Thursday, July 28, 2011

Missing Moments

Being a parent isn't always fun.

Actually, it's almost never fun.

At times, I will look at my single, childless friends and think, "Wow, just for a minute. It would be nice to have that back." My daydreams are ususally interupted by my children saying things like, "Momma! Sammy keeps putting his race car in my ear." or ,my favorite, "Mom! Sammy took his pants off again!"

To be honest, my children were bad today. They fought constantly and created a wake of messiness everywhere they went. Nothing pleased them, and they were downright grumpy. It was the sort of day that I wanted to just do over or skip entirely.

Sometimes things happen that force us to look at our lives and realize how lucky we are. Good days or bad days...children are a blessing.
So, despite the fact that my children were holy terrors today...I forced myself to be calm, and to enjoy the good moments that were few and far between. I had to remind myself constantly that even little people have bad days.

This morning, I learned of a tragic, unimaginable event that affected a family that I consider very much my own family. This tragedy left two women without husbands, children without fathers and siblings without the connecting link in their family.
There isn't a way to prepare yourself for loss like this. There isn't a course you can take or a book you can read. There isn't a training video you can watch. We live our lives operating under the notion that we are invincible. We forget how fragile life is until those around us experience loss. For those of us on the outer of edges of tragedy, it is like a wake up call.

I've also found that while it is kind to say, "I'm sorry for your loss. I'm praying for you."

The words tend to all blend together into one big pile of empathetic mush. The grieving hear you, but they don't. They appreciate the gesture, but they are numb to anything outside of their broken heart.

So, today, after learning of this accident....My children had a bad day. Normally, I would get short with them, and lose my temper, but today my mind kept drifting back to this blinding fact:

I am lucky that my children are alive. Every single day with my children, good or bad, is a blessed day. A wonderful day.

I am aware of my good fortune and my blessed life even as I type this sentence.

 My son is sitting next to me...Wearing his Optimus Prime shirt and staring intently at the Transformers movie playing on the television, interrupting occasionally to say, "Oppotimus Pwe-ime! Robot truck!"

My daughter, my sweet Abby, who is the same age as the little girls who lost their lives not twenty four hours ago, is tucked tightly in her bed. Lulled into a restful sleep while I sang, "You Are My Sunshine" over and over.

Again, I cannot imagine enduring a tragedy like this and living to tell the tale. It has been proven time and time again that while life is fragile...people are not. People are strong and resilient; and most, have a capacity for love that extends beyond the physical realm of our lives.

I urge each of you, as you read this...Take a look at your surroundings. Your spouse. Your children. Your siblings. Close your eyes and think of how lucky you are, and how much love resides under your roof. Then I urge you to take those feelings of hope, love and peace and send them out...To those that need it.

Ogden family. I love you all.

Friday, July 22, 2011

My Beautiful Birthday- The Big Two-Six

Today, I turned twenty-six years old.

I woke up, and didn't feel much different than I did the day before. I didn't feel older or wiser. I'm not sure when birthdays changed for me. As a child, I remember the distinct feeling of anticipating my birthday weeks in advance...Picking out my gifts and making sure everyone knew that my birthday was coming up. Doing the marking of the days on the calendar.

 However, this morning I woke up and felt the same as the day before.

I felt like a tired mother that stayed up entirely too late. My hair was extra wild, my mascara had created dark streaks under my eyes, and when I sat down on the commode to pee, I realized my underwear were on inside out... Yes. This is what my mornings are like, birthday or no birthday.

However, something was different today. I walked into the kitchen and realized that my husband had washed dishes. He had made coffee. He had wiped down the counters and put everything away. He then cooked breakfast and played with the children after working a twelve hour midnight shift. When he layed down to take a nap, I recieved a phone call from my sweet friend, Alicia. The conversation went something like this:

Alicia: "Hey, are you home?"
Me: "Yes, I have no intention to leave the house."
Alicia: "Okay. Well, Sam needs to drop something off for the kids."
Me: "Okay."

*Three seconds later...*

I open my door to find Alicia and Samantha, laughing maniacally, bearing gifts, and holding what appeared to be a large cake. Upon closer inspection I realized the cake was, in fact, a penis cake.

 Not just any penis cake...It was a chocolate penis cake.
Not just any chocolate penis cake...It had silver sprinkles on the scrotum... Indicating that it was an elderly, chocolate penis cake.
Alicia and Samantha had made, decorated and delivered to my doorstep a "Bill Cosby Penis Cake".

I ate the tip of the Bill Cosby Penis Cake, and Samantha and Alicia each ate a sprinkle covered ball-sack.

 Alicia then made the moment perfect when she said, "Man, those pubes are really crunchy."

In that moment, as my two friends and I sat around my table laughing and eating a penis cake...I felt fifteen again. The excitement of having a birthday was brought back to me in an instant. It didn't matter that I was a hot mess, and still in my pj's... For a moment, a beautiful moment...I felt like a queen.
The rest of my day continued beautifully. I went to the theatre and was greeted by endless happy birthdays from castmates and friends. The show went amazingly well. Everything was just perfect.

 I was then told we needed to have a special meeting on the stage after the show. As I entered the stage, I was pushed to the center of the group and 60 of the most amazing people I know sang, "Happy Birthday" in my honor.

I was the reason for the special meeting.

Today, I was taken back to my childhood, my birthday was, in a word, beautiful ...Regardless of the fact that my underwear were on inside out for a large part of the day.

I am one lucky lady. Thank you to everyone who made me feel special today.

Hooray for beautiful birthdays.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Rose of My Heart.

I once read that writing your spouses eulogy ,before they die, can help to strengthen your relationship. It is an exercise that is said to take you beyond what you value about your spouse, and to make you think about what life would be like without them.

What you would miss. What you love the most about them. Their best qualities, and so forth.

I don't often write about my husband, mostly because he would be annoyed with me if I made blatant, public declarations of love, but also because I believe that relationships...friendships, marraiges, torrid love affairs, even, are private.
Whether they are happy relationships or relationships that are struggling to stay afloat...I think that those moments, good or bad, should be kept within the boundaries of said relationship.

So below I have, per the instructions of the article, written my husband's eulogy.

Did my husband really die? No.
Is it morbid? Maybe.
Is it mushy? Yes.
Do I care? No.
Jerry's Eulogy- A Last Declaration of Love

I met my husband a few months shy of my fourteenth birthday. I got a summer job working at Callaway's Catfish, washing dishes. Jerry was seventeen. He had just graduated from high school. Frankly, Jerry was quite a dorky looking fellow in his teens, but had a heart of pure gold and a wonderful sense of humor.

 When I asked Jerry what he thought the first time he saw me, he said, "I thought...Well, I thought this was going to be interesting." It wasn't too long before Jerry and I became really good friends.
Although, I fought our blooming relationship tooth and nail at times...Jerry was a persistant fellow.
He didn't put up with my crap, and he didn't mince words. If he thought something, he said it. There was something very endearing about someone who wasn't at all afraid to say what they actually felt.

Our relationship wasn't one that just caught fire, so to speak. It grew, and changed as we did.

 If I sit and think about my life with Jerry...It plays back in my head as this montage of heart breakingly, beautiful moments broken by the occasional argument or harsh word.
I know I was hard to live with, and I know that I broke his heart more than once.

For the tears that were shed because of my actions: There simply are not enough words in the English language to describe the sorrow that haunts my heart. There are not enough words I could speak that could tell you how sorry I am for ever hurting you in any way. The most amazing thing about Jerry was his amazing capacity to love me despite my faults, and my shortcomings.

Jerry was an amazing father. Eager to wake the kids up, and staying up with them after he worked a midnight shift. Changing those first tar-like poop diapers and rocking them in their sleep. Kissing boo-boos and tickling them until they were out of breath. My children had the most amazing father in the world. If they inherited even a fraction of the beautiful qualities that Jerry had within his heart, then they are sure to be some of the most amazing and loving people in the world.

My husband was, and will always be, one of the most wonderful people I have ever met, and I was the lucky duck who married him.

Of course, looking back, there are things I would do differently. Moments I would take back. Things I would undo, but overall... I had and will always have something so wonderful that it cannot be contained or shared. It was a real love. The kind of love that continued regardless of how ugly or scary things were. The kind of love that flourished and grew through the hard moments, and stayed constant through the calm.
There are very few people that can look back on their life, and say that the best decision they ever made was marrying their best friend. It wasn't always easy, but I wouldn't change a single moment.



Conversations With Abby

This conversation took place last night while I was working on my costumes for the play.

Abby: Mom. Whatcha doing?

Me: Oh you know, just working on my costumes for the play. What's up?

Abby: (sigh) Nothing.

Me: Abby, are your feelings hurt?

Abby: (bigger sigh) I guess they're okay...They would be better feelings if we had some of Sammy's cake.

I freeze.
 REO Speedwagon and a montage of all that various times I've eaten cake begin to roll through my mind:

"And even as I wander,
I'm keeping you in sight.
You're a candle in the window,
On a cold, dark winter's night.
And I'm getting closer than I ever thought I might....AND I CAN"T FIGHT THIS FEELING ANYMORE
!"

I'm shaken from my daydream by Abby's sweet little voice.
Abby: Momma, Mom...But there's no cake. I guess there is something else that will help my feelings.

Me: What's that?

Abby: When you hold me and I hug you and I smell your hair. It smells beautiful.

Once again, my child just melts my heart.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Sidewalk is fixed....finally.

Webster dictionary defines routine as, "regular procedure or a mechanical performance".

 I am a creature of habit. I generally wake up at the same time everyday, eat the same thing for breakfast every morning, (some kind of cereal containing a lot of bran) drink my coffee out of the same cup...You get the idea.

In short, I'm boring. I'm fine with this. I've tried to be exciting and doing different things in the past, and it didn't work out so well. Thus, I have been securely rooted in the idea and thinking that being a creature of habit is fine...I've also found that the more I tell myself this, the more I believe it.
Over the last year I have been through many emotional and physical changes. I have also been operating under the delusion that I can control everything in my life to a certain degree.

I worked very hard to get control of my body. It worked for a while. My body ran like a well oiled machine.However, I found out about three months ago, it didn't matter how much meat I didn't eat or whole grains that I did...sometimes your body just can't resist sickness.
I tried to apply this same process to my friendships and relationships. Again, I found that it doesn't always work. I spent a large part of the year trying to put a square peg in a round hole.

Where am I going with all of this?
I'm getting there.

I am a runner, and being a creature of habit...I always run the same path. From my house down Maxwell, to Commerce, to Northwest, to Harris, through Broadlawn Park, down Mt. Washington, and back home. For the last six months there has been this little patch of sidewalk and road that the city has been sort of working on. When I would get to the little patch of construction I would hop on the curb, and do a little running balance beam sort of thing until I got to the other side. Instead of acknowledging that the construction was there, and revise my path, I integrated it into my routine. Every time I ran, I would hop the curb and think, "I wonder if they are ever going to get this fixed..."

 The construction became a part of the scenery. It went unnoticed. Another unfinished area of my life, ignored.

I had gotten so used to it being there that when I went for a run two days ago, I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw that the construction was finished. It took me a moment of staring at the road to pick out what it was that looked so different. Now, what I'm about to say may only affirm the idea that I'm a complete weirdo, but I couldn't run on the sidewalk. I just couldn't make myself do it. I hopped up on the curb, and did my little balancing beam thing, and then...when I reached the other side. I began to cry.

Standing there in the road with no explanation or reason why. I cried like a baby. 
Looking back on it, I think I related the fixed road with my inability to change even when my surroundings change. So while I have tried to control various things in my life, I was reminded, once again, that everything will get fixed eventually...in time.