Tag Archives: life

Before You Go—a Tribute to a Life Well Lived

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Before You Go—a Tribute to a Life Well Lived

Loving big means letting go hurts—it hurts a lot.  A little over 15 years ago, Santa brought our son a little poppet we named Cooper.  He was tiny; smaller than a can of soda pop.  Small things don’t usually fare well in our house.   Frankly, we are rough on furniture, walls, and flooring.  Our clan isn’t outfitted for fragile of any sort.  If the first few weeks as a member of our family was any indication of his chances of surviving the rambunctious chaos he was adopted into, odds were heavily stacked that the poor little guy was doomed.  Right out of the gate Sophi stepped on him, resulting in a seizure and a long lethargic night.  This incident was followed shortly by an emergency vet visit for a collapsed trachea.  He was accidentally dropped, inadvertently kicked and he took a serious tumble down the stairs, which left him terrified to descend the stairs.  Fortunately, Evan provided intense bologna therapy.  The therapy worked, although he suffered with the bloat for several days.

Cooper is over 100 years old in human years and the last year we have watched as his health has declined significantly.  This week the magnitude that our resilient little buddy was undoubtedly living out his last days settled in like an uninvited guest.   Kevin took him to the vet on Monday and I threatened him sternly not to return without him and returning with him in a tiny urn wasn’t acceptable.  I wasn’t ready.  I am not ready.  Instead he returned with our faithful little guy with his breathing labored and his desire to eat or drink diminished to almost null.  He was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and a severely enlarged heart.   Kevin had a little bag of medicine and I eagerly asked if it would help.  Kevin said it might help, but I knew he was just trying to soften the rough edges of reality.  The bag wasn’t big enough to hold much hope.

The medicine did make him feel better for a little over a day.  He ate, he went outside and he even growled at Evan.  I was beginning to believe the little bag contained more hope that I had first thought.  But his rally didn’t last long.  I had to leave town to accompany my mom for a surgical procedure and I got the call that Cooper wasn’t doing well again.  He was having trouble breathing and refused to eat or drink.  I felt my heart break a little bit more.  Before I left I held him, petted him, told him countless times how much I love him and gave him a zillion pooch smooches, it didn’t seem enough.  I wasn’t ready.  I am not ready.

I know that he is a dog.  I do.  I mean deep down in my logical mind I know he is a dog, but in my heart and in our lives, he is so much more.   I might not make it back home in time to tell him goodbye.  I am hoping that Kevin will read this to him so he knows how much space his tiny 8 pounds takes up in my heart.  I want him to know that he was never just a dog to us and I hope that being part of our rowdy crew has given him a fraction of the joy he has given us.

This is for you Cooper:

Thank you for being so resilient and forgiving the accidental bumps and bobbles and more than one kick off the bed in the middle of the night.

Thank you for being the hero in all of our wild (though mostly imaginary) adventures together.  You are the only dog I know who has been on Dancing with the Stars, worked deep cover missions for the FBI, and made friends with a pigeon that smoked cigarettes.

Thank you for believing in Big Foot.  One day the world will know we are right.

Thank you for accompanying me to the bathroom each and every time I go.  This speaks volumes about your loyalty and let’s face it, your tolerance for unpleasant circumstances.

Thank you for limping around for an entire evening after Evan “shot” you with a banana.

Thank you for pretending like you liked the legwarmers I put in your stocking.  

Thank you for letting me vent to you and never judging my craziness.  You are a rock.

Thank you for taking such good care of your beaver.  That is one lucky beaver.

Thank you for tolerating you little sister.  I know she has driven you crazy over the years with her demanding so much attention and usually getting it.  You have always been the main man.  Your patience with sharing us with her is to be commended.

Thank you for being my buddy.

Thank you for making me belly laugh with you nonsense.

Thank you for letting me give you really bad haircuts.

Thank you for claiming that tiny space between us in the bed.  I know it is going to be like a cavern when you are gone.

Thank you for not tolerating Evan’s antics.  Your intolerance for his SLOW WALK and MEAN FACE never faltered.

Thank you for letting me call you Mr. Conniption, even when you thought it was stupid.

Thank you for letting me put you in a Rubbermaid container strapped to the handlebars to go on bike rides.  That literally must have been terrifying for you.

Thanks for swimming with us at the lake, even though water isn’t your thing.

Thank you for letting us be your people…your imperfect quirky people.

Thank you for hanging on so long and so hard, because I wasn’t ready.  I am not ready.  You are my soldier.

Before you go, just know you gave us your best life.  I shouldn’t ask for more.  You have been…are…and always will be so loved.

I wasn’t ready.

I am not ready.

But when you are ready, I will be brave for you my faithful friend.  Thank you for a life well lived.

‘R’ Words and Pinky Promises-Update on Big Prayers for Big Kevin

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‘R’ Words and Pinky Promises-Update on Big Prayers for Big Kevin

It has been nearly three months since I have posted an update on Kevin’s Cancer Chronicle and it isn’t because I haven’t tried.  Each time I try to sit down and quantify the galaxy of swirling emotions that have somehow become part of who I am, my check engine light comes on and my cognitive gauge nears redline status and I have to shut it all down.  Disclaimer:  it doesn’t take a lot to redline my cognitive abilities and I have been running with my check engine light on for years.  Kevin has been the one dealing with all the physical discomforts, fatigue, weight loss, sinus irrigations—his eyebrows fell out for crying out loud, yet I am the one who is one molecule of water short of my fuel rods overheating and going into complete nuclear meltdown, but that is kind of how we roll.

On May 11th we traveled back to MD Anderson to get the first of many post-treatment tests and scans.  We flew out Friday morning and his first appointment was that afternoon.  We arrived at Houston Hobby Airport and went to Baggage Claim to get our bags.  The first bag came out right away and I unquestioningly   took it and stood out of the way while Kevin waited at the carousel for the tardy bag.  He grabbed it and we headed to meet our Lyft and soon were on our way to the Medical District.  About 15 minutes after leaving the airport, my cell phone rings.  It was the airport calling for me to return to the airport to retrieve my bag and return the one we took by mistake (heavy sigh).

Me: “Kevin, did you grab the wrong bag?”

Kevin: “I don’t know. I didn’t have my glasses on.”

Me: “Sh#t!  Will you go in and swap bags?”

Kevin: “Nope.  It has your name on it.”

Me: “I am going to tell them that it was your fault.”

Kevin: “I don’t care what you tell them.  I am pretty sure whoever’s bag we have is pretty ticked. I will stay with the Lyft.”

Me: “Chivalry has fallen on its sword and died a cruel and brutal death.”

Kevin: “What?”

Me:  “Nothing.”

Needless to say, the man waiting for me to return the suitcase with the uncanny resemblance to ours (minus the nice leather name tag on the handle with HIS name and address on it) wasn’t impressed with the striking resemblance of our bags or my humble apology. Being greeted by his gruff attitude,  I momentarily wished I had riffled through his bag so I could say something snarky like, “Your prescription for Viagra is almost due for a refill” or “I see you are traveling alone, so I am assuming those lacy pink panties in the bag are yours”.  But I restrained myself and smiled and took my bag and refocused on the mission ahead.

Because of the luggage snafu, we ended up heading straight to the hospital with our bags in tow and up to the 10th floor for his first of many appointments, the first being with his surgeon.  She did the scope up the nose that was magnified on a big screen.  I recorded the carnage, because it is phenomenal what she retrieves.  I won’t post the video, because although it is fascinating, it is not for the squeamish.  He did have a staph infection and got some new medicine to add to his daily regimen.  She recruited him for a study related to his experience with olfactory neuroblastoma and he got her blessing for the next ninety days.

The remaining days were filled with visits to the audiologist, MRI scan, oncology dentist, eye doctor, neurologist, dietician and finally, my personal favorite the Oncology Radiologist.  They were all tasked to document his “new baseline” in all the pertinent areas the radiation and/or cancer may have impacted.  I seriously only came to Houston for them to tell me that the cancer was all gone and all the hell he had endured was worth it, because he was cured.  Over the several days I anxiously awaited for the ‘all clear’ and with just one appointment remaining, this is all I knew for sure:

  • His MINOR hearing loss is low-tones and his primary hearing loss remains selective in nature.
  • He can see, but not well enough to get the luggage off the carousel at the airport without his cheaters.
  • He’s lost a lot of weight.
  • He has retained his mental faculties (although he forgot the paper he was supposed to turn into the neurologist and during the exam went blank on ‘as many words as you can think of that begin with the letter R), which I thought would have lowered his score, but according to Kevin, he passed with flying colors.
  • He can’t really smell much of anything.
  • His taste has returned to about 75%, but he can’t do carbonation and things don’t taste the same.
  • He needs to wear sunscreen to protect his skin.
  • He will continue to have dry mouth.
  • He will have to continue to irrigate his sinuses a few times a day for a long time.

I KNEW ALL OF THIS WHEN I GOT TO HOUSTON!  I was slowly losing my patience and I just want someone…anyone (preferably in a white coat with a medical degree) to look me in the eyes and speak the words, “It is gone.  It’s all over.  Go home and be happy.”

We hit his last appointment as we were headed to the airport to go home.  So, once again, we lugged our bags into the hospital.  By this point my anxiety level was creeping up to meltdown level and I may have gotten a tad bit sassy with the physician’s assistant by curtly outlining that I came to Houston to get confirmation that the cancer was gone and all we have been told is that his ears work, he can see, his mouth is dry and he has passed his neurological exam with flying colors, with the exception of spontaneously regurgitating word that begin with the letter R, which MAY or MAY NOT be a side effect of the radiation, which by the way, starts with the stupid letter R; then maybe I can do that other ‘R’ word—RELAX!    But CAN SOMEONE TELL ME THE TWO WORDS THAT I NEED TO HEAR, WHICH BY THE WAY BOTH START WITH THE LETTER C—CANCER and CURED??  Note: this version of my rant has been edited for explicit content , but resulted in the physician’s assistant giving Kevin a fist bump and said, “I have been doing this for twenty-five years and I have never heard anything like that in my life.”

The good news is, the MRI was NEGATIVE for evidence of cancer—the major area of concern was the lymph nodes in his neck (where this cancer likes to relocate), which were clear.  HEAVY, heavy, HEAVY sigh.   Thank God.

So, now what?  What’s the plan?  Is it gone?  Are we good?  Is he good?  Can we go?  Does he get a bumper to bumper warranty?  I sort of need all of this in writing.  I would settle for a confirmation of continued good health sealed with that unbreakable forever solemn sign of good faith—a pinky promise.  Doctors don’t do pinky promises…they do 90 day reprieves.

We headed home on the tail of great news that there is no sign of cancer in his sinuses or the lymph nodes of his neck, with orders to return in 90 days to do it again and again in another 90 days and so-on. We come to more words that start with the letter R—RETURN and REPEAT, but for this moment and above all—RELIEVED.

pinkyWe settled into our version of normal (which has never been quite normal) and there a long portions of my day, when I don’t worry about cancer.  There are moments when I am so immensely thankful for his healing that I feel my faith is unshakable.  But then there are times that I hear him cough or he gets up too fast and loses his balance and the waves of worry crash into me and I find myself asking several times a day, “Are you okay?” and “How are you feeling?”.  I wake up and listen to him breathing in and out and try to build a fortress against this maggot of a disease taking root in a lymph node or a lung or a kidney, by willing it to be so.  If only love cured cancer…  If only doctors made pinky promises.

What I do have is today and I will cling to it with every hope and expectation that tomorrow he will continue to get stronger and someday this will all be behind us.  Kevin may be hitched to a wife with wobbly faith, but he has been bolstered in prayers and support that surpasses anything we could have ever imagined.  There are so many people that have met our needs, often before we knew what our needs were!  There is not a platform big enough to express our sincere gratitude.  I know that I have slipped behind on sending out thank-yous to so many and I am so sorry.  Please know that we owe where Kevin is today to not just the amazing care of the doctors in Houston, but also to the outpouring of prayers, love and support of our family, friends, and community, who made his treatment possible.  We are truly blessed beyond belief, which is the next best thing to a pinky promise from a cancer doctor!

Big Prayers for Big Kevin-The Homecoming

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Big Prayers for Big Kevin-The Homecoming

Kevin bangin’ the gong!

Several times I have sat down to compose an update on Kevin’s cancer treatment and I have found myself overwhelmed by the task of wrangling words into some sort of logical sequence to sufficiently fill the space between the last post and where we are now. Each time, I found myself overwhelmed and unable to whittle down the sum of the experiences into a simplified version of a complex equation.  I would like to point out that this is yet another example of how my life-long search for a situation in which Algebra would be applicable and useful remains just an empty promise from my high school Algebra teacher.  There is no balancing the cancer equation.  There is no solving for X or Y and there are certainly no easy solutions and sometimes there are no solutions at all.

I decided to start simply and lookup the definition of cancer and this is what I found:

/can·cer/[ˈkansər] noun-the disease caused by an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in a part of the body. 

Well, that sounded practically harmless. It certainly didn’t paint the picture of the shit show that has been our life for the last several months.  So I read on:

 

/can·cer/noun-a practice or phenomenon perceived to be evil or destructive and hard to contain or eradicate: synonyms: evil · blight · scourge · poison · canker · plague · pestilence

Now I was getting somewhere. This is more accurate.  Thank you, Oxford Dictionaries©, for recognizing cancer for the bastardly equal opportunity butt licking tribulation of chaos it is. The day that sometimes seemed to be moving further away instead of closer finally arrived. Kevin completed his 32nd and final radiation treatment on February 16th. I have chronicled some of the brutal side effects he has suffered over the last couple of months and it has been excruciating to witness so I cannot venture to imagine what it was actually like for him to experience it firsthand.  Each day of radiation took more and more out of and from Kevin.  Although he is unable to eat anything other than the Boost Plus shakes and water, he managed to avoid the feeding tube. I am not sure why the folks weighing him didn’t notice that he had 7 layers of clothing on and a jacket when it was 70 degrees; not to mention the $17.00 of change in his pockets, but I guess that is none of my business (insert eye roll here).  When the radiologist told us that the results of skull based radiation are traumatic, he wasn’t just whistling Dixie.  The physical toll has been extremely difficult to witness.  The weight loss, the vomiting, the pain in his head, mouth, throat and face, the skin changes, the loss of hair, the extreme fatigue, and the dead and burnt flesh and mucous he flushes from his nose several time a day—let’s just say, pussies need not apply.

The physical impact has been hard, but the emotional toll it has taken on him has been equally as brutal and nearly unbearable for me to stand. I think most people who know Kevin would agree with the fact that he is pretty laid back.  He doesn’t ruffle easy, nor does he get too excited about much.  Whereas I tend to get super excited about things such as when the Cheerios left in my bowl make the shape of a rabbit or I see a red fox cross the road or when every single sock in a load of laundry has a mate (a true miracle akin to the statue of the Virgin Mother crying tears of blood).  I worry about coyotes chasing me on my way back from the barn and lose sleep pondering my chances of being filleted by a serial killer and wondering what picture my family would use if I went missing.  If our brains were colors, his would probably be a calm constant shade of calming blue and mine would be a bag of Skittles.  I guess that is why the extreme anxiety and ill-ease he experienced had us both on the ropes.  Seriously, folks, there is only one crazy seat on this train and I am in it.

The babies welcoming their daddy home.

We were beyond relieved to return home. Stefon Klugg graciously shuttled my step-dad, Ron and baby sister, Emily, to Houston in his super cool plane and they drove our truck back, while Mr. Klug flew us to our homeland.  Not only did we avoid putting Kevin on a commercial flight (a.k.a. a flying incubator of germs), we were also welcomed at the airport by a host of family and friends.  There were hugs and tears and some more hugs and some more tears.  I had tried to warn those eager hosts that the man I took to Houston was not the same man I was bringing home, but some were not prepared.  Cancer and his caustic sidekick radiation had worked him over…but we were finally home. We were surrounded by people who love us, which is really what home is and it felt AMAZING.

Radiation Crew

As we try to acclimate back to some sort of normal (believe me I am using this term in the loosest sense) life, Kevin struggles every single day with the lingering effects of the radiation. He still is only able to tolerate Boost shakes, water, and we recently added bone broth to his menu.  Some days are better than others.  He is weak and tires easily, has intermittent pain and discomfort and continues with a lengthy regimen of sinus rinses, mouth swishes, fluoride treatments and skin creams.  He has dropped more weight and has only slept twice through the night since we have been home.  His taste buds are completely out of order and the few attempts he has made at tasting food resulted in the same conclusion:  “it tastes like ass”.  Although he has used this same phrase to describe some of my cooking in the past, this time it has nothing to do with my lack of culinary skills.  In spite of all the struggles, he is making progress and for that I am immensely grateful.

It has been a long road and I am perpetually exhausted, both physically and emotionally.  There has never been a season in my life where I have felt more completely helpless.  There were days when my attempts to find ways to ease his misery were nothing more than exercises in futility. As he continues to grow stronger and his health is restored, I hope that I am able to dial down my heightened state of constant readiness; my personal goal is to at least plateau at DEFCON 3 on or before April 1st.  In so many ways I feel like I have been holding my breath since this ordeal began and I am apprehensive to exhale.  I don’t want God to interpret my need to breathe as a sign of being complaisant.  I am not sure how to balance the joy of being on the downhill side with my need to stand vigil for any sign of trouble returning.  I really don’t think it is too much to ask to have left Houston with at least a ’30 Year Cancer Free Guarantee’.  So many things about this stupid disease do not add up-there are no simple solutions.  We may not be stepping into tomorrow with a bumper-to-bumper warranty, but we certainly aren’t empty handed and our hearts are so full because…

  • We have been shown immeasurable love by our family, friends, and community.

    The Elite Cancer Squad…our forever friends.

    My Sweet Ladybug-Meg.

  • We have made beautiful new friendships in the middle of ugly circumstances.
  • We have seen the selfless generosity of others meet our needs, often before we knew what the needs were.
  • We have witnessed the power of prayer daily.
  • We have learned that faith is an action verb and must be practiced daily (even if it is wobbly)
  • There are people in my life who love me enough to come into our home and tackle the task of sweeping, mopping, dusting, sorting, and restocking provisions in the aftermath of six weeks of being inhabited by savages (a.k.a. our children and the menagerie of our furry friends). That is BIG LOVE! My tribe is above awesome.

 

I appreciate you allowing me this venue to express my fears, frustrations and the plethora of other unpleasant emotions. Thank you for tolerating my posts about mucous, puke, sinus flushes, and burnt flesh.  Above all, thank for your unwavering love.  I want to leave you with a smile (maybe even a chuckle).  I have been given temporary custody of my grandcat, Fiona.  She is the sweetest most precious cat in all the land.  Her beautiful long fur wasn’t brushed daily in our absence and became matted.  I thought you might want to see the end result, when I had to shave my daughter’s pussy kitty.

Fiona- Before

Fiona-After

 

 

 

 

 

 

Partly Sunny with a Chance of Cancer

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Partly Sunny with a Chance of Cancer

 

The fact that I am 44 pisses me off. I might look 44, but I rarely feel it and even less than rarely act like it. It is only when I have to dig my readers out of my bag so I can read a menu or someone asks me my age and hearing myself verbalize the truth always sounds strange; that age belongs to someone else—someone old. Then I have to get real with my aging self. There are signs all around me that I am no spring chicken. I don’t dare jump on the trampoline without completely emptying my bladder first. I have to pluck more areas on my face than just my eyebrows and if that isn’t bad enough, I turn down the radio in the car when I want to talk. WHO AM I?

It may be part of my internal denial and my hopes to cling to the youth I once had, but often I don’t take time to ensure that my ‘old lady’ medical checks are done routinely and regularly. If my body was an automobile, it would not get the routine maintenance, fluid checks and changes, or the occasional diagnostic checks. Nope. I just kick the tires and turn up the radio to drown out any clanks or knocks.   This is exactly how I ended up way behind on my annual health checks (and when I say way behind, I mean several years, not months).

A couple of weeks ago I was rarely not traveling for work and folded under the intense pressure by my husband (who is also not as young as he used to be) to get my wellness exams caught up. I showed up to complete the well-woman’s circle of life maintenance check. They looked in my throat and under the hood and checked the pipes and that all went fabulous. I ended the fun-filled day with a mammogram relieved to finally have all of it completed. What I wasn’t expecting was the call I received shortly thereafter—We need you to come back in for an additional test. There was something suspicious on your mammogram. And just like that, things just got real.

I spent the next week out of town with work and tried to tamp down the word “suspicious” that kept slipping out of my subconscious and tap dancing all over my conscious. It is really hard to focus on work when you have an ambiguous word tap dancing in your brain. I arrived home and went for boob-smash ‘take two’, which led to yet a THIRD boob smash a couple days later. Boob smash number three was the equivalent to having someone fold my right titty into an Origami swan and then secure it firmly into a vice grip. The whole thing gave “titty twister” a completely new meaning, with the end result being that it wasn’t the end at all.

I was scheduled for a needle-guided surgical biopsy the next morning. The good news is that I was asleep for the “surgical biopsy” part. The bad news is I was wide-ass awake for the “needle guided” portion. Holy God, a little GHB or chloroform next time, please! I should mention this included mammogram number FOUR, and a big needle, and a Styrofoam cup taped over a wire hanging out of my boob? It was all kinds of glamorous. In addition, I had my husband, and Mom and Stepdad with me, which would have been appropriate if I was having a heart transplant, but holy cow it does feel good to be loved.

And then we waited. Waiting was difficult enough, but I was scheduled to fly out of town for work and so I had to wait 700 miles away from home. I do try and plan ahead for these situations. Unbeknownst to her, I had put on my initial paperwork that any and all health information could be shared with my sister, Kim. She called me early in the week to ask if I had heard from the doctor.

Kim:   Have you heard from the tests?

Me:        I am not calling.

Kim:       Yes you are. We have to know.

Me:       Yes, we have to know, but I am not calling. You are.

Kim:       What the hell? They won’t tell me anything.

Me:        I already signed a consent saying they could tell you anything.

Kim:       You are shitting me.

Me:        I shit you not. I can’t hear bad news from the doctor. If it is bad I need you to tell me.

Kim:       I hate you.

Me:        I know.

Kim:       I love you.

Me:        I know.

 

She called and we had to wait a few more days before the results were finalized. In the interim, I didn’t sleep much. I prayed a lot. God always knows when I am in trouble. I am so predictable. I also inventoried my life and the way I live it. My life is a continuous battle to keep what is important at the forefront. My little priority ducks are a bunch of bastards that I can never seem to keep in a row. I consistently fail at being present in the moment and I had to have a suspicious something show up on a mammogram to remind me that I don’t have an infinite amount of moments. I still have so many damn ducks to wrangle. At some point in my existence I want to present my wily-ass little ducks to the world in a complete and unified row.

Later in the week:

Kim:       Hey! How are things in Texas?

Me:        Mostly sunny with a slight chance of cancer.

Kim:       (sobbing)

Me:        The results are negative, aren’t they?

Kim:       (sobbing) Yes!! And now I can breathe again. (I knew if it had been bad news, she would never had let me hear her cry. She, too, is predictable).

Me:        Thank you!

Kim:       I hate you. Don’t ever do this to me again.

Me:        I love you.

Kim:       I know.

Cancer is a beast and I have seen mighty warriors fall to its ruthlessness. I will not pretend that I was not scared shitless. I am NOT a warrior. Hell, I can’t even keep my ducks in a row.   My days of kicking the tires and running on empty are behind me. I came away with a heck of a scare and a right boob that looks like it might belong to the Bride of Frankenstein. But those are two outcomes for which I have boundless immense gratitude. Life’s forecast can change without warning and I am blessed beyond belief with family and friends with whom I can find shelter, when there is even a mere threat of a storm. The truth is, I probably won’t ever get my shit completely together, but I will bet my right boobie that I won’t miss another mammogram!

 

 

 

 

 

The Security Breach at Breakfast

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The Security Breach at Breakfast

There was a time not so long ago that the avoidance of national and world news by my sister, Kim, was viewed by me as bordering on irresponsible. I would ask her opinions on a crisis, mass murder, or natural disaster and she would respond with, “I have no idea what you are talking about and I don’t want to know. So, shut up.” Recently, I have started to envy her ability to close herself off from the world that seems to be unraveling. It seems to be open season on human beings killing one another has had me considering looking for real estate under one of the secluded rocks she likes to hide under. The world is a scary place.

One would think that with all the headlines screaming violence, I would be extra vigilant in protecting myself, my family, and my home from the volatile world. In many ways I am. I have educated myself on gun and personal safety and I have obtained my Conceal and Carry permit. I have purchased a firearm I am comfortable carrying, handling, and shooting. While traveling, I try to be aware of my surroundings and not put myself in vulnerable situations. But Sunday morning, when a homeless young man showed up on my porch asking for a drink of water, my heart overrode my brain and I invited him inside for breakfast.

He couldn’t have been more than 20 and he had a heavy pack and a long road ahead of him. It wasn’t just hot; it was MISSOURI sticky-sweaty-humid-as-hell hot. When I went outside and handed him a couple bottles of water he was very grateful and thankful for my offering and as I watched this kid turn back toward the highway, it never crossed my mind that this shaggy-haired tattooed kid with more than one piercing was a serial killer or an axe murder. All I saw was a kid who probably needed something in his belly and so I called after him, “Hey, are you hungry?”

After offering him a seat at the table, I made him a plate of biscuits and gravy, something to drink, salt and pepper, etc. His only request was a napkin which he placed in his lap. While he ate, I asked him where he was headed and if he had any family in the area. I didn’t want to pry. It was obvious this kid had a story, but it isn’t my story to tell. He ate. He said very little.

Things really got interesting when I went to the bedroom to give my husband, Kevin, a heads that I was feeding a wayward stranger breakfast. He was not overcome by the warm fuzzy feeling of helping out our fellow man. In fact, I believe the emotion I identified reflected in Kevin at that moment was: completely pissed off. We had a rare and heated exchange in whisper voices:

Kevin: What in the hell were you thinking?

Me: I don’t know. What was I supposed to do, let him starve?

Kevin: NOT invite him inside the house would be a reasonable thing to do.

Me: I had to invite him in so he could eat biscuits and gravy.

Kevin: You know better!!! I can’t believe you.

Me: ….

 

In all my arguments with Kevin I end up sounding like a toddler, especially when confined to whispers. It is hard to really sell a good point in ‘whisper voice’. Kevin went into full protector mode talking briefly with the young man and seeing him on his way, all the while keeping our .38 in his pocket. He made sure the kid made his way down the highway and proceeded with the following: Complete perimeter check, locked and secured all doors, reviewed the security modus operandi with the kids for locking cars and doors, emphasizing the point that someone had breached security protocol and so we were all going to have to be EXTRA vigilant for the next few weeks (followed by an accusing stare at me for my reckless behavior).

I went about my day justifying in my own mind what I failed to articulate to my husband. Later that afternoon, I asked if he was still angry at me for inviting a potential murderer, terrorist, puppy kicker inside for breakfast. He assured me he was not mad, but I had to promise not to do it again. I was compelled to try and justify my actions and I probably should have just made my promise and kept my mouth shut.

Me: Kevin, I traveled thousands of miles around the world to feed hungry children in Africa! Do you think I could just let a kid starve on my front porch?

Kevin: Of course not, you invite him in and feed him biscuits and gravy. We will see what a good idea it is when he comes back and kills us in our sleep and steals all our shit.

Me: …..heavy sigh.

Kevin is right the world is a scary place and I could have very well invited danger into our home. I appreciate his ability to protect us and keep us safe. I do hope that in some small fashion he finds a way to appreciate the innate flaw in me that allows my heart override my head in some situations. The truth is, I am so caught up in my own crazy life I neglect so many opportunities to make a difference in the lives of others. My focus has gotten so blurred that it has become easier to see only what I don’t have and I have become blind and complacent to the abundance of my blessings. I hear the news, read the headlines, and I become consumed by all the things that separate us. I needed a reminder of the one thing we have in common; at the end of the day, we are all just human beings.

heartPerhaps the good Lord sent that young man to my door to remind me that I need to look for opportunities to lift up others around me. Perhaps, it was God himself coming to the door as a scruffy homeless kid to see if I would give him a drink or turn him away. Truly If nothing else, I can rest easy knowing that had I been chopped up by the biscuit eating guest, I would probably go to heaven (the way I am quick to anger, cuss like a sailor, struggle with envy and pride and occasional slothfulness I need all the help I can get)….AND if it was God testing us, I fed him biscuits and gravy and Kevin covertly held a gun on him while he ate them (I am still winning). We make a great team– I can try and save the world and he can try to save me from the world…and myself…and coyotes….and spiders…and BigFoot… I think this text he sent me says it all:

murder

FAKEBooking-Mastering the Art of Omission

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My mom asked me three questions, when I was 16 years old, to which I answered honestly. Subsequently, this left her standing in the kitchen sobbing into a dishtowel.   Her response ultimately being, “Why can’t you just lie like other teenagers?” Okay…that went well. I should have used my filter. The greater part of my adult life has been trying to tame the wily beast that is my tongue. Sometimes I am able to remain silent, at least in the time it takes to reformulate more socially acceptable responses. Most of the time, this requires the firm use of my teeth on aforementioned tongue and walking away, but progress is progress. With all of my attempts to be authentic without the use of blunt force emotional assault, I sometimes still lose the battle. War is hell and my tongue hurts.

 

There is a place I still struggle to remain authentic and that place is on social medial. It is a fine balance between sharing too much (which I often do) and cutting loose without abandon with every shitty thing happening in my life. Teetering on the virtual tightrope between TMI and Debbie Downer all the while trying to avoid getting to sucked into the dark abyss of ‘my shit is perfect’; the struggle is real and my shit is far from perfect.

 

My newsfeed is alive and well with posts ranging from folks’ fun-filled summer vacations; good times spent with great friends, the proud moments of sports parents and last but not least, the selfies. I have posted numerous times in each of these categories. How authentic are my posts? How well does the life I portray on Facebook reflect the life I actually live?? Not even close. I am living a lie, virtually.

 

Classic examples of my Facebook Omissions:

sophi fist day

Fact: Sophi’s first day of her junior year.

Omission: She was totally Pi$$ed that I asked her to take this picture because she was running late. She was not very nice about it and I wasn’t very nice back.   It was an ugly exchange.

Patch

Fact: Hanging out with Patch, the new horse on the farm.

Omission: I was supposed to be on a run, but I stopped and played with Patch, because I am out of shape and I was dog-ass tired of running.

 

cornhole

Fact: Sophi got out of the shower and played corn hole in her towel. Things like this really do happen in our home.

Omission: I can’t beat Sophi at corn hole and it makes me crazy. I can’t beat Kevin either. I can beat Riley, but she doesn’t count. She is horrible.

magic12

Fact: Kevin coaching his Magic girls in a rare moment of spirited coaching in response to the team not playing well at all.

Omission: Briley, the center, hurt her back early in the tournament and with her mom’s permission I gave her some muscle relaxers. Kevin hurt his back last week and took the same kind of muscle relaxers and was groggy and couldn’t stay awake for a couple of days. Yeah..maybe that is why Briley was having trouble getting up and down the court. Ooops!

 

I think there is a part of my life that I vehemently try to hide on Facebook.   If I had to put a label on it, think it would be vulnerability. What parts of my life can I reveal and not be judged by my Facebook community as a shitty mom or crazy wife or horrible person (I have been called all three).

There is nothing virtual about my reality.

 

I am blessed with good kids and they are basically happy and healthy, but they drive me bat-shit crazy sometimes. They fight. They can be hateful as junkyard dogs to me and each other. I push Sophi too hard, haven’t pushed Evan hard enough and Riley has basically co-parented herself, so there is that.

 

My house stays clean for exactly 2.3 seconds and then the chaos erupts. The cute little dog, Piper, whom is adored and treated like a baby, won’t pee in the grass if it is wet.   She sneaks into the kitchen and pees in the floor. I cover for her and tell Kevin she is sorry. She is not sorry.

 

Kevin really is the mild-mannered, cool-headed voice of reason in the family. He did say he wouldn’t love me if I lost both of my arms, because I wouldn’t be much good to him. I am pretty sure he was kidding though; sort of kidding.

 

I can’t take a selfie that is worth posting. If I try, it takes me 37 tries and by the time I get one that is halfway decent, the moment has passed. Actually, my selfie ship has passed. Perhaps, being a woman of a certain age, I don’t feel compelled to see my mug daily on a newsfeed. Honestly, I don’t want to. I require a lot of makeup, low-lighting, and numerous filters to pull it off. I have a scar on my chin, crow’s feet, and ain’t nobody want to be looking at all that (see the horse picture above…I am the one on the left). I am not that cool and I know it—affirmations through comments be damned.

 

I am flawed. I am not the matriarch of the Sunshine Family. Sometimes I am sad, scared, and stressed. My kids aren’t beauty queens, top athletes or anything extraordinary, but they are unequivocally loved. Our home is filled with more laughter than tears, but laundry is more abundant than either. There always seems to be more wants than money, more things that need to be done than there is time and more places to go than gas in the cars. We sing, we dance, we wrestle, and we laugh. I love to share the moments of my life, but the life I share is often a watered down version of the real thing. The watered down version is never as good as the real thing. Live your life—love your life—no filter.

 

The Epic Tirade Over Bleepin’ Wet Socks

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The Epic Tirade Over Bleepin’ Wet Socks

Every once in a while, I completely flip my $hit. I have scaled down my grand meltdowns and while I have no specific data to back up my bold claim, I am confident the number of Richter scale measurable come-a-parts has been on the steady decline over the last several years. I am uncertain of the reasoning behind the lengthening of my fuse and the rounding out my sharp edges. Perhaps arriving in the fourth decade of my existence has brought about a shift in the hormonal tide.  It may be attributed to a heightened awareness of the struggles of those around me and a growing appreciation for mankind. Truth be told, it is most likely that I just don’t care enough to work myself up into an emotional lather… well that and I am slightly medicated.

 

The push to take ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’ to a new level hasn’t always been easy. Laundry thrown haphazardly next to the hamper on most days is met with a sigh and a quick deposit into the receptacle. Other days, I can just ignore it. There are those days, however, when I feel the adrenaline surge through my veins, and I have visions of lighting the whole damn pile on fire and walking away. I have found that visual imagery helps alleviate my stress and seems a viable imaginative alternative to a verbal assault on my family and/or acts of arson. I am learning to self-soothe, which I am counting as a sign of progress.

 

Nothing seems to validate all of my hard work, like witnessing a colossal screaming crazy rant of another. While staying at the historic (and haunted-another story) Congress Hotel in Chicago my husband, Kevin and I were audible witness to the tyrannical verbal hurricane of a neighboring guest. As we were leaving our room late one evening, we were halted in our tracks (okay we stopped and eavesdropped outside the door) of a man who was coming completely undone, specifically because his socks were wet.

 

HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO BLEEPIN’ TELL YOU TO WIPE UP THE BLEEPIN’ BATHROOM FLOOR WHEN YOU BLEEPIN’ GET OUT OF THE SHOWER?? YOU BLEEPIN’ LEFT WATER ALL OVER THE BLEEPIN’ FLOOR AND NOW MY BLEEPIN’ SOCKS ARE WET BECAUSE YOU ARE TOO BLEEPIN’ LAZY TO WIPE UP THE BLEEPIN WATER!! NOW I HAVE BLEEPIN’ WET SOCKS!!!! GET YOUR BLEEPIN’ ASS IN THERE AND WIPE UP THE BLEEPIN’ FLOOR!! AND DON’T USE A BLEEPIN’ CLEAN TOWEL EITHER. YOU USE A BLEEPIN’ DIRTY TOWEL!! THIS BETTER BE THE LAST BLEEPIN’ TIME I STEP IN BLEEPIN’ WATER AND GET MY BLEEPIN’ SOCKS WET!!!! DO YOU BLEEPIN’ HEAR ME?

 

Actually, Sir, the entire 14th floor heard you. That was some powerful rage over wet socks. I thought about tapping on the door and sharing my visual imagery techniques, but I figured he probably wasn’t to the receptive stage in his development and decided against it. Then my heart started to imagine the receiver of that powerful verbal pounding. Of course, I imagined a little lad of 8 or 9 standing there in his PJs with wet hair and big sorrowful eyes. I pushed that image out of my head, it was too much. I started leaning toward the battered and abused wife, but that wasn’t any better. I settled on the recipient being the madman’s adult unemployed sloth of a brother, who drank all his beer, sleeps on his couch, and is still favored by their mother. One thing I am sure of, he wasn’t berating himself for not wiping up the water in his bathroom floor.

 

I haven’t thrown too many sticks or stones around, but I have tossed some pretty harsh words at the people I love most in the world and I am pretty sure some of them left a mark and probably even a scar or two. The scars on the hearts of the people I love are permanent. I cannot erase them with a million apologies or cover them with platitudes. My only hope is that my moments of tenderness, my smiles and laughter, and unconditional love can patch the holes I may have made. Love can’t float with holes in it, but a good sturdy patch may be just the thing to keep it from going all the way under.   I can’t guarantee things will always be smooth sailing. I am 100% human and a continued work in progress.

 

If you ever find yourself standing in the bathroom with bleepin’ wet socks, remember somewhere I am standing in my own bathroom sitting fire to a pile of laundry in my mind. Life is too short. Be kind. Be real. Be careful what you scream in a hotel room…