaks out of a rusty, old faucet. After the service the pallbearers brought the coffin out to the hearse. I saw a random pink flower on the ground that escaped and as much as I wanted to pick it up and touch it I couldn’t. It didn’t seem like the thing to do, it belonged to Dawn.

One thing I did not know was the tradition of the hearse and all the cars attending the cemetery making a final good-bye to the house where Dawn lived with her family. We drove around the loop as well and all I could think of was Dawn’s enormous Christmas wreath that she was always so proud of, hanging still around the front door. It seemed to me so heart-wrenching to do that, to watch her family ride in the car passing their house where their mother would never again live. Maybe it’s for closure too, I can only guess.

After that, we all went to our individual homes, sighing, looking at the ground, crying, solemn and gloomy and still, feeling that we were in a different world, a new reality. I don’t know how long it takes before the death of someone really hits you and takes its toll but I do know that it does take a while. After the company, the distractions, the food and the flowers, the only thing that matters is that there will be an empty chair at their kitchen table that no one can ever replace. And, at all her children’s’ games, their mom will not be there to encourage them and support them. Whatever condition Dawn was in, good or bad, in a wheelchair or not, Dawn was always there for her children, rooting for them, happy for them until the very last breath she took to say a peaceful “good-bye.”

Losing Dawn

Farmland near Queniborough. Unploughed stubble...

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I will never look at the afternoon winter light in the same way again. My friend Dawn died today, February 11th, 2011 when the sky was blue, the sun shone through wind-swept trees next to ice and black snow, nudging a path. From inside, it looked too pretty for someone to have died.  The sun was low and beamed on the bare empty branches like gold necklaces or a child‘s long, blond, sun-streaked hair.

I knew for a long time that my friend Dawn was dying. All of us in the neighborhood, walking partners and friends knew how her breast cancer metastasized to brain cancer. Hearing the words from my friend Margaret that Dawn had passed away a couple of hours ago in her house, was still shocking. Shocking in a mute, surreal way. It’s not as if I thought she would make a miraculous recovery, but if we didn’t see or hear about her, she was still okay and that was soothing and comforting. Intellectually, I should have known better; I didn’t. Knowing someone is going to die is so very different from their actual death. I couldn’t feel a thing.

I remember writing: “Praying For Dawn” on my blog and I made a copy for her. She read it and loved it and told me her family read it too. She even left me a message on my answering machine to say “Thank you,” I never erased that message.

Her daughter had just started college in Vermont as a February Freshman a few days earlier yet there was a car from Vermont  parked outside their house. Dawn and her husband John have three children, her daughter, age 18,  the eldest, her middle son, 16 and their youngest a boy age 14. There is no doubt in my mind that Dawn refused to die until her daughter was at school, just like my father lived through Christmas and died five days later, ten years ago.

What do you say when it’s actually over? Sometimes, nothing. The call I got from my friend should have clued me in but it didn’t. When she said “are you sitting down?” you would think that I would known immediately but I didn’t. My first thought was about my friend’s mother who is in her eighties. I, very slowly,  sat down. Thirty seconds later it hit me, “Oh Dear God, not Dawn,” I whispered into the phone. “Yes, she said and paused, Dawn passed away today, two hours ago.”

She died in her house, around the corner from me. Her parents who live on the Cape had come down a lot these past few years.  Margaret and I used to see them walking arm in arm, crying as they tried to walk slowly around the corner, holding on to each other for support. It took every bit of self-control not to run to them and hug them but they didn’t want to see Dawn’s friends, friends who were living when their daughter was dying. Would you?

Before my father died he used to say that “nothing is as important as your health” all the time and I remember it. I too, know grief. Now, I am grieving for my friend and her husband, children and their extended family. I am glad my friend’s pain and suffering are gone but knowing someone is going to die and them actually dying are two very strong and separate emotions. It’s the feeling of in between; it’s too new to comprehend and yet it was about four years in the making. Four years when I first noticed her bald, shiny head and twinkling green eyes standing outside wearing a cap in the pure, naked sunshine.

I laid beneath a sheet, two fraying cotton blankets, one dingy white, one blue, a thick burgundy colored comforter and an old beige puffy down comforter. l huddle beneath these blankets and still my hands are freezing and so too, my toes. I dig deep down inside the blankets and try to cover myself but I still don’t feel warm, I think I will never feel warm again.

In Memory Of Dawn

*I’m Talking Fruit Loops

Going Loopy

Image by terren in Virginia via Flickr

Earlier today I met my friend Sarah for lunch at our local coffee shop.  I nibbled on a small fresh (?) fruit salad and ate a few bites of an egg white omelette. I felt virtuous for about two hours, eating only healthy food and grazing. We talked about everything, our kids, our maladies and the current stomach bug that was circulating through town and through the high school.

Once home, couple of hours later, I felt faint and nauseous. Just hearing the stomach bug going around made me reach for the Saltines. Later that night, for dinner, I had some of my absolutely divine homemade chicken soup, a soft carrot or two floating around, a piece of a turnip and parsnip, ( I have no idea which is which), a couple of crackers crushed into the soup.  I’ve heard of so many people getting some virus or another, ’tis the season, I suspect. So, I decided I must have the stomach bug or I am ABOUT to get the bug because my appetite was teeny-tiny, no more than a red breasted robin would eat at one time.

Then I went upstairs and started listening and watching You Tube songs on my computer.  “In the Arms Of an Angel” by Sarah Mclaughlin, “Vincent,” by Don Mclean and a beautiful, touching song I had never heard before by Josh Groban called “To Where You Are.” I got fixated on this song I had never heard and I listened to it about 20 times, over and over again.  I started thinking about all the people who I have loved that passed away. Holidays do that to you, you know. My dad, a dear aunt, my friend Janine’s father and mother-in-law, all the people I have lost and people who my friends lost.  I started getting depressed.

It’s the ho-h0-ho of the holiday season and many of us just can’t rejoice like we used to. There are so many factors: the economy, high unemployment, the kids are older, loved ones have passed and the world can be a scary place. I decided I needed something, I needed comforting, I needed…..cereal.

In the last two days by children decided that they loved cereal, not having bothered with it for about 5 years. I saw cereal, thought of cereal, bought cereal and had cereal on my mind. I crept downstairs to have two bowls of cereal. The first was a mixture of Honey Nut Cheerios, Grape Nuts (or as I call them Gravel Nuts) and two or three pieces of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. It wasn’t enough. I then came upon an individual box ( and we know those don’t count) of utterly charming, amazingly beautiful sugary Fruit Loops. I didn’t bother with the Mini Shredded Wheat with Bran, or the Flax seed cereal, or the Multi-Grain Mix. Nope, no way. I went straight to the hard stuff. Nothing talks mood elevator like Fruit Loops! How can you be weary and sad after looking at those darling purple, red, yellow, green morsels of edible jewelery.

All of a sudden I felt happier and of course fully distracted from my depressing thoughts and sad memories.  The Fruit Loops were the delightful high of my evening and not only that, I was cured. I was cured physically and emotionally and I felt happier. Cure of all ills, thy name is sugar. Amen.

*This post is not approved by Weight Watchers

Listen to the Josh Groban song, you can see it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-uIQp9Dqcrw

5 Things I Am Looking Forward to This Week

english: This is the american HBO brand logo. ...

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Monday and a New Week
The end of a very long Holiday weekend. Thanksgiving was lovely but it was a lot of work and ended too soon. That happens when you plan something far in advance; once the day arrives, it seems to go so quickly, in one blurry moment. After the Holiday there are three more long, cold, days (I refuse to shop, even if I could, on these wild shopping sales days). Also, last week was HELL, this week is a redo. Everything last week felt depressing and gloomy. Been there, done that. Not going to let that happen again.

In Treatment (HBO)
Looking forward to watching the In Treatment episodes that I DVR. Love the show. I do miss Gina from Season One but love the characters of Jesse and Sunil, in particular. Debra Winger also plays a patient. This is a television show that is worth watching. It’s quick, intense and draws you in to the life of Paul Weston, a psychiatrist (on tv) and his patients.

Lunch/Dinner
Having lunch with my friend Sarah sometime this week. Always nice to catch up with good friends. We talk about going different places to eat but we always end up at our favorite diner. Perhaps date night with my hubby, just going out sans kids, to regroup and support one another.

Facebook Friends
Reconnecting with my supportive Facebook Friends on-line. I’ve found a bunch of incredibly nice and understanding group of friends that share the same illness I have: Fibromyalgia and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (an auto-immune disease) These women have become very important to me; we all care about each other. There is no judging, no one cares about race, religion, ethnicity, ANYTHING. We know what we feel and how and nobody in the outside world can truly understand it. But, we know you try…..

Closure
A few loose threads dangling in our lives; we may not get good news but at least we should have some definitive answers. After that we can give each other a push and move on……again.

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My Most Recent Compliment

the phantom tollbooth, by norton juster, illus...

Image by sparrowsfall via Flickr

A Gift For You, A Gift For Me

 

The Phantom Tollbooth

I’ve always wanted to make a difference in someone’s life. I’m not talking about the usual suspects like my children or my husband. I’ve always thought about people who have influenced me, people who hold a special place in my own heart. Just recently I met a friend through the Fibromyalgia/Chronic Pain site on Facebook. The ladies in this “special” club have bonded in a way that no-one can possibly imagine. Perhaps we should call it “The Sisterhood of Pain.” I noticed that one of the young women had a quote from the “Phantom Tollboth” on her page, a book I know well. It turns out that this young lady was obsessed with the book; she loved it dearly and it was very special to her and her daughter. I just happen to know the author of the book, Norton Juster, very well. He’s a family friend, he was at our wedding, we see him, from time to time, when we visit my in-law’s. I asked my father-in-law to buy the book for Lyn and have Norton Juster autograph it for her. I didn’t tell Lyn, I lied and told her I wanted her address to send her a card. A couple of weeks later the autographed book and my card arrived in her mailbox. It turned out that it arrived when she was having a particularly difficult day. She was THRILLED and she was so thankful for the gift. She also said that I was a really nice person, that I  was special and had made a difference in her life, that I held a special place in her heart. I was happy I could give her a gift, happier that she gave me a gift too.

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Birthday Sunshine

 

Red rose

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Today is my 54th birthday and while I have never been ashamed of my age it’s still new to my lips and tongue. It also means I have to change the Hibernationnow home page because there it says I’m 53.  I had no expectations for today, even though I dearly love birthdays. This year, however,  with so much on my mind, with so many questions left unanswered, so much uncertainty: unemployment, health issues, etc. I woke up not with excitement but with a small, soft smile.  I slept until 9:20 am, went downstairs for a giant birthday bear hug from my husband and an extra-strong cup of coffee.

I got morning birthday calls from my mother and my sister which is a family tradition but I still thought of the annual red rose that my father used to give me every year on my birthday when he was alive.  For once, I did not need a “sign” or a “message” from him because even though he died 8 years ago, I knew that I was still in his heart and he in mine. Maybe being a year older brought me some much needed wisdom.

I went out to lunch with my friend Sarah at our favorite diner and we laughed and shared stories and commiserated about colleges for our seniors. Before we left she handed me my gift, a gift that I would have picked out for myself (and almost did). A beautiful silver star fish on a chain that made me gasp with happiness and surprise. It was a piece of the beach and the ocean that I dearly love, now wrapped around my neck.

I took my dog, Callie, for a birthday walk, just my sweet canine girl and me. We walked under the gorgeous sunshine,  the red and yellow leaves blazing on the trees. The air was warm and smelled like pumpkins and I relished the 75 degree weather birthday treat. When my kids and husband came home there were hugs and kisses, gifts and happy voices, mine being the happiest of all. I opened presents from my son, my daughter and my husband and cards and well wishes from so many friends. I felt truly blessed; I am truly blessed.

The day ended with a surprise delivery of flowers from an old, lost friend, and dinner consisting of  filet mignon, a chopped salad and pumpkin spice cake with ginger mousse for dessert. Even though I am 54 I  was happy and excited that the waitress brought it over singing “Happy Birthday” with a candle  to blow out and a wish to keep in my heart.

Praying For Dawn

The Dead Sea just before sunrise. The picture ...

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It starts in the evening, the darkening of the sky, winds starting to get cold enough to slap your face; you try to remember what summer felt like. It all goes by so quickly that we are all taken by surprise. A friend looks weak and frail and even though you see her from a distance, you gasp inwardly and feel your stomach plummeting right down to your now-numb toes. You pray, you hope, you wish on the first star that sparkles brightly in the too-black sky.

This is a story about a real woman, a beautiful woman with three lovely children and a wonderful husband. A woman who is nice to everybody she meets, and when out of interest you ask her how she is, she replies, always with a smile and the word “fine.” She doesn’t ask for help unless she really has to, she’s proud and positive and a very loving woman. This person has been sick in the past and we pray that she is not sick again but we fear that she might be.

Not too many people know details, people, friends, well-wishers talk and NOT out of malice or gossip, but only out of love and concern. There is a whole neighborhood where she lives that is on the watch for her, keeps an eye on her, follows her slow, measured walk.  People are always friendly to her incredible children because they are great kids; They love their mom with all their heart. Everyone loves her, she is a friend waiting to meet you. She makes a mark on your life so that you feel blessed to know her, to see her lightening-quick spirit, the stubborn warrior, the beautiful woman she is, inside and out.

In the middle of the night when things feel grossly exaggerated, and emotions run high, we look for dawn, for the first shimmer of hope, having made it through the night. Night time is for monsters, and anxiety, it’s where your dreams become nightmares and you are waiting for the sunrise to hurry. It’s only when dawn arrives that things feel more positive and hopeful.

It is staying up and saying “I will fight this” with the most determined, strong voice. Sunrise, sunlight, peacefulness brings hope. We pray, we weep, we think, we beg. Life is so unfair sometimes and this person does not deserve this; she deserves hope and treatment and the knowledge that good friends, acquaintances, people in the community love her dearly. She should know that she leaves an indelible mark on every person she meets and if you asked her if she knew this she would laugh heartily and deny it. We know the truth though, we all do.

We pray, we love, we ask God for blessings for everyone’s friend. Let the dawn come quickly and erase the troubled nights, replacing them with hope and a circle of love from far away and near-by. We pray for strength, courage and healing. We pray individually in a thousand different ways, we pray in groups, in hushed whispers; we all pray together, for one woman, for one family to be blessed with hope and strength and with great, everlasting love.

No Cheesecake Left Behind (A Foodie Blog)

Last night, on IM, my friend described the delicious sounding cheesecake she bought at a store and I have been obsessing and craving it ever since. I have to have it. No, I do not want any kind of cheesecake, just the one she described in detail. It was a cheesecake with a graham cracker crust, fresh fruit (sorry, I am drooling) and covered by an apricot glaze.  A sweet apricot glaze! Now, I need this cake. I must have it, I’m a foodie and proud of it. There’s just one problem, she ate it in another country and when she casually laughed and said “Gee, I should have saved you a piece” I did not take it lightly. Do not toy with my cheesecake and dessert emotions. Certainly you should have saved me a piece, in your mind if nothing else. Do not taunt me with tantalizing details of the sweet, syrupy, jam-like apricot glaze, or the lush richness of the cheese-cake itself. It’s not fair.

Do not underestimate me. Whereas I know that I cannot have that same cake, I am fully aware that there is a restaurant called “The Cheesecake Factory” that I will go to within a few days. Nothing can stop me. Why can’t people describe an amazing array of fresh vegetables, or a chopped salad with such enthusiasm? Generally, they don’t and I don’t blame them. I eat my vegetables because they are healthy and they taste alright but I would never describe them in detail or dream about having them the next day.

Sigh. It’s not right. Our home life and health are in total disarray so Sunday night is my time to look forward to. On Sunday night I always have to love (most times I have to downgrade it to like)  my dinner. It’s a 40 plus year tradition starting back to grade school. Sunday dinner was supposed to be fun, eaten at a cheap restaurant or getting take-out. Nothing was expensive but it was the excitement of every Sunday afternoon that was charming and in our family, growing up, extremely important.  When I was growing up, of course, we always disagreed but eventually we all would be happy in the end. Sunday night was the bridge to going back to all school years, then work, then life in general.  “I have to love my dinner” is a refrain well-known in my family.  It is the one time of the week, that special meal, as the saying goes “if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”It’s one for all and all for one (whatever the heck that means, I have no idea).

So, cheesecake friend, I will not go down without a fight. I will trudge ahead looking for that perfect cheesecake that is moist and dense and has fruit on top. As much as I am ready for the search, I know, deep in my heart, that I may not find that apricot glaze she mentioned in passing. That hurts.

Loss, 5 Ways

3/1/2010

I’m playing The Corrs  haunting  song “Everybody Hurts Sometime.” I thought I felt furious and fierce but now I know differently.   Sadness crept in like a sly gray cat.  What showed itself first as anger and disappointment were really overwhelming feelings of sadness but I have learned that all these feelings are connected.

I spent the last two days getting rid of old things, moving others, de-cluttering.  Piles of papers and thick magazines were recycled, drawings that my children made when they were very young taken down, “they were embarrassing to my daughter”: a brown horse drawn by my daughter against big, bold pieces of grass, thick as bamboo, with the title “Somewhere horses are playing;” a drawing of two happy stick figures holding hands drawn with an orange magic marker against graph paper titled “Mom and Me.”  Also, a purple lilac bush drawn against worn light blue paper that my son drew in nursery school. The  amazing sepia portrait that I loved, dearly loved, of my daughter and friends in the third grade doing the Ellis Island play, dressed as immigrants is also embarrassing to her.  What brought me such enormous love and joy every single time I looked at it, has been moved but I know it will never have the same magic in a different place.

My children, now teenagers, on the brink of adulthood.  I  took down their art and let the young woman and young man free. But, it wasn’t really them that needed freeing, it was me.  It  was not just spring cleaning but a cleaning out of all things old, old emotions, little children growing up, forcing me to deal with the present and the future and not just the past. Old memories, old feelings, old hopes and dreams. Even when you organize and sift through things, remember, the feelings still remain.

We are starting to think about a Sweet 16 party  for my daughter; and with it  my own 16th birthday memories come flooding back. Sitting in the yellow, plastic kitchen of my childhood apartment with cartons of greasy Chinese food containers and no laughter, and no guests.  Sometimes how things connect in your brain still come as an unexpected shock.  We are all connected to our past; the past can get better but you can’t shake that past away from you like you would an annoying spider. The past are the imprints for all that we do and see and feel in the future; the blueprint of our lives.

I am also feeling like half a woman instead of whole. I am playing a lot of Cat Stevens’ music and yesterday watched Harold and Maude for at least the 20th time. “If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out” is easier said than done; especially when you are an adult, married and with children, a dog, house and mortgage. I am usually proud of my age, 53, but tonight I feel old, unappreciated and tired. I picture my face with hanging skin, my eyes narrowed when once they were bright, green, wide-eyed and had the ability to hold a stranger’s gaze, longer.

With no fantasies or plans for the future I feel like I am living just part of my  life, since there are so many unknowns. It’s cleverly hidden on the outside so nobody can tell; its secret shaded by a tree weighed down with heavy, wet, clumps of billowing snow. I dearly wanted something new to think about, to look forward to, to have a crush that would give me that delightful feeling of effervescence that I haven’t felt in a very long time. The thrilling feeling of a secret does eventually become old, like a shiny new penny that was crushed and trampled by a train; barely recognizable, scratched and dull.

One of my favorite poems is named “Stolen Apples” by Yevgheny Yevtushenko whose words I cannot find anymore but in essence it said that ” the taste and smell of stolen apples were much more delicious than ordinary apples.” I longed for small smiles of sweetness. I’ve always liked secrets, me a secret keeper.

I  cry and then I understand  that I am overwhelmingly sad inside.  Sad about the losses, stressed about my life, missing a deceased friend whose bold colors went with her and left us with all things gray, colorless and dull;  her loud booming voice is just a whisper of a silent memory. She, who was abundantly  filled with the love of life, made life happier for the rest of us just sharing in her joy of people, traveling, volunteering, enjoying life for all of us through her excited eyes.  Pain has no memory;  I cry again for my father who died more than ten years ago because he gave the love and nurturing that only parents can give.  He was so optimistic all through his life until the last few years when he no longer wanted to live. Watching your father not wanting to live anymore is devastating, his twinkling eyes turned to dull gray. His body was fairly healthy but his soul was dead.

I am writing and growing and feeling healthier but inside I feel like a fraud. Our lives are not perfect, is anyone’s? Our children get so uptight even if we just disagree; they do not need to worry. Unemployment, no money coming in, relationship issues, two teenagers who are not children yet not adults, pulling, pulling away. They yank their arms away as if they were toddlers but it’s worse this time, because they pull at your emotions and they do not give up or let up, not even for a one short moment.

We lost power in our house for more than four days. We slept, shivering, under blankets and sleeping bags, wearing sweaters and jackets. We had no control over anything, no light, no heat, no music. Today, the electricity came back on and with it, appreciation and understanding. The day is brighter, the hours seem shorter and life, as we know it, continues.