One year, three months, five days. That’s how long it’s been since you left this earthly plane, on to whatever comes next. Which means that one year, three months and six days ago, you were still doing whatever it was you were doing- talking, smiling, popping up here and there as you were wont to do. No idea that the minutes of your life were winding down, down, down. Oblivious. I think about this sometimes, and it scares me a little bit. It’s a hard truth to swallow, the way we live our lives so blissfully unaware that this might be it- this might be our last day, our last hour.
Anyway, God, I fucking miss you this morning. Grief is a strange thing, isn’t it? Weeks pass, and the pain recedes, and then I wake up one morning, like I did today, and it just hurts, oh so very much. It still seems impossible to me that you are gone.
There is no way for me to describe or quantify or make sense of what you meant to me, how my life was altered because of you, or how it changed when you died. But I know that my life WAS altered, and your death stole something real from me. Because of you, I learned that love can evolve in all sorts of different ways- when you stop trying to fit a relationship into a box, stop trying to label and categorize it, and just let it be what it is, something wonderful can happen. The connection between us spanned decades, and changed many times, ultimately mellowing and becoming something rich, that I cherished. Knowing you were out there, somewhere, knowing that you would be there if I needed you…it mattered so much to me.
Your surprise visits were often the highlight of my week. Just drinking coffee with you out on my front porch, or playing board games with Cam. Getting to hear you laugh and seeing you be silly and playful with my kids lifted my heart. I just enjoyed your company. It had become as simple and easy as that.
I was not blind to your faults. I knew you well enough to worry about what the future held for you, to worry about where your life would ultimately end up. We even discussed it a time or two, with me lamenting what would happen to you when you got old, joking about which girl would end up taking care of you. “Oh my God,” I groaned, “It’s going to be me, isn’t it?” And we laughed, because it seemed far away and preposterous. I suppose it wound up being a useless worry, didn’t it? But for the record, I would have gladly taken on the job. Not that you ever would have wanted to be in that position, of course, but I would have done it. In a heartbeat.
The point is, I guess, that I loved you. I love you still. I used to feel angry sometimes, resentful that I so completely loved someone who could never love me back in the same way. It wasn’t as if I had a choice- we love who we love, and that’s all. But now I’m grateful for all of it, I really am. Because of you, I know I am capable of loving someone unconditionally, exactly as they are, with no expectation and no need for them to do anything to earn it. I realized that long before you died. I know I made it clear to you. I’m so glad I did, and so glad we were friends.
One thing in my life that it is never hard for me to be grateful for- even on the very worst days- are my daughters. Man, I hit the jackpot when it comes to kids! My girls couldn’t be more different…not only are they 13 years apart in age, they are just completely different personalities, and yet I relate to them both so much, in separate ways.
Yesterday, my eldest, Aisley, who is beautiful and complicated, came down off the mountain she now lives on for a short visit. She misses me so much now that we aren’t seeing each other every single day, and it’s been hard on her. So when she does get to come into town, she’s so excited to see me- she wants me to write down recipes for her, and she has so many things to show me and share with me. This daughter has always been my uber-affectionate little bear, and she still wants a million hugs and all my attention when she sees me. Yesterday, she planted a little vegetable garden out in front of my house for me. She put in little stakes with labels so that I would know what was what, and she made me promise to remember to water it. She has my dirty sense of humor, and we always make each other laugh, and I am so glad she belongs to me- that I get to be her mom. I’m so happy to call her mine.
And Cammy, my little one…oh, man. She is so smart and independent, with her giant vocabulary and the biggest heart. One of the great joys of my life is waking her up every morning. I always take a minute to watch her sleeping; mouth open wide, hair in a big old knot on top of her head. She still lets me haul her into my lap for a quick cuddle most days, even though she hangs over both sides of me by quite a bit, and I can barely pick her up. I smiled this morning as I watched her lurch, half asleep, to her waiting bath, like a little drunk person. I know these particular days aren’t going to be around for too much longer…I am acutely aware of the passage of time, having been through this once already.
That’s all, really. I just wanted to take a minute to speak my gratitude for my children out loud to the Universe. I don’t know how I got so lucky- I definitely got so much more from this life than I probably deserved. But I am so in love with those girls, and feel so blessed to be their mom, still the most important woman in their lives. Every day I pray to be worthy of the task, to be the person they need me to be. Some days I fall short of the mark, but miraculously, they love me anyway. I don’t understand how that works, or why it’s true, but I’m sure glad it is.
I will try to remember the distance between us- even when you are sitting right there beside me in the car, you are somewhere else, entirely. The world rushing past you is not the one that rushes past me. For you, it is a place you have inhabited but not yet made your own.
I know that this journey is ending…it’s not over just yet, but it’s ending. I know you have roads of your own to explore, hours and years that will take you miles and miles away from this place. I hope you will be my companion, sometimes, ride for a while on the passenger side…I hope you will always think of me when you think about home.
It seems like we’d only just started- but somehow, it’s been all of these years. When you were still small, I thought I had forever, but now, here we are-just like nothing. As quick as can be, you’re grown up, now. You’re the most precious thing entrusted to me, long before I was ever trustworthy…but we sailed, anyway, didn’t we? Together, we made it through storms and rough waters, and eventually, I learned to steer this ship into calmer waters. Now suddenly, I can see land ahead- your destination, darling. I can’t go with you, even though I want to. I can’t hold you here, and I can’t go on with you. I did my job, I got you here safely- now I have to let you go, soon.
I have time, still. So little, it seems almost nothing…and the part that you’ll share with me, even less. The landscape is nothing but change, now. I will try to allow you to savor the first, awesome bits of your freedom. I remember so clearly that anticipation, that feeling that anything, really, could happen. It’s wonderful, being so wild and alive, and with nothing but a wide open road there before you. I want you to have it. It is everything, for a minute, and it never can happen again. I can’t shelter you, protect you, and set you free to live your life, too. And I want you to live.
I wish I could tell you how profoundly you have shaped me. All this time that I spent tending you has completely changed me. It is as if you were a natural extension of me, of my life- a friend I picked up along the way. I have no idea how I will go on without you. It’s been the two of us, always, at the core of things, really, and I don’t remember at all what it’s like without you sharing my space, my home, my life. I know I am being sappy, but none of this is exaggeration- it doesn’t even come near to describing my feelings. I love you. I love no one more.
I look at you, I watch who you are becoming, and I know in my heart you’ll be fine. You have something about you that makes me confident of that. I think you are smart, I think you are quick, and I see you observing what’s laid out before you, adjusting your understanding accordingly. I know you are learning. Much of your life is yours now, and I think you are navigating it just fine…I take no credit for any of the wonderful things you are becoming, either. You are your own girl, through and through.
I just wanted to tell you, I get it. I forget sometimes, but then I remember, and it’s like I’m your age, right there beside you. But just for a moment, enough to remind me- just so that I can be mindful of you. I don’t want to steal this joy from you, I just want to guide you a little. And tell you how loved you are, and how important. I realize the clock is counting down the last, impossibly short years of your childhood. I hope you know it’s been the very, very best time of my life.
Hi, kids! I really, really, really don’t want to get out of the habit of checking in here-especially since I just got back into it. But…I am doing nano. I have to write like 1800 words a day now just to stay caught up (thanks to that day in Reno when I opted to play blackjack rather than write). I am really, really serious about my writing career now, for reasons I will reveal to you all in a future blog. I am back to work at my 9 to five- well, 7 to 3:30, actually, but you know what I mean.
I still have kids, and bills and boyfriends. NO! No, I have A boyfriend, that was erroneous info, there. I can barely keep up with one, trust me. Lucy still needs to be walked every day, and I am still going to meetings and trying to force myself to go to kickboxing a few nights a week. As you can see, this leaves me very little time for blogging. Yet, here I sit, doing it anyway.
I just wanted you all to not give up on me just yet- I have a lot to say, most of it frivolous but entertaining. I hope you will remain interested through these lean times. I will work through these glitches and get myself into a routine.
I would like to start by saying “Hi!” to all of you. I miss you guys when I haven’t been writing, and I really haven’t been writing with much consistency lately, for many (lame) reasons (excuses). So, I am being honest when I say I think about the little blog community I am getting to know when I am nowhere near my computer, and I think that’s cool. I also want to say “Hi” because my next statement is going to be a little (lot) negative.
2) My computer is a f***i**g piece of S**T! I am losing my mind on a daily basis (at least) now due to whatever issue it is having. It appears to have caught some type of unknown virus, probably the computer version of AIDS back in 1983. No cure, no hope, prognosis terrifying and grim. Geez, I am so off track here.
3) I hate to waste more time talking about this, but # 2 is a total lie. I actually have a really great laptop, but I don’t know very much at all about maintaining a computer. I do what I know how to do, and I have some program that is scanning stuff every forty-five seconds (it seems like) and I guess I’ll have to get with it, because this is really slowing me down. It has totally hindered my writing, of all types.
Okay, FINALLY, that is done with- can I PLEASE tell you the main thing now? So, as many of you know from either knowing me in real life, reading my blogs, or both, I have been having a pretty tough time with my oldest girl for a while now…like, maybe since birth, but until this past six or seven months, there were still good times, too. A lot of good times, and despite all the bickering, we were always very, very close. Not anymore. She really, really hates me. She’s done some pretty despicable things to me recently, and out of pure maliciousness, stuff I would NEVER have dreamed of doing to my mom. Not in a million years.
Sometimes it hurts my feelings pretty bad- the other day when we were fighting on the way to her school and I was trying to tell her that had she missed the one hour class that is required of her that day, she would have to repeat 8th grade instead of moving on to HS. She said “I don’t care.” Which frustrates me, because if SHE doesn’t care, why the hell am I doing all this stuff for her?! But I said to her in reply “If you didn’t care, you wouldn’t be crying right now.”
“I’m crying because I hate your guts, and there is nothing I can do about it! You are a mean bitch. I have ALWAYS hated you.” She said.Yikes. That one really hurt, somehow, and I don’t know why, because she has said much meaner things than that to me. Maybe it was because I kind of believed her, that that is the way she felt. That she HAD always hated me. I’m the first to admit, I am totally hateable sometimes, and the more I love you, the worse I can behave. Which puts her, my child, in the number one spot. The number two spot would be held by my mom. These are the two people I want to mainly talk about right now.
Lately, I just cannot think about my daughter and I without thinking about my mother and I. It’s just so strange to me that I am now, basically, standing in my moms shoes, looking at myself in my own daughter. It terrifies me, because I know I can put up speed bumps in her path, but I cannot stop this child. It shames me, also, because I remember being that….just AWFUL, the way girls can be at that age. I had it all figured out, I did not give a shit about how my mom felt (well, sometimes I didn’t) or how my insanity effected her life. You see, I would run away for days on end, never calling, nothing. I just don’t know how my mom made it through those days without losing her mind. I know how lost I feel these days, trying to figure out what I’m supposed to do to help this kid, scared to death I’ll make the wrong choice. There really aren’t too many people I can turn to, because it’s a touchy, touchy subject and I don’t know very many people who could give me any advice I could have faith in. Either their kids are awful, too, or they have never been awful so they have to be guessing. I can’t really talk to my mom about it because she gets too upset, and also because she always blames all of it on me. Which is pretty awful on a lot of levels- I mean, yes, I SUCKED as a mother when she was little. I was as bad as they get. Sometimes. But there were many, many times when I was great, too. I have friends who have known me since before I had Aisley, and were around all the way up until I moved away when she was six. When I came back, at least three of those friends has heard me beating myself up for being the way I was when she was little, and too my surprise, they absolutely disagreed with me. “You were a great mother! You always took good care of that kid. She was with you all the time, you never left her for one night, etc., etc.” So, I guess I wasn’t the monster I thought I was, and I let people make me think- again, my mom and Aisley. My mom was around way less than my friends, so I can’t totally discount what they recall. Also, I tended to act up on the phone with my mom throughout those crazy years, and for some reason, I would say terrible things to make her worry about Aisley. And me. I just tortured that woman. I was so ANGRY with her, and I have no idea why. Maybe because I just wanted someone to fix me, and she wished she could, but she couldn’t.
So, anyway, that’s kind of where I am headed with this whole thing. Aisley is tough, but the worst of it is that I MISS her, the her I held for so long…she is just lost to me, I hope only for now. And I remember my mom saying that to me, that she missed me so much, the me that she loved and knew. You think you have so much time to get it right, to fix things and work it out…when that baby is laying in your arms, eighteen years seems like forever. But it goes by before you even have a chance to figure out what you are doing, and that little brown eyed girl who slept curled up in your arms for way too many years won’t even let you touch her hand. She is only 14, but I know the rest of the time I have with her will be more on her terms than mine. That window was shutting and I didn’t even know. I should have known ,because I was the same exact way.
To my mom, I want you to know how sorry I am. I don’t know why I was so wild. I will never know if anything you did or didn’t do had anything to do with it, but I really don’t think so. I think I just was who I was, and I was drawn to that lifestyle no matter where I went. I really believe that you did the very best you could at least 85% of the time, which is a lot more than most people do. I KNOW you love me more than anyone else does. I can’t imagine…no, I CAN clearly imagine what you went through for ALL of those years.
You see, this evening, I finally had a chance to finish going through a box of miscellaneous notebooks and cards and letters and things that I have been lugging around since the early nineties. I have basically been going through box after box of paper, separating the cards and personal things of mine from Aisley’s, and from my drawings and poetry, and from old bills and garbage. It’s been taking forever, but it’s great to see all this stuff. Tonight, though I don’t usually look at the cards, I did. You know, my mom tried so hard, all of those years, to remind me of who I really was. Every single word she wrote was designed to tell me-“This is not you, Courtney. I KNOW YOU, and I will not let you forget.” I never saw that before, until tonight. Thank you, mom. I am so lucky to have someone love me in such a ferocious way, and to have learned to love that way myself.
And there were so many poems and drawings and letters from Aisley that tell me how much she loves me, and how glad she was that I was her mom. I really needed to see that tonight, because I was starting to believe that things had always been bad, and she had never had a mother she could love. I was questioning my own memories. I was really taking all of her issues as a direct assessment of my parenting. But Aisley is making her own choices now and I am not to blame for that. I have been a MUCH better mom to her since she was seven years old, and that is half of her life now. I have been in her life every minute since the day she was born, too, and you can’t say that about all of her parents. I understand clearly that my mom was just as unsure as I am now, and that she did her best to cope with her child who refused to be parented. It’s hard, it sucks and we are still people- busting our asses, keeping things together, and resentful as hell of this KID who gets everything handed to them and still makes sure we can’t have any happy, stress free time, because they have to act like idiots. My mom deserved a way better deal than she got with me. I love you mom, and I just want to thank you one more time, from the bottom of my heart, for never giving up on me. I know it must have been hard.
And Aisley, I promise you, I will never, ever give up on you. No matter what you think right now about me, no matter what you think about me EVER, my love for you cannot be altered. The years you and I had, just us two, are unique to us. You are the best thing that ever happened to me- if it weren’t for you, I never would have thought I needed to change. I never would have understood love. I never would have become anything. You saved my life, and you are so incredibly special to me. I will always be here for you- you can count on that.
Ugh! I am way bawling, by now. This was so long, I thank anyone who made it through this thing. I’m not even going to re-read it, I am going to leave it be. I said what I wanted to say. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go fetch a roll of paper towels. Goodnight.
Hellloooo! Man, if I can’t manage to finish and post this blog, then I give up. I have been trying for what seems like a very long time to blog about SOMETHING…but for one reason or another, I either couldn’t finish it, and/or decided not to publicize my most private goings-on. I’m fairly certain my life is pretty averagely dysfunctional, but it really makes me wonder about the secrets within families and between people who are closely bound in ANY kind of relationship. I used to talk about everything with anyone, and I still do talk very openly about a lot of stuff-most stuff, even. But time and experience taught me (the slow and painful way, naturally) that some things are not open for discussion. If you discuss something, you are inviting the opinion, advice and judgement of the person you are confiding in, and you just never know who you can really trust 100%. I used to have the biggest mouth in the entire world- I didn’t mean to, and when I said I promised not to tell, I meant it. But even when I tried my hardest, I’d let some small detail slip, and then get so nervous trying to backtrack that eventually, I’d just miserably repeat the gossip, verbatim. Now, I’m older, and not only do I have more self control than I once did, but I also don’t care nearly as much about other peoples issues. That sounds mean, but it’s at least a good indicator that I’m trustworthy. By the time you finish telling me your secret, I’ve already forgotten the first part. Also, if someone wants to know something I don’t want to tell, I just say “yes, I know, but I’m not telling you, so quit fucking bugging me.” which was hard for me in decades past. Ahh…the finer points of growing up.
Speaking of which, my birthday is just a few days off- I am blown away that I am turning 37. Not because I feel like I am old, really, but because I can’t believe how insanely fast my life is going by. It feels like as soon as I get used to being who I am, where I’m at, everything changes again…I honestly remember the day that I turned ten years old so clearly; I was, what? Fourth grade? I sat at the very top of the monkey bars and contemplated the fact that I was now a DECADE old. From here on out, my age would have TWO numbers in it. I literally thought about that, twenty seven years ago, in Fresno, California, at Del Mar Elementary school. That same little girl is still right here, as well as the chubby middle school kid, the mouthy teenager who thought she knew it all. That teenager succumbed to a lifestyle that took her away from dreams she never even had a chance to start dreaming, and that teenager gave way to a young woman who was beautiful and insecure and sick, funny, weak, smart and unkind. Lots and lots of things occurred, lots of time went by, and she didn’t go very far. That same, scared, defeated girl is still here, too. I have been so many different women in my lifetime…life is not perfect, but at least today I am not afraid. I am not terrified of tomorrow. I don’t have to rely on anyone else for my life to move forward. Sometimes I forget the difference between FEELING AS IF my life depends on someone else, and HAVING my life rely on someone else. I’m okay with the person I am today. I turned out all right after all!
There were some blissful times in my life where I really kind of had it all…well, not “all” in the sense of tangible, luxurious things. I had none of that. What I actually had was NOTHING. No rush, no worries, no responsibilities, no place I needed to be. I just did my thing, all the time, partying, up for nights in a row, staying wherever I wound up and never feeling like I had anything less than all the time in the world to get down to business. I dragged that stage out quite a while past where it was appropriate, and it wasn’t the same anymore. I felt time going by, felt the need to be more, have more, see more than I was seeing from that place. So I moved along, finally, and started filling up my life with grown up things. I enjoyed, and still enjoy, the sense of achievement that comes with accomplishing a dream, however small. What I don’t like is the worry and problems that come attached to everything I love or want or value. I worry about my kids, my job, my relationships with people. I worry about money and bills, my car, my phone and my laptop. I worry about my teenager not fitting in, and then about her fitting in too well. I worry about things that happened a long time ago, and things that may very well never happen. I NEVER used to worry about stuff, and now it’s always happening, like background music…I’m humming along, not even aware of the song. Also, I feel stretched a little thin, a lot of the time. These are the things I don’t love about this phase of my life. I want to be calm enough to enjoy all the good stuff that is right in front of me, but there’s so much to do, and so many things going on, and I get that tight, tense, angry feeling…like one little minuscule thing, and I’m going to snap. I don’t like all the chores and rules and activity of being this kind of adult. I feel like I still haven’t quite caught on yet.
Every year, around my birthday, I sort of look at my life and see what’s what, and come up with an idea of where I’d like to go next. Things I’d like to work on, eliminate, think about, and so on. This year, I just want to cut the shit. I want to stop knowing what I need to do, and doing something else instead, and then hating myself for it later. I want to plant my feet firmly on the earth and do what is best for myself, even when I’m scared to death of what that could mean. I want to enjoy the beautiful faces of my daughters, and never forget for a minute how blessed I am or how fast it goes by. I want to find the right words to say to Aisley, to make her softer. I want my Camryn never to have a reason to be so hard. I want to be with people who love me and have my best interest at heart, and I want to recognize when that is not the case. I want to laugh more, cry some, and be angry a LOT less. I want to slow down. I want to stop running, and just slow down. What is the point to this life if I’m too busy to see all of the real and valuable things it contains? I want to remember how much I love, and am loved. That’s my goal this year…and maybe the rest of them, too.
I’m wondering if you guys have that same, surreal feeling about your life ever? Does it seem impossible that you could be however old you are? Are you a worrier, and if so, have you always been, or is it new? Thanks for reading, and I’m so glad to be back!