To My Best Friend Who Just Had A Baby

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You, my best friend, had a baby on Friday! She’s tiny, gorgeous, and perfectly healthy. A new life born to do good, bad and everything in between. You are one more in a string of friends that have recently had babies. Everywhere I go, I am surrounded by adorable pictures of adorable kids doing adorable things.

Outside I coo and I make cute noises and I could just eat up every single one of them. I snuggle the few I’m allowed to see. They are each beautiful in their own unique ways.

Inside I cry, I rage, and I beat the hell out of myself for not doing this thing that is the epitome of womanhood. I can already feel you drifting away from me. It started with you telling me not to come see you at the hospital and then not to visit until you are “ready.”

I get it. You want some private time with the new love of your life. You want grandmom and grand-pop to come and snuggle her up and make her laugh. You want close family to come and adore this life you created and celebrate with you and your husband. The same husband who STILL did not build the crib for her (I seriously want to hit him for that). She’s been alive barely two days and already you are so in love you can’t imagine life without her. I get it. I really do.

But I miss you. I miss our long talks, and our laughter, and our friendship. I miss being able to call you up and get and give comfort. I miss our passion and our absolute faith in God. Did you know I’m struggling right now to know if what I believe is true? How could you? We barely see each other as both of us settled into our careers, me a Social Worker, and you one of the best damn middle school History teachers out there.

I miss all of my friends that have joined the Sisterhood of Motherhood. It is a club I am excluded from. And I am so happy you got in because you wanted this for so long. But I wish I was there too. I wish we could have our kids grow up together and marvel at all the small miracles like when they first roll over, or crawl, or walk, or say that first precious word. But the door has been firmly shut in my face by friend, after friend, after friend and even a few family members. It’s not that you shut the door unkindly. It is just a space I don’t belong and can’t understand because I am not a mother.

So congratulations my dear friend. I am so thrilled about the journey you and your husband are now on. I will miss you but should you need me, I will come running. After all, that is what best friends are for.

 

toes

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Shards #1 – What Do You See When You Look In The Mirror?

This is a beautiful blog written by my friend Stephen. It really makes you think about what is real and not real and who you really are.

Fractured Faith Blog

When you look in a mirror what do you see? Is it a functional task, performing a visual checklist, beforeyou step out to face what the day ahead brings. Hair, check. Clothes, check. Overall appearance? Meh, acceptable, you’ll do, I’m late for the train, no time to think too hard about this. Then it’s off without another thought until you partake of the same perfunctory ritual again, 24 hours later.

Or is it a more drawn out process? You preen and pout, basking in what faces you. A selfie perhaps, for you like what you see. And why not for you’ve worked hard to cultivate this image of perfection. You smile as you know you’ll turn heads wherever you go today. Image is everything and you are enraptured by yours. You stare at the centre of your universe and it smirks back at you.

Or do you cringe and…

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Poetry

I go about my day

Wishing things would be okay
And sometimes they are but most of the time they are not
Nobody hears
The tortured screams inside

To them, I am a happy, kind, sweet person
One who is gentle and loving, giving they all they need.

Deep inside depression eats away at me
Ignorant of any love thrown my way
Every day I wish I was someone else.

A Wedding, An Adventure, and A Conqueror

One of my husband’s close friends got married this past weekend to a lovely young lady who I hope to spend more time with in the future. She looked stunning, all the groomsmen (my husband included) looked so handsome, and let’s just say the people in Antarctica may have lost some ice caps because the groom’s smile was about 1000 watts.

Since my husband was a groomsman he was naturally a part of all the day before and day of events involving the bridal party. This meant that I had to drive, alone, in a place I was unfamiliar with. In short this was about as terrifying to me as being asked to bungee jump off a bridge, speak in public, watch a horror film alone in the dark, or be in a room full of snakes and spiders. In short terrifyingly scary. I may or may not have been a jerk the whole ride down to the motel we stayed in as I tend to get angry rather then admit my fear to anyone.

But I love my husband so I agreed to do this thing that scared me most because this day was not about me, but our friend who was getting married. So in the morning I drove to a hair salon to get my hair braided. This went well and I was able to shop and get breakfast all in the same shopping center. I was feeling confident and good. I drove back to the motel and started to feel better because I had now driven twice in an unfamiliar state and not gotten lost or in an accident.

My confidence was short lived. See what I didn’t mention so far is that this wedding encompassed me driving in two states (the night of the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner we were in 4 states in one day)! So when it came time to head to the church for the actual wedding I was feeling a little confident that I could do this as we had been at the church the night before and I has some sense of landmarks that would be familiar.

This is when my GPS laughed silently and evilly to itself. If it had hands it would have rubbed them together saying “MWAH HAHAH” or something equally evil sounding. It decided to take me a completely different route then the night before. So I wound up on a highway that involved a toll road that I did not have money for. So now I’m facing a $50 fine for not being able to pay the toll. And I was lost.

So naturally I do the most logical thing I could do and I call my husband (hands free) screaming slightly hysterically into his voicemail because of course he didn’t pick up the phone. I was on my own. I was scared. And I was upset because the wedding was in about 20 minutes and I had no clue how close or far I was from the church.

Then I took a few deep breaths, put on my local Christian radio station, calmed down, and focused on following the GPS very closely. I missed a few more turns and had to back track about four times but I made it to the church just as the bridesmaids were about to walk down the aisle. Literally just on time. The wedding was beautiful and the priest was one of the most lovely human beings you could meet in a church.

During the reception, a few of the groomsmen made jokes about me being lost in about 12 states. My husband told me he had no reception on the limo bus and that was why he hadn’t picked up. We danced, we laughed, and all was well.

Looking back on this weekend I am a little glad my husband did not get that call. I was forced to face one of my biggest fears head on and there was no getting out of it. I couldn’t pull over on a major highway, I couldn’t just park in the middle of the road and just cry (very tempted though LOL). I had to get through it and while it was scary, uncomfortable, and upsetting, I made it and I didn’t die from my anxiety. This made me realize I may be able to face more then I think possible.

 

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day!

At work I heard it. At the bank I heard it. Even just walking through the supermarket I heard it.

“Happy Mother’s Day”

Sweet and innocuous comment right? Just a stranger trying to be nice to another stranger in a world with ever lessening niceness. Well sorry my loves but I am here to tell you it is not nice to randomly walk up to someone and say Happy Mother’s Day unless you actually in fact know she’s a mother. And don’t just assume that because she is toting a little darling along that she is a mother. She could be a babysitter, a nanny, an auntie, etc.

I know some people will say I’m being ridiculous, after all it’s just a stranger trying to wish you well. Except, when I hear these words, I hurt. I hurt because I probably will never have children in the conventional way or maybe at all. I hurt for a few of my friends that have gone through infertility issues and have not been able to conceive. I hurt for the friends that have had still born babies or miscarriages. I hurt for other people, like me, who didn’t have the greatest relationship with their mother.

To all of you out there who are moms I praise and bless and pray for you. You have literally brought life into the world and (hopefully) you are molding and shaping a human being into a decent person. I acknowledge Dads are important too as I learned a lot from my father. But there is something about the bond between a mother and child that is sacred and sacrosanct. Even if you have a terrible relationship it is something that is biologically ingrained into us to seek after and something we want.

So please, I beg of you, unless you are 100% positive that the person standing near you in indeed a Mama Bear, please don’t just arbitrarily assume that they are a mother just because they are a girl.

 

Life Goes On

So it’s been a few weeks since my father in law passed away and I am doing a little better. I can’t say the same for my mother in law, but she’s taking it day by day. The evenings are hardest for her and it truly sucks I can’t do anything to ease the pain.

This latest death has me thinking, really thinking, about my life. I mean let’s face it, anytime someone close to us dies or even a favorite celebrity dies,  it makes us consider our own mortality.  If I were to drop dead tomorrow for some reason I’d like to think I left behind a legacy of kindness, support, and genuine love for those I encounter. I would like to be remembered as a patient person, who tried to never give up on others, even if I didn’t extend that courtesy to myself.

The truth is, I don’t know how anyone else sees me. And you never really can truly know because most people aren’t going to say to your face the things they really truly think. When I look deep into myself I see a lot of fear. I see so many chances not taken in order to have a sense of safety. But in that safety is disappointment, and it’s not a fun place to live. I want to be bold. I tell myself to fling myself head first into something, ANYTHING, at this point because I am not really living so much as existing at this point. But then fear tells me no, don’t do that, you’ll get hurt, you will fail, people won’t like your idea or you. And I shrink like a flower caught in a cold breeze.

I recently read a book called My Year With Eleanor by Noelle Hancock. It is a fabulous read about a young lady, much like myself, who is constantly living in fear of doing anything. So after seeing a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt in a local cafe (“Do one thing every day that scares you.”) she takes it as a personal challenge to do so. She takes acrobatic classes, she swims with sharks, and she does a lot of other little things. The book culminates with her climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. It is a fantastic book and I highly recommend it.

Until I finished the book I did not realize that this was a memoir and that this was a real person that did all of these things. For about five minutes I thought about doing something similar. But after those five minutes, financially and physically I realized that tackling some of my fears would be next to impossible. Still it got me thinking that maybe it’s time I just tackle some of them. I can write and submit my stuff to places. I can reconsider school again. I can reconsider becoming a foster parent again. Maybe I can’t do one scary thing a day but I can do some scary things.

So with that I will say my goal for the rest of the year is to simply try. Try to do some things even though they are terrifying. Put myself out there just a bit more. We shall see what happens.

eleanor

Death Can Be Brutal and a Blessing

On March 21st I woke up and got ready for work. As I was getting ready to get in my car my mother in law (who lives around the corner from my husband and I) asked me to check on my father in law who was not feeling well. She said if he seemed really bad to call 911 and have him taken to the hospital.

My father in law’s health has been declining for some time, but he has been really bad the last month or so. He had a stroke 26 years ago and has not been the same since. He also has had a myriad of other health problems including COPD which is from smoking like a chimney and also working on the smoke stacks on the ships while in the Navy. But the thing is, no matter how bad, this man always bounces back. Maybe not as strong, but he always somehow manages to do it.

So here goes me thinking I’ll be in and out and on my merry way to another boring staff meeting where they drone on about stupid stuff and we all nod and smile as a day is wasted talking about stuff that could just as easily be sent in an email.

I never made it to the damn meeting.

I came in the house shouting my father in law’s name and asking how he was feeling. I think subconsciously when I first glimpsed him sitting on the couch I knew because I froze, calling his name a few more times. He did not greet me with his usual “same shit different day” when I asked how he was feeling. He did not move, he did not respond, and he had no pulse.

So I called 911 for help. They told me to get him on the floor and do CPR. I got him on the floor but on his side and could not move him to his back. Dark red blood oozed out of his mouth and that was when I started hyperventilating and freaking the hell out for real. The 911 person told me to go get a neighbor so I pounded on my neighbor’s door like a madwoman and begged him to come help me move my father in law.  He came and then the paramedics came and I was doing CPR and then they took over and told me to give them a minute and leave the room.

Five minutes later they told me he was gone.

My husband was asleep and did not pick up his phone after 10 tries. I called my mother in law at work and told her to come home. She asked why and I couldn’t tell her. I didn’t want to be the one. She said she’d be home in 20 minutes. My husband and her showed up about 45 minutes later. I didn’t know what to do. There were police, ambulances, coroners, medical examiners, and a host of other people in the house. The undertakers from the local funeral home came about an hour later. We had to go to the funeral home a couple of hours after that.

I had to sit and listen to the police tell my mother in law and my husband what happened. I watched as they cried and held each other. I listened as my mother in law called my husband’s brother and sister and told them. There was screaming, crying, and plans made.

And now we are here. Ten days later and it all feels like it happened two seconds ago. The funeral was nice and he was buried in a veterans cemetery. There was a 21 gun salute which was a little frightening. My husband and his brother each received one of the shells. After the service we went to my sister in law’s house where there was more food then a hundred people could eat. People came and went. Some of my husband’s friends came. None of mine did mostly because it was a work day.

I remember feeling very sad when my parents died. I cried for weeks and months and eventually it became easier to breathe. But with my father in law I don’t feel sad so much as happy for him. He was stuck in a body that would not allow him to do all the things he wanted to do. He couldn’t use his right arm at all and his right leg just kind of dragged because it was painful for him to walk since he had broken his leg several months ago.

I bet the first thing he did was dance, jump and leap when his soul left his damaged body. Then he probably asked God to give him some projects to do because he was very good with his hands.

Can you imagine being stuck in a body that does not allow you to do the most basic things like holding something in both hands. To have to use a cane that further limits you because now you can’t even hold a cup in the good hand? To be constantly depressed because you see how hard your wife works and you can’t do anything to help her?

My father in law could be downright mean and cruel at times because the part of the brain that tells you “don’t say that” was damaged so he kind of just said whatever he wanted to. But underneath all the brashness and the sarcasm was a man who loved his family deeply. Heck he even allowed me to use power tools and taught me how to hang a picture on the wall and make sure it was level.

I will miss my father in law, but I am glad he’s free.

Save A Place For Me By Matthew West