Green Thumb…

I’m not a huge gardener and usually struggle to keep my house plants alive but this year, I decided to try gardening one more time. Since I planted strawberries in my garden a few years ago, the bunnies and chipmunks have beaten me to their luscious deliciousness. So I opted for less challenging plants and flowers that need little coaxing from me, than fruits and vegetables for my front garden. It went better but it’s no English estate garden.

This year I invested in deck rail planters and have grown successfully; peppermint, spearmint, jalapeños, lettuce, baby tomatoes, basil, rosemary, and oregano. I’m total amazed and pamper them relentlessly, ask my sons, who have been required to water and tend to them when I am away. The biggest surprise is that we actually eat everything we’ve planted and to have teenage boys eat anything green is nothing short of a miracle. I’m grateful everyday that we get to harvest and share our own bounty. At least they put down their phones, don’t get me started, and we chill out on the deck and talk and eat. That’s worth the price of soil.

It turns out that rebirth and regeneration of my garden has helped move me towards a place of gratitude and peace. This summer has been one of the most joyous summers of my life. To be surrounded by nature, my plants, my puppy, my friends, and my beloved family…well there’s just nothing better than that. Getting to spend quality time with the people I cherish most, that’s the best gift of all. Peace!

Struggling to the Surface!

Grief and loss are emotions I would prefer to experience from afar. For now, it hasn’t worked that way. Sorrow has seeped into my cells and attacked my gratitude, joy, light, love, and peace. I find myself struggling to find that place inside me where optimism and hope have always lived. My friend, Pam, recently reminded me that with all my internal struggles and trying to process it all silently, instead she thought I needed to “write it down and put it on the page.”  So Pam, this post is dedicated to you for your faith in me that I have words to say while my spirit broods caustically. You reminded me that I don’t need to have it all figured out before I share it. Maybe just maybe sharing it will release me from the depths of sadness and pain. Here goes.

Losing my aunt, losing period, sucks. I’m not a dark soul so being immersed in pain and shadows disturbs me. I have found in this darkness a resting place for everything I Fear most. In the murkiness and depths of sorrow, I discovered there was a place for me. A place I have chosen to visit but fear I may have stayed far longer than I had anticipated. It’s tentacles which once comforted me in my grief, have now reached out to entangle me in its web. Like swimming underwater, sounds are muted, light is dull, sunshine is hard to find and my breath escapes in small bursts. I have tarried here too long, way too long. It’s time to swim to the surface and let the warmth of the sun remind me of all that I am grateful for and all the good things and wonderful people that have loved and supported me now and always.

I’m sure that most people would be surprised to read this as I do an amazing job of putting on a good face. Underneath it all, I can’t help but remember what I’ve lost. Loss, lost, gone, buried!! These  words reverberate in my head. Why can’t I see all that I have gained instead? When does the hurt subside?

I lost a person who truly saw me, warts and all. A person who helped me laugh at myself and to share who I am without the walls and bravado that steadied me through chaos. A person who I took for weekly, monthly, year after year, (30 or so years), of car rides to nowhere, while I worked out the person I wanted to be and not to be. We would call each other and all we had to say is, “you wanna go for a ride?” I would pick her up and we would ride for hours. No destination, no particular plan, except of course, therapy. Perhaps it was sitting side by side that allowed me to bare my soul. Perhaps because she was a therapist who know how to get under my defenses and let me know failure was a part of my learning curve, not to be deemed a weakness. Perhaps it was because she would laugh with her whole body and the world would right itself for a while. Or perhaps because she loved me and was proud of me and told me so often. She loved with her whole being and believe me, if she loved you, you knew it. Perhaps because she loved me unconditionally and I treasured that and miss it more than words could ever convey.

These are gifts I hope I repaid while she was here on earth. I know she knew how much she meant to me and that she gave me permission to share my love, worries, and hopes with her without judgement. She never judged me. She cajoled, reasoned, and occasionally would yell at me to get it together, and always with a hint of humor and grit.

A month or so after her death, I found a voicemail from her singing me happy birthday. God how I treasure that message. I pray someday I can listen to it without weeping and feeling sorry for myself. I know she’s in good hands now and her body is healed again and strong. I know that she is telling jokes in heaven and caring for all the underdogs who need a champion. I know because she was my champion.

So while I kick my way to the surface, I hear her cheering me on. I am reminded that while loss is a part of me now, so is gratitude, for I had one of the best friends anyone could ever wish for. I know she lives on in me and remains one of the brightest parts of my soul. I believe beyond any shadow of a doubt that she is telling me to get it together and to focus on all the wonderful things we did together and that someday we will ride together again. Godspeed Maureen. I love you to the moon and back again.

 

 

Laughing until I cry!

 

My “Ant Maureen” and me!!

 

This is me and my beloved Ant Maureen and this is the nature of our relationship hysterical laughter until we cried, trying not to pee our pants, and my aunts bellowing belly laugh that made me collapse into uncontrollably giggles. This picture sums us up perfectly and thankfully for eternity. Just looking at it makes me smile and more often than not, burst out laughing and lately it makes me cry. Well sob might be more accurate since she passed away two months ago on her late daughter’s birthday. While it may have been expected, it still drove me to my knees.

The impact she had in my life is impossible to calculate. She was a teacher, a mother, an aunt and my best friend. The person I could talk to without a filter. Without weighing each word and it’s effect. She was a safe person for me to share my demons and my dreams. My safe place to land. She softened my edges and made me empathetic and sympathetic first for myself and wisely she understood it would translate to how I treated others.

She took in misfits and strays and her easy non judgmental ways soothed lost souls who longed for acceptance and peace. Her job as a drug and alcohol counselor was her career but her calling was her ability to listen with her whole body. Leaning in, letting the words wash over her and then she would softly ask, “have you considered?”

This was her gift. Nudging me to look in different directions for different solutions. She challenged me to think deeper and to let my instinct guide me. She never judged my choices until after I’d blunder through one mishap or another. Sitting next to her as we drove all over the Northeast I’d confess my latest trials and tribulations and she would just chuckle, call me a turkey and on we would ride.

I don’t know how many miles I rode with my Ant Maureen. For over 25 years I would call her up and say let’s go for a ride. She never asked where she just said pick me up and off we would go. To nowhere and everywhere. We solved my boy troubles, life’s troubles, her troubles and we laughed until we cried. Miles of road disappeared and on we rode laughing, exploring, sharing and me slamming on the breaks to jump out and take pictures. Miles and miles of love shared in the tiny confines of my car.

I’m still adjusting to my grief. I know she’s crossed over to a better place. She’s no longer in pain, mentally and physically. Above all she’s with her beautiful and beloved children who predeceased her, Ian and Drucilla.  So my tears are for me, my loss, and my best friend. On those beautiful days or lonely overcast ones I’ll look to the sky and ask…Do you wanna go for a ride with me? The wind will shift and in the whisper of the trees I know I’ll hear, “sure let’s go!!”

Godspeed Maureen! I pray you’re home safe, whole and in the arms of your true loves. I’ll miss you everyday and hear your voice in my heart until it beats no more. I love you always. ❤️

Fleeting Summer…

        I scarcely had time to catch my breath and summer was over. July seems like eons ago and August flew by in a swirl of dust and tumbleweeds. It seems like summer finally began after the 4th of July looming endless and immense. As quickly as it began, it felt as if it was abruptly and most certainly over. 

     Still in all it was a memorable summer. A summer of transitions for me and my boys. While we strived to maintain status quo our lives were shifting and irrevocably changing and thus a whole new chapter was ushered in. Ready or not.

     My sons are entering High School and Jr. High respectively.  The challenges and excitement of growing up outweighs any trepidation they may feel as they begin anew. Without a backward glance they sprang from the easy, lazy days of summer to the hectic, hustle and bustle of school life with glee and anticipation. 

     Suddenly the notion of them racing towards the future, college beckoning on the horizon and I want to freeze the clocks and slow down for a second. Press the pause button. Hold on to this moment, this summer, this autumn and grab all the time with them that I can. Time that had once seemed infinite…is now brushing past me, hurriedly and with great haste. I am left grasping moments to hold to my heart as they begin to pull away and fly.

     It is as it should be and I am grateful that this summer I recognized that I needed to stop and store up my memories like squirrels gathering nuts for the winter. So rather than focusing on what I “should be” doing, I focused on soaking up every nanosecond of time with my boys that I could. I watched, listened and absorbed everything they said and did, memorializing our summer of 2016. 

     While changes comes to all of us whether we are ready or not they are not always unwelcome. They may be different and all too many times necessary but focusing on the good that lies ahead reminds me that transitions are opportunities to find a whole new unexpected path. Like shaking up a snow globe and watching everything slowly settle, differently and in a whole new way. Whether we like it or not, change is inevitable. I’m learning to be okay with that. Now about that time machine…!!!

 

   

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day!

Motherhood is a tricky taskmaster! How can 2 little boys evoke so many emotions in one timeless, sometimes endless moment?!

My heart has increased in capacity a trillion-fold and at times so has my exasperation. I mean how many times can you say, “did you brush your teeth?” No really, with an actual toothbrush And toothpaste And water?”

You’ve discovered you’ve raised litigators far better than any seasoned attorneys on tv and in real life. How else could you end up in a never-ending, circuitous and mind numbing discussion about what I actually meant when I said cleanup your room, are you ready for bed, did you pack completely for the game, or my favorite, are you all set for school? 

Cue, the eye roll and the exhaustive sigh…why must they have to go through all of this when all they want to do is….well anything else but listen to me nag? I mean sure heading out to the game with your cleats nestled snugly by the front door so you wouldn’t forget them, but you did. Or dashing out the door with the infamous, “I got it Mom you don’t have to remind me.” Now cue my eye roll.

It is the paradox of motherhood that just when I’ve had enough and have struggled to overcome my overwhelming need to hurl myself shrieking and cursing off the deck, these incredible, loving, funny, compassionate boys curl up next to me, rest they’re heads on my shoulder and whisper “I love you to the moon and back Mommy,” and all is momentarily forgotten. The slate is clean and fresh and my heart soars and swells with unconditional, unceasing, and unrelenting joy. I am humbled and awed by the amount of love I feel for these two extraordinary children that God has knowingly placed in my everlasting care. 

I am blessed to be their mother and every breath I take ends in a silent prayer that they be healthy, happy and know they are loved. I have done my very best in being their Mother and though there are days I knock it out of the park, there are other days I pray my children forgive me for missing the highest mark. 

To my incredible mother, thank you for showing me how to travel this journey we call life and for being a remarkable example of grace, resilience, determination, growth, forgiveness, joy, sorrow and love. Happy Mother’s Day.