My four-year-old son went to school breathing easy, but returned with a terrible cough. My husband and I usually have a ramp-up period warning us what’s to come. Not this time.
Our little one coughed his way to sleep in our bed tonight, sleeping fitfully for a couple of hours before awakening to a cough so hard he was retching.
After that subsided, I kept my hand on his belly.
“Are you leaving it there so you can feel if I throw up?” he asked. Read more…
Emily has shown up in my posts several times over the past years, though due to administrative failure–by yours truly!–only a single post among them remains live. I wish I could capture in a few words what her friendship means to me, but to do that justice would take a tome. It would need examples, not just abstract reflections; clips from our exchanges, not just vague memories of their totality. Advocate, friend, awesome and much beloved auntie to my son, Emily rocks, and I’m stoked to be able to feature her here. She can also be found at NerdLush.
The Challenge in NO
Boy howdy, can I tell you some stories about the word No! First though-let me introduce myself. My name is Emily and you might have seen me here before. Since Deb deleted the old pictures, here’s one you haven’t seen before:
I work in Hollywood, which means a lot of my life revolves around the word No. The very first no I can recall in my adult life was “No, you shouldn’t go into show business- you’ll never have a stable job!” Everyone I knew told me to major in computer science in college because it would guarantee a stable job and more importantly, receive a stable paycheck. However this all quickly backfired when I showed up to my first programming class I was hilariously rejected and told, “No! Go and take this other class instead, you won’t succeed here.” Read more…
I like to listen more than I like to watch, much to my movie-loving husband’s chagrin.
Even so, when a friend told me I’d love the music video for Imagine Dragons’ “Demons,” I was willing to give watching it a shot. Why was she convinced I would love it so–not only the song, but the story the band chose to tell with it?
My friend was right. I loved the video. I don’t mean that the flippant way folks–myself included–sometimes say things like “I love Starbucks!” or “I love Target.” I mean I loved it in a way that rocked me to my core, filling me with a sense of connectedness to life similar to that inspired by love I feel for friends and family.
Before I began blogging, I thought only my siblings could ever understand the dark, sad places in my heart, having lived the originating experiences with me. They knew the same poverty, abandonment, abuse, bullying, and loss of a loved one to the depths of mental illness. When our mom died of cancer after a life filled with so much pain, they shared that sadness, too. We’d walked those rocky roads together, but no one else–no one–would ever understand what it was like to walk them. It was just us.
Blogging expanded my world. As I wrote about my experiences, others shared their own like experiences. I saw commonalities I’d never have seen if I’d kept my own demons hidden. I read, too, about uplifting and heartbreaking experiences totally unlike my own. With each word I read I came to understand I didn’t own statistically significant shares in suffering. Every single blogger I read–even my favorite humor bloggers!–occasionally wrote about their own sorrows and struggles in ways that expanded my understanding of life. The more I read, the more I understood that while individual circumstances vary, every single human walking this earth knows the core experiences of joy and pain. No one owns them. Read more…
My mom breathed her last breath four years ago today.
I wasn’t there when she died, a fact that filled me with remorse for many months. I could have been there if I’d held out four more days.
I still occasionally cringe when I think of the last kiss I gave her. “I love you,” I whispered then. “I love you,” I repeated before fleeing her bedroom with the surreal knowledge I would never again see her alive.
When she died, I was haunted by those four days. 96 hours. 5,760 minutes. So little time. I should have been there. Time eased my guilt, as did having compassion for the me who existed then rather than expecting that-me’s behaviors to match an ideal visible only in retrospect and attainable only in an ideal world none of us inhabit. I was also fortunate for my mom’s insight into her children’s respective natures. Thanks to her combination of intuition, foresight and communication, I was freed from bonds of guilt by the only person not myself whose opinion mattered.
Time helped ease not only guilt but sorrow. Time wasn’t magic, as if time itself sprinkled fairy dust on my wounds and healed them. Read more…
We met up at the train station with only a couple of minutes to spare.
“Could I get my sandals?” I asked my husband as I flopped down onto a bench. I slipped off the shoes I’d been wearing all day. “These ones are killing me.”
My husband, Anthony, handed over my sandals and asked if I’d like help buckling them. “No. I can do it myself,” I replied. I buckled the left one easily, but the right was a struggle due to my growing belly.
Anthony offered a hand once more. Once more, I brushed him off, brusquely emphasizing that I was more than capable of doing it myself. He sighed. We’ve had this conversation hundreds of times before, in every imaginable circumstance. The only difference here was that this one began our honeymoon weekend.
In between bouts of train- and pregnancy-induced dozing, I thought back to that moment. How many times has Anthony tried lending a hand the last few years, knowing it’d more likely than not be (figuratively) slapped away? Read more…
I braved the garage to search for the handful of items left over from my son’s baby days.
Every item he wore was special to me, but I donated most everything to avoid clutter. I saved just one small box of about one cubed foot.
Sitting cross legged on the floor in front of the navy box, I pulled out the first few items. Each brought back memories of my son when he was still so, so very new to me. I smiled and traced my fingers over each until I reached a favorite I just had to photograph.
I continued through my sorting-and-remembering journey until I reached the bottom of a second bin full of older boys’ clothing given my husband by one of his Big Bang Theory coworkers. There, beneath all the stuff much more recently worn by my son, I found a tiny suit.
Tears welled in my eyes as I placed the suit on my lap, closed my eyes and remembered. I remembered walking through the kids aisles at Ross in search of a suit my son would too soon wear to a one-time event: Read more…
The bathwater was on the verge of spilling over the edge of the tub, so I leaned over and turned it off.
My son immediately threw a fit. He was only two at the time, so his fit didn’t involve his now-customary attempts to negotiate. He mostly shouted “more” a lot and flailed around to show he disapproved of my decision.
“Sweetie,” I told him, surprised by his unusually strong reaction. “There are people in this world–”
What I wanted to say was, “There are people in this world who can’t give their kids a single glass of water to drink. This problem is not so big.”
What I actually did was choke on my words and begin to cry. As my son stopped flailing and focused on his toys again, I imagined what it would be like to gaze upon his cracked lips and be unable to give him a single ounce of clean water. I thought about the reality that countless mothers around the world face this very situation daily.
The imagining felt real, and terrible, but I understood its limitations. Read more…