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.

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On Healing

Window view of dead end road to Port - geograp...

Window view of dead end road to Port – geograph.org.uk – 1156081 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today is the first day I have felt stronger; strong enough to help myself heal from a very rough few weeks. I felt the urge to get out of my house. I went to a store and talked with the owner, a woman my age, and I bought myself a necklace that has a wishbone on it and a small mustard colored pocketbook. There was no occasion other than I wanted to make myself feel good and they were both on sale. It was so good to be out of the house, talking to someone new; even though the clouds and rain have been non-stop for two weeks, I felt my heart start to brighten, just a tiny bit. I had done something different.

I posted a sign in my neighborhood to ask others if they wanted to help me help others, to brain storm, ( ideas welcome here too) to perform acts of kindness; something I have always wanted to do but never really knew how to get started. I don’t know if I will get a response but I like the fact that I initiated it. I’m not usually an initiator but it’s about time I became one.

My husband and I drove and rejoined Costco, it doesn’t take much to please me. I actually used the electric cart so I didn’t have to walk the long aisles where I know I get tired and cranky (thank you, chronic pain) and I was proud of myself for the idea and figuring it out on my own. I was proud not to be afraid, proud not to be ashamed. Fibromyalgia, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, take a hike, me-1, them-0.

Since my son was not home on Mother’s Day, we celebrated Mother’s Day tonight and went out to dinner. The four of us had “Fother’s Day” (Faux Mother’s Day” ) in a restaurant that I chose. It was lovely and there was no fighting and GASP no cell phone use. My daughter complimented me on my hair and I was thrilled. We weren’t going to order dessert but lo and behold, on this day, every week, (yes, it’s going in my calendar) you get free dessert if you order an entrée. How could we possibly say no? One chocolate cake, one banana bread pudding (with almond ice cream) and one apple crisp (with almond ice cream) later we were completely full, unable to move but incredibly happy.

Bandages on wounds, kisses on boo-boos, soft, warm blankets for being cold. I sensed I needed a sign, a cosmic sign and I contacted a friend, a famous medium, Roland Comtois, who was kind enough to answer me but there were no signs from him. Later in the evening I got my sign on my own telling me I was on the right path: getting out more, being with people, feeling stronger and doing for others; my dad checked in with me from heaven. His initials, as always, blue on orange license plates, on a car parked in front of me, FBF. I should have been more patient for my own signs. I should have trusted myself. Thank you, Roland for listening, you are a gentle, sweet soul; a gift to both worlds.

I’m on my way back, stronger. There will be days when I feel unsteady. I’ve been through an incredibly rough year. It was bound to come out at some time. We had no home for over three and a half months. I had a despicable doctor who was cruel. I felt ganged up on by my mother and sister and that is a horrible place to be. I am stronger now, I will not accept being ganged up on anymore, ever. I have my own boundaries. I am on my way; I will allow myself a bad day or two now and then. That’s okay.

The Healing Powers Of A Puppy

When our dog, Callie died, I thought I would never feel happiness again. She was my first dog, the most gentle, shy, docile animal on the planet. She was scared of everything and only wanted reassurance and comfort; she loved my lap and my bed. She was frightened of external stimulation, loud noises, new people, she just felt safe with her family. We, of course, got her from an animal shelter and adopted her at six weeks; she had already been adopted at four weeks by another man. She was sweet and loving, and could read my feelings better than anyone else. Callie saw me through my father’s death, the most painful experience of my life. When I cried, she licked my tears and wouldn’t leave my side.

The risk you take of getting a shelter dog is that their past is somewhat of a mystery and you need to accept that. The dogs or puppies do come with some baggage, but really, don’t we all? I’m definitely a rescue dog person, I can’t, personally, see the need to go to a pet store to buy a pedigree but it’s just my personal preference.

Callie was an amazing first dog, she was not a problem for one second except that she was  afraid to socialize with other dogs, wary of new people and was anxious. Our backyard was fine for her, walks were okay but she needed to stay close to home and she hated the car. I always dreamed of taking her to the beach or a lake so she could swim but she got near water and ran away, terrified.

When, from one day to another, she wouldn’t look me in the eye and yelped quietly twice, I brought her to the vet, he told us that there was a mass on her spleen and he needed to operate. Once he operated he saw that 75 percent of her body was filled with cancer. We were in shock; there were no signs. She didn’t even trouble us in her pain, her last, dying days. We did not want her to suffer,  the vet suggested we end her life while she was in surgery and we agreed. With the lovely technician, Stephanie, covering her face with kisses, Callie left our world, without suffering any pain. Pain was for the human beings she left behind, extreme pain.

I didn’t think I could get over it. I cried, all day and night, she was my girl. We understood each other and for at least a solid month I was depressed and nothing could get me out of it, except time. I found I also needed to be near other dogs so I visited other animal shelters. I wasn’t ready to adopt but being around dogs helped me heal. I went to shelters about twice a week, looking at the older dogs, smiling at the puppies, asking about volunteering. Each time I thought I was honoring Callie, little did I know I was helping to heal myself.

My husband and I went to a couple of shelters together, he was definitely not ready to adopt but he was open to looking. We looked together but there wasn’t a dog that “felt” right and that was fine. A couple of weeks later, I went with my friend, Sarah, and what I was looking for was sleeping right in front of me, curled up like a little cinnamon cupcake. I loved her immediately, or rather fell in love with her. I did walk around the shelter (not really seriously) but I came back to “my” dog and asked to hold her. It went quickly from there, adoption procedures were started, I welcomed her to our family.

Yes, I thought about my chronic illnesses, Fibromyalgia and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and my age, 55 with a new puppy. It really is like being a mother to a newborn. Did I doubt myself? A couple of times. Did I regret it? Not for a second. Is it challenging? As Sarah Palin used to say “You Betcha.” I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Lexi is NOT Callie’s replacement, there is love in my heart for many people and now I know, many dogs. She is nothing like my first dog, my first love. She is a rambunctious, rebel-rouser, biting, jumping, super-active pup. She has found the stairs and climbed up them in three days; we had to train Callie to go up them because she was so scared. Lexi is fearless, too fearless sometimes and we need to work to reign her in. As you can imagine, my nickname for her is “Marley to the Max” based on the wonderful book “Marley and Me.”

How can you heal a broken heart? Many different ways, of course. For me, I welcomed a homeless puppy into our home. One crazy, willful, gorgeous, “*mutt-a-gree” dog with big brown, rebellious eyes and short, warm, silky fur. Do I still have my chronic aches and pains? Yes. Do I feel them more? Sometimes, but I can’t concentrate on them, I don’t have the time. Am I happy? Absolutely. Did I do the right thing? For me and my family, for our new puppy? Without a doubt, yes. There is no doubt about it, we saved each other. each other.

*ASPCA

**Lexi, 10 weeks

DEDICATED TO STEPHANIE

Wishing Everyone a Happy 2010

12/31/09

I woke up this morning watching the snow lightly fall on the branches of the trees outside my window. I was immediately delighted and relieved. It felt like the fresh snow was covering all the mishaps, medical illnesses, and hard times of 2009. At least, that is what I hope it means.  I choose to interpret the crystal snow powder as some kind of healing balm, for the human spirit and the soul.

I have no regrets that 2009 is over. None. It was a year filled with illness, sadness,  disappointment, unemployment and marital disputes and too much fighting among family members.   I say good-bye to 2009 with no regrets but with hope for the future. I have taken chances this year, some for the very first time and I hope they will be worth it. But, nonetheless, the act of taking them is, for me, is a significant accomplishment in itself.

Last night I lit the Kaddish candle, a candle of remembrance on the anniversary of my father’s death.  He died on New Year’s Eve 8 years ago, a day before my parents wedding anniversary. This time of year for me and for my family has always been fraught with sadness and emotional upheavals. Instead of lighting the candle this morning when I awakened, I lit it at 12:10 am, last night, in order for the flame to burn brightly during the early morning and through today, but extinguish quickly after the New Year has been rung in.

This is my fervent prayer, that 2010 and the snow that is bringing it in, will heal your pain and bring, if not better relationships, different relationships. If not love, than like. If not better health, a calming spirit. There are some things we have no control over and for those things I wish for patience, and understanding, better coping skills and peace.

Here is a wish for you, my friends and family: I wish you happiness and good health, I hope any gaping wounds you feel inside will be less raw and heal soon.  I hope that if you know your dreams, they will come true. And, if you don’t know what your dreams are you will not look at that with anguish but as a time of taking chances and new opportunities.

I wish for all of you, love, peace and the feeling that you are loved and cared about. I hope you feel that you belong, with someone, or something or some religion and community. Kindness and taking care of others is a universal religion, one that I am proud to be a part of. Please join me.

Happy 2010 for all my family and for the friends that I have and those that I have not yet met.

Love, Laurie