Monday, 27 August 2012

March 9, 2006

     I pulled my sweater around me tighter, wincing with the pain of my incision stitches being pulled too far too soon. I lifted my legs up onto the window ledge laying my face on the cold glass. I didn’t even notice I was crying until the tears started falling from my eyes. I let them come, needing the release.
     I woke up in the Intensive Care Unit ten hours after my surgery. I was having a lot of trouble breathing on my own during the operation and in recovery so the ICU would be my home for 24 hours because I needed close monitoring, just to be safe.
I had been out so long that by the time I woke up in my room it was well after midnight. My mother had waited restlessly all day but the nurse sent her home. I’m glad she did. I always hate knowing that people are just waiting and worrying.
    When I woke up I had a breathing tube down my throat. The nurses pulled it out when I was still only semi-conscious but I still felt like I was suffocating. Luckily, after surgery the doctors like you to be up and moving as soon as possible. So when I’d asked my nurse to help me down the hall so I could look out the window she was impressed at my ambition. My throat was still scratchy from the tube and crying certainly wasn’t  helping any.
     “Now what could a pretty young girl like you possibly have to cry about?!”
     A short elderly man in a long blue robe that looked like it had seen better days came up to the window and sat down next to me. He asked me in a gruff voice that made it sound like it was such a pain to bother asking, but his blue eyes twinkled showing his kindness.
     “I don’t feel young,” I said. “I’m probably about your age on the inside.” I gave him a half smile.
     “That’s funny because I feel like I’m about your age on the inside,” he gave me a grin and I instantly loved him. He sounded just like my grandfather.
     “You know, I have no idea why I’m crying. Over everything and nothing all at once.  I feel like such a burden on my family sometimes. I’m almost 30….I want to be able to take care of myself.”
     “Kitten, my kids are in their forties and they are still my babies. Parents always want to love their kids up – no matter how old they are.” He sat there with me for over an hour, telling me about how he would bring his daughter Popsicles when she got her tonsils out at age six. About how his grandson broke his arm falling out of a tree because his older brother told him he could fly if he concentrated hard enough. All the while he was talking he made me laugh. I felt like I knew him my whole life. His cheeks were rosy and his voice was strong.
     “You know, you don’t seem sick. Most of the other patients on this floor can barely move let alone go around cheering up damsels in distress.”
     “Well, I’m a lot better today. But you should get back to bed. I’ll walk you.”
He helped me off the window ledge and sauntered slowly down the hall beside me. When we got to my room I let him tuck me in as if I was a child. I think he let himself enjoy it as much as I did.
     “Thank you for cheering me up,” I said, half asleep. I smiled at him and he pinched my toe and left the room.
     The next morning when the nurses did their rounds I asked who the friendly old man in the ratty blue robe was. I scolded myself for being so rude, not asking him his name.
     “Winston Brant,” Cindy, my nurse smiled. Cindy was beautiful and she reminded me of a friend I had in grade school. “What a doll! Such a charmer!”
     “He’s really great. He made me feel so much better last night in the TV room. I was crying and he sat down and told me stories for hours.” The young nurse looked at me with a furrowed brow, obviously confused.
     “You must have had some crazy dream,” she said. “Must be the pain killers. Your  night nurse told me you weren’t able to get up last night. And….poor Mr. Brant died yesterday afternoon.”
      My nurse knew as well as I did that I was in surgery yesterday afternoon before being transferred here from the eighth floor. She gave me an odd look. 
     After she gave me an injection of pain medication I started to feel drowsy again. I tried to make sense of what happened. Was I dreaming? I thought about his baby blue eyes and his mischievous smile. I smiled to myself knowing that I may never be able to understand exactly what had happened that night. What I would always know, though, is how grateful I was, that for some reason I was lucky enough to have him with me.

******************************************************************************* I was lucky enough to have my grandfather with me for all my life. Now I carry him in my heart. Love you and miss you Papa. Duncan MacLeod Nov. 22, 1927 - Aug. 20, 2011  

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Remnants. August 24, 2012

     It’s dark. I hear someone say my name.
     Name:__________ There’s a paper on a desk in front of me. My tenth grade History teacher, Mr. Wallis is standing in front of a crowded room. You have to write your name, he says. I look up and my classmates are staring at me. What’s your name? It’s me, I say. Jane. What is this test for again? I look up at the board and it swirls colors with paragraphs and pictures of Anne Boleyn and Peter Rabbit. It’s ok. I know this stuff. I’m smart. I went to college. But my test is full of questions about Russian politics and my hands start to sweat. Panic.  I didn’t study for this. Why didn’t I study? I always do so well in school. I wasn’t supposed to be here.
     I get up and the room is darker. Heads are hunched over desks as I walk past them to the door. I’m not supposed to be here. I push my way through the crowded hallways of my high school. The doors to my escape were bright and hazy, seeming a thousand miles away. The looks were worse than I remember. Everyone is staring. Then I realize I can hear them thinking, lips unmoving - it doesn’t make sense.  Their eyes are talking. She slept with him. We can tell. What a slut. He has a girlfriend. She probably forced him. He would never be interested in her.  
     I hated him. I hated myself but I hated him more. I’m in my childhood home, climbing far away to the roof to watch the stars. I’m crying and then he’s next to me. I ask him to go away but he won’t. He tells me I want him to be there, that he knows that I want him. I wipe my eyes and look at him, love and hate and young passion pounding in my chest. He is even more handsome after all these years. Where has he been? Why does he still look seventeen? I hate you, I say and his lips come crashing into mine and the ache in my chest is throbbing through me. I kiss him. Angry kisses. I’ve missed you kisses. I hate you kisses.   
     Why do you do this to me?
     You do this to me, he says. I love you. I need you. His hands are everywhere and we’re tangled, reaching and holding, unable to get close enough. I can feel the shingles of the roof beneath our nest of blankets. My legs are wrapped around his waist as he lifts my shirt over my head. I brace myself, terrified of being visible in the light of the moon. No, I say. My scars, I can’t. What scars? He says and begins a trail of kisses down my neck, my breasts heaving. I’m breathing hard. You have no scars, you’re beautiful. I look at my stomach and it is creamy pale and smooth. We can’t do this, I say. It’s barely a whisper so I try again but he’s inside me. Sparks tickle my belly, my legs, my lips. Tiny fireworks all over. 
     No one can know. He has a girlfriend. We will be strangers. Part of my heart breaks.  His eyes are on mine and inside my head and they tell me this is real. I remember. His eyes are pleading for me to believe him and we hold each other closer, rising into the cotton candy dashes of dawn clouds across the sky. My heart beats faster as I rise to meet him and there are butterflies everywhere lifting us to the sun, getting brighter and brighter.
     I’m alone now.
     My eyes open slowly, then blinking fast against the hot morning light pouring in through the window. I'm waking up, trying to make sense of the heaviness. My sixteen year old heart inside my chest was still pounding. I try to reach back inside my head, grasping for remnants. I blink and survey the room. My apartment, son’s toys, everything waking up and making sense. I’m shaken and broken. Decades have passed.  The aches fade and the details blur. Soon I’m left with a longing but I can’t find the reasons.  Awakeness has taken over. I lay in bed curious as to why my heart feels raw and I’m missing someone.  I just can’t place who.  It was just a dream.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

August 13 2012

   Yesterday I ducked into the antique shop I drive by everyday on my way home from clinic. My brother is getting married next summer, and his fiance mentioned she would like to use vintage mason jars as part of the centerpieces. I made my way to my favorite part of the store past all the glass cases with shiny treasures, all the way at the back to the room with housewares. I entered and there on an antique mahogany dining table was a robin's egg blue vintage typewriter with white keys. I have always, always wanted one.
   When I was fourteen, my grandmother gave me a lend of an old type-writer she had been holding for a friend. I barely came out of my room. I wrote stories. I wrote journal entries. I typed up a phone list with all my friends numbers. When I ran out of things to type I cataloged every book in my bookcase, taped a corresponding numbered, lettered tag to the spine of each one creating my very own library.
  It was classic, made with heavy metals that gave it a trusty dependability. Nothing like flimsy plastic keyboards of our time. Yes, I know it's not practical. There's just something so dreamy about it to me. Think about all the stories those keys have told over the years! This was Lois Lane's typewriter. This was Nancy Drew's typewriter.  I loved the sticky clack-clack of those keys. There's something romantic about a letter typed on an old typewriter. When loved ones of yesteryear were forced to be apart, they received letters typed by the ones they love. Paper they touched, maybe sprayed with perfume and with a picture tucked into the folds.
   I didn't even see the clerk walk up to me until he asked me if I needed help and shook me back to reality. I picked up six mason jars, all sizes, and drove home. I won't lie though, the whole time I've been sitting here writing, I've been wishing it was on that heavy, old blue typewriter. Curled up in my chair, soft glow of the lamp, just clack-clack-clacking those keys all night long.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

January 2003

   Pain washed over me and I tumbled through the crashing heaviness as though it were waves pulling me under. It seared hot through my body, the back of my eyelids blazing red as though I were blocking out the sun. Travis squeezed my hand and kissed my forehead but I pushed him away. I’ve always been like that. My own mother could never calm me with a tender pat on the back even as a child. When I am fighting with the pain I don’t want to be touched. I don’t want a cold cloth. I don’t want a drink of water.  I don’t want to stand up or walk or sit down. I don’t want anything. I just want quiet. 
   This is different, though.  I have to keep reminding myself of that. This pain is very different. This was not pain I was fighting. This pain had a reward.
   Last June I had been wrapping up a public relations internship at the local children’s hospital. After the week long turmoil leading up to the annual televised fundraiser, by the time that last tote board tallied up our record-breaking amount, I was a wreck. This had been the busiest week of my life. I worked  hectic 14 hour days putting together media kits, scripting interviews, and making sure there was an on-air schedule to fit in every  grade school class in five counties.  
   I ducked down a dark hallway and into an empty bathroom.  I ran cold water and splashed my face. Why was I so dizzy? I ate today didn’t I? Wasn’t there a sandwich tray in the boardroom at lunch? It seems like forever ago. I’ve been awake for days. It was a tuna sandwich, I think. Tuna with pickles, like my Papa used to make.  Orange Tang to drink. My belly heaved and I lunged forward, barely making it to the stall as the remnants of my lunch came up. After sitting for a few minutes with wet cold paper towel on my forehead I chalked it up to stress and decided to skip the celebratory wrap party with all my co-workers and head home.  
“I bet you’re pregnant.” Nicki said, as we were getting ready to go out dancing the next weekend. I threw a magazine at her and pulled my dress down over my head.
“You’re nuts. I can’t get pregnant remember!? Besides we were both careful. The odds are in my favor!”
“Well…I didn’t want to go out dancing and maybe have a drink and have to worry…So I bought you a pregnancy test on my way here.” She tossed the box at me. “If it’s negative we go have a drink, go dancing and forget about it! I just have a hunch.”
  Laughing, I grabbed the box from her, rolled my eyes and told her she was crazy. I took the box with me to the bathroom. I read the instructions. Pee on stick. Wait 3 minutes. Pink = Yes. Blue = No. Easy enough.
   Within thirty seconds a bright pink plus sign stared me in the face. I blinked, shook the stick, read the directions again, put it down, timed exactly three minutes, and looked again.            Shit.
  Over the next twenty-seven weeks spent I in the maternity ward of the same hospital that had taken care of me as a child, my adult body was pushed beyond it's limits by the little man inside me. I wasn’t strong enough to take care of both of us. They hooked me up to machines that would administer all the fluids, medication, lipids, vitamins and minerals we would need.  
  They told me it was not smart to have the baby. They told me the risks. They told me my options. They told me my actions would be "justified". They told Travis to consider the fact he may only be bringing one, or possibly neither of us, home from the hospital.  Poor Travis. We’d only been together less than six months. I could tell he was a good, kind person.  I knew how lucky I was to have him support me through this. I may not have known him long, but already I could see him being a good father. He stayed by my side when most other guys would have gone running. 
   Everyone who loves me was really worried. In particular, my father. He could barely hide his anger towards my decision to take this chance. I tried explaining to my mother.
 “It just feels right to me. I can’t explain it. Everything happens for a reason! I never in a million years thought this could happen! If something so terrible is supposed... I feel as though there would be something in my gut telling me it’s wrong. What if it’s my only chance!? If I never get pregnant again I wouldn't be able to forgive myself. I need to try. I have to try. I'm not scared.”
   Another wave of pain writhed through me. I clenched Travis’ hand.  The pain faded off but I knew it would be mere moments until it was back. I looked around the Labor and Delivery room. There was an incubator standing by. Surgeons on call with an operating room prepped. So many precautions being made, fearing the worst. But I had meant what I said. I’m not scared. I’m ready for this. I felt another contraction coming on and began to push.
   They didn’t know what I knew. Having this baby wasn’t going to kill me. Having this baby was going to save my life.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Four Thousand Thank Yous

My readers are the BEST!! I never could have imagined that when I finally mustered up enough courage to put my writing out here, how amazing the feedback would be. I have had just over 4,000 readers as of last night. Over 2,300 of those were in July alone. And we've barely cracked the first week of August! 
All your emails, comments, encouragement & compliments have meant so much to me. My writing is my diary, my therapy, and my safe place. It feels amazing to know that there are people out there who enjoy reading it. Thank you <3 xo
Ps: You can now 'Like' me on Facebook at :)

Thursday, 2 August 2012

August 2012

   It’s crazy how hearing one song can take you back.
I was driving to the hospital. The radio was on, low volume, barely audible. In a corner of my mind the sound triggered something familiar. I turned it up.
   It was the week before graduation. The weather on the island had been warm and beautiful all spring. Exams were over and the looming future of the rest of our lives was hanging in the distance. We could feel the pull but we weren’t ready to give up our high school youth just yet.
   My two best friends, Karen & Keliegh and I decided to take a road trip to our favorite beach. It was a few hours away, tucked between the winding road up the highlands of our beautiful island. We were laughing and gossiping, listening to music.
“Wait! Wait! Turn this up! I love this song!”
   We danced in our seats, windows down, hair flying every which way, music blaring. We fell into giggle-fits of hysteria loving each other’s company while at the same time pushing down the knot in our stomachs that we didn’t dare to talk about.         At the end of summer, we would be walking separate ways. Karen was heading west  where she would rise up the ranks with an engineering company and marry her best friend who she realized she loved after he finally got up the nerve to kiss her after four years. Kel is 31 and single for the first time . She became an independent woman with a thriving Public Relations firm . She's been celebrating her successes by traveling.  Year after year passes and our best-friends-forever promises made back then still tie us together.
   I would go to university with life plans to become a journalist. I thought I knew everything there was to know about my illness and learned to cope and control it for the most part. During the next ten years my life  it would twist, turn and battle me in so many ways. Somehow I ended up here. Mother of an incredible boy. Working on my first novel. Rich in ways beyond my wildest dreams. 
  Who would have known back then that for the rest of our lives when we heard those songs they would take us back. Back to high school dances. Back to driving down our town’s only main road a million times.  Back to road trips to the city. Back to beach parties. Back to first kisses. Back to first dances. Back to first break-ups. Who would have known back then that these songs would become the soundtrack of our younger selves.We had no idea we were on the edge of all the experiences that would make up who we are and how we love.  What we do and who we’re meant to be. 
   Forever when we hear those songs it taps us in to that part of us who wishes that we could go back. Even if it’s only for one song.