I saw you in the grass today

I saw you in the grass today. 

I held Elijah in my arms while he nursed. I was irriated for the length of time it was taking to get out the door. Rushing to get everything in order and get Noah to daycare on time.

But everything stays still–I'm forced to stay still–when I have to nurse. And while I did, you showed yourself to me.  

I looked out the window to see the sun drafting shadows on the grass. And there, underneath the tree that divides our yard from our neighbors, your face looked at me.

It was the closest I've come to seeing you again without dreaming.  

I was afraid to look away to never find your face again. I asked you what I could learn from this moment. You didn't answer then. But while I was driving Noah to daycare, you did. 

You said to focus on bravery. To use your experiences to teach about bravery. To use other's experiences too. To share your story through my eyes. To find the wisdom through the heartbreak. To find the beauty in the brokenness. And to shine light in the dark. 

I'm always, and still, inspired by you, mom. Thank you for showing me the way. 

Stand me up

I waited for you all day. You didn't show. I cried. 

I looked out the living room window towards the street in the direction you would've been coming from. The first hundred times I looked it was light out. Now it's dark and I've given up.

I tried calling you. You didn't answer. I'm not sure if I'm more scared to have you answer and say something happened or for you to say nothing happened at all.  

I was excited to see you. I'm wearing something I feel pretty in. I did my hair.

I'm furious at you but I'm sure if more at you or myself.

Why do you do this to me? Why do I keep letting you?

I know I deserve better than you. I know you'd disagree. I think that's why you take advantage of me. But I know there's someone out there who would never stand me up like you do.

Pistachios

I remember going to dad’s work around the corner from our home. There was a gum ball machine in the reception area stuffed full of pistachios.

That was my first time trying pistachios. My fingers would be stained red from the shells.

I’m not quite sure why I was at my dad’s work that day. Where was my mom? Was she working?

I remember sunshine beaming through the open garage door, which I could see from where I sat, waiting for dad.

The receptionist was the garage owner’s daughter. There were 3 or 4 of them. They were all so pretty and nice.

Across the street from the garage trailers were neatly lined on a patch of grass facing the road. I believe this was their way of storing them while also advertising them. Adjacent from that patch of grass was the bar that my parents met in.

She was a bartender, he a patron. She was 25, he was 20. She was a mother of 3 and recently widowed, he was fresh out of college. They married in a courtroom.

My mom said she proposed to him. Their reception was at my grandparents house (dad’s parents)—just a few houses down from the garage.

I remember that day. Eating cake. Playing in the creek. Drinking soda from a can. Playing with my uncle—the one that’s only 2 years older than me. At that time I was about 4 or 5 years old.

Look up

The ceiling needs attention just like I did. 

Now that I have the ritual of bathing each night after the boys are in bed, and writing while I soak, I suppose it’s time to share the love and repair our ceiling.  

I can see a crack that’s opened like a wound with brittle edges and a mysterious core.  

Freckles of mold. I should turn the fan on every time I shower, but I don’t. The loud humming disrupts the small pleasure of a shower. 

I should’ve painted the ceiling years ago when we painted the bathroom just before Noah was born. But I didn’t. The idea of painting it felt completely unnecessary at the time. 

In a way, the ceiling is a reflection of my carelessness. That same carelessness that had me in survival mode without any self-care rituals. With a loss of self. I was neglected and falling part.

I’ve cut corners and I’ve lacked discipline. Both of which I’m trying to get better at.  

I wonder what it would feel like to have the bathroom completely finished—tiles framed, ceiling painted, cupboards organized, everything always in a state of clean?  

Co-sleeping

I stayed up too late. I need to be quiet when I walk into the room. I need to keep the flashlight on my phone partially covered with my fingertip to see. Don't step on that creaky floorboard. Keep the handle of the doors turned as it shuts so it doesn’t making that awful loud sound. Turn the white noise machine down so I can actually sleep. Lay on the opposite side of the bed to write that idea down on my phone so that the blue light doesn’t wake him up. Don’t use scented products during bedtime wash to make sure he doesn’t get a whif when I slide into bed. Don’t allow the comforter to create a breeze as I pull it over my body. Don’t toss and turn. Put your phone down. Close your eyes. Get to sleep. He’ll be awake before you know it.

The first time I almost drowned

I almost drowned, twice.  

The first time I was under 10 years old. I wagered with myself how deep I could swim in the cloudy lake. I had to know if I could make it to the bottom. 

My siblings surrounded me yet we’re focused on their own swimming quest.  

My parents watched from the boat—the one we washed and waxed in preparation for the weekend lake-getaways.  

I began my journey to the depths of the lake with each inch of water getting increasingly colder the deeper I reached. 

By the time my fingers brushed the sandy bottom of the earth (I did it!) I had a rush of panic fill my body like a balloon because my body had run out of air. I rushed to the top of the water feeling like I could explode into a white light at any moment. 

Then I found air.  

I gasped, filling every corner of my lungs with plump, cool, fresh, life-giving air.  

I can’t remember if anyone noticed that I almost drowned. I was too freaked out to make a scene. I was also the kind of kid that kept things easy for my parents. 

 

The story of the second time I drowned will have to wait another day. Right now, it’s time for me to go to bed and get some rest for my 5K run.  

Stretchy

I packed mostly dresses and tights. These were the only things that were stretchy enough to accomodate my postpartum baby fat and nursing my 9 month old son. I'm certain I looked pregnant to people. I didn't care. I tried to look pretty. Feel pretty. 

All I wanted was more sleep and for my mom to get better. But I didn't get either.  

I also packed a black dress, again, just in case this time was going to be it. And it was. 

Bedroom door

I was there when you had your second miscarriage. I was a sunny day. Nick was running errands. But you weren't alone. I was there and I witnessed how painful it was. 

Since that day euclyptus hangs from me. The same euclyptus from your mother's funeral bouquet. 

I remember when you first moved in and set up a tripod in the bedroom. You and Nick held each other and smiled while the camera captured a few moments. That was before the miscarraige and the births of Noah and Elijah. 

Now I hold silence for the baby to sleep while you and Nick unwind from the day or when Noah runs from room to room. 

I'm kept closed most of the day but when I'm open I enjoy the human touch and watching each of you walk back and forth past me. 

I know there are several versions of me throughout the home but I feel I protect the bext room in the house. 

I wrote the above as a writing exercise from a workbook I’m using to help me write my book. The workbook is by Beth Kephart, titled “Tell the Truth. Make it Matter.”. It’s funny, like Beth mentions in the workbook, how writing in the voice of something that is not me actually forces me from the shadows. More exercises and writing to come... 

Pencil

I’ve never really had a home but most of us don’t. We float around from home to home, being used and lost every few months.  

When I was younger I looked my best. Never dull, never chewed on, never taken for granted.  

Now my age shows. I have scratches from falling, but marks from deep thoughts just before my head hits he paper.  

My first and only sharpen of my life was made by a knife. My point appears faceted like a cut diamond, rather than smooth and pointy like a golf tee.  

I hear that my eraser can harden over time, leaving marks instead of removing them. I hope I take care of myself well enough that that never happens. 

I’m happy to be where I am. I feel it’s where I’m supposed to be. But I sure do miss my brothers and sisters. I wonder how they’re doing?  

I wrote the above as a writing exercise from a workbook I’m using to help me write my book. The workbook is by Beth Kephart, titled “Tell the Truth. Make it Matter.”. It’s funny, like Beth mentions in the workbook, how writing in the voice of something that is not me actually forces me from the shadows. More exercises and writing to come... 

 

Home sick

I never liked school. To get out of going one morning, I whined and cried to convince my mother I was sick. 

The second I knew I had her, I laid it on thick. She openly contemplated that maybe I contracted an eye cold. I secretly disagreed, knowing she was wrong and I was perfectly healthy.  

My brother and sisters were running out the door to catch the bus when I started my act. 

I’m not sure why I was so dead set on staying home from school that particular day.  

But what I do know is that that day I had the couch to myself, the television tuned into MTV and my mom’s undivided love.

Maybe that’s why I felt the need to stay home that day. Not because I was sick, but because I needed that time alone with my mother.