The fatigue hit Bessie on a bright day, one made for happiness, not for fraught thoughts of suicide. The reticent seventeen-year-old felt abject misery, knew the emotion was unreasonable, yet she was incapable of resisting the depression. “Why was I ever born? Was it so that I could suffer day after day, with no hope of some kind of reprieve in sight?” she typed on her Facebook post. She stared at the screen for some seconds, contemplating whether posting her comment would be wise, or ill-advised. “The trolls out there in cyberspace are far worse than those of myth,” she cautioned herself, finger hovering shakily over the ‘Post' button. Abruptly, as if ripping off an unwanted Band-Aid, she stabbed down on the keyboard. Seconds later, the post appeared on her timeline. It didn't take long for her Facebook friends to respond. Bessie was overwhelmed by the incoming comments that followed each other in rapid succession. The first one read: You were born to be loved, not to suffer. Reprieve might be out of sight, but believe me, it IS there! It was from her Science study buddy, Ghiyona. The next comment caused a catch in Bessie's throat: If you were never born, I would not have known such kindness. You were made to be loved, Bessie. This one was from her gay friend, Willie. Bessie started to cry softly, the pain in her heart feeling like a knife being shoved mercilessly deep into her soul. “I love you, Willie,” Bessie responded to his comment; she felt at a loss as to how to reply to Ghiyona's, so she simply attached a heart emoji to the girl's comment. More comments followed, each one listing reasons why Bessie should hold on to hope, fight against submitting to life's harshness, believe fervently in herself. As Bessie was about to log off Facebook, one more comment slid in under the post. It caused the distraught adolescent to pause. Your life was given to you as a gift. True, it is your right to accept or reject the gift, but why would anyone refuse to embrace what is more precious than treasure, more profound than the knowledge of the ancients? Why would you, Bessie, forget how inimitable you are, that there is literally no other quite like you? The comment continued for a few more lines, but Bessie's vision blurred because of the tears streaming down her face. She was confused, for the comment was from the one person Bessie was convinced hated her the most. The very person who had brought this despondent mood upon her, who had been relentlessly criticising her each day for the past two weeks. Bessie blew her nose and read the last part of the comment: You are stronger than you know, but that core of steel will carry you across all obstacles. Have faith, Bessie. Some hitherto hidden door of insight swung open widely in Bessie's mind. Her worst critic, her Maths lecturer, was also her greatest supporter…
How would life be without you? I struggle to imagine What would i do Without you guiding my footsteps Life is filled with ups and downs, but you have gotten me through them Roads with broken lanes, but you have helped me climb all the hurdles My past was pitiful I didn't have a direction nor did i have a plan but you came along and led me through the darkness Doubts resurface at times because i haven't seen you, but i know you're here with me Your wonders and glory are beyond what man can comprehend and see So marvelous, so true I cried unto you, and you answered my cry You turned my frown upside down and gave me a million reasons to be thankful I open my eyes I'm in awe of your love and compassion towards us I can't thank you enough, but i'll keep on thanking you I may not be able to express my thoughts very loud and clear, but i express it in the way i know to show my appreciation Father , i love you Always and forever. This is actually a poem i wrote for quite some time, but i was waiting for the right moment to post it. It talks about our Faith in Our Lord Jesus christ and generally of the journey of Christian faith. At times we as christians doubt, and that's human, but Jesus hasn't given us any reason to doubt us, as He shows it from His actions. He loves us with all our imperfections and flaws. I have gone through my fair share of never feeling good enough and like i was too damaged to even acknowledge God, but God doesn't see us as broken. He sees us as His children. As a christian, doubts comes but the only way we can overcome them is to pray. Jesus died for us, and there's no doubt about that. No matter how imperfect we think we are, He assures us that we are perfect and we are His children and that he'll always be there, in both good and bad times. This reflects genuine love and i'm happy that i can call Him my father. Follow christ and you'll genuinely experience the true meaning of happiness and the future Jesus has planned just for you, his child and remember, Jesus loves you.
“We've been over this, Leah," Cole told me for probably the hundredth time. "I'm not about to do that to you.” “But you wouldn't be doing it to me," I argued, determined to convince him of the merits of a long-distance relationship. "You'd be doing it for me." “Go ahead and rationalize, but I can tell you now it's not going to change my mind.” Cole sighed and kissed me on the forehead when he saw I was pouting. “Come on, Lee. We've talked about this. You're gonna go off to college soon, where I'm sure you'll meet a lot of great guys. I don't want you to miss out on anything just because you feel obligated to stay with me.” “It's not like that, though. I want to stay with you. I love you, Cole.” “I love you too, Lee. But trying to maintain a relationship when we're thousands of miles apart… it just isn't feasible.” “Are you afraid I'm going to cheat on you or something? Because I swear I would never-” “Who said anything about cheating,” he asked, confused. “No one, I just… I know that's a common fear people have when it comes to long-distance relationships.” “Not me,” he asserted. “That's the least of my worries.” “You mean you trust me that much,” I asked, touched. “Well, yeah. Of course. But I also just know you don't….” Cole stopped talking suddenly as something occurred to him. “You know I don't what,” I pressed, feeling my heart start to race. “I just… I meant that you… that I know you don't….” Cole looked like he was trying hard to come up with something to say. Though Cole hadn't answered me, the flush in his cheeks and his refusal to meet my gaze told me all I needed to know. “How long have you known,” I asked him quietly. He took a second before responding. “I… have had my suspicions for a while now, but I didn't feel comfortable making that kind of assumption,” he admitted, somewhat sheepishly. I fell silent as I considered how this new information might affect our relationship. It was a long moment before I mustered up the courage to finally ask him my next question. “So… knowing what you do now… that doesn't… change the way you feel about me?” I resisted the urge to cover my ears, afraid of what his answer might be. “I mean, I know there are certain… expectations that come with being in a relationship, and there are, you know… needs that have to be met, and I'm just not sure that I can-” “Don't be ridiculous, Leah.” To my utter confusion, Cole laughed. “This isn't funny,” I told him, irritated. “I'm being serious.” “I know you are. I am too.” “Then why-” “I don't know what it's going to take to get you to believe me, so I guess I'll just keep saying it until you do. I love you, Leah Rose. I love everything about you, and I do mean everything. And I would never, ever pressure you into doing something that you didn't want to do.” The expression on his face was so intense it was almost a little scary. “I need to know you understand that, Leah. Please tell me you do.” “I… I don't….” Much to my dismay, I burst into tears and started sobbing into my hands. “Sweetheart, what's wrong,” Cole demanded, clearly concerned. He wrapped his arms around me in a tight embrace. “Nothing,” I wailed, sobbing into his chest. “So then why are you crying?” It took me a second to compose myself enough to answer him. “Because I'm just so happy right now,” I sniffled, swiping at my eyes. Cole released me then, and I looked up to see that he was smiling and shaking his head at me. “Come here, you.” Before I could react, he pulled me closer, holding me tight against his chest. Cole gently tilted my chin up to kiss me lightly on the forehead.
This is a story of meeting the girl I know as my sunflower, who grew and filled a hole in my heart I didn't think could be filled. At the time, I was still coming out of a relationship with my previous girlfriend of 3 years. Yeah. Big change and a lot of pain. I was depressed plain and simple. She sat in front of me in the wind ensemble I was a part of. I spent most of my days staring at the back of her head. The few times I saw her without her mask on in the room, I found her to be beautiful. She was so far beyond that to my eyes. Due to the fact I didn't know her, we didn't talk for the longest time. Some higher power must have interfered. That is my only explanation for the sudden failure of my friend's gall bladder that resulted in surgery. Don't worry, she's fine. Her surgery did however give away a crucial duet part that this lovely girl in front of me played with my friend. I had a similar enough instrument and ended up playing the part. Flute Girl, as most people do, actually had a name. Sabrina played the duet at the beginning of Solas Ane by Samuel Hazo. I joined her on a low saxophone transposition, and the music made together was beyond perfection. Our music intertwined, connected, and met in the air. The twisting chords were similar to two angelic beings flying in perfect synchronicity. The music was heartbreak, hope, love, and joy. Everything that made life worthwhile compressed into a form of sound you could reach up and touch in the air. Some people mention love at first sight. I experienced love at first note. Every practice session we had brought our souls closer and closer together. The time came for the concert and we were still uncertain how we felt about each other because we hadn't really spent all that much time together. Dear reader, that night at the concert? I have never, in my nine years of music education, felt more in tune with someone. The first notes of the duet began with us together. Every practice we held hadn't even come close to the sheer power I felt from our unity. We didn't just make music, I fell into her sound and she fell into mine. As we played, our notes held one another and rejoiced in the company of kindred souls. We kissed without ever touching and we held on tight to an auditory love that had never graced the ears of man. I knew at that moment that we had to be together.
When my son reached his 17th birthday, he was diagnosed with ulcerated colitis. By the time he was 19, he was rushed to the hospital with severe anemia. His colitis began to cause bleeding ulcers. His hemoglobin count was down to five when it should have been 13. Two pints of blood later and a seven day stay in the hospital, l he was released with a hemoglobin count of 11. At the beginning of 2011, the colitis took control, and the decision was made. My son would have a colostomy. He wasn't happy. After all, he was only 45 years old. A colostomy bag was the last thing he wanted. Yet, on June 1st of that year, that's what happened. He had a full ileostomy. However, that wasn't the end of the problems - only the beginning. For the next three years he was in and out of the hospital with one procedure, or surgery, or infection after another. Finally, his health began to stabilize, and he seemed to be getting better but still hated that colostomy bag. In December of 2011, my mom had an accident which forced her to reassess her living conditions. She realized that she could no longer live alone, and in January of 2012, she packed her things and moved in with me. After we cleared out her house, we put it on the market. Mom was recovering nicely from her accident but still needed the use of a walker to get around. My son's house is about 3 hours away from mine which enabled us to visit often It didn't matter that I am his mother and my mother his grandmother. He was mortified every time the colostomy bag began to fill. He would leave the room and hide in his bedroom until the sound and odor dissipated - which often was about 30 minutes While we were busy socializing with his wife and children, we were unaware of the colostomy bag. Unfortunately, he was, and it made him extremely uncomfortable. Early in 2013 a friend began doing research on colostomy bags and found a doctor who specialized in a different kind of procedure. it's called the Barnett Continent Intestinal Reservoir Koch Pouch – or B.C.I.R. At that time there was only one doctor in Florida who could do this surgery. My son made the appointment, and it was determined that surgery would be scheduled for August of 2013. The procedure is a reconstruction of the small intestine using about two feet at the end to create a small internal pouch. The stoma is no wider than a #2 pencil which enables the pouch to get emptied a few times a day using a catheter. No noise, no smell, no mess! My son was thrilled. His stay in the hospital was about seven days but he insisted during that time we bring his grandmother for a visit. “Mom, I want grandma to see that I'm OK. After all I've been through and all her prayers, she deserved to spend some time with me, and I really want to see her.” I loaded mom's walker in the car and help her climb in the front seat. The hospital was only two hours from my house, and mom and I passed that time easily since she had many questions about his surgery. Once in the hospital, we pulled a chair closer to his bed and while holding his hand, grandmother and grandson spent the next hour gloriously talking about health and family. The nurse came in a few minutes later and reminded my son he needed to get out of bed and walk. Lying in bed wasn't good for anyone so I encouraged him to follow the nurse's orders. He was still hooked up to an IV, the urinal bag, and a heart monitor. Anytime he left the bed, the pole with all the bags went with him. Looking at the pole my son spoke up. “Hey Grandma, since I have to walk for exercise why don't you come with me? I have my pole; you have your walker. we could race up and down the hallway.” My mom laughed. “I don't know about racing, but I'll take a walk with you.” For the next 15 minutes grandma and grandson walked the halls of the hospital, chatting and enjoying each other's company. Once back in his room, he lay in bed, my mom sat in the chair, and they talked and laughed about how they must have looked with him pushing his pole and mom pushing her walker. Our visit lasted another 30 minutes and my son looked as though he was about to fall asleep. I suggested we leave since mom also looked tired and I had to make sure she had the strength to withstand the ride down the elevator and the walk to the car. We still had a two-hour drive home. We left the hospital and walked slowly, stopping periodically for mom to regain her strength and her breath. After all, mom was 92 years old, and her stamina wasn't what it used to be. As soon as we got in the car, she perked up and said, “Can we stop at McDonald's? I'd love a cheeseburger!” That's mom! My son was released a few days later and the first thing mom wanted to do is visit him at his home. Mom may be gone now, and my son is healed, but I'll never forget that day in the hospital when grandson and grandmother had their Walker Derby. It definitely was a sight to behold and one I'll cherish forever.
Writing has always been something I have loved doing. I mostly use it as a coping tool in my life since I was young and over the last several years I have strayed from it. One of my dreams has always been to write a novel, not publish though. I just want the satisfaction of having written one but do not want anyone to actually read it. I am always afraid of letting people into my mind, not for fear of what is in my mind, rather, fear of giving parts of myself away. I decided that I am tired of not doing something I love out of fear of others thoughts because there is nothing I can do about that and I am only holding myself back. At the age of 32 I have finally decided to not let something I love only be a part of the negativity in my life because there is no logic in that. I anticipate most of my writing will be depressive but for me that is good. It is the only way I know how to heal from my pain no matter how much it may be in my head. It is the only way that I know how to free myself from my depression, anxiety and general frustrations of life because, lets be honest, life is not easy for anybody. We all have pain and we all struggle with something and it is all relative to our own life. This is how I know how to heal and continue in a forward motion. I am excited for the new journey I am taking and hope to one day actually write a book. Maybe I will even publish but at this point I am happy with the baby steps I am taking, with Biopage being the first. I created my first public writing a moment ago and it was for the writing contest. The moment I submitted I felt such pride in myself and excitement for what that represented for me. I have no fantasy of winning or even of anybody reading it but the fact that I even did it has made me feel so good. I currently have zero followers and am following nobody but I am here and I am proud. I never would have thought I would actually have the courage to write publicly and right now I don't even care if it is any good. I should have been asleep hours ago because I do have a toddler and work in the morning but I wanted to make sure I documented this pride in myself because it has been a while since I have felt any pride in myself outside of being a mother. That is not to say being a mother is not the best thing I have ever done but only to say I have to remember I am also an individual outside of my beautiful family. I am something outside of work and cooking dinners and running a household. I am worth the time to myself to use my desk that has been sitting here gathering dust and I will make myself proud. My family deserves the best from me and I am not at my best when I not writing.
It's hard to pinpoint the exact moment I started having issues with my body image or self esteem, because those struggles are typically culminations of years of negative experiences, self-doubt or blatant insults regarding one's physical appearance. I have had people tell me I am ‘skinny', I have had people my own age and older point out love handles and cellulite, I have also had people grow frustrated and angry at my struggle with seeing myself on camera. People's negative words stubbornly lived in my mind, while compliments I would receive from friends and family were just them “being nice”. When I started allowing the opinions of others to dictate my own view of myself I can't remember, but I can remember when I first started slipping into extremely dangerous, harmful and unhealthy habits. Comparison- we all fall victim to it in some form or another. Whether we are comparing looks, financial status, career or success, we are inadvertently telling ourselves that we are lacking something- that we are not measuring up in some (or all) categories. I first started comparing myself to my friends in middle school. I went to private school, and most of my friends lived in nice houses and were well off. I did not and my family was not. So, there was that. I also realized I was a lot less calm and cool than my friends, louder and, in many people's eyes, just annoying. I remember a boy in my 6th grade class telling me, in front of a group of other kids that, “nobody likes you.” It was a real vote of confidence. I was still lucky, though, because I did have a small group of really supportive friends. Unfortunately, I could not understand why they wanted to be my friends, and I compared myself to them, too. There was a time when I wanted to take pictures with my friends; I even wanted to take pictures of myself. Sure, I had my negative thoughts about not being as pretty as my friends, or pretty enough for the boys in my grade, but I owned who I was and had not yet been infected by the idea that because I didn't look perfect, I was inferior. So one night in 2012, my little 11 year old self posted a picture of myself on the then relatively new instagram. I remember getting hyped up by some of my really sweet friends, but my gratitude quickly disappeared when three boys, simultaneously (they were all friends, and apparently couldn't do anything alone?) commented “ugly”. These boys- who were a very bland spectacle- were popular, well-liked and put on a pedestal by me and other girls. Whether they were ‘joking' or not is unknown and honestly irrelevant, but I was not in on the joke, I was the butt of it. I think I deleted the picture shortly after. While I battled my fair share of self-doubt in middle school, I graduated from 8th grade relatively unscathed and with a decent amount of self-love left. High school was a whole other animal. Again, I had some really good friends, but they couldn't always be there. I definitely looked on the outside how I felt on the inside- nervous, vulnerable and uncomfortable in my own body. And I think some people preyed on that. I was never physically hurt, but rude and personal comments, along with snickers as I would pass by certain people in the hallway were enough to cut through what I had once thought was thick skin. Even with my loving friends and family, my anxiety and essential lack of confidence started to prevail. Somewhere around the end of freshman year, I started to eat. A lot. I was depressed, hurt and empty. In a time where most people my age were savoring youth through football games, and school sports/clubs, I was tucked away in my room, because I truly reached the point where I wanted to stay there. I missed school a lot because of this, and my lovely, incredibly strong mom did not completely understand, but offered endless love and support. This love and support led to me finally seeing a professional about my issues when I was a sophomore, and I did find a lot of peace in that. However, I still had deep rooted issues that I was not addressing. Around the beginning of senior year, things had picked up in terms of socializing, but I had found a new enemy: myself. Once I would get my eating habits on the right track, I would have a bad day and fall right back into my old ways; it wasn't simply physical, it was mental. Eventually, I started making myself vomit, and I would abuse laxatives. I was hurting my mind and my body. This went on for about two years, until I finally reached the point where I couldn't do it to myself anymore. Who am I doing this for?, I asked myself. The answer: not me. I had been so caught up in making sure I was living up to what I thought others wanted, that I had neglected the 11 year old girl inside of me who felt ugly and needed love. I don't think I could do that to her again- I love her too much. This is me closing that door once and for all. I still have struggles, but I know one thing now: I am enough, and I always have been.
It is beautiful day, a memorable one to you my dear. A reminder of how far you have come in your life and the great things God has done for you. Penninah, it is a more than a year since i met you at your work place, a memory that stuck with me to this very day. Through a flash back, your gesture of kindness and hospitality, touched my heart as you placed a sticker of your smile and warm aura in my mind. I found you so attractive and desired your affection.... only to learn that you were expecting a blessing of a child. Yes, my warmths deemed a little bit until i realized that my touching base with you was divine, natural and beyond attention seeking. A warm ecstatic feeling about you gave me the reassurance, a hope for your love and affection was rekindled, a hope to be part of your blessing Ethan and more importantly a hope to be part of your life. Penninah my beautiful love, today is special, not only to you but to me as well, it is a rare opportunity for me to be chanced to wish you a HAPPY BIRTHDAY. It is an opportunity for you to reflect on life and be thankful. This BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION is special not because it is an addition of another upon your life, but because it is an opportunity for you to look around you and see the good things God has done for you and more importantly his faithfulness upon your own life; --You have to be thankful for the blessing of Ethan and an opportunity for you to whisper to him how happy you are to celebrate your birthday when he is in your life. --You also have to be thankful for having wonderful people around you especially those whom God has place in your life to uplift your spirit when you are down, inspire you, love you and guide you. Knowing you has so far been the most heart warming experience of my life though we have not yet met to share in a moment of Ecstasy, something i am certain will happen. May you live to see more of God's favor upon your life as you age gracefully... Please take note: 1. "Some beautiful paths can't be discovered without getting lost." 2. "There are far better things ahead than the ones we leave behind." 3. "Stay youthful by taking care of your mind, body, and soul." 4. "Be patient and understanding with everyone." 5. "Humble's thoughts are; LIVE to LEARN to LOVE~" You are loved, you are desired, you are my warmest thoughts. -- HAPPY BIRTHDAY --
When my son reached his 17th birthday, he was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. The doctor put him on a diet, and we hoped for the best. By the time he was 19, he was rushed to the hospital with severe anemia. His colitis began to cause bleeding ulcers. His hemoglobin was down to a count of 7 when it should have been 13. Two pints of blood later and a seven-day stay in the hospital, he was released with a hemoglobin count of 11. The rest was up to us. He had been placed on one medication after another to keep the colitis under control. For a while, everything was working, not great but at least tolerably. At the beginning of 2011, the colitis took control and the decision was made. My son would have a colostomy. He wasn't happy. After all, he was only 45-years old. A colostomy bag was the last thing he wanted. Yet, on June 1 of that year, that's what happened. He had a full ileostomy. However, that wasn't the end of the problems – only the beginning. For the next three years, he was in and out of the hospital with one procedure, or surgery, or infection after another. Finally, his health began to stabilize and he seemed to be getting better but still hated that colostomy bag. In December of 2011, my mom had an accident which forced her to reassess her living conditions. She realized that she could no longer live alone, so in January of 2012, she packed her things and moved in with me. After we cleared out her house, we put it on the market. Mom was recovering nicely from her accident but still needed a walker to get around. My son's house was about three hours away from mine, so we were able to visit often. It didn't matter that I am his mother and my mother, his grandmother. He was mortified every time the colostomy bag began to fill. He would leave the room and hide in his bedroom until the sound and odor dissipated – which often was about 30-minutes. Early in 2013, a friend began doing research on colostomy bags and found a doctor who specialized in a different kind of procedure. It's called the Barnett Continent Intestinal Reservoir Koch Pouch – or B.C.I.R. At that time, there was one doctor in Florida who could do this surgery. My son made the appointment and it was determined that surgery would be scheduled for August of 2013. The procedure is a reconstruction of the small intestine using about two feet at the end to create a small internal pouch. The stoma is no wider than a #2 pencil which enables the pouch to get emptied a few times a day using a catheter. No noise, no smell, no mess. My son was thrilled. His stay in the hospital was about seven days but he insisted during that time we bring his grandmother for a visit. “Mom, I want grandma to see that I'm ok. After all I've been through and all her prayers, she deserves to spend some time with me, and I really want to see her.” I loaded mom's walker in the car and helped mom climb in the front seat. The hospital was two hours from my house and mom and I past that time easily since she had many questions about his surgery. Once in the hospital, we pulled a chair closer to his bed and while holding hands, grandmother and grandson spent the next hour, gloriously talking about health and family. The nurse came in a few minutes later and reminded my son he needed to get out of bed and walk. Lying in bed wasn't good for anyone so I encouraged him do follow the nurse's orders. He was still hooked up to an IV, the urinal bag, and a heart monitor. Anytime he left the bed, the pole with all the bags went with him. Looking at the pole, my son spoke up. “Hey Grandma, since I have to walk for exercise, why don't you come with me? I have my pole; you have your walker. We could race up and down the hallway.” My mom laughed. “I don't know about racing, but I'll take a walk with you.” For the next fifteen minutes, grandma and grandson walked the halls of the hospital, chatting, and enjoying each other's company. Once back in his room, he sat in bed, my mom sat in a chair and they talked and laughed about how they must have looked, with him pushing his pole and mom pushing her walker. Our visit lasted another 30 minutes and my son looked as though he was about to fall asleep. I suggested we leave since mom also looked tired and I had to make sure she had the strength to withstand the ride down the elevator and the walk to the car. We still had a two-hour drive home. We left the hospital and walked slowly, stopping periodically for mom to regain her strength and her breath. After all, mom was 92 years old and her stamina wasn't what it used to be. As soon as we got in the car, she perked up and said, “Can we stop at McDonald's? I'd love a cheeseburger!”. That's mom! My son was released a few days later and the first thing mom wanted to do was visit him at his home. They walked around his house for exercise and while she still used her walker, he no longer had a pole to push around.
Mom was only fifteen when she met my dad – to be more specific, when she first saw him. He was doubled over gasping for air, lying in the street when she saw a crowd huddled over something. She walked over to see what the fuss was about and saw what she described as the handsomest boy she'd ever seen. Dad's hair was dark-blond, and his eyes were milk chocolate brown. Her heart melted as she watched him struggle to catch his breath. He had been playing hockey with his friends and his stick hit a slightly raised manhole cover, got stuck, and as he tried to skate by, jammed him in the stomach, knocking the wind out of him causing him to curl into a ball and lie on the ground. Mom cried out, “Don't let him lie in the street. He'll get hit by a car. Carry him to the sidewalk.” Dad's friends first looked at mom like she'd lost her mind but then realized she made her point. The carried dad the few feet to safety. She wouldn't leave his side as his breath began to normalize. Mom held his hand and talked almost non-stop to help him relax. It worked. His breath steadied and soon, he asked, “What's your name and where do you live?” Mom smiled. “Mary and actually, just around the corner.” Dad walked her home and asked if she'd like to hang out with him and his friends later that night. “We're only going to the candy store for some soda; it's nothing special.” To mom, it was more than special. He didn't have to ask her twice. As I said, mom was 15. Dad was 14 but neither cared. They were inseparable as the years passed. Dad eventually joined the Navy and when home on leave, married mom. To say they were happy is a mild statement. Dad was mom's world and dad idolized mom. Their love was obvious to anyone who saw them look at each other. One day, tragedy struck. A few days before dad's 65th birthday, he had a stroke which paralyzed his left side. With therapy, he gained the use of his legs, but his left arm remained useless. That didn't stop them from enjoying their lives together. With a modified steering wheel, he was once again able to drive and took mom on many vacations which included Montauk NY, Virginia Beach VA, and Baltimore MD. When dad turned 71, he stumbled and fell. It was determined that he experienced a TIA – mini stroke. While dad lay in the hospital, an astute nurse noticed something with dad that wasn't quite right. She prompted the doctor to order a few tests. The diagnosis was stage 4 colon cancer. The doctor told mom that dad had about 8 months to live. We were horrified. Trying to extend dad's life, we agreed to an ileostomy but when it was performed, it proved fruitless. Dad died six weeks after that procedure. Mom was devastated. Not too many years later, I noticed mom began forgetting things. It was subtle but the signs were there. She repeated herself a little too often; she'd forget where she put her purse; she'd call me two or three times a day but never remembered why, etc. Eventually, mom moved in with me. Her dementia was much worse but still tolerable. She could hold small conversations and create full sentences. One day as mom and I reminisced, I asked her to tell me something about dad. She looked horrified as she asked, “I was married?” How could she have forgotten dad? Did she know me? I asked her who I was and answered correctly. That was a relief, so I backtracked to help her remember dad. “Mom, do you remember that handsome young sailor from years ago?” Within seconds, her eyes glowed with love and remembrance. “Oh, yes, my Frankie!” “Mom, he was your husband.” She sat there for a few silent minutes then in a soft voice said, “That's right. I married my Frankie. My sailor. How I cried when he got sick and died.” That was the last full sentence mom said. The dementia took hold in a big way. Mom died not long after. I was reminded of an old Buck Owens song, “Together Again”. Thank you, Buck Owens for writing and performing a song that has become so very dear to me as I think of my parents holding hands and walking forever side by side. For my mom's funeral, I printed a photo of my parents the last time they were together and modified Owens' song to read: Together again her tears have stopped falling; Her long lonely nights are now at an end. The key to her heart he held in his hands And nothing else matters they're together again Together again her gray skies are gone; She's back in his arms now where she belongs. The love that they knew is living again, And nothing else matters they're together again.
I remember the first time I saw him. I was in his apartment. I was somewhat dating his roommate, and it was my first time at his place. I was sitting on the couch, when he came from behind me. “My girlfriend gets me flowers, and all I have a is a beer bottle to put it in” he joked. He had thick black kinky hair, sharp facial features, scrawny. I instantly fell for his loud objectionable laugh. It's a funky phenomenon, isn't it? Love at first sight. But I felt it. I felt it with him. He was wearing a Cosby like sweater, and baggy jeans. It was the year 1999, and we were dumb but didn't know it. I was 16. He was 24. I had met his friend through work. I was a caterer through a company in town. We mostly did low budget weddings. The food was simple - baked chicken, roast beef, sometimes fish. I was lucky enough to work with a few good friends. We would spend our breaks, flirting with the kitchen crew, and smoking cigarettes in the back of the box truck. We would hike up our skirts in hopes to gain some under the table tips from drunk old party goers. We would sometimes sneak a glass of champagne. The guy I was dating at the time, worked in the kitchen. We only dated very briefly and the only date I remember was a trip to the movies, and to Wendys for a frosty, which was my request - I was a cheap date. He truly was a very nice guy. A nice guy who was much older than me, a little rough around the edges, and had a child and an ex wife. Our relationship - or lack there of - quickly fizzled out. Which was fine by me, because remember- I was in madly love with his roommate. Luckily, even though things didn't work out with us, I was able to keep in touch with his roommate via mutual friends. And come to find out, he felt the same about me as I did him, and maybe even more. We spent hours chatting online, through chat messaging. He was all I ever thought about, day in and day out. He convinced me that no one on this planet could love me more than he did. I believed it to be true, because at that time - it absolutely was. But remember, I was only 16. He was 8 years older than me. As much as I wanted him, as much as I craved him - I was too practical. What would my parents say? What would my friends say? No one would would imagine that a 24 year old could genuinely love a 16 year old. So, years went by and I continued to keep myself away. I didn't let myself do what I wanted - I didn't let him do what he wanted. We dated other people. We maybe even loved other people. But we always came back to each other. Years later, I found myself in college. I had a rough night - had too much to drink. I was in the city - he was home, about 30 min away. I called him, I told him to come get me - that I needed him. He said, “listen, you're drunk. You don't know what you are saying. Go home, call me when you get there” I didn't let him hang up. I convinced him to come get me. And he did. He picked me up and drove me to his place. Everything was foggy. I had drank too much - but I knew exactly what I was doing, and I knew exactly where I was. We got back to his place, and I crawled into his bed. He got in next to me, laying down by my side. I could smell him. I wanted to feel him. I loved this man with all my heart - with all my everything. I wanted to show him how much I treasured him, and treasured all our years together. We had never been together like this. And then we made love. We didn't have sex, we didn't fuck, no - we made love. We melted into each other. I told him I loved him over and over, and he told me the same. I had never felt that way before, and I haven't since. Ours is a story that never turned into a story. A relationship never fully realized, always from a distance. But it was ours. He was my secret - a special treasure I wanted to keep to myself. He was all mine. He was sacred to me. Unfortunately by the time I was smart enough to realize this, he had moved on. And though I do not blame him now - I did then. Many years of pursuing a love that wont take the chance proved exhausting. There were times in those first few years, that I would think of him, and my chest would get so heavy, and the tears would swell up. I would find myself feeling like I had lost something that would never be found again. Those ugly words, “the one that got away” would ring in my head. But life moves on, and I have as well. I no longer hear a song and think of him. I am no longer swimming in regret, there are no more what ifs. But I will always hold a place in my heart, body and soul for him, and I hope he is doing the same for me.
I made mistakes and bad choices. I made poor decisions in life. Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and reverse my actions. I have been stubborn, selfish, hard-headed, indecisive. I took so many risks without considering the risks at all. I love too much and fall so hard. I do my best at work and get so little in return. I trust so much and get hurt too often. I enjoy the company of others and the comfort of solitude. I make my friends smile and laugh yet I can't even make myself happy. I can give hard-core advice but I can't even solve my own dilemmas. I am a living irony. My world is my stage. And it seems like everyone's enjoying the show. Except me. Maybe in my next lifetime, I'll be the woman that I dreamed to be. Maybe I'll find closure to all the hanging questions in my head. Maybe. For now, I'll just live in irony.
You never know how things will turn out or how they might affect your life when they do. My husband was one of nine children. While growing up, they were a very close-knit group of siblings. Once marriage and children began taking each away from the group, the relationships became somewhat distant. Several moved to other states, some were too busy raising their own children. Others, like my husband, were not telephone people. If someone called him, that would be fine, but he was not the kind to make the call. He still is not. All too often, one sibling would call the rest and relay any news but often, just to keep us all in touch. Through the years, as life demands, we all aged and, the siblings began to succumb to illness: one was by heart attack, another by complication of rheumatoid arthritis, still there was that dreaded cancer. Jerry left us a few years ago leaving behind two sisters and two brothers, one of which is my husband, Richard. When I married into the family, I was never treated as an in-law. I was treated with the same love, warmth, and respect as they treated each other but then, none of the in-laws were treated as outsiders. The family was always that close, even as the miles pushed us apart. As I said, Jerry left us a few years ago. When I met him, he was tall, husky (not fat just, well, husky), jovial, and loving. He lived in New York; we were and still are in Florida. While we did not see each other often, there were the monthly phone calls. Then the calls began to change. Jerry was diagnosed with cancer and it did not look good. His doctor said he might live six years, six months, six days. His cancer was aggressive. Jerry lived fourteen months. His son called a few days before he died, and I advised my husband to fly to New York. I was taking care of my invalid mom who lived with us and could not make the trip with him. Jerry died while my husband was there. It was almost as if he waited for his brother for a final goodbye. A few days later, my husband called and said he was on his way home and gave me his flight information. When I picked him up at the airport, he was toting a very, large box – one he did not have when he left. Jerry's urn? It was one of Jerry's requests that he be buried in the Gulf of Mexico, a place he dearly loved to visit, which he did as often as possible. The following day, Rich called his friend who had a gulf-worthy boat; ours was only for shallow water. John was eager to volunteer his assistance in this sad undertaking and said he would be honored to take my husband to bury his brother. The sea-burial was set for the following day. When Rich arrived at John's house with Jerry's ashes, John handed Rich a dozen long-stemmed, white roses. “You can't send him off with nothing. Hope these'll do,” John said. They were better than, “they'll do”. About two weeks later, we received a large package, delivered by UPS. It was a beautiful painting of a small row of houses set on the water. With it was a note from Jerry's children (all five adults) saying, “Dad never told anyone that his hobby was painting. He was always afraid of criticism. Going through his paintings, we found this one and we knew, since you live on the water and love to fish, he would want you to have it. Please accept this from dad and all of us in gratitude for everything you did for him and us while you were here. We all love you.” Each of his children signed the card. They could have kept the painting to remember their dad but chose, what, to others might have seemed a simple gesture of thanks, was, to my husband, a world of love. The painting hangs prominently on the wall in our dining room for everyone to see. It is just a simple reminder of the love between two brothers and the closeness they, with their other siblings shared throughout the years. While I was not able to attend the sea-burial, John was kind and compassionate enough to take a photograph for me. I did at the beginning of my marriage and probably will always feel, even after all this time, that being part of the Brennan family is something to be cherished, never taken for granted. We still have my husband, one brother, Bill, two sisters, Pat, and Joan. Phone calls are now more frequent and finally, finally after all this time, my husband (after slight encouragement from me) will pick up the phone and make those calls. We only live once and should vow to remain close to our siblings. You just never know how things might turn out and those we love will be taken from us affecting us in ways we cannot even at time imagine. So, my dear friend and brother, Jerry, until we meet again, even after these passing years, we still have your painting, the photograph, and loving memories of the wonderful person you were, a loving and caring man. Not a day passes that we do not think of you with love and affection.
Why is the first thing that someone says is, “What do you do?” In a profession alot of times this is a great conversation starter, but I have felt awkward when I have been asked this. Immediately my mind is trying to find the best answer. This bothers me. I feel like what I do for a living does not define who I am as a person or measure my success. The world that we live in has created an image to others that success is hugely career based. I strongly disagree with this. Success is not measured by what we do for a living and it looks different for everyone. My definition of success is loving myself, having a good heart, and loving others. It's my willingness to learn and positive attitude. It's the way I treat others and my family. It's surviving another day as a mom and loving every second-even the ugly ones. It's not about my career at all. Your success will look much different than mine but we should all be happy in knowing that we all have what it takes to be successful. It's funny because when I do make a new acquaintance, I want to hear about them and their story, not what they do. It takes that assesment of others and how we compare ourselves to them out of the picture completely and allows me to enjoy our conversation more. Be mindful of how you measure success, especially your own.
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