Hug Steve

Image by basykes via Flickr

At 55 I finally figured out why I still love stuffed animals so much. I know, I’m no brain trust; it took me this long to figure it out. Sometimes I even shock myself; it’s pathetic. I like the comfort of sleeping with a stuffed animal friend for the feeling of a hug, warmth, soft comfort. These days I have been sleeping with my arm around Zippy, the monkey; he was popular in the fifties and sixties and I just ordered a new one. He resembles closely my monkey friend that my dad bought me when I was two, from Lamston’s department store named Nokey (I couldn’t pronounce monkey at the time) who still lives in my bedroom and sits on a special shelf of honor. Nokey has had a face lift, an entire body lift and went to the best plastic surgeon in Europe, alas, he barely clings to life. As my entire family knows I want to be buried with Nokey, cremated together, whatever they have to do to keep us together. He wears a onesie that both my children wore when they were infants; at first I thought that was charming until my older sister cracked up and cackled like a witch and said it looks like an ad for elderly “underwear. “Now it doesn’t look AS charming as before, I have to admit. I hate it when she is right!

I remember almost eleven years ago I was in the supermarket shortly after my father died. I couldn’t move, I felt stuck, leaning on my carriage, holding on and crying quietly. I so wanted someone, anyone to ask if I was okay but they didn’t. They probably thought I was a crazy person and didn’t want to bother with me. All I remembered was that I wanted a hug, a gentle hug to know that someone was there for me, a concerned stranger, the assistant manager, anyone. People walked by me but no one stopped. I felt so incredibly alone and let’s face it, I was. Eventually the tears dried up, and slowly I dragged my swollen feet in uncomfortable black snow boots out of there. I honestly didn’t think I had the life left in me to go one step after the other to exit the cheery Christmas decorated grocery store, but I did. I had no choice.

I have a love/hate relationship with the holidays since my father died on New Year’s Eve, I have lived with that for eleven years and I know I will always live with it. There are some things that don’t change, some years are a little better, some years it’s worse, there is no way of telling. My parents’ wedding anniversary was/is January 1, st. I knew he wouldn’t die on their anniversary, he just wouldn’t. Christmas, like any personal holiday will always be known to me, as before he died, and after. That’s how those things work; I envy my husband who is lucky not to have lost a parent yet, truly and undeniably lucky.

I have a friend who is going through a particularly rough time right now. She is in the middle of some major decisions and while her attitude is positive she faces tough times ahead. I see her face from afar and all I want to do is wrap my arms around her and hug her. That’s my way though, of dealing with sadness and stress, I don’t know if it is hers. All I can do is offer. Do you need a hug? If so, I’m here.

To all my friends and family, if you need a hug, I am always here. If you need a virtual hug, I will send it to you.

Hug therapy, you, me. For free.

The Object Of Being Left

Dandelion gone to seed.

Image via Wikipedia

I sprayed after shave cologne on my wrists today, it was an old bottle with maybe an inch of liquid left inside it. I found it at my mother’s home, in an abandoned bathroom drawer, where she had hidden it after my father died. They were three odd-shaped bottles left, pushed back in a drawer like teenagers hiding beer or vodka. I took those almost empty bottles home with me and today I used one. The smell was so powerful and so familiar that tears immediately welled up in my eyes. I longed to see my father wearing his  soft plain purple and blue striped shirt and feel his  arms hugging me. I willed it to happen, almost believing it and then reality took over and left me alone with a sharp pain in my heart. I miss the one person in our family who knew me best with just a faint wink of an eye or a hint of a smile. I felt lost; I felt alone.

My dad died ten years ago and I don’t feel this way all the time but the pain goes away completely. I can feel fine for weeks or months and then some memory, a scent, the sight of his old shirt crumpled up in my closet will remind me harshly of my loss. When one is young no one tells you about all the pain you have ahead of you. When you are young you think you want to be grown-up and mature but you have no idea what that really feels like. There are times when it never feels good, not even for half of a single second of any one day.

I went grocery shopping today and met a friend whose son just graduated with my son. We talked about how their graduation from High School was hitting us both hard and in unexpected times and places. She said that once in a while she has to pull off on the side of the road to just cry and then, as if nothing happened, she puts her turn signal  back on and continue her journey. I have been on that road too. While I was in the grocery store I passed water guns and felt that same feeling of loss, I wanted to cry but I wouldn’t let myself. I thought about my son and his friends and the water gun fights, one tiny water gun pistol still sitting in the back of our old, big family car, moving from one side of the car to the other.

I came home and marched up the stairs to get to my room, as fast as I could hobble, to reach for my computer and for a bunch of tissues from a yellow box. The color yellow comforts me; it makes me feel happier. I thought about my son, who is a Counselor, away at camp. He left a week ago; I feel bereft. I don’t want to call him, though eventually I will. I’d rather wait to hear his voice on the phone, starting off with the same low-key “Hey.”I am being widely immature and over emotional, part of me knows that. He is not making the transition from home to camp to college easy for me. I wonder, if at college, will he forget about us as much? When he is at camp, his second home, we really do not exist and while I am proud of my independent son, today I feel sad and lonely. Here I am, at home, opening up the window of his musty room, surrounded by half eaten boxes of cookies. Pain, like accumulated  laundry that sits in the middle of his blue carpet, taunts me.

My Favorite Way to Start the Day

coffee filter

Image via Wikipedia

Once I wake up (and luckily not to a jarring alarm clock) I get out of bed, gingerly, checking out my various aches and pains and I hear my dog’s thumping tail so I go to greet her. Before I even start my ritual of a very strong cup of coffee, I sit on the green couch, and she pulls herself into my lap and I hug and kiss her. I know the exact way she likes to be stroked, she shows me where and when, she nuzzles against me. I let her out, feed her, rinse out her slimy blue water bowl and refill with fresh, cold water. It’s only after that, which is true love, that I put water in the tea kettle, put a #4 Melitta filter in my old, cracked plastic, brown coffee cone and use three heavy-handed scoops of strong, espresso coffee mixed with a dark roast. A large serving of fat- free half and half, one or two Truvia, (or Purevia) depending on the strength and wait anxiously for the tea kettle to screech. I like to have my coffee alone so I can gather my thoughts and plan for the day. I listen to the cardinals tweet outside at my bird feeder and watch the yellow finches eat breakfast. There is no better way to start my day.

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