Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Part Two!  This one is long.
When I was a little girl, our family had a lake house down on Cedar Creek Lake.  It was my favorite place to be when I was a child.  Of course I didn't know to appreciate it the way I would now.  It was just there, a part of things, part of our "normal" and a part of our lives.  We'd go down there for a weekend getaway when we had no money to go on a vacation.  We'd go down there to escape and just be together as a family.  We'd go down there for spring and summer holidays.  We had the best times down there.  Some of my favorite childhood memories are there.  I bonded the most with my Grandad while down there.  I have a memory of being an itty bitty child, sleeping on the cot that was placed in between the two full sized beds, with Mema and Grandad in one bed.  I'd wake up in the morning and Grandad would be awake too.  He would reach out his foot to grab my foot with his long toes.  We'd squeeze eachother's toes and I remember that it kind of hurt, but I never stopped.  I would play toes with Grandad while the rest of the house was asleep.  Another Grandad memory I have is when I was getting dressed to go swimming.  I was putting on my one piece yellow Cookie Monster swimsuit.  The straps on my shoulders were all bunched up and twisted, and I would become so frustrated with them that I would throw a tantrum.  I was probably 4 years old and as we all know, a 4 year old will become impatient and frustrated with these little things.  I was ready to go SWIMMING and that urgency that I may get left behind took over any rational thought.  I cried.  I ran outside in a tantrum, raced down the stairs and straight to my Grandad, my hero.  He so calmly and patiently untwisted my straps like it was no big deal, which just reassured me that all was right in the world.  It's funny how that memory stands out so much for me, and as luck would have it, Mom has a picture of that moment.  I need to borrow her photo album to scan that picture.  It's one of my favorite pictures out of all of my childhood pictures.  I wish I could say that I have a whole lifetime of memories with my Grandad.  But I don't.  He died during the winter of 1977.  My hero was taken from me way too soon. 

When I was about 10 years old, Mema sold the lake house.  I was very confused about how that made me feel because it was a new emotion for me all together.  Sadness, depression, and mourning.  A deep sadness that made me have actual physical symptoms.  I had never dealt with that before this.  It was our last weekend to be at the lake house.  The drive down there from Arlington usually took two hours, which was an eternity to a child.  We kids never got carsick, but this time I felt carsick.  I felt headachy and tired and Mom sent me to go lie down in the bedroom with the twin beds.  My sister, Heather, was lying down in the twin bed beside me.  As we were laying there, I started to cry.  I didn't want Mema to sell the lake house.  She went to tell Mom, and then Mema and my aunt Valera laughed about me crying over that.  Like "How silly!"  But I don't think they realized how important that place was to me.  I don't think that *I* even realized how important that place was to me at the young age of 10.  Maybe deep inside I knew.  But I think it felt like we were leaving Grandad behind.  Because to this very day, I feel like Grandad is there, waiting for us to return to him.  I was "home" there.  It was where I always felt like I belonged.  I have never gotten over the loss of that beloved place.

The next year, the summer that I was 11, Mema took me to my great aunt Mary's house on Holly Lake.  She lived on a smaller pond that was just near Holly Lake, and her grandsons Michael and Richard would come and spend the week.  We had the most fun out there.  I was where I belonged, in the muddy water, playing, feeling carefree, leaving my stresses and worries behind, laughing, being a child, catching bugs, catching frogs, fishing, swimming, getting sunburned, and bonding with my cousins.  I feel like Mema gave me this gift because I was the youngest grandchild and had the fewest years to spend at our Cedar Creek lake house.  I will always be grateful to Mema for giving me this most precious gift.  I got to know Michael and Richard more than my first cousins ever did, and I got to bond with Aunt Mary in a way that my sister and first cousins never got to.  They had more years with Grandad than I did, and more years at Cedar Creek Lake than I did.  Mema took me back to aunt Mary's house the next summer, when I was 12, so that we could spend a week once again with them.  What a blast we had.  I grew to absolutely adore Michael and Richard and hated that I only got to see them at the reunions and during these summer visits.  To this day, I feel a strong bond and connection with the two of them.  Life has taken them so far away from me, not necessarily in miles but in spirit.  They have jobs, lives, families, and very little time for that annoying cousin Melody.  But I would drop everything for them if they ever needed me.  I have tears in my eyes as I type this.  They mean the whole world to me.  Growing up the youngest sibling, the youngest cousin, and the misfit in school and amongst friends, I was not always accepted or included, even as a child.  Actually it was most often as a child.  I had my Suzanne to grow up with and be at my side through everything, but I grew up always feeling like the bratty, tag-along little sister or cousin that was dorky, silly, awkward, the social misfit, and annoying in every way.  But I never felt that way with Michael and Richard.  They accepted me and we were a team.  It was such a short time, but that short time stands out so vividly in my mind and is most cherished and dear to my heart.  If I could ever revisit times of my childhood it would be during those visits with them.  Or those weekends at Cedar Creek Lake.  I belonged at the lake.  I was home there. 

But it wasn't long after that that Mary sold her house and there were no more visits to Holly Lake.  But luck was on my side!  Suzanne's Dad had met and married Cathy, and Cathy's brother had a place on Possum Kingdom Lake.  Suzanne and her siblings had every other weekend with their father, and I was "one of them" since the age of 4 so they would always bring me with them.  And during the spring and summertime, we'd go to Possum Kingdom Lake.  I don't know for sure what age I was, I think it was the summer I was 14 and the summer I was 15.  This was my time with Suzanne.  We spent the most time together out there, bonding, swimming, getting burnt to a crisp, laughing, we slept in the back of the pick up truck once when a lot of family came to spend the weekend.  I think this was the 4th of July weekend.  We slept under the stars!  There was also the night that Suzanne and I went to a neighbors dock and just sat in the dark and talked, for hours and hours it seems like.  We made our way back to the house and the adults were still up, playing cards and laughing.  Those were the best times.  Once again, my fondest memories were spent at the lake.  I don't know what happened after that, I think Cathy's brother sold the place or he moved, but we didn't go back.  Maybe they did, but I have never been back.  Suzanne and I grew into those high school years and later had boyfriends, who we both later married, and life pulled us in so many different directions.  But, once again, those memories are near and dear to my heart and they are mine to keep forever.  I felt like I was home at that lake. 

The years have flown by, but for as long as I can remember, my dream has been to have my own lakehouse.  Life has other plans and the finances just don't allow for it.  I did get to live in Corpus Christi for six months, in an apartment complex on a bay.  I could stand in my front doorway and see the water in the bay.  Cayo Del Oso bay, I believe it was called.  A bay inside of a bay.  It was beautiful!  Almost a dream come true.  We spent our weekends at the beach, swimming in the ocean, getting sunburned, I got stung by a Portuguese man of war and was afraid to swim in the ocean for a long time after that.  But I was living near the water!  I just wasn't happy.  My ex husband was not kind to me at all and I spent that summer praying about what I was supposed to do.  I feel God led me to leave and return "home" to Arlington and start my life over there.  So I did. 
There were a few vacations over the years to visit the ocean, and I am so drawn to the ocean.  I'd love to live there, but it isn't my home.  It's what I desire, but it isn't my home.  The lake is my home and I've felt it down to my bones for as long as I can remember. 

One year, on our anniversary, Jim and I drove down to Cedar Creek Lake so I could see the old lakehouse.  I had really missed it over the years.  I hadn't seen it since I was 10 years old and I wanted to see it again.  We followed the map and drove down, but I had no idea how to find that street.  I just remembered landmarks and bridges.  We drove around for what seems like HOURS.  It wasn't to be found anywhere.  Back and forth, this way and that.  I was having a meltdown and I said out loud "Okay, Grandad!  Show me where it is!"  And then we just happened to find the street.  I said "this might be it, go down this street."  I continued to talk to Grandad in my mind and as we drove, I suddenly yelled out "Stop!  That's IT!!!"  And there we were!  There was the lake house.  All cute, blue, and still as I remembered it.  (just a different color, and no Stanley sign on the outside.)  Thank you, Grandad.  I wrote down the address and stared a little bit more, then we were on our way.  This was in 1999.  That next week at work, I typed up a letter and sent it to that address and told the owners of the house that if they ever wanted to sell it, please contact me.  I think the letter came back undelivered because the address wasn't a mailing address at that time.  I assumed it wasn't meant to be, but my dream never went away. 

So, almost a month ago, I suddenly had the urge to go down there again.  We've been living in Palmer for ten years now, which is about halfway to Cedar Creek Lake from my childhood home in Arlington.  I had been confined to my couch for a week, in pain, and was so stir crazy that I couldn't stand it anymore.  I was hit with a horrible wave of depression and loneliness that happens with every spring flare-up.  I couldn't take it anymore.  When I have moments like this, I am desperately trying to find things that I can do to relieve the emotional pain.  And I was suddenly remembering my most cherished childhood memories.  I wanted to go where my happiest times were spent to help cure the blues.  I wanted to drive down to see the lake house again.  It was pulling me there like the strongest magnet in the world.  I simply had to get down there right away, so we drove down there.  This time we had a better idea of where to go.  I'd been looking at Google maps and knew right where to go.  It took some time, and we even had to pull over to make sure we were on the right path, but we were.  And this time we found it with much more ease and there it was!  My pretty lake house, blue and whole, same as it ever was.  There were a few changes underneath the front of the place, and the boat house wasn't there anymore, and it appeared that they use the area between the two docks for swimming.  We never swam in that spot as children due to the big ugly stump that was in the water.  I was terrified of that stump!  But that stump wasn't there anymore.  The water was very low since we're in a little bit of a drought.  But I totally trespassed and walked down to the waters edge and I shed a few tears as I remembered my times with Grandad, and the summertimes spent at that wonderful place.  This is my home.  I belong there.  No doubt about that.  I have never felt more sure of anything that I can remember.  I belong there. 

Well, since that day I have been obsessing about lake front property in the Cedar Creek Lake area.  It has taken over my life the last few weeks.  I now have a picture of our old lake house on my desktop and on my phone.  I stare at the pictures every single day and visualize Jim and I living in that house.  It's small, maybe smaller than my own house, but I feel like I belong there.  Maybe I don't belong in that same place but I belong on that lake.  I look at available property every single day and I have been doing so for nearly a month now.  Life has thrown us some curve balls this year and we struggle to make ends meet as we try to pay off the expenses we have recently had to charge on credit cards.  We've had to give up a lot of things and cut our grocery budget in half, and some months we can barely scrape by.  Yet here I sit, dreaming of how we can purchase our lake house.  I cannot remember ever wanting something so badly in my whole life.  This is something I've been dreaming about and wanting since I was a little girl, that's a long time!  And why now?  Why now when we are having such a difficult time?  I told Jim that I would be willing to sell off every single one of my collectibles if I could have my lake house.  And I meant that.  I have closets full of Barbie dolls, Hallmark ornaments, other figurines and collectibles.  They aren't worth a whole lot individually but if I sold off a great deal of what I have, we might be able to put a dent into the debt.  But I don't see it buying us a lake house.  I've started looking at jobs.  I don't know what I would qualify for with my pain levels and limitations.  I don't feel like I am completely disabled, my body is able to do a lot of things that most fibromyalgia sufferers aren't able to do, but I do have some really bad days where I cannot put forth 100%.  I have a guilty conscience and if someone is paying me to do a great job on something, I will put forth 100% and then suffer through the pain later on when I'm alone.  But if I were to go back to work full time, I wouldn't be able to spend the next day recuperating on the couch.  Right now my muscles still feel the burn from this last spring flare up.  Yes, it's summertime now, but I'm still recovering from that flare up.  I'm back in therapy and going to my every other week chiro visits.  It's just taking its sweet time putting me back to where I consider my "normal."  I just don't know what I can do to bring in enough of an income to make my dreams come true.  If you read my last blog, you'll see where I talked about how incredibly hard Jim works at his job.  Ten hour days, plus he checks his work emails in the evenings and weekends.  He doesn't have anything left in him to work a second job, so it's all up to me.  I just don't know where to begin.  I feel like this is something that is meant to be, I am feeling this pull that is stronger than ever and it feels so right.  It feels like it's so close I can touch it.  It feels like my meant to be.  It feels like there is nothing that is going to stop this from happening.  But there is.  There are a lot of things standing in my way.  So I sit here feeling anxious and antsy, like I need to start working towards my goal.  I have been praying every day for the answers as to how it is going to happen.  I feel so strongly that God is leading me, guiding me, shoving me in that direction.  And I know from experience that when God has a plan, His plan will follow through.  If He is guiding me in a direction, He will give me the tools, I am just opening my heart and mind to receive the answers He is giving me on how to make this happen.  Because it is happening.  There is no doubt about that.  I have never been more sure of anything.  This is going to be my reality.  It is my reality.  My lake house is finally coming back to me. 

So now that I've shown the world that I'm completely loony tunes, I hope you won't think so when I am proud owner of a lake house and you are welcome to come visit me there.  :)
Well, it's almost been a week since my last blog. I can't sit and type up blogs the way I used to be able to due to pain levels.  It's easier for me to sit on the couch and use my laptop, but probably better posture to use the computer room desktop computer. 

Last week I was feeling a bit down and poured my heart out in my blog.  I felt very exposed after that and had dreams where I was back working at CompUSA again, but had no clothes on either.  Very exposed, very unprotected, very vulnerable.  Sharing a blog is a huge step for me because of how exposed it makes me feel.  I've lost people in my life before, due to blogging.  People made judgments and assumptions about me that just weren't true.  I always feel like I'm trying to prove myself, like I'm trying to convince others that I am worth their time, worth liking, worth knowing, worth anything.  Why should it matter?  Part of me thinks that if a person doesn't like me just as I am, there are thousands of others in this great big world who just might.  But I feel compelled to go chasing after the one person who doesn't.  Why would I even want to waste my time?  Because when someone makes up their mind about me, chances are pretty high that there isn't a damn thing I can do to change it.  I have spent a very long time trying to learn to be OK with me, just as I am, but sometimes I'm not.  There is always room for improvement.  I have a lot of growing to do.  I'm nowhere near being finished growing.  This is my year of changes and it's time for me to let go of anyone who just can't love me or accept me the way I am. 

Family is so important to me.  Right now my family is Jim.  He is the person I share my life with and my every single day with.  But we do not have children.  I think that life had other plans for us and we're happy and blessed in other ways rather than being parents to children.  But there are times I would love to be a part of a big family.  I know God's plan for us at this time is to be Aunt, Uncle, Godparents and Petparents.  I trust God's plan.  But I sometimes miss those family vacations, family weekends, family cookouts.  Summertime is reminding me of all of those times as a child where we are surrounded by people and family.  But because we don't raise our own children, my family is Jim and I am his family.  We have eachother.  Even as a child I would try to join other families.  I tagged along with Suzanne and her family every chance I got.  I was at every birthday party for her, her siblings and her cousins.  I grew up thinking I was one of them and feeling like one of them.  But they are all grown now and I never get to see any of them, the cousins don't even talk to me anymore.  As an adult, I've bonded with a lot of people whom I now consider my family.  Many of them have children and I would love to join them with their family events, family vacations, family cookouts, to watch children play, grow, and to see children doing all of the things I used to do as a child.  But I am not a part of anyone else's family.  Not really, not like that.  Summertime makes me long for that.  I want to go camping with friends and their children.  I want to go to the lake with families, to the beach with families.  Sissie and I talked about going to Destin, FL and I got so excited about the idea of taking a family vacation with her and her family!  Last summer when my sister and her family were in town, she and I got to take the boys places and I was so very happy!  I loved seeing these things through their eyes.  But everyone goes back home and it's just Jim and I.  He's my family and our kids are covered in fur.  I think this is one of the reasons I've longed for a lake house.  That way I can invite my friends and their families to come out and enjoy the weekend.  Then I can be a part of a family vacation since Jim and I don't have our own family.  Sounds silly but one thing I learned growing up in a non traditional family is that families are not always blood related.  When we become adults, we get to choose our families.  I've had a lot of people call me their family in my lifetime, but then when it came time for a "family" event, I wasn't allowed to be there.  But when I call someone my family, I mean that.  I invite them to family events, family reunions, etc.  When I say family I mean it. 

Anyhow...just rambling.

My dear friend Tracey and her daughter Meaghan came out to see me on Thursday. :)  I love my Tracey!  She gets me.  She gets me in a way that a lot of people don't because she knows what it's like to struggle with chronic issues that may keep her feeling isolated and alone.  She and I have a little arrangement:  We include eachother.  We both know what it's like to feel excluded due to our issues, how sometimes people may not even extend an invitation because we may not feel like attending.  I have always included her in anything we have going on, even if she can't make it.  I don't get discouraged if/when she can't make it and I would never stop inviting her, I always invite her no matter what!  I know that she feels the way I do, that even if we may not feel up to it, even if we may not have the money to make the drive or go to the public place or even if we have other plans, we still want to be included and invited.  And when we have to say "no" today, we want the opportunity to say yes tomorrow.  When I was going to go to Arlington to hang out with friends, I was going to invite Tracey.  I invited her to go to my high school reunion last October.  She came and attended, and we had a ton of fun!  I felt safe having Tracey at my side.  I always feel safe, comfortable and at ease if I have a friend with me who accepts me just as I am.  It helps me not have those anxious feelings when I think people may judge me.  With Tracey, it's just comfortable.  I can act stupid, I can say MEATBALLS, I can vent about stupid shit that has me feeling down, I can have a drink and get tipsy and make a fool of myself and laugh, I can pour out my whole heart and life story and she doesn't judge me, ridicule me, make me feel stupid, less than, or childish.  She gets me.  Pure and simple.  She doesn't notice the flaws in my house or my dust bunnies, or my clutter.  She doesn't judge my time spent on the computer during a fibro flare up because she may be spending the same amount of time on hers if it's infusion week or if she's suffering her own symptoms.  We laugh when we're together.  I can be me.  She doesn't give me attitude and then go talk shit behind my back.  She is loyal.  She gets me.  And I get her.  Too bad she's in Arlington.  I'd never feel lonely with Miss Tracey out here!  I think she'd like moving out here, unless she doesn't want to feel lonesome too.  But if we have eachother, then we'll never feel alone. 

After my Tracey time, I feel my battery was recharged and I was pumped up and excited as I approached the weekend.  My confidence was a bit higher and I was ready to be social, connect with people, step outside of my comfort zone and go forward!  But then my poor sweet honey had a migraine on Friday, so we spent Friday evening at home, chilling, trying to get him to feel better.  Saturday he was a little bit better, we bathed the dogs and did our grocery shopping, then sat outside on the back deck that evening to watch the fireflies and have a drink, and just enjoy the summer evening.  The best part of the day during the summertime heat is the evening as the sun is going down.  :)  Sunday brought us 104 degrees.  Jim got out there to do some weed-eating but he got a bit overheated and had to come in early.  It was HOT!  We both felt lousy all day Sunday and I don't know if the heat was making us feel bad, or if we just felt bad and the heat was making us feel worse.  But the weekend came to a close and it was a pretty blah weekend overall.  I'm hoping next weekend will be better. 

So....onto part two.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

OK so I just posted the blog I wrote in April, recapping the year before. I copied and pasted it from my Livejournal account.  At the end of that blog I was supposed to continue, but I never did because I couldn't figure out which blog to use that day.  What I meant to write about was the mini-tornado we had in April.  The storms were rolling in that night and I tried to stay up and wait for them, just in case I needed to wake Jim up and get us into our bathroom for shelter.  But my eyes refused to stay open and I assumed the storm was taking its sweet ass time arriving, so I went to sleep.  It wasn't an hour later that rain and hail were pounding on the window so loudly that it woke us up.  I was so delirious and groggy that I couldn't form words right, but the adrenaline kicked in and I was very awake.  The wind was like nothing I had ever heard before.  It did indeed sound like a freight train.  I kept pacing the living room saying "Omg, the wind! OMG the wind!" I didn't know what to do!  Then I heard a noise.  I didn't know what that was, maybe a thud with a scrapey sound and I said "what was that???"  Jim said he didn't know.  The Bradford Pear out front was being blown all crazy like and I was too scared to stand close to the window for fear of glass flying at me.  Then, everything got really still.  I got down on my knees in front of the window and looked out, trying to see what damage had occurred.  Then the lightning flashed and I saw it: Our tree.  Our pretty, precious Bradford Pear Tree was split right in half.  The wind ripped it in half.  I started to cry and say "My tree!  My pretty tree!"  Jim just rubbed my back, saying "I know, baby, I know."  He was speechless.  I was numb.  My pretty tree was gone as far as I knew.  The storm was slowing down at that point so I did go outside and take some pictures of it.  My heart was broken.

Life has gone on, we have since gotten a new roof out of the deal, and the remaining half of Mr. Tree still stands with tiny little sprouts coming out of the bare spot.  But I am still heart broken about that tree.  I know it sounds silly, but that tree was our most photographed tree in ten years of living here.  We have 14 mulberry trees, three crape myrtles, a few other seedlings here and there, but ONE Bradford Pear.  Every year on my birthday, Jim would take a picture of me with that tree.  Every fall it would turn yellow, orange and red.  Every Spring, it would explode in gorgeous white blossoms and bees would swarm all over it.  Every summer, it would shade our front window, porch, and a good portion of the yard and the front flower bed.  Every winter, the cardinals would spend their time on this tree, eating at the feeder, eating the berries.  And that scary summer of 2008, the leaves formed a design on my blinds as the sun shone through them and it formed the shape of an angel that was for my eyes only.  It came just at the right time.  I'll never forget that.  So for me to have lost half of that tree was upsetting to say the least.  I loved that tree.

We've since planted a few more saplings in pots to see what we can get to grow.  But nothing can replace that tree. We've watched it grow in ten years.  I miss that half.  Every time I go outside, I will stop and stare at my tree.  I stare at the bald area on the trunk.  I stare at the sky where there used to be tree.  I stare at how awkward it now looks, missing half of it's canopy, but how it seems to want to live despite losing its half.  Very symbolic if you ask me.  A fighter, that tree is.  It kind of reminds me of life.  How sometimes we lose ourselves, we lose our faith, we lose our self esteem, so half of us feels gone.  But the other half remains and we have to just keep going and keep fighting to live.  

We had a few other storms that scared the heck out of me, gave us tornado warnings and scary afternoons and evenings.  We've lucked out and been spared, even when the same storms went on to Alabama to drop deadly tornadoes onto them.  It's so sad.  
And now I'm begging for rain.  I don't know if we can even afford to run the sprinklers this year, so I am relying on Mother Nature to water the yard.  We have some bald spots and scorched looking spots where there used to be shade and now the sun bares down on the yard.  I hate seeing my yard looking all thirsty.  But, well, we have to eat and all that.

OK that was the other part of April that I meant to share.
Just an FYI for anyone here reading these posts - I used to blog at livejournal, my link is http://melodyanna121.livejournal.com/.  All of the things that happened during that summer of 2007 were shared on livejournal and myspace.  I only double posted a few here, just to try it out.  But have been away from this blog from 2007 until here recently.  I'm trying to find the right blog to use that is more user friendly with Facebook.  If this one continues to be difficult, I'll go back to livejournal.
I have social phobia.

"Social phobia -Social phobia is a persistent and irrational fear of situations that may involve scrutiny or judgment by others, such as parties and other social events."

I have dealt with this most of my adult life but it gets worse through time and after repeated situations where I am judged for being who I am. I'm now at an age where I am working harder to not care so much what others think of me, but for some reason I still do. And for some reason people still want to judge me.

I don't know how to be who they want me to be, I only know how to be ME. God made me, but for some reason that just isn't enough. I have never quite been good enough for others. The result of my inadequacy has been a lot of loneliness. I'm lonely because we fled to this little town ten years ago, running away from people we felt no longer wanted us anymore. Running away from the crowds of Arlington, running to a quiet little town where we could have some peace and quiet and where we could make a fresh start. But running to people we thought loved us unconditionally, only to be heartbroken. In ten years we've spent a lot of time alone. I've filled my house with animals to bring me joy and companionship. People have come and gone, but very few stick around. I have tried everything under the sun to connect with others, but the feeling was rarely reciprocated. I wasn't good enough. I have built up some really thick walls to protect my heart. People don't realize that you can get your heart broken by others, not just in a romantic situation but in life. In any social situation, anyone can get their heart broken.

I'm inadequate. I have always felt inadequate. I live inside this body that doesn't allow me to do all the things I want to do, and who would want me? I live a life of pain and people just don't want much to do with me because I cannot participate in the things I desperately wish I could. I wish I could join you in all the things that you do. I wish I could be like you and everyone else. I don't choose this or want this, but this is what I have been dealt. I am excluded all the time because of this. People just "assume" I will be in pain so I don't receive many invitations. Please don't assume. Assuming is the worst. Then when I do get invited, I stress and obsess over what the situation is going to be like, will they judge me, will I fit in, will they even like me? And then I end up with a stomach ache over it. So I end up missing an event all together. It's just too much trouble sometimes. Why should I bother putting myself out there when all I seem to do is get hurt? Who would even want me? Who wants a friend who cannot be the kind of friend I want? Would I be friends with me? Lately, I'm not so sure. My self esteem seems to be struggling pretty hard lately. I do have a lot of love in my heart for those dear to me, but that's all I can even offer at this point. I love to give but when making ends meet becomes this difficult, how can I give? What is there left to give? I have such a difficult time putting myself out there because of a lifetime of rejection and feeling not good enough, so I sometimes don't even try. When I do try, I end up making this huge fool of myself and then end up hiding in my house for a month so as to avoid the embarrassment of facing those I exposed my heart to.

Being alone seems to be my life theme. Sometimes I do cherish my alone time, but I reach out to my friends online. I feel like I can be myself with many of you I have met online. You accept me just as I am, and don't criticize, judge, or ridicule the life I lead. My life isn't an easy life. And yes, there are many out there who are SO much worse, trust me I know this. But living in this body has been very challenging. Today I may hurt, tomorrow I may feel a little better. I have no way of knowing what tomorrow is going to bring, so I do what I can today. And if I have less pain, I do what I can. Sometimes that's tending to my beloved animals. Sometimes that's cleaning the hummingbird feeders. Sometimes that's vacuuming the house or cleaning the kitchen or doing a load of laundry. I do what I can with what God has given me. I'm not a miracle worker. But then there may be a day when it feels like I've been beaten me with a baseball bat. I don't want pity or sympathy, but sometimes I just need my friends and family to reassure me that they do still love me, anyway. That they still love me even though I am not whole. Even though I'm not as good as others. Even though I cannot perform every day miracles. Despite all of my inadequacies, you still love me. Sometimes I just need to know that because deep inside, I really don't know. I need the reassurance. During a flare-up, I am suddenly all alone and people in my life pull away from me. What else am I supposed to think but that they don't love me or want me anymore? Then when the flare up is over, I wonder where everyone went. I don't reach out for help when I am struggling. I don't want to be a burden. I don't want to be a bother. But I am always shown what I mean to people when I flare. Like that post going around FB says: "If you cannot love me at my worst, you don't deserve me at my best."
And sometimes I feel like I'm worthless and a nobody. I don't know who still loves me, even when I flare. Because I can always count on a spring time flare. I can sometimes be confined to my couch on and off for about a month. Sometimes less, sometimes more, but it has been happening every spring since 1999. Without fail. Every single year. So it shouldn't be a surprise to those who know me. It shouldn't be a shock when I spend a month feeling alone and depressed, not acting quite like myself. It's been this way for years and years.

When new people come into my life, they think I'm this lazy ass person who sits here on the computer all day. What I must say here is try to imagine what it must be like to be all alone and in pain, with nobody to lean on and nobody to reassure me. All alone. Except the amazing friends I like to call Angels who live in my computer. They are THERE for me. They offer me kind words, they offer me support. They play facebook games with me and send me gifts, help me complete my tasks, and I bring joy to them when I post an animal or tree that they can use for their game. Sounds kind of silly but when you live in MY body, it's those little things that mean the world to me. Try to imagine what it must feel like to be in bad pain, all alone, for about a month. And the only thing that keeps my sanity and brings me a smile is this laptop computer. Oh, people love to judge my life and the time I spend online. But you simply have no idea what life is like living inside this body.

I like to believe that I am a strong, fierce fighter. I fight this every single day. I work out, I go to therapy, I go see a chiropractor, I take vitamins and supplements, I'm improving my diet and eating a few more organic foods than I used to. I'm switching to healthier alternatives to my guilty pleasures. I am gradually eliminating some of the things that may contribute to pain. But all I can do is take life one day at a time. And trust in God. I know He has a plan for me.

I am a tough case, I admit it. I will tell anyone and everyone that I am. I even told Jim before we even dated that he didn't want to get involved with me. I'm a mess, I told him. You don't want me. He disagreed, and was willing to take on this tough case because he was already experiencing unconditional love towards me. I don't think anyone has any idea all that he does for me. He has made all of my dreams come true and then some. He works so hard for me and our fur-family. There isn't anything that he wouldn't do for me. But he is lonely, too. He has a lot of heart and would give the shirt off of his back to those he loves. But he is very protective over me. He has held me when I shed tears over rejection and heartbreak. He has always been there for me, each and every time someone walked out of my life. He has always been in my corner and on my side. He supports me in every decision I make. He lifts me up when I am down, reassures me when I am discouraged, convinces me I am worthy when I feel like I am not. He always puts me first, extends me more respect than anyone in the whole world, and has never said an unkind thing to me. He has never, ever disrespected me in any way! He helps me with some of the basic chores that may be a little bit too difficult on certain days. He is patient when I become overly frustrated with a task that is just pissing me off. He tolerates me when I am stubborn and hard headed and when I snap "I can do it myself!" He knows that when I scrub the floors that I'll be paying for it later. He tries to step in and do the job for me, but he knows I want to do it myself. He knows that when I'm determined to do something, I do it. And he knows not to try and stop me, even though I'll pay for it later. Because he knows I cannot stand feeling like a worthless waste of space. He encouraged me to leave my job in 2000 when I was struggling with the pain at work. He is loving and patient even though we cannot afford to buy all the luxuries that everyone else has. And there are always going to be the braggers in life who love to go on and on about how many things they bought and how great life is and how expensive this or that was, and Jim never complains. Ever. He never has a melt down about how our tv may not be as GREAT as everyone else's. He doesn't flip out about how we don't have all the game systems that everyone else has. He doesn't ask for anything at all! He is the most giving person I know. When a neighbor needs help with their computer, he drops everything to help them. Because that is just who he is! When my family needs help with something, we'll drive 45 minutes away so he can help them. He drives 45 minutes to work one way, every day, and he never tires of it. He never complains about it.

But here is what is sad. Because he is married to me, he is just as lonely sometimes. He doesn't have many male friends who accept him. He puts me first. He has always put me first. Males don't want anything to do with a guy who puts his wife first. So his best friends are my girlfriends. I never realized how lonely he was until he told me last fall. I just assumed he wasn't because he has interaction at work each day. But he's lost a lot of friends over the years, too.

We are both guilty of shutting people out sometimes. It's us against the world. It's always been just us. We open our doors and hearts to anyone who would want us, but here we sit alone, day in and day out. People exclude us from things because Jim works ten hour days, gets home exhausted and then spends his evenings either helping me, helping friends, or if he's lucky he'll get to put his feet up and relax for a few minutes before we have to do our night time routine. He's TIRED, and understandably so. People don't come see us. Our house is not good enough. We used to have neighbors pop in on us at Chestnut Ridge on any day of the week, they'd just show up we'd just talk about anything and everything, laugh, share, visit, just hang out. But it's just so different out here. He's so busy and too tired for people to want anything to do with him. Or too married. And I'm too much of an annoyance and too much of a burden on others. So we lean on eachother and our bond continues to strengthen, even after 15+ years together. Because most of the time, all we really have is eachother. He's my whole world, and I'm his. He deserves the whole world. He works harder than anyone I know. He goes above and beyond at his job, day in and day out. Then he comes home to help me with anything I need or help our friends with anything they need. I can't think of when he makes any time to do anything for himself. Sometimes he'll play Wii but he's been too tired to even do THAT anymore.
He has a lot to offer anyone who would have him, but because he is so busy taking care of his wife and home, and so busy working to keep us in this house, people don't want him. He's not good enough for them. Well I think it's the opposite. He is a true Gem. An extremely talented, hard working, intelligent, loving, loyal man is a true gem in this world and better than anyone else I know. Sure, he makes mistakes. Sure, he may say the wrong things. But who doesn't? Nobody is perfect, but I think my husband is about the best person I know. And people just don't know what they are missing out on. I have never, ever known anyone who is such a giver. He doesn't have a selfish bone in his body.

And then, here I am with all my issues and problems. I'm a tough case. I'm not worth someone's time and effort so they split, or I shut them out. I am tired of the hurt. Tired of rejection and feeling alone. I have tried to open up my heart and I have tried to put myself out there, but here I am once again, wanting to just be a hermit and hide out in my house. It's safe here. My animals would never hurt me the way people have. I have my laptop and my online world. Judge me if you will, but you have no idea what life is like living in this body. No idea.

I have a lot of heart and love to give those who will have me. But the result of having a big heart is that I also get hurt. If you want to hurt me and you say something with the intention of hurting me, you'll get what you want. I feel the pain with much more intensity than those who don't have big hearts. Those of us who love with all of our hearts also get hurt the most easily. I cannot change who I am just to fit in with those who are hard hearted. I've tried.
All I can do is be me. And one of these days, THAT will be enough for others. Just me, just as I am.
And Jim will be good enough for others, just as he is. Which is the most amazing individual I know.

It is time for a change. I am trying to figure out where God is leading me. I can feel it in my heart and soul that we are being led somewhere, but I just don't know where. One of my Mother's favorite sayings is "Stop doing what doesn't work." Big changes are coming and I'm scared and excited at the same time. For those of you who have stood by me through the bad times, called me when I was crying, sent me a an email when I was down, bless you and I love you for it. And thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your love and kindness means the whole world to me. There are no words that can express what you mean to me. My life is better because you are in it.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Happy Friday!
I'm going to give this blog a try. It's definitely very public and I hate my life going public like that. People are really mean sometimes and especially so when it comes to online people. I need to figure out some settings to make it so that only my true and trusted can visit me here. There is really no reason for strangers to visit me here to judge and ridicule my life. I am not here for their entertainment purposes, I share my life in a blog so that I may revisit it later to see how I have grown, and to share with those who give a damn.

This week has been really crazy. I'm still standing but some days are easier than others. If this blog will let me post an older entry, I can publish what I wrote in my livejournal blog, which is just basically a recap of the last year. Then I was going to share this past week. It's not a big deal, my life isn't all that entertaining to others by any means, but this week impacted me greatly.

Well...publishing this and we'll go from there.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A year...

It's been over a year since I last blogged.  I don't really have an excuse or explanation as to why I stopped, except that my blog has become for my eyes only.  Blogs don't seem to be as common nowadays.  I used to have readers, but we've all made our way over to facebook and I don't feel like facebook is bloggy enough.  (LOL!  Bloggy!  What a fun word!)

I guess I can take some time to recap the year first.  Last I wrote was Chloe's birthday a year ago.  March 12, 2010.  The rest of the month I don't recall very much of at all, we celebrated Mom's birthday and Shirley's birthday by going out to Hideaway Lake and taking pictures of flowers.  I do remember it being rainy that day and on the drive home, we encountered three different accidents in a row that were just a mile or so from the other.  I think we saw a double rainbow right before that.  The whole thing scared me to death but we made it home safely. :) 

April we celebrated the twins 7th birthday, Trinity's first Easter, a skimpy bluebonnet season, and that's all I can really remember. 

May we celebrated our 13th anniversary by going to the Fort Worth Zoo, also the Barron family reunion.  We had a tornado scare and had to hunker down at the chiro office, back in the x-ray room.  I was terrified!

June - Jay graduated high school and I sat with Suzanne as we watched her baby boy graduate.  We both cried. :)  My sister and the family came down in June as well and spent a little over a week.  I wore myself out and drained my bank account and went into severe debt just driving to Cedar Hill and back every. single. day.  It was so worth it, I cherish every moment spent with all of them.  But it broke us financially and did me in in many ways.  I had a little melt down and decided we simply MUST move closer to Mom.  This driving back and forth 45 minutes to Mom's and back every single day was just entirely too much for me.  I want to live closer to Mom!  I was serious at the time, too.  I don't ever want to leave my other family here in Palmer, the Brazier's and the Morris's, but living so far from Mom starts to really take its toll on me and my spirit.  Of course that was just a dream, as most things are in my life.  It's been pushed back since we'd never ever be able to sell this house, I'm sure.  God seems to have other plans and He seems to want us to stay here forever.

July we bought Mom's jeep!  Then we went to visit my Sissie in IL again and had the BEST time EVER!  I got another tattoo of a sun and a moon like I'd always wanted, we got to laugh and just enjoy time with her, got to see the kids, the time just went by way too fast.  More cherished memories were made, bonds strengthened.  We stopped by Memphis on the way home and spent the night, went to Beale St.  It was a fun time. 

August - it was hot.  That's about all I can recall from August.  Sissie's birthday that I didn't get to celebrate with her. :(

September - it was hot.  And we celebrated the dogs 9th birthday. 9/11 came and this time I kind of paid more attention to the shows.  I have spent the last 9+ years trying to ignore how I felt that day and not dwell on it, but I feel like enough time has passed that I can revisit the day without depression, and honor the memory of those lost.  We went and stood on the bridge this time around and waved flags with our neighbors.  :)

October - The State Fair, Halloween and also my 20th High School Reunion.  That was actually kind of fun!  I enjoyed reuniting with a lot of people even if we'd already reunited on FB, but seeing them in person was a blessing.  I still felt like that quiet outcast that nobody would talk to, but was pleasantly surprised by how many classmates DID come up and talk to me! :)  I did go up and talk to some ladies that I remembered very well, but they looked at me like "who the hell are you?"  See? Still making a huge fool of myself even all these years later.  That's how I roll.  I honestly wasn't all that memorable in high school, always the misfit.  Not smart enough to be with the smart kids, not cool enough to be with the cool kids, not well-dressed enough to fit in with those who had cool clothes, not popular enough for the popular kids, not talented enough to be with the talented kids (band, drama, honors).  I was just there, just me, and pretty darn invisible. So it's a blessing to be in touch with classmates today who seem to remember me, despite the invisibility.
Of course it was disappointing to have a classmate "unfriend" me on FB not long after.  Was it something I said?  I may never know.  I thought we had a lot in common! 

Jim and I also caught colds that month that we think came from the State Fair.  Mine turned into a sinus infection but I beat it naturally and after three weeks total, I finally got well.  Jim ended up spiking a fever and had to go to the ER with 103.7 fever!  They never could figure out what was wrong, they diagnosed him with "Viral Syndrome" and sent him home with hydrocodone and a bill for $200.  I just think Jim didn't take the time to rest and heal when he was sick, so his body made him rest and heal.  Jim also needed a crown that cost us $1000, so that put us back even further.  I lost 7lbs due to the stress of all of this.

November - One of my favorite months.  We celebrated Trinity Faith's first birthday party!  I so enjoyed the first year of her life and watching her grow, her little personality developing, she is such a joy and just when I think I can't love her any more than I already do, I go and love her more and more with each passing day. :)  We also got to be with Mom on Thanksgiving, had a great day with family.

December - my BIRTHDAY!  I turned 39 and we did the same thing we usually do.  Picture with my tree, go to the Galleria, lunch over the ice skating rink, shop, then shop grapevine mills, we saw Harry Potter and we were the ONLY ONES in there! :)  Mom had given me money to shop and I did hit the sales the day after Thanksgiving, but shopped a little on my birthday as well. 
The holidays were nice, I had one of my best Christmases ever because it was low stress, everyone got along, Jim and I gave eachother great presents, we had a REAL tree again, life was good.  We finally sold the oldsmobile to my cousin for Allison, we sold it for much less than I wanted to but it felt like the right thing to do.  Even if we are buried in debt.  I always try to do the right thing by God and what my heart tells me to do, but the right thing always leaves us screwed financially.  Somehow that just doesn't seem fair.
New years was spent at home and on FB.  Me and my farm, that was kind of the theme of my whole year - farmville.  ;)  By this time I not only had one farm, but three.  One for Cheshire and one for Sierra.  The year of 2010 closed and I was smiling about it.  It was a non-eventful year in the way that we all mostly stayed healthy, no surgeries, no cancers, no tragedies, just healthy happy people.  Everyone else I know had the worst year ever but for me that was 2008 and 2009.  2010 was a good year. :) 

January 2011 - Nice weather for us it seems, we celebrated our 15th "together" anniversary since we've been together since January 21, 1996. :)  Still madly in love and so very happy together.  It snowed on Brandi's birthday, I'll never forget that!  What a great gift for her! 

February had nice weather, too, until the superbowl week.  Two Friday's before Jim and I took a lunch together and went to the Dallas Cowboys Stadium to see it all decked out for superbowl and we took pictures.  It was gorgeous and seventies that day, hard to believe.  Not long after we got hit with a hard winter blast that had us below freezing for three days in a row I think, down into the single digits.  We had sleet and snow, frozen pipes and Jim had to miss a few days of work.  When that started to clear up we had a bit more sleet and snow.  It seems like for two weeks it was bitterly cold and unlike TX at all, but then it just went away and didn't come back.  Seems to have been pleasant since then.  Spring arrived early with blossoms on our pretty tree, sickly wilty looking daffodils and hyacinths due to the freeze, and bees buzzing early.  Jim had his birthday and we enjoyed some QT together, went to see I Am Number Four, ate appetizers at Chili's and just enjoyed his birth-time.  I dealt with some true colors from some people I thought were my friends and now they are no longer in my life.  My real friends pointed out that they were never my friends to begin with and they are right.  I just wish I'd stop having faith in people when I know deep in my heart that they don't care.  I still always give them the benefit of the doubt, but sometimes I think "why bother?"  God has blessed me with some amazing REAL friends who have stood by me through thick and thin, who love me despite my flaws, who honor my talents and strong points, who raise me up when I'm down.  And who don't bail on me if I have a different opinion.  They don't come to my FB page and attack me and my family, they instead respect me and my family.  See?  Real friends.  But I still always feel heartbroken when I lose someone, even if they didn't care about me.  I cared about them.  It's who I am.  It's who God made me to be.  I cannot change that and it's a quality I'll always be proud of.

March arrived with nice weather, almost too warm, we had to run the air conditioner even in late February and a few times in March.  Money issues continued to pile up and we stressed over how to make ends meet.  Gas prices continue to rise even now and we spend a lot of time stuck at home, with the jeep sitting in the driveway so we can save gas.  We skip a lot of events because we cannot afford to drive anywhere anymore.  We did go to the Irish Festival like always, Tracey went with us and we had a great time! :)  I drank some wine and laughed at many things, just had a fun time.
About mid March, the civic broke down.  It needed to have the transmission rebuilt and that cost us $2000.  Jim had to drive the jeep to work for about a week, spending gas we couldn't afford but what can you do.  I trust God has a plan so it is what it is, as the saying goes.  Not happy about it.  I definitely shed a lot of tears over everything but it's not like that changes anything.  Then Jim got bronchitis and we had to get him to the doc for medicine.  I caught the same cold that started his, but it wasn't too bad.  Just had me feeling bla for a week.  Most of March had us just not feeling well.  I started my spring flare right around the time that Dr. Linda Cosgrove (my chiro) showed me her business next door, called Get Moving.  They are toning tables and you lie on a table and it works a part of your body.  Ten minutes later you go to the next table and it works a different part of your body.  You do this over five tables, then the vibrating table.  The next visit you do the OTHER side of the room and use those different tables, working other parts of your body.  It's aimed for older people and/or those with arthritis who may have mobility issues.  But it seems to work wonders for fibromyalgia pain.  It put circulation into my body and brought me tremendous relief.  That weekend flare subsided after a few days and I have managed to keep any flares to a minimum instead of spending a whole month confined to my couch.  Yay!

April arrived and we finally got some much needed rain, as we are now in a drought.  That brings us to now, which is a whole other blog entry.  I will continue onto the next one in a few.  I know I left tons out but I have been slacking.  My blog has been my Sissie in the novels I have been sending to her.  I may paste those into my blog for my own eyes so I can remember the events of the year.  Here recently I was reading through old blogs and I used to share EVERY little thing!  Every day and every emotion, personalities of my animals, things I saw in the skies, dreams I had, and I just kind of stopped.  I don't think I've honestly been the same since that horrible summer and the fall when Ginny died.  But as time goes on I am healing and trying to be a better version of myself.  I did back track a bit spiritually but I am ready to dust myself off and move forward.  I am going to come back to my blog to share my feelings once again.  Oh, Blog!  I have missed you so!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

I am really torn as to whether to post my blogs here or not. I don't like to have a public blog, I'm usually a pretty private person, which is why I put my entries in myspace, livejournal and Yahoo360. I have it set so that my 'readers' can read my entries, and not just the public aka total strangers. So for those who visit this page, I have my links in my about me section and you can read my blogs there. I hope you will enjoy mine as much as I enjoy yours.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Okay this is long but this is exactly as Mom wrote it. This was written by my mother, Pamela Gist, in 1996. It is about events that took place with my sister in the year 1993. I don't have a picture, I searched everywhere. Mom has it on her dresser still to this day, but I'd have to borrow it and scan it.


The Angel of Zilker Park

I've never been particularly religious, but I always wanted to see an angel. I read books about them, pondered the old Biblical passages, watched TV stories about angels coming to earth, and wondered why it is that some people see these and some don't. I obviously was one who didn't, since I had never seen anything in this world out of the ordinary. My Christmas tree is decorated with glass and plastic angels; I have pictures of them; but no real ones, no spiritual beings wafting down out of the ether sphere, with huge bright wings and halos. No angels. I once sat on the floor of a cathedral in San Francisco, and I asked God, once and for all, could I see an angel? It was more of a demand than a request: “Ok, God, if you are out there, show me an angel,” sort of “I dare you, you old so and so.” I concentrated as hard as I could on the high altar, the huge organ pipes shining on the wall behind it, the colored light filtering through the stained glass windows giving everything a surreal glow of mystical rapture. Surely this was the best place to see an angel, and if I was ever going to see one, then it would be here in this holiest of holy places, on the labyrinth of Grace Cathedral. Finally in my concentration, I closed my eyes, and there it was, the perfect image of a huge angel with enormous spread wings before me. Oh my God....my angel. So they really do exist. At least. Then as I concentrated on this figure, I realized that it was the negative imprint on the backs of my eyelids of te organ pipes on the wall that formed the shape of an angel with spread wings. I did indeed see an angel, but not exactly what I had expected. God certain does have a sense of humor, but then he always did.

I guess I didn't know then that the reason I had never seen an angel was because I had not needed to see one, but when I needed one, it would be there.

This story begins a long time ago with the birth of my oldest daughter, long before I tried to see the angel in Grace cathedral. Heather is twenty-seven years old now, a tall woman graced with quiet energy and a sweet angelic face that lights up easily with joy at butterflies and kittens. She was once tested for her IQ and came out an extraordinary 147, which amazes me. I never doubted that she was bright; all mothers think that their children are exceptional, but she had been so simple and sweet in spirit all her life, I had never given much thought to the fact that she also had the amazing mind of a genius behind her gentle smile.

She was born six weeks early on a bitterly cold night in January. Heather is one of the slowest, laid back people I know, and I always say it's the only time in her whole life she was ever in a hurry to get somewhere. I had intended to carry her under my heart another six weeks until sometime in February, but on January 9 at around 11:00 p.m. On the coldest night of the year, my water broke while I sat watching Johnny Carson, and by 3:15 a.m., a scant four hours later, she entered the world. We named her Heather, after the sturdy little purple flowers on the wild English moors. We had chosen that name because of its beauty, the pleasant images of flowers it invokes, and the softness of its consonants, making the name impossible to say harshly. Years later, I realized what a sturdy, strong little plant heather actually is. I never dreamed that the name would fit her so accurately.

And so tiny minutes-old Heather was whisked off to the nursery, placed in a glass coffin-like box; the downy soft hair on her temples was shaved, needles and tubes were taped in place on the sides of her fist-sized head, and she was left there naked for all to see, gasping for each breath, panting like a dog, her little chest rising and falling like a tiny firghtened bird: she looked like a living expiriment in a laboratory, in a torture chamber for infants. As soon as I could get up, I walked down to the nursery and stood outside the glass window and watched helplessly, unable to touch my baby, unable to help her breathe. I stood there alone, my womb empty too early, tears streaming down my face. There were people behind me, total strangers obviously there to celebrate the birth of a new baby in their family. Those infants were lined up in pink and blue blankets against the window, looking all rosy with health, their tiny blue eyes tightly shut against the glaring hospital lights. I heard one of these strangers say, “Look at that poor thing over there....what's wrong with it? Look how it breathes!” I think I was more stunned by the “it” than the words they used. There was no doubt that “it” was a girl, since Heather was naked, but they saw her as a thing, sexless, not human, in her little glass coffin. I was to experience this scene each day I was at that hospital. It never failed when I would be standing there, and I stood there a lot, that someone commented on “it.”

The doctors told us the first day that she might not live, but that since she was female, the statistical chances were in her favor, since girls were stronger than boys at birth. I never forgot that statement: since she is female, she has more of a chance of living than dying, which means nothing if she is too weak to live. I realized that even though he was trying to give me courage and hope, he was still saying that she could die. I wished that if she were going to die, that they would let her die in my arms, wrapped in a soft warm blanket, held next to my breast where she could hear my heart beat and feel my love rather than lying naked in that glass coffin under the glaring lights with the tubes coming out of her. But it was 1969, and I was never given that choice. The doctor said that the first 48 hours were crucial; that if she did live, she would get stronger in that time, or weaker. We waited.

Later that day, as I lay alone in my hospital bed watching my roommate feed her new baby, a nurse passing by noticed me. She must have seen that I had no baby to feed, or maybe the look on my face as I watched my roommate feeding hers caused her to stop. But this angel of a nurse paused, wandered into the room, commented about the baby nursing in the other bed, then came over to mine. She tucked in my blankets and casually asked about my baby.

“My baby has hyaline membrane disease.....I can't hold her yet,” I said quietly, trying not to cry.

“Oh, yes, Heather,” she smiled. It was a small hospital and there was only one baby in critical care. “Don't you worry about her. She's a fighter. She'll pull through fine.” She smiled and patted my hand. “We've had a time with her alright. The little rascal keeps pulling the tubes out of her head. The other nurses couldn't believe it. They've never seen anything like that, but I know. Those that have that much spunk always pull through.” And as she left, she said again, “Don't ever worry about Heather....she's a fighter.”

Sometimes angels wear white uniforms and orthopedic shoes. I clung to those encouraging words for the next two days. Heather was still in the woods, struggling for every breath. I could tell that by standing outside the window and watching her little bluish body heave up and down. And now her torture chamber was even worse because they had taped her hands to her sides so that she could not pull the tubes out. Have you ever seen a two day old baby with her hands taped down? It seemed unbearably cruel to me.

Our relatives came and went, and while they tried to be cheerful, I could tell by their faces that few of them saw much hope. They would return from the nursery with tightly drawn lips and teary eyes. Many of them told me later that they did not think Heather would survive, but no one said a word during that 48 hours. Yet they all tried to cheer me up, smiling and talking, giving me little infant clothes tiny enough for dolls that would still have swallowed Heather's now less than five pound body. My father-in-law came sometime during that time, and unlike the others did not mince words. He told me that there was obviously something wrong with that baby, and if it were a permanent condition, then it would be better for her to die now. He did not mean to be cruel, but as he said it, I knew that it was not true. Even if she wasn't perfect, I wanted her to live. I watched her fighting for each breath, and like the nurse said, I knew that if she did live, perfect or not, she would always be an extraordinary person, a real fighter. If you have ever watched an infant fight for life, you will know the meaning of the words “will to live.” Even at five pounds, only a few hours old, that will was there in full force, driving her to draw each tiny breath, and then another, and then another. Heather had courage before she had anything else.

And live she did. After three days, she began to breathe normally, and after ten, they sent her home with me, which was the first time I was allowed to touch her. She came home to two parents who could not have loved her more and who wanted her more than anything imaginable. And for the next two years, we watched her like she was some fragile, priceless ornament, afraid to let her out of our sight, afraid she would stop breathing, or break into a thousand pieces if we so much as missed a feeding. Once you have watched a child almost die, you never feel quite the same. For the first two or three years of her life, I always had the feeling that this was stolen time, time I might never have had with this magnificent being. Each moment was absolutely and perfectly precious. Each day was a gift. In time, thank God, that feeling gradually waned some, or Heather would never have been allowed to grow up normally. She would have been a china doll in a sterile doll house. Eventually, we began to loosen up and let her live a normal life, but it took a long time for us both to get there. Sometimes I think I never did.

Heather grew up, becoming a wonderfully strong and sweet woman, went off to college, where she struggled with homesickness, chose more than one major, fell in love with her best friend and seemed happy Then one day, I got a terrifying phone call from her roommate's mother, who told me she had been in a wreck. A phone call later, I talked to Heather in the hospital. She had been thrown from her boyfriend's jeep onto the hard pavement, slamming hard into her jaw. She was fine: no broken bones, no brain damage, no broken teeth, just bruises and scrapes caused by falling out of a car. A close call. After a week or two of struggling with very sore muscles and a swollen jaw, she was fine again. A close call: just inches away from a mother's worst nightmare. I remember feeling like we had narrowly avoided the tragedy that I had always dreaded from the time she was born.

Less than a year later, I was to receive a second terrifying phone call. This time it was her boyfriend Dave's father, who made the call. Heather had been attacked and mauled by a dog and again was in the emergency room. Again, the phone was handed to Heather, who reassured me that she would be fine, that everything was ok. They were waiting for a surgeon who would come and stitch her up. Somehow in that phone call, I did not grasp the seriousness of her injuries, and I hung up with a picture of a few dog bites that needed a few stitches. It was over two hours later that I learned from Dave's mom that she was seriously injured having plastic surgery. “You need to come down here,” she said seriously. I caught the first plane out the next morning.

When I saw Heather, she looked like she had been hit by a truck. Both legs were in casts up to her knees. The injuries to her feet and legs alone had taken hundreds of stitches to close. Both hands were bandaged. There was a bandage on her head, and blood and betadine were in her hair. I stayed by her side those three days in the hospital, helping her eat, rubbing the toes that protruded from her casts, putting lotion on her elbows, and watching her endure incredible pain with complete stoicism. I only saw her cry once. She underwent a second tedious surgery on her hand while I waited alone in the waiting room. During those three days, bit by bit, the story of the dog came out. She had been attacked by the family pet on Dave's father's ranch. She had been alone at the ranch at the time, and the dog had attacked her over and over again, while she fought to get away. At one time, she told me, the dog had her down and was on top of her. She heard a voice telling her to get up, and she realized that she had to get up or she would die there alone. Somehow she found the superhuman courage to push him off and get to her feet. He continued to attack. Sometime during that time, she told me, she stopped screaming, because she knew no one could hear her, and the two fought in a primitive life and death struggle in silence. She tried to play dead, tried to beat him off, tried everything she could think of, but the dog continued to attack and holding tightly to her mangled legs with his powerful jaws. Finally, she somehow managed to get loose and get into the house, where she called for help. The story of her superhuman struggle alone against a ferocious animal still leaves me in chills, as it did then. I cannot think about it without tears coming to my eyes. I told someone later, that never in my wildest nightmares about my children could I have imagined a more horrible thing happening. But fortunately she won and survived. A few days later, she was sent home to recover, first in a wheel chair, then on crutches, then finally walking and moving again. It was a struggle, and again, I realized that the nurse so long ago had been correct: Heather is a fighter. Two months later, I watched her walk across the stage and receive her Bachelor's degree: she winced with pain when the man shook her hand, and turned to all of us and smiled broadly, waving her diploma. Her life went on.

I thought that was all of her fight for a while. Surely the universe had dealt her enough blows and she was due for some good luck for a change. Heather moved in with her boyfriend and started looking for a job. After just a few weeks, she landed a position with American Airlines, and while it wasn't very good pay, she was getting some training and some experience, and seemed happy with her world. She had what she wanted: the guy of her dreams, a degree, and a bright and happy future.

Toward the end of August, I had made a trip to Austin with a friend, and Heather and I had planned to meet halfway between Austin and San Antonio for breakfast. Heather had been complaining of stomach problems, had sought several doctors' opinions, but so far, nothing seemed to be causing them. That morning was different. I called her to confirm our breakfast appointment and was disappointed to learn that she couldn't come.

“Mom,” she said. “There is something wrong with me.”

I waited for her to finish, small alarm bells going off in my mind.

“They found a tumor on my ovary,” she said quietly. I sat in stunned silence.

“Are you sure?” I finally managed to ask.

“Yes, I had a sonogram. I am going to have surgery next week.”

We both sat in stunned silence for a long moment. “What does the doctor say it is?” I asked, after some hesitation.

“I don't know.” Again silence. Then she went on to explain the details. “I have to go today to get prepped for the surgery sometime next week. I also have to have a lower GI to see if there is bowel or intestinal involvement. The surgery should be late next week.”

That sounded like a long time to wait, I thought. I don't remember what else we said, but after a while, I hung up. After a long time of numbness, somehow I managed to get dressed and drove to Zilker park where I like to walk when I am in Austin.

In Jewish tradition, I am told that it is considered quite acceptable to argue with God, and that day I did just that. I walked and walked, in the scorching Texas August heat, and I berated God for his continuous siege against this beautiful, kind person. Why Heather? Hadn't she had her share of adversity and pain already? As I followed the Butterfly path, I didn't notice the butterflies, because I was thinking about reorganizing my week to be able to be with Heather through her surgery. As I walked to the MoPac underpass, I thought that Heather would probably lose her job having only been there for a few weeks, and I felt bad for her: she had been so hopeful about it. I was still carrying her on my health insurance, and I worried that it might not pay since she had already left college. What if it didn't? How would we pay the bills? As I left the scorching heat of the soccer field and headed back into the deep shade of the botanical garden, I thought about the surgery ahead, and the pain and suffering it would cause her, and how difficult that must be for her and David both. But mostly I thought about how unfair this was, Heather who had just recovered from the horrible dog incident, not to be immobilized again.

All those things cluttered my mind as I walked, the pretty worries that cover the real truth, the real fear that lurks deep inside every mother's heart. Somewhere between the Rose Garden and the Japanese Garden, the layers began to strip away and I let myself say the word: Cancer. What if it was cancer? Then I thought about chemotherapy and the months of devastation that might lay ahead of us as she lay sick and weak with her body full of drugs. Would she need to come home where I could take care of her: What about my job through all this? And what about Dave....would he want to stay with his sweet heart ifs he were really really ill. It would be a strain on a marriage of many years: more so on their short relationship.

Then in one moment of crystal stillness, so deep it stunned me in its awesome silence, the last layer of denial peeled away, and I finally reached the bottom, the central devastating source of every mother's worry: what if my child should die? What if she should not live through this thing? I cannot tell you the paralyzing terror that such a thought brings. Only a mother understands. Only a mother can know this kind of anguish. I had known it once, at her birth, had watched her suffer great pain more than once, but this was even worse. Anyone I passed at this point on my walk probably thought I had gone mad. I was crying and muttering to myself as I railed against God. If this is what she has been brought this far to do, then why? Why Heather who is the best of us? Tears streamed down my face as I faced my ultimate and most horrible nightmare: losing one of my children.

It was at this darkest moment of my entire life that all the trivia and detritis of my existence was swept away by the awesome spector of Death. Oh, yes, Death. He's always there, his hot breath on our necks every minute of our life, but we do such a very good job of ignoring him. But that day I faced him full in the face, saw him only inches away, and I realized he had always been there. For one moment, I saw what my life would be like if he took my children. And it was more awful than words can describe.

Then something happened. Out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw an angel. I turned quickly and looked more closely, and no, it was a root or part of a tree standing about two feet above the ground. Then I realized it had been carved into an angel, its planes smoothed into a small winged creature with a tiny head and face, a small expressionistic body, even a tiny penis, a male angel. I stood staring for a long time. After a few minutes, I crossed over onto the grass and stood by the figure. It seemed to be growing out of the ground, deeply rooted in the soil. The face bore no expression, and at first glance, one might think it was merely a part of a tree or shrub. But no, it was definitely an angel. Someone had carved it into an angel, there was no mistaking it. I stood for a long time looking at its shape, touching its tiny bald head. I knew with certainty that this angel was for me, my angel. I had no doubt at all. But what did it mean? At first I was afraid, because I knew that if I were seeing an angel that was meant for me, things must be really bad. Maybe this was a sign that Heather wasn't going to survive this.

I asked aloud, “Are you an angel of hope or of death?”

Inside my mind, I heard, “It doesn't matter.” I stood pondering the meaning of this thought. How could it not matter? If it was an angel of death, Heather's life was ending. But for some reason that I cannot explain, those words rang true and comforted me. A line from the medieval poem, “The Pearl” crossed my mind, “The grace of God is enough for all.” I have always loved that line, often write it on my calendar and in my journal. It has always brought me comfort when things were going badly.

Suddenly I knew that it did not matter, a feeling that I have never been able to explain. It was as if I knew that at that moment, that no matter what happened, it would be the way things should be and we would bear it. I felt great peace, peace that was to accompany me throughout the journey of the next few days. I never lost the reality that this may be so serious that Heather might not survive, but I lost the fear. And while I know that such a thing would bring grief unimaginable, for some reason, I was no longer afraid.

After I left Zilker Park, I went by the book store and bought Heather a card. It had an angel on the front who was guiding the viewer into a bright light. The name of the card was “Transformation.” I wrote a short note reminding Heather of her birth and that the nurses said she was a fighter. I told her I knew she was afraid, and that I was too, but we would be fine. I believed it, I think.

I returned to work, told my closest friends what was happening, and went on with my week. Several told me they could not see how I was taking this so calmly, but I did not tell them about the angel. I just told them that I knew we would be ok and to pray and hope for the best. During that whole week, I don't think I ever stopped praying, but it was not an angry railing against God, but a quiet prayer for courage, strength, and hope, for all of us. At the end of the week, I joined Heather for her surgery. The night before, she was in good spirits, joking about the laxatives that she had to take, and trying hard not to be afraid. We went together to the hospital. Somehow, that day, I ended up in the waiting room alone again, something I do not recommend for those who face this sort of thing, but somehow I felt that I wasn't alone, and there were many there with me waiting, hovering about us both. I wrote in my journal. Before the surgery was over, Dave joined me, and we waited together with the rest of the spirits in the room.

The news was good: it was not cancer, but a huge fibroid tumor that took up most of her lower abdomen. After a few weeks of recovery, she would be fine. And she was.

She has never seen the angel of Zilker Park, but I have been back many times. I always stop there, amazed that I even noticed this tiny little earth angel that day. It is small, and so much a part of the surrounding landscape, not really on the path. But somehow I noticed: it was there for me at just the right time. I still feel peace when I touch his little bald head. A friend of mine took a picture of it which stands on my dresser, a reminder that indeed there is an unseen world, even though we usually don't notice it, but maybe most of the time, we really don't need it. But when we need it, it will be there for us. Maybe not an angel, or maybe just a tiny wooden one, but it will be there, just for us. And Heather, well she is doing great. She married that best friend of hers in a wonderful ceremony in Las Vegas last year. I walked her down the aisle. It really is the mother who gives her children away: she had them first, and they are hers to give. I turned her over to her new husband, and said in my mind: “Well, David, she's yours now, to love and care for. Take good care of her.”

Then I added, “But don't ever worry about Heather....

She's a fighter.”

Friday, August 10, 2007

Well the week has come to an end and it wasn't that bad! Sister did meet with her surgeon on Wednesday and she sounded really optimistic. Her surgery is scheduled for August 21st at 7:30am mountain time, for those who would like to include her in your prayers. They are going to remove one lobe, the affected lobe of her thyroid, and go from there. If the lobe has full blown papillary cancer, then they will have to go back and remove the whole thyroid. If it is not full blown but instead just pre-cancer (praying for this!!!) then she will be done and need nothing further. If it is full blown papillary cancer, then they may have to inject radioactive iodine for treatment, but no chemo or anything like that.
She also explained to me about all the tendons, nerves, glands in the area that can make the surgery very complicated. All the nerves and muscles that control your swallowing and control the epiglottis need to be watched, and then she mentioned the gland that controls your calcium absorption is in there too. They will keep her overnight to make sure she is absorbing calcium properly. Sister asked the doctor if he's had any problems with this in his patients, and he never has. So she feels really optimistic about that.
I'm still have weird dreams at night, but sleeping deeper. Last night, or should I say this morning I had a very weird one that is kind of spooking me. Sister and I were going to Heaven together, and Gavan was with us. Should I be worried about that? It was a long, drawn out, detailed dream with lots of things to write about. I've had a dream before that Heather was dying. I've had a dream before that something bad happened to Gavan. In this dream, I had an angel or spirit guide named James or Shamus or however you spell that. I thought that was weird. And also an angel or spirit guide named Clarences, not Clarence but Clarences. Weird. He said if you run when you go into the light, you have more energy when you get there. Sister and I were in this room before this hallway, we had to pick a spot on the wall to make our own tunnel, and this screen popped up that was talking about all things spiritual - Mother God, Father God, Angels, and a bunch of other words were scrolling by. Sister was beside me with her screen and she said "I don't know what any of this means though!" I said it's okay, because you're a good person, you do good in life, and you've always done for others." She was standing beside me holding Gavan, and in this dream Gavan was the size he was at six months old. He's two now, so that's not accurate. I remember asking Clarences if we could hold hands and go together. I guess before we did that I woke up.
Oh and to describe Clarences, if you see an older black man who looks like someone from New Orleans with that accent, kind of similar in appearance to the actor Scatman Crothers, a bit of Robert Guillaume, and something else. And spirit guide James/Shamus was a white man with brown hair, light to medium brown hair.
Weeeeiiirrrdd stuff! I hope it was just a dream. Or I like to say my reality is that sister and I grow old together and cross over together as old biddies. Hee!
I'm just trying really hard not to be disturbed by my dream.
Earlier in the dream Jim was mad at me and being mean to me. I dream things like this all the time, and I blame it on my past bad relationships. The past men in my life were unkind to me often, treating me with disrespect daily. Of course Jim has never ever done anything of that type, but he does in my dreams. But this dream was different. He was being mean, but I laid my hand on his heart and said "I know you love me. I know you do, I feel it!" When I laid my hand on his heart, he leaned back and his face was towards the sky as if something came over him. Then he looked at me with love and embraced me. Almost as if he had something else overtaking him, causing his unkindness, but when I 'woke' him up to how he really felt, he was free from feeling negatively towards me.

The night before I had a dream about my Avon customer Pat's late husband Norris. She and I talk about it a lot, she's told me before she's felt him around her. I was at her house Wednesday and we joke that her dog Queenie is psychic, for Queenie always knows when I'm there. She's an old dog, deaf now, rarely leaves Pat's son Kevin's room. But I've gotten to where all I have to do is say in my mind "Queenie, I'm here!" And she'll come running into the room for some lap time. I've been selling to Pat for five years, and Queenie has always been my little friend. She doesn't like people, neither does the pomeranian Princess. But they love me.
Anyhow in my dream Norris said something to Pat, maybe it was a message like he was saying hi or how are you, but I don't remember what he said.
Another important dream I wanted to write down so I won't forget is the one I had last week after Heather told me her news. We were both worried about how Mom would take this news. So that night I had a dream it was Heather's birthday and we were all having a gathering, but this was also when Heather was going to tell Mom her news. More and more people kept showing up, and people kept turning the music up and it was too loud to tell Mom. I was crying, sister was crying, and Mom was crying because she knew something was going on and the news couldn't be good. The family was all sitting around a table, all of us including John and Stacey, Shirley, Jim, Heather, Me, not sure where Heather's family was. But Mom walked over to us and held out her hand, we all reached out and we were a circle touching hands the way you do before a sport. That was symbolic to me, kind of "we are family, we will get through this, we all have eachother and that will never change."

So my week has been a good one, I'm still in a lot of pain due to the tension over worrying about my sister. The weather is hot and supposed to be a hundred, no rain in over a week and no rain in sight. I did finish typing up Mom's story so I'll post that here in a bit. It's long, so I'll wait til this afternoon or evening.

That's about all I have for now, not much else to tell about this week besides Big Brother, lol! But those who watch know that it kind of speaks for itself. I'm rooting for Dick, Danielle, Zach and Jen. But I am sure one of these four will be going home this week. Sucks. LOL.