Thankful Thots: Part “Jeebus-Only-Knows-How-Many”

thankful

So I’m sure all of you are sicksicksick to the death of reading what everyone is thankful for.  I know I am… and let me just state for the record that all of you really need to just build a check list and click the boxes.  Sameness.  Seriously, so much sameness.  And I laugh when I read these because I mostly think about all of the times I read and hear y’all ranting about the things you’re now saying you’re thankful for.  And I’m hopeful that your object of thankfulness remembers your abject words of gratitude the next time you’re ranting at them again… that might be the only thing that keeps them in the house.

Just sayin.

But anyway, after the admonishment and incredulity, it’s time for me to do the same thing.  Only mine is different this year, but that probably doesn’t surprise any of you… am I right?  And, before I go into it, I feel the need to state, for the record, that I’m just as grateful as all of you for all the same things you’re giving thanks for.  Truly.  And I tell the people in my life that as much as possible.  Because that’s important.  But this year has been different.  This year, in fact, might personally be called my year of discontent, and my year of searching, and so I’m grateful for something totally different.  And when I say grateful I mean that in a different way entirely.  Because sometimes you’re grateful for things that you didn’t necessarily want when you got them.  That’s this year.

This year is not what I wanted.

But this year is what I got… and I’m learning to appreciate it for what it’s been.  A journey.  At times harder than others.  And at times far simpler than I ever expected.  This year I’m thankful for the passage of time.  Time that I spent emotionally breaking down, cocooning, learning how to be alone and together, and precious time that I spent on me.  I’ve mourned this year, I’ve cried, I’ve laughed, I’ve been quiet, and mainly I’ve re-examined me to see if I still like her.  The good news is that I do… but the good and bad news is that I see more change coming for me.  Because of all this time I’ve taken with me, because of the searching I’ve done and I’m still doing, because my journey is continuing.

The road goes on forever.

Looking at your life, mourning what you’ve lost fully and completely,  this is hard work.  It takes time.  It takes being okay with sadness and understanding that sadness isn’t permanent.  But doing this work, this year, was vitally important for me.  For my ability to survive the next loss, and the next, and the next.

Survival is the goal.

In just this last year I’ve fallen in and out of like & love with a million things big and small, planned a million plans that I won’t start or finish, started an entirely new life direction and debated that decision continually ever since, made myself healthier (and smaller) than I’ve been in years, pushed myself to run further than I ever thought possible, and accepted my losses and failures with at least a little grace.  I’ve made myself and other people laugh and think, loved myself and them when neither deserved it, and laughed, and cried, and flirted, and yelled throughout it all.

I am healthier mentally and physically right now than I was a year ago, due to the work I’ve done and the work I continue to do.  And that was my goal, when I got this dubious gift of time to heal, and I decided to move forward and do it.  To start finally fixing me.  And I’m on my way.  Oh I still miss the missing from my life with a fierceness that doesn’t abate, but I’ve found a way through it that will allow me to be okay.  I am okay.

Really. Okay.

So that, in a nutshell, is my thankful thot this year… thank you Universe for time.  Time isn’t always a gift but this year it’s my treasure.  Use yours wisely this next year.  Allocate it in a way that carries meaning.  Make it count.

Because you never know when you might run out.

Lessons learned…

never-150x150

So… don’t know about all of you but every year it seems like Life or Karma or some such nonsense has some big key lesson it wants to teach me.  And each year, just like the Chinese zodiac, there’s a theme.  And of course I know at this point that you’re thinking “seriously… who notices this type of thing?”  Well, other than me that is.  But yeah, I do.  I have.  And it’s really become a thing I watch for every year.  And typically it’s something I don’t even catch onto as it’s happening, something that I may or may not even realize is big, until I look back over the year and see that this one thing that happened during the year ended up being The Thing.  The lesson.  The overarching thread that moved my life in some new direction or taught me some lesson that I needed to learn.

My lesson.

For example, in 2004 the lesson was hidden in heaps and piles of tragedy.  First the loss of my Grandmother, then the loss of EB, but the tragedy wasn’t the lesson.  Yes, both losses were awful.  Yes, both appeared to be more than I could ever survive at the time.  But the lesson I learned was that I could survive.  The lesson was in learning that inside of me there is a core of solid steel and iron and nothing can take me down permanently.  Oh, it may put me on my knees for a while, and it may force me to ground for a short time.  But it will not stop me.  I will survive, I will come back stronger, and I can survive anything.

I survived.

Then, in 2010 the lesson was learned with the decision to go back to school.  Something I had run from for years.  Because I was afraid of failure.  Because I listened to “can’t” and let it lead me.  In 2010 I quit listening.  I decided to listen to can.  And I started changing my life.  With the first classes completed at the end of Fall Semester I knew again that I could do this thing I’d put off for so long.  I was smart enough, and tough enough, and I had what it took to change my own life.  And so I did.

I changed.

And last year, in 2012, when I lost my Mom, again I learned my lesson through tragedy, but it may well be the lesson that I’ll never let go of.  When she died I was halfway through my BAS degree and all I wanted was to quit classes, curl up in a ball, and just let grief take over.  But I didn’t.  I did what needed to be done to say goodbye to her, we settled as much of her life as we could, and I came back home and picked up where I left off.  I finished my Spring Semester classes with A’s & B’s, registered for Summer and finished those with all A’s, and I graduated after a Fall Semester of 16 hours with A’s and B’s again.  Three semesters of Dean’s List & President’s List.  After the worst loss I’ve ever been dealt.  The one that I don’t think I’ll ever totally get over.  But the achievements weren’t the lesson.  The loss wasn’t the lesson.  The lesson was in learning that by doing what I did I truly am my Mother’s daughter.  And I always have been.  So that core I found in 2004?  That steel and iron?  That’s my true inheritance from her.  That’s how she was.  Nothing stopped her.  And I am her.

I took control.

So as you can imagine, this year I’ve been watching, and waiting, and this year’s lesson, as usual, didn’t make itself obvious.  But I think I know what it is now.  And it’s been a good one to learn.  A hard one though.  Challenging to everything I ever thought before.  And truly one that I never expected to learn, ever.  Furthermore, this is one that I’ll have to eat some words over.  Because this year I’ve learned that if you’re living fully then nothing in your past is ever totally past.  And some things never die.  Of course there’s a whole back story, and (of course) this lesson started with another death and a reunion to mark that event.  But from that beginning it has finally culminated in the startling realization that sometimes your first love might actually have indeed been love and not some silly infatuation.  You know, the thing I laugh at the most in my 15 year old niece when she says “Oh I love him” about the most current boyfriend.  The words that cause me to eye roll and say “you love Macaroni & Cheese” and laugh.  Yeah, I won’t be doing that anymore.  Because I just don’t know.  What I do know is this.  Over the last six months the boy/man who was my very first serious relationship has come back into our lives.  And I say our because this re-entry has impacted both myself and Bob.  But before you freak out, we are still most definitely married.  And we’re staying that way.  But it’s been a process for us as I wrapped my head around the idea that this huge, big love I had for this person and that they had for me is still there.  We’re not in love anymore, but love never dies.  It just goes quiet for a while.  But one day, when you least expect it, you find out that it’s still there.  It’s still love.  I still have it.  It never left.

I love.

But that’s not the lesson.  No.  As funny as that is, there’s a much bigger truth in this year’s lesson that goes far beyond just that simple word with all its complications and challenges.  No, the bigger lesson, I think, is that I’ve finally learned that I am never totally alone.  Despite my solitary soul.  Despite my walls and shields and devices that I use to hide away and protect myself from the people who have moved through my life.  I am not alone.  I am still connected to them all.  And every one of them have a huge meaning to me.  To my past – through my present – and on into my future.  Connections.  Deep.  Shallow.  Close.  Distant.  But still connections.  And this lesson, I think, might be the best one yet.  To learn that I have a complex and large safety net, comprised of people that I could not live without.

People I love.

So I’m learning again.  It’s hard.  And it’s tricky.  And I’ll learn more again today.  Just like I did yesterday.  Just like I will tomorrow.  Thanks Mark for this one… it’s all on you.  I’m glad you’re a part of my life again.  We’re much better adults than we were as kids, just learning how to love and like each other.  Today we’re good at that.  And our lives have moved apart from each other but again we’ve ended back together… this time as good friends who truly understand the power of love.  And thank you EB for being the one who moved me forward and finished the lessons I started so long ago.  And thank you Bob for knowing just how much I love you too.  You are one of the three chapters of love in my life and I am blessed for that every day.

And the next time Kaylea says she loves some boy I think I’ll have to control the eye-rolling because you just never know about love.

And sometimes its true.

Love never dies.

Dear Monday… try harder!

From my Facebook feed at 10:00 am:

“So… this day began with howling dogs, thunder, and taking Robert Weiner to Urgent Care to get a silicon earbud cover removed from his Middle Ear Canal. Now my nerves are shot, my hair is humidity-wrecked, and it’s just 10am. However, under heading of first aid I’ve already had coffee, bacon, and carbs. Next I’m getting a Mani-Pedi and I’ll be therapeutically window-shopping after this and hopefully at least one of these actions will start the process of remaking this day into something I can live with.”

Oh, and after I reset our Amazon password (because somebody changed it and forgot the new one) I’ve also ordered a nice shiny set of over-the-ear headphones for “that man” in order to keep at least one of these disasters from ever happening again.

Bless his heart. Oh, and if none of this works or anything else bad happens I’m switching to Vodka (AKA liquid Carbs).

So how’s your Tuesday?

31,556,926…

mom

In case you didn’t know, that equals the number of seconds in a year. And each second of the last year has been simultaneously so full and yet so empty. Time expands, life fills up, but the missing things are still in that space. Like Antimatter, but sometimes it matters more than the things one can see and touch.

Meanwhile here I am, still here, still missing her like I would miss my arm if I were to suddenly lose it, and filled with the dread… tomorrow marks one year since Mom left us. And so much has happened in that year.

So. Much.

But one important thing has not happened. she hasn’t come back, and she never will. And Even though I don’t logically believe in any sort of afterlife, I wistfully hope she’s still watching me because I miss her so much, still. Not much of the day passes without multiple thoughts of her and although I don’t cry as much now I never forget that she is gone away and she won’t be back. And do not insult my grief by saying she’s in a better place. For I can tell you without question that she is not. She is gone from us. She is dead. Nothing about that is better. It just is.

Heart still broken. Half-orphaned. This is still very hard. I learned how to be a Widow long ago, far more easily, and now I’m learning to live without my Mom, and it’s so much harder.

I am stumbling, yearning, sad, resigned, angry, and above all lonely. She was my cheerleader, my critic, the hand on my shoulder and the foot on my butt. Now I must be all of those things for myself.

I’m not as good as she was at that. Fits, starts, fails, falls, tears, do-overs. Such is life.

But today, 31,556,926 seconds later, there is a faint glimmer of hope, growing in my heart and in my new containers outside are so many of her lessons. Of course I needed so many more, but as the song goes…

“You can’t always get what you want. You get what you need.”

Today I hope. Which is much more than a thing with feathers. Today hope is all I have. Now that I do not have my Mom.

Hope. For me, for us. Hope… and love.

Today, tomorrow, forever.

I hope.

I coulda’ been a Contendah…

In so very many things, I think.  But definitely on the Debate Team.  Because when it comes to arguing?  Oh, that’s Missy FTW… no matter who I’m going up against.  That is my special talent, arguing.  I glow with excitement (or maybe high blood pressure?) whenever I manage to get myself into one.  Yeah, really.  So it’s truly sad that I didn’t pursue this “talent” of mine… I could have been a Star.  With a trophy and accolades and all.

Trophies are sparkly and shiny… I need one don’t you think?  To go with my Crown?

Of course, for those two or three of you who’ve been on the losing side of one of my many Harangues – Bob, I’m looking right at you, everyone else is too – you might think I relish these opportunities to engage with verbal fisticuffs with others perhaps more than I should.

And you would be wrong.

Amazingly, my favorite opponent isn’t Bob, believe it or not.

Cue chorus of “Poor Bob”… and cut.  He appreciates your sympathy, really.

No, my best efforts happen internally, where no one can hear me, as I argue with myself.  Pssssst! Most people think that means I’m crazy.  They might be right.  But my internal debates are legendary.  The mental gymnastics I put myself through when I’m wrestling with a decision?  Mary Lou Retton was never that bendy, not at any point in her life.

Tangent – when the heck did she get so old?  Wasn’t she like thirteen or something just a couple of years ago?  Oh, right, she’s  nearly my age… and I have apparently gotten old too.  And again with the same question – second verse same as the first – when the heck did I get so old?

Okay, we’re back, did we lose anybody?  Oh no, well next time everybody needs to hold onto the rope and that way nobody gets separated.  The guy from Dubuque’ll figure it out… he usually gets lost on the Tangents.  Those aren’t good for the people in the square states.  Not at all.  But anyway, where were we?  Oh, right, the whole arguing thing and my current mental debate.

Sidenote:  I hate it when that happens.  Trains of thought are getting fewer and farther between for me, I need to stay onboard and ignore the temptation to get off and look around at every stop.  Frequently I’m finding myself standing at some random station, in the middle of nowhere, in my mind, and I don’t have any idea where I was going, what train of thought I was on, or when the next train is due.  Old age sucks, make a note and save it for me.  Because, you know, I might forget.

Anyway, after two diversions I’m going to do you all a favor and not go on a tour of my current mental debates – yes, there’s multiples going on, simultaneously, are you surprised?  No, I figured not.  But anyway, suffice to say I’m wrestling with some big ones… personal life path crap.  Stuff I should have decided long ago, when I first considered the whole “what to be when I grow up” question.  Yeah, that one.  I deferred that one, because apparently I had some crazy idea that I wasn’t grown up.  I’m still not BTW… nope, and you can’t make me.  But I’m still working the arguments on the question, even if it’s rhetorical.

Growing up, making decisions, choosing paths.  Brrrrrrr… just felt the icy finger of old age and death brush my cheek.  So, no, I’ll just keep arguing with myself and defer the decision until later.

Until I grow up.

But, then, isn’t not making a decision still making a decision?

And right on cue… it’s those stellar debating skills.  Magical I tell you.

Simply magical.

Oy.

Boy will he be disappointed…

So, I posted this on Facebook but I think it deserves a full writeup.  Because I’m really amused at how things sometimes get misdirected and go awry.  Pro tip for all of you… check your email addresses when you’re sending something that’s important.  Because sometimes things don’t go as you plan.  Because of stupid mistakes.

Such is life.  Right?

But, because I find much to laugh at in the ridiculous, I’m sharing this email, received by my hubby last week, because I want to crowd source the reply Bob should give this kind gentleman… if any… or if we should just let harry ashkenazi (of no capital letters  fame) wonder where his orchestra is on June 3d.

Here’s the email:

From: Harry Ashkenazi
To: Robert Weiner
Re: Harmonia Orchestra – June 3rd

Bob,

I received your voicemail today. Yes the gig is confirmed and I’d like to book you.

Please confirm.

Thanks,

Harry

Yep… apparently my husband has an orchestra?  The Harmonia Orchestra?  Who knew?  Well, me, for one, but only after some quality bonding time with the Google, and here’s their link:  http://www.harmoniaorchestra.com/.  Yes, indeed they’re for real… wow.  But unless he’s hiding far more from me than that single 1970′s era VHS pron tape that he can’t even watch any more because we no longer have a VHS player, Bob isn’t one of them…

I think.

But then again, there are times when he’s gone on Saturdays… could he be playing Simchas all over the Tampa Bay area?  Flying up to NYC to hit the Bar Mitzvah circuit?  Does he have a whole other life I don’t know about?

I don’t know.

But I do know that this confirmation needs to be answered.  I think.  So let’s come up with a crowd sourced reply to mr. ashkenazi (of no capital letters fame).  I’m waiting for you to weigh in.

Misdirected communication.  So easy.  So fun.  Like the postcard that got lost 50 years ago that shows up unexpectedly today.  From Bill’s Giant Ball of Twine.  Serving as proof that your life was just as ridiculous all those years ago as it is today.

It was.  It is. It will be again.

“Sorry harry… Bob can’t make it.  His backup singers are needing their shots and can’t currently get on a plane due to missing DHPP vaccines.  Mabel sends regrets… but Little Dog just ate your email and farted.  Oh, and she ate the Autoharp too, so clearly we can’t let her travel due to risks to the plane.  The wings are obviously her next target.  Thanks, but no.”

There, that’s one reply.  Give me yours.

Operators are standing by…

Would you like some cheese?

So, guess you probably heard, but in case you’ve been in Kathmandu or some crazy-azz place like that and you missed it, we’ve got rats.

Lots. Of. Rats.

Yeah.

Right here, in the house, for several months now.  And I’ve been avoiding dealing with them.  Until this week.  Because they just wouldn’t go away.

That’s my sign.  If you start looking permanent then it’s time for you to pay rent or go.  They refused to pay.  Oh well.  That means they have to go.

But hubby didn’t want to do anything to hurt them.  Yeah, who knew?  Bob’s the Rat-vocate around here.  Gandhi of the furry creatures.  Wow.  Which apparently means that I’m Dr. Kevorkian… or Dr. Mengele.  Because I want a final solution and I want it now.

I think Bob’s afraid of me.  He thinks he’s next.

My campaign of terror has seen success.  Two are dead.  Victims of my handy dandy rodent traps.  Baited with good cheese, because their last meal should be tasty, right up until they die of course.  And to show his opposition to my plot, my husband is sitting Shiva and saying the Mourners Kadish for the first victims of my raticide campaign.

He’s like that.

Key takeaway point:  if you want to be left alone in the hardware store, tell the clerk you’re planning a murder and you think they need to walk away  in order to not be subpeona’d as a material witness.  That kid might not be sleeping soundly yet.  And all because of the middle-aged lady with the big smile, nice purse, and cute shoes, who was busy plotting homocide in the Pest Removal section of Aisle 9.

You’re welcome.  That’s a visual that is sure to amuse.

I don’t miss them.  The rats.  Not at all.  And I don’t feel bad about their death.  Not a bit.  Survival of the fittest.  It’s not just a suggestion, it’s a life plan.  Make good decisions, think stuff through, and always figure that anything good being given away for free is probably going to have a bad consequence or two.  So today’s life lesson, for humans and rats…

“Don’t eat the cheese.”

Hehehehehe…

Counting the rings…

Because apparently I’ve become a tree?  Or I’m no longer honest about my age and you need to check?  Or because I’m adding onto them faster than we thought?  Well, it’s one of these answers… I’ll let you guess which… and then I’ll do something awful to you if you guess the wrong one.

Choose carefully… just sayin’.

No, regardless of the title, this post has nothing to do with trees, or Arbor Day, or Johnny Appleseed.  But it does have everything to do with growing older.  Because with the loss of Mom, I’ve gained something very precious.  Something that is beyond price.  Something that I too will pass on one day to young Kay-Bug when I finally “cast off this mortal coil”.

My Mother’s Pearls.

Yes, I’ve added something to the jewelry collection that I never ever thought I would want.  More Pearls.  Because three strands wasn’t quite enough.  And for those of you who know me well… that’s what? 3 of you?  Well you three already know that Pearls are not my Go-To adornment.  My sparkles are of a different variety, beautiful all, but very different.  But on the day of her funeral for some reason as I finished dressing I felt that I needed some part of her with me.  Something to remind me that she was there as I spoke my words about her and tried to tell everyone what she meant to me and what losing her was doing to me as well.  And so I went to her Jewelry Box, opened it up, and for the first time since I was a small girl took out her Pearls and put them on as my own.  And as I hooked the very old clasp, and added them to the three strands that I already own, I knew instantly that they belonged exactly there.  Because they fit perfectly with the other strands and together they most clearly represent the story of my life.  Together all of those beautiful strands encircle my neck and alternately caress and choke me with the weight of their history and the weight of my past.

First there is the delicate choker-like strand that Eddie gave to me on our Wedding Day way back in 1995.  They are smaller than the others, and I still remember her smile of pride that day as she hooked the clasp, sealed it with a kiss, and said “now you can get married”.  Then there is the slightly larger and longer strand given to me by Bob, also on our Wedding Day, not so long ago in 2007.  I wore them up the aisle as a wiser and more experienced Bride, after having put them on myself because I was no longer in need of her help.  And finally there is the longer, older, more ivory-toned strand that my Mother bought for me to wear as my Sister’s Maid of Honor, as I stood beside her and supported her in her first steps as a true Adult.  But now, in clasping her own strand around my neck, I’ve added the longest, the prettiest, the most creamy, and the most dignified strand of all.  And by closing that clasp, I guess I’ve finally assumed the role she groomed me for all of my life.

I am her.

Or, really, I guess I’ve been her all along, but now I’m able to see that as a good thing.  Because I’ve finished growing up, becoming an adult, and I have taken on her role.  Together with my sister, we are now all that she left behind.  All the many parts of her, good and bad, and both as different as all those many Pearls, tied together with love and faith that we will live on for her.

We are.  We will.

But when I look at that strand, at the creaminess, I know they didn’t start out that way.  Back in the beginning they looked like my own strands.  Polished, perfect, pure and white.

No longer.

Today they carry the burnishing that life has given them, just like me.  Today they glow, instead of shine, because when you are young you do shine, with hope and dreams and plans, but when you grow older you glow with the life experiences that you encountered as you were achieving (or not) those things you reached for when you were young.

Experience polishes you, strengthens you, changes you.

And today I can tell you that I will wear that creamy strand with pride, as a badge of honor, and a sign that I belong. That I am an adult.  That I am ready to lead.  That I can do this.  Her love, her pride, and her faith were all three instilled in me from birth.  I was her first.  I was the one she expected so much from.  And I was her biggest failure and her hardest heartache for a very long time.

I was her.  And that was the part that bothered her the most.

And now I am her, in full, and I hope she is proud.  I hope she knows that I did listen.  I hope she knows I understand.  And I hope she knows that the next time I reach for my Pearls, she is there.  The weight of her love is draped around me, and in that weight I feel the love of her hand, pushing me on, telling me that I can do this.

I can.

And when I see those Pearls I will always be reminded that she’s with me.  Forever.  And in the creamy glow of those strings encircling my neck, if you look closely you can see the rings of love that I will always wear with pride.

Counting the rings.  It’s like counting the love.  There is no end.  Can you count that high?

I can.