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Dear Annie,

You give the best hugs too.

xxx

#yearoflove

To the woman I met on my walk:

Thank you for noticing my Western Washington University sweatshirt. Your enthusiasm and excitement about my daughter attending your alma mater was adorable, and it matched your bright yellow jacket. You were truly a ray of sunshine on a dark-dusky winter afternoon. And your dog was super sweet. ♥️

#yearoflove

Dear Sunni,

Thank you for remembering my daughter’s name, after our one conversation and meeting seven months ago. I was impressed that you cared enough to do so. It’s a quality seldom found in the working world today. Thank you for the feeling of kinship, your intelligence, for speaking your mind, and even for throwing the occasional expletive into the mix. It’s always a pleasure to meet a real person. Let’s get a beer together next time.

Reston, Virginia.

#yearoflove

Dear Pam,

Thank you for being there for me, always, in all ways, and especially last night as an ironing expert. Having not picked up such a device in at least two decades, it was a relief and a delight to know that when I was baffled by both the iron and the ironing board, I could reach out to you for coaching and you wouldn’t think I was a blithering idiot. I’m always amazed at our relationship… having known each other for years, and having only met once, I am blessed to have you in my life as a friend, confidante, shoulder, advisor, and partner in future adventures. You’ll always be my virtual sister. xo

#yearoflove

MKL and I got married on Saturday. Yes, we did. And it was absolutely perfect. There were so many highlights, I don’t even know how to share them with you, and I will share more pictures over the coming months, but here’s a start:

  • Our open house the day before the wedding had the beach house bursting with friends (who are family), blood kin, and love. And the shark tacos were a hit.
  • At the end of that party, the rainy skies cleared to a beautiful sunset and a wide calm beach, and we all migrated to the water’s edge to walk, talk, take pictures, and play ultimate.
  • No one was eaten by sharks (the shark tacos made it the reverse) and the post-wedding day stingray stab on LJRH’s daughter was dramatic, but not debilitating, making for an excellent story for her to take back to Missouri.
  • My loved ones made the house and the deck (E-bro’s, rented down the beach, with more room than mine) look spectacular, and perfect for an inside (rainy) or an outside (sunny) wedding. The sun cooperated and we were outside.
  • An arc of rainbow appeared behind us as we were sitting together after the ceremony. God and my parents were smiling down on us.
  • Painkillers – the drink of the Soggy Dollar Bar, courtesy of my much loved friends Dave and Amanda, who are my family met at that spot 11 years ago – flowed like the sea.
  • The two small and gorgeous girls became fast and immediate friends. In fact, all the people, many of whom had never met, became friends.
  • Beth K., the daughter of my late parents’ best friends, and a true and beautiful warrioress, joined us. We had never met before, and now I feel I have another sister.
  • My three new stepsons, all of whom are treasures: one was the most perfect ceremony officiate ever, one steamed and bustled me and made sure I looked perfect, and one led the toasts that brought me to tears.
  • My brother and sister-in-law and their wonderful children opening their hearts and home to us.
  • My sister and niece flying quickly and crazily in from Colorado to share the day and capture it in photographs.
  • Having my uncle and aunt and darling cousin (now one of my best friends, after a gap in time of some 35 years) made me feel like my parents were there.
  • Our across-the-street neighbor who lovingly provided a sandcastle cake, delicious crab dip, serving trays, a steamer, and her and her husband’s warmth, affection, and light to our special days.
  • JJ, who continues to allow me to come “home” every year for a few brief weeks, to the house on Topsail Beach.
  • My stepson T’s toast, which touched me deeper than my heart.
  • Having the Swine Sisters – aka my two best girlfriends from when I was 17 – reunited again as if no time had passed.
  • The girlie-hen-party that was a part of my getting dressed for the ceremony. I really feel like I have lots of sisters now.
  • I sparkled. And I glowed. And my dress was awesome.
  • Wearing my mother’s rhinestones that I used to play dress-up in, and carrying my father’s handkerchief.
  • MKL’s shirt matching the sky, and being my “something blue”.
  • Beautiful bouquets from Surf City Florist, and a lovely centerpiece created from grocery-store bought flowers. And my daughter’s swagging and shell-arranging skills were front and center.
  • All the vows, including those read by the officiate, handwritten on the back of placemats from the Breezeway, our favorite beach restaurant. (I’ll share a photo later.)
  • My most darling daughter, who not only wore a dress for the occasion, but looked gorgeous, and bailed me out when I pulled her aside just after the ceremony had started and told her I had forgotten MKL’s ring and she needed to drive like a bat out of hell to fetch it from our house. She did so successfully, saving the day, and allowing her to maintain her dignity by not bursting into tears during my vows (which she read the next day).
  • Another wedding down the beach releasing Chinese lanterns after dark – it was if they were ours, but we didn’t have to go to the trouble. (Fire and I are often not a happy mix.)
  • Seeing the Milky Way in the sky for the first time in years; it was here that my father first pointed it out and explained it to me.
  • Remembering almost nothing about the ceremony but the look in MKL’s eyes, which as always looked sparkling like the sea, with a hint of aspen trees.

DSCF3387
Topsail Beach, North Carolina.

Quote of the day: “There is nothing more admirable than when two people who see eye to eye keep house as man and wife, confounding their enemies and delighting their friends.” — Homer

Daily gratitudes:
A couple more days by the sea
Long walks holding hands
Shark’s teeth
The smell of sunscreen
Love

I feel the need to extend my apologies to you. I’ve been providing you with visual yums in the form of photos of the day, and I love doing that, but I haven’t been regaling you with word-treats on a regular basis.  I have a lot of half-started posts and tons of things to say.  In fact, I have a ridiculous 280 drafts sitting in my “Posts” folder here on WordPress. Some of them will never be finished, and I know that, but I’d say at least half of them are ripe for the picking.

There are always excuses for not writing.  Believe me, I know this.  Every writer does. It takes a discipline that I never imagined, and as we know, discipline is not my long suit.  It was easy to work on the novel when that was my focus, but with the jobs, the houses, and trying to steer towards the star of my future, I just haven’t been able to recapture that focus.

I know I’m writing now and I could be writing something far more engaging than an apologetic post, but I felt it might assuage my guilty conscience.  On the hopeful side, the move is scheduled, the house is coming along, and I am optimistic that once we’re a bit more settled, I’ll be back to a more settled writing schedule.  So I’m asking you, please, to bear with me.

I promise I’ll be back. 

It’s been a very rough couple of days.  Losing a relationship is like giving birth.  It’s painful, inevitable and I have no idea what’s going to come out (there’s no ultrasound for the future).  But it does get a little bit easier day by day, although I can backslide sometimes (and that doesn’t usually happen with labor.)

This morning, I feel a little better.  And I wanted to take a minute to specifically thank a few people who helped me.

AnotherOther1 – thank you for your empathy, emails and concern.  You know more about what is happening with me than almost anyone, and your support across the miles means more to me than words can say.

The Idiot – As I was trying to go to sleep last night, I thought again about your spine-crushing cyberhug.  I really needed that.  And the fact that you always seem to make me laugh.

Slpmartin – your poetry moves me daily, and your poem for me last night helped take me to a quiet and strong place, even if only for a few minutes – but today, it will take me there for a few minutes more, and tomorrow for a few minutes more.

Celeste – you have been a support and kindred spirit for some time now, and I wish we were both spending winter somewhere warm, but I am so glad to have you as my compatriot in our laments against the cold.  You’re inspiring me to try to find the positives in winter.

Jingle – your work to collect marvelous new poetry in one place and to showcase the work of others is special and unselfish and has made my muse bloom. Your positive and sympathetic nature shines through with every word.

Erik – you’ve known me since I was – what – six years old?  And so you know me.  Thanks for still being there, even if it’s in the cyberworld now.

Sagerider – you are the other one who truly knows what I am feeling, and your words often bring peace to me because of our shared spirit.  I hold you gently in my heart always.

Kelsea – my girl, who is the only reason I am still here and whom I love with all my heart and soul.

Charlotte – my sister from another mother, who has always understood me, never judged me, and is, as ever, insightful into my soul.

Thanks so much to all of you.  Whether you’re present in my physical space or in cyberspace, you probably have no idea how much impact your caring has had on me when I have been in trouble, like I have been the past couple of days.  You’ve given me hope and that keeps me going.

I know my pain will come back; I know I will go back to a bad place.  But I know it won’t be as bad as it was, and that’s in part because of your support.

One friend in particular said he prays for me daily.  I too need to remember to thank the universe for the blessings in my life, as I used to when I was writing Daily Blessings.  So I hope to try to end most posts in the future with a short gratitude list.  So aside from all of you, here’s what I am thankful for right now:

That I woke up this morning; the sprinkling of snow falling from the sky; Benadryl, for this weird allergy thing – I think I’m allergic to something in Lemon Drop Martinis; my Santa Hat.

Love to you all.

When we were coming in the house last night, we were talking about someone she knew, and Kelsea said, “You know, X seems older than us.”  And then she realized what she had just said.  And I realized what she had just said.  And we laughed.  It’s an interesting mix of flattering and worrisome when your 13-year old thinks of you as being her age. 

It’s true, right now, we are close — more sister-like in many ways.  Now before you think what I always think about parents who want to be their kids’ friends, stop right there.  I never set out wanting to be Kelsea’s friend.  That was never a goal.  I’ve always been proud and happy to be her mom.  But somehow, the friend thing has just happened. I still do all the mom-things, like making her do her homework, take a shower, clean up (as best as can be expected), etc.  We still have the required talks about boys, sex, drugs, personal hygiene and just about anything else you can think of.  But at this point, she’s pretty self-disciplined.  She’s got a pretty good moral compass going (she even brought up the concept of the moral compass herself a few weeks ago).

As I rediscover myself as a single person, I am rediscovering a lot of buried treasure – otherwise known as fun.  And Kelsea is fun.  So when you put the two of us together, we have…fun.  It’s just not always the typical mother-daughter fun (whatever that is). 

Last night, for example, we settled in to watch a little TV.  Normal, right?  But what we wound up watching was “RuPaul’s Drag Race”.  Suddenly, the mother-daughter TV time travelled into another dimension. 

As with most kids her age, Kelsea knows a lot more worldly things than I give her credit for.  I have basically given up trying to “shield” her from topics that are overtly sexual or violent or evil.  Between friends, the internet, and her Dad not doing that sort of editing, she seems to know a little about just about everything.  In watching drag queens compete for the ultimate drag queen title, I actually found the opportunity to discuss a variety of topics that don’t come up in ordinary conversation: transvestism, transgender tendencies, make-up, cattiness, fashion.  I had the chance to clarify certain questions that she hadn’t had anyone to ask.  So it wound up being a good thing.

It also wound up being a politically incorrect hoot.  We were calling each other the choice names we learned from JuJuBee, Raven and the new Tyra for the rest of the night.  I was compelled to remind her this morning not to use those terms during her visit to the Alzheimer’s Memory Center today.  But I found it as funny as she did.  As always when we went to bed, even though we were both tired, we spent half an hour talking between our rooms about dreams, boys, travel.  It reminds me of how my Dad used to lay at the foot of my bed, talking with me about anything, as I was going to sleep when I was littler than Kelsea.

This morning, we sat on the kitchen floor eating breakfast and composing new LOLs with the LOL magnets on the refrigerator door, and speculated on how many other mother/daughters eat breakfast on the floor.  Not many, we concluded.

I’ve written recently about how I’ve been warned by almost everybody (except a very kind blog friend) how Kelsea will turn into the seven-headed unrecognizable demon from the black lagoon at any moment, so I should cherish these times.  Well, guess what?  I do cherish these times.  I would cherish these times even if the transformation was not a possiblity in the offing.  (And don’t worry, I’m waiting for that first shoe to drop.)

So maybe I’m not instilling in her the finest table manners, how to fold a hospital corner (okay, I have tried that) or how not to slurp her soup.  But I hope I’m strengthening her base of knowledge.  I hope I’m increasing her trust in her mother as someone she can talk to about absolutely anything, someone who won’t judge her regardless of the topic, her opnions or her actions.  Someone to whom she can reach out if she needs help or feels troubled or confused.

I’d rather be doing that.  And laughing with her.  And just loving her.

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