Saturday, May 31, 2008


I got to hang out with Rob last night. He has been practicing using a walker. He did a great job. I was nervous the whole time that he was going to fall. He uses his left hand to fix the fingers of his right hand into a brace on the walker. Then he stands on his left foot to swing his hip so that his right foot moves forward. He puts his weight on it and then makes a quick step with his left foot. That little bit of mobility must be great for him. His mom said that there is a brace he wears around his waist to connect him to the walker. It gives him some extra support.

He also had to sign his name on some paperwork yesterday. His mom wrote out his name and he would copy it. Some of the letters he remembered. But he was thinking 'f' when the next letter was 't', and things like that.

Learning to walk and learning to write... Things he's known how to do the last 26 years of his life he is beginning to piece together again. Ten days until his birthday! The big 3-0.

Yesterday he was upset because he was trying to understand a medication switch. He knew that he used to take four pills a day - one every six hours. And now he was to take three a day. So he was just trying to figure out how many hours between each dose. But his mom mentioned it might be good if instead of going all the way down to three a day if he took 3 1/2 for a while. That totally pissed him off. He is hardly able to express himself and to say what he is thinking. And to see him express frustration makes it so hard. I tried to turn the conversation back to what he was trying to figure out first and once we got that settled, we addressed the 3 1/2 pills issue.

I'm getting much better around him. I don't cry as much and I think he appreciates that I talk to him just like I always have. He was getting pissed that his mom brought him vanilla icecream when he wanted 'black'. He told me to throw it away but I just said, 'Quit your bitchin'. This is all we have. Do you want some caramel on it?' And he ate it.

I am lucky to be here. I am glad he still wants me in his life. He brings me joy.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Las Fiestas

The last time I had a party at my house was two years ago. Rob and I had just moved into the house we bought. It was super fun. Lots of great friends all over the place eating and boozing and writing inappropriate phrases with magnet poetry on the wall. I had a great time.

So, I don't really know why it's taken so long to have people over again. For a time, after Rob and I split up, I really didn't have a ton of people who I would have invited over. I lost a ton of friends during the split. And now, I'm back on my feet and feeling great about life and love. I am grateful to have such incredible people in my life who have stood by me through all the terrible and seen me through to today... which has its own triumphs and struggles. But it's time, isn't it? To celebrate these people, to celebrate life and summer, to celebrate new people and neighbors, to dance on the grass and to blow smoke into the night. To stop. To take a moment to love the people around me. It's time! So I will fill my belly with mojito and watch the firelight dance across the faces of people that I adore. It is them that make my days alive and I love them.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Beer and Tiki Torches and Music

You are officially invited. I will set up tiki torches in the backyard. I will grill meat. I will make you drink beer and play around the world ping pong or something. We will play loud music and invite the neighbors. We will sit on the grass and stare at the stars. We will watch the little girls dancing and we will dance too. We will hear the bugs chirp and we will see the lightning storm in the distance. We will eat and breathe and love. We will sing and laugh. I will catch your eyes in the middle of it all and we will smile.

It's summertime.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Saying Goodbye - Part III

I showed up at Rob's house today. I thought we were going to go catch a movie. When I got there, Rob mentioned he was scared to go in the car with me. Because I would have to lift him into the car and lift him out into his wheelchair. And he didn't trust me enough not to drop him on the ground. Fair enough. When he was first sick, he weighed less than me. But now he is on steroids and carrying him around might be a pretty tough task. So, we went together down the street to a little Cuban restaurant. There was a table near the door that we sat at. And when the menus came, Rob asked that I read the menu to him. He held his finger on the one he wanted so he was able to order for himself.

Independance. It's got to be so hard. When he wants to call me, does he need help finding my name? Fuck. He can't even pee without help. I don't have a clue of what it takes to be his caretaker. I used to. I used to inject heparin in his hickman - a port that was inserted into his chest to take medication through. I would care for his wounds. Get him into bed. Advocate for him. Help him up the stairs. Make his meals. Clean up his emesis bucket. Help him into the shower. Keep track of his medications and chemo. Call the Medicaid bastards to get them to pay for his treatment. Now it is very different. He needs help dressing. He has braces on his legs. How do you provide support in this situation without doing too much? Or too little? It's a fine line.

He mentioned how frustrated he was with his mother. She apparently said something to the doctors that kept him in the hospital an additional three days. At least that is his point of view. She is so loving and caring that it stifles him sometimes. But it's so hard to understand what he wants or what he needs. So when we made rootbeer floats and she brought out some chocolate sauce, he nearly flipped because he didn't want it.

His mother asked me if she could take my picture. They are making a speech board for him to use to communicate when he begins to lose even more speech. Fuck. Are you kidding? I've worked with special needs kids at school who use these boards. And now you are telling me that the man I married... the man who pulled my garter off my leg with his teeth... who led five pitches to the top of Independance Monument... who traveled halfway across the world to trek across Russia has to now point to words to tell me what he means?!?!

God in Heaven,
He said he wants to make it to his 30th birthday. That is fifteen days away. This man wants to survive fifteen days and not a day more. Today he said he just wants to stay at home and die. Do you hear this, God? He is ready. God listen to him! Before he loses more. Before he loses the use of his left hand... his left leg. Before he becomes totally trapped within his own body. He needs to be released from this body and this world. Please.

Letting Go

Wow. My heart feels super light. I woke up this morning almost drowning in tension. I had a long drive home to think about why I was conducting my life in this manner. And it all boiled down to expectation. A big concept in my life in the last year has been the idea of obligation. No one likes it. You know? I don't enjoy feeling obligated to take part in something. I want to take part in it because it enriches my life or because I give something of value to it. Whether it is a relationship or an activity or a job... whatever it is, I want absolutely no sense of obligation surrounding any of the choices that go into it. I know that's not logical all of the time. But I can certainly choose to live my life in a manner that decreases both the obligation that I feel and the obligation that others feel towards me.

So today, I let go of some ridiculous expectations I had for someone important in my life. Frankly, I don't even know what some of these expectations were, but I just felt a sense of constriction that wasn't positive at all. And as soon as I released him from these expectations, my tension disappeared. My heart was light. And I was ready to live my day in a beautiful way.

This is going to be a very good lesson to hold on to.

Friday, May 23, 2008

I'm Out

Today I just wanted to run for the hills. I don't know why. I wanted to throw away my cell phone and grab my dog and head for some beautiful rock. Climb. Eat. Sleep. That's it. I know it's not logical, but I kind of wanted to go by myself. Totally solo. I really want to go somewhere in South America. I've wanted to go for a year now. And just bury myself in the culture. Dance. Eat. Drink. Talk. And soak in life somewhere else. Not that my life is bad. It's quite good. I just got restless with it for a second and I wanted to exhale it all out and breathe in something new.

On another day, I would love to take someone wonderful. To see new things with them. But today I just want to leave alone. A book. A pencil. A camera. I want to wander along the beach and splash my feet in the water. And sit. That's it.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Saying Goodbye - Part II

I went over to his house today. I've been wanting to share all that stuff with him that I wanted to say. But time keeps ticking by and instead of making excuses for why I couldn't do it, I just did it. The first thing I see as I walk in is his wheelchair. There are baby monitors around just in case he needs help. There's a special seat over the toilet. There's a wheelchair ramp. His face is puffy from steroids and the right side of his face droops. His right arm lays next to him almost like it wasn't part of his body anymore... a noticeably thinner arm than the left. The muscle tone is disappearing and his skin is softening.

I wonder how he is feeling and what he is thinking. And I don't know whether he's able to share that with me. I don't know whether he wants to share that with me. How must it be, to helplessly watch your own body wither?

I couldn't even get through five minutes without tearing up. And so I cried. And I told him a few things that I had wanted to say. And there were things I forgot to say. And things I wasn't ready to say. I wasn't ready to say goodbye. That's for sure. And maybe that's something I should never say until he is laid to rest.

It breaks my heart that he is dying. I wonder if his mother is scared each morning when she wakes, wondering if she will find her son has passed away. I wonder if he is ready. I wonder if she is ready. You know, when you are in a situation like that, you just do what you have to do. And abnormal situations become normal. When you have no choice... no alternative, you have to embrace the only situation you have. And his mom is doing really well. She is amazing. And I know it brings her joy to be able to care for her son.

God... it looks to me as though there is no coming back from this. You know what is going on. So please consider it all. And let him pass on in peace, away from pain and away from heartache. Away from frustration. Thank you for him. For his love and patience and faithfulness. And take him Home.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

We Breathe Easy

It feels like things have rolled into place for me. Timing has been interesting the last few months and I've found myself a few months into an incredible friendship. What I find so amazing about this is that we shared a short period of time together 10 years ago. And since that time, I've always felt a deep and lasting care and concern for this man. We weren't in contact for this entire time, yet I always knew he was important to my heart. And in this burgeoning friendship, I feel cared for and safe. I feel that nothing is too much to say. I am not too much for this dear friend. And I am not too little. We breathe easy together. We sat by the river the other day exchanging words. And as the river flowed by, we shared bits. Just little bits about what we are going through. And he wrapped his arm around me... so good. It was such a comfort. I am in a very good place. And daily, my heart expands to allow more. There is so much about this man that is good. True goodness. And that word doesn't even really convey the depths of what I mean. I couldn't describe him if I tried. But if you were to pass him on the street, you would notice it in his eyes - his joy and determination. And goodness. You would also notice his motorcycle. It's outrageously beautiful.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Saying Goodbye

There are many reasons we would say goodbye in a lifetime. Perhaps it's to move on from an old relationship. We say goodbye to friends and people we love as they set off on a new journey in their lives. And sometimes we say goodbye because someone we know is dying.

I've never encountered this. Until now. When I was five, my grandfather died. It barely made sense to me then. And two years ago, I lost a student. It was so sudden, there was no time to say goodbye. And it rocked me to the core. I couldn't believe that one moment, he would be celebrating Halloween - dressed in full knight garb - and the next, he would be fighting to breathe and then be gone. It crossed my mind that the last time I saw him, he got his turn to be the pirate in a game we played together. How insignificant, really. But it brought some slight sense of peace to know he had been given his turn.

Well, today I thought of my dear ex-husband. I wonder if that sounds odd to some people. My dear ex-husband. He has been given an extremely rough life. Brain cancer at the age of 23. Remission until age 28 and then it roared back just as a bill of health was sure. I'm getting ready now to say goodbye. And I want to do it well. The last few months have been so hard for him. He's had to come to terms with losing speech, losing mobility, pain, loss of sense of touch, sight, and hearing. I only want his final days to be beautiful and full of the best. Full of good memories and song. I want to put on a beautiful dress. I want to make my skin glow. I want to smile. I want to emanate beauty and light. I want to share all the beautiful memories I have of the two of us and I'm hoping he will be able to share some with me. I want to dance with him a last dance. The dance that brought us so much joy at our wedding. And if he can't dance, I will sing to him. If his last day passed without me being able to share how much I love him - how he made an impact in my life - and how he will not be forgotten, it would be difficult to forgive myself.

It's hard to talk about this now. And I think it's hard to explain how much I love him, and yet how assuredly I know that we were not good for each other. In the end, his words and actions suffocated me. And my own words and actions choked him. But all the beauty is worth remembering. So in the middle of tears, I hope my words and my presence bring joy to his last days and that he can pass on into Heaven knowing that he is and will always be loved.

Dear Creepy Guys

Dear Creepy Old Guys:

Please move in with me and my roommate. We are two beautiful women in our late 20's/early 30's. We are rarely home, so you have plenty of time to root around in our closets where we keep our clothes and panties. Come eat our food and leave your piss all over our toilet seats. It would be an extra bonus if you avoided helping out with manly duties like mowing the lawn or nailing and screwing things. Please feel free to leave your dirty laundry in a pile by the washer so that we can throw it in with our own things. Maybe if you are lucky you will get a thong stuck inside the leg of your pants and when you go to work and it falls out in front of your co-workers, you can be given the double thumbs-up. We would especially appreciate smelling your cigarette stank as you walk in the door and listening to you empty your bowels in the morning. And our policy with jewelry and make-up... what's mine is yours!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Love and Teaching

You know... I'm not sure that teaching is like anything else in this world.

I research and plan what I teach and research and plan the strategies and methods that will best convey this information. They come in the door. I show them things. And they usually learn what they decide to learn. I watch them and make some sort of judgement on their progress. And I write some sort of ridiculous number on a paper that goes home to their parents to show how their kids are doing in my class.

But what about the heart of education? Maybe it's not even that. Maybe it's the heart of being human. Each of these lessons made up of minutes of a day go by... nearly unnoticed... just as scheduled... nothing spectacular. And at the end of the year, I find I have a new bunch of beings around me. They are like the beings that I started with. But they are blossoming and turning into incredible, outstanding people. I feel almost as if I was walking down the beach and stopped to fill my hand with sand. Some trickles through my fingers. Some is blown away in the wind. And here I am, at the end of the year, with only grains of sand left in my hand. Only minutes are left of our time together.

So what, now, do I say? Do I bid them farewell without so much as a whisper in their direction? It's not what my heart says. "My dear students"... wait... too impersonal. "Hey, Pipsqueaks! Goombas!" That's better. "If all the time I have on this earth had run out today, what I would want to tell you is that I loved being your teacher. I loved showing you new things. I loved learning new things from you. I want you to know you are amazing. And I want you to know I love you. Not for being a great student. Not for having a great singing voice. Not for what you gave me or what you said to me. But I love you for who you are. All the beautiful parts of your heart that I get to see pouring out of you. And I will not forget you. You are the beat of my heart."

Thursday, May 8, 2008

A Sad New Dress

I bought a new dress this week. I bought a new dress to hide my puffy red eyes and tear-stained cheeks. This dress leaves my shoulders bare and wraps around me just snug enough to feel as though I'm being held. And that's just what I need... to be bare - to be authentic and real... and to be held.

A man I love is dying. He's planned his last adventure. He's put together pictures and memories to share. He's made strides to forgive and to clear the air of the foul stench of offense. I felt heavy this week - as though his sudden depart would be just around the corner. And it might. I prayed that God would give him enough days for me to be able to put my thoughts to my lips. Can I possibly find the words to tell him that he is unforgettable? To tell him that his love has touched my soul in a deep and lasting way? Really, I want him to remember that I am a good woman. And that he really did choose a good wife. I want him to remember all the smiles we had and all the days of sunshine. And although his words are jumbled and his body is crippled, I want him to be filled with joy and to let the healing beauty of this woman fill his heart.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Signs That You Are Climbing With A Douchebag

Holy Balls. I really really thought I was going to die this weekend. Really. I went climbing with a friend of a friend this weekend. Alone. And the lesson I learned from this is: NEVER AGAIN.

The first sign that things were going to be odd was the red fedora he wore when we met before the climb. Who in the HELL wears a red fedora to go climbing?

Sign number two - the multicolored fleece pants which matched BOTH the red fedora and the purple vest-turtleneck combo.

Sign number three: He was insistant about toproping a 5.8. Now mind you, I'm not opposed to it, but when the approach to set up a toprope entails 20 minutes of scrambling up pure choss... I'd rather just lead it.

Sign number four: He was also insistant that although my 60-meter rope wouldn't actually reach the ground, we go ahead and use it on the two-pitch climb... no, no... not from the top of the first pitch, but from the top of the second pitch, 200 feet above the ground.

Sign number five: Anchor? Schmanchor!

Sign number six: He thinks he is being safe by overdoing the whole safety thing. In reality, he's got a web of ropes, slings, beaners, all that appear to have an important purpose, when in reality, it's a gigantic mess... all for the purpose of causing my death.

Sign number seven: Why are we wasting time on this slabby craptastic 5.8 when he seems to be scaling it so fast that I can't keep up with the slack in the rope? And he wants to do it again. It is a SHITTY CLIMB!!!! I would rather bury my feet in cockroaches than do that chossy slab again.

I, however, am also an idiot. I flat out told this dude that I didn't trust a damn thing he had set up. So he proceeds to tell me how it is safe. I, still very untrusting, tie in and climb over the edge. Oh, wait... hey, I say, since my rope isn't long enough, how abouts we tie a FUCKING KNOT in the end of the rope so it doesn't go - oops - slipping out of your DAMN GRI GRI!!! Even after this, I still lower myself over the edge and making eye contact with my dear baby dog, Wyatt, I whisper him a tender goodbye while my eyes well up with tears.