Posts Tagged ‘mother’

A Holiday Season for the Birds

“We missed you at the dinner,” my mother said.

“I missed being there,” I replied, sincerely.

We let the sadness sit in silence for a moment.

I’ve missed so many important occasions over the past decade.

Family reunions, weddings, birthdays, baby showers and this year, our Christmas gathering, have all happened without me.

Mother always tells me who showed up and gives me bits of updates on my loved ones.  Loved ones I’ve lost contact with, except through photos or indirect stories.

I’m trying not to let things get me down this holiday season, but so far, it is a huge challenge.

Not only am I in more pain from fibromyalgia and a few new ailments too, my son and I are not getting along.  It’s a double dose of holiday grief!

While talking with Mother about the Christmas gathering that I wasn’t able to attend, I immediately felt my heart-strings pull.  My efforts to be positive seemed to pay off because right away I decided to try and take joy in her account of the gathering.  I was surprised when soon I was smiling, as I imagined one of my great nieces bringing one of her cousins five wrapped presents.

“I don’t know if she got the other ones anything, but she sure had five,” Mother said, with that pure joy a Great-Grandmother has.  “She had every one of them wrapped too,” she added with a little laugh.

After a few minutes into the conversation, I walked to the window where I could see a flock of Robins in the yard. They love the grassy lawn where I live and they are spectacular to see!  They always seem to come when the light shows their silhouettes under the Sycamore tree.  Many of them move toward my door, and I get to see them up close and personal as they lean in towards the ground, turning their heads slightly, listening for earthworms.

Robin listening for worms

The Robin Listens

“Hey Mother!  The Robins are here!”

I’ve told her about the Robins before.

Amidst the flock were other birds about the same size as Robins, but with black with golden stripes.  One or two had iridescent blue heads, so perhaps they were young Common Grackles.

Sometimes, when I mention the birds in my yard over the phone to people, they’re silent for a moment afterward.  I always wonder if they think I’m making up these tales of many birds!

Mother was quiet for a moment, but then she remarked that I should, “send a photo to that wildlife magazine.”

I wish I could.  I wish I could, if for no other reason than to make her proud.  She would be happy to see one of my photos in a magazine.

I’m in pain and can’t sit long enough to complete even the most simplest of photo projects.

“Now,” I started telling my bird tales again, “there are Black-capped Chickadees, two or three bluejay, some Orioles, and the Hawk has landed on the ground!”

As if that wasn’t enough, a flock of Cardinals were perched on the bushes by the treeline!

“It’s a winged-oasis out there!” I told Mother.  “It’s so beautiful!”

I didn’t have the energy to go outside to take a photo.  At least, not yet.

I was happy to see the pretty winged visitors, as always, but when I’m feeling unusually blue, I am especially grateful because the beauty and life they bring lifts a part of my spirit every time.

I sensed my mother knew, or somehow, she could feel what I saw.

Mother and I have always had a connection on a level other than this physical one that we can see and understand.

Our talk ended when my son called.  “I hope he’ll stay and have the chocolate croissants with me,” I remarked to Mother.

He’s in the habit of taking food that I cooked to his apartment to eat.  He won’t visit me at home or talk to me much lately.

The hawk was still on the ground when my son arrived.  A neighbor walked by and we each watched the bird for a few minutes.

He was excited over the beautiful pastries and gave me a hug, thanking me for baking them, but he took his croissants and headed back home.  I was disappointed, but at least I knew he would enjoy them and that gave me comfort.

Practicing gratitude helps me get through hard times, even if the feeling only last for a little while.  I need to remember the better times and keep hope alive.

I’m glad for the ability to enjoy the natural world around me.  The wild ones keep coming back, so I have plenty of chances to take in nature’s beauty!

The hawk was still in the yard when my son left, but was perched on the electric wires.

I reached for my Canon!

The Red-shouldered hawk and that streak of beautiful Carolina sky!

Getting closer to the red-shouldered hawk

“How close are you going to get?”

Red-shouldered hawk perched on wire in backyard

“That’s Close Enough.”

Thank you for visiting my blog, dogkisses.

Peace and Happy Holidays!

Your blogger, Michelle.

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A Spring Break

I’ve been dreaming of a vacation.  I’ve gazed at beach houses and found a lovely little place.  Pets are allowed.  The building is a light pastel like the color of seashells.  The beach there is quiet, especially in springtime, and you can talk to locals at the coffee shop.  Surprisingly, the rent is quite reasonable. 

The only problem is that I can’t afford to take a vacation, so I’m going to see my mother. 

“You can nap and I’ll cook you three meals a day,” she told me last night. 

I don’t think any place on earth could offer me anything better! 

 

Green Healing ~ Recalling a Horticultural Summer

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BUTTERFLY BEAUTIFUL

The last days of Summer are obvious.  The light has changed coloring the sky a deep blue.  The clouds are big, fluffy and milky white.  Horticulturally, we’ve planted several seed beds for Fall harvesting. 

The wildly stimulating grand symphony of color and life that the excited Swallowtails, Fritillaries and Skippers performed has slowed to a soothing and reflective melody, with the pretty ‘Little Yellow’ and the cautious, interested beautiful Buckeye.

The Sunflowers are gone, along with the melon patch.  I was absent the day our volunteer group cleared that garden, but my son went.  

I spent the time in the parking lot lying down in my car due to exhaustion.  (I may add a personal note about that at the end of this post). 

“You should have come today,” my son said after volunteering with the Horticulture Therapy group.  “We had a great time.  You missed out.”

I was happy that he had fun and especially to see his smile.

“Smell my breath!” he exclaimed.  “Smells like Basil doesn’t it?”

The fragrance was strong, I thought.  Whatever they ate must have been good.  “How are the Sunflowers?” I asked him.

“We ripped them up and cleared all that out,” he answered, referring to the space where the plants had lived.

“What did you do with them?” I asked.  It was a futile question, I realized.  I knew they were in the compost, along with the dozens of caterpillars on the Fennel plant that I had hoped to see become Butterflies.

“Yep,” he reiterated, “They’re gone Mom.”  His tone sounded of a time and place when men must tell women of particular actions that simply had to be done and only by men.

He’d been perspiring and had dirt on his clothes.  He looked satisfied.  I gathered that his physical strength and abilities had served the group’s work efforts well, which I believe is good for a young man.

I did feel like a part of me had gone to wherever the Sunflowers went.  I wished, in one way, that I’d been there for a proper parting.  I loved the Sunflowers.  Upon reflection, I figure the compost is as good a place as any to be with Mother Earth.

The next day I stopped by the gardens alone.  I wanted to sit for a while, remembering my Sunflower Summer.

Each had unique differences.  There were the giant yellow ones, which did demand first greetings from onlookers.  Some were stunningly bright with pointed petals, while others were softer, with petals that looked like long blond locks of hair.  The pale yellows were almost transparent in a particular light of day.   I smile every time I remember the one with a head so big ‘she’ had to be tied to Bamboo.

Most surprising to me were the red Sunflowers.  The wonderfully rich colors are worthy of any camera!  They were beautiful.

There was one Sunflower still standing.  My son had planted it down below the main gardens against a tall cement wall.  His Sunflower was always different from the others in the most interesting ways.  A corner of the bloom’s circle of petals curled around the large spiraled center.  I often thought it looked like the small hand of a shy child, perhaps covering her face after a compliment, but mostly, the beautiful flower reminded me of my son.

In the brightest Summer days the plant stood tall.  As the days went on, it started bending forward, as though to watch over the smaller plants blooming closer to the ground.

One day I visited the gardens when my son wasn’t feeling well.  His flower was leaning so far over that the petals almost touched the tops of the relatively short Zinnias.  I couldn’t believe it was still standing.  I inspected the stem thinking the plant might need to be staked.  Surprisingly, it was thick, obviously strong enough to handle the form it had taken.

A garden and the life it brings is a continuous source of metaphors and personal reflection.

The critters who visited, along with the more permanent residents in the gardens, are treasures in my heart.  I remember my first ‘Green Healing’ garden friend, the little Lizard who lived in the Cabbage patch.  I fell in love.

My next Green Healing friend was a Ladybug.  The Horticulture Therapist pointed her out to me as we were walking to the Greenhouse on a chilly Spring morning.  She was sitting pretty on a leaf in the unforgettable garden of Crimson Clover.

The therapist knew I had enjoyed my camera and encouraged me to take a picture.  I snapped a few shots of the little ladybug.  Returning home, I uploaded the photos.  I saw what I loved.

That little ladybug was absolutely incredible, at least to my eyes.  I couldn’t believe the details in the photograph.  I couldn’t believe I took the photograph!  The morning dew spiraled down beside my new little friend like a tiny string of graduated pearls.  She’s my Lucky Little Lady who got me hooked on nature photography.

I’ve enjoyed all the wildlife in the gardens, most recently a new baby Turtle rooming with the Frog in the Pond Garden.  I love their photos, but Baby Turtle doesn’t like posing for the camera.  I try not to disturb him.  I guess, in my heart, I feel most connected with the Butterfly.  Everything about them is amazing and beautiful.

I’m not surprised that the Buckeye was the most prominent of the winged friends during my most recent visit to the gardens in the last days of Summer.

These beautifully winged wonders have an average life span of only about ten days, but their flight period is year-round in the southern United States.  The Northern ones do not overwinter and many return southward in great migrations. 

A small patch of the orange Mexican Sunflowers are still thriving.  I imagine they had a lot to do with the delightfully high number of butterflies in the gardens this year.

There are several other flowers blooming that obviously produce nectar, but I’m not familiar enough to know their botanical names.  I love the big white ones.

Nectar Producing Beauty for Hummingbirds and Butterflies

The hummingbirds and butterflies like them too.  I’m sure there is plenty of nectar for the late Summer and soon to arrive Autumn winged visitors. 

Sulfer Butterfly on Nectar Flower

Personally, the Summer was for the most part, difficult.  I’m grateful for my time with the volunteers and in the gardens.  It was time away from the harsh parts of my life.  People in that group care about people and those are always good kind of folks! 

I’m also glad to have spent time watching and being with the Butterflies.  On that note, I’ll recall the pretty Painted Lady who put on the most colorful show of the year with the orange Sunflowers and pink Zinnias.  ‘She’ showed up during my recent visit, but I didn’t recognize her.

After taking several photos, I asked a staff member to look and tell me if she knew the Butterfly.  “I’m pretty sure that’s a Painted Lady,” she said.

Ha!  I thought to myself.  “I don’t think so.  Look at the wings,” I replied.  They were jagged like those of a Question Mark or Comma.  I was confused and thought she didn’t know her butterflies all that well, which surprised me.

Again, it wasn’t until I saw the images on the digital screen that I realized the woman had correctly identified ‘my lady’ painted pretty.  She may have had a difficult summer too.  Her wings told of predators, but mostly of survival, because she’s still flying free.

Painted Lady with a few marks of a butterflies life

On a more personal note, I have pneumonia.  I knew I felt terribly bad, but I attributed the worsening of my health over the past six weeks or more to stress and possibly, utter exhaustion.  Also, living with chronic illness means it’s hard to know the difference between your normal way of feeling and a nasty infection.  According to the doctor, the large pills she prescribed should get me well.

Along with the medication, I’ll look to my jagged beautiful Painted Lady!

Thank you for visiting DogKisses!  Pardon the lengthy post.  It took me a while to write and there are probably grammatical errors.  I hope to be back to myself again soon, which would include having energy to read my favorite blogs.  Until then, I hope you are having your own Green Healing moments this Summer.

Peace and Pass it on.

Responding to Stress

red flowers on stems

While the tears poured,  I thought how I surely didn’t look like a green healing girl, nor did I feel like one.

Shingles had hit me fast and hard.  In the past, I’ve been able to recognize the virus before an outbreak.  Not this time.

I had been sickly for several weeks losing a precious nine pounds.  I even went to the doctor fearing I had a tick-borne disease, but my doctor said he didn’t think I have one and instead, blamed my symptoms on stress.

I get tired of my health problems always being blamed on stress, but I realize it’s a serious problem, particularly when it’s ongoing.

My mom and I were talking on the phone when I saw the outbreak.  I was relieved because I’d rather have shingles than a tick infection.

My son was a resident at a small farm, where I thought he might live for three months.  I had gone to visit him two days before getting sick and thought he was going to stay. 

He had said he was homesick and sometimes felt pretty down, but after spending more time with him, he said that most of the time he felt good being there.  Most of the time is a lot to me, so I encouraged him to stay.

He wasn’t sleeping well at the farm and as a result, was often so tired that he was a little late for the chores and classes.  He was trying really hard and the farm’s director informed me that he was improving.

I left the farm after that visit feeling more hopeful than I have in a decade.  For the first time since my son was diagnosed with a mental illness, he was at a place where people treated him like a full human being.  He wasn’t a ‘case’ to be managed.  He was treated the same as the other residents, which meant he was expected to arrive on time for classes.

During the few weeks he was away, even though I had to drive a lot, which was difficult, I had enough time to see what it was like being me.

I was not a full-time caregiver.  I was Michelle.  I was a single woman.  I saw parts of my personality that I hadn’t seen in a long time, such as my sense of humor.  I’d forgotten that I have a pretty good one.  I had fun.

It’s not my son that I need a break from, but instead is the caregiver role that I don’t have help with.

Two days after our weekend visit together, my son was an hour late for one of the farm’s classes.  He said he was so tired that he lied down for what he intended to be five minutes, but then fell asleep.

The man leading that particular class, which was a prayer time, asked him to do a writing assignment.  It was a long and arduous assignment.  He refused and as a result, had to leave the program.

I am not proud of myself for the way I responded to the situation.  I was angry and didn’t handle my emotions well.  I needed someone to talk with about the situation.  Someone with experience, empathy and a positive attitude.  I didn’t have anyone who could offer that.

I told the manager when I arrived that I was sick.  I also confided in him that I wasn’t sure how long I could keep going the way I have been.  He said they would pray for me and we parted ways.

The six months before my son went to the farm had become more and more difficult for us.  I didn’t get a break.  I deeply desired and needed help. 

My son needs peers and friends, something to do with his time and more activity than I alone can offer. 

A few months ago, he was rejected from membership in a clubhouse for people diagnosed with a mental illness.  The reason was because he’s doing well and doesn’t have a case manager.  They aren’t used to that.  I’m not sure their response is altogether a bad thing. 

My son talks about recovery and has a reputation in that particular community of not taking medication.  Sometimes this causes ripples in the water.

I had begged God for somebody to help me.  The director of the farm called to say they would accept my son as a resident the same day that I had nearly screamed at the sky.  I thought my break came and it was one that I believed could change my son’s life. 

Things simply didn’t work out the way we had wanted.  I wish I could go back and respond to this fact differently than I did, but of course I can’t.  I can only try to do better in the future.

I feel better now.  I don’t know exactly what to do or where to turn in life, but I’ll keep on keeping on.  I’ll keep on trying and hoping and praying that there is a way to help my son, that we both can heal and recover, and that perhaps one day our lives will look much brighter.

I learned from the farm experience that I need to work on myself.  I need to take time for me.  I need personal time, as well as time for healing my own wounds.  I want to  heal.  I want to respond to life in a way that doesn’t cause me illness or worsen existing health conditions.  I certainly don’t like responding in ways that bring harm to others, hurt feelings or make the situation worse.  All easier said than done I suppose, but giving up is not a good option.

I’d like to say thanks to my blogging friends for the awesome support and encouragement you have given me.  I’ve said it before, but I’m proud to be a part of this community!  Thank you so much!

Even though my mother will likely never read this, I must say here that I am truly grateful for her love.  She sure stands by me when I’m sick and for that I sure am grateful. 

I am proud of my son for trying the program the farm offered.  He’s a strong young man with a kind and good spirit.

Thanks for visiting Dogkisses’s blog!

Red flowers in the garden, by Michelle and Son.

When the truth doesn’t matter

my dad had the best story to tell

home

There was a chest in the corner of the upstairs second bedroom, which is where the photo of the pretty woman from France was.  The bedroom was a holograph of the past.  Nobody slept there anymore and the same crocheted quilt with big colorful flowers on it seemed to have always decorated the bed.

Once in a while, with enough pestering from me, either my grandmother or dad would go up stairs with me where we would sit together on the bed beside the wooden chest.  They would open it and let me choose an item for a story.   Stories that I never tired of.   Stories that connected me to them and us to our ancestors.

My grandmother had lost a daughter to cancer and the room held the memories of her in framed pictures, her jewelry and pieces of her favorite clothes hanging in open view from hooks on the old wooden walls.

One story I liked for my dad to tell me was about how I was named.

“Let me see the woman from France,” I would ask my dad.  He would let me hold the picture, while he told me the story.

“She was beautiful,” he would say.

He would start with talking about being in the Army.  He was a cook and sometimes I think he wanted more interesting stories than he had actually lived.

“Her name was Mechelle,” he would say, trying to make it sound French, which I loved.

“I gave you a beautiful name because you’re a beautiful girl,” he told me.  I was happy he thought I was beautiful.  This was back in the day before we stopped talking to girls about their looks and instead started telling them their smart, which I think is a good progression.  At the same time, I don’t think I was damaged by my father’s innocent compliments.

Of course I asked him once if he loved her and if he thought she was more beautiful than my mother.  He nearly cried.  He cried easily.  I’m a lot like him.

“Oh no,” he said with great emotion.   “Your mother is the only woman I’ve ever loved and the most beautiful woman in the world.”  I believed him and I still do.

“I knew her before I married your mother,” he would remind me.

“Did you ever kiss her?” I remember asking him.  He would smile, as if he was a ladies man and say jokingly, “Maybe once.  The women couldn’t say no to me when I was in uniform.”

I never believed he kissed her and I’m sure that’s exactly how he wanted it.

My mom recently told me that my dad made up this story about the woman in France and about naming me.

“But what about the picture?” I asked her.

“There ain’t no tellin’ where he got that from,” she said.  “He could have picked that up at the dime store,” she added.

I don’t think so!

I knew, even as I believed my dad loved only my mother, that this photo was important to him.

My mother tells me that I was, “supposed to have been a boy and was already named Michael.”   She had been a little too sure of herself.

She said her reason for naming me Michelle is that it was easy to change the name Michael.  A very boring reason right?

I’m going to stick to my dad’s story, which also included telling me he always knew I would be a girl, which is exactly what he wanted.

And did he sing the Beatles to me?  You bet he did!

In loving memory of my dad and his stories of adventure, real or imagined.

Breathe out…

Sometimes No Sometimes YesShe’s coming and it won’t take her long to get here.  I have about an hour left.  I didn’t have the courage to say no.

She’s my mother and I love her.  She surprised me when she called to say she was packing.  My gut screamed out at me to say no, but I couldn’t.  I tried.  I called her back three times.

“Are you sure you want to come?” I asked her.

“Yes.  Are you sure you want me to come?” she responded.

“Well, I’m sick,” I told her.  “I’m not in the best mood either you know.”

She says she understands and as much as a part of me wants to say no, obviously another part is saying yes.

I have a hard time saying no, which is why I love the icon my friend, Leslie, at IconDoIt, the blog, created for me.  The image was the top rated media image I used in my blog in 2010.

I love the “No” icon and saying no in 2009 saved my life.

I need to print this icon on a very large sheet of paper and hang it above my desk, which sits in the center of my small home.

“If truth be known,” a phrase my mother uses often, I need to be in a hospital or at least I need a good nurse.

I need a break from the many obligations in my life.  I need sleep.  I need an appetite.  I need more time for me.

I keep breathing out, then in and slowly out again, but I’m still anxious.  My home is cluttered.  I haven’t washed my dishes or vacuumed.  I don’t think my mother has ever seen my place in this condition.  I don’t think she’s ever seen me as wore out as I am now.  She may be shocked at my dishes in the sink and I’m not sure if she will see how very tired I really am.

I wish she could understand how I feel but at the same time I don’t want her to know how sick I am.

Breathe out…

2010 was a hard year and even though my spirit has felt lighter this year my body has not.  I’ve been sick.

About six weeks ago I got a terrible case of bronchitis.  It felt like the flu.  I thought it went away, but the fatigue has come back and hit hard.

I keep getting confused and sometimes the room spins.  I keep crying too, but I’m not sure what that’s about.  Out of the blue come upheavals of emotions and tears.

My pain is worse.  I’m sick on my stomach and food is the last thing I want.  I’m angry.  I’m angry that I feel so bad and have for so long.

I finally called my doctor.  I doubt if he can help me and as I write that thought, the tears want to come.  Maybe it’s because I’m so sick and I don’t know if anyone can help me.

I dread going to the doctor.  He’ll check my lungs to see if there are signs of pneumonia, which is what I’ve suspected.  I looked up the symptoms and have every one of them.

I don’t know why I’ve waited this long to ask for help.  I guess because when you have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, it’s hard to know when you get a new illness or have a bug.  Depression can also keep you from seeking medical help when you need it.

I feel guilty for being sick.  I feel like a disappointment to my mother.  At least, I feel like it hurts her to see me sick and especially if I’m sad.  I don’t want to hurt her.

I also feel very much misunderstood, or rather that my illness(es) are misunderstood.

“If you want to sleep while I’m there,” my mother said the third time I called her back, “then just go lie down.”

I wish I could sleep.  I would.

Most people I know don’t understand that fibromyalgia is a sleep disorder.  They think if you are fatigued that you can lie down, go to sleep and all is good.  They are wrong.

Most people I know also don’t understand the reality of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome any better than they do fibromyalgia.  If only they would read blogs by people who are living with and writing about these insidious illnesses.

If we could sleep and sleep well for more than a few hours then we might feel better.  Maybe.

I’m so tired.  I hope my mother is calm in her mind and spirit.  That’s about the best gift she could give me.   I know she’ll start doing chores when she gets here but this is the thing, it will require my help.

I can barely sit here and write, but I thought I better because I don’t know how long she’ll be here and she gets a little jealous of my computer.  Sometimes our visits are emotionally draining on me.

I said yes because I love my mother.  I know she loves me.  I know too that I won’t always have her here.

I said yes.  I sure hope I did the right thing.

I also hope to meet my weekly challenge for PostAWeek, which for me is on Saturday.

OMG!  How did she make it that fast?  OMG!  She is here!

Breathe out…

dogkisses.

Refusing defeat

Sometimes life is hard, but we must keep on going

IMAGE CREDIT: LESLIE SIGAL JAVOREK

Have you ever had a day where your body should have given out but it didn’t?  A day when you were amazed that you could stand up, much less walk a mile or more, but you did it?   A day when your tasks ahead weighed more than the world yet you couldn’t quit? A day when by night fall you finally looked at your phone contacts, your friends or maybe family, but you realized that you had to go at it alone?

I couldn’t remember what time I had gotten up that morning.  But then I wasn’t sure if I had gone to bed the night before.  I had slept, but when and where I wondered.  On my sofa?  In my guest room?  It didn’t matter.  I had a million things on my mind at once.

Finding a parking space at the hospital right away was a good thing, even though it irritated me that I had to endure the enthusiastic folks we share our hospital parking lot with for certain events.  I wasn’t in any mood for celebrating.  Plus, anything had potential in irritating me.  I was keeping up with any good things and not having to walk half a mile to the elevator was one good thing.

I had stopped at the ATM on my way but was too tired to get out of my car.  Somehow walking from the parking deck to the hospital seemed easier than taking the time to get some cash to pay for Valet parking.  I was not thinking clearly.

I forgot the number of my parking space but it was too late to turn back.  I knew what level of the deck I was on.  That was good enough.  On to the other million-minus-one thoughts taking over my mind.

“I love the way you walk,” someone I once knew used to say to me.  “You walk strong and tall with confidence.”

Oddly, I remembered this as I was passing people while crossing the walking bridge.  I slowed down and took shorter steps.

I began thinking about how severely fatigued I was.  It was more than fatigue.  I kept spacing out.  Earlier that day when I was feeding the dogs I had already measured their food and put it in their bowls, yet I stood there, staring off into space with their full bowls on the counter.  Both dogs stood by me waiting and watching, obviously wondering what was up with their human.  Finally, our older dog, who has a deep bark and only speaks one time when he has something to say gave one strong,  “Rrruuuff!”

The sound brought me back to the moment.  I put their bowls on the floor.  I thanked my dog.  He had done his job.  The perfect therapy dog and he hasn’t even been trained.

Walking slowly across the bridge, the past 48 hours of stress rolled around in my mind.   I was hungry and tired, but I was still going.  I had a bag of clothes for my son on one shoulder and a leather purse on the other.  They felt like they weighed a ton, but they didn’t.

I told myself I didn’t need to walk strong and tall.  I didn’t need to be confident.  I decided to walk the way I felt.

There was a peaceful feeling in accepting the physical weakness.  I felt confidence in not hiding.

The cafe was at the entrance I chose, but time wasn’t on my side.  I continued on.  The hospital’s walkway to the elevator seemed more daunting than ever before.

Acutely aware of pain and fatigue, I started to walk how I felt.  Another person I know used to say, “You gotta walk through it man.  Whatever it is, you gotta walk through it.”

A hospital is a fine place to collapse I thought.  I might walk through it, but I wasn’t sure that I would make it to my destination.

Reaching the elevator I noticed some wonderful photographs on the wall.  I was captured for a moment and then I saw the coffee shop sign.  Slowly I moved on, carrying my bags and my body.  The pastries caught my eye.

“Can I help with you anything Mam?”

I heard something in her voice.  Was she responding to what I was feeling I wondered or was it the striking red streaks in my eyes?  I wasn’t indulging in my feelings or I would have fallen down in a puddle of tears.  I desperately wanted a friend.  If ever I needed a shoulder to lean on, this was one of those times.

“I’m going to look at your pastries,” I said to the woman in the coffee shop, but she looked concerned, which she was.

She walked around to my side of the counter bringing me a glass of water.   My eyes were so tired I couldn’t read the labels on the drinks.  I chose a plastic juice for my son and a bottled soda for myself.  I looked at the pastries, but I didn’t want anything.

“Do you want some real food or a snack?” the woman asked me.  “We have these egg and sausage croissants and…”  I forgot what else she offered.  Nothing sounded good.  I was trying to keep myself composed.  “What about peanut butter and jelly?” she continued.

“These are the best peanut butter and jelly sandwiches I’ve ever had,” she said.  “They have peanut butter on both sides and jelly in the middle.  I’m serious.  They’re the best.”

“Yes.  I like peanut butter.  I’ll take one of those,” I said.  My words were barely audible.  My voice shook.  My hands shook.  I slowly put my bags on the floor and paid the bill.  I was able to smile.

I began to feel a little better.  This stranger’s genuine concern warmed my spirit,  lifting some the weight of the world I feel on my soul.

I remembered the last time my son was in the hospital.  I had a shoulder to lean on that time.   He had driven to the hospital as soon as he could when I told him what was happening.  He waited with me in the emergency room lobby for several hours.  He bought me snacks.  He held my hand.  I felt strong having someone there for me, while I was there for my son.   Times like this was why I believed the man who came for me truly loved me.  I was wrong.

As I crossed a walking bridge on my way to the elevator, I saw my shadow.  Strangely, it gave me strength.  I remembered a part of who I am.  I remembered that I am strong.  I felt stronger alone with my shadow, than I had with a person who was only pretending to be my friend.

I decided to refuse to be defeated by the day and instead, embrace the desperate way I felt inside.

My visit with my son was not so great.  He didn’t feel like talking.  There were several people around.  Two women were sitting close by us.  One talked too much.  I wanted to talk to my son but he didn’t feel like it.  The other woman stared at me the entire time.  I felt like she was looking into my soul.  She told me her name.  I said hi and we shook hands.  She kept on staring at me.

“Is he your husband?” she finally asked me.

“No.  He’s my son,” I told her.

I used to feel complimented when people said I looked like my son’s sister, but now, I really only want to look like his mother.

“You look sad,” the young woman added.

“Yes,” I responded.  “I’m sad.”

 

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