I’m pretty sure nobody notices but me…

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The last picture I took of my two loves together.

It’s almost been a year. His clothes still hang in the laundry room and in his closet – untouched. His boots still sit by the kitchen door ready for him to slip on if need be. I still feel his presence behind me as I sit at my desk. I slowly turn to make sure he’s not sitting in his old blue recliner and this hasn’t just been a horrible dream and that months ago we really didn’t put that old recliner by the curb as trash. I go about my business in the house and sometimes I see him out of the corner of my eye.

I miss him.

His ashes still sit on the bookcase shelf instead of being scattered on the mountains in Mentone, Alabama where he wanted to rest.

Seems I can’t let go of him just yet.

And I’m pretty sure nobody notices but me.

Because life goes on whether we do or not. People still go to work and school and church. People still eat at fancy restaurants and buy new clothes and fall in love. People still have babies and go to amusement parks and scream and laugh so hard that tears roll down their cheeks.

While behind closed doors unworn clothes still hang in closets.

Unworn shoes still sit by doors.

Ashes remain unscattered.

And I’m pretty sure nobody notices but me.

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This Blog Needs To Be ABOUT Something

And I need to do a Part Two to my It’s Time Part One.

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I jump around willy-nilly and write about whatever hits me when it hits me. I have no rhyme or reason. I have no glue. Or should that be clue? Well, I don’t have a clue either. That is just one of my many imperfections. I’m wishy-washy.

It is well with my soul.

I am growing and learning.  Life is filled with such wonder. I am amazed. Everyday. I am amazed at life.

Here’s my problem according to the experts:  I don’t know what my niche is. Do I even have a niche? What is a niche anyway.

I am art journaling these days. This blog could be about my “creative” self. Been taking all kinds of classes. Learning that it’s ok if I’m messy and do stupid stuff and can’t draw worth beans. It’s ok…EVERYTHING is ok. That sweetheart, is music to my ears. Whatever I do…is how it’s supposed to be.

{patting me on the back}

My doctor told me last week that I HAD to lose weight and I HAD to start moving my body! Ok…this blog could be about my journey into health.

I am decluttering my home, life, brain, computer, office. That would be an awesome blog cause I am at the bottom. Starting at ground zero. Well minus zero really. It’s bad people. I am so messy and I have to keep everything because well…it’s mine. Except trash. No, that’s not true. I even keep what others would call trash to use in my Remains of the Day Journal. A class taught by Mary Ann Moss that is just the most wonderful class you will ever take.

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Oh, I almost forgot I have a class starting December 15th with Mary Ann called Ticket To Venice.

MaryAnnMossI think I may be in way over my head on this one. I don’t know…I’m kind of nervous about this class.

This one thing I am doing is very important so take note:

I am trying to teach my family how to survive after I’m gone. You know, just in case. I do everything for them. My family has it made. I do too much. I don’t do enough. I love them so! Not that I don’t think they’d pick up and move on tomorrow if something should happen to me (and probably with a “thank God and Greyhound she’s gone” smile) but I want to know I’ve left everything in order. I want to make it easy. This blog could be about that. I could call it the “If I Should Die” Project or IISD for short.

“When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it is over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.”
~ Mary Oliver

I am taking this weekend to: either decide how to make this blog about something or start fresh somewhere else.

I’m also taking this weekend to get my coupons organized so I can start couponing. Another good blog idea!

And we have to decorate for Christmas this weekend.

AND it’s supposed to be pretty weather so I need to be working outside cleaning the patio.

There’s really so much this blog could be about. I just have to decide what I want to focus on. Actually, it all ties in together.

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” ~ Annie Dillard

It’s all LIFE. It’s all about our days.

I’m closing up 2012 and opening up a bright new 2013 in a few days. I’ll be documenting this year. Like a mad scientist. Sniffing it out like a bloodhound. I’ll be taking names and kicking butt. I will be snatching minutes and putting them on paper so fast it will make your head spin. No moment will be safe from me. And why? you ask. I realized this morning that I couldn’t remember mornings with my son (he’s 30 years old, so it’s not like it was just yesterday). I don’t remember getting him off to school. I don’t remember what he did after school. I don’t remember cooking dinner for my family. I don’t remember helping my son get ready for bed.

These may be itsy bitsy things compared to the “big picture” but these things are a part of my life and I don’t remember them.

I’d like to say that I’ll be here everyday journaling about 2013 but I can’t promise and I do plan to discipline myself a bit better.

One day at a time, ya know.

Wake Up Calls

They come loudly right in the middle of life…wake up calls. We all get them. Sometimes we sit up and pay attention. Sometimes we go back to doing whatever we were doing. This week I got a wake up call and was reminded that we do not have the promise of tomorrow. We’re not even promised the rest of the day.

Everyone leaves footprints in your memory, but the ones that leave footprints in your heart are the ones you will truly remember.”
~Nicholas Sperling.

She could be rather bossy and sometimes just down right bitchy. She was opinionated and not afraid to share that with you. She was extremely organized and neat and really…you could eat off of her floors. She was THAT clean! And she had one of the biggest hearts I’d ever known. Her door was always open. She would go into debt to get you those tires for your truck that you needed. She would spend her last dollar to feed your silly face. She took care of everyone, no matter who you were or what you’d done. She loved to grill and she was a really really good cook. Her name was Debra.

We spent countless hours on her patio, laughing and talking til all hours of the night. Eating everything under the sun cooked on the grill. Telling jokes…but sometimes getting serious and really sharing our hearts.

Twice in the past Debra had opened up her home to us while we were looking for a home. Or…more correctly…while we were homeless. The last time we lived with her we didn’t even have jobs. Hard times for sure, but Debra had a big heart.

This past Monday, Memorial Day, while I was honoring the brave soldiers who had given their lives for our country, I also learned that Debra had died that morning. Today I attended a Memorial for her. She was only 54.

And with a little time, I should be able to move on. But it had been 3 years since I’d seen Debra. It had probably been over a year since I’d even talked to her on the phone.

Years ago, on a Saturday morning, while Debra was finishing up the laundry and sweeping the floor (she sure could multi-task), and I was bouncing Little Miss ASIJ on my hip, she said something to me that hurt me. Bad. I tried to let it go but couldn’t.

Then one night I met her for a drink. Debra had already been drinking for awhile. Through all her laughter, Debra really had a troubled soul and sometimes just needed to talk it out. We got to talking and then she said something that just blew me away. I couldn’t believe she said it. She’d been drinking and probably didn’t even remember she said it the next day…I should have let it go. But I nursed that wound like a war wound. For years when I’d talk to her it would always be in the back of my mind. Three years ago we went to see her because I was trying to find some help for Big Son ASIJ and she had connections. That was the last time I saw her.

She would call and leave voice mails and I would never return them. She finally stopped calling. But I always thought I’d talk to her again.

Debra was always there for me and my family when we needed her. During the last painful months of her life when she was very ill…I didn’t even know it and was nowhere to be found. When she could have used a friend – I wasn’t there.

I learned about her death on Facebook for Pete’s sake.

Now I know if Debra were sitting beside me out on the patio tonight, she would laugh and say “Good grief, stop beating yourself up. Let it go. Here…are you sure you don’t want another piece of steak?”

~

One thing I know…if there are grills in Heaven…her and God’s sure eatin’ good tonight.

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep…

Mr. ASIJ made me think again. I hate it (but seriously love it) when he does that. I don’t know if I’m thinking about what he wanted me to think about but this little children’s prayer keeps rolling through my head.

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.

I was very uncomfortable saying this prayer as a child. I didn’t want to think about dying during the night. I never taught this prayer to Little Miss ASIJ because I didn’t want to be the one responsible for teaching fear to her in any way. But I DID say it as a child. And was quite frequently afraid to close my eyes…afraid it would be the last time.

But what if…

What if I did die tonight?
What if this were my last Christmas?
What if this were my last New Year?
What if this were my last day on earth?

Tomorrow would my family know how much I loved them? Do they know they are truly my heart and soul?

Did I improve anyone’s life today?

Did I do anything I’ll be remembered favorably for?

Did I spend time with Mr. ASIJ and Little Miss ASIJ? We were together in the same house but most of the time in different rooms. The happiest moments of my day were when we all sat down together at the dinner table and had spaghetti. And the few short moments I spent in the kitchen before dinner with Little Miss ASIJ while she filled the salt and pepper shakers for me. (Remember…its the little things that add up to “a life”).

What will their memories of me be like?

Will they smile or reminisce about how I was off in my own little world all day?

Was I PRESENT in their life today?

I rarely make New Year’s Resolutions. But I think I have stumbled across some New Year’s Revelations.

I want to live a life worth remembering.
I want to inspire.
I want to improve someone’s life, even if its only to show them there’s always hope.
I want my family to know without a doubt that I loved them unconditionally in the best way that I knew how.
I want them to know they were more important than any thing in this world.
I want to leave something more behind than just a shadow of a person.
I want to be remembered with a smile, not a sigh.
I don’t want anyone to be sad that I’m gone (we’ll meet again), but be glad that I was here.

It’s after midnight and in a few short hours I’ll be getting ready for another Monday at work after a three day holiday weekend. What if this was my last holiday season with my family? Can I go to bed tonight with a contented heart?

No, I will pray for another day.

I will pray for another chance.

Leaving us

It has been a weird past few days for me. My best friend’s mother passed away while she was trying to get to her. It was so important for my friend to be able to see her mother and say good-bye before her mother left us. But she didn’t make it. She was still on the plane trying to get there.

My heart is breaking for my friend and her bother and sister. Their father passed away a few years ago. From experience I know what they are feeling. No Mother…No Father. And no matter what anyone says or does ~
YOUR…HEART…JUST…BREAKS…IN…PIECES. Yes, time will make some of the pain go away. But it never completely leaves us.

I was 6 and my friend was 9 when we met. So there’s a lot of history there between us. She stuck by me when no one else did. She’s one of the ones I trust. Through hell or high water…she’s always been there.

I hadn’t seen her mother is a few years. She had alzheimers, so honestly, she left a while back. But death sure makes it final. Death on this earth that is. I don’t believe we ever really die. Our souls live on forever. But in our humanness, we just can’t let go of the finality of death in this lifetime. At least I can’t.

I’ll be glad for life to get back to normal for my friend. I’ll be glad to see her smile again.

And we all know…life goes on.

And life is good.

Let’s Have Lunch Before It’s Too Late

“It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn’t use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like ‘What about lunch?’”
~Winnie The Pooh~

I have gone blog reading crazy as of late and chanced upon a blog not too long ago that has made a very big impression on me.  I think as soon as I can stop crying, things in me and around me may drastically change.

37 Days.

The author of this blog asks “What would you be doing if you knew you had only 37 days to live”?  When I saw Mr. ASIJ watching a “Live Like You Were Dying” for horse lovers video this morning, I instantly thought of the 37 Days blog and knew I wanted to write something, anything, cause I am full of thoughts and words I need to get out.

Let me repost here the author’s article on “Why 37 Days?”

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Why 37 days?

In October of 2003, my stepfather was diagnosed with lung cancer. He died 37 days later.

During that 37 days, I helped my mother care for him at home, since he wanted to die there. Never having been around someone dying before,I didn’t know what to do. When my father died, I was just 19 and sitting in the intensive care waiting room. No one asked if I wanted to be with him; they just asked if I wanted to see him dead after it was all over. It was the beginning of a long realization of how intensively we avoid death, at least in this culture.

But, back to 2003. It was at once profound and awkward, as if I were visiting in a place I ought not to be, hearing things I ought not ever hear, and dispensing morphine as if I knew how. He very soon lost the ability to speak, which made it both easier and harder. I was scared and anxious all the time, not knowing what was coming next. There was no manual that I could find, no prescription for what he was feeling and doing, how his insides were eating him up. I couldn’t tell, and very soon into it, he couldn’t tell me either.

Everything I could possibly think to talk to him about was so petty as to be painful. Would he like to watch a movie, I would pantomime?What? And have Hugh Grant be the last thing he might see on earth? The newspaper failed, the ads for supermarket bargains not relevant – but what was?

At night, I could hear the oxygen machine making its move in and out as I waited for it to stop. And, finally, it did, after his feet started turning blue and we watched the blueness march all the way up the 6-feet and 4-inches of him.

The time  frame of 37 days made an impression on me. We act as if we have all the time in the world – that’s not a new understanding. But the definite-ness of 37 days struck me. So short a time, as if all the regrets of a life would barely have time to register before time was up.

And so, as always when awful things happen, I tried to figure out how to reconcile in my mind the fact that it was happening and the fact that the only thing I could do was try to make some good out of it.What emerged was a renewed commitment to ask myself this question every morning: ‘what would I be doing today if I only had 37 days to live?’

It’s a hard question some days.

But here’s how I answered it: Write like hell, leave as much of myself behind for my two daughters as I could, let them know me and see me as a real person, not just a mother, leave with them for safe-keeping my thoughts and memories, fears and dreams, the histories of what I am and who my people are. Leave behind my thoughts about living the life, that “one wild and precious life” that poet Mary Oliver speaks of. That’s what I’d do with my 37 days. So, I’m beginning here.

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Wow!  My question to you is:  HOW do we live like we only have 37 days to live?  HOW do we live like we are dying?

Living in the moment maybe?  Yes, there are still bills to pay and noses to wipe and lawns to mow and back yards to clean up.  Yes, there are still dirty dishes in the sink and dust on the bookcases and piles of paper everywhere to sort through.  I still have to get up Monday morning and go to work when I’d much rather be rocking in the living room crocheting with my family sitting around me.  I’d much rather be cooking up something that my daughter and husband love to eat.  I’d much rather see the smiles on their faces than sit in my office and bust my butt for a paycheck.  So how do I live this day to day mundane life yet find the juiciness of every moment?

I remember the night my mother died.  I had NO IDEA she was going to die that night.  The doctor had said she could go home from the hospital but would be bedridden for the rest of her life.  I know she would have hated that kind of life, but having her home in bed was better than not having her at all.  I think she left us because she was just too tired to fight anymore.  Not that I blame her, but she’s been gone over 20 years and it still seems like yesterday.

Do you know what one of my greatest regrets in life is?  I never took my mother out to lunch.  I realized this one day while out eating at a restaurant alone and all of a sudden it seemed like sitting at every table was an older woman and a younger woman.  A mother and a daughter.  I got a big knot in my throat and couldn’t even eat anymore.  I had NEVER taken my mother to lunch.  Such a simple thing but something we never shared and I will never have the chance to share that experience with her.  I take people out to eat all the time now when I have an extra dollar or two, its just something I like to do.  But I never did it and never can do it with the woman who was the most important woman EVER in my life and the person who had the most influence on me.

Maybe this is an example of living like you are dying or only have 37 days to live.  What have I never done that I will regret not doing if I died in 37 days?  It doesn’t have to be big stuff like skydiving, Rocky Mountain climbing, stuff like that.  It’s the little stuff that makes up our days that makes up our lives.  True?

Yesterday on the way to work I was listening to the Rick and Bubba Radio Show on Y102.  I only caught part of it and didn’t catch the man’s name but he was talking about “the small stuff”.  It’s the small stuff we should pay attention to because it’s the small stuff that all adds up to become the big stuff!

Oh yeah, the name of the author of 37 Days is Patti Digh and here’s a link to her blog:

37 Days

I’m going on over to amazon.com to buy her book “Life is a Verb” now.

Email me if you live close by…and I’ll take you to lunch.