June 11, 2012

Home Sweet Home

I drive down our street,coming home from work.. Three young boys toss a football in the middle of the road. It is their street and they own it, yet are wise enough to step back for passing cars. Their mother stands in the front yard, calling out, surely reminding them to be careful. She loves them. Trunk open and packages in her arms another women dodges the affection of her ecstatic German Shepard. She's home! She's home! The glue that holds us together, the sweet moments in life.I hold in my hands the sweet moments of coming home after a day of school or work. Grateful for unbroken rhythms of the day. The relief of coming home to dogs wagging their tails and even the sigh of yet another meal to prepare. Lexi in her favorite rainbow colored animal print pajama bottoms stretched out on the floor in front of the television. Home for the day and clothed in comfort. Homework undone, but time to relax. Struggles and worries put to the back burner until the alarm goes off to start another day of school. Ashley, her long blond hair weaving in and out of the rungs of the chair, chatting and laughing with her best friend Grace. She never seems to worry, she just plans her day, expecting it to meet her expectations.

House Dreams

There I go again dreaming of a house. What is it with me and houses anyway?

This dream was quite different from my normal house dream about the same house over and over, year after year. I am not sure if it was the same house I always dream about, because it did seem different. My impression is that the room was a honey hued yellow and there was a bed in it with a cream colored bedspread. A window let in daylight. There were other people in the room with me, but I feel that my Dad was the person I was focused on, but somehow I felt that my husband Dan was there, too. In a way they kind of melded together. Out of the corner of my eye I had the creepy sensation that there was some kind of scary thing that I would get a glimpse of coming out of an electrical outlet. What appeared to be a tiny white bearded gnome with a red hat, slithered in and out of the outlet. It looked like the gnome that Travelosity uses in their commercials, but he was definitely not that happy go lucky fellow. This guy was scary. The Dad/Dan person in the room noticed that I saw this gnome and acknowledged that they had seen it, too, and that it was not just my imagination. He said that it had been larger and was shrinking in size. Somehow, I knew that this was a good sign.

As always I looked at the walls in the house dream. They were a slightly damaged, but I turned an ambiguous shoulder and walked away. It didn't seem to matter anymore.

I thought about that little gnome as I took my walk this evening. In my dream I remember that at first I looked away when I noticed the little creepy thing popping out of the wall. I did not want to acknowledge it and make it real. I forced myself to face the scary thing and accept that it was really there. I imagined the little gnome diminishing in size and finally being sucked into the outlet until he was no more.

Mo Anam Cara

The short attractive redhead walked into the shop on a whim, searching for wedding bands. I could see a light of happiness shining in her eyes. Our conversation revealed that she was a mother and had been divorced for seven years. The man she was marrying had entered her life soon after she was divorced, but they eventually parted ways, renewing their relationship years later.

"There is a ring that is used in Ireland as a traditional wedding band engraved with the words "mo anam cara". I showed her the sterling ring engraved with those words and a Claddagh. "What does it mean ?" she asked as she slipped the ring on her finger. "It's Gaelic for "my soul mate", I answered. She visibly trembled and said that years ago when she and her fiance were first dating she had been told by a psychic that the man she was with was her soul mate. After they parted ways she thought of that moment often, but since they were no longer together , she felt that it must not be true. There are times when you know that something special has transpired even if you are only on the periphery of the experience.

Calling our husband or wife our soul mate is a common expression. I hear it all the time and sell many of the mo cara anam rings as wedding bands. This time it was special, because the conviction that long ago someone told her this man was her soul mate. They parted ways only to come back together again, because it was meant to be. A serendipitous trip to an Irish store brought her to the rings that made the statement that cemented the foundation of her relationship with her soon to be husband.

September 20, 2009


One day when my husband was very sick I just couldn't stand it anymore. I had just left the pharmacy for what seemed like the tenth time in less than a month, picking up yet another prescription. As I drove along the winding road behind a strip mall, the pressure began building up inside of me to the point I thought I would explode into a million pieces. So I screamed as loud and long as I could. My throat raw and the blood pounding in my head,I felt like I had discovered my secret pressure release valve. Suddenly, I understood why angry young men threw bricks through windows, or teenage girls took razors and cut themselves, the release, the blessed release. During the last year of my husband's life, I screamed in the privacy of my car all the time. Sometimes, I even screamed a bad word over and over. Every day was a damn emergency.For ten years, I felt like a rubber band stretched between thumb and forefinger, ready to shoot across the room, or the world.

After the final chemo that sucked all but the last inch of life from him, Dan hung on for two more months, by the pure tenacious grit that defined him. His mind denying the inevitable, his body succumbed. Our daughters, old enough to know what was going on, and young enough to want to hide away, watched the misery of their Daddy's death. I've yet to reconcile that cruel fact.

The end of life ritual began and ended. The last of the relatives were crushed with heartfelt embraces and drove off in their rental car to the airport. We waved goodbye, closed the front door and went back to a different life.

The next few weeks were spent letting daylight back into the house. I purged every room that screamed or even whispered evidence of illness or death. I destroyed cancer's shrine. Then, spread out on a bed of fresh sheets, I melted like hot wax, into corners unihabited for a decade.

September 12, 2009

Turn the Page

I'm good at moving on once the crisis or long ordeal has passed. I sigh a big sigh, wipe my brow, and finally breathe that fresh new breath. That moment is always different that what I had imagined, but I embrace it anyway. The possibilities of hope start knocking down the walls built of misery.

July 14, 2009

Lighthearted, with reservations

The other day I was driving along and I felt a curious sense of well being. I say curious, because I cannot ever remember having such a feeling. Lying on a narrow gurney in a dim lit emergency room after I had been given morphine for a kidney stone is my closest experience. After everyone had left me alone, peaceful silence followed, and as I looked through the doorway to the central command station, I thought to myself that I could just lie there, forever, and be happy. But no, this state of well being was not drug induced nor carefree. It was a gift from heaven, unasked for and undeserved. With it came the feeling that life, even with its troubles did not stretch out before me as a journey full of burdens.

My heart throbbed wild with worry during the dark days of my husband's illness. There were too many compounded problems that went along with living with cancer. Both of us tried to be happy and live with the disease, rather than let it take over our lives. Trying to be happy and brave in spite of the grim outlook took it's own toll. Cancer filled every corner and affected all aspects of daily living. I imagined that both of us had revolvers pointed at our heads ready to go off at any moment. Sometimes the safety was on, but the guns were always loaded. One day the one pointed at my husband's head went off, but it didn't kill him immediately. Cancer doesn't work that way. It chews at you, consuming you bits at a time. Finally, between the harsh chemo and the gnawing cancer, he died. The gun at my head dropped, with a thump, to the floor. I heard it fall, but distracted with the immediate circumstances of my husbands death, I ignored it.

Days, weeks, months, a year went by, before I remembered that the gun wasn't there anymore. Lightheartedness does not come easy to me. I took that fleeting moment of well being and stashed it away in my box of hope.

May 17, 2009

Band Aids

I liberally apply band aids to all aspects of life. Metaphorically they can be considered a temporary solution to a problem and realistically they can protect and cover up a wound until it has healed.

My house is covered in band aids. When my husband and I bought this house the only band aid that had been applied by the previous owner was a hastily splashed on coat of eggshell paint from top to bottom. They stopped at the oak woodwork. Thankfully. I perused decorating magazines and lusted after perfect kitchens and pale blue and white bathroom sanctuaries. Our bank account did not support my ideas. Hence the temporary decorator's band aid, applied to areas that need to be repaired, replaced, or just plain ugly. Just plain ugly are two bright orange armless upholstered chairs that make a perfect window seat in the dormer of the master bedroom. Draped with one of my grandmother's quilts and some pretty pillows and no one knows their hideous secret. An added bonus is that I can hide an Imelda Marco's shoe collection underneath. A few well placed old fashioned advertisements for Campbell's Soup in my kitchen cover up some cracks in the plaster. I'm getting good at this, but have many more band aids to apply.

When it comes to passing out the band aids that cover up the bumps and bangs that life hands out, I try to be careful, but I do use them. The comfort that kisses and band aids bring to a small child that has a skinned knee is different than a broken heart or an frustrated soul. A distraction is the best kind of first aid when worries or sadness threaten to take over every thought. When my daughter's first boyfriend broke up with her I pulled a trip to the mall out of my first aid box and by the time we hit the second shop she was ready to forget him.

Band aids do not work for everything. My porch needs surgery and it will just have to wait. All the pretty plants I have placed around the crumbling bricks do not cover up that it really needs a major face lift. And when my husband was dying of cancer there wasn't a temporary fix in my first aid box. We just had to let those wounds stay open to the air and wait for the scar tissue.