Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Shopping Expeditions

Thanksgivings is next week, my birthday too. This is the time of year we spent a lot of time together. Right now we would be out shopping a Twiggs for decorations, your house, not mine. You would be fussing the entire time "Sheila, you need to buy this, that, it's such a good deal...." You always got so pissed at me because you spent all the money, while I 'window shopped". I on the other hand, thought you were crazy for paying the price for the things you bought. It was a dance we repeated over and over, no matter what store we were in. We always had fun with it and laughed a lot. You actually were fun to watch. And of course, I usually got a pretty good birthday gift out of all that shopping too! I'm missing you. I need to go shopping, believe it or not, for decorations! Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations! May be having my book club and their spouses over at Christmas and so I need to do a little more this year. You would be so excited and I can see you now, all the places you would be dragging me and all the people you would getting to help me. I can hear me now telling you "Cynthia, I'm not spending a fortune, don't take me to your expensive shops...." and you saying "I won't... but they'll give you a deal because ....." and hear we would go! It's going to be a boring shopping expedition without you. I wonder if I'll come back with anything?

"I am an Advocate For My Family"

I'm a Nurse, a Wife, a Mother, an Accountant, a Teacher, on and on we describe ourselves when someone ask us "What do you do?". What they mean, of course, is "What is your profession?". We often, particularly, as women, identify ourselves, with our vocation, our profession. It becomes our identity so that when we lose it, either through job loss, disability, like I did, or other reasons, we suffer from an identity crisis. For some, that is never an issue because they know what and who they are. There is no quibbling, no question, no hesitation. They state it with passion, with conviction and in way that those around take notice. So it was with Cynthia. Yes she was a nurse, a damn good one. However, that is not how she identified herself. On one of the multitudes of sympathy cards her family received, a woman who had met Cynthia many years ago at their children's middle school football game, shared she overheard a conversation between Cynthia and some other women on what a stay at home mom should say when ask the question "What do you do?". Cynthia's reply, as relayed in this card, had a profound impact on her and she has never forgotten it. Cynthia replied, emphatically and with great passion,"I am an advocate for my family!". She never wavered in support of her family, often neglecting her own needs. She knew who she was, what she wanted to do and she made no apologies. Her family was her life. What a wonderful legacy! "I am an advocate for my family"! she stated proudly, and so she was.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Things That Made US Laugh: State Boards

I need to stop crying! This is suppose to be about our friendship, not me. I needed this to help me remember you and all the times our lives were filled with laughter and joy because of our friendship. I wanted to walk down memory lane, smile and laugh out loud at the things we did together. Like, our trip to take nursing state boards in your tiny, green volkswagon beetle August 1977. I'll never forget our trip in that car! It had no air conditioning and it was the summer where temperatures soared to 105 degrees that year! I was 8 months pregnant with Jessica, having bracton-hicks contractions and I had a yeast infection! Miserable didn't even begin to describe my condition. We were both stressed completely out about taking boards, so tensions were high. We took our 2 day exam in a school, with no air conditioning, 105 degree temperature outside, sitting in hard ass, school desk chairs, all damn day! I thought I would die or deliver the baby before it was over. My face was blood red, my body and butt hurt and during breaks all you could do was laugh at how bright red my face was. You complained about how horrible the exam was while I whined and begged for God to take me, wallowing on the nearest window sill, for any air, as you laughed. In spite of your laughter, you did seem somewhat concerned about me going into labor! Our trip home was the most miserable trip on the planet! Sitting was so uncomfortable! Seat belts weren't mandatory then and I remember wallowing all over that front seat! Big, fat and 8 months pregnant, blood red in the face, whining, twisting, turning and moaning! I felt and looked like I was going to have a heat stroke! The only thing that kept me sane was our laughter! All I wanted to do was get home but No, you had to stop and get something to eat! As I recall, it was kentucky fried chicken. I remember I wanted to strangle you over that stop! My mind was on home! I whined, you laughed, then I'd laugh, all the way home. It's amazing that we both scored nationals on our boards. The trip, as miserable as it was, always made us laugh when we remembered it. I never see a volkswagon that I don't break out into a smile, remembering. It was our very first trip together.....

Thursday, November 12, 2009

It's Been a Hell of A Week

It's been a hell of a week. A scandal with one of our most prominent plastic surgeons in town; A terrorist attack on our own US Army base, killing 12 of our own soldiers, wounding 31; Your birthday; and to top it all off I'm going to have another bronchscopy, because my repeat cat scan came back with no improvement!!!! I have felt like screaming! I've wanted to pick up the phone a thousand times to gossip about the scandal, rave about the imbeciles in Washington and the liberals who have made us a bunch of pussies! I'm so sick of political correctness, I think I'll puke! I've cried for days because you're not here to rant, rave, laugh and cry with! I'm angry as hell that you're in that stupid box! Where, by the way, I can still see you! I was so distraught yesterday at your grave, in the cold and the rain, sitting there beside you, the ground sinking from all the rain; I felt desperate. The ground was cracking around you, and just for a moment, I wanted to start digging, "Get up, get the fuck up"! And today, my doctor hits me with the bronchscopy. We may end up having to do an open lung biopsy, if things don't improve soon. You were my RN advocate, my go to girl. You understood the lingo. Now what? Too much is going on here. I need my friend. I really need my friend.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Happy Birthday

I went to our favorite hang out tonight to toast you on your birthday. You would have turned 56 today. There were no funny cards today, no jokes about you being older than I am, no laughter and wise cracks and moans about the hell of aging going back and forth. But you were there. No, you get to be the forever younger one, from now on. It was harder than I thought it was going to be; going back to our favorite place, ordering our favorite drink. Walking up to the door, my chest tightened, my breathing was difficult; I stilled myself because I was meeting your daughter. We were going to wish you a happy birthday together. I wanted to get there ahead of her, just to give myself a moment. I knew it might be tough. The first person I saw was our waitress; the one that always waited on us. She smiled that big, happy smile and said, "Hey Girl! you meeting your friend?" and I lost it. "My friend died. It's her birthday. I'm here for her birthday", was all I could get out as I wept, out in the open, out in the middle of City Range. I couldn't breathe, I couldn't talk, my heart hurt, everything looked so familiar, yet I knew it would never be the same again. She embraced me right there as I waited on your daughter, then lead me to our table. She was shocked and saddened and tears filled her eyes as we reminisced about our times there. She offered to get me a drink and I lost it again. It took me several tries before I could get the words out through the tears but I ordered, just the way we always did: a vodka martini, up dirty, very bruised with 3 blue cheese olives. They did an excellent job. Although, I'm sure you would said they cheated you on the amount, they didn't bruise it enough and could you get 3 more olives! Boy, how I miss you. You were there though. Your daughter came, she looked so much like you. Tonight, she even acted like you - from asking to put her chicken salad in their refrigerator, taking the bread home, a card that didn't work and even a to go water. It was deja vu all over. It was a nice birthday. You were toasted, you were honored. You were loved.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Second Generation Friendships

Here's to second generation friendships! Who knew that sitting across from her daughter and getting to know her, sharing stories about my friendship with her mom and our life together could create such a healing bond for both of us. I helped bring this child into the world; I remember Cynthia in the labor room; I have pictures of this adorable little girl dancing on an ottoman at my daughter's birthday party. This is a child that Cynthia and I often discussed, along with my children. Across from me, however, sits not a child but a grown woman, a mother, now a new friend. We are navigating a new world without her mom, my friend and we're discovering things about her that neither of us knew, things about each other and more importantly something about ourselves. I believe we will be good friends. Cynthia should be proud. She did a good job, a great job. Thank you Cynthia for sharing your daughter with me. I will take care of her. I will be her advocate.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Men Can't Be Best Friends

Men cannot be your best friend! They want to be. You want them to be. But the reality is they don't have it in them to be the kind of best friend we, as women need. Why? Because they can't stand to sit and truly listen to the details, the reams of information, nonsense, gossip, drama and minutiae that one simple story, one phone conversation; hell, a simple statement someone made, can bring on! They don't get it! For women and their best friends, it's all in the details! The details, connect us. It's what can keep us enthralled in each others lives, makes us feel like we're not alone, that someone else has been down that road before; We're looking for that "I can't believe that... " I know it must be terrible... or "you are right!", " You go girl!". Best friends know when to listen, speak up in defense, show empathy or sympathy, kick our butts, cheer us on or advise us. But NEVER does a best friend say "Just cut to the chase." or "I don't care about the details...", especially as they are walking out of the room because they really aren't interested in the minutiae of the day to day stuff that often occupies our phones conversations, lunch hours and after hours cocktails! No, men say they want to be our best friends and I believe they mean it when they say it. They just don't speak the language!!!

Conversations Meant for My Friend

Here's the thing. Having others read your inner most thoughts and conversations that were meant for your best friend feels like a betrayal and disloyalty. It feels kinda of like you've left the window drapes open and all the world is watching you undress a little more each night. You don't notice it, at first, because you're so caught up in feeling lost, that you just keep going. Then suddenly, one night, you notice the light slicing across your shoulder from the window and you feel EXPOSED, NAKED. It dawns on you. Others are watching, listening, reading over your shoulder. And all of a sudden, you find yourself conflicted, wanting to monitor your words. To stop talking. To be quiet. To not betray confidences. I'm feeling that. I find myself wanting to draw the blinds. I miss my friend.

A Wonderful Place For Healing

I'm sitting here on the balcony with the ocean wind blowing through my hair; the smell of the salty air strong, the feel of it making my skin feel sticky. It is so beautiful and calming. The sun is casting the most stunning light across the ocean as the waves break against the shore. It feels like breathing to me. The colors of the water is blues and teals and the surface smooth and wavy. I love to watch as the waves ripple, lazily toward the shore and at the last moment, with great fanfare, throw themselves against the sand, white foam spreading everywhere. It reminds me of my emotions. Raw. One minute calm, the next angry, crying, crashing. It is hypnotic, soothing and comforting. The sounds of the segulls as they dive down and dance across the sand make me feel like I am being serenaded and yesterday, a beautiful rainbow graced the sky above the ocean! I thought it might be you Cynthia, smiling down. The Beach is a wonderful place for healing.