Working Out

It was June, I think, or maybe July.  I’m not sure.  I know it was very hot.  And that Daddy was still going for treatments at the Cancer Center.

This particular day Daddy’s physical therapist, Miss Ida, whom I loved and adored from my own visit to the PT office where she worked, had helped get Daddy situated in the passenger seat of Mama’s car.  Mama got in the back, and I drove the two of them down and over to Highway 96 where the Center is located about twenty minutes away from the house.

When we got there, I pulled up under the breezeway to let Daddy out as close to the door as possible.  Mama went in and came back with a wheelchair.  I helped Daddy turn his legs around, and then we wrapped his arms around my neck, and I lifted while he tried to help.

At this point the lymphoma was zapping his strength and his broken hip from a few months before, though healing, was hindering his physical abilities as well.  I lifted, but my efforts did little to get him from the car to the chair.  We tried again, and I got him up a few inches.  And then…..

I almost dropped him.

He almost fell onto the edge of the car and to the pavement below.

I was mortified.  Daddy was fine, but still.  WHAT IF?

A kind soul happened upon us then–no coincidence at all–and she came right over, enveloped my Daddy in her arms, gently placed him in the wheelchair, waved off our thanks, and went on her way cheerfully, wishing us a good day.

BLESS.

It was easier getting him into the car on the way home, and somehow we got him from the car to the house without another incident.

But that moment stuck with me.  My upper body strength was sorely lacking.  If I couldn’t take care of my Daddy, something would have to change.  Immediately.  I was broken over the fact that it had been a stranger who had come to his aid–that after all he’d done for me through all the years, I couldn’t help him–unfathomable.

And so I began working out back then.  Nothing too serious, just trying to build up my strength so that I could help lift him.  And when he was bedridden at the end and would slide down in the bed, I was able to move him back up in the bed.  I am thankful for that now.

A couple of days ago, I woke up thinking about how we work to build up muscles.  How we work and push them beyond their limits to be stronger and to be able to do more with them.  Almost completely recovered from a frozen shoulder, I am ready to start rebuilding my core and my ability to “lift and tote.”  Mostly for groceries, but still–it’s a good thing to work on.

Then I started thinking about our hearts.  And how we love.

That’s a good thing to work on too.

We don’t build up our arm muscles by continuing to do the same thing every day–by only lifting the laundry from the dryer or the groceries from the car.  We have to be consistent, and we have to go outside our comfort zones to be strong and stronger.  We have to lift things we wouldn’t normally lift.

I think it’s the same in building up our hearts–and our capacity to love.  We don’t do it by loving the same people all the time.  We do it by loving folks outside our comfort zones.  And by doing it consistently.  That’s the only way to build up our love muscles.  Loving those we wouldn’t normally love.  Going out of our way for them.  For others.

And that’s the only way to build up the kingdom too.

A kingdom where I’d really like to live.

Wishing you all a day of working out–and building up those muscles.  For the good of all of us.

Love to all.

Die_Frau_als_Hausärztin_(1911)_135_Bruststärker

“Die Frau als Hausärztin (1911) 135 Bruststärker” by Anna Fischer-Dückelmann – Die Frau als HausärztinLicensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons 

pink

Pink_Ribbon

Pink
is a lovely color
gentle, like a baby’s breath

it was my girls’ first favorite color
and various shades of it still
bring a light to their eyes

“blush” and “bashful” best described
the color
in that movie that made me cry
it was her “signature” color, after all

and somehow it has become the color
for breast cancer awareness
and I suppose it suits as much as any other
but when it all comes down to it
pink
does
not
cure
cancer

all the pink socks and pens and yogurt cups
I’ve bought in the past with good intentions
did NOTHING
to raise anybody’s awareness
or change anyone’s life
it was just
pink

tomorrow morning
a friend of my Mama and my Aunt
will undergo surgery
for breast cancer
and she won’t be the only one

a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer
every two minutes in this country

that is too many
one is too many

and pink and awareness
are not changing that

I don’t mean to pink ribbon shame
but isn’t it time we do something more?

Isn’t it time we stop going without undergarments
and claiming it raises awareness?
Isn’t it time we stop taking pictures of silly underwires
on dogs and clotheslines
and claiming it’s for the cause?

Isn’t it time we pick up a broom and sweep out the mess
and the misperceptions
and we change it from
breast cancer awareness
to
BREAST CANCER ERADICATION?

please join me in keeping Miss C
and all of the men and women fighting this
monster
in your thoughts
and let’s join them in this fight

stepping in with a hand to hold
a shoulder to lean on
with a toilet brush in one hand
and a casserole dish in the other

and then, when the day is done,
let’s write the ones who make the laws
and who decide on the funding
and let’s demand that we stop saving
body parts
and start saving people

love to all

#######################
A woman I admire and respect, who is a breast cancer survivor and a brilliant advocate for those in this fight, recently shared this article and asked that we contact our Senators and ask them to pass the 21st Century Cures Act. It’s something we can do, y’all. And it’s something that someone who is actually in the fight is asking us to do. The article is here. Thanks for reading.

farewell to a friend

lives joined one October day

so many years ago

with friends gathered round,

smiles on the faces of all

but none bigger than their own

 

years spent with laughing

and loving and cheering on their

favorite football team

rolling tide every chance they got

and cheering each other on as well–

if there were ever two greater

dream builders

for each other

I cannot imagine

 

love, laughter, and a whole lot of sass,

teasing and compromising

that’s what I imagine from behind

the closed doors of their life

 

but I do know what I saw–

a man who loved a woman

and she who reflected it and gave all that love

right back to him

 

and now the mirror is draped

in darkness

as are our hearts

for this fine man took his last breath

and was healed

as all our hearts broke

 

so many lives

all the richer

for having known his

gentle, strong spirit

 

the girls he loved will miss him

all the babies and family he adored

the memory of his laughter and smile

with bring both comfort and tears

and all the stories will be told

and told again

to keep him close

 

this Gift, the Gift my sisterfriend was given

as she gave him her heart

she deserved the best

and she had him–

only for way too short a while

 

################################

RIP, BP.  You are loved and missed, and I am better for having known you.  

proof of angels

for days and weeks and then months

so many spoke of “after the war is over”

and finally, when the months turned into years,

those words were spoken less and less

and the haze that hung over the city

and the dark curtains over the windows

were no longer distinguishable from what we remembered

from before

which seemed like a dream

 

there were even those for whom life without war,

without doling out what we had carefully,

had never been

 

and when the thoughts of the fighting,

the eternal fighting and hatred and fear,

were all we had

besides the occasional rumor that came along

to cause hope to flutter in our chests

if ever so briefly

 

and no one talked of it ever being over anymore,

I looked out the window one day, peeking around the curtain

before dawn

and I saw proof of angels–

of kindness

of caring for others

that was so natural for those who did,

it embodied who they were

 

and so it was that each day that began in darkness

the sun rose

and so did those who cared,

those who might no longer speak of peace

but who rose up from dreams of it

and shared what they could

 

the only weapons they carried were love

and a thermos of coffee

 

and both were more powerful than ever thought possible

 

 

A Time to Listen, A Time to Write

Sometimes as a writer you have to realize when it’s more important to listen than to keep writing.

Tonight is one of those times.

I had a hard conversation earlier with someone I love and will always love, but it will be different from now on, I’m afraid.

Still trying to wrap my brain around the pain in that, I received a text from my oldest, Aub, about the video she’d just watched on my college sister’s Facebook page.

Wyanne is a very talented artist.  She tells beautiful stories with her paints and her brushes and all kinds of other materials.  Beautiful.  And that girl has fought a huge Giant over the past year.

Last night I talked about being frustrated with things that are NOT OKAY.

CANCER IS NOT OKAY.

But Wyanne’s still standing.

Not only that, she’s still painting and creating and sharing light and love in the world.

And wisdom.

IMG_5838

She’s made it through the storm and is working on picking up the pieces.  She’s got big beautiful plans.  Plans about creating art and community.

Now that, THAT IS VERY OKAY.

I watched the video, and like Aub, I was moved to tears.

We have so much.  We are so fortunate.

And we don’t even realize it half the time, do we?

Even when having hard conversations, I can hang on to the hope that reconciliation and healing can still come–because we’re still standing.  On the other side of the storm.

Here’s to my Wesleyan sister Wyanne and to all of us who weather the storms and then pick up the pieces when they’re over…..

and rebuild something even more beautiful and filled with love and light.

May you have a good day of listening to stories that remind you to appreciate where you are, and may you find hope in the midst of brokenness.

Love to all.

 

 

 

Thanks to Auburn for lettering Wyanne’s quote for me so quickly.  Love you girl.  And to her sweet bff, the originator of “That is NOT okay.”  It’s her birthday, and she’s pretty amazing too.  Happy Birthday, A!

 

the window

The view from Daddy's window at Blackberry Flats.  Cardinals love those those hedges.

Looking back on the day

that we stood by Daddy’s bedside

and let him go,

I see in my mind’s eye and realize with some

surprise

that the curtains on the window were open.

Daddy spent many hours

sitting in his chair

by that window

watching the cardinals

living in the arbor vitae,

the flying back and forth and building homes

amongst the branches, their red wings

in beautiful contrast with the somber news to come–

all before the chair was moved

to make way for the

hospital bed

and the story changed

forever.

Before

he would sit there

in his chair next to the window

listening and telling stories and

doling out what wisdoms he had to share.

He watched his favorite shows, old movies, and sports

but his favorite view

was looking out

that window.

So it is only fitting that the curtains

were open and

he left

in the light,

not tucked away in the dark

behind a closed curtain

like a secret

we were afraid to tell.

He left in the light,

surrounded by love,

taking our hearts with him.

And after he left,

at the same time he left work

to head Home all those years,

the sun began to set,

shrouding us in darkness

for the day,

preparing us for the shadowed journey

without him

in the years to come.

 

#whyteal…..the one where we need to get LOUD

I first met her twenty-eight years ago last month.  We were all just getting to know each other, and I remember thinking how lovely and graceful and grace-filled this dear lady was.

She was my roommate’s mother.  I met her at the beginning of our freshman year.  She was beautiful inside and out.

And she fought a battle no one should have to fight.

Ovarian cancer.

Last night my dear friend shared this information on her Facebook page.  This month is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.

pic of ovarian cancer info

After I posted this on my own page, another friend shared that her Mama had also battled this giant.  She too fought a valiant fight, only it wasn’t enough.

It wasn’t detected early enough in either case.

My friend, in describing her mother’s experience, called ovarian cancer, “the silent cancer.”

Really?

How many women, do you think, go in for their annual physicals right on schedule, put their feet in the stirrups, do what we do, get the call a few days later that all is clear, and think “Well, everything’s all right then”?

(It’s okay.  Stick around, fellas.  You need to know this too.  Whether it’s your Mama, your sister, your best friend, your girlfriend, your wife, your daughter–you need to know too.)

Note to self.  Pap smears test for cervical cancer.  Not ovarian.  Not uterine.  Cervical–that’s it.  It is my understanding that there’s not really a test to detect ovarian cancer.  According to the American Cancer Society, “The 2 tests used most often to screen for ovarian cancer are transvaginal ultrasound (TVUS) and the CA-125 blood test,” but no medical professionals recommend routine use of these tests for screening.  They are not definitive enough apparently.

Really?

Do we have people working on this?  Please tell me yes.

As I thought about this today, I remembered a book I read years ago.  “Cancer Schmancer” by Fran Drescher.  I loved her in “The Nanny” and thought she was a comic genius–her timing and facial expressions and that accent.  Love her.  I read the book because of her, not because it was about her battle with uterine cancer.  But it struck such a chord in me that it is still in my library.  Without pulling it down to quote her, I can tell you the one thing that has stuck with me all these years–

Take care of you.

Be a good advocate.

You know your body.  Don’t take “no” for an answer.  Or “it will be okay.”  Or “you’re just…..”

You know when something’s off.  Push until someone hears you.

She so believes in empowering women to educate themselves and be good advocates for their health that she started the Cancer Schmancer Movement, whose mission is to “…..shift the nation’s focus from just searching for a cure to prevention and early detection of cancer in order to save lives.”  You can read her story here.  It took two years and eight doctors before she was finally diagnosed.  She is thankful to be a survivor and wants there to be more.

Shortly after our Princess was born almost ten years ago, I could tell something was wrong.  I wasn’t sure what, but I just knew.  I went to the doctor where we were stationed at the time.  I remember going in, worried, anxious, hoping he could tell me something–anything–that would let me know it was going to be okay.

Which he did. Tell me something, that is.  This doctor and his wife had six children.  (It was a small community–you knew things.)  I had just given birth to my second child a few months earlier.  He listened, looked at my chart, and turned to me and said, “Oh now, you’re just new Mama tired.  It will pass.  You’ll see.”

Patronize me, will you?

I pity his wife, I’ll just tell you that right now.

This was not new Mama tired, and my body kept telling me that.  I pushed through and we moved and shortly after we got settled, I scheduled another appointment.  Again, I told my story. A new doctor.  A young one.  I don’t know how many children he had, if any, but he didn’t say I was new mama tired.  (Smart man, I’d had enough by this time.)  After running different tests-he was more persistent, thank goodness–he discovered I had a thyroid issue.  He prescribed some medication, and I was on my way to feeling better.  That part was almost immediate–I had been heard and I wasn’t crazy.  There was something wrong.  It had just taken several months and me being “pushy” to find that out.

Something beautiful happened when my friend shared the information above last night.  I shared it on my Facebook page in memory of her sweet Mom, not knowing if anyone would even read it.  It was late, and you just never know who reads what.  Today some of my friends–none of whom know each other–commented, encouraging each other to take care of themselves…..to seek information and push until they get it.  Friends reached out with loving sympathy and with gratitude for facts and stories shared.

That right there.  That’s what we need more of in this world.  Sisters looking after sisters (because we all are, you know–color and class and nationality and religion and state of our kitchen sinks all aside–we are all sisters).  Sisters empowering each other.  Holding each other accountable to take care of ourselves.  To celebrate with when the numbers come back really good, and to hold hands or offer a shoulder or listen and make soup or milkshakes or cry with when the numbers are not.

Tonight I’m thankful for brave women who gave it their all in the face of giants like ovarian cancer.  I’m thankful for their daughters, who carry their stories and encourage others by educating and listening.  I give thanks for women like Fran Drescher who pave the way for us to have the courage to speak and not worry about being called “pushy” or “bothersome” or whatever.  Speak out.  Be loud.  Take care of you.  If you even think something is off or wrong, get thee to a medical professional.  Now.  Keep going until you find one you trust.  Who listens and hears you.  And stand tight and strong with your sisters.

Most of all, tonight I am thankful for all of my sisters.  Who are always there when they are needed most.

Y’all take care of yourselves.  You men too.  And take care of each other.

Love to all.

 

 

 

Something in the Water

I have a very clear memory of my Daddy, in his jeans and his blue chambray shirt that Mama made him, standing at my Granny’s sink near the door to the back porch.  He has one of her small red solo cups of water in his hands.  He is standing, staring out the back window over the sink, looking out over the cow pastures and the barn and the pasture where our horse was grazing.  He might have been thinking about hunting a tree in the woods come Christmas, or he might have been anticipating the weather and trying to decide what he could accomplish before the storm came up.  Or he might have been just resting his mind and heart for a few minutes.

He takes his cup and leans over the sink, refilling it at the faucet.  He takes a long drink, and the “ahhh” sound comes from him as he swallows.  It is refreshing and it is good.

It was only recently that I figured out why he always went and took a drink of water from Granny’s sink before we left.  Staring out at the place he grew up, he took a long drink of water–water that tasted like home.

The sink and view out the kitchen window--where I refresh my soul.  At Blackberry Flats.

The sink and view out the kitchen window–where I refresh my soul. At Blackberry Flats.

I feel the same way.  It was the last thing I used to do when I visited Mama and Daddy–fill my cup with “Blackberry Flats juice,” as Mama called it.  Well water, straight from the kitchen sink.  Nothing better.  I too stood, looking out the window over the sink.  Watching the littles playing on the swings, remembering our swingset Daddy had put up in the back for us when we were little.  He even brought home a slide from the landfill and worked to attach it to the playset and built a ladder for it.  I looked at the silver maple that has grown so much over the years, remembering sitting in a lawn chair out there, the summer after I graduated from college, moving the chair so I’d stay in the shade as the sun travelled across the sky.

There’s something healing about water from home, something that touches my soul.  And my Daddy’s too.  While he was at Emory University Hospital for those weeks while they worked out his diagnosis as he fought the Giant, whenever we went to see him, we took up washed out milk jugs filled with Blackberry Flats “juice.”  Daddy didn’t like the water up there, and I can understand why.  We even met my aunt and uncle once as they were passing through on their way up there to see Daddy, and  we handed off a couple of gallons.

My people are serious about their water.

And there’s nothing like cold well water.

Tonight I am thankful for the comforts of home. And the memories.  They refresh my soul and fill me up with good things–the strength and will to carry on and keep on lovin’ folks.  Just like Mama and Daddy did.

There’s something in the water y’all.

And it’s all good.

After the Pink Ribbons Have Faded…..

White House decorated pink in honor of Nationa...

White House decorated pink in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The last day of October is upon us.  Pink month is almost over.

Last Wednesday we gathered to say goodbye and remember a sweet lady whose fight with breast cancer had ended.  Last night I thought about a sweet young mama whose fight also was over, ending a life so full way too soon.  I sat with her younger son as he talked about getting in a car and driving up to Heaven to see his Mama.  Way.  Too.  Soon.  I have an aunt and a cousin who have both fought and won (for lack of a better word) against this Giant.  I have one friend who fought and is cancer free and another who has just been diagnosed.  I’m guessing there are few of us if any who don’t know someone who has been devastated by this Giant of a disease.

This is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  The month when car wash fountains turn pink and people take their poodles to the groomers to be dyed pink for the Race for the Cure.  All in the name of awareness and support.  You can buy everything from soup to bread to paper towels to saltines and cheese carrying the pink ribbon of support.  It wasn’t until I read this article by a young woman fighting breast cancer that I began thinking through this whole pink thing.  All of those products we proudly add to our cart and generously pay a little extra for, knowing that the extra is going towards the fight?  What would it be like if we gave that whole amount towards research and prevention?

It seems that October 13 was National No Bra Day in support of women who are fighting or who have lost the battle to breast cancer.  In the words of my high school algebra teacher when she’d hear an answer that made no sense–“Do what?!” I mean, really?  What good is that supposed to serve?  Did people look at me and say, Oh she doesn’t support breast cancer awareness because she…..well, ahem, she didn’t forgo her own support?

No.  Just no.

Awareness only goes so far.  I am aware.  I’ve been “up close and personal” aware of what breast cancer could do to your body for over ten years, metastasizing and affecting other organs and it’s just AWFUL.  RAVAGING.  This awareness didn’t make me do what I should have done at least four years ago–be tested.  I was afraid.  Of so many things.  When you have autoimmune issues, it’s hard to trust that your body won’t betray you at every turn.  So fear was the motivating factor for NOT being checked.  I know, it makes no sense, but that’s the irrational way my mind was working.  It has only been in the past three weeks that I found an alternative test and had it done.  I’m very lucky.  And thankful.  All is well.

So what happens after the soup is all sold? When the pink beribboned bread is out of date?  The paper towels have all be used?  Where does all this support and cheering our sisters on through the fight go after October is over?  I know it doesn’t all go away, but it seems almost like a party in October, doesn’t it?  I wonder if the women fighting this have what equates to the January blues come November?  Breast cancer, check.  Moving on to the next cause du jour.

I had a call the other day from someone in the community who knows I volunteer with Daybreak and folks in need. She had a co-worker who is interested in doing something “to feed the homeless.”  She put her friend on the phone.  I asked her what she was interested in.  “I want to feed the homeless,” she said. “You know, now that it’s cold?  They must be hungry.”  Yes ma’am.  I’m sure they are.  Just like they were in July and September and will be in March and April.  No, I didn’t say that to her.  Instead I shared with her about the different soup kitchens and food pantries and clothing closets that I knew about who were seeking support and volunteers.  “Okay,” she said, “but is this where people stand in line and you fix their plates?”  Sigh.  I’m not sure what she was looking for, but I don’t think I was helping.  She seemed frustrated that the soup kitchen opportunity in our town wasn’t until next month.

The thing is I think we have this perception that certain folks are in need only when they are on our minds.  Of course it is natural for us to think of women (and men) with breast cancer during October.  But unfortunately, their fight doesn’t end when the pumpkin turns into a turkey at the strike of twelve on the 31st.  It is natural to think of folks without shelter when the weather turns cold.  But they are out there in the spring rains and the summer heat and when the mosquitoes swarm at sunset.  Who is there to feed them and hand out mosquito repellant and rain jackets then?

There are people who walk the walk all year long and for them I am thankful.  There are people who work for cancer prevention and awareness all year long.  And yes, I see the importance of taking time each year to share stories and ways to help.  But I think we need to be real careful what that support looks like.  And we also need to be aware that, for way too many people, cancer and being without a home, just two examples, are like a tv channel that nothing good is on.  Only they can’t turn it off or change to a better one.  For them, that is the only channel available.  A poor metaphor perhaps, but I hope you get my point.  After October is over, after the winter cold defrosts in spring, there are still people in need.  Of support.  And love.

I love these guys, but I  think it's really sad that this shirt will probably be on clearance by the middle of next month?  Why not offer them year-round?

I love these guys, but I think it’s really sad that this shirt will probably be on clearance by the weekend and off the shelves by the middle of next month.  Why not offer them year-round?

I mostly wanted to share what I learned this October.  At the beginning of November last year there was a cart of reduced and clearance items at our grocery store.  Among the things were dishtowels and aprons and potholders, all with the beautiful bright pink ribbons.  50% off.  Underneath there were even breast cancer awareness t-shirts and water bottles and socks.  75% off.  Awesome!  And yet, I’m realizing this year, not so much.  I didn’t need any of that.  Instead I should have come home and figured out how to support folks with cancer directly.  And I guess that’s my point.  Relationships.  I appreciate the folks that fund raise for cancer research and resources for people in need.  We need them and what they do.  But sometimes I think they might make it a little too easy for us to feel like “I’ve done good.”  I know the folks I volunteer with would rather have folks show up every week to build a relationship than just about anything else.  That’s what we all really want, isn’t it?  To have someone walking alongside us.  With love and respect, an ear to listen and a shoulder to lean on.  I think yes.

In the end it wasn’t awareness or education that made me get checked.  It was relationships.  As Sister put it recently, “I’ve got to take care of ME so I can take care of THEM.”  It was that and my sisterfriends who encouraged and nagged me, and it was my Aunt who guided me as well.  I did what I did because of the people I know and love who love me right back.  The people in my life helped me take care of my life.

If I meet someone in need, I hope to have the courage to reach out and change their life and mine for the better.  Wear pink if that’s your color but also brighten someone’s life by walking in and sitting with them, listening to their stories and promising to whoop them if they don’t take care of themselves.  Knowing someone cares can make all the difference.

20131030-225305.jpg

31 Ways to Help A Friend With Breast Cancer:  http://sarahthebarge.com/2013/10/31-ways-to-help-a-friend-with-breast-cancer/

National No Bra Day and Breast Cancer Awareness Month — OR — Please Put That Pink Can of Soup Down & Put Your Bra Back On: http://cancerinmythirties.wordpress.com/2012/10/13/national-no-bra-day-and-breast-cancer-awareness-month-or-please-put-that-pink-can-of-soup-down-put-your-bra-back-on/

The Color Pink: http://sarahthebarge.com/2013/10/the-color-pink/#more-605

I Won’t Tell You How to Help the Homeless: http://hughlh.com/help-homeless/

Love Wins: A Conversation with Hugh Hollowell http://homelessincarolina.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/love-wins-a-conversation-with-hugh-hollowell/

Unwrapping the Cord and Letting Go

Today I started to use a steam mop that was my Mama’s.  It hit me as I was about to unwrap the cord and plug it in that she was the one who had wrapped the cord just so.  The last time it was wrapped it was by her hands.

20131029-225758.jpg

Yeah, sometimes I get sentimental about the tiniest of things.

But they seem so huge.

When I worked for Hospice, we admitted a young mother who all too soon died from cancer.  Her best friend had been there through several years of battling the Giant, right there in the trenches with her.  She cooked, she cleaned, she cared.  It was a few days after the funeral when I stopped by the house.  The best friend was there.  She was talking, and all of a sudden she stopped and sat down.  The tears began to flow down her cheeks.

“I went in the bathroom to put the towels away.   The towels in the back were folded differently.  Those are the ones she folded.  Her towels that she washed and dried and folded and put away.  I don’t fold towels like she did.  It just hit me.  I don’t do it the way she did.  Her hands were the last ones to touch those towels,” the best friend sobbed.

I get it.

There’s so much of that, isn’t there?  Anytime someone leaves us, no matter how.  I remember when my sisterfriend married military and was moving away.  We always had these two cups that we used when she came over.  One was orange, one was yellow.  I am sure I found them at the Fred’s in town.  (It was my Super Savings place.)  I don’t remember what made me get them, but I did and we used them every single time.  I remember unloading the dishwasher the day after she left town.  There were those cups.  It just felt strange.  The cups are here, and now she is not.  I didn’t use them again.  I just couldn’t.  It would not have been the same.

Summer of 2012 Mama and I spent watering the tea olive we planted out at the cemetery for Daddy.  We hauled the water out there in washed out milk jugs.  The expiration dates were all different, but there was this one.  It was Daddy’s birthday.  And every time I filled that jug, I would think about how odd it was to see his birthdate on the jug like it was just any other day.  Which of course it never will be again.  It will always be his birthday.

It’s all a bit too surreal, isn’t it?  This is the point when Daddy would have asked me, “So did you unwrap the cord and take care of business or did you save it wrapped like that?”

I unwrapped it.  Painstakingly, hoping to remember just how she did it, but of course I can’t.  And so when I was done trying to achieve some semblance of clean around here, I just wrapped it up as best I could and let it go.  There’s some things I just can’t remember.

But there’s so many that I can.  And that will have to be enough.

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