Free Write Friday: Kellie Elmore

Tell me about a beautiful person you know…

quotes-about-strength

She is  a wisp of a woman, small, slender, I would like to be able to cover her with layers of warm blankets, one at a time, like a really special birthday cake. In her case, the rich, cocoa brown chocolate frosting, the color of very fertile soil, that will grow anything with abandon… especially ash trees… that sink their roots deep into Mother Earth to pull up strength and nourishment from below, and raise their branches high to the sky to soak in Light of the sun, moon, and stars… the sweet frosting would gently hug her and rock her to sleep. In my dream, she would be able to eat everything she wants to eat and she would be able to gain some much-needed weight. Right now she needs to gain a lot of weight, weight falls off her tiny bird bones and she is weak. She would sleep soundly all curled up in a sugar rose, like one of those wonderful Anne Gedddes photographs that I used to have hanging on my wall on a calendar. Newborn babies in sculptures. Asleep. Blissfully asleep. My friend has been physically sick for a long time, just like many of us with chronic pain disorders and the like.

I’m talking to you about my friend, Ash, a woman who to me is the essence of angels.  She is warm and open and shy all at the same time. She tries to be strong for other people but once in a great while she will show me her vulnerability. I can read her because, though not biologically, she is my sister. She is a spiritual sister to a few people and none of us are jealous of each other because in this spiritual plain, jealously doesn’t exist. Our other sister is Michelle, at one point we became a family of our own and I have yet to meet either one but that doesn’t seem urgent or even necessary. Ash seems to be the oldest of the sisters, though chronologically, I am. Her wisdom flows, teaches, keeps us grounded.

My friend has been through difficult times, I worry about her health, her adrenal glands, very weak body, the way her energy sounds over the phone she sounds wound-up and anxious and yes, scared. To me she is usually Mother Earth, Goddess of All Things Natural, all things Golden, an Angel on Earth but tonight I was strong for her; she needed ME tonight. No one is safe from a disturbing past, although I used to think that everyone had a clear, easy, simple path to adulthood. I was wrong. If you look behind the curtains you find out that every person has their own story. Sometimes they want their story to be a secret, sometimes they pretend not to understand the question. Every child has a story as do their parents.

Ash, had a rough childhood, she has Aspbergers which I never would have known had she not told me and a hard time growing up. Ash is a mountain girl, one with animals, I expect she relates more with animals than with people and the animals know that. They love her as their own. She has two daughters with two very different personalities, I know one better than the other, but the one I do know is loving, caring and has a lot of responsibility on her shoulders, I have been there too.

I had too much responsibility on my shoulders too when I was young so I can relate to “the little one” with ease and admiration. And with a word of caution, “you have your own life too, sweet one, please make sure to remember that” I am only a phone call away from both of you.

My friend is now bugging me to take dairy and wheat out of my diet, I try not to laugh out loud but she knows me too well. She wears me down, the most I will give her is “I promise to try” but it is a weak promise though I won’t let her down.

I will not let her down, my sister, my friend. I hope she knows that applies to my “niece” too.

My friend is going through another difficult time now, health-wise, I will always support her, I do what I can, living far away, but this gentle soul could use a break, please join me in putting a peaceful, spirit prayer to help her through the tough days ahead.

Spiritual

* PHOTO CREDIT SONGEDELUXE Spiritual (Photo credit: songedeluxe)

photo credit: songdeluxe

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It’s Really Not About The Chicken Soup….

Chicken soup is a common classic comfort food ...

Chicken soup is a common classic comfort food that might be found across cultures. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just because my mom is not the type to drive over with a pot of home-made chicken soup when I am sick does not mean she is a bad mother. She certainly is a different, independent type of mother, but make no mistake, she is a mother who loves me and my sister very much. We grew up in the fifties and probably watched too many Leave it to Beaver and Father Knows Best episodes to think that baking cookies and meatloaf was the only thing a mother should do. She hated cooking and I inherited that except for my famous banana bread recipe, amazing guacamole and funny enough, my chicken soup and my pea soup. Once, when I was 4 or 5, she tried to make a pineapple upside down cake but it came out right side up. I remember her frustration and our laughter. It is one of my favorite young memories.

My mom had no role models to learn from, no one. How COULD she know? Both her parents died when she was very young, her mother died when she was 5 and her father when she was 14. She had only  a wicked stepmother and a horrendous stepbrother. She thought she was loved by her step-mother but she wasn’t. She just clung on to the hope, I could see through that wicked old woman at the age of eight. My mom needed to cling on to the only source of love she had known.

She is exceedingly charming, people fall in love continuously. Strangers flock to her, people adore her for her intelligence and wit. When she was younger she traveled the world as an interpreter (French, German, Hebrew, English) with important people and saw many incredible sights in different countries.  She once took me to what was known as the former Yugoslavia on a tour. We walked around and heard noises from a big open garden, we heard the words “kicki-ricki” over and over again. I wanted to run and hide, my mother? She followed the noises determined to find out what “kicki ricki” was. I was sure it was heroin or crack cocaine, something illegal. I never was a hero but my mother was and she linked arms with me and said “we are going to find out what this is.” I begged her to drop it but I knew I had no chance. We entered the garden and started hearing the noise again, “kicki ricki.”  My mother marched up to the man and directly asked him what kivki ricki was: he smiled, held out his hand and showed us the bag of peanuts he was selling. Of course we bought a pack, my mother triumphant and incredibly pleased with herself. If I could sum up my mom in one example that would be it.

She may have not been the stereotypical mother who made chocolate chip cookies while I was at school but she taught me so many more important things: to be independent, to keep a little money for myself aside from my husband, to be strong. Mother-Daughter relationships have never been easy, entire books have been written about them, songs have been sung, movies filmed, feelings hurt but the bond is undeniably strong, one of the closest bonds you will probably ever know. I’m sorry my mother never knew that bond, that bond of safety and love with her own mother. I have that bond with my children, I would do anything for them, at any time. They are my life.

I love you mama with all my heart, even though you don’t bring chicken soup.  I know you love us deeply and would do anything to help us or make us happy. Your love, mama bear, is protective and I know you love both of us with every fiber of your being and with all your heart. I love you the same and more. This song is for you, it’s our song, it always has been.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Pineapple Upside Down Cake (Photo credit: jeffrey.kohn)

WRITE RAW: That’s the price of admission (no editing)

“I didn’t want to belon in their stupid club, I told you that, Mom, I said I didn’t want to but you didn’t listen. You never listen. I said NO. why did you have to push me and talk to others to get me in to a place I didn’t want to go in the first place. Why? To embarrass me as you usually do? No, don’t give met hat “I thought you would have a good time” I said I hated that place and you know it. You lied to me because I said I wanted to stay with Dad this summer. He said he might call, so he hasn’t yet, so what? There’s another week and a half, he could call by then. Why don’t you ever give him or me ghe benefit of the doubt?

Anyway, I’m not going there, no chance. So not. I am not going to that obnoxious club with those stupid girls that think the only thing more important than getting a tan is going into Abercrombie and buying 30 dollar tee shirts. Uh-uh, no way.Why are you saying I’m being unreasonable, you’re the one that is being unreasonable. Compromise? Fine, I’ll try it for a few days but that’s it. You can’t force me, I’m NOT being fresh, fine, ok, I’ll go and try to give it a chance but maybe I will hear from dad and then all bets are off. Deal?”

I went into my room and closed the door firmly, I was in enough trouble already for talking back to my mom and refusing to go to the swim club she enrolled me in. It;s not that I didn’t really want to go but I was so hoping I could stay with my dad in San Francisco like he promised this summer. I hated thinking he had broken another promise and that’s what I was really mad about. I brushed the tears away from eyes quickly, my spiky black-blue hair stood up and I muffled my sobs in an old bandana that my dad got me when I was  little. My parents divorced when I was 5. I’ve lerned never to expect anything from him but it still hurts, kinda.

He never called, not that day or even that week. When I called him he didn’t even remember what I was talking about. he was a big deal record producer and he was usually high as a kite so i tried not totake it personally but I was upset and i knew my mom could see it. We just didn’t talk about it. I decided to go to the swim club because I had literally nothing else to do, all my friends were supposedly there and sitting in the house for one more day with my mother and aunt was jsut not an option.

I didn’t even tell them I was going, just drove to the club, with my towel and some food and went in, they didn’t even check my pass, well, because they knew me and I guess my name was written down there. I sat with some of the cool kids that were there, they acrtually iinvited me to sit with them so I did. They were complaining about their summers so I told them about mine and my dad and they thought it was awesome that he was a record producer and all that.When the life guards weren’t around someone brought out a couple of joints and passed them around. I had never smoked them before but hey, I was bored nad my mother forced me to come here so I thought why not? She said she wnted me to come here, well I was smoking dope now, that’s the price of admission, as I lay ther stoned out of my head and lying back in the sun.

I went back every day, smoking every day, drinking beer too. My mom didn’t notice a think except my eyes were red and I told her it was from the chlorine. My friends and I hung our all day and night together, we got pretty trashed but it was something to do. I HAD wanted to go to San Francisco with my dad but I guess he was too busy for me, well, I don’t want to go there anymore. I’m happy here with my friends, smoking weed, every single day.

Jillian, Leaving

Good bye Mum II

Good bye Mum II (Photo credit: Annette Blachere)

August 2012

My daughter, fresh and sparkling like a newly opened bottle of champagne continues to have the glow and effervescence from celebrating her 18th birthday. She sleeps in the room across from mine, her eyes closed, her skin radiant like early morning dew. Mornings, when her door is ajar, I sneak a peek at how she looks while she sleeps. Sometimes, I can only see her head, the rest of her body nestled in her blanket.  Once in a while, she sleeps on her back, with her arms straight back, resting on her pillow, a position she used to sleep in as a baby.  I look at her peaceful face and shut the door, ever so quietly, behind me.

I keep track of the number of days left before she heads to her first year of college. I gulp and turn my face away so she doesn’t see me start to cry.  She does not appreciate open displays of emotion, it makes her feel uncomfortable. My “baby”, my blonde-haired, blue-eyed beauty, is going away to college, far away. Last year, I drove her brother to his first day at college and I didn’t think it would be that hard again but it is, maybe it’s worse.

“Don’t go” I want to scream out loud and carry on, hysterically and out of control, but I know I can’t do that. I can’t show her how I really feel. This job as “mom” takes on new heights, it is as difficult for me to hide my feelings as it is for my daughter to show hers but I will fake it, for her.  You have to do what is right for your child, not you. The tears sting inside me, my head aches from my effort not to break down in tears but this what parenting is all about. Parenting becomes a whole new paradigm.

We spent a lot of time together this summer and there seemed to be a shift in our relationship, it was warmer, easier, less complicated.  Why couldn’t we be fighting now so the leaving wouldn’t be so painful? I am thrilled she is going to a good school and I hope she will be very happy there but I admit, it will be so quiet in our house without her brother and her. I understand that my sadness is entirely selfish.

On the other hand, my husband and I will have more time for each other. We are finally and officially “empty-nesters” though I despise that term. Recently, after our first dog died of cancer I adopted a puppy so our nest will still have a dog to make some noise, to give us kisses. Of course, it was not a coincidence.  When I fell in love with a small, reddish-brown puppy at the animal shelter I knew I had to give her a home. I named her Lexi.

To my daughter: I love you with all my heart and soul and I will miss you terribly. I’m glad that you are going to college and I am so proud of you and your accomplishments. But, I will miss watching “Friends” with you. I will miss your honey blonde hair wrapped casually but perfectly in a top bun, your keen sense of humor, our veggie burgers eaten together and even your endless love for clothes shopping. This summer was one of the nicest we’ve had together and I hold it and you in my heart forever. Just remember, if you need me, I will always be there for you.  Love you always, Mom

I’m Stepping Back, Alicia (Fiction)

Deutsch: Ein Straßenverkehrsunfall in Kopenhag...

Dear Alicia,

Oh no, not again, you did not just pull that smirk on your face again. I told you Alicia, I would not put up with it anymore and I mean it. I have brought you up like one of my own and you have just crossed the line. I will give you your space, I will not smother you with kisses or even try to gently hug you when I feel the winds of icy coldness come wafting from you. I know better. Am I disappointed? Sometimes. Heck, yes.  Apparently, that has to be my problem, not yours. I can deal with that but I am not going to be hurt any longer. If anyone has to toughen up, it’s me. You’re too tough. Sometimes I wonder what your dearly departed parents would think? I know I did my best.

You have enough armor up around you that you won’t let any emotions get to you; you are going to miss a great deal of life, girl. I mean that sincerely, with my heart. You are young but growing up will be hard for you if you don’t open yourself up to learn from the lessons in life, learn to give, to feel, to be sensitive to others. You need to feel for other people and not just for yourself. I hope you will able to learn that one day. I tried to teach it to you and failed, Life will have to teach you the hard way. I just hope it’s not too late for you to learn and I fear it may be.

I took you in as an infant after your mom and dad were killed in the car crash; you never knew them. To us, you were like our own little girl growing up in our family just as your mom and dad wanted. Of course we told you the truth and we kept your mom, my sister, and my brother in-law alive to show you what good people they were. It was an accident, Alicia, it wasn’t our fault.

Be the person you want to be, I will not hold you back.  I will accept you and love you but I will no longer be treated with disrespect and utter annoyance. I am still the mother that raised you and there is a certain amount of decorum that needs to be maintained. I am trying not to care as much, it isn’t hard to do if I can stay on top of things and not take things too personally.

We are opposites, I know. One person brimming over with emotion, the other barricaded inside. It doesn’t mean that there is no love between us because there is a lot of love. Hopefully you will see that clearly, maybe one day you will act nicer to me, to your dad and brothers and sisters too.

I will always love you and I will always be here for you. You know that. Please remember dear girl, that I lost my sister, my best friend and I miss her dearly. You should know that all your mom and I wanted for you is your happiness. Parents are human beings, we all have flaws,we are not perfect. Parenting doesn’t come with an instruction manual, we do the best we can, we don’t have all the answers but we try our hardest.

I love you, Alicia but I need to love myself too.

I will always be here if you need me.

Love, Aunt, Janis

To Reach A Hidden Heart

heart

I’m a mom, a fifty-four year old, plump (not so pleasantly),  kind, giving person but I laugh too loud. Sometimes because I have only fifty percent hearing in my left ear, I also don’t always hear things perfectly. I wear old mom jeans, sneakers instead of  gold strappy sandals, or even unlaced Keds, because my feet hurt and ache constantly. I have plantar fasciatis and just walking in any shoes is uncomfortable.  I have Fibromyalgia, Hashimoto’s Thyroididtis and numerous other ailments. I’m old.

I don’t wear flirty skirts because (see above) it would just look plain silly. I can’t wear tight shirts (well, I could) but the stomach bulges would hang over my jeans. I used to have pierced ears but I think they closed so I don’t wear much jewelry anymore. Most importantly, I don’t wear make up from Sephora or MAC or Bobbi Brown. When I wear lipstick, which I do almost every day, I consider that enough. Should I be ashamed of these things, proud or just accept them? I’m okay with it but I have an almost seventeen year old daughter who most probably wishes, I was a cooler mom. A much cooler mom.

It’s not as if I stay in the kitchen and make home-made oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies because I don’t. I spend money at the supermarket and look at every single product, especially new ones.I bake brownies from a box (Ghiradelli) and the only thing I bake from scratch is an amazingly moist banana-raisin -chip loaf. My son adores it and appreciates it, my daughter won’t even try it because she hates any type of raisin and anything resembling a mushy banana. The only banana flavor she eats is mixed with strawberry in a pink container that has artificial  flavorings called yogurt. Sometimes, if my husband makes a smoothie (with ice and ice cream) she will drink it; when I make a smoothie it isn’t cold enough.

More importantly I wear my emotions like I would a soft new white scarf. Actually, you can see how I feel miles away. The worst offense, I’m mushy. My daughter is not. She keeps her feelings inside of her so even when I attempt to tone down my mushiness and delicately try to give her a compliment, she turns inwards. I wear my heart on my sleeve, you can see my emotions a mile or two away, my daughter keeps her feelings way deep inside her. I’m trying to connect with that but I’m not having much success. I know she loves me, I do know that and of course, I love her more than anything (read this kids: I love you both equally.)

When my daughter was very young, I was her world. She needed a lot of comforting and she could find that only in my arms, her tear-streaked face blanketing my neck like a worn-out washcloth. Now, she’s an amazing young woman, sure of herself, has a lot of friends, talks to me about them but her feelings are buried down deep. She is like my husband before my constant influence on him for the last 24 years. I want my daughter to know how much I love her, how proud I am of her, how I know she is incredibly intelligent and kind but I’m not sure I’m getting through. Yesterday, we spent the day together and I delicately told her how happy I was to spend time with her each week. I got this as a response: “ok.”

I feel frustrated but I guess my job as a mom is to make sure she knows I love her and that I will always be here to listen if she wants to talk. If I turn down my emotions any more I will be mute. The only thing I can do is wait and see what happens and accept her for who she is. I am happy that she talks to me about her friends, I am thrilled she is affectionate with her friends; I hope they can reach inside her wall and feel her beauty, her heart and her strength. I hope someday I will have the same privilege too.

Coffee vs. Tea

19-century porcelain tea- and coffee-cups styl...

Image via Wikipedia

Coffee And Tea

Mmmmm. In the morning, when I first wake up, I look forward to very strong coffee that either my husband makes or that I make. We generally use about 3 scoops for a large mug and it is aromatic and strong. It is not for the weak or instant coffee drinker. Generally, I mix Cafe Bustelo (espresso) with some sort of flavored coffee to balance the taste. I’ve had coffee from the grocery store, like Hazelnut Creme or Vanilla Creme mixed with Starbucks (as a treat) or espresso.

I have favorite mugs as well, mostly thin-lipped, some classic like a Starbucks mug, some entertaining like a cow mug or a yellow mug with a thumb holder or a bull mug my husband bought me in Malaga that has a top to keep the coffee hot. If there ever is a morning that I don’t feel like a cup of very strong coffee, I am sick. Very sick. When I am sick, with a sore throat or a bad cold, I drink tea with honey and lemon. However, for a stomach virus I drink tea with milk and sugar only. In the fall and winter, when my daughter comes home from school, we drink a cup of tea together. My favorite tea-cup is one from my friend Sarah, a petite, red and white flowery design that belonged to her grandmother. I feel honored that she gave me that cup with a box of English tea she loves and now, that I love. I drink that tea every afternoon; sometimes my daughter keeps me company and she drinks green tea. I love those times together.

For me, it isn’t a matter of coffee or tea, it’s both, for different reasons, different times and different lessons to learn. I gather my thoughts with one cup and yet another one calms me down, and of course, in the early morning, strong coffee, a hearty roast, kick starts and welcomes me to start the new day.

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What My Heart Feels

20080329 - Oranjello, the new kitten - 152-528...

Image by Rev. Xanatos Satanicos Bombasticos (ClintJCL) via Flickr

Nostalgia slips in on tiny kitten paws at the strangest places and the most unexpected of times. Today I went out with my 16-year-old daughter to her annual physical. She got her learner’s permit less than a month ago and drove slowly but easily and with confidence, into the crowded parking lot. As soon as she put the car in Park, the lump in my throat thickened and I was unable to speak.

I started babbling and told her how proud I was of her. That from a shy, timid little girl she had grown into the most amazing, strong, confident and beautiful young woman. She looked at me, as only a teenage daughter can, with a bit of confusion, disgust and annoyance. Frankly, I can’t blame her.

For me,  this week has consisted of writing an essay about my son who is now a senior in high school and writing checks for my daughter’s PSAT test and driver’s education course. Years have slipped into minutes as I felt the twisting and turning, and actual jabbing pain in my heart. We were still right there in the parking lot when my daughter, without a sound, casually handed me back my keys.

The pediatrician’s office was filled with little children, a girl named Maddie, age 3, reminded me of my daughter when she was that age. Inquisitve, bright, lovely with straight blond hair, she danced around the waiting room, talking to the bright yellow and blue fish that swam in the fish tank. We were called in moments later and after the initial hello to the doctor, the pediatrician who has known my daughter since she was about 5, I left the room. The doctor asked my daughter if she wanted me to come back when she had the shots, a yearly tradition, she shrugged her shoulders up and down and said “I don’t care.”  It took me a minute to get up and leave; it was the first time my daughter hadn’t wanted to dig her fingernails, into my skin when she got the shot. I now missed the indentations her polished, blue fingernails would make in my hand.

It is hard to believe that next year my son will be in college and my daughter will be a senior. I feel like singing “Sunrise, Sunset” every day. Life passes by us, without reminders or stop signs. We have taught our children to be independent and strong, birds flying on their own. Times moves on and so must we. I’ve looked at old childhood photographs of when they were young but quickly replaced them with more up to date photos. I need to remind myself that they are young adults now. Once they leave for college it’s all very different. They don’t need us in the same way, we will see them less often but we will be here, quietly, patiently, with love, warmth and excitement whenever they want to come home. We will be waiting here, in their childhood home, with open arms.

We’re Allowed To Have A Horrible Day …..Or Two

dark and stormy

Image by lilli2de via Flickr

When I spoke to my friend on-line I told her I was thinking of writing a blog with the title “Losing Hope.”  I’ve learned to wait a little while and see how I feel later on. Granted, passion fruit sorbet and coconut sorbet helped a little. It was probably a combination of the sugar and the unique sorbet flavors that worked so well together.

The morning started with a phone call my husband made to a hiring manager. The good news? He is definitely the candidate that they want! The bad news? They don’t have the funding for the job.  This is the second time this has happened to my husband. He’s been unemployed for a year now. (Anyone know of a Software Engineer job?)  I see his sadness and as hard as I try to boost his spirits today I just sunk lower with him. I’ve been good and supportive but today was too much, so we acknowledged we were blue and then went out for an inexpensive Latin dinner (with a coupon) where he had tilapia (fish)with mole sauce and I had a quesadilla filled with spinach, mushrooms, cheese and horrors of all horrors, green peppers. After I finessed the green peppers to the side, I was happy.

We took our dog out for a short walk after dinner and as much as my joints hurt, and my knee locked, my fatigue overwhelming me, at least I did it. It was one of those perfect, beautiful, warm, dry evenings. It was also something my husband wanted to do and he does not ask for much. So, our 8-year-old mutt, Callie was in heaven, my husband was smiling and after giving myself a tiny push, I felt better too.

There were some “family” issues which bothered me but I got over it with helpful prompting from my husband as in “what do you expect? They always do that….”  Enough said. My mother warned me about not eating too much food on the free cruise and the chubby girl resurfaced and I felt my body inflate and swell.

It’s hard to be sensitive, I can be very empathic but also hurt easily. It doesn’t seem to be a lesson I’ve learned or accepted. I try to “not care as much” but it’s a skill I lack and don’t think I will learn it anytime soon. At least  I’ve learned to get over something quickly which in the past could have been long and drawn out.

I’m vulnerable, to diseases, to emotions, to temperature; we all are.  After trying to fight the knowledge of a cranky,  “snarky” day, I’ve learned (most of the time ) to just give in to it and ride the waves until everything calms down. You never know, maybe the next day will be filled with sunshine,  honey and bright blue skies; it’s possible. Allow yourself to have a bad day or more when you need it and don’t feel guilty about it; we deserve it.

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.