December 21, 2012

All I want for Christmas.

Posted in Life Lessons, My Five, Parenthood tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 11:06 am by openendedcomment

Dear Santa,

I know it may seem odd to get this letter from me, especially as for the last thirteen years I’ve been you when it comes to gifts and stockings and cookie eating (thank you for that) but in writing to you this year I suppose it’s more about the idea of you…what you stand for…the wonder and the miracle of the season.  I could really use some wonder and what I want may take a miracle, all making you the logical choice for this date.  I know that I haven’t always landed on your “nice” list, I’m the first to admit that to be true.  But from what I understand, you’re a forgiving and jolly sort who can overlook certain things.

This is the season of possibility, of love and togetherness.  Of “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Miracle on 34th Street” type of things.  I was raised on it.  I believe.  I promise, I still do and as you’ll soon see I wouldn’t be writing if that weren’t true.

This year for Christmas I want something that money can’t buy.  I’m looking for a gift of Christmas itself, of Peace on Earth and Goodwill to Men.  Of being what we sing and living what we say.  I have prayed each night and every day, I’ve written letters and put good karma into the world.  I’ve asked directly and I’ve quietly waited…and now as all else has failed, I’m trying you.  You who embody Christmas itself and the promise of your most heartfelt desires and deepest of wishes coming true…even if for just one day.

Please, Santa, please…if you can…please let my children have a Christmas filled with family and joy.  Give to my husband the gift of reconciliation and brotherhood.  To my Mother and Step-Father a time of hope and possibility.  To my Dad a time of knowledge that he is the glue that keeps me strong, to my friends the gift of faith and grace that they may know a year without pain, to my dearest friend the gift of return, that some of what she has put into the world may come back to her.  To my oldest friend the gift of health for her Mother, to my cousin and thousands like him, the gift of equality in all things.  I know this list is long and it may seem I’m asking for too much…a few will do in a pinch…but if there is only one thing I can receive, let it be this, the gift of healing and of strength to the Mothers and Fathers and Brothers and Sisters who have angels not on their tree this year, but in heaven far, far too soon.  I heard the bells ringing for them this very morning, all twenty-six have been given their wings. I’m afraid it won’t be Christmas for those left here this year but someday and sometime  it will be again and when that day comes please, please be there for them.

Thank You, Santa.  You made so many childhood dreams come true that even though I fill stockings now, part of me still believes in the promise of you.




October 19, 2012

Full Circle.

Posted in Life Lessons, My Five tagged , , , , , , , , at 12:50 pm by openendedcomment

So many say that the advent of social media is leading to the breakdown of communication as we know it.  I know many people whom I consider friends that flat-out refuse to participate for various reasons.  Some state that they don’t want their personal life available for view, others that they don’t feel the need to know everything everyone is doing and still others, my husband among them, because they feel that everyone they want to speak to or know about they already do.  I can understand all of these things, but I do not agree.

Social Media, Face Book, Blogs and even the simplicity of email and text have enriched my life in ways I could not have foreseen and will be ever grateful for.  Of course there are the posts that drive me nuts and the ones I wonder at…but then I know I do the same to others and all is well.  We are grown ups and grown ups (should be) able to understand that not everything is to be taken literally.  Hence the reason I feel these things are mostly adult(ish) forums, but I digress.  The bit about who should/should not participate in these social networks is a post for another day.  As I enter the back-end of my thirties my life has become almost unsustainably busy.  I have a full-time career.  I am a Mother of four active and very wonderful children with whom I am extremely involved.  I have a husband, parents, siblings and friends.  In order to keep up with all of these people and all of these things, this wonderful age of technology and communication is not only easier but essential.  Without it I would never know of or be able to keep tabs on what the people I care about are doing in and with their lives.  I would not be connected to family members, aunts, uncles and cousins scattered throughout the country.  I use it less for gossip and more for lovely things like friendship, family, humor and information.  Sure, I could call…but in reality, I don’t have the time and neither do they.  I suppose writing a letter is possible and some would say more thoughtful, but again, that requires getting to the post office and waiting for a response and though it may seem lazy to admit, I know myself better than to think I would have the time to do that.  I mean, I have dry cleaning that hasn’t been claimed in six months…speaking of which…I must do that today. We don’t have a “main street” or “corner cafe” at which we have breakfast or see friends known from childhood.  The world just isn’t like that anymore.

It goes further than light conversation or keeping tabs.  It goes to the basic human need to be connected and the joy of rediscovering people I would not know today that were so essential in my life at one time.  Friends I had in high school and even junior high school with whom I lost touch these past decades.  People who were dear to me and lost to me are found again on my own little digital home-town.  There are so many who fit this criteria of people I am glad to know again but for this post and because of this day it’s about two women I once knew and again know.

As an eighth grader, one of my dearest friends was a girl named C.  We hung out at each other’s homes constantly.  We even made a band.  A band of two…but there were signs.  In high school we grew apart and after that we saw each other only once, at a ten-year reunion, at which we really didn’t speak.  Through social media I “found” her again and we “speak” semi-regularly now.  No, we aren’t “best friends” but each time we write I am reminded of why we became friends in the first place all those years ago.  She is smart.  She is kind and she is hilarious.  She and I also lead somewhat similar lives today as step-mothers and wives and women.  I am invested in her blog because through it I found my friend and some sound advice combined wth many laughs.  We’ve been trying to set up a lunch and not shockingly, can’t find the time.  But we will and as I write even this I am wondering how her weekend is set and who is home with her children over MEA and if a certain plan she has in the works is working out the way she hopes (if you read this I’m referring to the twofer plan…fingers crossed!)  Again and happily so,  she is someone I care for and someone I want to see have everything in life.

There are poignant moments, too.  Just today a girl, now a mother of three, with whom I was very close my junior and senior year of high school and again, someone I haven’t seen since, wrote something very personal.  She is going through a difficult time and I wish I could do more for her to ease her pain.  I found myself crying at my desk remembering being in her home at sixteen.  Remembering her family and the talks she and I shared over saltines in her basement and lunch tables at 6th hour.  Wondering at the strange and long road I’ve been on these last twenty years and feeling as though I had been a  terrible friend for letting something that was once so important to me go with such ease.  She and I also communicate now and from what I can tell, she is exactly who I had always thought she would be, an amazing Mother, Wife, Woman and Friend.  She and I had the same English teacher Senior year.  He had us write ourselves a letter, which was to be mailed to our 27-28 year old selves to review.  In mine, I had spelled out a vision of a life for myself I do not lead.  I wanted such different things back then…and today, reading her post, something became clear.  What was most important to me then is what is most important to me now.  The rest may have changed, and most for the better, but these women were spelled out by name to remind me to know.  Her name was in it.  Hers, along with a woman in San Fransisco, another in a Northern Suburb, one now in Iowa, one who had her second son only weeks ago a few miles from where we went to pre-school together, and a woman who today celebrates her birthday.  I told myself that I would always know them.  Some I never lost touch with, others I did, and thanks to this world we live in, all I now know again.

For women this is essential.  We need our friendships.  My circle is small in part because I prefer it that way and in part as I have been remiss in keeping ties bound.  I have Glitter and I have Cielo and I have my Mother, too.  But aside from them and sometimes even including them, I am terrible about keeping in touch to the level I mean to and want to.  We are all connected again and in so I am enriched and blessed.  We’ve come full circle these women and me.  We started out fast friends, took different paths, changed our ways, changed our minds, became new people, found our homes, built our families and learned who we are.  And in the end, at least for a few, found that the core of who we were is more of who we are than we had ever imagined and as such rediscovered that those girls we knew we liked are women we know we need.

August 17, 2012

Scarlett Was Right.

Posted in Life Lessons, My Five tagged , , , , , , , , , at 2:30 pm by openendedcomment

I had a conversation with Glitter yesterday.  This in and of itself is not a big deal.  We talk all of the time.  It was the substance of this talk and actually the thoughts that went through my mind after it that are the reason for this day’s musings.

We were discussing all of the awful-no-good-very-bad that has been my summer and her last eighteen months.  About the pain, the people and the fact that in it all we were losing sight of all of the good.  I brought up how on December 31st, 2011, as she and I were having our daily chat I had said then that I could not wait for 2011 to be over.  It had been a year.  She’d had the same sentiments.  She then mentioned to me that despite the utter crap of the past weeks and months that 2012 has actually been far, far better for both of us.  She’s right.  It has been. On the surface it may seem worse, but when I examine it, really look into it, she’s right.  I mean, this poor woman was diagnosed with Lyme’s disease and West Nile all in the span of the past 48 hours ( no, I didn’t think that was possible either, ugh, poor woman!) and she was still looking on the bright side.  Maybe her new alias should be Pollyanna.  At any rate, I owe her one for putting it into perspective.

With all of the loss and sadness and just…awful that has surrounded my family and friends I love like family recently I think it’s time I take a moment to count the good.  The great.  The Oh-My-God-We-Are-So-Blessed parts of our lives.  So here we go and in no particular order:

  • My husband, though it came on the tail of (actually during) one of the hardest days of his lives, has begun the process of healing with his brothers.  This is something I have prayed about for years now.  We aren’t quite there, there’s a few that are harder than others to make that first move with, and perhaps he’ll never be all the way right, but it is a start and that’s more than there was a week ago.  I believe (and I’m sorry to those of you that are agnostic or atheist, but this is my blog and my beliefs) that a woman who loves them all dearly and has from the moment of their creation is quietly but firmly guiding him and them along at this very moment.  She may not have liked me, but she adored all of them and I’m sure she’d want to see this happen, too.
  • Each day I am reminded that though I’ve lost people I love I was so very, very lucky to have had them in my life.  I wear a Grandmother’s wedding ring, another’s emeralds in my ears…not for the jewels but for the precious gift of their words in my head and my heart which is kept closer to their wisdom by the tiny, sparkling reminders of the remarkable women that tried to make me better. I will always miss them, but will forever be grateful to have been loved by and to love them all.
  • Our children are healthy.  They may drive me crazy from time to time but they are healthier and happier now than they have been in years.  They know they are secure and I know they are all on a  good path.
  • My friends have been amazing.  Stunning and so above and beyond in their support.  I don’t know how I’ll ever repay all of the kindness shown these past eighteen months, but I will try.
  • My husband and I are both gainfully and, even more importantly, happily employed.  A year ago that was not true.  We are very, very lucky in that we both really enjoy what we do and the people we share our careers with.  It’s exciting to come home and talk about what’s happened each day and to celebrate each other’s successes.

And really, when I look at what I’ve just written, this has indeed been a good eight months.  Yes, there has been heartache and tears and undeniable losses that will form a dull ache throughout the rest of our lives as we move through the difficult milestones of life without them.  And as I sit here trying to look at the brightest of sides during the darkest hours I can’t help but ask myself, are there things I would change? Of course, several.  Are there regrets? Yes, many. But here’s the thing:  It’s too late.  It will always matter, those decisions and words will always be with me, but I’m done beating myself up about all of it because at the end of the day it gets me nowhere.  I know where mistakes were made and all I can do from here on out is endeavor to learn from them and vow to not repeat anything even resembling them again.

There has been acceptance.  Peace.  We have been surrounded by signs we just needed to be ready to see pointing us in the right direction.  It is time now to heal.  To remember the good, to embrace the present and to forgive others as well as ourselves for the days that have already passed.  And maybe, just maybe it is time for a new beginning.  After all, tomorrow is another day.

February 29, 2012

That which we do not speak of.

Posted in Life Lessons tagged , , , , , , , , at 1:23 am by openendedcomment

Today the Father of a co-worker is ending his battle with cancer.

I have never witnessed such grace as that which she has shown in the past weeks leading to this very difficult moment.  She has humbled me with her ability to cope, process and to be a peace. She is unshakeable.

And now I know why.

There is nothing left unsaid.

A few weeks ago my DH and I were watching “Oprah’s Next Chapter”.  Me because I love Oprah and he because the subject of that episode was Governor Chris Christie (and I had the remote).  During it, Oprah asked Governor Christie about the day his Mother passed.  He said she had told him to go to work.  He was stunned and told her it could wait.  Her response? “There’s nothing left unsaid between us.”

How wonderful.  How amazing.  How very, very difficult to accomplish.

Now, I’m close to my parents, all three of them.  There are no major riffs and no issues (at least not that I’m aware of.)  BUT…if, God forbid, they were to leave, can I really say that there is nothing left to speak of?   What about my friends and family?  My husband?  My children?  There is so very, very much left unsaid that I’m afraid I would need a year just to get it all out…if I were to find the courage…which I doubt very much I would.  It dawned on me though, as I sit here wondering what that kind of total acceptance of a life lived must feel like…that I ought to at least try.

I want that.  I think I may even need it.

You see, I have pissed people off my life.  Shocked?  You must not know me.  Welcome.  I assure you, it is very true…Its sort of  a bad habit, like biting your nails, but with more problematic consequences.

The issue isn’t that I’m an inherently controversial person; I’m actually quite the opposite.  I really do try to avoid conflict/fights/issues…unfortunately, when faced with them (as is inevitable in anyone’s life) I tend to not back away from speaking my mind.  Again, shocking, I know.

I can’t stand watching someone I care for suffer and doing nothing about it.  As there are many people I care for, I tend to find myself “doing something about it” more often than perhaps I ought to.  I am also Irish.  And a red-head.  A typical one.  This means I use my words (I remember that being a good thing at one point in my life) and in doing so make my point.  Loudly.  Occasionally with venom.

In my family (5 red-heads and a blonde with a red beard), this is how we solved problems.  We spit it all out, worked it all out and then moved on with a  better understanding of where everyone was at.  In the rest of the world, this appears to be how problems get worse.  Who knew?

Me.  That’s who.  I’ve learned.  I have quite the trail of things left unsaid…the apologies I really do need to make (some I’ve made that went unanswered, others I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my pride to utter…untill now.  I think.  I hope.)  I have things to say to friends.  I have things to say to family.  I have things to say to myself.

I have good things and great things to say.  I have questions I need to answer and some I need to ask.  I have tears to shed and pride to swallow.  I have laughs to be shared and lessons to be imparted both on and to…I have other things as well.

I have things I do not speak of.  I have secrets buried deep and hurts which have been ignored.  Despite the bravado I so often portray…I am not a very open person.  There are so many things I do not mention…so much I don’t let be heard.  I married a man much like me…he is like me but better than me…and he too has much that goes unsaid.  I suppose we all do, in some way and on some subjects…to some people…we all have that which we do not wish to address…that which we are afraid of hurting from or causing hurt as a result of.

So much left unsaid.

In the world of blogs, Facebook, twitter, text, email…in the world we live in where communication has never been more abundant, in this world so filled with the noise of chatter and information from every direction…in this world at this moment the things we not speak of are deafening in their silence.

Perhaps, just maybe…just this once, I could make a wee bit of real noise…just one call…one note.  One message that needs to be received could finally be heard.  My co-worker, this woman I am blessed to know, she is not a loud woman. But her courage to be known is heard above the din.