Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Places to Go.

I’m afraid that sometimes
you’ll play lonely games too.
Games you can’t win
‘cause you’ll play against you.
All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you’ll be quite a lot.

For the first time since school ended and the long weekend arrived, I have sixty minutes of nothingness. No dishes. No laundry. No groceries. No work. No dog walking or dog running or dog feeding or dog cleaning or dog chasing. No garbage emptying. No email answering. No phone calls, No Facebook. No bill paying. No shoe repairing and no oil changing. No yard work. No vacation planning or summer camp registering. No closet emptying and no box filling.


But here’s the thing about busyness. Busyness keeps the loneliness of nothing at bay. Until you stop.

I am, admittedly, far too busy. I have done everything in my power to stay busy. At first it was survival and then anger and then boredom and then avoidance. I haven’t slowed down in years because, when I do, I do not enjoy the experience. Because relaxing and recharging, simply means being alone.

Alone. Alone. Alone. Alone. Alone.

At the movies. At the spa. At dinner. At the gym. In my running shoes. On my bike. At a show. On my couch. In my pool. On my bike.

In all fairness, it isn’t that I have nothing. I have two extraordinary children who have taught me that the vast depths of love stretch far beyond what we believe our capacity to be. I am financially sound. My home is comfortable and my extended family is relatively normal and devoid of skeletal debris. My career is fulfilling, perhaps more than I should let it be, and thanks to my doctor’s interest in taking a closer look at my innards, I am assured that I have my health.

But something is missing. The hand that would want to hold mine. The eyes that would laugh at my irritated pout. The arms to keep me safe.

I race through weekends to avoid the aloneness, but it is the long weekends that I dread. For five long days I have simmered in frustration and upset, filling every moment to avoid the simple truth that everyone around me is doing something with someone they love. While I’ve sat here.

Going nowhere fast.

So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Honor. Family. Freedom.

Well, I got back to the OP. We had an intel of an attack at 4pm, so I sat and scanned, the time passed, nothing happened, so I stood down after 430pm. At about 445pm we got hit. I thought only in the movies when you got blown up by a mortar did you fly through the air.

It feels like a lifetime since I sat in the comfort of my home and read the words on the screen, emails transmitted across the globe that were but a glimpse into the truth of a daily existence that few of us could fathom. He was worlds away fighting for the rights and freedoms of people he did not know. In those simple missives we understood what the world was watching as it unfolded on the television in broad, impersonal detail. And until that fateful summer, the world didn’t care that they were there.

We were told that after they counted it up, we have more tics (troops in contacts, means a firefight basically) than any other company since WWII (according to the numbers anyway) and more casualties and wounded than any company since the beginning of Vietnam.

And yet, somehow, he made it home.

Battle hardened and weary, he returned against the odds. While I ignored the folded flag and sank beneath its surface, I watched as he embraced life. With every step he took toward the future, I remembered my own steps and where they had led me.

He was destined for the life that he has chosen, a path filled with love of family and conviction and honor and strength in the face of fear. Of us all, he is the one that shows us that grandiose gestures pale in the shadow of simple touches and remembrances. He is the little boy I remember at Christmas and the man who stood beside me in my winter. He has stood for rights and freedoms that fill his soul but that are not his birthright. His friendships are enduring and forged with brothers by choice, those lost tattooed on his heart.

On this Memorial Day, he is thousands of miles from home, wearing hundreds of pounds of tactical gear and armor in unbearable heat as we curse the freeway standstill in our air-conditioned cars. He sleeps uneasily with a loaded gun, while his fiancé sleeps beside his empty spot and waits for him to return to say that he will, now and forever more. Today, while BBQs simmer and the flag waves merrily in the sun, he will eat, if he can, under its shadow.

On this Memorial Day he is standing for the freedoms and liberties we hold dear.

He is standing for them because he is among the Chosen few who do.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Forget Me Not.

Her emerald green crinoline-and-sequin dress billows around her as she kneels over the water, her glittering tiara tucked in between the silky strands of honey brown hair falling in waves around her face. She has his eyes, my eyelashes. His cheeks, my mouth. My temper, his toes.

Every day, I fall in love with her all over again.

It began the moment she existed, a life growing inside me where none was meant to grow again. When she came screaming into the world, ahead of schedule and angry at the affront, my husband welcomed her to the world while I had to wait still longer. Lonely and tired, we gazed at each other for days in the hospital. She watched me as though she already knew that I would be her greatest challenger and her greatest champion, two deep pools of emotion betraying a future neither of us yet knew.

She is what every mother dreams. She has endured what every mother fears.

So much has changed since that moment when I leveled their world with simple words. She is no longer the little girl with golden brown curls, screaming because she could not find the words. Instead of asking why he can’t just slide down from heaven, she asks why she can’t have someone at all. She asks to wear my ring on her wedding day and plans for her brother to walk her down the aisle because no one else will stand for her. She craves the stories that no one will tell and she disappears into books the way I loved to. She dances freely in the sunlight, finding joy in every creature she finds. She is spellbound by flowers and the death of creatures great and small are curiousities. As we lay flowers on the earth together, I fear a body in the ground and she is tormented by a body burned.

Today another is left to stumble forward with her own little girl. Watching my own little girl play with the water, I remember wondering as I watched her play on the edge of the water on a day when a door closed forever.

What now?

I hope I fall in love all over again. Every day.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Blue Lines.

“Mom, can I tell you something?” 

His voice is small and unsure floating through the dark, and the work that will keep me up until early dawn can wait. Because if I have learned anything, it is that it is the moments you don’t pause to embrace that you regret most when they are gone.

“What’s up?”

“I wish Dad was here.”

For the past year, I have watched the little boy fade into the beginnings of a pre-teen. New levels of olfactory distress have decimated my nostrils and I’ve contemplated the merits of trash pinchers, latex gloves and kerosene as viable alternatives to skin-to-dirty-laundry contact. The freshly scrubbed smell that once mingled in the night air with a little boy’s contentment has been replaced with the smell of masculine body washes and worn sneakers. The smell follows us into the car long after we leave the hockey locker room behind, and deodorant is no longer a nicety, but a necessity.

All week long he has been reveling the way boys do, an unbridled collision of fledgling bravado, exuberance and uncertainty.

There’s something about the nights that brings out the emotion and the honesty. They call for me to cuddle, to wrap them in a warm, protective cocoon that shields them from memories and monsters under the bed. We giggle and we cry and we think about what’s gone and what’s wrong.

Tomorrow he will experience for the first time either the sting of rejection or the thrill of acceptance. And the other mothers will leave their hearts on the ice with their own and the fathers will swell with pride and frustration over the unpolished beauty of the game. As we have for all these years, we will gather his gear and I will watch as he walks alone to the locker room where he will borrow a father to lace his skates. I will watch him glide through the gate, the spark lighting in his eyes when his blades touch the ice.

And I will watch as eyes search for me, the smile breaking as he nods and lifts his stick before he slips away to join the others.

“When I see the other Dads, I think about him and I miss him. I wish it was like old times when we were a family. But it can’t be.”

“I’m trying, I promise.”

“You’ll watch me tomorrow? Because this is really important for me. It’s a really big deal.”

“Of course, sweetheart. I always do.”

“I know you are doing the very best you can, but I wish there was someone new in our life so we could be a family again. Someone to help me tie my skates. Because you don’t tie them tight enough.”

“I know, lovely boy.”

“It’s okay. You’re trying your very best.”

“It’s like hockey. You know how you play every game like it’s a championship and you leave it all on the ice?”


“That’s what moms do every day.”