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A tale of two sisters

A tale of two sisters

I haven’t written about my sister since she died. (I cannot even express how hard that sentence was to write. I had to stop writing because I couldn’t catch my breath.) I don’t know why I haven’t talked about her. Writing was how I processed everything when my Mom died. But with my sister? It’s just not there. The words. The feelings are there. It’s like someone took hundreds of LiteBrite pieces and threw them on the floor. Where once there was a bright, beautiful picture of my sister and me, there’s now just a jumbled pile of faded, dull pieces of plastic that have no rhyme or reason. No light behind them. I know I have to pick up those pieces. Some people say I can make a new image with them. One where I shine for both of us. But seriously, how do you make half of a Lite Brite shine? I want to take every damn piece and hurl it across the room. It doesn’t work without both of us. Suggesting it would is ridiculous. It will never shine as it did before. Never. The whole damn Lite Brite has been shattered beyond repair.

So, how do I find a new reality? How do I find a new me without her?

I wish there were a name for someone who loses their sibling. If you lose your parents, you are an orphan. If you lose your husband, you’re a widow. If you lose your sister, you are … lost? Alone? Sisterless? She was my person.

There were times she would withdraw into herself and not return texts or phone calls, and it would piss me off. Oh, that would piss me off so much! And she heard about it. But, you see, I did that, too. And we always came back to each other and talked about things. That’s the thing. We always came back to each other.

We used to send each other quotes or songs that reminded us of each other. Sometimes they were funny. Sometimes they were meant to say “I see you and I am here.” Sometimes they were just “Hey! Get me this on Amazon.” (Not much of the latter one because we didn’t have that kind of money but it was fun. I was very close to getting that T-Rex costume I want.) It was our way of always staying connected through the good times and the bad. It was our way of reminding one another that we had each other’s backs. For life.

When we were young

I could never imagine “for life” would be cut so short.

The turning point in our relationship was when I asked her to be the maid of honor at my wedding. She was shocked. Her initial response was to ask if I wouldn’t rather have a friend or someone closer to me fill that role. When I told her that was exactly who she was and I couldn’t imagine anyone else, well, I think that was the first time in as long as I could remember that she hugged me- without trying to strangle me down in a wrestling hold. A real hug. It was the best feeling in the world. It marked the transition from dueling sisters to real friends.

Oh, and as friends, we did have fun. I am sure we were responsible for my Dad’s grey hair and the hair he lost. We tended to revert a bit to giggling kids when we got together. Once our funny bone was tapped, we were gone. Everything was going to be funny. Family get-togethers? Forget about it! We weren’t going to check how much longer something had to cook or if we had enough clean dishes for the crew. Nope. We had to leave the room to laugh at something. To express the ridiculousness of something that happened or was said. Sometimes it was just because we needed to laugh and wanted some sister time.

I still laugh about one of the times she visited me for an extended time. It was a full house. All three of my kids. Both of her boys. Me and my husband. And Chelle. Well, if you know anything about me or my family, you can well imagine we didn’t have a quiet house. (Still, one of my greatest joys when it’s a full, loud house.) There were boys peacock calling each other from one end of the house to the other. Two of the kids playing a very intense Wii game. The Dobie loving the action with an occasion bark. One kid watching TV. I’m just walking through the house trying to talk over it while I am trying to clean the kitchen or grab laundry or bark orders to one group of kids or another. Well, there Michelle sat on the couch flipping through a People magazine as calm as can be and said, “Boy is your house loud.” Never looking up (and her voice never above a normal conversational tone) and just went right on reading her magazine. It struck me at that moment it was the perfect Jenn vs Michelle moment. I’m swimming through the chaos not even noticing it was loud and chaotic while she was very aware and totally unflappable (and slightly amused) by it.

We were best friends. We had a relationship no one in this world was privy to. We had a bond that no one in this world had. We had secrets that no one in this world will ever know. She and I had something that I will never have with anyone else in this world. No one knows what we had because it was ours. No one. Because that’s what sisters do for each other. They carry each others’ secrets, share each others’ joys, and share each others’ burdens. No one can know one hundred percent about another person and I don’t claim to here. We weren’t perfect but we were pretty damn good sisters to each other.

I don’t know how to do this. I have picked up the phone more than once to call her and tell her about the latest thing I found on Amazon. Or the latest celebrity gossip. Or the calls I go to make when I need her the most. When I am hurting. When I am scared about life changes. When I need to talk to her about our kids in college and how much we miss them. Or to cry over a really hard situation we should be helping each other through but that I am now navigating all alone.

And the phone call that is the worst of the worst, when the only person I want to talk to and the only person who knows me the way she did, the person who could help me through my pain is the one phone call I want to make to make the most. I want to talk about how much it hurts that my sister died. And how hard it is. And how fucking hard it is to breathe sometimes because I cannot imagine this world without her. She was my person. She would know what to say. If she didn’t, she would at least talk to me and help me through it. She would be with me. And now? She is the only person who can never help me through this and it sucks. It is the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with in my life.

This hurts. Oh, my sweet lord, this hurts. Unlike anything. And I know I will never be the person I was before she died. There is “before Jenn” and “after Jenn” and my job is to make sure that I find a way to make “after Jenn” have a life that means something. For her. For me. For all of us that were left behind.

But for now? I’m going to have to try to figure out what that picture looks like. I don’t know how. But I will. In time.

When your passion clashes with your prison

When your passion clashes with your prison

Writing is my passion. It always has been.  It doesn’t matter what you ask me to write about, I’ll love it. College was an oasis of wonder for me. I loved writing essays. I loved to challenge the status quo or argue a point or share what I thought on a topic. And when they dropped creative writing in my lap, I practically melted on my keyboard. But wait. Then later on people started paying me *in real cash money to write. I was published in several publications and  even in a couple of books. When an agent came to me (yes-she came to me) asking for a query and signed me with her agency? I died, went to heaven, made St. Peter slap me upside the head and came back to do more writing. I love it that much.

And then came the chronic daily headaches. And the migraines. And the bone crushing fatigue. Those are not good conditions for writing. In fact, it’s like I’m in prison with these health issues when it comes to my beloved passion and that isn’t fair. In fact it sucks. Someone recommended I try Dragon or another voice to text app but that isn’t the same. It’s not the fingers flying over the keyboard. Or the rush you get when you almost feel like you are no longer in the driver’s seat because the words are flowing so fast the story has taken over and your hands are merely the method to bring the story to life. Now, when I write for a long time, I pay the price in pain. My head. My eyes. My joints. I’m being literal here. I literally pay a physical price to write every word on this blog.

Oh, but what a beautiful price it is. I love writing so much. I love every thing about it. It is truly my passion. So when you see a blog post from me, know that is truly a labor of love. I wrote it from the prison my body locked me in and I refuse to let it hold me back. Words. My words. My stories. I won’t stop. This is my passion. My love. The one thing I know will always be soothe me even when it hurts me.

Find your happy place

Find your happy place

When you have so much going on or you are pulled in so many directions or (like me) you are knocked on your ass by health issues, if nothing else I have learned you must find your happy place and find some peace. Now, I know that most people have a physical happy place they want to go to find peace but that isn’t always possible. So, figure out where your mental happy place is. I’ve found peace in music. Sometimes it’s lyrics that speak to me. Sometimes it’s the rhythm. Sometimes I just get lost in the past with those golden oldies from the 80’s. But, ohhhh, when I need to work out angst or I am up and around and having a “hell yeah I’m doing things today” kind of day, I get my groove on. And at my age and with all the other crap I deal with on a daily basis, I truly don’t care what anyone else thinks.

One of my favorite things is car dancing. My daughter and I are huge car dancers. Don’t worry, I’m safe about it. The thing about not giving a damn about what anyone else thinks, you can usually pass your joy along to someone else. Maybe they smile and give you a thumbs up. Maybe they are laughing their ass off at you. Maybe their day sucked and when they glanced over and saw us totally getting our groove on to some random song that we liked and our funky groove movement were all in sync, and that made them laugh. Win/win.

Just find what makes you happy and do it. And don’t give a damn what people think. Just find your happy place inside yourself and let it loose. Dance in your underwear. Sing at the top of your lungs. Jog like Phoebe and look like a fool. Just do it and don’t bother with what other people think. Because you are too busy being happy in your happy place. And when you’re there? It is contagious. I promise  you’ll make other people smile or laugh (even if it is at you) or even want to join you. The most important part of this is to find your happy place because we all need to retreat from the chaos and craziness that is life. Don’t wait until you are overwhelmed. Dust off you happy place. Give it a spit shine and air it out. It’s time to visit it more often. You need to take care of you. Yes, YOU.

It’s just a peacock call. Relax.

It’s just a peacock call. Relax.

When my boys were young- and I mean really, really young–  they found a very unique way of calling each other when they wanted to talk to or find the other. In fact, I don’t remember a time when they didn’t do this. It was startling at first. You see, one would let out the bellow of a peacock call and from somewhere in the depths of the back of the house you could hear the sound of the other one returning the call. Sometimes it would stop then. Other times if it was really important like an online game or a funny video, the calls would go back and forth until they were  in the same room. At the young age that it started, I don’t know how they picked it up. I have heard that it is deafening at cons like Quakecon but the boys had never been to something like that when they started their traditional tribal like call. Even my daughter picked it up rather young.

It became normal in the house. It was, however, hilarious when we had guests. We were used to it. Company? Not so much. Once when my sister had been visiting, two days into her trip she look up from her magazine and sighed looking at me in defeat saying, “Your house is really loud.” I did what any frat house mom would do and burst out laughing. She’s right. And I love the noise.

One would think that would be something for the home only. But no. They find each other in public that way, too. In fact, to be honest, we all do.  A few years ago when we were at Disney in line for Space Mountain, they wanted to test the whole herd mentality business and started calling each other- while standing beside each other. Of course Gabby started in. Then their cousins. It wasn’t long before other people in the line started. Before we knew it, most of the people shoved in like sardines in line in a very echoing echo hell, were all doing the peacock call. I was doubled over laughing uncontrollably, legs crossed, trying not to pee my pants. My sister looked slightly horrified. My kids looked cocky with pride.  Gosh I adore my kids. They are pretty awesome. And always entertaining.

So if you are out and about and hear a peacock call, just return it. Chances are pretty good it’s one of my family. Or me. Find us and say howdy!

It’s time for me to go old school again

It’s time for me to go old school again

Ohh Emm Geee! Look who is blogging again. Yes, I realize it is NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting  Month) but no, I am not blogging because of that. And I also know it is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)  and rather than sign up for that, I may dust off something I was working on. And, yes, it is also NaNaTaMo (Natioanal Nap Taking Month) and I most definitely will be taking advantage of that particular tradition.

Anyhooooo, I realized most of the things I would’ve normally blogged here, I have  been microblogging on Facebook. However, I haven’t been on Facebook for almost a week and you know what?  No one has even noticed. Facebok tends to give you a false sence  of intimacy. Not with everyone but with many. Especially when it comes to my chronic illnesses and bad days. My high school friends don’t want to hear about that. Neither do the people I worked with on campaigns a year or two ago (or more).  However, I will add that  a couple of weeks ago when I hit a wall of pain and a very dark place and gave a shout out for help,  many, many people came forward to be there to help pick me up.  That meant everything to me. So, there are awesome exceptions. I may pop my head in now and then but it hasn’t missed me so why should I miss it? Am I right?

Focus On Your Goals!
Focus On Your Goals!

So if I am going to be here more often, I need to clean house. Basically, I have some big changes coming up for my little home here. Can  you believe I missed my Blogiversary? 12 years! 12 YEARS!! Now it’s closer to 12  and a half. Nevertheless, can you believe I have been writing here for 12 years. Granted, I have been terrible about being consistent. But I need my space here to be share my thoughts freely. If you come here, it’s your choice. Unlike Facebook when I just pop up in your newsfeed, you choose to come to my home here. I am dusting her off, washing the windows, fluffing the pillows, and lighting some candles to make it smell cozy and homey. And of course, there is always coffee ready for anyone who wants some. I hope you come here and keep coming back. I have set some tough goals for myself here.

For instance, this post was supposed to be about something totally different and more personal but I backed away.  I’ll get used to being open here soon enough. (Or as they call it “blogging naked.”) The things I post may not be what my old readers  want to read. And, yes, that scares me. But? I have to get back to being myself. I can’t be the person some people want me to be. At least not all the time. I have changed. Chronic pain and chronic illness have changed me. I’m sorry to those friends who couldn’t handle the changed in me and had to walk out. I understand and I hold no grudges. It’s rough to have someone with chronic pain and illness in your life. I get that.

But as I write this, I can’t help but wonder if personal blogging is still a “thing” or have bloggers turned to microblogging on sites where they blog in sound bites? I guess we’ll find out. Are you ready to figure this out with me? Grab my hand. Let’s close our eyes. Now… Leap!

Happy birthday, Mommy Needs Coffee! Also known as Holy Crap! She’s been writing this blog for TEN years!

Happy birthday, Mommy Needs Coffee! Also known as Holy Crap! She’s been writing this blog for TEN years!

I can hardly believe it but today is my blog’s TENTH birthday.  (And I almost missed it.)  Ten years I have been coming here and sharing my life with you. Let me put that in perspective a bit.

My oldest son was only 9 years old. Still in elementary school. Now? He has moved out and is living in an apartment with a full time job. He’ll be 20 in 2 months. Whoa.

My middle son was 7 years old.  We were still watching animated movies together.  He is now a senior in high school. I’m clinging to my time with him.

My daughter was only 2 years old.  My little baby girl. Just recently graduated to a “big girl” bed. Today she is in middle school and using social media like a pro.

I was… 10 years younger, 3 years clean, married for 13 years, and thought I would save the world with my blog. Or at least meet amazing people and start a career.

And? I did!

Because of my blog I have met friends that are like family to me. I signed with an agent to publish my book. I have had my columns published in major magazines. I’ve been featured on a national news segment. I’ve been asked to appear of two major talk shows. I have yet to save the world, BUT there are times I feel like I saved myself by having an outlet to write freely.

I don’t know how to thank you, my loyal readers, for sticking with me. Especially after the past few months of writers block. Thanks for coming back. Thanks for reading. And? Thanks for making my dreams come true. Y’all are awesome! Here…have some cake.

 

cake
TEN years old, y’all!