SHATTERED!

 

As much as I wanted to stay oblivious, secure, and in my cocoon, the despicable, brutal and callous murder of George Floyd changed all of that in 8 minutes and 46 seconds. I felt my heart stop and my breath quicken and my soul shatter into a billion pieces, as I sat in absolute horror, fear, fury, and despair as a human being was killed before my eyes, before our very eyes.

My mind refused to accept the cowardly, despicable, inhumane, dispassionate, and racist, hate filled act of a human being pressing a knee onto a man’s neck until his life was extinguished.  I sat immobile, tears streaming down my face, dripping endlessly onto my chest soaking my shirt, heart  wrenching sobs escaped without warning, I couldn’t absorb what my eyes were seeing and I felt like I couldn’t breathe.  When Mr. Floyd, was begging for air… Air!…. and grasping, pleading to live, breathlessly, mournfully, tragically called out for his mother, I doubled over in horror and pain, clutching my stomach, ….and I wept. I felt the pain a mother feels when her child so desperately needs her and she is not there. How could this happen? In public! With no one intervening? Where were the police? How could this be a police officer who is sworn an oath to protect and serve? Why couldn’t anyone stop this person from executing a man before our very eyes? Again?! Still!! 

The cocoon I had erected around myself and my family, shattered into a billion pieces. My false sense of security and safety was violently, and indiscrimantly stripped away. I was catapulted, tumbling into a world filled with hate, racial injustice, and violence, again. A world that unfortunately, never seems far away. Racial hatred is always bubbling just under the surface, now it is erupting all over our country once again, stoked and encouraged. The embers have never died down and with the cold blooded murder of Mr. Floyd, I was reminded that no matter how far we have come, the road is still long and steep. Frankly, it’s exhausting, tiring to the bone, to be here again, in my lifetime and in my children’s lifetime. To have to reiterate the demands of my ancestors, to gain liberty, equality,  justice, and freedom for all, wears on the soul. 

Words, creativity, faith, and optimism abruptly faded away into the background. I was swept further backwards on the current of racial inequality, violence, and fear. My thoughts became jumbled and the respite I had struggled to create for my family, amidst another frightening and daunting challenge; this pandemic, became bleak, isolating, and fear-filled, dark began to swallow me up. I stopped believing in the good of my fellow Americans. I felt hopeless, tired, angry, helpless, and demoralized. Hate was winning.

I started to breathe anxiety, anger, and despair through my pores. I found my breath jagged and shallow, my heart rate banging in my chest with fury, sorrow, and pain. I couldn’t sleep and the drum beat of race baiting and the fire of hatred kept growing ever bigger, obliterating the light and breeding and igniting fear. Helplessness, hopelessness, and hardship were the salty taste of the tears I wept endlessly, as I tried to provide my children with the tools to live through an ill-fated encounter with a racist officer of the law who might be capable of such a heinous act. At the same time fighting to instill in them the belief that most police officers take an oath to protect their citizens and the communities they serve with dedication and respect for all. Trying to find the balance and the faith to believe the words I speak, the prayers I pray, the faith I surround them with, that will hopefully keep them alive and safe from hate and harm.

Even as I write this, I know it’s a fable and an untruth that I speak in a desperate hope but no longer with the utmost conviction. Knowing all the while, as I sit here sharing my thoughts, it is nothing but a fervent, mournful prayer that all mothers and fathers of children of color make each and every day before sending our beloved children out to face the world. Sometimes, like with George Floyd, we know it might not even matter.  That even as we have raised our children well, that the color of their skin may ignite a racist officer to deny them their very right to breathe until they breathe no more. My body quakes with the uncertainty, fear, and unfairness of the burden I lay at their feet. It is not a burden they should have to bear. No one should have to bear it! 

Even having to accept this unseemly and contradictory reality,  I along with all loving parents of children of color, Latino, Asian, Native American’s,  and LGBTQ, know this is no shield against racism. Mr. Floyd’s murder was a stark and vivid reminder of their/our continued vulnerability. Still we pray, organize, galvanize, and continue to prioritize the need for the peaceful protests to continue so that our children may know safety, security, freedom, and justice for all…someday. That the content of their character may someday outweigh prejudices of those who loathe the color of their skin.

Finding my equilibrium, my sense of optimism, creativity, and faith…has been a herculean task. I fumbled, unsure and unaccustomed to being so unmoored by the destruction of my country, that I love so much. I have been struggling to find a sense of the future where I feel safe, where my children are safe, and that is familiar to me. Where manners, tolerance,  respect, and civility, at least have a prominent place at our societal table.

When the protesters started and continued to march for George Floyd, for justice reform, for the equality  and safety our mothers, brothers, sisters, and friends, I was able to steady my heartbeat and take a deep restorative breath. Once again, as is our history’s not so distant past, people of all colors rose up to demand that police brutality, profiling, redlining, gerrymandering, and the indiscriminate killing of black people, people who are different, would no longer be tolerated. Having witnessed collectively unwaveringly, and tramatically, the murder of Mr. Floyd, we as a peaceful and law abiding society could no longer deny that the targeting, terrorizing, and murdering of black people by police officers, could not, would not be accepted. Bearing witness to this shame has galvanized the nation and helped to restore my faith again.

I know that the road forward is exhausting and steep and that hope is fleeting in the face of such immeasurable pain and repetitive quests for equality. I am aware that the struggle will need to continue until the embers of hatred, injustice, and racism have been extinguished for good. Maybe not in my lifetime, but surely in my children’s lifetime, I pray. 

I will do my best to find the bright spots and to blaze vibrant color through the tapestry that is my world. I will pay homage to my family, a microcosm of this multicultural country, and I will celebrate our differences while remembering that it is those myriad of flavors that make my life rich and fulfilling. I will retreat from the darkness and let the light drive hatred, racial animosity, violence, and intolerance into the background. I will find the vibration for healing, promise, acceptance, and love. I pray that this time we can succeed in putting out the fire of hatred and blanket our country with liberty, justice, fairness, and grace. I refuse to succumb to the hate, pain, and sorrow that threatens to envelop all of us if we don’t find the strength to resist the haters and elevate one another to our greatest ideals. I will continue to urge myself to create art and to find beauty to dispel the dark and invite joy, light, faith, and love back into my life.

And lastly, I will vote like my life, your life, our lives, and our country depends on it.

Be Well.

 

 

 

 

 

     

 

No Destination Required…

The summer flew by melting everything in its path and scorching the green ground beneath us. While September dawned, the acrid heat of summer lingered and fall snuck surreptitiously in the back door. The air is autumn crisp and it crackles with seasonal suspense. The winter is coming but first a display of the magnificence blazing colored leaves, dotting the horizon, a feast for the senses and artists alike. There are roads to be explored and adventures to be had around each corner. 

And so this summer began with my oldest son getting his driving permit. We practiced daily and for any reason, “out of bread? need air in the tires?”. It was disconcerting to find myself getting in to the passenger seat, watching my son navigate the roads with ease, and confidence, (it’s the confidence that scares me), and having no control. My youngest, urgently sensing the unforeseen benefits of his own looming freedom, suddenly became more interested in the mechanics and responsibilities of driving.

The sands of time had fallen one granule at a time and I found myself in the role of the wise (I’m going to leave the word “old” out for obvious reasons) sage. I sat transfixed, listening to my sons talk, unprompted, about their school, friends, hopes and dreams. If we had we been sitting at home, in our usual routines, I might have gotten a few grunts between bites of food, perhaps a head nod or two. But here in this magic car, in our own cocoon, seeking out unknown routes and looking for adventure, and most of all new places to eat, we were having conversations. We rode in comfortable silence, or debated philosophy, politics, religion, and relaxed while the countryside and it’s farm stands flew by. 

In these quiet moments of concentration, watching my sons driving, becoming young men, I sat back in silent gratitude and soaked in every moment. I prayed I would always remember this hot, hazy summer of their budding independence and hopeful dreams. The future, once far away, and out of reach seemed impossibly close, as if it was just around the next corner. I’ll cherish the memories of the smell of the freshly mowed grass as we drove by. Or the sticky ice cream cones that melted in their hands and made the two of them laugh like little boys. There were unexpected water fights, the ever-present eye rolls, non-stop suggestions, and the awkward hugs that feel more like small body slams by Olympic wrestlers wrapped in Axe body spray, than a soft place to land. 

The picture doesn’t look  how I imagined it one year ago but I do think my aunt would be pleased. I’m still looking forward to aimless magical rides throughout the seasons, on roads I have never been, looking for new adventures only now it’s with my sons. I have come full circle. No words necessary. No destination required.

Summer’s Here!

          Finally summer has arrived! The northeast has been pummeled with constant rain and windstorms for what seems like months. Nevertheless, my family surged over the finish line ending freshman year of high school for Noah and 6th grade for Jordan.  As I write this it really begins to hit me for the first time, I have children in high school and middle school. I mean I know that but to see it in print….

      Luckily for all of us, pre-teen angst is similar to my halftime angst. I call it halftime because it sounds better, more optimistic. Or maybe I’ve just been living with boys for too long. Middle age sounds dowdy, decrepit, and old. Like a clock slowly winding down, tick tick. Halftime sounds optimistic like there’s more of the game left to be played. There’s still time to reevaluate prior mistakes and successes, make adjustments big and small before the second half. A do over of sorts. I may be rationalizing a bit here but  a bit of self-delusion may be all I’ve got.

      Predictably, this year has been filled with the unexpected intermittent, uninvited  hot flashes, skin and body/image changes you would expect at this age. There are the inevitable mood swings, temper tantrums, irritability, interminable sleep marathons, insatiable hunger, (which can lead to tantrums, but I digress), sleep deprivation, exhaustion, talking endlessly to people who don’t seem to understand the english language, and frustration! Indecision, indifference and confusion often lead to complaints such as: “I’m bored” to “I never get to do anything fun”, and my personal favorite, “I just need time to myself.”  This daily litany and self-analysis is enough to drive a person crazy. And it’s not just about me, if you think all of that sounds beyond unbearable, the boy’s moods swings, temper tantrums and changes have been no picnic to live through either.

      Still summer is a transition and a welcome one at that. We can seclude ourselves on the deck, at the beach or tucked cozily on our beds reading (me), watching tv, playing video games, with an occasional grunt which passes for conversation, (boys). This summer I have decided to just live without a plan or a goal.  Okay decided sounds like I had a choice my sons thought otherwise.

      With the usual complaints and occasional disdain from my sons, the consensus is that: “we don’t need you to plan every minute of our day we’re older now”. Fair enough, (If only that didn’t include the constant hurrying up to wait and “oh didn’t I tell you that I need $20. and my game is 45 minutes away and I told you I need a ride and we have to pick up….Why aren’t you dressed????”). What? Nobody told me! Which is inevitably followed by the bemoaning sounds of “Oh Mom!” There is the ever-present muttering, mumbling and criticism which haunts my days and sometimes nights. Any other men/boys and I might have broken up with them by now. I mean I’m supposed to get life advice from a 15 and a 12-year-old? Yeah right, (cue eye roll). See, I’m learning.

      Since they’re so smart, I’m taking their advice. Here’s to staying loose and letting the summer unfold, teenage style. Despite the challenges of living with boys who crash into walls, spill any liquid they touch, break every glass/plate/cup we own, and don’t get me started talking about bathroom hygiene and cleanliness.,(don’t fret, a trick of the trade for teenage boys, Axe body wash, minus the body wash part), it’s gonna be a great time.

      We are living it up, enjoying life, and spending time together, mostly. We’re gonna take it easy and go where the wind takes us. It’s only half time but I like the way the first half of the game has gone so far. Here’s hoping I kick butt in the second half. 

      

 

 

 

Wandering…

I took a long leisurely meandering drive with one of my best friends.

We had no destination in mind and we found ourselves in a small town with historic homes, barns and mysterious winding roads sumptuous and beckoning.

We couldn’t resist….

Long and winding road..

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Silence in Summer…

What a glorious summer we’ve been having. It’s seasonal arrival was right on time and our family has reveled in its warmth and verdant views. It is truly a blessing after the winter of Snow and huddled nights under the blankets for warmth and comfort.

Spending most of my summer waking hours with my beloved sons, is a tapestry of color, laughter, and love that I will carry with me all the rest of my days. I take a piece of each of them with me, in every breath I take.

Still, there are days, I long for a lazy summer in the hammock, reading, drinking iced tea and the only sound for miles is the birds, squirrels, and the whispering of the wind through the shades of the over abundant and ever-present, green leaves. Silence is never truly silent, is it? There is always some sound or another present in the stillness. I long for it anyway.

I loved living on my own, in my own company. I loved knowing that when I got home the expectations and demands of other people, were locked safely outside my door. Their presence only required, if I requested.

Family life is nothing like that. You are totally ensconced in each other’s daily rituals, foibles, side jokes, habits, and plans. There is nowhere to hide even if you wished silently and perhaps fervently to. And believe me when I say, there are days that I wish to hide away from the inane and mundane, to run away and lounge about in a supine position, and veg., all day and night with a great book and drift mindlessly away.

So it’s ironic that when I finally get those rare moments of solitude and silence that I so longed/begged for; I miss the bedlam and mayhem that encircles my son’s lives like an orbit of chaos, where ever they go. I miss looking over and seeing their eyes alight with joy as they jump off the dock into the water, or ride their bikes, camp, pitch a good game, score a soccer goal, toast marshmallows, or pitch a tent in the yard. 

I miss their mischievous giggles when they are up to no good. Usually that means they are getting along even if they are teaming up to spray me with the hose or trick their dad into taking them to the lake for an evening swim.

I miss their curiosity and fearlessness that gets me to try things I would ordinarily wish not to try, simply by saying, “Come on Mom, you can do it”. This is how I found myself staring down at a darkened floor well at the “Drop Floor” ride at the local water park. I climbed into a sealed, coffin like, bubble tube and the floor dropped out from underneath me with a flourish and a thunderous jolt. There was a moment of sheer panic when my brain realized that the floor beneath me had disappeared. Soon I was falling, tumbling, choking, coughing, and swirling, awash in a giant, enclosed, snake-like, colored hose, with gallons of chlorinated water tossing me about like a stick in a stream. Abruptly, I arrived, spit out of the tube, and unceremoniously dumped, gulping down gallons of chlorinated water,  gasping for air, into a shallow pool awash with fluorescent lights and a cacophony of indiscriminate sounds, where the staff smiled benignly and perhaps with a bit of smirk, at my valiant effort not to drown. 

I struggled with as much dignity as I could muster, positive everyone had heard my lady like shrieks and screams throughout the park,  to get out of the water without further embarrassment or worse yet tears. Tears of joy mingled with tears of all-encompassing terror and fear. I am proud that my kids got to see me and my mom do something so terrifying and live to tell the tale.

So while I long for a day of silence from time to time, there is nothing like summer days and nights with your kids. Photographs and vignettes for the mind’s eye photo album. It makes me glad to know that I am building memories with my kids and that they know I love them so much that I would even take risks with them that no other people on the planet could ever convince me to take. Now that’s real love folks.

I hope everyone is having a blessed and joyful summer. I hope in the midst of the long lazy days of summer, you take sometime off to enjoy a bit of silence.

#summermemories