Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in.

Some call that labored breathing. I call it, I’m going to go soon. As I hold my mom’s feeble hand, I scan her room and this is what I notice~my aunt, on her cell phone, checking up on her kids and significant other. She’s from New Jersey, ya know. My husband helping our daughter with her homework. Two little cousins, lying on a spare bed, making the most in a hospice care room. My brother and sister discussing funeral arrangements (I think). My brother-in-law working the pain medication “machine.” And, finally, my uncle, speaking in his native tongue to his family (I have no idea what he said).

Two days ago my mom was telling me to let her go. She didn’t want to be a burden anymore. She felt useless. She said she was losing her independence. At first, I thought she was depressed. But, I’m far too familiar with losing your independence. I understood. It sucks!

Everyday she was in that place, she had at least five visitors. I could just hear her,”Could y’all just leave~so I can die in peace!” (she’s not even southern) The ironic thing is she passed on 9/6~ALONE. She got her wish.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in.

To Lynn Hofer

 

On June 11th, my friends & I celebrated turning 50-ok except two (next yearūüėģ). We were at this rad(are the kids still saying “rad?”)hotel in HB & ate at this beautiful Mexican restaurant.

This is what we discussed:

Old pictures really make us laugh A LOT!!

Andrea & her crazy outfits. Prom: who did you go with? Who smoked in Bonomo’s bathroom? Not me. Mazatlan Memories. Why didn’t we fly to Acapulco? Sorry Patty. A 20/20 story waiting to happen. Who did Anna make out with? Who took the train? Who took the plane? Medea-where did that $$ go?

Anna is that you? PEEING!?! Is that a Penis cake? Oooh gross! Lynn was married? Yes, we did get a room for our 5yr reunion. 10yr-fight 20yr-a lot of fake boobs. 30yr-did we have one? Erin, Tahiti is better.

Why is Kyle in my house? Our parents- meh. Our kids-meh. Nan’s sex talks with other people’s kids. I swear mom it works. The rhythm method DOES NOT work-I repeat DOES NOT work! Someone’s 8yr old son wants to go to college…Online! Our generation’s lay-offs. Menopause is a GOOD thing. Dyed hair turns frizzy because it’s gray, people!

Thanks for the memories ladies!! ‚̧Elena

written & sung by Andra Day

You’re broken down and tired of livin’ life on a merry-go-round

and you can’t find a fighter, but I see it in you.

So, we can walk it out.

Mountains. We can walk it out. Mountains.

 

And I’ll rise up; I’ll rise like the day.

I’ll rise up. I’ll rise not afraid. I’ll rise up and do it a thousand times again.

I’ll rise up, out like the waves.

I’ll rise up in spite of the pain.

I’ll rise up and do it¬†a thousand times again

for you.

 

And the silence isn’t quiet.

And it feels like it’s getting hard to breathe and I know you feel like dying.

But I promise we’ll take the world to its feet-all day.

 

And I’ll rise up. I’ll rise like the day. I’ll rise up. I’ll rise not afraid.

I’ll rise up and I ‘ll do it a thousand times again-for you.

 

All we need is…All we need is hope.

And for that we have each other. And for that we have each other.

We will rise, we will rise, we will rise up, we will rise

 

 

And I’ll rise up, rise like the day

I’ll rise up in spite of the pain.

I’ll rise up a thousand times again.

And, we”ll rise up¬†and ride like the waves and we’ll rise up a thousand times again

for you.

Some people call me an inspiration because I made it through four brain surgeries; What they really mean to say is “better you than me.”

Not in a bad way. They think they can’t deal…but you can if you had no choice.

Let’s be honest. I am not that woman that crosses the finish line in her wheelchair with her husband pushing her so she can feel the wind in her face; Nor that man with ALS who can no longer walk and can barely talk with a smile on his face.

Sometimes:

I whine.

I cry.

I say “shit” or “crap” when I drop things.

I get frustrated.

I get angry.

Ok, I get pissed.

I cry some more.

I even say, “Why me, God?”

Then…I breathe

count to 10

or 50

or 100. Whatever works.

I remember who I was.

I hug my kids as much as I can even though my son says his are in Vegas and my daughter rolls her eyes at me every chance she gets.

I ride my stationary bike listening to tunes like Rachel Platten’s, “Fight Song.”

I have a diet coke.

I pray.

I

will

do

whatever

it

takes

to

live

this

life!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I sleep…

I dream I’m aimlessly driving down PCH in a convertible with the wind blowing in my face.

I dream I’m preparing a meal with a knife in my hand¬†cutting up an onion with tears welling up¬†my eyes.

I dream I’m taking a shower standing up waiting for “water” police to come by.

I dream I’m talking to my students with blank faces staring back at me.

I dream I’m coming home from work smiling for no reason.

I dream I’m running a marathon with a cramp in my leg.

I dream I’m playing tag with him in the cold, wet grass.

I dream I’m French-braiding her hair.

I dream I’m walking on the beach with him holding his hand feeling the sand run between my toes.

 

WAKE UP!

 

It was love at first sight. ¬†There you were, just hangin’ out.

Black, velvety, and all strung out.  You were much too mature for

me for I was only eleven.

 

I pretended to like the others.

There was a silky, white blouse with a bow that acted like a tie.

A pleated, wool skirt that would catch anyone’s eye.

Flashy, white go-go boots and a rainbow-colored mini skirt.

And an old, useless wedding dress that turned the color of vanilla

because of its age.

 

A couple of summers, I would sneak into my mother’s closet

and act like different characters when I tried on her clothes.

But, you never fit right. I felt all¬† “gangly” in it. Way too big,

too long, too large in the chest area (if you know what I mean), too

EVERYTHING!

 

Several years later my mom called me because she was cleaning out

her closet, “Do you want this old, black dress? I was going to

throw it out, but I remembered you always tried it on when you

were a little girl.”

I hung up on her and rushed right over there. I am actually excited.

I carefully put the dress on and it fit me like a glove!

I still have it and I hope to give the dress to my daughter one day.

 

 

 

When I was very young,

before I started school,

my father used to tell me I have my grandmother’s eyes.

I didn’t see it. I didn’t get it.

When I was seven, my parents got a divorce.

I wasn’t devastated. I wasn’t angry. I wasn’t shocked – more relieved.

Before he left, he told me I have my grandmother’s eyes.

I didn’t see it. I didn’t get it.

When I was ten, grandma & grandpa celebrated their golden anniversary.

FIFTY YEARS!  Holy cow!

They got up to dance. I remember her smiling at him.

My father turned to me and said you have your grandmother’s eyes.

I didn’t see it. I didn’t get it.

When I was twenty-one, now a young woman, my grandmother died.

I didn’t want to go to her funeral.

Everyone will be sad and I barely know her, I explained.

I’m glad I went.

My aunt had a party for her. They told stories. My dad got drunk and cried.

I have never seen a grown man cry like that.

He sobbed and whispered to me, your mom raised you kids well.

You still have your grandmother’s eyes.

I still didn’t see it. I still didn’t get it.

 

Now approaching fifty, before I put on my face, I look deeply into the mirror.

I notice the beach days have not been good. I smile, because I do have my grandmother’s eyes.

I knew to stay away from you from the get go.

 

Who cares about:

your charming personality

your crystal blues

the perfect body

and how do you smile with your eyes?

Been down that road before

Who knew we would become friends?

an ear

a shoulder

each other’s confidant

That’s when it started to change¬†for me

I saw a vulnerability in you

you have a light I hope never goes out

 

Then I met him

 

It’s so nice to feel wanted not needed

There is a difference

we went our separate ways

 

They say the grass is always greener

Be careful what you wish for

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We get to breathe fresh air, the beach, and pretty flowers.

They breathe dirt, sand, smoke, and sometimes death.

We drive fancy cars, electric cars, or economy cars.

They drive tanks.

We get to hide alone in a crowd, if we choose to.

They battle on the front lines for our freedom.

We lose our temper in an argument.

They lose limbs.

We suffer from boredom of life.

They suffer from Post-Traumatic stress for life.

We get to LOL and YOLO

while some of them are POW’s

We smile at a stranger.

They have to be weary of one.

They protect and serve

so we can run free!

 

dedicated to Cailin White whom inspired me to write this

On the outside, I seemed confidant and well-prepared

On the inside, I was a bundle of nerves and full of anxiety

I introduced Edgar Allen Poe and The Diary of Anne Frank

which they never heard of

my classroom did not look like last year’s teacher

so full of life and charm

mine was more antiseptic

it would build its personality throughout the year

Spitballs flew

Notes were passed

he cheated

she cheated

hearts broken

name callin’

but one day I smiled

and they smiled back

For the rest of the year, they were mine