Six Months

Hey, B.

Just checking in…

I’m sure you have lots and lots going on right now.  I figure that you are still going through an orientation kind of period, where you get to learn about all of the amazing options available to you in the afterlife.  Kid A likes to remind us about the things you planned to do after you were done being sick.  Did you learn to speak Arabic yet?  For some reason, the thought of that always makes me giggle.  السرطان لا يزال يمص حتى ولو يمكنك التحدث باللغة العربية الآن.  In case you haven’t gotten around to learning it yet (like me with my Pimsleur Spanish lessons), that says “Cancer still sucks even though you can now speak Arabic.”  At least according to Google Translate it does.  I sure hope I didn’t just write something offensive.

I talk to or text with your mom and dad now and then, and I also see their posts on Facebook.  They miss you something fierce.  Everybody does.  And your brothers and sisters are still figuring everything out, too.  Hell, I can’t even say this silly little prayer to you without crying.  And now I just said “hell” in a prayer.  I am not very good at this, dammit.

I loved, loved, loved when you gave us a tour of “your spots” when we drove through Washington, D.C. this summer.  We don’t normally even drive through the city (we go around), so I knew something was up.  And then Sheepdog got turned around in the same exact place that I got turned around when I was driving to my 25th high school reunion just a few weeks earlier.  Once was “whatever,” but twice couldn’t have been just coincidence.  Then I looked back from my seat and saw Kid A happy-crying as she whispered, “Braden is here.”

Thank you for that.  It was amazing.

Dear God,  That's a very important Kid you've got up there.  Please make sure he is adjusting okay... sometimes he like to play tough.  Oh, and thank you for beautiful orange sunsets.

Dear God, That’s a very important Kid you’ve got up there. Please make sure he is adjusting okay… sometimes he likes to play the tough guy.  Maybe you could give him some extra hugs or something.  Oh, and thank you for beautiful orange sunsets.

I worry about Kid A sometimes.  She still marks your symbol on her wrist every single day.  Then she traces “Come What May” in your handwriting over top of it.  She wants to get it tattooed, but I am making her wait until she turns 18 to do that.  Sheepdog offered to take her across state lines to Alabama (mostly because he is also campaigning for a new tattoo… you remember the biohazard one he wanted you to get because of all of the chemo?) but I put my foot down.  Yes, I am still a rule follower.  And yes, I am still putting my foot down about stuff.  Tattoos are FOREVER.  But I guess that you will be with her forever too, so I get it.

Over all, she has been handling everything pretty well.  She has the distractions of her senior year to keep her busy.  We hardly see her at home.  But I worry about her most when the busy stops.  And every once in a while she will say something that gives me pause.

Like when she said, “I am afraid to get close to anybody because the people I love die.”

And honestly, I didn’t know what to say back.  Because – technically – she is right.  You died.  Everybody dies.  Some die later and some die sooner, but we all die.  It is one of those yin/yang facts of life.  Yet, we can’t guard ourselves so closely that we never let anyone in, either.  So, I hugged her and let her cry about you and I reminded her that she can’t let fear dictate her choices in life.  We keep encouraging her to do more counseling and therapy.  And she has been trying hard to do fun things and meet new people this year, so I think she is going to be okay.  But I will continue to keep an eye on her just in case.

And maybe you can keep doing your surprise drop-ins, too.  In between your Arabic lessons, of course.

I miss you, Kid.

xo

I Say It’s My Birthday

It seems like turning 16 just happened to me yesterday.  Well,  for that matter, so does turning 21, 30, 40, and even 42, but… man.  What are the odds that I would wake up today and it is my birthday once again?

One in three hundred and sixty-five, give or take.

Birthdays usually make me nostalgic.  They make me contemplative.  The put me in the mood to evaluate where I’ve been and where I am and where I want to go.  They remind me that everybody is getting older and that time is passing and that life goes on even though we are all going to die eventually.

chickenglass

I’m just kidding about the last part, even though it is true.  If you didn’t know already, I’m one of those pessimists masquerading as an optimist, with a heaping dose of sarcasm sprinkled on top.

Anyway, I have decided this year to forego the standard contemplation exercises of life and death and accomplishments and failures.  I shall instead spend the day making the most of it and enjoying the heck out of it and treating myself like a queen, like so many of my very smart Facebook friends have suggested already.  The kids all gathered in the kitchen before school and presented me with an awesome card that they made, which made me very happy and smiley-faced for a multitude of reasons.  Especially because one kid felt the need to sign his full name, because… “Who knows if you will remember who I am?”  I busted out the bread machine and started baking the first honey wheat loaf of the season to go with a tray of lasagna I plan on making for dinner.  And Sheepdog promised me a professional massage (his are decidedly un-professional, I assure you) this weekend.  All good stuff.

After school the kids have tutoring and ballet and baseball and football, so I’ll likely spend many of the evening hours in my car.  But that is okay, because I will use that time to hang out and talk with my goofy kids, making memories and sharing experiences with them.  Likely that will make me want to kill some, if not all, of them by bedtime, so maybe Sheepdog can take over before that happens and I will enjoy a glass of wine or two.  Then Sheepdog and I can hang out and talk before I finally climb into my super-comfy bed, which is getting switched over today with my favorite seasonal down comforter, courtesy of the Frost on the Pumpkin (it was 37 ° when we woke up this morning!).  Hopefully, I will drift off to a  pleasant dream-filled, yet uninterrupted (by children, husband, or the need to pee), full night of sleep.

Now, that sounds like a very Happy Birthday indeed.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

It Was Definitely the Hair

The future has arrived.  I can listen to whatever song I choose, make a phone call and send a message (through the air!), all from one device that fits in the palm of my hand.  I can push a button and whatever flavor coffee I want comes out of the machine instantly (like in Judy Jetson’s kitchen!).  “Space Tourism” is an actual industry.  I can even load a photo onto my computer and the computer will identify the people in the picture.

I am sorry, but that last one freaks me out a little bit.  A computer can LOOK at a picture and IDENTIFY PEOPLE from it.  Like when your kid pulls out an old, square Fotomat photo from a dusty box, wipes it off and asks, “Who is that little boy, Mama?”  And you squint and jog your memory and say, “Um, I think that was my uncle, back when he was young and super cute, you know – before he started smoking pot all the time and living with the crazy cat lady who didn’t wear underpants to your aunt’s wedding reception.  Yeah, that was him.  Don’t do drugs.”

A bunch of different computer applications have face recognition software now… iPhoto has had it for a while and Facebook apparently has it too.  I get how it works (our souls have a fingerprint-like uniqueness and the computers have a way of recognizing those very specific and detailed nuances), but I am leery of it at the same time.  I would feel so much better – and the computers would seem so much less alive – if they were just measuring the distance between the eyes, width of the nose, depth of the eye sockets, shape of the cheekbones and the length of the jawbone.

So I was reassured and very pleasantly surprised the other day when Kid A posted her Hermione picture on her Facebook account and the computer identified her as… ME!

Now, let me give you a little background.  Kid A is the first grandchild on both sides, so all of the relatives gathered together in the hospital room when she was born.  My mom was so excited and overwhelmed to have a grandchild.  She stared down at the minutes-old new life, scanned her beautiful baby face and gushed to me with joy, “She looks just like you!”

Everyone in the room responded, “Stacy looked just like Sheepdog as a baby?”

Seriously, Kid A looked exactly like Sheepdog and nothing like the woman who just attempted ripping the rails off of the hospital bed while forcing another human out of her body.  And while Kid A’s looks have changed over the years, she has always most closely resembled her Daddy.  Yet the computer identified her not as him, nor even as herself, but as me the other day.

Why did the software recognition program identify Kid A as me, you ask?  I mean, yes, she is my kid but we really do not look alike.  We clearly have different noses, different eyes, and very different face shapes.

There’s only one logical conclusion.  It was definitely the hair.  Unmistakable, big, Jersey Girl hair.  She DOES look just like me!

Kid A (but Me, according to Facebook), 2011

Me, 1987