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Meanderings and Musings...

Feb. 16th, 2015 02:25 pm Mid-Summer and New Life

I just got back from Canfield after the birth of my 2nd nephew by my younger sister. Casimer Anello. And looking at him has been like being thrown back 6 years, looking at his older brother, Roman. It's amazing. He is a placid baby and so sweet. He was a BIG baby...he weighed in at 10 lbs., 1 oz. Gianna declared, "I can never have another child. I......if I try, it will surely kill me."


***
This was saved from July 17th or sometime soon afterward and I don't know what magnificent force kept this brief entry from disappearing but I'm certainly glad it did...

I've all but given up on posting here on LJ. Not because I don't love it still. I do. But however this website is configured, it's not working well with my new laptop. Makes writing tedious and slow...it misses keystrokes so I have to continuously go back and fix my words. This is tragic. I've got years' worth of writing on this site. I'm going to have to figure out a way to export all of it into my hard drive or migrate to another site. My desire to write is so strong but this format has become too frustrating.

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Jun. 4th, 2014 08:10 am Long Ride

Well, I took a personal day today...on June 4th, I can't believe it. But this is the longest school year that I can ever remember in the longest and most difficult year of my life. I am taking a day's pause to think about things. Why wouldn't I write? It's been a long time since I've come here to reflect. It's been such a long ride. And I've been a long time gone. It's good to come back here, to reflect on the things I wrote throughout the year....

I thought that my 40s would be quite different than they've turned out to be. So far, this decade has been about learning how to say goodbye. I suppose the journey is different for everyone but that's what my early 40s have been to me. I thought this decade would be much different than it has been. It's been the most trying. I was naïve. I thought that my days would continue with ease, the way that they have for the vast majority of my life. I was wrong. I realize now that my life was almost charmed in its very ease and that I'm only encountering real sorrow at this point in my life. I suppose, as I survey things, that I have been blessed beyond measure. And here's why.

This year, I realized that God saw fit to place all along my path students who have already lost a parent. And they acted as guides, more or less, as I haphazardly navigated the first year without my own mother. They walked with me through the days, not saying much but always steadying me as I moved forward and handing me the Kleenex as I cried. They have known sorrow. And they helped me to figure out how life goes on without someone so important there in the physical sense. It culminated on their honors day. A little girl named Raven was late coming to the ceremony and I helped her to put on her cap and gown. When their program was over, we met again in the hallway; she called me over to a plaque on the wall where a teacher's memorial (Kim Yirga...a lovely woman and a friend) hangs. Kim passed away several years ago and her husband created a scholarship for students who have lost a parent. Raven, along with all of my other 'guardian angels' had received the award and the scholarship in her name. I started to tell Raven, through tears, that all of the other names that appeared there are or have been students in my classroom, with the exception of her. "And look," I said. "God saw fit to bring you to me on the very last day, to get you ready to receive this award and also for me to dress and to prepare you for it." As I was explaining this to her, we turned around and there were several of her classmates, the same ones that I was describing, the same ones who had also received the award. And before I knew it, we were ALL in tears. They helped me. They found me and accepted that the grief I felt this year was simply too big to hold in. They were the ones who understood. And I do believe that Raven understood it as well. It was a moment.

Life goes on. That's what I am coming to see. Through this tremendous and terrible, tragic and heartbreaking loss, my life must move forward with purpose and with joy. It's taken me so very long to get this lesson and here I sit, just over a year since my mother left this world, and I am only now beginning to understand what these little ones have seemed to have grasped long before I did. Life goes on. And I am remaking the way to live it with joy and passion in my mom's absence. I still grieve her and the best way to explain the feeling of losing her has been like losing the center of gravity. I have stumbled again and again as a result. I know that the loss will always remain with me but what people have explained seems to be true. You find a way. We all find a way to move forward.

Joy is a choice. I am choosing joy; she wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

***

I'm breaking my New Year resolution. I decided that a part of this journey has got to be a conscious decision to be present for my younger sister as she welcomes a new life into the world. I want to be there with her, and with Roman, as he meets his new brother or sister. I want to be present instead of absent. I was solitary and in howling psychic pain for such a majority of this year...it's time to do things differently. If the notion of joy is a conscious decision, then I am choosing not to fly off to the west coast this summer and to be there for my sister and her son. There is still a part of me that longs to fly but I am going to be a part of her life consciously, joyously. Not out of obligation, nor resentfully, but my presence will hopefully bring some sort of comfort and help to her. I foresee very pleasant and lovely days ahead for us. I am feeling perfectly at ease with this decision. God seems to be very present at this point and I know that the choice is a sound one, a good one. What a summer this will be! Where there is life, there is hope.

Gianna asks me almost every time we're together, "Do you think it's a girl or a boy?" I obviously can't say with any degree of certainty but when she asks, I tell her every time that it's a girl. Is it a little girl? We'll be meeting this baby in less than a month so we shall see. If my sister has names picked out it remains to be seen. We don't talk much about it. But regardless of whether it's a girl or a boy, I will love this child with all I have in me. I will be there to welcome this baby. It's right and fitting that I'm there. With God's leading, I know that I have made the right decision to be there when she has it. It's the right thing to do.

Likewise, how I feel the hand of God in making the decision to stay at Mayfield! I was ready to fly on life as I know it. I was ready to walk away from everything that I have known. Thank you, Lord, that I have come far enough in my walk with You to recognize your governance. Thanks for holding me closely this year. I feel You near in my life and I have a heart of gratitude for that. Thank you.

So now I'll get the day started. I don't even know what this day will hold for me but I'm happy to be away from school, pausing to catch my breath before exams. This was absolutely the right thing to do.

Current Mood: nostalgicnostalgic

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Jan. 25th, 2014 07:09 pm Breakthroughs...

There have been many points in the process of grief where I didn't know if I'd have a breakthrough or a breakdown. I teetered between the two, there's no doubt. Definitely, there are stories for me to tell. It was as if joy had fallen into the void and every time there would be a glimmer of hope that joy was returning to me, something else would happen and I'd feel sunk again.

My family life has been...hmmm...how to aptly describe it? We have cycled and recycled through a lot of the same things and the component that has continued to shock me is all of the anger that has been on full display. I do know that anger is one of the stages of grief. But how easily we can misdirect it! And that went on and on, as the months unfolded, until a breaking point on Christmas Eve. There were terrible things said and the finale was...I walked out. I just lost any ability to absorb it, to fight back, to trade blows. The only thing that was reverberating through me was the word DONE.  Done...done...done...

In retrospect, I wish that I could confess that I was sorry to do it, that leaving was entirely wrong and entirely regrettable. Naturally, I didn't want to spend my holiday alone and separated from everyone but if I had it to do again, I would not have changed a thing about it. Christmas Day found me on a plane, winging it out west...and a week spent quietly with a dear friend and her family was just what the doctor ordered. She must have known I was at the margin. For the most part, we lounged. We didn't have any big nights out. New Year's Eve was a potluck party across the street with her neighbors. It was a break away and my hostess showed a good deal of graciousness. I spent ample time alone (borrowed car...Starbucks...) and did a lot of writing to get my head wound on straight once again. We did a lot of talking about what might come next for me. And when I returned to Ohio, I was not quick to pick up the telephone. I let myself process for weeks before I felt ready to talk. I'm glad I gave myself time to do so. The new year has definitely brought clarity in some regards.

So what have I learned? There are limits to what I can tolerate and what my family can tolerate and, as a result, I've learned that none of my familial relationships is neither bulletproof nor indestructible. I have come to realize that my mother was a tremendous buffer...whether it was consciously or unconsciously done...she gave us all cause to govern our tongues more frequently than we allowed ourselves to let terrible words fly. I realized that trying to maintain the same dynamic without my mother's presence there is not a good idea because it will only lead to frustration and to us continually shipwrecking ourselves or each other time and again. I'm not willing to reset the same cycle again. It was killing me, from the inside...my spirit...out. I haven't seen my older sister since Thanksgiving. I haven't seen my father and younger sister since Christmas Eve. And it's strange...there's still a lot to figure out. We're all kind of hanging out in our own respective spaces and this has been an extraordinarily quiet month as we collectively decide how to proceed. I am not in charge of that and I don't really know how to broach the topic. The closest any of us has come is to say, "I miss you." And I do miss them. Perhaps we will sit down in the future to discuss things but I think I'd prefer by far just to get together one day with a clean slate in front of us and start writing an entirely new script. Eh, a girl can hope.

So work. I haven't worked this hard in years...this first semester back at school was a doozy. I took an adjunct position at Kent State, but the branch closest to me. I did that 2 nights a week and taught full time. I should have taken more time off...maybe heading back so soon after my mom's death wasn't such a great idea because I felt completely overwhelmed. Exhausted and blinded by grief that felt as fresh as if she'd gone away only the day before, just holding it together every day was a total feat. Never in my LIFE did I think that my antagonistic boss would capitalize on that and come in for a complete attack. But that's exactly what he did. I defended myself but felt so much trepidation over it, work became damn near impossible for me. I did a lot of that to myself because I have a hard time letting go of things...but it's been a horrible re-entry into school. I kind of had an inkling that this would be a rough school year but I had no idea how difficult my boss would become, how my troubles at school would compound my lack of well-being. It was depleting, to say the very least.

What has this taught me about work? I am no longer bound to it the way that I once was, this I know. Again, it's nothing indestructible...and if it feels like a prison, it's a self-imposed one that I have created. I am a woman who has numerous, God-given talents and I refuse to be bound by the golden handcuffs. If it's merely a paycheck keeping me there, that's the wrong reason to stay. There's more than a crappy boss. Kids are getting harder to teach, the state is making it more difficult for us to simply try to reach them...there is little innovation because the culture of where I teach has been whitewashed by this jackass boss of mine. I was ready to call it quits, believe that. And I'm talking, flip the keys at him and say, "You may think you win. But I've got a life to lead and this is no kind of life. I win. And I quit." Seriously, I was ready to do that. God intervened. On Friday, he announced that this will be his final semester as our principal. He will move to central office in the fall but he will retire in October without being a part of our building. After 12 years of this ridiculous dynamic, I do believe I can handle another semester. And because this has come as such an unbelievable plot twist, I think I'll put off that keys-flipping episode for the time being. ;)

Then the romance. Now, a stranger told me this summer when I was in the middle of things that this relationship wasn't one that was built to last. I think I heard him...I'd have to go back to read the words I wrote in June to be sure...but by October, I retreated to the ocean for a long weekend. When I came back, I cut the tie between us, never expecting it to hurt me so deeply. It took a while to get my head above the water and just when I thought I was home free...my aunt texted me to tell me that she saw him with someone else. I don't want him to be unhappy, nor do I want him to be alone. But to hear that? It made me melancholy and it made me question, for the hundredth time, did I do the right thing?

And here's what I know about letting go. It's never easy. Never. It takes a brave girl to say, "I'm worth more," and stick to your guns. It takes guts but it also takes faith. I've done a lot of thinking about faith and the places that God has taken His people to prove out their faith. Abraham bound his son, Isaac, and was willing to sacrifice his son to God when He stopped Abraham's hand at the very last moment. That's a test of faith if I ever saw one. And as I get older, settling into middle age quite comfortably, I wonder if a companion is something God will provide. I had a counterfeit companion in Jack. There are too many things I could write in order to illustrate this but when it comes down to it, he was meant to be in my life, perhaps, to divert me from time to time as I coped with the life-altering pain of saying goodbye to one of the true loves of my life. He's a good man; he's just not the man for me. I do not regret the time that I spent with Jack. Quite the contrary.

So finally, joy. The authentic kind...not a mask you need to wear to get through the days with as few questions as possible. Joy is coming. I feel like the announcement that my boss is clearing out was a signal, a glimmer. I think that my New Year resolution (haven't made one in what seems a lifetime) to go spend the summer in California is a great idea. God is near. He has not forgotten my name. When I went to yoga class today, I found myself praying for the Holy Spirit to fall on me as I come back into my right mind. It made me cry. Of course it did. My mantra as I prayed was, "I am strong. I am whole." That's a lot better than hearing "DONE" in your head and resonating through your heart, right? It felt like a breakthrough and one that I feel grateful for as 2014 commences. Glory to God!

Until we meet again...

Current Mood: jubilantjubilant

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Nov. 12th, 2013 10:04 pm Worked Over.

I am exhausted. I mean, if grief had a way to manifest itself in me, it would be overworked. I'm burying myself in work. And this is so not cool. I have had one free hour between when I got home from work and now, where I'm going to collapse into bed.

This is not a balanced life. I need to settle things down. Definitely.

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Oct. 3rd, 2013 07:37 pm The Battered Bride

I did end up hearing from David. He sent a lovely card, along with a letter, expressing shock and grief but also penning a tribute to my mother that was heartfelt and real. And I thought it was beautiful. I had told myself for so very long the story of what went wrong, why it was a mistake to love him. With this letter, though, I dropped my guard and allowed myself to look at the words and savor them and to be reminded of just exactly what it was that made me love him in the first place and to become his wife.

I was David's wife once. I was married. The shame of that marriage has plagued me for so, so long. It took a long time to let it go and still, there are moments when I feel overcome by the sadness and grief of a brief marriage and its woeful conclusion. I never thought I would be that. I never thought I would be that. My heart aches still. October 8th is coming up and we would have celebrated 3 years. More memories to let linger along the shores of the river called Might Have Been....

All that, but I can still say that I'm relieved, more than a little, that he didn't ask to see me, lament the parting we made, declare any sort of feelings for me whatsoever. He left it right where it should have been, squarely in the middle of what she meant to him. And that was right and good.

***

I looked at my latest entry and I think about how school ended today. It was a rough end to school; sparring with a student whom I don't know very well yet and then reading my email to learn that my classroom might be opened to share with a coworker that I told every secret to once upon a time and now is as distant as any stranger. I went to the assistant principal today, who I suspect only considers me a nuisance and somewhat hysterical, to boot, and I told him that I don't want to share my classroom with her. In the years intervening, this woman has come into my space or sent students there and taken things that don't belong to her. When we were close, it would not have been the big issue that I feel it is today. Although it bugged me (don't go there without asking first and if you do, replace what you've taken), the friendship made up for that feeling of it being wrong. Now, I fear that she'll take an inventory of my things and do the same as she has for a long time now. I asked the principal respectfully to change the room they take over. I got no reply.

All this to say, I'm so, SO close to my goal of a total payoff, I can't quit the fight now. But oh, it is ever-so-tempting! I sold the Porsche (wow!) and used the proceeds to do a payoff on my student loan. Now, the mortgage is all that's left. And I am hustling to get where I need to be. Because I don't know how many more of these days I can bear. It's become such a problem, it made me think about 2 Timothy 3 and what life will look like toward the end of days. I feel we're there. Look:

3 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

6 They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7 always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. 9 But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.

I see my coworker in this passage. I see my terribly short-lived marriage here and some of David's tactics at practice in these words. I even see myself. Sigh. I know that's tough to admit, but it's true. And as I reflect on what life has come to be, I think about my mother saying, "Jesus won't come back for a battered bride, Jenni. He sees how bad the world is getting and He probably intercedes for us every day." Then, I think about what Dana had to say when she was commenting on my mother's passing: "It seems that God is taking all of the true saints out of this world. Your mom, my Aunt Joyce. It seems that way, doesn't it?" And it does.

It leaves me lonely. Is it wrong to feel lonely? I found myself crying and praying today for a pure heart, to do what I'm supposed to do without malice and to keep my theme absolutely true. I don't want to miss out on ministering to a student because I'm hung up on my coworker's ridiculous (and 2 Tim. 3-like) behaviors. I don't want to miss out on the man God has for me because I let a man worm his way into my home like David did. I don't want to become such a 'lover of self' or so hung up on money that I forget what I'm doing and why I'm teaching school. The frustrations are mounting. Will I dishonor God if I unplug? Is it too much self-love to figure out another plan?

Kelli and I talked about it today. She said, "Jen, just pray for a friend. There might be someone right there, under your nose, someone you've known for a long time who can be a friend to you." I need that. And so it's my prayer. Send me someone to talk the frustrations over with, Lord. I need that so much. No one will replace my mother...although I'd like to think that she's watching me from Heaven...I really could use someone to be a friend to me now.

***

I miss my mom so much. It seems that with the change of season, a new wave of grief is hitting me. I am sad so much of the time and I wonder what the winter, looming large, is going to feel like when I'm not able to be as mobile and can't spend my time outside. When I'm in the house, locked in by cold and snow, what will my thoughts turn into then? What will it be?

There's so much unsettled within me. Oh, God. I need help. I need Your help right now.

Until we meet again....

Current Mood: draineddrained

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Sep. 22nd, 2013 11:57 am Old Photos and News

In a rare fit of domesticity, I started to organize a couple of drawers that got a little junky. I started pulling things out of them and found an envelope of pictures of David from when he was a little boy. There were a couple of pictures of his mom and dad, too. It got me to thinking about my ex-father-in-law, Attilio. I decided to write to him, not only to send the pictures back but also to let him know about my mother's passing.

It's been a lingering thought in my head. Should I tell David? HOW should I tell David? It's now been years since we've even spoken, and yet it seemed like something I should share with him. My mother continued to pray for him, for Attilio. Even when I wasn't around and David was working in the area where I grew up, he and my mother spent a good amount of time together alone. I wonder, how much of what she told him remains with him? Will this news make any sort of an impact on him? Will the fact that I say in the letter that I still miss my f-i-l mean anything at all? I guess I'll never know.

I think what I feared then (and still fear now) is that I'll open up a venue for David to get in touch with me. And I don't want that. I know that I certainly don't want that. But I want him to know she is gone. I guess this is best. I would never throw these pictures away; so this seems like the best thing to do.

***

It's a Sunday and I've got 9 more papers to grade. Everything in my life feels so...eh. I'm questioning it all. If I had the chance to unplug and move completely away, I would take that chance...even this late in my professional life. I would do it. I am trying to hold steady and yet I continue to try doors, see what opens. It's what I can do. I just can't seem to settle on what, exactly, I want to do. I spend time with my sister Gianna, and I am convinced I want to get into owning my own business. I spend time alone, and I think beach bumming in California is an inevitability for me. I talk long enough with Jack, I begin to dream about being his wife and a stepmother to his kids. Everything is subject to change. I just have to wonder if teaching for 6 more years at the very least is even in the cards for me. I do wonder a lot about that. Education has changed in such significant ways; I don't know if the vision I once had is something I want to continue to pursue.

I asked Gianna this weekend, "I wonder if I could match or exceed the salary I make now?" She didn't even hesitate. She told me that she's absolutely convinced that I can and I will. Hmmm...

Well, I must turn my attention back to the papers. I need to set the dreaming and scheming aside for a while.

Until we meet again...

Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative

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Jul. 21st, 2013 09:57 pm What are You to Me?

Ah, another weekend spent with Jack and more questions. What should Jack be to me? That's the pervading question. We talked a lot about the next step. He thinks the next step should be meeting his little boys and I told him this weekend, in a state of honesty, that I'm not ready for that. I'm not ready to meet his children, not because I don't want to; I want to and I think I'd be very good for his kids and to them. I just don't think that Jack and I are ready for me to meet his kids. The space he's inhabiting with his feelings is not conducive for me to jump into his family life. I think it would be a matter of convenience for him and a way for him to see more of me by combining these relationships. It tells me a lot about how important I am to him. He wants me to be a fuller part of his life; he is unwilling to keep things separate for much longer. I need to respect that and pay attention to it but I also have to be true to myself and stand firmly behind the fact that I'm not ready to meet his kids. I'm not. So with that boundary in place, I feel better. For the time being, I feel better.

I have asked him for another season of separateness. I need to get back into the routine of work and see how we do when I'm back into my life. When things are more normal, I'm going to be able to decide if I want more of him or less. My life has not even vaguely resembled normal since I've known him and it's something that I've tried to be quite clear about. For instance, I am not a night owl but we've been up late, a lot. That one key aspect is going to be an eye-opener for him because it's a key difference. Also, the busy nature of my schedule when I'm in the middle of a school year...he hasn't seen me go full-tilt yet. He needs to see that. Still and all, I have some strong doubts. There's a part of me that's pulling back from Jack. I'm sure it's because the relationship is developing and I'm beginning to negotiate things apart from the grief that I feel. I'm beginning to see that he can't handle my feelings of grief. He sweeps past my tears sometimes and it makes me feel resentful because I listen to his sadness over his ex, the loss of his family life, almost daily. I listen with an open mind and heart, although some of the things he shares with me are hard to hear. I am trying to be present for him. Not always easy, I'll confess. I guess it's a part of growing together.

But there are things that make me uncomfortable. And so asking for time isn't a bad thing. I am not sure how I want things to progress but for now, I was honest and forthright with him. I guess that's all I can be, really, for now. I need to take my own advice and realize that this doesn't have to be decided today, it doesn't have to be decided tomorrow. I'll progress with things, see how I feel. Gently. I'm going to move forward gently.

Until we meet again...

Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful

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Jun. 17th, 2013 11:56 am Reflections on a Cowboy

My last full day in Florida included heading immediately to the beach alone. Patrice was still getting herself together so I hauled a couple of chairs over, along with a beach bag, to just sit on the beach until she was ready to join me. A man fell into step with me. He had a weathered face but kind and smiling eyes. He had on a Hawaiian shirt and a beat up cowboy hat. We introduced ourselves by first name only and by the time I'd set myself up on the beach, I learned that John is from Talahassee and that he lost his mother only a little over a year before. He was in St. Augustine with a woman friend; she was attending a conference and he was along for the ride. I invited him to take the chair next to me so that we could talk some more.

We discussed the profound nature of the loss of our mothers. He told me that he shared in my sorrow. He knows about the silence of the telephone and he knows about the hole right at the core that only a mother can fill. He quit his job after she died and commenced to simply drift and wander. It's a delectable temptation and one that I am actively resisting at this time. He took the plunge and commenced to drift but I suspect that he is older than I am and his days working for the telephone company had reached a state of oblivion. We discussed how the picture has changed in communication, the unalterable state of things now that cell phones are so constant. And yet there are some things that remain unchanged and move slow, we agreed. Like grief. Like education. Learning takes time. Coping with loss...well, that takes a very long time, too.

He told me that he's nurturing aspects of himself that seem to want to take a more prominent place and told me that he's a carpenter. He started to explore masonry and he's interested in traveling to try to sell art that he forms from rock. Fascinated, I asked him to explain what he creates. He told me that the pieces are much like what I've seen in photos of Easter Island. Fearsome and just large. Stone. I get why he would be attracted to stone. Stones are solid and they bear witness to grief. Jewish tradition includes placing a stone on the headstone of the departed and that makes so much sense to me. I could see why he would want to work with stone; it absorbs heat, and cold, and probably it absorbs grief. I picked up a rock that night on the beach to add to my collection of rocks that I gather when I travel. It's a beautiful specimen...not a bleached, white rock that's typical of the others in my collection that come from the beach but it's mostly black with white streaks in it. Perfect. My grief trip. The memorial to my sweet mother's passing.

Our talk turned to matters of love and I told him about Jack. I explained the complications surrounding the relationship and John cautioned me. He told me that Jack is acting as a distraction from my own grief but to take that for what it will be and to not make any hasty decisions. By this point in my trip, I have squared that up in my heart and mind and I could accept this piece of advice from a stranger with whom I'd only just become acquainted. I know it to be true. I told John that my mantra has become and will continue to be, "Steady, steady. All things constant." And so it will be with Jack. I'm resisting the urge to fix his situation and to 'save' him. That only led to disaster when I tried to do the same with David. Matters of the heart are not easy to navigate but I must accept that I'm not thinking clearly at this time. Will Jack be around when I've weathered the worst of the storm? I hope so. But if he's not, I'll pick up the pieces and move forward.

Patrice joined us at some point in the conversation and when I went into the water, John told her he thought it was good she was there with me. The morning had progressed; the weather got hotter. We had a few moments alone, Patrice and me, and I told her that I got the distinct impression that if I'd been on that beach entirely alone, John would have tried to seduce me. Patrice was not in tune with this statement at all, and she declared, "Even though he's with a woman? He's here with someone on this trip!" But I know what I know, having a good deal of insight into the paths of attraction. I wasn't threatened by him in the least -- quite the contrary -- I took a lot of comfort in his words and in his presence and I have the feeling that we would have kissed to seal the deal, at the very least, had we been alone that morning. When Patrice got up to get into the water, I was spraying sun block on and he asked if he could get my back. When he put his hands on me, I didn't imagine the chemistry between us. His hands felt really good on my back, my shoulders. He was gentle; it was an act of tenderness, as if he was trying to soothe my sadness through his touch. There was no agenda to it. He didn't want anything from me. It was moving in the most unexpected way and it was something I welcomed entirely. A moment. We had a moment of intimacy then. And right or wrong in someone else's eyes, it was just perfect.

We all parted ways and I told Patrice I wanted to get into the pool for the latter part of the morning and into the afternoon. I stopped at the front desk of the hotel and John materialized again with a beat up old guitar. His intention was to go to play it on the beach and I told him I'd be at the pool. I gave him a wink and a smile and asked him, "Perhaps later, you'll come to serenade me." An hour later, we sat together in the shade, poolside, and that's exactly what he did. He serenaded me with a wordless song on that guitar. More talk, more comfort, more attraction. The line between what felt appropriate and what did not was transcended by the feeling that we had connected in a short space. Patrice knew where to find me and when she reappeared poolside, I sensed her disapproval but didn't even care. The fact is, on that trip, I spoke perhaps to a half dozen people and so I felt John was sent to me to give me the message he gave me. A cowboy that came out of nowhere was there to caution me about throwing my heart to the wind in order to manage my grief. And it's advice that I can use and took to heart.

Patrice went up to the room to shower and get ready for some sightseeing in Old Town St. Augustine. When we said goodbye, he told me that he saw the tremendous talent in me and that he found me to be a beautiful woman on the outside and inside. That's the last I saw of John. I hope he remembers me. I wanted to write about him so that I don't forget that moment, that perfect moment, when a stranger's touch brought me peace and did, indeed, soothe me if only for a moment.

Until we meet again....

Current Mood: calmcalm

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Jun. 12th, 2013 07:59 am Last Full Day

It was a mistake to agree to have Patrice here. I love her; she's a great friend and a willing ear to listen. I wouldn't have felt as comfortable crying openly and without shame with many other people. Patrice has expressed so much loss in her life I just felt that she would understand the tears. But just having someone else's presence here has been...difficult. Why? I just didn't want to have to worry about anyone else and Patrice has been worrisome. She got ill yesterday and I had to leave her in the hotel room. I felt guilty for leaving her and remained preoccupied with, 'is she okay' all day as I was away. Plus, slowing down to make a plan with her regarding where we should go and what we should do...something I didn't want to deal with. Still, it is what it is, and we've arrived at the final full day in Florida.

Patrice is serving in this capacity: she is the reason I'm heading north instead of spinning off to some other place. I probably would have kept moving, headed west, if it hadn't been for this plan to drive back together. Which leads me to the following: how am I faring? How am I feeling today? I am absolutely amazed that my first reaction in the morning is something like a mental sucker punch. I guess I should just expect it. Most days, it makes me cry. This morning, it did not. But the same feeling was present. Mornings continue to be very hard. And if I focus on it and start to articulate the way that I feel when I think about her, I still come unglued. I mean, entirely undone. It's difficult not to incorporate her into every conversation with every person I meet. Typically, I suppose, the huge impact becomes the focal point. I remember doing the same thing when I broke the engagement with Michael, when I divorced David. It becomes the identity and a focus. I told Patrice, "I feel like I have a giant nail driven into the middle of my forehead and I'm trying desperately to pretend it isn't there. Like, 'Act natural. It's fine. No one can see the nail in the middle of your forehead.' But I feel so off-kilter." True.

***
I'm going to spend another entire day at the beach. This morning is looming large, beautiful. I'm excited to get out there. Patrice is sleeping and I may just leave her to it while I venture out there. I want to face the Atlantic and pray, count some blessings and think about what comes next as we travail back toward the Buckeye State. My thoughts and my heart are leaning toward home. I have to reclaim my life there and be PRESENT for it. I went to Cleveland and back to my home as a matter to escape the fallout. I sat there in a stupor. It's time to fill in the blanks, and get that figured out. It's time to move forward. I've got to pull it together and start to get 'life as I know it' back together. And I will.

I'm ready to see my sisters and my father. I miss them. I need them and I hope that we've all had enough time to process things that Sunday is a good visit with no conflict. That's my hope. Nice and easy; that's my most fervent hope.

Until we meet again....

Current Mood: goodgood

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Jun. 11th, 2013 07:47 am St. Augustine

Patrice is still sleeping and again, I find myself in the lobby of another hotel. St. Augustine is a nice beach town. The overnight meant seeing a guy I went to high school with, Matt. We had a good time but I mostly let Matt talk...he wanted to talk about our graduating class, which I suppose is somewhat normal since that's where we left off. But there has been 3 lifetimes since then and we just couldn't seem to get him to progress past the days at South Range. Well, I take that back. He wanted to talk about his days at OSU, where apparently he played rugby with some success. Success was the undercurrent to the talk last night. He wanted so desperately for us to come away from his company feeling as though he's made a success of his life. Hey, I'll buy it. He's a nice guy. He was very accommodating to Kelli and me when we came here last year and he was very nice to Patrice and me last night. We laughed as we came away from his company. He's got the rest of our stay somewhat mapped out and it includes 2 free tickets to the Old Town Trolley tour, which is an amazing way to see a city. I would like to take him up on that. And I'll cocktail with him again this evening if he's so inclined.

***

I spoke briefly to my dad last night. I tried to call since I haven't spoken to him since I left and left a message. Her voice is still on the answering machine...and although it rattled me somewhat to hear her living voice...I left him a message. He called back to say he'd been at bible study. I kept it brief. When Kelli asked me last night why I haven't called him, I had to think about that for a minute and I told her that I don't want him to think he has to be Mom's replacement. I mean, on a vacation like this, I would be talking to her every day. Early morning like this has been the hardest because I would be calling her with the daily update from the night before, what is planned for the day ahead. And I just know that while he's got a passing concern and interest in how I'm doing, he doesn't want to hear the daily itinerary. He just wants the highlights and to make sure I'm okay. I told him I'll be there for Father's Day.

So when I woke up this morning, my heart wrenched for my dad. I'm having a hard time trying to reconcile the compassion and pity I feel for him now, stacked up against the many resentments I have because of the past. So that's where today's contemplations seem to be and I need to give this over. I need to simply shrug my shoulders and let go of the past. My father seems to be completely in a spin and the overriding feeling this morning is sadness on his behalf. He's got to live with the things he said and did to her. He's got to make sense of it in his own time and in his own way. I think it scares me that he's been drinking a lot to cope with the loss. But who am I to say? I keep reminding myself that drinking won't make things different; it's only going to delay the grief so last week, I remained entirely sober. And although we had a few drinks last night, sobriety is the baseline for me because I don't want an escape from this. I know I must face it, feel it. As for my father? I wish I could impart these things to him but it would only cause a fight.

***
I started to post statuses and pictures on Facebook but I waited until the last day Mayfield was in session to do so.  I got a comment in response to my latest post from Rachel McBride that read, "I'm so jealous." I am entirely OVER people from Mayfield who utter those words. I've been resisting the urge to inbox her a nasty message and then dump her. What, exactly, might she be jealous of, I wonder? The fact that I'm sobbing every day and then stopping long enough to snap a picture? I think the people from Mayfield have labored under some strange misconception, that I took family leave in order to have an extended vacation. I may try to compose something to her so she understands what I saw, what I dealt with every day and what this trip has been about. Perhaps I can come up with a more soft and gentle way to explain this to her. There is nothing to feel jealousy over; this has been so hard, I would not want anyone in my acquaintance to go through it. Maybe I'll try to do that. Or maybe not. Maybe I shouldn't even bother.

***
My heart is leaning toward home. I need familiar routine and I need my sisters. I need to get back into my own space again. I think it will be good to start heading north. Today is Tuesday. I will campaign for us to leave somewhat early on Thursday so we get home reasonably. I don't think another night on the road is anything I would be interested in doing. I have been watching radar and I saw that Ohio is rainy and significantly cooler than here. I don't even care; this trip was altogether a good thing but I'll be ready to head home when the week waxes old.

Until we meet again....

Current Mood: sleepysleepy

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