The Shadow Your Smile

November 17, 2016

I am burying my Dad today.

How did we get here? A man who, until ALS imprisoned his body, walked a minimum of 2 miles a day – rain, snow or sunshine – and who worked out at the gym three times a week – physically fit and mentally sharper than most of us on a good day. Up until the very last day of his life he was still planning, inventing and learning.

He was an artist in the every sense – cartoon sketches filled the margins of the daily newspaper and covered not only the return envelopes of bills but also every napkin in the house. An accomplished pianist, he played in several jazzy bands from the forties through the sixties, and every evening before supper, he tinkled those ivories. The melodic notes would float out of the window and onto the street on many a summer evening, causing people to look up as they walked by the house. A favorite was The Shadow of Your Smile…each note of that song is embedded in the very fibers of my being…and today I am thinking of how appropriate that song is.

He never stopped “living.” At the height of his illness, when asked how he was doing, his standard reply was “Pretty good!”…even though he had become a prisoner in his own body. Dad always saw the silver lining in life and was not one who believed in problems, only solutions. He loved his family – we were everything – and he forever loved my mother like the 25 year old young man who first saw her, standing on the church steps at the wedding of a mutual friend. She was his lover, muse and best friend….I believe the term for that is “Soul Mate.”

He would constantly remind us to celebrate everything – and so I will, Dad…

…as I remember the shadow of  your smile.

 

 

 

 

 

Lucky Collision

June 12, 2016

30 years ago today my husband and I literally collided and fell in love within an instant. We had been working together for a year and perhaps the tiniest of sparks had flown between us once or twice but nothing more. Then, that fateful Thursday afternoon we were at a ratings party (a quarterly celebration, infamous in the broadcasting industry). We sat on two bar stools engaged in smart, witty conversation – a guy joined us, a real “mover and shaker” (or so he thought) but he was really more like a Big Bad Wolf, tongue out and saliva dripping, just waiting to take advantage. He was considerably older and I was just a young thing and with my twenty-something sass I brushed him off…much to the amusement of my husband.

What followed was my husband offering me a lift home. We went back to the radio station to get his briefcase and as we stood alone, on opposite ends of the elevator, there was an incredible unspoken tension and magnetic pull….and as if in a movie – we suddenly rushed into each other`s arms and collided in a kiss. What happened next was a blur of dashing in and out of the radio station and getting into his ugly brown car  (seriously – who owns a brown sedan in their twenties? Another story in itself). We stopped at a red light and he leaned over and kissed me passionately on the lips and told me that that was what red lights were for….this from a man who was so reserved, never showing an ounce of flirtatiousness.

Once at my apartment – passion took over yet again, movie-like in every way. We were on fire and love literally exploded into fireworks. By midnight he had to leave and as I stood on the balcony of my cheap little apartment and watched him walk backwards, waving constantly to me until he finally he reached his car….I knew. I just knew.

What followed was a passionate haze that somehow seems to still surround us. Usually such explosive fire doesn’t seem to last, it often fizzles as two people burn themselves out -yet our passion continues today. The haze has cleared somewhat over the years as we have weathered the ups and downs of life – having children, losing parents, job changes, renovating a house….all the things that make life, LIFE.

So here we are – thirty years later –  and the absolute truth is that he rushes home to be with me every single night and my heart still leaps as he walks in the door, and when I see him walk towards me , he still looks 27 years old…making my heart skip a beat.

All week the weather station has been predicting rain for today – but guess what? As I sit here writing this….the sun is out and shining so brightly as the fireworks continue.

 

 

 

Fairweather Friends

June 4, 2016

FRIEND. Everyone seems to have their own interpretation of that word.

It can mean everything pure and true that your heart can hold – or it can mean the vaguest of air kisses – emptiness at its fullest.

What I have learned is that there is a tremendous responsibility to the word “Friend” – a responsibility that a lot of people are completely incapable of, although they are always the ones who pride themselves on being so supportive. Yet they unwittingly disappoint by neglecting to follow through on all of their words….their empty words…words that they believe are wrapping you up in a warm and comforting invisible hug. Truth is, all they are wrapping you up in, is spiritual plastic wrap.

Then there are the people who surprise you. The people who come out from the tiny, hidden corners in your life that you forgot existed; either quietly on their own or in a warm circle  – and with arms wide open they envelope you, they hold you up and face you forward. What a lovely unexpected gift.

Friend. Someone we should all strive to be every day -somehow …even in the smallest way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Death, lower your voice

April 13, 2016

Death first began to whisper, ever so faintly in my ear about 2 1/2 years ago when my father’s ALS symptoms became seriously apparent. I mean it wasn’t exactly the first time in my life that I heard his voice – but up until then it has been sporadic. From time to time since then, Death has raised his voice from a whisper to a raspy taunt as if his intention was  to send a chill through my soul; almost as if he was enjoying a cruel joke. By that autumn he had robbed my mother/best friend’s spirit, leaving me with an emptiness that no one will ever be able to fill. nothing will ever be the same again…and there’s nothing I can do it about it – no matter how hard I wish it – oh, and I have wished it.

The New Year saw Death charge out of the starting gate, head thrown back in glee as he raised is voice laughing in an icy macabre cackle. In January he stained my youth by taking some of my teen icons. February he blew in on the winter’s wind and stole the roommate from my twenties…someone who I had been tirelessly searching for over the last few years  – and with no shame at all, he snatched her a mere three weeks before I managed to find her…ironically in the obituaries.

Now, most recently,  he took our family’s beloved pet. Yes, she was old…but had not been sick at all and in a swift two weeks we had to watch her falter and fail – with no words available to console or comfort her.

Death – I know that you are a part of Life, and a part of Life that I believe needs to be someone respected…but damn you Death…I am so tired of hearing you whisper and giggle in my ears, in my dreams and chilling my heart.  I’m sick of you  – I am so sick of you and wish you would just go away….or, at the very least …. lower your voice so that I can’t hear you anymore.

 

 

 

 

A Wedding

April 2, 2016

A dear friend of mine told me last night that her middle son is getting married this summer….and I swear, as the words of  her news hit my ears – the sound of beautiful bluebirds reverberated all around the room. There is just something so sweet and so beautiful hearing the news that two people who are a perfect unit, a perfect team, are about to embark on this most romantic of days. I watched, as in my mind’s eye, a thousand flower petals swirled around room…perhaps – mostly around my heart, for in that instant, I was swept back to that magical moment when I said ” I do”….almost 30 years ago and the glimmering glow still remains, still shines in my heart.

…and this is what I wish for them both.

Walls

March 11, 2016

Walls….wonderful walls…the wonder of walls…oh, the wonder of – it all.

A guilty pleasure or mine is to take the occasional tour of a house that is up for sale in my neighborhood. Partially it’s because I’m curious and quite frankly, to be honest, mainly because I am just that… curious. Not too long ago,  I found myself all alone while looking through a house – it was a moment when there were no prospective buyers milling about – just me. As I wandered through the rooms I could feel the laughter…the family dinners, the holiday parties. This was what I like to call a “happy house.” Sometimes I walk though houses where the the tears almost seem to stream down the walls and the arguments echo in the halls…..  in an “unhappy house.”

Then I wonder about my own house…someday, will someone walk through and feel the home that it was? Will the laughter tinkle from the chandelier in the dining-room where there have been countless celebratory dinners and afternoons spent playing Scrabble? Will happy energy race down the staircase that I love to drift down each morning and that my 3 children have raced up and pounded down with schoolbooks and backpacks in tow? How about the passion, creativity and sometimes frustration that buzzes around my kitchen where nightly dinner are in a daily state of conception?  Then there are the tears from times when life’s weight seem too heavy to bear and hearts were broken…will those tears they trickle down the walls?

And the Love…what of the love? The tender kisses, freely given hugs, playful tickles and comforting embraces….will they swirl around and take someone ‘s heart by surprise?

All those feelings – happy, sad, scared and celebratory are being absorbed on a daily basis in my walls. I like to think that hopefully, they will one day embrace, strengthen and inspire someone as they did when we moved into this happy house.

Walls….wonderful walls…the wonder of walls…oh, the magic of – it all.

 

 

Lost and Found

March 4, 2016

Middle age is a funny thing – a funny place to be. Around this time you begin to look back on your life – I mean really look back. People that have been floating around in the very back of your mind begin to surge forward…as does your 25 year-old self. So, as a not -so- middle aged gal, people began to creep in and out or my mind and about 5 years ago after having finally managed to navigate the wonderful (or is it?) world of social networking I set out to find my old friend and room mate. No matter how hard I tried – no matter where I looked, she was nowhere to be found, which was odd because we  had both been in the music/PR industry where everybody knows everybody and keeping a low profile just isn’t a profile.

We had been room mates when I moved from my big city hometown to another big city – introduced by my band’s booking agent for whom she did work. We were in our fabulous 20s  -young, vibrant, gorgeous and full of dreams. We clicked instantly, our love of all things music, spiritual and paranormal bonding us together. So often the sun was just starting to come up after having we had spent a whole night pondering the abstract….pondering the after-life, a common interest in the life of most 20-somethings as we all try to figure out who we are and where we are going.

I remember baking cookies that regularly burned, which frequently sent our crazy neighbour over to our apartment in search of an apparently delicious sample -according to her (hence, the “crazy”). How many times did we take long walks along the boardwalk at ungodly hours, much to the chagrin of our only responsible neighbour. We were always so busy sharing our dreams for fame and fortune, loved attending parties, dinners and conferences and we were always there to pick each other up after heartbreaks and break-ups and rescue each other from horrible dates.

We were pretty much joined at the hip….at least for awhile.

Then, I fell in love …. and my focus on a wedding, marriage and children collided with her focus on a career/no marriage or children and that became the raft that floated us apart. After I married, we saw each other occasionally, when my husband and I would come to town for a visit.

Years passed. We both moved on along our chosen paths. She crept in and out of my mind – never out of my heart – and after almost 5 years I began to actively look for her but every line that I cast out just floated there in the social network ocean with not one bite….until this week.

In the same moment, my happy surprise shattered my heart as her name appeared in the form of an obituary.

I missed her by just 3 weeks.