Dear Boots

It’s your birthday.

You would have been 45.

In my head, your birthdays look like this:

Why did I wear a halter top if I felt compelled to fold my arms across my stomach?  I look uncomfortable.  You look beautiful, as always.

Do you remember that Halloween that we put on costumes and went to the new mall?  Lisa dressed like a reindeer.

Halfway through the afternoon, we ran into some boys you knew from school.  I felt important to be noticed by them.  Looking back, I know they weren’t noticing me.  They were noticing you.  And maybe the reindeer.

When my dad came to pick us up, we each gave those boys a quick kiss.  I had never kissed anyone before and, more importantly, my dad had never seen me kiss anyone before.  I can only imagine the conversation between him and my mom that night.

Conversation.  😐

I’d love to have a conversation with you.

Shhhh.  Don’t tell anybody, but sometimes I talk to you anyway.  I figure it’s worth it, because maybe you can hear me from wherever you are.  Maybe you even have some way to respond.

Today, I told you that I feel overwhelmed by the challenges with my son.  He is home from school again and I am teary and mad and teary and mad and teary again and madder still.  And sad.  Maybe you would listen to that.

Maybe you would also babysit now and then to help me keep my sanity.  I could use that today.  A lot.

A lot.

“Lot” is one of my son’s high frequency vocabulary words this week.  I can’t get school off my brain.  There’s always some dilemma with school.

Yesterday, there was a series of minor mishaps in the classroom.  My son was not to blame, but I guess his routine was a bit derailed by it.  Today, he doesn’t want to go back.

Talking about it distressed him so immediately and completely, that I couldn’t even stay in the room.  I went to the garage and cried in the dark.  I needed him to go today.

I needed him to go because this post was supposed to be about you, not him.

When I had stopped crying enough to think for a moment, I decided that home needed to be as boring as I could possibly make it.  I came in from the garage and wrote some rules.

If he stayed here, there would be no television, no toys, no legos, no computer, no open snack choices, no store, no friends, no outside.  There would be nothing fun.  I would bore him out of staying.

He would sit on the couch all day and eat only peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for his lunch and all snacks.  Surely he would choose to go to school, right?

Wrong.  He is home and we’re both going crazy.  And your lovely birthday post has been hijacked.

I have successfully managed to keep the child on the couch with no real activity for about an hour.  He is bored out of his mind and he wants something to eat that isn’t pb&j.  What do I do?  Is this what I wanted?  I hate it.  What would you tell me?

A few minutes ago, he got up from the couch and just as I was about to direct him back again, he said “Thomas hug a Mama?”  Of course we hugged.  And now I am possessed by guilt.  And tears.  Great.

Another hour has passed and we have gone to my friend’s house to walk her dog.  I mean your friend’s house.  I inherited her from you.  That was a very nice gift to leave behind.   Thank you.

Now the little boy is doing everything he can to push the boundaries of his circumstances.  I am standing firm to the rules I wrote out for him this morning.  But he is getting agitated, so what do I do?  What would you tell me to do?

Maybe I wouldn’t listen to you.  Maybe I would even get annoyed if you threw in your two cents before it was solicited.  Maybe.

He wants to play on the computer.  He sees me in my computer chair.  He sees that I am typing something and he wants to do that too.

He doesn’t know that I’m having a chat with my departed friend.  He thinks I’m playing.  He doesn’t know that it isn’t the least bit fun for me to only wonder what you’d think.

I can’t make my autistic child sit on the couch all day.  Heading for Plan B.  Are you coming with me?

Okay, crisis averted.  Crisis of autistic behaviors.  Crisis of conscience.  Crisis of parenting without my friend to see me though it.

Back to you.  And me.  And us.

Do you remember when nerf balls first appeared and the only thing we ever thought to do with them was stuff a couple under our shirts and pretend to be Dolly Parton?  Here’s you with two:

Everything was funny to us.  There was a shorthand to our humor.  I miss that so much sometimes.  It’s not just anybody’s broken bone boredom that could get me to do this:

Happy Birthday, my beautiful friend.

I love you.

♥♥

Just blue

My dad had really blue eyes.

I used to study them when we sat together for lunch at the Barbecue Pit in Escondido.

We ate there whenever our thrift store adventures took us in that direction.

Oddly enough, it was the only place we really ever sat across from one another.

Generally we got fast food, found a shady spot to park and we ate in the car, side by side.  We had the greatest conversations, but we didn’t always look one another squarely in the face.

At that BBQ place, we did.

I haven’t been back there since my dad passed away in 2004.  It’s not really a paradise for vegetarians.  I’ll never eat a meal there again, but I need to walk in the door sometime to see what it does to me, you know?  Go somewhere meaningful to check out my psyche?  Haven’t done that purposefully in quite a while.

I wonder what my dad would think of the way I’ve handled my grief for him.  I wonder if he has a way to look at my eyes now to see what’s behind them.

We spoke frequently about his own parents and their passing, but I don’t recall his grief.

I was only 12 when his mom died and I was away at college when his dad passed on, so I don’t remember if my dad’s eyes looked different for those events.  I don’t remember if he wore his sadness there or if he packed it away someplace.

I do recall that he was always interested in the parallels between his own life and theirs, particularly his mom’s.  She died at age 68.  My dad always said he wanted to make it at least one year longer than she did.  He was 69 when he passed.

I want to live a lot longer than that.  I figure I’ve got to get in a few years on behalf of my best friend too.  If I live to be 92, that gives me forty-four years on her life.  I can split that difference with her and tell everyone we each lived to be 70.  That’s a good long life for us both and it beats out my dad, right?  That’s my plan.  92.

Back to the eyes.  Sometimes when I look in the mirror, I see my dad’s eyes looking back.  But his were really blue, and mine are not.  Mine are greener and lately they’ve been bloodshot.  Too many tears, not enough sleep.

I miss my dad, I miss my friend, and I worry about my son.  Oh, how I worry about my son.  And myself.

This has been a hard week on my eyes.

Just Thinking

It’s late and creepy quiet in my house.

I tucked the little boy into his bed about an hour ago and the husband just went out for a jog in the cold night air.  It rained all day, so he was deprived of his bike ride.

Have I mentioned that my husband is an inspired (crazed??  avid??) cyclist?  He has all that gear and those tight jerseys and the padded shorts and the important bikes that look the same as the other bikes to me.  Don’t tell him I said that.  I’m kind of exaggerating anyway.  🙂

And this is his favorite blog.  I read it on occasion myself.  If you’re in the mood to dig a little, you will find the word cancer on there way too much.  Courageous.  Inspiring.  Sad.  Getting happy again.

Now the husband has returned.  He is sweaty and smiling.  He did two laps around something or other.  The night air agrees with him.

I have accomplished no such feat this week.  Well, unless you count going to the dentist.  I did do that.  That’s sorta healthy, I guess.   It wouldn’t be beneficial not to go, right?

I so hoped I would have some inspiring, witty or otherwise interesting tidbit to share with you, but I’m fresh out.  Hmm…

Christian Nielson posted some beautiful photos of his children yesterday.  Even if you don’t follow his wife’s blog, the NieNieDialogues, you will appreciate these little people and all of their emotions.  I love the picture of Claire with her head back in laughter.  Mommy Stephanie is in the hospital again for more surgery.  Mr. Nielson posts to the blog in her absence.

And I can’t stop looking at these apple cider doughnuts.  My apologies if I’ve already shared this link, but it’s almost Valentine’s Day and the heart cutouts are really cute.  Make some.  Give them to me.  While they’re warm.  Thank you.  🙂

And lastly, please tell me that you all saw Sigourney Weaver on Saturday Night Live the other day.  Oh my, how I love this woman.  Go watch this clip.  And then write a comment below to express your love of me for sharing it.

Have a good Wednesday.

♥♥

I posted mine.

A few days ago, I received some forwarded e-mail notes from a few of my Facebook friends.  Women receiving the notes were instructed to post only one word in their Facebook status bar that day – the color of their bras.

The idea was to show support for the fight against breast cancer.  Women would post their colors and men would wonder why.  And all of it would inspire conversation.

I happily posted my color and passed the note to a few more friends, but I chose only those whom I thought would enjoy participating.

I saw colors everywhere on Facebook that day and conversations ensued around them.

Yes, some of the comments were merely joking reactions to the bras themselves, but in some cases real discussion followed.  Even a couple of breast cancer survivors posted their colors.

Personally, I think this idea was a success and I am dismayed to find so much criticism of it rampant on the web this morning  (for example here and here).  What’s the point of that?

One blog mentioned that if we had posted our colors, then we should send a donation to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.  Okay, that’s a fair challenge.  By all means, if you can donate, then please do.

It’s unfortunate the same blogger stated that the women who participated in the status update were attempting to be playful, flirtatious or cute.  Really?  I wasn’t.  In fact, I don’t know anyone who was.

He also suggests that posting our colors is actually harmful to men.  What?

Whether you donate or not, don’t feel guilty or silly for participating in the status update.  Don’t separate yourself from those who have money to give.  Enthusiasm and camaraderie count too.

I don’t think any of the women who typed in their colors did so in lieu of donating.  My guess is that a few of them were reminded to donate.  And truly, what can be the harm in igniting conversation for a couple of days?  The bloggers are going bonkers – myself included, I guess.

And that brings me to a blunt reality check.  Stop reading now if you have a sensitive disposition.

Breast cancer isn’t pretty.  It doesn’t respect your privacy, your religious beliefs, your ethnic background, your social status or your income level.  It doesn’t care if you’re a classy lady or a bawdy broad.  It doesn’t even require you to be a woman.  Plenty of men are affected by it as well.

My best friend died from breast cancer at age 38.  Before she passed away, she was pumped full of chemicals and had her breast removed.  She lost her hair, her strength and sometimes her confidence.  She was subjected to every personal indignity that this disease could muster.

I struggle not to presume what she might have done in my shoes, but I believe in my heart she wouldn’t have questioned or criticized my posting that color.  I think she might even have appreciated the less serious, chuckle inducing comments that came from all of this.

Whatever the case, I want you to know that my bra is black and I am grateful I’m alive and have two breasts to fill it.

If this post reminds you to donate, please go to any of these sites to find out how:

Susan G. Komen for the Cure

National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.

American Cancer Society

Thanks for reading.

♥♥