Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Seeking Relief

Chaos is not the best look on many people. We wear it in panicked expressions, rapid or even ragged breathing, even tears. To feel the solid ground we expected under our feet shudder, shake, disappear... it goes deeper than nervousness. This is a primary, visceral fear.

To abate our terror, we seek relief.

We learn from the world where we can find sanctuary. For some, immediate family is a welcoming haven. For others, it is art, or work, or the family they have created in friends.

We make choices when faced with panic. Not all those choices are great. Sometimes, we eat poorly. We push away people whose intentions are good. We push reckless behavior to the limit, daring some force to interfere or at least determine whether you keep the wheel straight to go over the island cliff or whip it back onto the road at the last possible second.

Obviously, my body is a betrayal I never anticipated. Damaged before I could speak, I knew the physical was no reflection of my internal world. My mind became my refuge, my solace.

Sometimes the pain that rocks my world is terrifying. There are people in this world who feel slicing agony in their left side and think, "Is it cancer? Is it bleeding?" There are people who dread simple tasks because at any moment, that chaos can engulf them.

So we seek relief. We abate the pain in the unknown as best we can.

We all do. We all seek relief.

Love can be a relief. Opening a message that was waiting just for you, filled with images of your favorite things? Hearing a voicemail filled with laughter and inside jokes, reminding you that you matter to someone who thought of you just because they love you?

Food can be a relief. Not just eating it. At times, being able to complete a dish that is technically challenging is actually a relief. It may take me forever, but it's still something I can do.

Playing games, in all their forms, can be so restful. Some games are meditative. I can make no claim to have found Zen Koi on my own, but many of my Warrior Women with chronic pain/ailment issues find satisfaction and distraction in its soothing music and simple gameplay. And Yet It Moves, on Wii, is beautiful and engaging with simple colors and soothing music.

People can be both relief and weight. These are the razor edges of human experience. Someone intending to be so helpful, slicing wounds beyond repair - and the weight of your own wellbeing. Do you forgive an honest mistake? Is the jagged edge stitchless and unhealing? When all you can do is put on clothes in the morning, and barely function, is it fair to expect that you repair the breech?

Razors aren't just hidden in the faces of the world. Movies, books, comics: the bastion of refuge for so many can hide remembrances that rob you of breath, and chase away the relief you sought. We look to touchstones, we search out the ways that other people we know and trust have found their way through the pain and chaos we all carry, and we hope to make it through the pitfalls more intact than not.

Rosemary Kennedy's quote about time healing wounds is one of my favorites of all time. She shares the heartbreak that a well of painful loss washes some of us in. That the wound never heals, and we only learn to carry the pain is the truest of all lessons I have ever learned.

We are surrounded by varying degrees of people in chaos. We exist in a world where we never know what winds blow across our lives, nor what they carry. Even as I read "I'll Be Gone In The Dark" by the late Michelle McNamara, I find myself sobbing at a life lived in service to others, gone as she struggled to find a way to bring a glimpse of peace into the lives of those who will find no relief without answers.

Michelle McNamara told her husband, Patton Oswalt, frequently, that it's chaos and we should simply be kind to one another. That stays with me.

I carry the pain of a body that is dying faster than it should at my age, and all the surgeries and toxic chemicals that are weirdly keeping me alive while making my hair/eye lashes/memory disappear in clumps. I carry the loss of my parents, my brother, the niece who will never recover from a car accident, the extended family I missed out on for one reason or another. My friends who are gone, Melissa Moses chief among them, are prominent scars across my heart.

I also carry the hope of relief.

I am frequently given relief. Texts from my Sister in the Seattle area, texts from my Sister Melissa, my husband finds ways throughout the day to give me laughter and sweetness. I have an extended family of in-laws without whom I would be lost. I cook the meals my mother taught me. I can pack a car with Tetris-style precision because my Dad insisted on help. I sometimes put lotion on the backs of my hands and rub them together, hearing Melissa Moses shyly whisper, "I don't like it on my palms." I love hot chocolate, and can still remember the hot chocolates my niece and I would drive out to get before her car accident left her in a coma. Even the razors that once sliced into my heart and left me a wounded mess now help me clear the cobwebs, and remember the sweetness of the loves I've carried.

So onward we strive. We step with as much confidence as we can, on this walk through life. We carry scars and secrets, we find family in the friends who stay with us. We feel pain and we seek relief.

Be gentle with the people around you. Most of us are doing our best, and the ones who aren't are hunting for relief for a wound they may not even know they have.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Am I Who You Think I Am?

I was a firebrand as a kid.

At 4, standing between the woman I would know as "Auntie Anne," and the alcoholic she was married to, I shouted at him to leave her alone. He'd fallen asleep, drunk, at the dinner table. When awoken (unsure how), he'd begun to rail at his timid wife. In my mother's words, I had known I would be in trouble if I'd done the same and I was not about to stand for it in others. I was referred to as her little hero for the entirety of that trip to Boston. I believe it's the same trip I was allowed to select a harmonica to take home as a memento, and there is photographic evidence somewhere of me and the person I knew as Cousin Neil with underwear on our heads.

In college, I had a hard time settling down into a vision for my future. Hell, truth be told, I still have no idea where my world will lead me. But a professor I came to count as a friend, and the model of patience I know I need, was talking to me one day. He chuckled when I complained that I couldn't find a cause. "Jess, you don't have one. You have too many."

I volunteered, I worked hard to uphold ideals and beliefs that were important to me. More than once, I was the biggest jerk on the planet and lectured perfectly loving people who needed none of my well-meant but goofy guidance.

June 6, 2013. I remember the day it began.

My world started to retract.

I'm still concerned with politics. I continue to read everything I can about it, and try to make sense of choices in the best of every change that comes in that realm.

There's no love like love for pets - and I myself still adore puppers and kitties always. I want them to be well taken care of, and I want them to have safe places to live.

We recycle when we can. I fight food waste pretty actively. There's nothing more goofy than my determined hunt for the way to make leftovers disappear, or at least become interesting.

I know I'm not the same. I look at the relationships I had and lessons come glaringly into focus. I was naive, and insecure. Probably still am, though in ways that have shifted and changed. It's a warning bell for me when people admit they'd rather make fun of me privately than tease me openly and let me join in. I am reticent to give full trust to the "Yes, we'll see each other soon," knowing that time will absolutely tell where I fall in the hierarchy of priority.

I don't go out of my way to find debate these days. Some would say it abounds with no effort. I would argue that my expectation - that a discussion begins and ends with respect, patience and interest - is seldom met, so rather than set someone up to disappoint me, I let the way a person reveals their opposing view inform (occasionally delight) me.

My reading and writing habits ebb and flow, an eternal ocean inside me that swells on one side as the other's waters slip away. I build worlds in the air, as ever, and find myself lost in the castles of others.

Shirley Jackson's "We Have Always Lived in The Castle" drifted across my reading list a while ago. I'd heard of it, with my propensity for older rather than current literature no doubt a guiding force. I delved into the narrative aware of my jaded expectations as well as my still-intact delight at finding a new universe I understood and could watch grow as I read. The edges filled in, as I like to say. By that I mean that it wasn't a portrait that created its own border, tidy and circumspect on the canvas. Rather, the smells and sounds of scenes not described in those ways seemed to rush toward me as I read. Kind of a mix of memory, intuition and familiarity. Perhaps another way to say it is that I knew the voice of the narrative, and when it was written, and that made it live for me even more than I had expected.

I mention this classic piece of creeping suspense, of determined obsessive literature because I would not have read it and found the same things at any other time in my life. Perhaps it's unique to look at pivot points as they happen, to literally feel the moment when your world and life shift from one phase to the next. As much as I adore and enjoy my friends, there are times when solitude is required for me. I find stillness there, and it is such a rare thing in my mind and my body that it takes on a reverence I fail every time to describe.

I am, and am not, the person I was. I carry the lessons, the scars, the ghosts, and the sadness of the choices I've made, the life I've lived. I have literally spent the past few months actively repaying old debts, filling in the edges of my own story's loose ends so that there is less for the demons of my nature to harry me. The better angels of that same nature sit quiet in this winter evening's solace, sated in all I have done today.

I know I've changed. I know I've turned a corner somewhere and there are relationships before that turn now gone. I see this in part as life progressing as it does for us all. I also am aware that I am changing again. Wounds too deep won't scar. Did you know that? Some cuts linger, determined never to close or heal. It's not always so clear as Beatrix Kiddo and Bill, where shooting someone instantly teaches the lesson that there are some things you can never take back.

I think the lesson in this phase that I've either just entered or just ended is, simply, that some things aren't meant for repair. They lay and languish, rust or rot, and I've always found beauty in those structures whose memory of their former glory seems to instill an iron resolve to say, "See what I was. Know what I meant, when first I was new and full of hope. Hope may yet be found in me, or I may fall, but I remain for now."

Will I build a new home in the bones of an abandoned barn? Will my footsteps echo down a hall where walls could have never heard voices again? What ruined, aging structures on the shores of my life's river will watch as I meander among them, grateful for their presence but never to turn their mill wheels or quicken in their pump-sinks again?

I do not carry regret. That emotion, as I can understand it, makes the most sense when you can see the totality of a life on balance. Value judgments, as those dearest to me know, are not something in which I engage often. You cannot know the weight of an experience, to look at its true impact, without the benefit of time, nor can you see the ripples of both good and bad it sent out into the world.

I am still hopeful, and still full of the hope that magical things are waiting for me. My eyes have turned from my own development of miracles to being the recipient, but my hope remains. I try to remember how staggeringly much I don't know. I try to see the lessons strangers offer me, and the wisdom friendship provide even when they drift away.

I have no New Year, New Me determination. There's too much of me still to grow, to change, to arrive, that I would feel ridiculous trying. I want to remind myself that humility in the face of another's suffering, kindness in moments where my temper would rather rage, and all the memories in my mind are vital.

There's no greater respect I can give than the amount I place on the late wife of Patton Oswald, and her mantra in this world.

"It is chaos. Be kind."

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

How Reading Harry Potter (WAY LATE) Was The Best Path for Me

I never read Harry Potter when it came out.


Put simply: I was terrified of it.

A teacher in High School, whom I knew outside of school as well and trusted, said something about it when it first came out that made my head spin and my heart sink.

"It's about abuse, Jess. He's a prisoner under the stairs. It's going to end with him dying; Hogwarts was just his way of finding hope before he dies under the stairs."

I couldn't touch it. I've made no secret of the fact that I suffered abuse before I was adopted at age 4. I can't fathom what reading about the adventures of this child would be like if, in the end, it was all a way to save him from suffering.

I've had friends, and family, chide me for this denial of literature. More often than not, when asked about Potter, my response was a brisk, "I haven't read or watched it. I have my reasons." I was lobbied, bribed, threatened (in a loving way) and I remained unmoved.

Even after my husband tricked me into watching the first Deathly Hallows movie, I resisted the books. "How'd he trick you?" "Jess! Look at the Alan Rickman movie!" Yes, that's a more reliable way to get me to do anything I refuse to do than just about any other incentive. So suffice to say I was Team Snape before I knew what the hell that meant.

Two years ago, because of my husband's enthusiasm for Harry Potter, I bought him the boxed set of books. We already own the movies, because like I said, "Alan Rickman" is a phrase on par with "expensive dinner at prestigious place" and "all the ice cream/mac-n-cheese you want" in my house. I will stampede for that, given the right mood.

My husband was not, when we met, a "reader." I am proud to say that my influence has broken him down. He now has a bookshelf instead of a nightstand, just as I do. After a year, he was still on Chapter 3 of the first book, having been distracted by a bunch of other books I'd bought him and the busy life of working 60+ hours a week.

The summer of 2016 was a challenge for me. I can't say that it was any particular thing, but stress from a job that turned out to be toxic for me and the uncertainty of family members being ill led me to investigate escapist reading in a way I had not before. I considered, and intended to, start reading Harry Potter. Life intervened, and I found myself on a journey of both painful self-discovery and the horror of nearly losing my father.

I have written about the passing of my father here, and the grief is still very much with me, but in the summer after he died I began to look around and the things I considered the loose ends of my life. I wrote letters I'd been contemplating for years. I repaid kindnesses I'm certain people forgot they had paid me, but I thought of them at least weekly. I filled the world with a little bit of the joy I missed, and I turned my attention to the books I had been thinking about for a year.

Getting through the first book was not what I expected. No one had told me that J. K. Rowling does not write character-driven books. These were action/adventure books. I understood the age range for which they were intended, and I enjoyed the plain language with which the books were written. The tone was a hell of a gear change for me, having been on re-reading binges with Christopher Moore (Lamb continues to save my life) and Neil Gaiman (American Gods will forever have a place in my soul).

Gradually, I grew acclimated to the writing style. I began to understand the intricacies of the fandom (Book Ginny is vastly superior). I found the determination of my friends to see the movies on opening nights, maybe even in robes (miss you every day, Melissa Moses), charming and completely understandable. I even developed favorites of my own, with Snape a clear top contender. I marveled at the world Ms. Rowling wrought, and the people in it.

I finished these books in record time, finding myself sobbing through most of them but determined to finish. As I acquired this new knowledge, I realized most of my friends would laugh at my delay so I immediately set about telling my sister-since-we-were-8-at-daycare Melissa Bentley about it. She responded to my statement that I hadn't read them until now with, "Oh, too mainstream for yah?"

In fairness to Melissa, she's right. I tend to shy away from things that have mass appeal. Not because there's anything wrong with them, but generally I find them lacking in ways I consider vital. I explained the origin of my misapprehensions. Her instant response was, "Well crap, I wish you would have told me."

As I put down the final book, I remembered that conversation. I also thought of the mechanism I'd be given. Somehow, through the fight of the books, I had also slowly but surely processed the death of my Father. I also found the still-painful loss of my Mother had been processed again, in a way that felt easier to bear. For a moment in my life, my understanding of the world was made a little bit better and brighter for reading books that I could have read over a decade before but it wouldn't have been the same.

I find myself grateful for this gift. I have learned the short-hand of the books, and get teased with affectionate playfulness by many of those who love me about my late arrival to the Potter party. My affection for the books, and characters, will forever be linked to the words on those pages letting my loss and confusion find outlets. I have rarely been more grateful for literature, or more convinced of its healing nature.

So while I'm way past late to enjoying Harry Potter, I certainly delight in the magic given to the world. And yes, before you ask, I've read The Cursed Child and seen/read way too much Pottermore. Also, if you didn't fall in love with the Niffler in Fantastic Beasts there's something wrong with you. I'm a jumble, I admit, but I am certainly a grateful one.

Friday, September 8, 2017


I traveled this past weekend. For the first time, I walked into the house I'd known for more than 20 years and knew I'd be taking keepsakes, momentos, pieces of my history.

There were books, and a statue, some tea cups (yeah, I know it's weird) that I wanted. Pieces that held little to no monetary value but ones I had cherished. In some cases, I felt child-like awe returning as I handled them with extreme care.

The pictures were at once both the hardest and the easiest. I took the school photos that documented the march of time in my life, as well as two images I copied.

One was my father, in July of 1984, swaying in a hammock on our farm. He looked relaxed and playful. I've always loved that image of my father.

The one I cried as I took from its frame meant the most to me. To a casual observer, it looked like a little girl pouting as a mom chuckled, cajoling the child into something.

I am not the casual observer. I know what's happening in that image.

My adoption made me feel like an outsider. I lost a lot of the confidence 4-6 year old children often have, knowing that my parents were, and weren't, my "parents" in the usual sense. I grew up terrified that if I did anything wrong, I'd be taken back to where I'd been. Returned as defective, or unwanted.

My Mother was an incredibly intuitive woman. She and my Father had taken in many foster children, but they'd adopted me. Somehow her empathic nature told her that my insecurities needed unique reassurance, so she devised a game.

At the camping grounds where the image was taken (around 1987), I would race ahead and sit on the large rocks lining the path to the bathrooms. I would pretend to cry and be sad, all the while my parents making their way up the same path. When they reached me, my Mom would ask why I was crying. I would say I was lost, and didn't have a family. My Mom would say that they would love me and keep me forever, and we would agree to keep each other forever before bundling off to the bathroom together, hand in hand.

My relationship with my Mom and Dad was ironclad, and by my twenties I looked like both of them. I somehow managed to develop my Mom's voice over the phone. But looking at these images of the two people who took such amazing care of me, who raised me and taught me all they could - I hope a tiny portion of the legacy of love and compassion they left behind lives on in me. I will forever be in awe of the lengths my parents, particularly Mom, went to so that I could feel safe and loved. There's an incredible power in that kind of love.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Island Scenes, Mountain Retreats

There are things that keep me awake. I can't keep having the same dreams. Too much passes for reality when my eyes are closed. Faces, ghosts, memories... my restless mind combines so much, and I find more solace in the dark of night than I do in my sleep. JK Rowling had plenty of inspiration for the Mirror of Erised in dreams. 

It's late, again. Thoughts wind back to the conversation earlier in the day - the dichotomy that provides me comfort, the yearning of my heart to split my life between cold snowy mountains and a quiet, desolate beach. My daydreaming (night dreaming?) keeps creating scenes, moments that I could dwell in forever. But, as cautioned, it would not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.


For a moment, though I don't know how long it lasts, I'm walking on the beach. It's late - the bars and clubs are expelling their caches of the drunk and lusty. For a span, I am swallowed in the humanity as pairs and singles as they wash the soundscape in intermittent beats and the murmur of determination. I meet no eyes, I find no conversation pulling me. I am a ghost amongst crashing waves and chilling breezes, unbidden and unwelcome in my otherness. My skirt is long and skims the tops of my feet, my hair blown and battered by the fingers of my companion the wind; even the most amorous of couples are bypassing the dunes and hiding places for some other den of lust tonight. My lips curl in recognition, a smile for remembered beats and rhythms when I danced myself to pleasant oblivion years ago. 

I give privacy to the retreating humanity; they are on a journey different from the trail I walk tonight. I am in search of something they would not value, even if they found; the same could be said if my feet found me walking anyone else's road. I taste the salt on my lips from the ocean spray, and watch the changing colors of surf as it sighs itself in and out. The sand is still warm under my feet from the day's sun. The women who went into the clubs without jacket or sleeves are surprised by the cool night's breath. I chuckle at the sounds, words shapeless as they reach my ears, expressing surprise. They cannot see what I do; I leave them to their own devices as I am left to my own. 

As the sounds ebb, the tides stubbornly come in. My path veers further inland, avoiding the tips of the surf's fingers as they reclaim bits of the beach. I shrug my shoulders, wrapping my hands in the cuffs of the shirt extending to my thumb. There's a storm offshore. That explains the edge to the breeze, the way it shifts the trees and tousles my hair carelessly. I needn't strain my eyes to find safe passage in the night. I can see forever in the moments lightning touches salt water. Even if the shower reaches my deserted haven, it might wash away any tears that fall and such friendship should not be turned away. I will cry myself comforted in the falling salt water as its ultimate destination stands judgeless and vast. I will find peace between the rain and waves.


Deep breaths carry evergreen and cold to my nose. I find myself wrapped in the silence of the world as it gathers itself before a storm. My boots crunch the crisp, established snow. I think another blanket will fall soon. I listen to the few leaves determined to hang on hibernating limbs, protesting another bout of rough treatment I would not spare them. There's a name for the silence that comes with a snowstorm - it escapes me as I smile into the dove grey underbelly of the threatening clouds. The path remains in my mind as I see the first large clumps of crystalline ice tumble onto my trail. I know the way without thought, without directions. That does not stop my breath from catching. Somehow I am home again, known even in my solitude by the wind and weather. Unyielding ground beneath the snow strains to touch my shoes, to reassure me that grass and tree wait to rise when the time permits. This is my reset, my chance to let loose my hidden breath. I can find my pace, hidden among the evergreens. The heavy sweater under my parka, the boots, even the hat I wear are no barrier. 

I don't spin. There are catches of a song on my mind, calling from the depths a ship and its captain as winter waves beckon. No snow angels, somehow an affront to the temple in which I wander. My reverence tells me that full-throated song is disrespectful in this space. I learn my own stillness in this cathedral of whipping cold and spiraling fractals. There is a place for the geometric precision of each array of angles, the alignment of water and imperfections tumbling to me from heights I do not imagine as I watch them gather on my eyelashes. Melting into my ungloved fingers, the touch of delicate chill followed instantly by pooling water calls to me. It sings of the stillness I may borrow but do not own, the pristine beauty this place holds without any of the scars, the damage of learning and living. As the dripping former snowflakes invade the warmth of my sleeve, I recall the trek back to hearth and home. My journey will have been better for these steps caught in the storm, instantly obliterated by the falling fluff. I will curl into an oversized chair next to the fireplace, a book awaiting my attentions as tea steams in my cup. I'll listen well to the rare thunder that accompanies some snowstorms. I'll smile as its deadened rumble recalls the rain it had been at lower elevations, warmer temperatures, and I welcome its changed touch on my lips, my eyes, my mind. 


I can't explain why both ideas swim with meaning and value in my mind. There's so much about each that is inexplicably real to me. Part of it is my own memories of less idealized moments. Some of my life is wrapped in holding such moments, finding instruction and comfort in the vividness of such moments. It is remarkable the lengths to which the mind seeks comfort, refuge, peace. There are such different tactile experiences in each, their differences of primary importance to me. 

So I'm caught somewhere between jagged mountainscapes and shifting sandy seascapes. Needing both, missing both. 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017


"In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse."
~T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock

When we last left our heroes, there was a new year barely 3 months old and a world of change ahead.

Today, precisely, is 3 months before my 35 birthday. So much has taken my breath away since March of 2016. So many great gains. Such world-stopping changes, losses.

It has been 6 weeks since my Father passed away. Almost a full year since the surgery that removed his lung cancer and the following month+ of downturns, near-death ICU stay and slow, persistent, less-2.5-toes recovery. Watching my sister worry until she couldn't sleep, finally getting brave enough to travel to be with them and feeling relief as they all improved. Spending Thanksgiving with my Dad, and marveling at his determination. Fighting to find time to be with him around his birthday. And being with him in the last days, that no one knew were his last. Watching "The Magnificent Seven," and its remake. Watching "El Dorado." Talking about John Wayne. Holding him as he passed out in the living room. Trembling as I called my sister, feeling helpless for the first time in a medical situation because regardless of how much I understand about medicine, I couldn't make sense of what was going on. This was Dad - my Big Sister's best friend, and the man who cried when he dropped me off at college when I asked if I'd still always be his little girl. Bob, who adored my husband and checked on Jon more than I knew, particularly after Mom passed away. Mr. Invincible, whose stoic and bullish presence in my life kept me grounded, and I bit back every inch of my political ideas so that our time together could be happy. It was selfish, and small, but I wanted to just enjoy the time we had left together, however long that was. The only thing I would change would be to have my sister at our side when we held him before he passed. I was closer to my Mom, and I would have given anything and everything I have to let my sister hold my Father's hand to say goodbye just as I'd had the opportunity to hold Mom's. He loved us. Imperfectly, impossibly at times, but loved us just the same.

I've struggled with the pain of losing him. More than that I've felt mystified by my relief - a breath held I did not know I was holding - knowing that he wasn't alone, that he had loved ones around him constantly when he went.

It has been 15 months and 1 week since my friend and sister, Melissa, passed away. Unexpected. Completely. I'd spoken to her every day for so long. She was a bright light in a weary world, and in each other we found safe passage. She was the quintessential older sibling; she knew when I was screwing up and would patiently tell me exactly why I was being an ass. She also let me be devastated without the nagging echo of "I told you so," or the disappointment of misplaced hero-worship. She saw my flaws, and let me stand beside her even in the face of them.

It has been 2 years and several weeks since my Mom and older brother passed away, within weeks of each other.

Even in the face of these scars, beautiful moments and new friends have brought love into my life. I've had magnificent moments, spectacular adventures and quiet restful evenings. I've learned more every day. My health is stable, which is a small miracle. I fight every day to keep it so.

I've seen one of my favorite people marry her long-time love. I've had an afternoon/evening as Cinderella. I've dyed my white hair a tanzanite purple-blue. I have started wearing thermal nail polish so I can tell when my toes/fingers are colder than they seem. I laugh too loudly. I kiss my husband in public. I'm reading Harry Potter for the first time, after 20 years of resistance. I am looking forward to once-in-a-lifetime memories with once-in-a-lifetime people. I am planning a dinner for friends. I'm watching movies in theaters again. I am writing again.

I'm still here. At a moment my world can change; in a second it will change again. But I have lived, up to now, and I will make even more memories in the days, weeks, years to come. I will have a rich and varied life to look back on, and I am grateful for all in it.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

... and Many Happy Returns

We all have little traditions for special events.

In my family, you always got to pick dinner on your birthday, and if it was feasible, you got your favorite flavor of birthday cake. Or, icingless cupcakes... or whatever weird thing creeps into your brain, like a bowl of spinach instead of ice cream (yes, I preferred spinach as a late night snack as a kid).

March 2nd is my Mom's birthday. She would have been 72.

It's been difficult for me without my Mom. Lynn was a force of nature, fiercely loving and loyal. She filled the room with her laughter, or biting sarcasm. She raised so many people - foster children, friends of her own children, grandchildren... My Mom loved so many people who loved her without reservation or restraint - I wish I could tell every one of them how much she loved them, because she talked about them all with love, and hope. I am so proud of that; she loved with such energy.

And yes, she sucked sometimes. We butted heads more than once, and had to have a 'Come to Jesus' discussion more than once about what our relationship was, and how it was going to work. We hurt each other, without ever meaning to hurt each other. My Mom wasn't big on saying "I'm sorry," but she would go out of her way to make sure you knew she still loved you.

My Mom was my template for strength, and grace, and love. Sometimes she took my breath away with how absolutely perfect her comfort fell like a blanket over my heart. She was a Best Friend, and my biggest fan.

I celebrate my Mom every day. I talk to her every day. Sometimes, I have the best dreams - simple ones, where I'm sitting in the kitchen with her and we're talking about nothing special. Those are the times it takes me a moment to gather myself when I wake up - but I know I smile a little more those days, and feel comforted.

So, March 2nd, I remember the piece of my heart that was so full for 33 years. I was so very lucky to have Lynn as a mom, a friend, a confidant.

"It has been said, 'Time heals all wounds.' I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone."
~Rosemary Kennedy