the swing

I sit outside on the porch
as a warm breeze blows through
and twenty-two years disappear
the sun shines bright, illuminating a golden afternoon, and there you are,
carefully taking one step after another
holding the hand of the one you adored
and who cherished you right back
she leads you to your birthday gift
the swing
built by the man who makes you giggle
and gives you Nilla wafers to clasp
in your tiny hands, never mind the mess
he gently lifts you and places you
with her help into the swing
made especially for you

all the years since have come and gone
as have the ones we love
and I think of the gift they gave you
on the day you turned one

life is much like that swing–
may you always be surrounded by those who love you
like those who created and guided you to
the swing that day
giving you roots to tread on
and wings to fly

some days you will have someone at your back
pushing you higher and higher
up through the things that would pull you down
until you can reach for the stars and clouds and very nearly touch them
with your bare hands

other days, and there will be many, dear one
you will have to pump and point
lifting yourself above the noise and hustle
to reach your dreams and goals and all you want to be,
depending only on your own will and strength and determination

I remember the smile on your face twenty-two years ago
when you sat there in that old tire picked especially for you–
it would have lit up the darkest of nights…..
the sheer joy of the movement
and being surrounded by the ones you loved
brought laughter bubbling up from within
and cries of “again! again!”
as your tiny toes that couldn’t touch the ground kicked at the air excitedly

may you take time everyday to feel the wind in your hair
the exhilaration when you soar
and the beauty of the gentle quiet as you let it all “die down”
may you welcome those who have your back
and let them be a part of your journey, cheering each other on
and when you feel like no one is there,
pump and point, my dear, pump and point
and remember the dreams they dreamed for you,
the ones you’ve tucked away deep in your heart
and aim for the highest point–
and when you get there

grab hold of your faith
let go of the rope

and leap

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For A.A.D. on the night of her 23rd birthday…..keep soaring high, baby girl 

the last one home

there is little better feeling than being the last one home

the last one to return to the roost where we all grew our wings

the lights on, hearts and stories waiting until all are there

and the smiles grow brighter

hugs are given and given again

and last just a moment longer than they used to

laughter accompanies the threats of telling that one story

that everyone already knows anyway

 

all await me behind the blinds with the light peeping through the cracks

beckoning me to their warmth

their affection the perfect protection from the cold chill

and darkness of the journey

 

all those I love and hold dear

tucked away inside,

piled up on every chair and cushion

and even curled up on the floor

 

plates are full

and so are the hearts

of those I love

and cannot wait to see

a sight for sore eyes

it’s been far too long

 

there is little better feeling than to be the last one home

unless it’s being the first one there, waiting,

anticipating

all the joy that is to come

 

Saying Their Names

Our Princess loves to check the mail.

I don’t blame her.  It was my thing once upon a time too.

Yesterday she brought in a stack of mail.  A bill, unsolicited advertisements, a catalog, a magazine, and a package.

An unexpected package, I should add, which sent tingles of delight and anticipation surging through us all.

Inside was a treasure.

Well, there were books, so yes, that was a treasure in and of itself, but there was also a letter.

But not just any letter.

This was from a dear soul who knew my Mama and my Daddy.  Daddy talked with her and listened and let her into his world, when everything seemed to be falling apart in his fight against Goliath.  She was such a comfort to us all in those days.  Especially for Mama.  I am convinced she is the reason Mama found her place after Daddy died.   Our friend invited Mama on an outing, and from that Mama found a place to be, a place to serve, and a place to love and be loved.

For all of the fifteen months she lived after losing her best friend.

And this dear soul was there when Mama took her last breath.  She was also there when our cousin, Miss B, took hers.  I don’t know what I would have done without her through all of those days.  A comfort to be sure.

This letter she took the time to write was no ordinary one.

It was a remembering, an honoring of the lives of the two people I love and miss so much.  I laughed and I cried as I read the two handwritten pages front and back.

What a gift.

Grief is an odd duck.  I’ve said it before, and this probably won’t be the last time.  The thing is I can go a day or a few without tears.  The missing them, the holes in my life, doesn’t go away, but I can cope.  I can function and I can go on.  (Which shocks me to be quite honest, I never thought I’d be able to.) Then a day will come and the thought of something I want to tell Mama about or a question I want to ask Daddy comes to mind, and I’m a weepy mess just as I was in the shower night after night those first few months.  The tidal wave washes over me, knocks me down, and I am LOST once again.

And in this, though there are so many others who loved them and miss them, wrong or not, I wonder if I am the only one still struggling like this.  It’s been two and three years since their passing on, and time heals, so they say, so maybe I’m the only one, so I don’t bring it up…..because I don’t want to upset anyone or because I figure I’m just crazy.  All depends on the day.

This letter was timely and purposefully so.  She remembered it was the anniversary of us saying goodbye to Mama.  And so she wrote.  And she called them. by. name.

I miss hearing their names.

Tonight I am thankful for the grief.

That sounds crazy, doesn’t it?

But the thing is, I fear a day will come and I won’t have the tears.  The memories might fade such that I don’t weep with the pain of missing them.  I never want their passing to be just a thing in my past.  I want to remember.

And I give thanks for the others who remember.  Who tell me they do, and who share their memories.

That right there.

That’s a gift.  I clung to the phone as an older friend shared the story of my Daddy driving home from work as a young man, making the turn onto his road on two wheels.  That was it.  Nothing else to the story, but my knuckles were white and my heart listened to every detail and etched it into my memory.  Because she told me about Bill.  From long ago.

And the letter.  The paper is a little warped from the tears, but I won’t let them go willingly.  On it are the names of those I love.  And memories I don’t have, but that were shared with me. About Bill and Barbara.  I cling to those.

So if you’re ever wondering what you can do for someone who is missing someone they love, call them up, sit down over a cup of coffee or a glass of sweet tea, and call those folks by name.  Share your stories and listen to theirs.  Even if it’s been a year.  Two.  Ten.  Talk about the person.

Say their name.

May we all have someone who walks alongside us to remember and share stories with as we traverse this path of grief and loss and this whole journey of life.

Love to all.

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And the Award Goes To…..

What a beautiful day!

I hope it was a sunshine-filled day where you are too.  We’ve had our fair share of cloudy/cold/gray/rainy days, and I love those too, to be quite honest, but today the sunshine and blue skies just suited.

It’s been a day of taking care of business.  (More cleaning out of things that belonged to those I love.  Today it wasn’t as hard as it has been, and that tells me I can do this.  It’s not easy, it’s not fun, but it’s doable. Which is good, because it has to be done eventually.)

It has also been a day of laughter.

My sister Mess Cat and her little guy Shaker mixed in with this crew?

A blast.

While my Fella and Leroy were hauling the heavy things from over yonder back to the house, we watched the children.

Ahem.

Well, we did.

And we talked about silly things like TV shows and things our children have been up to.  We talked about serious things like worries and the like.  And we talked about books we have been reading.

Mess Cat and I both LOVE books.  We both love to read.  Over the years we’ve shared many a good book back and forth and enjoyed talking about them.  (Waiting for Normal by Leslie Connor, I’m especially looking at you. #tearsofsorrowandjoy )

Hey, Mess Cat, I think we’ve had our own little book club going and didn’t even know it.

But that was before.

Before the heartbreak and pain and grief.

It was interesting and somewhat comforting to me today when Mess Cat said that she really hasn’t been reading like she used to.

I was worried it was only me.

And since she’s making a concentrated effort and being intentional about picking up a book and reading it, I am encouraged.  Maybe we will get back to being the avid readers we were before the grief and anxiety took over.

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As we were talking, I hopped up from my Roost and found the book I picked up for a bargain price the other day.  I had to buy it for the blurb on the back alone.  HILARIOUS.  I shared the first chapter with Mess Cat and my oldest, and we were all three laughing until tears were rolling.

Good stuff that.

I’ve missed it.

Aub said that her Psychology professor has used some of this writer’s material in her classes.  I found that fascinating, so I read the author’s biography on the book jacket.

And this grabbed my attention.

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I read it aloud to my sister and my firstborn, and again we laughed.

It felt so good.

Mess Cat said through the laughter, “Self-awarded!”

And then the question came that simply had to be asked.

“So what award would you give yourself if you had that power?”

We laughed some more and batted around ideas.

After much contemplation this evening, I decided I would give myself the “most likely to compliment a stranger in a checkout line, at the grocery store, or anywhere else in the general public.”

In addition to this, I also award myself, “Mama who can frustrate her children in 10 seconds flat using less than fifteen words and no body language.”

I’m just that good, y’all.

Tonight I am thankful for the laughter.  For the feeling of not being alone in this journey of raising children, missing parents, cleaning house, and not reading books, I am especially grateful.  I’m also happy that I could find some things about myself that were “award worthy.”

What about you?  What award would you give yourself if you had that power?

(and here’s the thing–you do have that power)

So go ahead.  What’s your award?

Wishing you a day of appreciating all the wonderful and quirky things about yourself.  Name them.  It’s a good thing to love the person you spend most of your time with.  It just makes you a kinder person with everyone else.

Love to all.

 

the little boy who’s all grown up

the little guy who taught me all about little guys

is no longer little

the one who brought cars and trucks into our toybox

(I already had the tractors)

now drives one of his own

filled with his precious family

 

the one who took my hand as we walked and talked

down the old road near the homeplace

now takes my heart and listens

and shares his words of wisdom

that sound more and more

like those of our Daddy

 

the one who held my firstborn when he was still so young

now watches as that grown baby girl holds his baby boy

and the two of them laugh together

and take selfies and

the little boy who’s all grown up

and I

look on

 

when did the baby boy

become one of my best friends,

when did he stop keeping me up late with

all the silliness

just to see my eyes droop and hear me talk nonsense

and become the man who sits and shares stories

and joys and worries and all the life thoughts

until the wee hours of the morning?

 

this person who will always be my baby,

yet who is taller and stronger and perhaps even wiser than I

(though there’s no need to tell him that right now)

and who, as we both tried to do something yesterday,

when I said,

“sorry, just trying to fix it, that’s what I do”

replied,

“yeah, me too”

and in that moment

I saw how much more alike we are becoming

than we’ve ever been before

 

and I give thanks

for I need his strength

and laughter

and I love that he still wears the worn out blue jeans

and t-shirts

and goes barefooted in the middle of winter

and chases the children around

 

last night he packed his Matchbox cars and children

into his big car and prepared to head back home

the little boy who once lived down the hall

now lives way too far away

 

as I said “goodbye” and wept

the tears fell unapologetically

for I know that life, it’s too short

and I know that, despite everything,

we all need to be known well

and loved anyway

 

and that baby boy, the one with the jet black hair

and big green eyes

who changed our world

when he came home to a house full of sisters,

he knows my faults and my flaws and

what the inside of my microwave looks like

and how quirky I can be

and for whatever reason, he says my name and he loves me

 

the little guy who isn’t so little anymore

he’s grown into the space he owns inside my heart,

the space he’s owned since the first time he wrapped his fingers around mine

and today it feels a little empty

as does the house

as the laughter and stories we shared echo in my heart and mind

 

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