Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Just Jump

On my walk a couple of days ago I spied a princess. She was probably around five years old and was dressed in hot pink. The bodice of her dress was sequined and skin tight on her tiny figure. The skirt, in contrast, consisted of layers of crinolines that literally surged up and down with every step she took. She was giggling. The grin she bore was her dominant feature and for good reason. Directly in front of her on the lawn of her family’s home was her castle. It was pink too, a perfect match to the child’s costume. It wasn’t a real castle, of course, but an inflated affair complete with rosy rubber towers topped with purple turrets at each corner and wide screen windows on each side. For the princess, though, this floppy fortress might as well have been the real thing and she entered with excitement to do one thing: to jump.

I watched her there, her little legs pumping, her arms flailing, and her ponytail flopping up and down with her antics. She was joined by a few other children, boys and girls, who jumped as high as they could, spinning in circles and launching sideways before springing back up to have another go around. It was a lovely scene.

I tried to get inside the little girl’s mind somehow to share her delight, and while that wasn’t quite possible, I understood the emotion. I’ve been that happy too at times and it’s nice to recall. I had a wish for the tiny princess that day, for this was obviously her birthday celebration. My wish was for her to have a perfect day and many more occasions in life when all she wanted to do was jump for joy.

Perhaps, if we try, all of us can summon a sweet memory to mirror the very essence of happiness that little girl embodied on her birthday. It’s probably worth the effort.

Think about it, and jump!

Friday, January 24, 2014


Life is full of thing to manage: time, weight, fitness, money, responsibilities, and even relationships sometimes. Managing grief, however is the toughest. It sits the heaviest, bearing down, as my mother would have said, “like a ton of bricks!”

It’s been eight months today. I’m managing. We’re managing. It is not very easy some days. And why? It’s because there’s a void. Your smile, your laughter, your humor, your bliss are all absent now. Just memories. “It’s a new normal,” friends say sincerely in an effort to empathize. It is. I get that. We understand.

The problem is, though, that we simply miss you. You are my first thought in the morning and my last thought at night. Maybe that will change in time. I don’t know. I haven’t been there yet.

We are not the only ones managing our sadness today. I’m aware of that. On the 24th of each month several folks I know are faced with an anniversary of sorts that tugs on their heartstrings. An exact day is superfluous though because anyone who has grieved on any day has been challenged to manage, to cope. It sometimes isn’t pretty. We sometimes stumble a bit, but all the same, we get by. It’s a gift I suppose to have that ability. To go on, to move forward, to laugh and smile again, is what our loved ones would want. I’m managing; we’re managing, although, in all honesty, at times it’s at a snail’s pace.

This is just what’s on my mind this morning.

Monday, January 20, 2014


            “When this is all over,” I told my son, Alex, “no matter what, I’m writing a memoir, a record of all we’ve been through together.”
            He looked at me a bit apprehensively, but smiled anyway. He knew there would be no stopping his mom!
            “I’m going to call it Tumor Me,” I told him decisively.
“I think that title might get lost on a few people,” he answered glibly.
“Maybe, but I think it’s perfect. You’re always so upbeat, so funny, even with all you’ve faced. When I feel like crying, you make me laugh. Every day you have me chuckling. It’s a paradox, really. I don’t know how you do it.”
He grinned again, his azure eyes twinkling, an uncanny wisdom lying behind them. I recall that conversation vividly, and in retrospect I suppose he was right. Some folks might be offended by the title, but humor me a bit, will you? For I have a story to tell, one that has a beginning, a middle, and an end.
It’s a tale of trials, fears, unknowns, and desperation. Yet it is countered with hope, determination, bravery, and unparalleled optimism that only my son could have mustered.
And who was my son? He was a CAL Fire firefighter, an engineer, an inspector, a fighter, a friend, a confidant; he was responsible, trustworthy, funny, respected, and loved. He listened, he contributed, and he worked hard. Laughter was his sidekick and everyone knew it.
So, who was Alex? He was a man, who, when the chips were down, had 4,482 hours of leave (as opposed to the usual 100-200 hours) donated to him by his co-workers through CAL Fire’s Catastrophic Leave Bank. It was an unequaled gesture of love and support from his “family”.
The words between the covers of this book tell our story. It’s a Mom’s perspective and every bit is true.

Sunday, January 19, 2014


So our 9ers lost today and it was disappointing, but it happened nonetheless. I wonder how many folks are reeling with the loss, knowing they will be unable to sleep tonight. Are they drowning their sorrows in booze of one variety or another? Is someone going to sport a black eye tomorrow as a result? How many fans still are cursing at the screen and wishing in some way to get back at the refs, who, in all honesty, made a few questionable decisions? Such is the nature of the game, though.

No one likes to lose, I suppose; it hurts a bit. The loss of a football game, however, pales in comparison to other losses in life. To be quite candid, “It ain’t shit!” I suppose to the owners, to the corporations, to the people who gain to profit from wins and losses of this sort, this loss is significant, but to those of us, the fans, really, is it that big of a deal? The almighty dollar is what really is at stake with these events. For us fans, it’s just an intrinsic mania that gets us going and we all know that running with the tide isn’t half bad. Yet when the tide comes in, red or blue, it’s in; it’s as simple as that.

I wish the 49ers had won, of course. (I even donned my red today.) Tomorrow is a new day, however. The next season is a new one. And I think I’m ready to bleed orange and black for the summer. That may not turn out either, but what the hell. It’s fun!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Creating A Character On A Whim

I created a character this morning after reading a post on Facebook. Someone I know wrote that she had the weight of the world on her shoulders, and that was sad to me. Is it one’s outlook that creates such a heavy load? Is it life’s circumstances? What can one do to feel better? I hope my friend’s problems subside a bit this day. I truly do, but I smugly have to thank her for making me think and for creating a conduit for my creativity to flow a bit. Maybe I’ll use the character I invented below in a future story.

She was awake at midnight. Her world was dark, save for a full moon that filled the sky with golden light so bright it made her wonder. “Is anyone out there wandering about and feeling as dejected as I do?”
She held herself rigid and still hoping the silence surrounding her would stop the chaos in her mind for it was awhirl with problems that badgered her like an angry cat.
 “I’m burdened with responsibilities I didn’t bargain for when I took on this job of motherhood some thirteen years ago,” she told herself.
 Her own mother had said many times, “Life happens, Mona. You have to take the bad along with the good,” and then she died at fifty leaving her twenty-year-old daughter to her own devices.
Mona had never liked hearing her mother’s words. They bore in on her, twisting like a knife in her gut. “It’s a negative outlook,” Mona had thought many times, and yet, in her mid-thirties, now, with a thirteen year old, pot-smoking, snarling adolescent on her hands the words were ringing true as never before.
And there was the husband, such as he was. He wasn’t around much and when he was he smelled of too many beers and his nose ran incessantly from sniffing too much white powder through his nostrils. The marriage was still intact legally, but that was the extent of their togetherness. They hadn’t been intimate for years. He couldn’t and she didn’t want to be bothered, so they went their separate ways most days, he to his job as a mechanic in town, and she to the local animal shelter where she kept the books and pined for lost and abandoned animals that would not likely find homes and would end up in a garbage heap somewhere. It broke her heart.

So, here’s my no-so-happy character. Some day, in a story sometime, maybe I can help her sort out her woes.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Which is it? Is it the Beginning or the End?

Today is Friday. It’s the end of the week. Tomorrow is Saturday. Is that the end too? I’ve never really figured out which is correct. Is Saturday the beginning of the week or is Sunday? The New Year of 2014 began on Wednesday. Is Wednesday, then, the first day of the week? Would that make Tuesday the end of the week? In my house Monday seems to be the end of the week because that’s the last day my husband is off before he goes back to work. My week begins with Tuesday and the meeting of the Champagne Sisters (but that’s another story). And where does that leave Thursday?

I guess life is full of ends and beginnings. Birth is a beginning and is usually considered an auspicious occurrence, although for some people it may not be so. It depends, I suppose on the circumstances. If birth is a beginning, is death then an ending? We refer to it as such: the end of life, the afterlife, passing through the portal, and on and on. Atheists would say, “Yep, it’s the end.” Believers would disagree. “It’s a new beginning,” they might profess. It’s a matter of opinion, of course.

I’m sure we’d all agree that the week, the year, our lives are cyclical for certain. It’s a matter of comings and goings, ins and outs, appearances and disappearances. In my view it’s what we do with our weeks, our years, indeed our lives that makes the difference. I like to think each new day is a beginning, and I would venture to say that if need be every hour, minute, and second gives one an opportunity for a new start. Maybe what’s cool about living is that we have that choice. Life can throw us into quite a quagmire if we wallow in a world where, at every corner, we cry, “Oh my God, this is the end!” So, I’d like to take another tack.

I want to believe that we’re all in a position to OWN beginnings, and I like that. It’s a pretty powerful place to be.