Hi my friend,
Well, here I sit – as overwhelmed and stymied, nudgy and confused as are we all. I should be maximizing this time – pouring over the classics that I have sworn to read again (not to mention the number of books I have downloaded to my Kindle), writing you far more frequently than I have been, organizing the pantry…
…instead I’m looking at puppies on Instagram.
Hardly a coping mechanism.
I’m trying to FaceTime with my kids and granddaughters, fretting that the proximity matters little. I’m cooking for the family of a neighbor who is in the hospital right now, baking…walking out on the deck and feeling grateful that I’ve got a deck to walk out on. Honestly, what I’m doing is seeking the mundane, searching for the every day that was every day before our lexicon moved from the politics of the day to the health of the world. I know there will be an after. There will be an after.
Our supermarkets opens early for the over-60 crowd, and I neglect to acknowledge that I am in that cohort, so I keep missing this window of senior opportunity. My kids are worried because I’m one of those over-60, who’s also immuno-compromised and enthusiastically in denial about both. “I don’t believe in aging. I believe in forever altering one’s aspect to the sun” – Virginia Woolf
I bought a half roller so I can practice my balance (Christy, I miss you), I’m going to dance to whatever Alexa selects, I’m going to keep checking on those I love so I can remain connected to the crux of my heart. And I’m going to send up prayers and hope and energy and love to the world. It may not be much, but it’ll make me feel a bit more productive than I do when looking at puppy pictures. And yes, I’ll keep looking at those too – for after. Take good care my friend.
One Tiny Beautiful Thing
I was writing a blog about what to do when hope hides and Dave beat me to the punch. This is far more powerful and beautiful than anything I could have penned. Enjoy
Monday Morning Wake-Up Call
I had to share this – there is truly nothing I could post that parallels its truth or beauty.
It doesn’t get more gorgeous than this…
I’ll tell you something – I wear Nikes and have found that I can’t ‘just do it’ – it’s a bit awkward frankly. After searching vigorously for the one pair of sneakers that would magically allow me to jump higher, cardio longer, dance with the intent that everyone watches…um, not happening.
Methinks I can’t blame the sneakers.
And as much as I would love to do my best Scarlett O’Hara impression, shake my fist at the sky and drawl a commitment to never be clumsy or compromised again, I’m not sure I’d be able to get up from my knees. I’m getting to a point here –
I’m beginning to think it just doesn’t matter.
There’s a guy – a gentleman really – who claims time with she-who-has powerfully-impacted-my-life Christy (it’s her studio, her heart, her humor, etc) before me. He’s got a degenerative neurological order similar in cruelty to ALS. And the point isn’t what he can’t do, for he has the good sense to celebrate what he can. I listen to the lightness in his voice, relish the smile that seems to generate more from his eyes than his lips, yet I can ‘hear’ from the waiting area. He works hard while he is there, not stinting one minute and enjoying it all. When he says goodbye, I feel the air change.
I have no doubt that he has days when he curses the fates, attends a pity party with or without guests. I’m sure he has daily discomfort and disquiet. It would be insulting to him to suggest otherwise.
The point is, I think he wears Nikes. And he just does it. Maybe I’ll keep my pair too.
Mimi Takes The Proust Questionnaire
Ah yes…I would only have done this for Dave…
I know – it’s been a while. I’m not sure if you’re still passing this way – and it’s certainly understandable if you’ve changed routes. After all, there hasn’t been anything here to see for more than a year.
But if you’ve stopped by – it’s good to see you. Clearly I’ve been gone – and I’m tentatively back. In the interest of abbreviating a very long year – I got sick. If you listen to my hematologist, rheumatologist and every other ologist I’ve seen – I didn’t know how sick I was. The year has been a blur of blood transfusions, biopsies, a bilateral hip replacement and a brain that went wonky because my blood was so compromised. I had to get multiple assurances that I was clear-headed enough to even try writing again. The thought of appearing more nutty than I usually do was a bit too much for me to handle.
I’m better now. I’m a version of me again – one I sort of recognize and occasionally don’t. I lost a year of mobility and engagement with the world. These days, my body is a cranky participant in my efforts to get a bit stronger – thinking it prefers being sedentary to the aches and strain of movement (honestly, I can’t even call it exercise – it’s more like wishful thinking with a beat). But, I can tell you that the return to normalcy is greeted each day with an emotional ‘thank you’, even if my body and I occasionally disagree. There are no more hospital beds, occupational therapy tools and elevated seats. I can put on my own socks thank you very much. I can engage in the most mundane activities – driving, food shopping, laundry – and I think each is pretty damn fantastic. Musing over the monotonous with a significant amount of delight.
And yes, there’s also some fear – fear of a recurrence (the autoimmune world is at best dystopian, at worst just plain freaky), an awareness of how much I am unaware of – I could explain the list, though I don’t think I need to.
So, I’m going to re-enter the community and see how we do. The musings won’t be this intense – they weren’t before and life doesn’t ask that of me now. I’m just going to keep my eyes open and my heart full – and we’ll see what happens next. Thank you for stopping by – see you soon.
My dear friend,
We exchanged emails last night – and now I’m without adequate words. This post will not do anything justice, and yet…I feel like there’s so much I want to say.
I’m sitting in my little office, surrounded by pictures of my family – parents who I miss daily, Andy, my boys who are now men, daughters-in-law, granddaughters. This is where I feel most comforted, most bewildered, most loved. I have one of your photographs framed here too. An abundance, truly. It can make my heart hurt. I whisper “thank you, thank you” throughout the day. I can think of no better mantra.
We’ve never met, yet I feel like we’ve known each other for years. How do I console you when I am literally across the ocean? How do I begin to articulate to you – a man of faith and family, deep love and incredible grace – that I have an ache deep within that exists with yours. How I pray for a miracle, even though I know that you and your wife have made peace with something I am railing against. Yours is one of those once in a lifetime loves – and though I believe it transcends time, I want you both to celebrate it together forever. Petulant, I know. Selfish, I agree – for this is not about me at all.
I pause to look once more at your magical new grandson, as he is held with some distractedness by his toddler sister. Her eyes are luminous, filled with some whimsy and a little mischief. You are literally in the midst of the alpha and the omega. One struggles with this most profound of extremes. Yet, you sent me peace last night. How can that be? In your deepest sorrow, you offered me gratitude for feeling the telepathic connection that has caused us to write each other out of the blue for a few years now. How can that be?
Cherished friend, I wish you peace. I am thankful that your faith is deep and your family surrounds you. I wish your beloved wife time…time to delight in your love and the love of her children. I wish she could stay. What can I say, I’ve never been one for small wishes when it comes to those I hold so close in my heart. Needless to say, I’ll check in again soon, perhaps with better words – though that’s unlikely. What can one say when there are no words? Only these random murmurings. Much love..xx
There are many stories in here, so forgive the multiple parentheticals – recognizing of course, that really talented writers don’t use them often. Ah well, I’ve never claimed to be a really talented writer.
Anyway, I was speaking with my builder last week. A few years ago, her birthday gift from her husband was a girls’ weekend at an exclusive hotel. These women have been friends for years; there are no secrets. Well, with an abundance of alcohol there are no secrets. And they imbibed – a lot. One of her friends has been happily married for many years. Great guy – sweet, attentive, doting – the kind of guy everyone else in the group holds up as the example when they’re arguing with their spouses.
After many drinks, her friend acknowledged that as much as she loved him, he wasn’t her ‘Stewart’. Stewart was the one who got away. Her college sweetheart – part dog, part romantic fool. She was besotted, he was hormonal. But she held out a fantasy, wondering for years, ‘what if’.
To abbreviate the tale, over the years her feelings for her husband have replaced that wonder. She adores him – even though he wasn’t her ‘Stewart’.
I’ve never had a Stewart. Perhaps it’s because I married often enough that by the time I hit 30, the prospect of a fantasy romance would have just enervated me. I was a single mom with two boys under the age of five. And honestly, being a mom was pretty much the only fantasy I ever really had that I insisted on making a reality (but that’s another story).
So let’s move on.
Have I told you that my sister is flippin’ brilliant? On so many levels, this woman amazes me constantly (Debbie, I know you are shaking your head, telling me that this is same-sex, birth order bullshit – and even if you’re right, so what? It is what it is. Truth for sure – and some residual younger-sister-will-never-be-as-good neurosis for good measure). She is beautiful, scary smart, talented beyond measure – and she is a writer – the legitimate kind. In one of her recent stories she wrote “you fall in love with the way someone falls in love with you”. Brilliant.
I fell in love with the way Andy fell in love with me. He made himself fit into my life with such an abundance of heart, romance, delight – he introduced me to his magic and I was ultimately mesmerized. He is my Stewart, but he isn’t the one who got away. He’s the one who stayed.
We may fall in love with the vision of love that we see, but we stay in love with the person who orchestrated the imagery. The person who may not be who we first saw (and are we the person they first saw?), but who’s in it with you. The person who can be your best friend and some weird extra-terrestrial at the same time and still be cute. The one who drives you crazy in every conceivable way. I’m a kite; Andy is an anchor. He’s judgmental; I’m not (but for my expectations of sub-contractors working on our house, but they’re not reading this). We are opposite sides of the same coin – and that is the kind of love that can’t be fabricated by fantasy.
We fall in love with the way someone falls in love with us. True enough. We love the person who knew how to make that happen. Perhaps I never had a Stewart because I have an Andy. And even though this has absolutely nothing to do with what I intended to pen today, it is what’s been on my mind all morning. So, I guess therein is another story.
“My, my. A body does get around.” – William Faulkner
Oh William, you have no idea.
We’ve moved. We’re in our new house. It is lovely, really. True, the microwave doesn’t open, the dishwasher is confused about its purpose, there’s a wine fridge but it too is inoperable, and though I have a double oven, it has to be replaced or repaired. Did I mention that our refrigerator legs aren’t locked, so that it creeps along surreptitiously, advancing with little notice until it kisses the wall?
Of course, as with every new house, there’s a punch list that is lengthy – and I now understand why it is in fact called a ‘punch’ list.
At night, our boxes multiply as if their souls were rabbits. And each morning, I look around in disbelief that there are so damn many them. The yard is not seeded, sodded or fenced, so the Sirs and I walk with our heads down – our neighbors must look at the mosh pit that is the front yard and shake their heads with displeasure. Some of the doors don’t lock properly yet, but what the heck, I can always make someone a cup of coffee.
I love that I have landed. I may not be able to find my way through this morass even with a compass and clear head (I lack both) – but I am home. A place to create new memories, walls that will hold laughter and baby giggles, words from family and friends, new secrets and old stories that are told and re-told for their lessons and familial value – all will be protected by this structure. When you cross our threshold, you will know you are welcome. I think that is what I have missed most about our old home (other than the fact that my kids were still under the roof). It was ‘home’ to all who entered – shoes were off, people curled up on couches, succumbing to those drooly kind of naps, big Thanksgiving dinners, intimate moments with friends around the kitchen table.
I wish my whole family was local, but I am so, so grateful for those who are here. I think as you get older, you treasure ‘home’ differently. It isn’t about acquisitiveness any longer – on the contrary, that which isn’t essential to your heart is purged – it’s about holding on to that which is most important to you. And reveling in it. Perhaps therein lies my impatience. I want to find the pictures of my parents, the cards my sons gave me when they were small. I want to ‘feel’ my life in what I touch.
Andy keeps telling me to go slow, that this isn’t a marathon – he’s right of course. I’m driven by a compelling force to snuggle into what I know, before I begin to create something new. If our fence was up, I’d have one foot in the new and the other in the old. Barring that, I’m just going to keep going until I uncover all those priceless treasures that I have missed for almost a year. And whisper with delight and gratitude, ‘There you are! Thank you for waiting for me!’.
Ok, time to get started –
The year is coming to a close…and I struggle to write of joyous moments and rhythmic episodes of delight. I know they were there – as I often say, in those spaces in between. They were in the moments with Sophie’s head on my shoulder or singing (so to speak) on our walks; listening to Sienna imitate all the animal noises she knows and feeling the tenderness of her cheek; watching my sons as adoring fathers…the incredible kindness and love of friends near and far; the excitement of a new home (which with a little luck and prayer we will get into next week); sunsets that took my breath and sunrises that gave it back…
Yes…undeniably there have been moments, magical, wondrous moments.
And yet, this has also been a particularly strange and disorienting year. Certainly being in temporary living quarters, without Andy more often than not, has been particularly upending. Somehow as we get older it seems we lose more people – or perhaps age makes us more sensitive to these departures. And in every corner of the world, there is pain – palpable, horrid, unrelenting pain – that one can’t ignore. The faces of children – hungry, broken, scared; real-time nightmares from which one cannot look away. I spend a lot of time seeking comfort, for it all hurts so damn much.
And I don’t get it, I swear I don’t…I don’t get hate, vitriol, bias, ignorance…I don’t get power grabs considered more valuable than the heartbeats of our children – anywhere in the world. What are we doing? Kleenex stock must be doing really well, for I’m certainly using my share.
And yet…yet, I hope. I hope that you all receive all that you wish for and wish for all that you have. I wish that the orbit of the earth, spins just slightly askew, so that we can stop perhaps, rewind and try again to create something enduring and universally reflective of the beauty of the heart. I hope…for all of us..
Smiles from the threshold of the year to come
Whispering, ‘it will be happier’ – Alfred Tennyson