Weddings Always Make Me Cry

img_4203

I was fortunate enough to be at the wedding of two truly amazing people yesterday. I have known the bride for years, as she is one of Devon’s core (Hard Core!) group of oldest, best friends. Her now-husband is an intelligent, quiet and thoughtful man who absolutely and whole heartedly loves her with every cell in his being. The feeling is mutual of course and though I know they have struggles, tough times, trying situations and all, I have every faith that they will grow old together, hold hands when they walk down the street, gaze into each other’s eyes like they are seeing them for the first time, every time. These two are hope for happiness, a shining example that True Love is alive and well, working its magic and giving glow to all those around them.

The wedding was a simple ceremony, but the collective love was so great, it created a wave that just flowed between each and every person there. It touched our hearts, tears of happiness and joy were shed, laughter rang out and strangers became friends; troubles forgotten for the time, just being in the world of these two wonderful people. This is the magic of love, that brings people together, wraps them in a powerful blanket stronger than steel, more valuable than gold. Like armor against a harsh world, their love is their power, their truth and their salvation. I know the challenges that Life can present are oftentimes enormous, but I believe that these two will meet whatever the encounter on the Road of Life with a strong faith in their love and the willingness to do whatever it takes to make it through it. It makes my heart happy to see a gorgeous, confident woman looking absolutely radiant in her wedding dress and remember the young teenager that I first met so many years ago. I never gave birth to a daughter, but I have many daughters of my heart and she is the first.

So, I raise my cup of coffee and wish for you again for all the happiness your hearts can hold, all the sunrises your eyes can see and as much laughter as your body can bear.

Cheers!

 

 

A Walk to Remember

Yesterday I participated in the Out of Darkness walk sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). This is the second year I have walked and both years I have been overwhelmed by the emotions that accompany me on it. There is so much love in the crowd, not just for the loved ones they have lost but for those they wish to keep alive and protect against such a destructive, secretive and shameful act. I say shameful because that is how society (in general) sees it; a coward’s way out, not thinking of those who are left behind, selfish. What they don’t understand and should thank God they don’t, is the pain. The unrelenting pain of simply being alive; the thoughts that drive one to believe it IS hopeless and NO ONE cares, there is no other way and this is THE ANSWER. Depression to me is a magnifying glass to the tiny imperfections and doubts every person has; those who do not suffer from it can put those doubts into perspective, focus on the positive and realize it’s all pretty much good. When under the influence of depression, there is no perspective, no light, no tunnel, no nothing but blackness and sense of doom. This is why it’s so important to be vigilant with our loved ones, family members, friends and even people we just know. Our society seems to encourage independence and if you know me at all, you know I’m all about independence but there is a time and a place for everything and when dealing with depression, independence should take a back seat to seeking help and triage. Get talking with someone, whether in a phone call, Skype, tin cans attached by string, smoke signals, Morse code or Ham radio; the way in which communication takes place is not important, only that it happens.

The men and women of our military are coming home and the numbers of suicides by service members is growing and that is a number we cannot afford to rise any further; these men and women have put themselves in harms way for their country, for us. We need to be there for them. I’m not speaking of the government, although that is the obvious choice, if our world was fair and just and if their priorities didn’t begin and end with their benefit, the stroking of their egos and caring for their own personal agendas. I’m speaking of you and me, Joe Citizen. We can donate to causes that we know support them, we can spend time volunteering, writing letters, sending care packages and being a thorn in the side of the government until they do the right thing, recognize they have a mental health epidemic and get off their fat, entitled asses and take some action.

Sorry – bit of a rant there, but it is something that I have witnessed first hand; the devastation resulting from lack of action and heads deeply buried in sand or up their collective asses. The damage to families, friends, fellow service members and society in general is impossible to grade or measure, as the ripple effect will continue through lifetimes yet to come. Children who will be born without a father to raise them, a father will never get the chance to walk his daughter down the aisle, a mother will have to bury her child, a son will know mother only from stories and photos; this all doesn’t have to happen. We can get OUR heads out into the sunshine, take a deep breath and try in whatever way we are able to fight the good fight against not only suicide, but mental illness left untreated, people suffering because they are afraid of the shame and ridicule associated with mental illness STILL. For God’s sake, it’s almost 2016 and although we can clone sheep, genetically modify food and update our Facebook status every 3 seconds, we still cannot come to the place where we treat mental illness like it is – an illness. Not a personal choice, a personality flaw or a bad strand of DNA, it is an illness just like any other. Cancer used to have the same sort of stigma attached to it but we’ve gotten past that. I would like to write someday that we have gotten past all the negativity surrounding those who suffer with depression, anxiety, mania and all the other flavors of mental illness. We are not to blame and we cannot simply think happy thoughts, suck it up and put on my big girl panties or just get over it. Tell someone who is suicidal to “Get over it” and they will, just not in the way you had in mind.

This walk is a walk to remember; to remember those we have lost, to remember that it effects people of all walks of life, races, religions, social and economic classes and levels of intelligence. This is what its name implies, bringing the issue and those who suffer out of the darkness and into the light.

For more information on mental health in general please visit NAMI.

For more information on our service men and women, please check out the Wounded Warrior Project. Sorry – I tried to add links but couldn’t make it happen.

Thanks for stopping by!

Happy Birthday Baby Boy

Wow. 26 years have passed since a terrified 20 year old brand-new mother held a miracle in her arms and felt the Universe shift. This tiny, crying miniature man owned my heart the moment our eyes met. The love I felt was unparalleled by any emotion I had ever felt before. There was something else, too; a fierceness in that love. A feeling that I would gladly give my life to save his, that I would tear apart anything and anyone that would try to do him harm. I truly felt as though God Himself had sent this angelic creature to me to save my life, give me a reason to live and remind me of the beauty and light that only children (newborns especially) can bring. I used to think that each and every newborn carried with them a piece of heaven, an invisible blanket of clouds sewn by angels to protect the soul inside the fragile vessel. Every parent knows the feeling, a strange mix of elation, fear, joy and protectiveness; I had never had anything so precious, so completely helpless and dependent upon me for everything. It was a bit overwhelming (especially after about 48 hours of labor, an emergency c-section delivery) but I knew this life we had created was going to change the course of my life, help me to become a stronger person, a better person and would challenge me in many ways (especially the teenage years) and that has been the case. We have literally grown up together, had our fights, our old hurts to work through, I’ve had to take responsibility for causing him pain by the choices I’ve made, the price of being an addict and having a mental illness. I will never be able to undo the past, but I have learned from it and making amends will be a life long work on my part.
But today is about Devon and what he has accomplished in the last year; how he has stretched his wings and flown far outside of his comfort zone and the growth he has achieved for his effort. To say that I am proud of him doesn’t do justice to my feelings. Once again, I am grateful to have such a blessings as a son who is as funny, smart, talented and unique as any I could have dreamed up.

Rock on, Goonie, the world awaits.

25 Years Ago Today

I was dressed in blue, wearing a dress borrowed from my big sister. My engagement ring was my mother’s and my band something we picked up at a pawn shop. Our son was there, 6 months old, a testament to the fact that there was great love between us. We were so young, I realize now; not just young in our ages, but young in the naive belief that this would last forever, that we would live “Happily ever after” and grow old together, holding hands across the distance of our rocking chairs. We would bounce grandchildren upon our knees, having raised our children with great love and instilled in them a sense of how important family is, how important our history is and what our gifts to mankind will be. I believed that with the bond of our love, nothing would separate us, nothing could break us apart; it would carry us through all that Life would send our way. I believe those are thoughts any bride should have on her wedding day, but I also believe that what was missing from those thoughts was how to live such a life; sacrifice, compromise, constant communication and a whole lot more things that I still (to this day) can’t put a name to. I just know that when I have talked to couples who have managed to stay married, there are a lot of things specific to that couple that they practiced that made the difference between staying together and breaking apart. I had never really figured out what would have made the difference with us; maybe if I had refused to follow the expected norm and get married, we would have been able to focus on being parents without the stress of having to make a marriage work as well. Maybe if I had confided more in him, instead of trying to always appear as if I had the answers, I was in control and I was never scared or uncertain. I could maybe from here to eternity and it would not serve to change anything from the past. What I can do is believe that there is someone out there for everyone (not just one person, someone for every part of your life, some for the entirety of your life, but mostly someone to love and to be loved by) and if I am able to drop the walls I’ve built up to guard my heart, if I can be brave enough to trust that heart to someone, to risk being hurt, being rejected or worse of all, found unworthy of such love. If I can trust my instincts well enough to recognize someone who is good and honest, worthy of trust and capable of great love, I will find my happiness with another. But it is a great journey from thinking the thought and taking the action, making the change. I can speak of dropping walls, but I have no idea how to do that. Perhaps this is where the intuition comes in; I have rarely been disappointed when I make a choice based on my “gut feeling” but I have found myself in dire straits when I refuse to heed that warning/feeling.

I guess the main point of all of this is to celebrate my first and only attempt at marriage, recognize that it is nothing to fear, nor to be ashamed of, but as with everything in life, it is something to learn and to grow from. I did not plan for things to end the way they did, but I have a gorgeous, funny, smart, talented, loving son and the experience of being a wife and a mother for a few years. I have had many more years as a single woman, no serious relationships, no ties that bind (love that expression) and if God or the Universe or Fate or whatever decide that I am worthy of a second chance at love, I will not waste that opportunity. I will work to tear down the walls, open my heart and invite love in.

Just For Fun

There are certain times throughout the day when I find myself slipping away from the present task at hand and moving towards something completely random, like perhaps what my 80th birthday party would look like, who would be there, what would I be wearing and where on Earth would we be celebrating such a fantastic event? Would I be single, widowed, divorced, living in sin or just madly in love? These thoughts keep me from feeling as though “This is all there is” and leads me to entertain thoughts of where I’d LIKE to be. I guess it’s like having a nice glass of wine; it doesn’t take you physically away from where you are, but it does tend to offer a different vibe, perspective and overall softer, gentler view of the world. Like being wrapped in a soft, comfy blanket of cashmere, it’s just that good. Since I no longer enjoy the occasional glass (or bottle, let’s be honest) of wine, these thoughts are a part of my daily escape from the mundane. They also help me to get in touch with what my dreams are for the future, what my soul is craving and what I need to change to make the future brighter and today more livable.

Today, I was knee-deep in work stuff and my brain took a sharp left and took me out of the office completely. I was transported to a pristine beach where a lone horse stood waiting for me. As I rode off into the distance, free from the responsibilities of the day, from the drudgery of the office and the oppressive heat of the valley in October (which, by the way, is supposed to be AUTUMN, not SUMMER!) I could hear my soul sigh in contentment. Of course, I did actually sigh, which brought me back to my desk, but just for those few minutes, I was completely and totally, Somewhere Else.

Daydreaming and flights of fancy are something that we did as children, without instruction or direction. It’s one of the things about kids that I just adore. They aren’t bound by reality, nor by what is possible, only by the limits of their imagination. Too often, we are forced to abandon our “childish” ways and Grow Up. I always wished to be older, never understanding how fantastic and fleeting that time of innocence and wonder really is. But just because I’m now an adult, I don’t have to surrender my childish pleasures. Ice cream for dinner, cartoons on Saturday morning (or Wednesday night, for that matter) giggling uncontrollably, blowing bubbles and flying kites are all things that I can enjoy, regardless of how many candles are on my birthday cake.

I had the pleasure of having an incredible woman in my life earlier on, when I was married. My son’s great-grandmother (we called her GG because he couldn’t say great-grandma when he was a little guy) GG had a way of enjoying the smallest of nature’s wonders, the hummingbird. She would fill her hummingbird feeders and watch them come to eat, marveling at their grace and laughing with enjoyment as they dipped and swayed, delicately feed and then dashed away. GG never seemed old to me, even though she was in her early 90’s by the time she passed (or graduated, as she preferred to say) because she enjoyed her life. She laughed often and kept that child-like wonder and enthusiasm for all the beauty and miracles in nature and in Life. When I would come to pick my son up after a visit, they would be playing together, usually with Play-Doh or Lincoln Logs. She wouldn’t sit on the couch and watch him play; she would be right there with him, on the floor or at the table. Both of them would always be laughing and smiling together, in their own little world.

She had the secret to happiness and long life; live it and enjoy it. She has been my best role model for living a good life and staying young, keeping the child within well-nourished, exercised and entertained. Tonight, after a grown-up dinner with lots of veggies, I’m going to break out the colored pencils and do a little coloring, just for fun.

Happy Hump Day!