Reality IS a thing.

Let’s try a new thing. I’m not one who enjoys change, but at this stage of my life, I’m making an uneasy peace with it.

Let me give you an accounting of a life lesson that has been taught to me. Call it fucknuggets of wisdom or the sounding of the douchetrumpets – whatever.

When I was a kid, I was bullied a lot. I was, short, dumpy, uncertain, clumsy, and had an oddly-shaped head (a friend of mine back then – kids have no tact or guile – said her dad referred to me as “moon-face” and I didn’t know what it meant, but instinctively knew he wasn’t being nice; he was a big, loud, angry fuck knuckle of a botard and he died in late middle age and I was glad) and poor, so I was easy prey.

There were these “rich kids” who lived in the neighborhood. In retrospect, they might not have been rich but their father had a good job, they had a big, nice house, and everything anyone could ask for. Their mom was a stay-at-home who was always in everyone’s business and who came from a huge, Italian family in the neighborhood, which was code for “We belong and you don’t” in this particular ward. They sent their kids to Catholic school and wrinkled their noses at anyone who A) wasn’t Italian, and B) didn’t have the same or better social status. These kids were spoiled, entitled, and mean. There can be no other word. They flaunted their clothes, their posessions, and acted as if they were royalty. Other kids treated them as such, so how were they ever going to know that they weren’t, right? They were both older than me; the boy was 2 years older and the girl, 6. He was a nasty little prick who once cornered me and threatened to punch me in the stomach just because I was walking past his house. He teased and taunted me. In later years, we actually got along but mostly because he was hired, through our contractor, to replace the kitchen cupboards in a remodel my first husband and I did of our house. I let it slide, because I was young, and still not the loudmouthed truth-telling bitch that I am now. Were this scenario to happen now, I’d have had my verbose way with him.

The girl? She was a cunt. Seriously. I don’t use that word unless I mean it. A bit on the chunky side, loud, snobby, and stupid. FUCK! Was she ever. I knew it, even then, but she was so mean to me that it took my breath away. When she deigned to pay attention to me, it was to ridicule and insult. I avoided her whenever possible, but she was so present, so in-your-face, and I was so much younger…..it was difficult to escape her. The memory of her is one of those shudder-inducing recollections that everyone has. Since she was so much older, I was able to avoid altercations with her in my teenaged tears. That was a fortunate thing for me, because that decade was fraught with so much turmoil and sadness and assorted fuckery that adding her to the mix might have tipped the suicide scales much farther than they leaned.

Apparently, life was not a bed of roses for this family. The dad had an affair. The parents got a divorce. The kids were taken out of private school and sent to public. The mother, a gay divorcee in her 40s, started dating a guy and then got *GASP!* pregnant and “had” to get married. How the mighty fell in the 80s. This was a big, fat, dramatic scandal! I lost track of the older girl over the years, not really giving even one fuck about what happened to her. She was a cunt, remember?

Fast-forward to last year. I encountered her mother, who has been through a series of life-humbling events. We spoke, and she informed me that her daughter had died the year before. She’d had some sort of cancer and it killed her quite suddenly. I offered my condolences, because really? Telling her that her daughter was a loud cunt who had made my childhood even more hellish than it already was seemed unnecessarily cruel at that moment. Her treatment of me no longer mattered. I felt sorry for this grieving mom. I’m a mom too, and I wouldn’t ever wish that kind of pain on another parent.

A little more fast-forwarding, to the other day. Facebook has the ability to bring people together and put them in your peripheral vision even accidentally. I stumbled across a family member of these childhood nightmare kids and curiosity took over and I had a bit of a creep. We all fall victim to this temptation; don’t lie to me and say you never have!

The cunt of my past had a Facebook page. You know, the thing about Facebook is that it’s like schizophrenia, or herpes: it never goes away. She died, but her profile lives on. People still post things on her page, too. Her friends, family, kids, husband. Post after post, I read about how good she was, kind, loving, funny. Everyone seemed to miss her terribly. I thought to myself, maybe she changed. Maybe life taught her a lesson or three, and she became less of a cunt and more of a humble, caring person. Just as I became less of a victim and a doormat and more of a blunt, honest, kick-you-in-the-crotch warrior….maybe she became redeemable. Maybe she acquired some wisdom. I was actually feeling a little bad about my radical, extreme labeling of her.

Then I saw a post from early November of 2016. One of her family members had posted to let her know (because in the Afterlife the dead still get their news from Facebook. Duh!) that Donald Trump had won the election and was going to be President. Apparently, she loved him. She thought he was the greatest person ever. She admired his goodness. She had felt that he was going to save this country from the terrible path it was on. The family member wanted to let her know that her “hard work up there in Heaven” had succeeded! Her savior had won.

What a stupid cunt.

My life lesson, kids, is that people don’t fundamentally change who they really are. Just as I was a warrior deep down inside, this girl was the same vapid twit even at the end of her life. Anyone who condones, admires, and espouses the characteristics of the morally-bankrupt turd who currently sits in the Oval Office – and thinks his values are what this country needs – derserves to retain my early, first impression of her; even in death. First impressions can be misleading, but not if they keep on giving the same results over and over. Trust the gut. It never lies.

Class dismissed!

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Aaaahhhh, shit.

It’s summer. There’s sunshine, heat, thunderstorms, and a seemingly endless bunch of motivations to just get out there and enjoy the world. 

I’m sitting in my darkened cave of a bedroom, the whir of the fan droning on, thinking about all the things I could do. That’s the key word, right there. Could. 

I could deep-clean the house, taking one room every day until it’s sparkling. That would make way for the painting that needs to be freshened up and the various carpentry jobs that need to be completed. 

I could be outside with my camera, scouring the town and the enfolding hills of our valley for artistic photographs and vignettes. The excitement of seeing art framed within that lense is always welcome. 


I could be creating other forms of art. I have paint. I have clay. I’ve been wanting to form some vine sculptures to hang outside in the new sitting area that the husband and I built. 
I could be sitting out in that lovely space with a second cup of coffee, enjoying the sunshine and still-dewy late morning. 

I could be narrowing down my first bake from the recipes I’ve been eyeing since becoming obsessed with watching The Great British Baking Show. No, I’m no Mary Berry, the legendary British Baking Queen a la America’s Julia Child, and while I am greatly enamored of Paul Hollywood and his beefcake (although he’s The Bread God), his steely blue eyes, and his impish grin, I doubt I’ll ever pull off a brioche as heavenly as his. This doesn’t mean that I don’t want to try, and to be honest, the husband is hoping I’ll experiment, too. 

I could be out walking, getting those critical steps in to keep my legs muscular and loose, to stave off the arthritic stiffness that accompanies too little movement. 192 steps up a steep hill at the conclusion of my daily treks is the test every single day. If I make it up neither winded or needing to stop for a few seconds to gulp air into my lungs and flood my body with oxygen, I  consider it a passing grade. Those days are plentiful, my body being used to the “Nightmare on Elm Street”, because yes, the street is called Elm Street and I’ve never met a single person who enjoys the climb. 

All of those things. I could be doing them. But I’m not, because the one symptom of a full-blown depressive episode – my low times – is procrastination.  Letting my depression sink its teeth into my psyche and bite down hard. Moving is pain; the teeth sink deeper and it hurts. So moving becomes very scary. I have to take it slowly, letting my meds cut through the fog of anxiety and the ensuing darkness, before grabbing those jaws and pulling the teeth out of me. Some mornings, it just mouths me almost playfully, like a kitten or a puppy will when it’s deciding whether or not it wants to fall asleep or play tug of war with it’s human’s body part. Some mornings, the teeth jar me awake, the terror flooding every nook and cranny of my body, and even stretching is an exercise in courage. This morning was not entirely a terror-inducing awakening, but somewhere just before. I knew that I needed to write, because writing helps put everything into perspective. 

When I’m “down in it” I don’t want to do anything, to feel anything, to be anything. We read memes on social media about hating people and not wanting to go out. That is quite literally me, and those memes are almost comical because they’re so truthful. I really don’t hate everyone, but I dread them. I dread having to encounter someone I know, make eye contact, smile, talk. 

Fuck. It’s all so exhausting. 

It’s easier to sit in this room, putting off what I could do, allowing the cocoon of safety to enslave me. The problem is, the hopeless thoughts live in here, and the sad ones, and the scary ones, too. Out in the world, I can attempt an escape, immersing myself in other activities to stave them off. It’s 90% effective about 50% of the time, and you’d think that I’d be clamoring to just get on with it and play the odds. The low time is seductive, though, in that while the meds make the fog of panic recede, in its place comes the desire to just be a lump of flesh and to sink into a couch, or bed. A dark place. A safe place of Nothingness.

I’m waiting for a call from my future employer, saying it’s time to begin. That will certainly help, although having taken time off to recover from my eye condition and rejuventue my psyche has lulled me back into feeling like I just don’t fucking know what I want. My eyes aren’t healed. I know, intellectually, that the chemicals are off in my body. Menopause is no fucking joke, and my brain was tricked into happiness by looking forward to our recent vacation and seeing my favorite band- Ghost – not once, but twice in two days. I met the lead singer, Papa Emeritus III, and a couple of the Nameless Ghouls. It was a thrill that I never imagined happening to me. I got to spend time at the Atlantic Ocean and to swim in it. In 50 years of life, I had never been in the ocean. The peacefulness and the majesty…it overtook me and for once in my life, I felt a calming and pure wave of happiness descend over and through my body, making me feel like I must glow from being lit from within. I knew that I needed this. I need it.  Every day. We returned home, to reality. I floated on a cloud for a day or two, revisiting our happy escapade. 
Then it all came crashing down. I’ve been sitting at the bottom ever since, thinking that if this continues to be my reality – this shitty little town, these boring routines, beauty so far away from me, and the hateful, spiteful, divisive rhetoric that permeates the world we live in – then why continue? What the fuck is the point? I’m tired. Tired of reaching for a brass ring that tears away from my grasping fingers. I’m tired of knowing that I am blessed, but not feeling it. I’m tired of depression and its constant reminder that I am broken, and that chemicals prop me up and make me presentable. I am tired. 

No. This isn’t a cry for help. This is more a rant, albeit weak. I know that I’m going to publish this, then put my clothes on and push through the day. I’ll walk. I’ll forget my fears and sadness for a little bit. I’ll flood my sore, achy eyes with drops and climb those 192 steps. It will be okay. I just needed to say it: 

Depression, you motherfucker. I fucking hate you, you liar, you cheat, you thief of all things good. You will not win, you evil piece of shit. You will not win

I question the legitimacy of this piece of writing.

Father’s Day has arrived; another obligatory greeting card holiday meant to single out one group of the population for adulation and kudos.  Everyone is waxing poetic about their dads, the dads they know, etcetera, et al, ad hominem. Everyone is feeling the feels: the love, the pride, the gratitude, and in many instances, the loss. Everyone, that is, except me. I can’t express any of those feelings because I’ve never felt them. I lack the ability, having never felt them myself. I’m not alone in this; there are about a bazillion of us bastards inhabiting the planet, and before you get all uppity about the word bastard, please understand that I mean it solely in the archaic derogatory:

a person born of parents not married to each other.

 

Me!

 

The  other kind.

 

 
There. Glad we got that out of the way, because I certainly wouldn’t want to offend the other kind of bastards out there. Or bastard. Because he is a huge bastard, of all the bastards there are on this planet. BIGLY. But I digress. I’m a bastard, or illegitimate, as some prefer to coin it. I don’t like that word, because it’s confusing; it can be a noun or an adjective.


Definition of illegitimate. 1 : not recognized as lawful offspring; specifically : born of parents not married to each other. 2 : not rightly deduced or inferred : illogical.

Now, I am not an adjective, and I certainly do not see myself as unrecognized. People know me, capice? Again, I digress.   I just wanted to point out why that word is actually more offensive than being referred to as “ye bloody bastard!” in a Scottish burr. I’d quite enjoy that, actually.

My parents weren’t married, no. It would have been impossible for them to be, because one of them was already married when I was conceived, and inasmuch that I’m the bastard, here, it’s pretty obvious that it wasn’t my mother already engaged in a lawful union. They never did get married, despite having two children together, and my father never did all the fatherly things dads do if they’re even halfway decent at the job. Sure, he came around occasionally, but you can probably figure out why, and it had nothing to do with luck, although his intentions rhymed with that word.

There’s no sense going over it. He wasn’t there, he isn’t there now even though he still breathes, and he never will be. I don’t want him to be, and never needed him to be. So, Father’s Day is a big, empty space of time for me, and always has been, except for when my kids were little and I helped them to shower their father with all the Father’s Day  worship and accoutroment. I simply do not recognize it as a day of anything for me.

I’ve been thinking, though, that we bastards (not “wee bastards” in a Scottish burr, although  AGAIN! That would be lovely) deserve a special day to celebrate our lack of a father. We could call it Sperm Donor Day, or Tadpole Day, or Thank God Mom Didn’t  Douche Day.

Too much? Sorry. I didn’t  think so. But  then again, one has to have a certain, skewered sense of humor in order to grow up a fatherless child during a time when it was not cool. Anyway, since dads are often called Papa, I am going to celebrate Father’s Day by worshipping my current musical God and hottie, Papa Emeritus III of the band Ghost. He’s been more present in my life than my sperm donor, because not only have I met him legitimately,  but we have hugged, as well. So Happy Papa Day!

The literary equivalent of Alex Kintner after the shark ate him. 

When you’re a writer, you have to write. I mean, you have to, okay? You have to even when you don’t want to. You have to when it isn’t convenient. If you’re very  fortunate,  you have to because it puts food on the table and pays your bills. When I say that you have to, it’s because of all those things, which also flow from the very need to write. Words, ideas, phrases all cram themselves into every crevice, nook, and cranny of your brain and if you are a writer, you know that you must purge them or drown in them. Some of them string together in such a way that they’re poetry. Some are viciously funny or violently dramatic. Some are quietly poignant and simply eloquent.

And some are crap. Utter rot, totally pointless and without direction. You know those ones the moment you put them to paper (or monitor) and you feel this sinking feeling from deep within that tells you that you’ve just wasted an hour or more of time you could have spent rearranging your band t-shirt drawer alphabetically or scrubbing the grout between the backsplash tiles.

Oh, fuck that. You weren’t going to do that stuff. Okay, I wasn’t.

Anyway, I have a lot of words crowding up my brain tonight, elbowing and jostling and knocking around, and it’s uncomfortable as hell.  I’m a writer. I call myself one, and people tell me that I am, and who am I if not a weaver of witchy witticisms and eclectic coloquialisms? I’m going to spill them out all over, probably just like Larry Vaughn feared that Kintner boy was going to spill out all over the dock if they cut that shark open in Jaws. Nice visual, eh? Think of my words as partially digested body parts.

Who decided that we should wipe after going to the bathroom? Who was that person? I want to thank them. Brilliant.

Personal space. How is it that this became a thing? “Please stand back. You’re invading my personal space.” Sorry, bitch, but it’s crowded in here with all your uppity assumptions that you own this air right here.

Donald Trump’s hair. I mean, what is that? I can’t with the swirly, cotton candy comb-over that really isn’t.

Paul Ryan’s face. Hell, Orrin Hatch’ s face. And what the hell is it with Rick Santorum? Did this guy crawl straight out of a sewer in Harrisburg? Because he is really that shitty of a person. Oops! Did I just “out” my choice of political party with these observations of horrible people? Sorry. Can’t get away from the drama for a second, apparently.

How was it decided that actors and singers  should be paid more money than police officers, or soldiers, or firemen? Who the hell made the assumption that people would be fine with paying ridiculously huge sums of money to people for playing make believe and music? Who placed more value on entertainment than saving lives? Turns out, whoever that fucker was, he was taking a page right out of HG Wells’  time machine, because look at the figures entertainers get for one starring role or one huge song today. On the other end of the spectrum, a soldier with a family probably qualifies for food stamps. There’s something wrong with that. If I’ve gone all preachy-judgy, I apologize, but it’s been bothering me and we’re at the social commentary part of my little ditty, here.
Quantum physics. These are apparently laws. Or something like that. I don’t really know, but that’s how I clear out my brain: I introduce quantum physics, or anything that begins with the word “quantum”. Even that show from the 80s or whatever, with Scott Bakula. Want to clear the room up in my noggin? Introduce quantum anything. Or couponing. That’ll do it.

See? I got nothin’. Here’s a sleeping kitten:

Am I the Highway? 

I’m feeling….all the things. The things I desperately try not to feel.

It’s been building again, after a brief respite. The past year has been a roller coaster for me, with short pauses at the tops of every hill. Those pauses allowed me to catch my breath and to listen, for that blink-of-an-eye moment, when my heart and gut were in agreement. Then down again, into the depths, where the ride seemed to take forever before slowly climbing to the plateaus of clarity once again.

I’ve made some really great decisions at the crest of those hills. A year ago, I was testing unfamiliar waters and deciding if I could swim, after being unable to go near the edge for a while. I jumped! I took that chance. I found that I was a fair swimmer,  but then someone dunked me and I went under. When I resurfaced, it was once again all about survival, treading the choppy waters and curling up into a survival ball and bobbing along on the surface. I felt the way a shipwreck survivor must feel, wondering if they will ever see land or be rescued before the sharks come and rip them apart. Ideally, one wants rescue, not the deserted island. No one wants to be Tom Hanks,  babbling on to a soccer ball with a happy blood face. In a way, that was me at my job, only the cooler was my deserted island and I guess you could say that a gallon of milk served as my Wilson. (No blood face, though. That would have been a code violation.) I was alone, and unsure, and there really was no one, in a crowded sea of people in and out of that building, to reassure or rescue me.

I understood, from the beginning, that this was not the right fit for me, but you don’t  get to pick your desert island when your ship goes down and safety appears on the horizon. You go for it and then you make the best of it. In this case, the island was inhabited by people but they were all doing the same thing as me: trying to survive. And some had been doing it a lot longer than me, so they weren’t always forthcoming with the ways in which one could get better at it. You had your saboteurs, too; the ones who ran things seemed to be in legion with them. It’s beginning to sound as if I was stuck in a metaphorical goddamn Lord of the Flies, doesn’t it? I guess that says more about the situation than I expected. That is unfortunate. Because not all of it was bad. But most of it was. The minute I saw a way to escape the island, I took it. I was at the top of a crest again, and I saw with brilliant clarity what was right for me.

Yeah, you’re shouting at the screen right now, telling me that if we’re mixing metaphors could I at least fucking warn you, right? Sorry, but if you’re reading my stuff with any regularity, you have already agreed to my terms. This is my brain, and this is a typical day of my brain on lifesaving drugs. Any questions?

Okay. So I am off the island, and it is good. Please, don’t think that I regret anything about the fact that I left my shipwrecked mates to survive anyway they could. Because I don’t, not at all. That may seem heartless, but for a great deal of my time on that island nobody gave a single fuck about me because they were all too busy doing their own surviving. Maybe it would be better if the survivors banded together to tame the island, but in this case, the island is way too big and way too supernatually powerful. It chews up everything in its wake and spits it out. Ask any struggling smaller town in America about the carnage left behind when one such island rises from the ground and consumes everything in its path. Yes people, I’ve got metaphors shooting out of my ass today! This is how we say what we want without saying, “Walmart is an evil fucking entity that must be stopped.” Oops. So much for metaphors!

I am free, and I am on a ride that, for now, contains no inclines that I can see. Problem is, it’s on lower ground and there hasn’t been a lot of sunshine. I know that I insist that I am a vampire, and that I love the dark, but the darkness I love is hard to navigate right now because of some of the things that happened to me while I was on the island. My eyes were damaged by the conditions of my cooler-cave, and it’s a big “if” right now as to whether or not I will get them back. If not, then I get to go on a cornea transplant list and wait for a dead person to give me their corneas. This is not the island’s fault, because it stems from a pre-existing condition that I never imagined would travel into my eyes. Alas, I am angry at the goddamned island anyway. Because now I can’t see in the dark, and that’s scary. I can’t read books for more than a few pages before the need to cover up one eye in order to focus wears me out and I give up. I have to put drops in them numerous times a day and that only works for a while. While my eyes feel better now, they aren’t there yet, and that frustrates me. It’s worrisome, because I need my eyesight for my career path. It’s just another health issue to stack on top of the growing pile. Which leads me to think about age. And then the state of clusterfuck that this country is in with healthcare. Will I even be able to get a cornea transplant if it turns out that I need one?

So many things like this swirl around in my head, ripping and tearing at the walls. The panic attacks come swiftly and with more frequency when my brain is under siege. And that makes me feel low. And when I get low, then my shadowy nemesis, Depression, attempts to stage another coup. This is what it’s like, all the time. Plateaus of clarity and lightness of being that simply do not last long enough. You want to stay on solid, level ground, yeah, but then you’re vulnerable to attack. Why do you think cats like being up high? They’re safer there because they can see the enemy.

I know that I can’t stay up on high all the time, because the air is a little too thin and then I don’t always think clearly. That can be as dangerous as the low country and the predators that lurk in the shadows. It’s just this, though: I get tired of having to stay vigilant. I would like longer stretches of time up there. It doesn’t have to be forever, because I know that life is a sequence of hills and valleys and winding, twisted roads.

But this. Depression, and then suicidal thoughts. This is what it feels like. Exhaustion, sadness, and the idea that you simply cannot do it another day. And then it turns into another moment and then, BOOM. Or actually, *sigh*. Just

sigh.

You’re Chris Cornell. Or Robin Williams. Or someone you know. You wonder – do you know someone who is getting to that last moment of exhaustion? You might just. In fact, I’ll bet an entire bottle of Zoloft that you do.  But that is what it feels like, and Chris Cornell is what it looks like. Those of us who fight this battle recognize others who are fighting, too. We nod at them, maybe even give them a little smile.  We take our pills and force ourselves to live because we still have enough fight left in us to remember that there’s going to be another hill. We aren’t being relentlessly attacked at every turn. We’re either treading water or just riding along, depending on which metaphor you prefer. Sometimes there’s a sneak attack, an ambush, and we have to fight with everything we have. If we are lucky, we aren’t completely alone when that happens, but if we are, it is imperative that reinforcements show up quickly. Sometimes, they just don’t get there in time and then the cry goes up into the sky and we find out that another warrior has been lost. Those are the hard ones to take. The ones who led so many of us through the unknown with their words, their songs, their laughter. When we lose one of the Commanders, we dive into our bunkers and lick our wounds. We mourn. And then, we correct our course, and reemerge to move toward the hills again.

I am not alone, and the hills loom off in the distance. I can see where I am going. But look around you. Do you see a warrior with no backup? Maybe follow them for a while. Until the hills get closer. Or maybe designate yourself as their sherpa, if they will let you. The point is, don’t let them travel alone. There is solitude, and there is loneliness, and then there is alone.
Don’t let them be alone.

Anmiversary.

4 years ago on this day, I was lying to myself.

I’ve always been a believer in my gut, because that deep, gnawing awareness of things has never steered me wrong. My heart has always been my gut’s most worthy adversary, and God knows, I’ve let “the heart have what the heart wants” too many times when my gut was fairly screaming inside my head, warning me that my heart is selfish and narcissistic. 4 years ago, my heart was not ready to admit what it had known at the same time as my gut: that 2 days prior, when my brother came upstairs and said, “Mom needs help” and my daughter had flown down the stairs while I threw on some clothes, the 911 call I would make that day was going to be the last of its kind. We’d made so many throughout the years and indeed, my whole life had been framed by 911 calls. As a child, the frantic calls for the ambulance were made for my grandmother, and then as my mother’s health declined decades later, they were for her. With every single one before September 22, 2012, my gut had reassured me that things might have been a little sketchy occasionally, but “pull through” was what my mother always did. This time, my gut was pretty quiet. As I pulled on a pair of jeans and tripped over my own feet while trying to pull my hair into a ponytail, my gut whispered, and that whisper was louder than any scream. This time is different, it said. You know this time is different.

Throughout three days of reassurances and care plans and then alternative efforts to make Mom’s slow southward descent turn around, I kept telling my gut to SHUT the FUCK UP. My heart was not letting go of the promise of the past few months. We’d been working our way back to a healthy mother-daughter relationship, which was something we’d lost back around the time my brother was born when I was 8 and THAT shitstorm had commenced. 37 years I’d been hanging in the wind while she blamed me for all her bad choices. 37 years of my own bad choices made out of loneliness and fear and not belonging anywhere or to anyone. We were working it out. She was feeling better. She was my mom again. Really my mom. Obviously, my gut was a fucking liar, right? Because I had waited all those years to finally have her in my life in a positive way, and my heart wanted that. Needed that.

In the early hours of September 24, 4 years ago, I couldn’t sleep. My gut was whispering again and I needed to silence it. At 4:30am, I called the MICU and had a quiet conversation with the kindest nurse I’ve ever known. I wish that I could remember her name. She was the charge nurse and supervised all the RNs assigned to each individual patient. My mom’s nurse was busy, so this nurse talked to me. I began to realize that she sounded a lot like my gut, and that I needed to let her talk directly to my heart. In that calm and comforting way she had, she quieted my heart’s cries that I needed my mom. I was able to sleep a bit, and then things happened the way they did. I still remember each and every moment of that day, and that in the end, my gut and my heart locked hands and helped me to make the decision that had to be made. When it was over, and my girls and I had held her hands as she left us and the sunset was so breathtaking over Lake Erie that I just KNEW she had gone peacefully, that charge nurse was coming on shift. She asked me, “Can I just hug you? I wanted to so bad when we talked and I would like to if you would let me now.” Of course. Of course.

The last 4 years have been challenging. I have fallen apart in many ways. I have been at war inside, still wondering if she ever truly loved me. In this process of falling apart and slowly trying to make myself whole again, I have come to accept that yes, she did. She did in the only ways she knew how. Maybe it wasn’t what I deserved, but it was what I was given, which is more than so many lost souls get. It has to be enough, and so my gut is telling me to open my heart and let the sadness I feel in, but to not wallow in it. Let it have the relevance it needs, but to then let it go. Embrace the love that surrounds me, and laughter, and live each day feeling gratitude. Remember that sunset when she left us, and bask in its glow of peacefulness every single day.

I will always miss my mother.