Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Crosswise in the Crosshairs.

Staring at the errant hair beneath my nose, I cannot help but wonder how I ended up here.

I know how I got here.

A friend with the very best intentions convinced me I would like it, and so here I am desperately trying to overcome the collateral damage that has threaded itself through my body and my psyche and fighting to ignore the gaping hole shot through my heart and the insecurity that suffocates me. My first night in the box was painful, at best, despite being in the company of familiar faces.

Because in the lost years I have changed. Irreversibly.

Caught between a mother’s guilt, a career that has no give and that singularity that is my daily existence, this box is my prison and my escape route from my own inadequacies. I’ve forced myself back, despite my discomfort, searching between the bars and the plates and the bands and the ropes for myself. I’ve fought back the tears listening to the cutting remarks played back in my mind and replayed all of the responses I hold back when I am reminded that I am alone and undesirable. I listen to the others joke and push each other on and I wonder when I will feel the same freedom. I struggle against fears I never had before. Where others take risks, I don’t. And the more I think about it, the more my chest seizes in the all-too-familiar vise of fear of falling with nothing to save me.

Yet, for the first time something deep inside and long forgotten pushes me back. I squeeze and wiggle myself into a Batman-esque layer of sports-bra-and-lycra that ensures all the body parts that I am displeased with stay put for the duration, and I walk blindly through the doors to find out what is on the pain and suffering menu for the evening.

I love it.

Staring at the hair as I force myself through the burpees that I despise and that are simply one of many indignities that the petite and perfectly sculpted owner-slash-coach is treating us to tonight, I am focused on one thought.

Are my nipples pointing in the same direction?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Standard Delivery.

Me: “Sweetheart, what’s this?”
Her: “It’s a letter for Grandpa.”
Me: “Why is it attached to this?”
Her: “So Daddy can give it to Grandpa.”


Since the moment her father died, my daughter has voiced her anger and her sadness that there was no warning and that she was robbed of virtually every father-daughter memory. Her memories are fleeting and those that she does have are magnified and made real because I have fought to keep the memories alive.

I am, admittedly, somewhat concerned that her favorite stories are, in no particular order, that she a) pooped inside me just prior to her debut, b) pooped on the wall during a Daddy diaper change, and c) walked down the hallway naked with a pool noodle declaring she wanted a “tail just like Daddy.”

What happened to whisker kisses?

But I digress.

There is something about daddies and daughters and the memories they share and my daughter is understandably outraged that death has interfered with her lot in life. There is also something very raw and candid and occasionally uncomfortable about the very open way that we discuss life and death, and while we have plenty of experience with the “post” we have very little experience with the “pre.”

I have the memories and the stories that my daughter does not and where she had no warning, I’ve had years. My father has faced an irreversible prognosis with grace and dignity and humility and humor and practicality for more years than she has lived. He has proven all of the doctors’ well-educated prognoses wrong, stretching what was supposed to be four months to nearly a decade. Faced with death, he chose to live.

But all that she knows is that he is among the very few consistent, loving male presences in her childhood, and where she had no warning before I’ve promised that this time she’ll have the chance to say goodbye on her terms, in her time. And with perspective that only a child who’s been there before can bring, she reminds me that it isn’t how we die. It’s how we choose to embrace life.

Me (whispering): “But Grampa is here.”
Her: "I know. Daddy can save it and give it to him when he gets there."

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Bucket List.

There are certain traditions to the holiday season. Turkey with all its trimmings. Twinkling lights and festive trees. Family dynamics carefully gift wrapped and torn open. Over-tired and over-sugared children. Peppermint bark. Spiced eggnog. Emaciated bank accounts and New Year’s resolutions.

Each year, my holidays include a desperate attempt to start the new year off on a clean slate, with a clean house and a carefully pruned list of hopes, dreams and wishes for the year ahead. As soon as the sugar plums disappear, visions of garbage trucks coming to relieve my overstuffed trash bins of their holiday wreckage start dancing in my head and I put black ink to the notepaper that is my guilty Christmas pleasure.

It’s not that I dislike Christmas. Not at all. It’s just that ever since I’ve been on my own the new year has represented something entirely different and perpetually elusive.


When my husband was alive, he was fundamentally against the idea of having a ball to watch the ball drop. When he wasn’t working, he wanted to stay put. And when he was, he wanted me to stay put. And now that he’s gone, I end up staying put because I have very few options and finding childcare for New Year’s Eve borders on a search for the Holy Grail.

Recent years have left me wanting the morning after the ball drops, an emptiness that no amount of bubbly could fill. And no amount of planning or projecting or bucket-listing will erase the fact that I am starting a new year with a list of hopes, dreams and wishes that points out the shortcomings of a year I had hoped would be so much more.

We’re still in this house. I didn’t save enough. I’m still not back in my running shoes. The garage is still filled with all of his crap … plus more.

To be fair, I have a beautiful home and a comfortable life with two exceptional (if not ornery) children. I have a solid job and a loving family. The past year brought much to my life and I have much more than many, I realize. But I want to move forward. I want a new start.

I need renewal.

Putting away the final traces of a year that started with so much hope and promise and ended with a painful thud, I am standing on the dawn of new year that will inevitably bring its fair share of laughter and pain, love and tears. Uncertainty and decisions … and eternal hopes, dreams and wishes.

So I am bidding 2013 adieu with a one-finger wave and a glass of merlot … and my 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 bucket list.