Sunday, September 29, 2013


Michael's shoes have a hole in them.  They are his favorite "Captain Rex," light up sneakers.  He has very wide feet, and I have always bought his shoes online.  Not many brands make extra-wide shoes.  I bought these a year ago, and even though he has newer ones for first grade, he wears his "Captain Rex" sneakers everyday.  And I didn't know.  I didn't know they had a hole in them.  I didn't know until last night.  And I realized this, because I was helping him undress so I could trim his hair, and he could jump right in the shower, so he wouldn't be all itchy.  He was tired.  He leaned against me as I took off his shoes and socks.  But he was silly too.  He always is.  
I said, "There's a hole in your sneaker."  
He said, "Hey, I noticed that."

His bangs have been crooked looking for a few days.  Sam and I tried to give him a haircut the day before picture retakes, and when it was wet, and pushed over to the side, it looked fine.  That's not how his hair stays.  It was just crooked.  Sam said, "It's good enough, it looks fine." 

Mommy and Michael by Michael.  "Those are love beams connecting us mommy."
Last night I fixed his hair,  and he got in the shower, and I helped him rinse the hair off, and I wrapped him in a towel, and used another to dry his hair, and his legs, and feet.  He's so tall.  Towels don't just wrap around him and cover him up now.  And he walked out of the bathroom to get on his jammies, and I stared at his shoes on the bathroom floor until my eyes lost focus.  Finally someone called for me and pulled me away.  And I read books with Michael, and they both did their homework, and then I sang to Stella, and I sang American Pie to Michael until he fell asleep.

I'm still staring at those little big-boy shoes with the hole in the side.  My eyes are still unfocused. I feel like there is a hole in my heart.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Don't Leave.

Saying a forever goodbye to someone who is right there in front of you feel like an impossibility..  You can feel them breathing, you can touch their warmth.  You can talk to him, and you know you are being heard.  Or you hope you are.  You hope he hears you.  As we grow older we have say goodbye in the most tragic circumstances much too often, when someone we love passes on.  However, there is also great loss experienced in the separation that comes from what's best, what's right. There will always be, what could have been and never will.
"I love you..."  So, what does that mean when you are saying goodbye forever?  Does it hold more power, or does it just become words.  How do we say goodbye to someone we love?
"I'm right here, I won't leave.  I love you.  I love you."  My grandmother laid next to my grandfather and spoke into his ear, rubbing his head.  She told my grandfather she would be with him soon, when he was cognizant.  We believe in Heaven.  Grampy is in Heaven now.
In his painful 3 day battle, when he seemed to be asleep, he came to consciousness and asked for, "Mother," my grandmother.  And she spoke to him privately.  And I could hear him tell her he loved her.  And he kissed her back.  And when I went in, he said, "Joanna," and I said, "Hi grampy, I'm here.  I love you so much."  He knew I was there.  And I held his hand for a minute, but so many people wanted to be near him and make sure he knew they were there too.  He was surrounded by family and love.  And none of us wanted to say goodbye, and we were horrified that this was happening, and it seemed so impossible.  The world should have stopped spinning when he died.  That's how it felt...  And some days I still feel that way; I don't understand why I exist anymore.  How do we bear life when someone who helped keep our heart beating leaves us?

When my grandfather died, it tested my beliefs in afterlife.  I thought I would feel him existing somewhere.  I felt like I would know his soul was still alive.  And there are moments where I feel him, and something sort of mystical happens, but I'm not sure.   I'm sure there is something after death, but I'm not sure what it is anymore.  I hope there is something.  A man like my grampy can't just die.  He can't just stop existing.  

Not a forever goodbye, Gramp.

I washed her tail and legs so carefully and thoroughly,  and as I cried and cried like a fool, she nuzzled against my neck and face, comforting me. And I put a fresh green blanket on her and as we waited for the vet to come, she stood out in the sunniest spot in the field and glowed... peacefully.  And she just seemed to listen to me tell her all the things one tells a horse they love.  
I had to walk away, to see her still there, standing in the sun.  My sister, who is much tougher and braver that I, was there with her until the end.  
Saying goodbye to my beautiful, Meg.
And I will never say that anything was harder than saying goodbye to my grandfather, but I now know that some people enter our little worlds out of nowhere, and they make us feel alive and make us better versions of ourselves.  Yet, the knowing that they will leave, is like feeling part of us rip away and go too. They aren't leaving the world, just our world.
Part of us dies when we watch them go, right?  Right...? And there is also the knowing they will live their lives without you in it.  Society dictates what is acceptable, and sets limits on our beings.  Why can't I have what I want?  All that I want?   And it's hard to understand why we can't keep them close, not let them go.  "Stop!  Please stay...  Please." But we are also telling them goodbye. Because we have to. 
I wonder what happens when I've just watched too many people walk away, because I let them, or I made them do it... Maybe just one too many? What happens then? Will I be gone too?

When we know someone is leaving, and we also know we can do nothing to prevent it, we stay with them, tell them we're right here,  "I won't leave," but you know he or she won't be there, and they are leaving.

Megan, a chestnut thoroughbred, was sweet and gentle in her later years, and feisty and spirited in her youth. She and I had a connection.  Maybe because I thought I was going to die the day I fell off her when she bucked, then showed her racing skills, galloping up a dirt road.

I had lost one stirrup, my leg had slipped through the other.  I didn't want to be dragged by one leg at 30 mph, and I had to make a decision.  I knew I would lose balance when I leaned low against her withers, letting go with one hand, to free my foot.  I fell off.  I did not die.  My entire ass was black and blue, and the helmet--which I almost didn't wear, because I didn't think I needed it for a little trail ride-- had 1" deep gouges all on one side, but I was okay...  Just got the wind knocked out of me...  And Meg nuzzled me when I had finally made it back up the road to the barn with Marguerite. The horses had raced back to the barn, and were safely corralled by the owner of the helmet that protected me from brain damage.  "Sorry about that, I can buy you a new one.  It worked really well...  I don't have gouges in my skull."

Meg lived with us for two winters.  By that time she was very old for a mare, and in her second season, she was sick.  She and I were connected then too.  I fed her warmed beet pulp, with her grain three times a day.  I talked to her for hours, and sang to her.  And when my sister and the veterinarian finally got it through my head that she wasn't gaining weight, wasn't going to, because she was very sick, I didn't want to say goodbye.  But I could see it.  Her tail, her legs...  She was sick.  She couldn't keep food in her body.  She was suffering.