Thursday, February 24, 2011

Forced to Use Words That Don't Exist

Sometimes words fail you. At least the ones that already exist. Take for example, when you make the announcement that you started a writer’s blog and you get more support and encouragement and kind compliments than you dreamed you would. The gratitude you feel can’t be described with any words from the dictionary. Believe me, I checked. I should probably tell you now that I’m not very good at inventing words. I tried it once before, ten years ago when my husband and I were first married and had no money to otherwise entertain ourselves. We were hanging out with my brother and decided we’d invent a word and see if we could make it take off. We knew, even then, that there was a severe problem with the word “cool”. Society hadn’t provided us with any successful alternatives to “cool” since its origins. We set about trying to come up with a suitable replacement word. I threw out a couple of fluffy words all ending in the hard “e” sound and then my brother laughingly informed me that I’m not cool enough to invent a synonym for cool. My husband came up with the word “tap”. For about a month we used the phrase “that’s tap” whenever something was cool. I still think we could’ve changed the English language with that one if we had been more dedicated… or maybe they should have injected a little Amie into it and tried “tappey”. ….No… First of all, I’ve been barely able to drag myself away from the computer. I had to slide from the computer chair to the ground and claw at the shag carpet to pull myself away from all of your niceness. It’s scary, really, walking away from the computer… not knowing if you might miss your blog counter as it changes from one number to the next! You can see why I wouldn’t want to miss that can’t you? I was savoring your sweet encouragement like every word was a peanut butter M&M. I ate them up like a Biggest Loser Contestant after the show is over. It was like when I was a kid and Mom and Dad would take us to the buffet and we’d eat so much that we couldn’t wait to get out to the car where we could lean back and unzip our pants. I’m so grateful to you that... I feel fat. It’s gratfat. We actually need to put me on a diet. I’m not good with moderation. I don’t know how to spread the happiness out! I’m just going to keep ingesting it until I’m so obese that they’ll remove me from the computer chair by crane…. and my pants will be unzipped. I did have to leave the house once the day I started my blog. I drove my daughter to dancing. I was a little disoriented. I was driving while intoxithankful. Nobody should have to navigate the parking lot of a dance studio while intoxithankful. I ended up stuck between the corner of a brick building and a giant SUV. There was so little wiggle room that pedestrians couldn’t get past me. Tiny little dancer pedestrians in leotards, with not even gratfat to stop them didn’t have enough room to wiggle through. It was horrifying. But it didn’t matter. It didn’t matter that I’m not a good driver. It didn’t matter that I overindulge in peanut butter M&Ms among many other things… because YOU told me that you liked my writing. So… as inadequate and overused as the words may be, from the bottom of my (already established, excessively dominant) HEART, I THANK YOU.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I Lost My Dad and Everything Is Going To Be Okay

I want to start by saying that this is my personal experience with the loss of a loved one, and I would never presume to tell anyone how they should feel or react in their own unique situation. *My Dad had a genetic liver disease. He started getting severely ill about 13 years ago, but that isn’t what I’ll hold onto. *When I was at his house last, I saw his pill holder. It was the length for the amount I’ve seen sick people take in a week. It was labeled Monday. There were six others just like it, but that isn’t what I’ll hold onto. *Our hope was that he would get a liver transplant, but that isn’t what I’ll hold onto. In the hospital he was sick. He was suffering. We sat at his bedside and agonized, but that isn’t what I’ll hold onto. *He was 56 years old, too young for a life to end. He has grandkids that he won’t meet on this earth, but that isn’t what I’ll hold on to. *My Dad loved us. He told us. He spent time with us. He saved the pictures and notes we gave him. That’s what I’ll cling to. *My Dad took great joy in his Grandkids. They elated him, and he spent quality time sharing the things that mattered to him with them. That’s what I’ll cling to. *My Dad’s heart was pure. He taught me that a suit and tie and regular church attendance didn’t necessarily make a man a good man, and that a rough appearance or a bad habit didn’t make a man a bad man. He taught me to respect all people. *He taught me about love. He and Mom have a spectacular love story. *He taught me to make sure I had the key in my hand before I walked out of a locked door. *He taught me to serve people without any thought for the credit. *He taught me a true appreciation for nature’s beauty. *He taught me countless things and that’s what I’ll cling to. *He taught me that family is everything… and that’s WHO I’ll cling to. I didn’t expect my first writer’s blog post to be this heavy, but now I will tell you something you need to know about me. I believe in fairy tales, more now than ever. My Dad isn’t far away. There are no sad endings for him. For him, there are no endings! I’ll be with him again. In this life, we know pain, we know sickness, we know heartache. We don’t know joy, not like we will. I know a lot of people that don’t believe as I do. They might find it hard to believe in heaven. After the experiences I’ve had in the past two weeks, I’d find it much harder NOT to believe. Angels and comfort and light and peace may seem childish notions, but in the face of tragedy I can tell you that they aren’t really. They’re deep and intellectual and perfectly suitable for grown-ups. I walked alone out of that hospital where my Dad passed away. There was a wall of windows to my left that led to the outside, and to my right, hundreds of sick people, hundreds of worried people. I remember there was a breeze blowing down the corridor and brushing my hair away from my face as I moved toward the exit. I looked around that terrifying place. The place my nightmares have been made of for years, because of the fear of what I could lose and what Dad could suffer. I squared my shoulders, I held my head high, and I thought to myself, “Hospital, you’ve got nothin’ on me. Not anymore. Death can’t take my Dad away from me.” In that moment, I knew what I was made of. I’m stronger than I ever gave myself credit for. You are too. You can handle more than you think you can. It’s because you have people watching over you, people you can’t see, people who love you. Trust me.