The blank page is intimidating. The hollow compliment is confusing. The echo of doubt is disturbing. How can we follow a path with obstacles or contempt? Jealousy, ego and loathing can block good intentions. Mindfulness is the foundation that propels us. Picture it, and it will become. Outside voices are unnecessary, both good and bad. Go forward with guts and ignorance as your tools, not really knowing it can be done. Just believe fully with the heart of an innocent, and the strength of a bull.
I want to be a writer. I ask myself, “Why do I think I can do that?” Well, I have feelings, I have words, I have paper and I have passion. All necessary ingredients of a storyteller. Once upon a time, there was a girl who had her head in the clouds wanting to bring others along, describing a magical place, a place you want to go. My intense desire for people to smell, taste and feel what’s inside of me, comes out in the dark hours at my keyboard. Solitary hours, building prose that will hopefully relate to the reader. The sweet fragrance of an observer’s approval and acceptance; even occasional praise. But I’m not in it for a compliment. Thank you.
My imagination is fleeting from one situation to another. My attention span has never been solid. However, looking at my surroundings brings music, and I must sing. I have always seen things below the surface. The winter sky or the mysteries of a frozen lake. Have you really looked at the winter sky with the shining stars you can almost touch? Allow yourself to be enticed by a world of words, a place that I want to bring alive. Please come along with me.
The energy is exuding from my mind to my fingertips. I focus on the obvious in a way that hopefully makes you really see it. Reach down inside yourself and spill your experience into your own words. “I get that…I’ve been there” you may say. And that is what brings us together. A common feeling that we may not have known how to describe. I want to do that for you, do it for us.
I am an untuned instrument trying to make a sweet sound, dreaming, creating, and describing. My words are not profound. My thoughts are not prophetic. I just want to create a place for conversation. This blog will be my outlet for now, where you can visit as often as you like. A place to share a cup of coffee and read about your own life through another’s eyes. Writer or not, I have a lot to say. So, join me on my journey because a story isn’t just a story it can be a place called home.
The rough texture of the sun-soaked ice is deep shades of gray and white with small mounds of snow scattered, showing weeks of thawing, and freezing. The lake’s surface transforms by the day as the Spring approaches. Sometimes there is open water, then two days later its ice again, dashing my hopes of warmth. Bright baby-blue skies with a few dabs of clouds and majestic pines lining the solid shore creates a collage of brilliance. Long shadows and the bright glare bouncing off the lake can trick you into thinking it’s warm, as you gaze out the window. But the wind! Oh, the wind does not lie. It howls like a hungry wolf, hunting for its next prey. The trees shake angrily, and the one chair sits on the deck holding its ground until Spring.
It’s the coming end of Winter that brings promise. However, late one night, the weather people excitedly announce a coming storm, as my eyes and the season begin to fade. Tomorrow will be like a rebirth of a frigid December day. A rerun of a Winter’s day when you hoped for snow for the holidays. This time of year the alarm is futile, as the soft falling puffs are half melted before reaching the ground. If the snow sticks to the few spots of uncovered grass and mud, it will be short lived. In two days it may be warm. For now though, I’ll just imagine myself sitting by the fireplace, that we don’t have, thinking of Summer boat rides. Maybe I’ll start to make plans with friends who have been in seasonal hiding, barricaded in their homes. Because, if you dare have intentions in the dead of Winter, you’re an optimistic fool. I’ve learned, as a New Englander, to have a respectful fear of a volatile Mother Nature. Hopefully she is starting to calm now. Her last attack will be a roaring March storm with whipping winds to warn you she does not give up easily.
The beauty of Winter is undeniable. The lake transforms, blanketing the water with solid rock of cold intentions. It begs your eyes and mind to daydream. However, the dreadfully short days and long dark nights start to deplete my sanity. But, soon all the birds will come back to sing their songs. I will sit in the warm sun on the deck, in the lone deck chair that survived, staring at the twinkling ripples on the lake. It always seems strange to me that people marvel when the nice days come, they’ve been here before. The Spring always comes. She usually appears out of nowhere, as I pray the latest storm will usher away the Winter for good.
You think when you’re 21 that you will live forever. Life seemed simple, as you did anything you wanted. If you gained a little weight, all you’d have to do is skip a meal or two and the pounds disappeared. If you messed up, a simple sorry (not sorry) would be enough. You were still considered “a kid.” You went to work, did your job, and went out for the night, every night. At that age, you knew everything, and weren’t afraid to act like it. We thought people over forty were ancient, and our parents were relics, who knew absolutely nothing. Smoking seemed harmless with merely an afterthought, no matter what anyone said about it. And then there was drinking.
Nearly every time you saw your friends, which was most nights, you would be drinking. Being drunk was often a side-effect of the two ugly sister’s; anxiety and angst. Parties were planned at the drop of a hat, if planned at all. We wiped the slate clean using alcohol to erase anything ugly. We’d stop just in time to start a new day looking fabulous after 3 hours of sleep. We never thought there was any harm in overindulgence, wishing the nights would last forever. But the nights didn’t last forever. The years passed quickly, and those nights of destruction paid a toll on all of us. For some there were mild effects, enough to make you cut down or stop. For others, there were more serious consequences; DUIs, family and career issues and at the worst, self-loathing. Then, in a blink, we were fifty and alcohol-soaked relics. And then there was the liver.
No one saw it coming, except those who really cared. They could see that he was poisoning himself, one sip at a time. Long ago were the days of not caring. He was loving, devoted and hard-working; a superhero, and everybody loved him. He was an intelligent conversationalist, fun to be around, with a hilarious irreverent wit. A glass of gin was his silent sidekick, full of confidence and ice. We all drank with contempt, like we were going to war the next day. Alcohol consumed all of our free time, like in the early days. I must have been in denial, ignoring signs. Time and consequences could seem like a myth, stealing your breath away. Until, finally his handsome complexion and brilliant eyes turned the shade of a lemon. And then there was “the List.”
After a couple of hospitalizations, things were dire. We had to face the prospect of death, although he never did. “There’s nothing we can do” said the ICU doctor after he told me the kidneys were shutting down. The liver was struggling, and the doctor explained that liver patients can’t go on dialysis. I wailed in front of the hospital elevator doors, a totally broken person. The love of my life was going to die. If my tears were prayers he would be well by now. God, luck, whatever, helped him miraculously turn a corner that night. Each day that followed was a little better than the last. There were so many doctors and nurses caring for him, like he was their only patient. So after 10 days of sleeping in a hospital chair, I started to have backaches and hope. We were going home.
We packed up the few things that we grabbed in a frenzy on the way to the hospital. I was full of anxiety, as we were starting a new kind of life. Things were going to be different. Countless doctor’s visits followed in the weeks after we left, and he was put on “the list.” I kept telling myself that the list was a promise that nothing could take him away from me. A lifeline made up of faith and belief he could one day be healed. However, there was a catch, “He can never drink again” said the doctors, “or he will die.” And then there was life.
Twelve years later, and he hasn’t had a drink. This superhero, witty, intelligent, love of my life, relic is here to stay.
It was the first visit without Dad. They always came in a pair except now she’s “flying solo”. I wonder if she can navigate without him. Entering the room, she says a quick hello and rushes to the bathroom. It was a long, snowy, lonely drive from the Cape for an 85-year-old. As she left the room, I turned to Jamie frowning and told him I miss my Dad, with only my eyes. He understood and nodded his head. Dad has been gone for three months and now it was time to learn who this woman was to me. Who we all were without Dad.
We were excited to have Mom visit but didn’t know what it would look like. Dad would always make a joke or comment to take her out of her own head. She could be bossy, nosy, critical and opinionated, not to mention stubborn. Mom could also be very loving in a restrictive, lukewarm, guarded way as only an Irish Mother can pull off. If I poured a glass of wine before 5pm on a Saturday, Mom would either make a slanted comment or give me the “hairy eyeball.” He, on the other hand, would enthusiastically ask me if the wine was good inquiring like a Sommelier at a fine restaurant. Dad accepted who I am with all my flaws. I guess you could say that Dad was a buffer between me and my mother. He always had my back.
We passed the time watching TV, shopping and eating. She helped me with wedding plans and we attended Mass on Saturday (before I had my wine). She only criticized me a few times. Overall, we had a good time. I’m starting to get to know that strong, willful person who raised me. I never really took the time to get to know her before. The way I see it, I have a choice. I can reacquaint myself with Mom and get to a new level or continue to grieve a loss without looking forward. We have a brand-new opportunity to reach out and define ourselves; become reborn in the shadow of death. Even though she can irritate me, I do recognize that who she is makes her whole and beautiful. If it wasn’t for her showing me strength and resilience, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.
I have to accept that the missing puzzle piece is gone forever. The circle has been broken and has left a wide gap. Is it up to Mom to fill the void? No, she has her own place. I was afraid that I wouldn’t know who she would be as a single person. Now I’m realizing that she’s always been her own person. I can see that navigating her way through life alone is not a problem for her. She misses Dad but his absence is part of life, our life. We didn’t talk about my father much during the visit, but he was there in our hearts and in the music of the wind chimes outside.