Stuck at the Gate

I arrived home, realizing I’d been avoiding my mailbox like the plague. My life has been busy lately, and busy tends to be translated as anxious x10 to my worrisome mind.

I killed our lawn mower. My husband killed our SUV and my van nearly died. All in that order over a three week period. While I’d like to say I handled this and the heating element of my dryer also dying with grace and patience…I did not. (But I sure thought I did!) It’s was all well and good until I showered a few nights ago. Then the tears fell – over my inability to use the soap dispenser with my ‘write’ hand. I sat down and sobbed, which made it worse, which made me sadder still. (Holy shit it’s been a ride. So glad I can’t repeat the past.)

Air drying towels and jeans should be a sin. There’s nothing I hate more than crispy towels and crunchy jeans. I can only compare it to stale cereal. Just yuck.

Anyway. That’s not what this is about.

In my mailbox was a letter…from my mother. Her cursive writing that spelled out my name and address made me feel heavy, like a laundry basket full of wet towels. I just placed it under my arm, walking inside feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders…

As I opened the envelope and pulled out the card I could see through the light blue background more cursive, more wordy thoughts, more glaring, dead references about my life, because judging is what she has always seemed to do best when it came to me. There wasn’t a bit of space left. Words were everywhere.

Not now I thought. I just can’t. I put the baby to sleep. I did dishes, folded clothes. I could not forget I’d gotten it.

Mom wrote…

Dear Bits, I was in a car accident in December in Portland. I was on my way to see my friend, my best friend since preschool. She took her own life. I didn’t know. It happened in October, but her husband hadn’t told anyone. He sent my Christmas card back, writing on the back that she’d passed. I called him and he told me everything. Just so sad.

I felt like the world had swallowed me up. 

I felt like an asshole.

I felt like a selfish asshole.

I read the rest. Out of guilt, out of remorse, and because my shame compelled me to.

Deep breath. It’s just words right?

My mothers parting lines – 

I want to ask your forgiveness and begin the restoration of our mother/daughter relationship. Let us cross over the bridge together that has kept our relationship apart, and move forward.

In my 35 years of life, not once has she said ‘I’m sorry’ for the things she’s done. Though she raised me to say it, believe it, bleed that forgiveness from every sorry pore.

I’m not ready

Deep breath

I don’t want to put away that list

The one filled with pain

Of abuse and manipulation

That one that keeps me here

Standing at the gate

My mother, filled with religion, with blame

The abyss I see just before the bridge she asks me to cross with her

I can’t

I know I should. I know that. Everything I have ever been taught, by her no less, has shown me it’s better, easier, right to cross that bridge. Everything , every Thing she’s ever done has only led me to a road void of love, and laden with the pot holes of her heavy hand, my burden to lay bare here.

Here is where I admit I hate the things she did/didn’t do. My own seething anger for all the times she beat the shit out of us because she wasn’t stable, able, willing to love – it leaves a taste of bitter fruit. The thought of letting go is at first so enticing, until a bite is taken and the drip of reality hits my palette. I can’t…

…But I will.

Life and Broken Brakes

I almost died today.
I was driving my 

blue beast soccer mom van.

I had just taken Baby to the store.

My brakes cut out, and the van jerked loudly through the intersection – when what it should have been doing was STOPPING.

Looking in my mirrors and then at my son I turned quickly to the right, brake pedal useless.

I prayed.

‘Dear God, if ever I needed you it’s now. Protect my son.’

I wasn’t even breathing as I thought of what to do. 

A church parking lot was to my right so I turned in.

And I turned again and again until the van stopped and the loud noise which came from beneath my vehicle stopped too.

Letting go of the wheel, and my fear I just melted.

I melted into the driver seat. 

I melted into my son which I was now holding tightly, and in turn holding me, whispering how scared I was into his little ear.

I told my baby how thankful I was to hold him, love him, be here.

How such peace-filled hours can turn into terrifying moments, and just as quickly become the stories of gratitude, and thankfulness amaze me…

Blessed.

Imprint of Anxiety

Hands tense
Muscles tight
Stomach turning

The sun fades
Behind the trees

My heart
How it aches

The pit of my soul
Is trying to break free
From the roots
Which hold me

Hostage in my world

The corners are closing in

Worthless words
Meaningless love

These roots are suffocating me

Time holds no key

My eyes
They are ashamed of me

Father, Teacher, Friend

He made them a fortress on the wood line, on a broken oak from the storm two years ago. Hobbling on the knees that caused him so much pain. He cut most of that tree, a little each day. Rolling the trunk chunks to fit under the corners just so. A look of pain in his eyes but a smile upon his face

He goes to work each day, EVERY day, without complaint and always/only for his family. For 18 years. Without fail, without expectation of grander dividends.

He goes to the school plays, graduation ceremonies, family outings and fishing trips despite his desires to escape the crowds. He throws the parties and sings the songs even though he’d rather find a quiet mountain to stand on.

He holds his children when they cry and picks up his babies when they reach for him, all while hiding the pain in his back. 

He teaches our children to fish. Teaches them to defend themselves and others. He shows them how to make cookies, pie crust and pasta, even when he’s been up all night tossing and turning. He sows the seeds and teaches our children how to make them grow.

*****

Bravo, thank you for the days, months, years, of being present in our children’s lives. Thank you for the life lessons, momentous occasions, small moments, and life you have helped to provide for our seven children. Each one of them have the best of you. You never hesitate to stand up for them, and give them what we didn’t have most years of our lives…a father. Loving, playful, hard-working, hilarious.

Happy Fathers Day my love. 

For Just One Day…

I don’t remember the last Fathers Day I spent with my dad, but I’m imagining it was great. He would have oohed and such at the silly things we’d made for him. He would have made a drink to celebrate the occasion, and by 3pm would’ve needed a nap. I can’t remember the name I gave him for writing in my blog, but his real name was Edward. To all he was Ed. That tall and lanky man with a beautiful laugh and snarky attitude. He never met a screwdriver he didn’t enjoy and he never met my two youngest children.

When I was very young Ed made me a swing set, and I remember him lining up nails, laid on their sides so that I could hammer on them with my favorite whittled stick.

Once, when my mother was away, Ed decided to make us a treehouse. Using just one nail for each piece of wood leading to the planks that were to be our fort, and my insistence on climbing up first – I got to the second board and slid/fell/smacked my way down. Scraped and bleeding Dad picked me up. Holding me close he ran inside and with mom not there to nurse my wounds, he tried to take the pain away. My brother sat in living room, watching as Ed gave me wet hand towels to dab the cuts, while he warmed up spaghetti-o’s. When that didn’t take the sting away dad gave me a Popsicle. A banana Popsicle. That is a tradition in our house nowadays. Cut cleaning and cold treats make for easy bandaid placement. 
Once when Ed took us camping it rained so hard that the military surplus tent collapsed from the weight, and we had to sleep in the old suburban. My brother and I, in our matching baseball jackets were just terrified by the darkness. Dad was our comfort, and gave us a flashlight and chewy watermelon candy to ease our fears. 

We use to visit old cemeteries with Ed. He loved the history, and reading old headstones, and pulling weeds away from a final resting place. One day I will do the same for him.

(I look up as I type this, and in our yard is a five point buck. He’s a beautiful specimen. I think to myself that perhaps Dad has sent him for me. The deer is staring at me. The dogs, for now, don’t smell him. I wonder if God sent the deer, reminding me that He’s never far, always with me.)

My memories of my Father Ed, though mostly faded, tattered by time and a life taken too soon by alcohol and depression, are with me here. They are in my heart, my mind. And though I try to focus on the good there is a very small part that feels that twinge of pain about all he missed, I missed, we missed as a family. 

I chose to share his name here, with you, my friends/family, because today I miss the speghetti-o’s, and I miss his smile. I wanted him to meet all my children and take them camping, build them a tree house, make them laugh. But really, I want him to call me Honey again. I want him here.

I love you Dad. Happy Fathers Day.

Reflections

What does it mean to be a woman?I think that the answer lies within the heart and mind of each woman reading this.

(Still thinking of that beautiful young lady who was killed in Orlando, I’ve been stuck emotionally, and the best way to unstick is to unload.)

I don’t know her but I know she matters, and I know she loved, is loved.
I am a woman. 
I often tried to put myself into a certain group of people, and it’s not because I was craving that high school groupy-ness but because more often than not, I just didn’t fit in. It use to bother me immensely. It made me insecure. It made me someone I wasn’t meant to be….

*****

My femininity is beautiful. My gentleness/strength is empowering.

***** 

While trying to pen who I am, I’ve been thinking of all the women that have influenced me in the last year of life. This last year has taught me much about the human condition and all its glory/gore. The gray side of life. (Because for me as I age, the black/white, left/right, near/far on many things have melted to a calming shade of gray. There is less to fuss about. Don’t get me wrong – I still have absolutes, but in the gray I have found understanding and I’ve learned to understand.) 

*****

My mother, who I haven’t spoken to since last December, has taught me that I can be accepted – by me, without a desire to please her (or anyone else) and cut myself down. I have learned that I can still love her (and others) from afar, and not feel worthless for doing so. For myself this is HUGE. I try very hard to make everyone that I cherish feel that from me. I don’t ever want to let anyone down. Feeling as though I’ve failed someone feels like I AM the FAILURE. She was one of two voices I would hear in my mind when I’d done less than perfect anything. Hers by far has/had the biggest reach (1700 miles to be exact) and her words until recently cut me deeply, and had the magical ability to change me, how I viewed myself. It is not sad or tragic, though I use to feel that way. It’s life and a lesson I needed to learn for so long. 
My friend Kristal, who is raising her two grandchildren. She is a faithful woman, both with her relationship with those she loves and with God. She listens when I talk to her. She lets me know she’s there when I need that – because we all do sometimes. She accepts me AND my crazy brood just the way we are. I have learned from her, that it’s never too late to love myself. I’ve learned that through her own life story, and how her life story has changed me. 

Alyssa, who was the first person to follow Little Bits of Heaven, has become what I refer to as my ‘one in a million’. Our lives are like the reflections on the water. Almost the same, yet different enough to keep me looking, searching, but in a comforting way. She is the me if I were her and I if she were me. Her journey inspires me to look beyond the introvert I have become and be a part of the world again. She has taught me what it is to overcome, to cleanse, to use my words as a way to move through things rather than stop and stay. And that, for someone with anxiety, is a BIG deal. She is more a part of me than I thought I could find in a friend. I envy the way she can take a simple thought I pen and send it back with such illustration, with words that give life to the slow death that is each passing hour. She is true beyond measure.

My blogging buddy and gracious friend Annabella, who sends me weekly emails just to remind me that in my closed-circuit world someone’s still ‘out there’ caring about me, has shown me that I need not apologize for things I want out of life. Her wit, her desire to be authentic and trust the Lord has helped me through much in the last few months. She sent me the most beautiful something, and it’s real, tangible, touching, authentic. I could send her all the ranting/cursing that this sailors mouth could conjure up and she’d still see ME. ME. What a blessing. She doesn’t allow for shallow self loathing or to skip over the what if’s. She allows me those, and challenges me to take my life and desires head on, which sometimes I/you/me/we need.

Deb, whose life and love and gentle nature, which bleeds through every post and tugs at my heart strings, has taught me the importance of being gentle, but even more so that being gentle, even quiet – does not make me a woman of weakness, but strength. Things don’t always need to be said. Words do not need to be written just for filler. Peace, quiet, and a gentle nature have more power than I ever knew. The struggles have not taken her love away, but magnified it ten fold, in the most wonderful way.

Each of these women I would cross the country for. Be there to pull their hair back from their eyes in those sad and mournful moments, hands held tightly no matter the miles apart. I would/do/will celebrate them and their accomplishments. They inspire. They love. They are all true and beautiful. 

*****

I read what I’ve penned – and stop. I picture that young woman I’ve been thinking so much about. She must have been strong, to love herself in spite of all those who were against her. Her challenges in this life most likely gave her a loving and loyal nature toward those who truly loved all of her. Those gentle smiling eyes no doubt lit every room. I’m sure that she touched many lives in ways she will never know. She has taught me what it means to BE COURAGEOUS. 

*****

Myself, last but not least, always has room in my heart for you. I am loyal, at times to a fault. I’m a lover of God, my husband and family and the diversity of all the women who make up that which is ‘me’. I am beautiful. I have value. What I lack in social graces I make up for in my writing. I’ve lived more than I should have, but it’s given me perspective. I see the cracks in my mirrored reflection as that which keeps me grounded rather than that which stops me in my tracks. Happiness is progress. Wholeness is healing through my pain, and not allowing it to break me. I’m me, and that’s a miraculous thing to accept, more so to love. 

Thank you to all of you, and some that I didn’t mention, for helping me to find myself. It’s a journey every woman needs to take, even if it’s kicking and screaming – which yes, I’ve done that too. Thank you for the love, acceptance, lessons, and humanity. 

***We. Are. One.***

Love, Freedom, Choice

I woke up weeping at 4:03am yesterday.

It was the kind of sadness one feels when there is loss which cannot be measured.

I looked around my room.

Baby, husband…

I wandered my house…all accounted for.

There is a heaviness in my soul for those who will wander their halls looking for their children.

They wake weeping for those they love.

I’m sure they search for answers as they view the empty bed, the deafening quiet.

I mourn with you. I cry for you. 

I was driving home with my husband and our youngest last night.

To the left, was the most vibrant rainbow.

Behind it was the dark and turbulent sky.

I thought of the young woman’s face I saw on television.

She was killed by a man who pledged to take her life.

Taken from this world by a monster.

A monster that craved vengeance above understanding.

I imagined what she would have given to this world.

My eyes filled with tears that burned my eyes.

May her face and all victims of terrorism not be forgotten.

*****

We all know what’s to come. No one is immune to the hatred that follows us, our freedom, our choice. 

A woman on the news begged to know where her son was. She didn’t distinguish life or death, just the need to know something, anything, about her child.

Young men and women carry a wounded friend away from the carnage, away from the death in hopes that he would survive.
The scenario repeated on our own soil is one I see often in the news from (not so) far away lands like Syria, Ukraine, Afghanistan, etc. They are at war, and it can only make sense to come to an understanding as a country, unified, that WE are at war. 

While people die we watch and hope it gets better. 
While mourners gather, we sit and watch.

I believe that every human being has the right to live a life of freedom, safety, and choice. 

I believe that every human being has the responsibility to do their part to make this world a safe place for those that cannot be free, do not have safety, and aren’t allowed to choose their own path.

I believe that freedom, our freedom, comes at a price. I see it daily. Hourly. The safety so many of us take for granted is being paid for by those who fight behind enemy lines, and ironically give up that same freedom to do it. With this freedom we as Americans have, there will always be those individuals, whether home or abroad, that want what we have or want to take it from us. They choose that. Let us not follow in their foot steps and choose to hate, vilify, and isolate. Let our lights shine brighter, show the victims and their families we are going to do more than just watch and sit idly by. Do something.

Just talking about these things solves absolutely nothing. No matter your views – if you want them to matter, to make change…get up and vote. Protest what you find wrong with this country and support the values you hold dear. If we don’t, we have no one to blame but the person staring back at us in the mirror. ***

The Butt Blog

 

 

Posting in the summer sun has been a bit of a challenge, both for my busy fingers, and fantabulious(?) frizzled hair. ( Only two weeks in…I think I need an assistant mama! ) I’m ready for fall/fall into bed/to fall off the responsible parent band wagon and begin bribing with candies! Yup, I so do that in the summer. Anything blue raspberry flavored is a big hit, or treats containing bugs. Gross yet effective.

Birdie is part of an invitation only math ‘prodigy’ class for the next month. As proud as I am and believe me I AM SO PROUD – I’m sad I can’t converse with her about all she’s learning. I.suck.at.math.

Summer is our season of random facts, in which I will happily share with you, my amazing minions, as I learn them.

Courtesy of Birdie
Turtles breathe out their butts.
I googled it.
The Australian White-throated Snapping Turtle does it to be specific. Because we wouldn’t want to make this claim about every turtle. It’s a rare thing indeed to breathe out ones butt. Let’s not get into the finer points of this fact but enjoy that my daughter found it at all. And I’m still laughing about it.

My son JJ likes to regurgitate the inappropriate comments (because he’s six yuh know) that our neighbors make. I’ve been getting schooled on the word ‘juicy‘ and how said word is used by a certain Mister neighbor to describe the Missus’ butt. JJ told me my butt was juicy this morning and I spray n’ washed his cute little face with my coffee.

*Have your kids or other small humans in your lives said anything you just can’t forget? Funny factoids? I’d love to read all about it!*