Saturday, May 20, 2017

Letters to My Father 11.22.15

Dear Dad,

Today I turned 19. It was the first time in 10 years that you weren't there for my birthday.

Remember when we used to always pick a restaurant to go to that no one in the family had heard of so they were forced to try something new?

I remember how you used to laugh so secretly. I thought it was such a diabolical plan.

Today feels weird without you here. My favorite part about my birthday became sharing it with you when I was 8 years old.

I would always memorize what day yours would be on before mine because I knew that whatever week of the day yours fell on, mine would be exactly one week later.

One thing I missed when I woke up today was one of your signature cat birthday cards. I loved how year after year you would go and find the craziest looking cat card and write something quite clever on the inside.

I always looked forward to your quips and you always looked forward to my reaction (which was usually faked annoyance). Secretly we both loved it.

So now I'm crying and laughing all by myself here on the other side of the house. Mom is already asleep and it's finally the end of today.

But I can't help but think about how I wish it was last year and how I wished you were still here.

Why did I have to love you so much? Why did you have to be so wonderful?

Written 11.22.15

Thursday, May 18, 2017

One Golden Memory

I know what it feels like to fly.

It feels like being held by your arms and being swung around in circles as we are both getting dizzy and giggling like crazy.

It feels like I'm six years old again in the backyard at Grandma's house.

Caleb is playing baseball outside with our cousins John, Angel and the twins, Tim and James. My hair is bleached by the sun a bright yellow blonde in messy pigtails and my skin is all tanned.

Our fort that we built out of the cardboard boxes that the new couches came in is set up with a sign that says "Home Sweet Home, Wecome" instead of "Home Sweet Home, Welcome."

"Again, Howie, again!" I laugh and scream with my arms stretched out towards you.

You smile back and grab my arms to swing me in circles more and before I know it my legs are off the ground and I'm flying again.

I can tell you love Momma and she loves you back. You are growing on me and I'm growing on you too.

I can tell you make Momma happy. I can tell Momma makes you happy too.  Maybe you use your strength to make her fly too. I want her to know what it feels like to fly.

The sun starts to set and the sky is painted gold with flecks of pink and orange. I am being scolded by Grandma to not sit on the grass because of the chiggers. I don't know what she's talking about though, I am too awe-struck by the sunset.

My golden memory matches the golden sunset when I remember that day. I keep it safely tucked at the back of my brain when I need to smile.

Today I needed to smile.

Written 5.18.17

Parts for Sell

These last four years have been just awful for my personal life.

I have felt loss after loss, picking myself up slowly just to be hit again.

I've felt each sharp stab and ache from the tearing and healing of my heart. With every new betrayal or loss I've felt like I've been auctioning off my parts. 

"You want my heart?"

 Take it, it's a wreck anyway. 

"Do I hear an offer for my lungs?"

That's fine, you can have them. I already feel like I'm drowning by making you comfortable with your ideas about love. 

"Any bidders for my arms and legs?" 

Take them if you must. I've grown used to comforting myself in silence and remaining in one place. 


***


The year after Howard died we saw who our true friends were. Some people felt very uncomfortable around us. We could feel it even though they never said a word.

It's almost incredible how dull you feel after loss but how sometimes you have this heightened sense of people's emotions.

Maybe it's like this because our bodies are craving more emotions like it used to have before what ever caused it to go numb. 

Not even half a year after the accident happened did one of my close friend's mother tell my mother about how moody I was and how she didn't feel comfortable being my mother's friend since her daughter and I started growing apart. 

She accused me of being jealous of her daughter for getting to move away to college while I would remain at home with my mother.

Mom was shocked. It was like the woman didn't know what kind of impact Howard's death had. I knew after it happened that I would be staying home with Mom. I had to look after her. We were going to look after each other.

The insensitivity of that incident really upset my Mom for a long time.

Some of the others just didn't know what to say, and that's okay. Sometimes, though, just saying something is just what is needed for those who feel lost. 

Almost three years after Howard died I revealed my relationship with a woman to two of my friends that I had since I was a child. We grew up together. We were sisters, until we weren't.

Being bisexual made them uncomfortable around me. Over eleven years of friendship gone just like that.  I was no longer "straight enough" to be a part of their circle. They proceeded to tell me I was going to Hell. They said they didn't believe me or my relationship. They called me a liar. 

One of them apologized to me later and I forgave easily.  Months later I was again slapped in the face by reality of being told again that I was off to the fiery depths never to return. After my relationship with the woman ended, I was still being persecuted. 

What about unconditional love? What did I do to them that was so awful? After all I had loved them unconditionally for so many years. 

I know I'm supposed to give people second chances, I know I'm supposed to forgive. But when people take from you your safety, your compassion and your voice that's when you break in half and can either rise or crumble.

This time I'm not crumbling.

I'm sick of shadowing under you to make you comfortable. I'm sick of being friends with those who take and take just because they know I'm a giver. 

I'm going to be selfish this time. Instead of choosing to help you, I'm helping myself. 

No more. 

Written 5.18.17

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Blue Sparkles

One of my earliest memories of Howard was when I was around 5 or 6 when he was dating Mom. I was waiting up for her to come home, but I was really excited to see him too.

I had on one of those pink nightgowns with one of the Disney princesses on the front. My hair was a chaotic mess of curls and tangles, partially because I hated to brush it and partially because Mom always brushed it for me before I went to bed. 

Grandma had the fan whirling around in the kitchen at a medium speed, occasionally clicking when it rocked because a screw was loose somewhere. 

I sat in Grandma's chair at the table, leaning back and watching out the window for headlights. My eyes felt itchy and dry and all I wanted to do was shut them for just a moment. I knew I couldn't though. I had to wait for Mom to get home. 

I looked around the room, noticing the pictures of fruit all over the walls. Small ones, big ones, with the addition of fake fruit stuffed into wooden baskets for decoration. Perhaps they were appropriate for a kitchen, but I still found them odd. Why not real fruit?

 The wallpaper was also beginning to pull up at certain corners. I always wanted to tug on them, curious what I would find behind them,  but knew I would be scolded for doing so. 

As I was waiting I decided that my nails needed a little bit of sparkle. I got out my miniature sized combo nail polishes that consisted of pastel blue, green and pink, all of them with silver sparkles.  

It wasn't too long before Mom arrived back home, but back then it felt like an eternity. It wasn't too late either, probably around nine or so. 

 She came in with a smile on her face with her arms stretched out for me.  Howard walked in cautiously behind her, a little shy, but also happy. I knew there was something special about him from an early age. 

"Look Momma, I painted my nails," I squealed. 

"Let me see, baby," Mom said taking my little hands. 

Howard peeped over her shoulder to observe our interaction as well. 

"They're very pretty," Howard said. 

I looked at him proudly and exclaimed something along the lines of doing them myself and that I didn't need any help at all. He just nodded and smiled. 

"Would you like me to do yours?" I asked. 

Mom erupted with laughter and told me that Howard didn't paint his nails. I found this odd, but just went along with it anyway. Why wouldn't someone want sparkly nails? It just didn't make any sense. 

"You know, I would like some," Howard said quietly. 

Mom and I immediately looked over at him. She was saying that he didn't need to and he was saying back that it was okay, that he didn't mind one bit. 

So there we sat. My tiny hands grabbing one finger at a time to paint his fingernails. Mom tried to get me to at least do clear, but we went with the blue sparkles because blue was his favorite color. 

After years went by and Mom and Howard got married, I often wondered why he let me paint his nails. Was it to spend more time with Mom and get to know me? Was he trying to get brownie points?

Did he know then he would be my father?

I wished I would have asked him. I wish a lot of things nowadays.