Tuesday, August 31, 2010

And Everything After.

A few minutes after midnight on the first day of August....a new man entered.

A few minutes after midnight on the last day of August...this man exited.

Time marches on, and marches to a drumbeat that sometimes I have trouble finding the rythym to keep pace with the beat.  Life catches me off gaurd, stumbles me to the ground, and I find that I am reaching out to those who mean the most to me and everyone else fades into the background.

He was the best grandfather I could have asked for.  Once, when I was about 8, my cousin and I were cornered up against a tree by a rattlesnake.  A few more seconds before that gunshot --well, I dont want to think about what would have happened.  And there was our hero, tromping through the woods and grabbing us by the arms and hollering like we'd never seen him before.  Never, never, do that again he screamed, and I cried, and Eric did too and we never told our mothers.  I doubt they know to this day.

For some reason, when I heard the news today, I thought of that snake poised to strike.  I thought about it over and over again, and of how he yelled for the hogs and the chickens to clamor around for food.  "Su-eyyyy" he would cry to the hogs carrying a silver pail across a field that even then, I knew was beautiful.

Of mine and Eric's little voices: "Su-eyyyyyy...." echoing behind his cry as we marched behind in his muddy footprints.

How fast time can strike us into realizing once again, family is everything. 

And I sit here, six hundred miles away.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

We interrupt this blog break....

August, my always-most-hated month, is drawing a close.  Whew.  Every single day this month seemed to hold a weight of some sort of significance, as if my senses were all on high alert.  Emotional highs and lows, the likes of which I've never experienced before and that's truly no exaggeration.

A few minutes into August 1, I got a brand-new nephew.  I went to Kentucky and had a wonderful time.  A week later, I went to Nashville for work.  Then, I had my incident-that-shall-no-longer-be-discussed, and two days later, went to Salt Lake City to spend a week prepping for an all-day presentation and workshop on healthcare reform to almost sixty people by the end of the day.  I was super nervous about this, and I had to really invest myself in my work in order to do it -and honestly, I kind of liked the challenge.  This stuff isn't as overwhelming to me anymore, and for the first time....I feel like I'm actually "getting" it.  God, that is a relief. 

Let's see...what else?  Oh yeah, that new relationship of mine?  Officially over. 

It's, um, been a long month.

Last weekend, I cried uncle.  I told my best friend S that I'd buy her a plane ticket if she'd come see me this past weekend because I needed someone with me.  I couldn't spend a weekend staring at my four apartment walls, or I would go nuts and I've never had someone be so consistently there for me and love me so completely for so many years.  Aside from Andrea, of course :)  Since that aforementioned incident, I've hated and dreaded being alone for long periods of time.  Not that I'm afraid, just a bit more lonely than normal and not quite as comfortable with my own thoughts for an extended period of time. 

She had a better idea -- to meet halfway and go camping in West Virginia.  I got off work earlier than expected on Friday, and when I got there, she and all of her kids were there with tents set up and marshmellows already flaming over the fire.  When I pulled up, all of them broke into huge grins and exclamations of how they didn't have to go to school that day (except for her daughter, who is out of school) -- S had surprised them with a day off instead of a half-day.  I asked S what the excuse was that she gave the school.  "Urgent family business," she replied.  I kind of laughed and asked what gave her that idea to use as an excuse.  "Because we had it," she said firmly.  "You are in this family too, and you are our business."

Stomach: drop.  I realize how much I'm loved.

Her two older kids are teenagers, and have been in various stages of difficult times, but both are thriving.  I told her son that he was a different kid now, and I was so glad he was "back" from the clutches of addiction he was battling.  He smiled and we toasted plastic cups of milk.  Never going back -we both agreed.

We hiked and spent most of the day in the lake which was almost completely deserted. The water was so clear, we almost couldn't believe it.  We skipped the bathhouse and shampooed and soaped up in the lake and took crazy pictures with shampoo in our hair.  Humiliating pics?  Probably, but as I said to S, we'll like them when we're old.
Funny --I haven't felt that clean in a long time.

So here I am --sunburned shoulders, dirty and a mountain of laundry.  And feeling refreshed.  I already miss them, though, but we will be back.

This weekend, I'm supposed to be in a wedding in Kentucky.  But, my mom called me today to tell me that my grandfather has been given a week, or less, to live.  This is news that -while somewhat expected- its always something I have been dreading.

I worry about my grandmother; about my mother.  I worry about the sadness and the reality of the situation as we face how our family will take shape going forward. 

If the worst happens, I can't be in the wedding.  Even if it doesn't, I may have to go home to say goodbye.  Priorities, and my family is at the top of this list.

I'm running another HUGE meeting this week.  And when it ends, I'll pack a red bridesmaid dress and a black dress in my bag, and fly off to either a wedding or a funeral.

Sounds like life to me.

We sat around the fire last night and talked about stars and found constellations.  Tommy, S's youngest, said that atoms make up every single cell in our bodies.  And he thought each star was maybe a single cell of God's body.  I was holding S's hand and we squeezed each others hands at the exact same time.  "I really like that idea Tom," I finally managed to say.

Out of the mouths of babes.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Gone Fishin'

Both literally and figuratively =)

I am taking a semi-permanent hiatus from blogging, until I figure out the direction in which I'd like this to go. 

Maybe it's writers block.  Maybe it's the incredible amount of sharing I've been doing lately about some pretty personal things that have made me want to withdraw; to curl my inner self into me and shield me from further damage.

I'm off to the lake, bright and early with my best friend and her kids -I'm so glad to be spending a weekend cut off from everyone except for these people I love, our tents and our fishing poles.

Maybe I'll come back bursting with stories.  Or, maybe I'll still feel quiet for awhile. 

Until then -- I'll be reading you...in all the old familiar places.

Monday, August 23, 2010

When do you know...

That you're ok?

That you can stop tasting the blood in your mouth -that you can stop feeling the weight of someone gripping your arms?

Is it when the bruises fade?  Or when you can laugh again?

I want so badly to stop talking about ME.  To not have questions or "should have done's" hurled at me; to stop thinking about seventeen seconds of my life. 

And I think I've reached that.  I just want to laugh again.  I want to pick up the pieces of what is done, and arrange them into a puzzle that adds up into a better picture for me.  Move forward, ever forward.

I spent the week in Utah, for work, and for the entire plane ride -- all four hours -- I spent most of it staring at a single spot on the seat back in front of me.  "I think you're in shock," my best friend had said to me gently the day before.

When the plane landed, I realized she was right.

When I got there, I threw myself into my work.  I needed to, in order to run an important meeting a few days later, so I escaped into that.  I swam; I ran; I read.  I think I did some healing, staring at those Rocky Mountains in the distant, so different from the view I see in my daily.

I came home on Friday night, and woke up Saturday to a stomach bug.  Was it the shock of being back home?  Was I really sick?  I don't know -- but I barely left my couch all weekend, but luckily, had a good friend with me for most of it.

My best friend and I are meeting in West Virginia this weekend, and camping out.  "We will get back to the land!" I proclaimed tonight.  She's bringing her kids, and I'm bringing Oreos.  "Don't worry," she said - "We'll have plenty of time to talk."

I answered that honestly -I am done talking.  I want to stop talking about all of this, and just be.  I want to be fully in the moment, to let her be with her kids and let me be with God as I attempt to pray with a sky over me that I can look at and see stars.  And we will all sleep in a tent, too close to one another, and we'll kick each other as we turn over, looking for comfort.

We will hike, and we will roast marshmellows.

I will walk in a creek, and I will remember what it feels like to come home.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Thank you all for checking in on me, and noticing some posts were gone.

I've had one written, that I can't seem to publish....

Til then, I am thinking about you, reading your blogs, and praying to get the end of each day with the hopes of reaching the next in a sane and healthy way. 

Moments of sweetness have always come through -- nothing like hearing I love you's from so many.

My next goal?

To feel them.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Here We Are

Scenes from a weekend-

A two year old white-blond girl, flowery floaties and a butterfly bathing suit, running across the yard at me when I pull up

Kissing the face off that baby up there

Waking a three year old boy up, carrying him into the living room, and he said "I seepin, Aunt Stephie. Lay down."  And we slept another hour together with my hand nestled in those blond curls at the very back of his neck.

A four year old girl snuggling up to me while we watched church on TV with her parents.  I was thinking of a hundred critical things I could say back to the TV preacher, when she laced her fingers through mine and sighed with content.  Click -and now it makes sense.

My best friend S saying...."it's time for me to focus on you" in the 6am light on the porch while I held my head in my hands and said I feel like I'm falling apart at every seam.  "We're going to deal with this," she said, in that abrupt 'fix it' way she has --she slapped the porch for emphasis and we laughed and held hands on the steps for a long time without talking.

My 12 year old neice and 11 year old nephew each took turns curling their long legs in my lap.  Logan said "why are you rubbing my cheek?"  "Because I like you," I said.  He grinned and turned his face into my shoulder.  Then punched me in the arm, because that's how 11 year old boys say "I like you, too."  

Mom tried not to let me see her wipe away tears whenever she looked at me.

I left this morning at first light, after S and I had tea and a devotion on the porch while the sun came up.  I watched the fog roll in over those Appalachian mountains as I drove along. 

And now, here I am.  A quiet apartment, a spazzy cat, broken cable and a floor that shows more and more signs of water damage by the day and I don't know what in the hell to do about it. 

There are moments when I truly can not see past tomorrow.  I have no idea what good I am to anyone, or anything, and I don't honestly know what exactly I'm living for sometimes.  To survive each day to reach the next?  It shouldn't be this way. 

And it won't, forever.  Somehow I know this. 

I do.  I hope.

Monday, August 2, 2010


It's been a hard day --one of the toughest I can remember.

I have a new nephew, though, and I will be driving to Kentucky to see him this weekend.  I will drive, and I will sing, and at the end of it I will have full arms of kids who request that their birthday presents be waived this year, and to visit me instead.

I will have sore arms from lifting and a sore place where my heart used to be because this boy, here, has stolen it away.

Leif Gabriel --8 lbs, 2 oz.  Every inch, perfect.

So goes for his big brother.

I need to get home.