Wednesday, December 25, 2013

At Rest, Redeemed at Last

Many years ago, when I was young and very foolish, I left my husband for another man with whom I had fallen in love. I loved this man as fiercely as I ever could love, and we lived together for a few good years. I have been filled with guilt to this day over what I did to my marriage, but at the time, it felt like my path was set and I was doing what I had to do. I learned to shoot a high powered rifle and a sweet sixteen gauge shotgun with this man. I hunted with him, and shot a deer each fall, sitting and waiting in my tree stand from sun up to sun down. When the Great Horned Owl swooped through my thicket at dusk, it was time to unload, and climb down for the day. He taught me how to skin and process the venison which I made into Italian sweet and hot sausage, and small breakfast links, gifts for my family at Christmas.
 He gave me my first diamonds.
 He bought me a motorcycle and came with me to safety classes where I learned how to drive it, and after we would go for rides, him on his old Harley and me on my Honda 550 Special. We played cribbage endlessly at night, went fishing at dawn w/ his friend Tom putting his boat in the Delaware and motoring upriver through the morning fog. We'd see deer at the water's edge, magical in the mist.
I learned how to drive a tractor, pull the baler and hay wagon up and down the windrows while he stacked the bales. I lived the happy life of a farmer's wife

  We had a lovely sweet time together, that included visits with his best friends, Billy and Cheryl and their boys, Chris and Danny. The boys were enthralled with my throwing of perfect spirals as we'd have a catch with the football in the fall, and my wicked fastball in the spring. They'd never seen a grown up girl throw better than most boys. I grew to love them like family. We'd meet for dinner where 8 year old Danny would order 2 dozen steamed clams and proceed to put a dozen in his mouth, cheeks pouched out like a chipmunk; he'd chew away through dinner, while we laughed and talked over pitchers of beer.

I bought the bakery and ended up spending long hard hours working at building my business. The man was none too pleased, and as I spent more and more hours away from home, he drifted further away from our relationship. I was no longer the sweet young thing he could take out on the town, I had gained weight and looked a fright when I came home exhausted, more and more to an empty house. I was not surprised when I found him at our favorite haunt with a cute little blond by his side.

I was looking for another place to live but meanwhile there were Sundays to spend elsewhere, away  from the farm. I would go to the grocery, buy the fixings for a spaghetti dinner, tomatoes, sausage, onions, meat for meatballs. I'd show up at Billy and Cheryl's on my bike and they would tactfully avoid asking the obvious. Instead, Cheryl and I would hit the kitchen and I taught her my grandfather's recipe for meat sauce. I'd have a catch with the boys, we'd throw sticks for the German short haired pointer that was the light of their lives, besides each other. Cheryl and I would pound Coors lights like water, Billy would watch football with the boys and we'd eat a feast of spaghetti and meat sauce, sausage, and garlic bread until we'd groan our way from the table. This Sunday tradition went on for many months.
When I finally found a place to live, the man was not there to help me move, but Billy, Cheryl and Tom were. They helped me pack up my farm life, and moved me to a small house near my bakery. We did finally talk about the man, all of us bewildered over what had happened, why, always why....we'd seemed such a great couple, he loved me, we thought. I loved him beyond all reason and my heart was irrevocably broken.

I continued to work away at the bakery and spend my Sundays with my saviors Billy and Cheryl, punctuated by occasional fishing trips with Tom, my good friend. Then I suffered a series of losses that set me back terribly. My Mother, Grandfather and Grandmother and beloved dog of 16 years all died within a relatively short period of time. I retreated from life, from longtime friendships, from my Sunday tradition. I poured myself into my business, trying desperately to survive through devastating depression. Years passed and I made new friendships through the bakery, good solid friendships. I contacted again friends from long ago. I rejoined the world, in a way. And every so often, although not every week, I'd swing by Billy and Cheryl's. It was always like I had just been there, always welcomed with open arms and warm love.

We'd meet up at the grocery and catch up and promise to call but our lives were busy. I had left the bakery and had a regular job, their boys had grown. I'd stop every so often at the ice cream shop where Danny worked and he would make me the world's best chocolate malted. Then came the day 4 years ago I ran into Cheryl at a tent sale.Her face was puffy in a way I recognized, like Mom's on prednisone  after cancer treatment. She told me she had been diagnosed w/ melanoma, but was fighting it every way she could. We talked and hugged at length. I hooked up w/ Billy on Facebook and would see photos of him and Cheryl at their beloved Phillies games, always smiling, Cheryl still with that puffed face but bravely soldiering on through life. They came to see me at the Market and told me I should sell jars of my sauce, and I took their advice...it is a good seller!

Today, Christmas Day 2013, I found out that my dear Cheryl died yesterday after a 4 year battle. Billy said she is in a better place and I want to believe that. But I am saddened deeply by her loss, and for Billy, Chris and Danny. To lose a loved one so young,  one so full of life, so full of love is a terrible thing. I cried bitter tears for my friend and her family. I am honored to have had her as a friend, I was lucky to have known her , and in a way I feel redeemed for ending my marriage the way I did, because had I not, I would never had her friendship, such a sweet and remarkable woman, and her family, dear Billy, Chris & Danny.

Wing your way to Heaven, Cheryl and rest well. We will meet again; until then, I will hold you forever in my heart with love, light, and gratitude.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Again

           My friend L. and I this year celebrated our anniversary of 50 years of friendship. We first met in kindergarten at 5 years old. We had the unfortunate fate to attend a not so local catholic school where we weathered the wrath of the frighteningly abusive Sister Christine every day. L hated it so much that for a few days she hid behind a big tree when the bus came and ran back home when she knew her Mom had left for work. That ingenious plan did not work for long, an soon she was back on the bus, properly chastened. We had free time in the stone courtyard before the opening bell rang and for some reason ( I have no idea what induced me to do this) I would smush her into the corner of the church wall and and repeatedly ask "what didja have for breakfast?!" and every day she said oatmeal! oatmeal! We still laugh about that absurdity.

           And so a friendship was born. We both changed to public school, and were separated off and on  throughout, but our connection was strong. I was the one who made her turn her chair at the bar so she'd be seated beside the man she ended up marrying, with whom she has been ever since. We made yearly camping trips to Cape Cod. We took walks, long hikes along a beautiful boulder strewn river. We had monthly girl's dinners with two other friends, filled with laughter and good food. She stood at my side when I got married. I was with her husband beside her bed when she gave birth to their son. Ours was a friendship unbreakable, even as we drifted apart after her son was born, and marriage and life took over. We would get together, talk on the phone, arrange dinners w/ our husbands, take walks but over time they became more infrequent. When she became a busy realtor, and I a shopkeep, our lives took us down separate paths completely. But when we'd talk on the phone or get together, it was as if we had never been apart. We chat and laugh as if it was yesterday that we last saw each other.

           She left a voice mail, the other day, saying she needed my help. Since it is Thanksgiving weekend I assumed  it was her yearly call for my pumpkin pie recipe. I called her back and left a message of how she could reach me as I was starting a 2 week house sitting gig. She called back twice on my cell while I was at the market with no time to answer. When finally, I called her, I was driving home. She said " I have bad news that ends up being good news" Then she started to cry, something I rarely ever saw her do. I pulled into a driveway as she said those dreadful words "I have breast cancer". I felt as if I had been sucker punched and couldn't speak for a few seconds. Then I started asking questions, becoming the researcher that I had been when I was diagnosed. She calmed down immediately, and we proceeded to talk for almost an hour as I sat parked in a stranger's drive. She, like me, is in the earliest stages, and her prognosis excellent. But that awful 'c' word, and the even uglier word 'malignant' were hovering over our conversation the whole time like a circling vulture. I was able to give her a lot of information which eased her mind, was able, as always, to make her laugh, and we ended the conversation with the arrangement that I will accompany her to all of her doctor visits and ask the questions and write down the answers and information, just as Margaret did for me years ago and I did for her as well this past year. We hung up on a hopeful note.

       I backed out of the driveway, dazed and shocked and saddened. I drove on, remembering that Greg is away and I was headed home to feed the dogs and play with them before going back. Back to my dear friend Margaret's house where I am sitting while they enjoy a 2 week vacation. I realized as the tears finally started that I had no one to talk to, no one to hug , on who's shoulder I could cry. It was a lonely feeling, but L. did not want me to share with any of our friends in common but Marg and Greg. Margaret would be the first one I would turn to in this situation and she is far away. And so, drying my face, I fed my dogs and played with them in the slanting winter sun. I drove back to Marg's to put the chickens away and feed the sheep. I came in the house and fed the cats, gave diabetic Diego his shot and fed the dogs. I then put my pajamas on even though it was only 6:30pm and climbed into bed. I did not sleep. I talked to Mom, asking her to watch over my beloved friend. I remembered all of the details of my experience being diagnosed with cancer and how I felt.  And I cried for L., an always so healthy, fit and cheerful person having those same feelings and it made me sick for her. The middle of the night terrors were the worst, when you wake up, all of your defenses down and that damned "c" word causes a cold wash of fear to envelop your entire being.

           In our conversation, I gave L. some advice as to what to do when she is awakened by fear in the dark hours. I gave her a mantra to repeat for as long as necessary to push the fear away and allow sleep to take over. It worked for me, and I pray that it will work for her.

          "I am a survivor"

Monday, October 21, 2013

Holding on to Hope

I never imagined that my life would be so unhappy. I have lost those things so vital to me.....faith, trust, belief, respect, and I am afraid that love will be the thing that will die next, the most important thing. I do not know how to reconcile my feelings with the reality of my situation. I feel that I am to blame somehow, that I allowed this to go on too long,  this situation that has sapped me of self respect, my sense of self worth: I have gotten lost.

Blaming myself  is my default position, and I guess I am to blame to a degree, but looking back, I see that  I gave every opportunity to resolving this hurt, I did not stay silent in the face of such profound disrespect,  However, my  words fell on deaf ears....no, they were heard, but disregarded and dismissed, meaning less than nothing. And as the years passed, my disappointment grew and along with it hurt, resentment and anger. I have harbored this negativity for so long that I am afraid that it has become a part of my being, and that is a frightening thought.

And so, it has come to the crux, the place where I decide whether to end this relationship forever, not believing yet another promise, not allowing myself to fall back into hurtful complacency, standing firm in the face of a lonely life, but finally free of this angst that has chewed away at my soul for so long.

I have placed it on the table in a flood of  tears, the pain of it causing me to cry out my anguish to an empty house; I cry a keening wail of sorrow that I am unable to control. So sad, too sad, grieving for the loss of that which I thought would last forever.

And yet I harbor a tiny nugget of hope: a small place in my heart still holds a bit of light like a candle in vast darkness. I guess it is our humanity that keeps hope alive; there is still love there, maybe it will be enough. It is my hope that it will be enough.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

In the margin

I waited patiently while everyone else had their chance to hold Brody. I smiled and laughed along with them, in a room filled with love for this new life and each other. I tried to block the words out of my mind and just be in the moment, but those words, thoughtless and cruel, kept popping up to stab my heart a little deeper. I took photos of this happy family, and tried to look ahead, to think of the future and what it holds for this healthy, beautiful baby, and for us. But there was a cloud in my mind and a voice in my head, saying words that hurt me to the core of my being, words that targeted me, that could only have targeted me.

Blood relatives first.

When we learned that a grand-baby was on the way, my excitement and joy overflowed. Never having held a baby of my own, I looked forward to the sweetness of this baby, our involvement in his life, watching him grow. Greg would be Grandpa, and I {step} Grandma. We waited those 2 awful nights for Brody to arrive while his young parents endured a long labor and delivery. We had the phone by the pillow, worrying and waiting.

Blood relatives first.

Can it be possible that anyone would think that because this baby is not of my 'blood' that he means any less to me than if he were? Am I regarded as such an outsider, so not-family that I must be last to hold this precious life?  Will I not love this boy beyond all reason as I would my own "blood" grandson? Those words, hopefully not meant to hurt me, did so, regardless. Hurt me deeply. And so, after everyone else had their chance, I held Brody in my arms. Tears rolled and dropped to his blanket, tears of joy but more of sadness. Because I realized that as much as I want to be, I will never be anyone's Grandma, not really. I will always be left on the margins, disregarded and dismissed.

How could a day that started so happy end with such sadness, sorrow that has lingered, that I can not shake? I will cook meals for Eric and Jen and send them along with Greg when he goes while I am working. I will do my best to try to let this slight roll off, and be who I am, blood or no, a loving presence in this baby's life. I will love Brody for who he is, with all of my heart and soul, no less than his 'blood' relatives.

But it seems my place has been set, and it is not at the family table.


Saturday, July 20, 2013

uninvited

The party is happening as I write, spent and exhausted from a hellish hot week of moving, cooking, and today, selling, then hauling it all home, lifting, unloading, stashing, washing, emptying, crying. The party is in full swing and I am, as I have been all week, alone. There are toasts being made, games being played, swimming, eating drinking & laughing on this joyous occasion, the celebration of two sweet young people's love, and I am here, done in , un-included & disregarded and saddened by this feeling of exclusion. I once felt like I was a somewhat significant part of this family and I would like to still feel that, but it is not so. I am a totally dispensable entity, handy for cooking or whipping up dessert, but not all that important or even necessary. What a sad feeling to have. 
The party for which I cooked favorite dishes of the bride and groom and sent along with my love is happening as I write, but I am too tired, too dispirited, just in too much pain to clean up, get dressed up and drive all the way over there when I know my absence is barely noted. It is not my family after all.

A week later
 Well, I have gotten over my wahwahwah self pity. That Saturday was the end of a horrible week of ungodly hot & humid weather, a lot of driving and carrying of boxes along with my usual load of cooking and delivering. I can't say that I feel good about any of it, but I do hope to not feel like such an outsider with my step family ever again. I did try to find someone to work the market for me, but perhaps not hard enough. I could not afford to miss it as it was mortgage week, and I needed to get some money in my account to pay it. I suppose I'd hoped that Greg would have stepped in and said he'd cover it so I could be there, but that is not his way. He is somewhat blind when it comes to such things. And I won't ask so it's on me.

I did have to listen to the post party recital, and I tried to be the big person and not let it irk me, but after a while I finally had to say that I'd rather not hear any more, thank you very much. Too much salt in a fresh wound. 
Ah well, life goes on.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Solo/Alone

I have no children.
I should have,
I would have,
if only I could have.
No one's Mom, and my Mom gone:
it's a very lonely feeling, this,
my sole/soul regret~

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Hell and Back Again

Two months ago, I was suicidal. I thought about death every day. I cried every day. I slept long hours to avoid the hell of being awake, of being alive. I could see no purpose for my life, no reason  to hang on to my pitiful, painful existence. I felt that my future was so bleak, that there was no reason for me to continue pretending to be happy, pretending to be alive. I came very close, frighteningly close to fulfilling my wish to end my misery.

Three months ago I went off my medication, meds that I have been on for 21 years. I can not say why for certain, but I wanted to try to see if I could live without them. They are very expensive and I have no health insurance. I thought I could try some natural methods. I took up running again. I dosed myself with omega three supplements, I took up meditation, and did yoga. At first, I felt pretty good, but now I see that I was lulled into believing that I was OK during the time it took for the meds to clear my system. Slowly and steadily I went down, sliding into the black pit that is my mind unmedicated. I told no one. I fell back on my old ways of pretending to be "normal" while inside I was descending into the hell of my malfunctioning brain. 

Eventually, there was no hiding, no way to pretend that I was anything but horrifyingly depressed and more than ready to take that final step. I found myself arguing with my best friend over how worthless my life is, how I just couldn't see the point, and in my mind I made perfect sense, a most logical assessment of my decision. In the end, it was her tears that convinced me to choose to live, it was another friend telling me that he did not know how he would feel if I killed myself, that he would feel like he should've done more, that it was his fault. He said the word selfish, which at first offended me in my righteousness, but made sense when I thought about my nieces and nephews, my sisters and brother, my sister and brother by choice (whom I have mentioned above) and my life partner of whom I callously said "oh, he'd get over it." I allowed him to pick up my prescription. I started taking my pills every morning. I had a friend do some energy work on me, a session where my tears flowed unceasingly. I started taking care of me, allowing myself to feel happy, telling myself I deserved to be so.

 And in time I began to feel better. In the interim, my two friends, my brother and sister by choice called and stopped by, keeping careful tabs on me until I was able to assure them, to look them in the eye and promise them that I would not commit suicide. My partner treated me like a china doll, carefully and gently as my state was so fragile that breakage was a clear possibility.

 Depression is a terrible thing. It effects every corner of one's life, it magnifies the negative aspects of living while minimizing the positive, shrinking the good to a tiny little speck that is impossible to see. It puts one through hell. It puts one's friends though hell, and one's family. It is a totally selfish disease, one that can diminish a life spark like a snuffed match. And we who suffer with this ailment, this mental illness, have such a hard time coming to terms with it, facing the fact that we are mentally ill. If you tell some one you have diabetes, they say "Oh that's too bad, how are you doing?" If you tell someone that you suffer from a mental illness they step back and say "Oh". The stigma is there, even with all of the talk and information out there about depression, the TV commercials, and the magazine articles. Regardless of the fact  that both diabetes and depression are  chemical imbalances in the body it is more acceptable to have diabetes. That needs to change. Maybe in my lifetime it will.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Edward

I met an old love yesterday. We met with a hug that never wanted to end. Our eyes caught and held and there it was as it has always been. We walked, his arm across my shoulders, mine around his waist, as naturally as if it had been yesterday that we met and fell in love, not 33 years past. We sat at the table in a small cafe, menus closed, talking, catching up on mundane things as the elephant sat on the table crowding us. Our eyes would meet and there it was, ever there, but untouchable, impossible. 

We ordered food & picked at it without interest,  each of our hearts intent upon the other. How did so much time slip by and so fast? How did things come to this pass? We are now middle aged and look it, although all I saw was the handsome man I met all those many years ago: his voice the same, his smile the same, his eyes the same. Did he see the young girl in me, I wonder?

We parted with a long hug and kiss, wondering if ever we will see each other again in this life. He had traveled a long way to see me and was on the road back and away from me once again. He stopped, lowered the passenger window and reached his hand to me. I took it and leaned down to kiss it, allowing my tears to fall on his fingers. We looked into each others eyes and said I love you, both of us realizing the import of our words. Love so sweet, so far apart, so dear, so unreachable, so right, so gone now, one day later but a world apart.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sunday Morning Run

This is my church~
treetops shining like cathedral spires in the morning sun.....
a whisper of wind chimes~
are church bells through the woods....
the chickadee 
the nuthatch 
the titmouse~
a choir of bird-sung harmony.....
the cardinal 
the bluebird 
the flash of a jay~
such brilliant stained glass windows.....
my heart filled with gratitude~
a silent, heartfelt prayer.....
the road beneath my feet
the circular path I follow away from, 
then back to the warmth of my home~
is the symbol of life.......
~I am truly blessed~

Thursday, January 3, 2013

This is how I feel....

I want to run back over to her house and  sit with her. I want to lie down in bed with her and hold her in my arms, hold her close and listen to her breathing and know that she will always be there. I want to hold her hand in mine firmly, safely and not let go, ever. I want to hear her voice, hear her call me Peggo for the rest of my life. I want a hug that never ends, she holds my heart and I hers and I want that to be enough to keep her here with me forever. I want to call her and have her tell me that everything is going to be all right, but she can't because it is she that is sick. I want my arms around her so bad, I want to run to her house and never leave. I want her to never leave. I don't want to be so afraid, I don't want her to be afraid I want us to grow old together as we have always expected to. I don't want to cry forever I don't want to lose half of my heart, the best half. I can't. I won't.