Tag Archives: friendship

These Are Days

These are days, you’ll remember
Never before and never since, I promise
Will the whole world be warm as this and as you feel it

“These Are Days”, 10,000 Maniacs

I remember receiving the message from a vintage friend. He told me that our friend was sick. Fucking Cancer. I gotta say, yeah cancer sucks, but you gotta give it to fucking cancer for getting you off your ass and take stock and tell people that they are loved and let them love you. I was lucky enough to have that chance with her, and over the last two years of her life, especially during the last six months, where we had several conversations over email, text, and Facebook. I remember she was at the hospital doing a iron infusion and was bored and her iPad wasn’t streaming and couldn’t go anywhere or do anything. She was telling me that she just finished her sad little pop tart and now what?

I told her jokes. Really stupid, bad jokes. I found funny videos.  We made up a song about needing to pee but being attached to an IV pole. She asked me about the things going on in my life, so I told her about my silly life. It felt really uncomfortable telling her about my problems when she was desperately trying to not die and fight cancer. We reminisced about sleepovers in junior high, listening to Purple Rain and those horrible parrots her mom had, which, by the way, terrified me every time I slept over. I was too embarrassed and didn’t want to be seen as ‘not cool’, although I suspect my Pat Benatar hairstyle and Harry Caray glasses probably negated any concerns.

One thing we talked about was our hang-ups and when we think someone else has got it all, we’ve got to remember that chance are, they are just as insecure as we are. When we were teenagers, I thought my friend was so amazing and so cool. I was so envious- she was smart, kind, popular and so beautiful. She had AMAZING hair, and her smile? Man, she had a radiance and glow that was contagious. I’m glad I got to tell her that. But really, I was happier to hear that she wasn’t always so sure of herself, but that she had learned, especially because of fucking cancer that the critics mattered a whole lot less than her own truth.

One thing we talked about was bad days- and good days too, but when we’d complain about the shitty things, all I kept hearing in my head was, “there will be days.” There will be days- days when you just don’t know if you are doing any of it right. Days where it just seems too, too hard. They seem to go on forever, but these are just days. There are other days where you feel invincible. Where ideas flow, energy is plentiful and love shines on you everywhere you look. These never last long enough, these days.

This is our life. A series of days, good and bad, and none of them are on our terms. I don’t mean to sound melodramatic, but I’ve learned that most things will happen with or without my input. People I love will have beautiful, healthy babies, get new jobs, buy their dream homes and have wonderful relationships. People I love will get stupid fucking cancer. People I love will struggle over things big and small. People, who I think have it all, have crap days, but I just might not see them. And some people will avoid these days at all costs, not only ignoring the bad days, but missing the good ones completely.

I have had all of these days too. I guess what I am trying to say is that I can’t give everything to each of these days. I have to accept that they are just days in my life and all get to have a place in my story. And after my friend died, when we were sitting at her house after her funeral, I was struck with a sense of gratitude that I got to have a role in the story of her life. Maybe it was just a small part, kind of like when I got to play “Friend #1” in the Buffalo Grove High School presentation of “Oklahoma!”. I killed it by the way. I sat on that grassy knoll and pretended to be really devoted to whatever the lead chick was saying. My point is, I had a part. It didn’t matter if I was the lead or in the background, I was part of the story.

Lately, I’ve put a lot of stock into not only letting my bad days define me and the days that follow, but also the size of my role in the story. I’m working hard to take steps to pursue a dream, and I’m getting close to realizing it. But then I get scared and want to throw it away. I get stuck in my own hang-ups and start comparing myself to others. I take things personally. And really, none of it is anything more than my own insecurity and fear and remember that the critics don’t count for much. Then I remember my dear friend and how these are just days. Beautiful days that I want to remember.

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Filed under fear, self-confidence, truth

Little Green

“There’ll be icicles and birthday clothes
And sometimes there’ll be sorrow”

Joni Mitchell, Little Green

It would always start the week before. I’d find myself slip away a bit, not really a depression, more like melancholy. I’d open my closet, find my pity party dress, get all dressed up, and ready to jump into a week long funk. For years, I didn’t know why. It’s my birthday. I’m supposed to be excited to celebrate another year and to spend time with friends and family. I’m supposed to be happy, right? And yet, year after year, exactly one week before the day, I was a wreck. Anxious, hiding, waiting for it to be over. At the same time, I wanted to be celebrated and loved.

For years, I felt an emptiness on my birthday that I could not fully articulate. As an adoptee, feelings of abandonment came up that I could easily justify away, but never really ignore. I found that my justification was for others. My arrival into a new family was a happy celebration, but I always felt a little like a commodity. I was the THING that changed their lives. This baby made things better. This is an INCREDIBLY uncomfortable thing to say out loud and I don’t for one minute think that my parents or any other adoptive parent think of their child as property or something other than their child. But still, despite knowing that my parents didn’t feel this way, every year, I felt sad because of the day I was born. I was given up, a mistake and something that was not good news for a teenage girl. I spent years denying that this sentiment because I could easily point to a million reasons why I was grateful and lucky. I never told my parents because my birthday was one of the best days of their lives. I appreciated that this was true for them, but it also made me feel guilty for not always feeling the same.

So every year, this abandoned little girl crept towards me, and year after year, I’d try to avoid her. A couple years ago, I started to pay attention and not run away from her. I slowly let her get closer and take up space, but still kept her a safe distance away.  I’ve grown accustomed to her though, and over the course of years, I’ve let myself get to know her. Listen to her. Tell her it’s okay. Okay to feel like you were a mistake, lots of people, adopted and biological, feel this way. But what I’ve also been able to do is look at it differently now that I am mother. When my kids hurt or struggle, I want desperately to make them- and myself to some degree- feel better. I want to tell them to NOT feel that way, that they SHOULDN’t feel that way, but here’s the thing: THEY DO. It’s all them, and if I give them the space to feel whatever they feel, maybe I can help them give it a voice and hopefully, they can come to some reconciliation. I hope I can be a better friend and partner to others, that I can listen and say, “I see you’re broken, and I’m just going to hold you until you feel a little better.” I’ve learned that was all I wanted, and by doing this for them, I’ve had to hold myself and to do the same. So, I’ve given myself permission to feel sad on my birthday and for some birthdays, I do. It’s MY birthday… not my parents, not a young girl who ended up in a sticky situation, not my own children. It’s MY birthday, and I’ve discovered a beauty in celebrating my life, even the parts that hurt. The broken parts of us all make the others more shiny. They all make up the woman I’ve become, who, by the way, I now know isn’t a mistake.

P.S. Don’t worry Mom, today I’m very happy. Thank you and Dad for giving me the best THING I could ever have. A beautiful family who may not get me most of the time, but loves me always. I love you.

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Filed under Motherhood, Personal Growth, truth

Vintage Friends

I’ve written before about my addiction to Facebook, but one thing I truly love is being able to stay connected to friends new and old.  Actually, I prefer to call these friends, “Vintage”.  One of the definitions of the word (as defined by Merriam-Webster) is ” a collection of contemporaneous and similar persons or things”.  Ok, so I had to look up contemporaneous, but whatever.  I think it is a great way to describe some of the friends I get to keep in touch with via Facebook.  Whether it is my friends from college or from my hometown, I get to see what goes on in their lives today, what’s important to them, their politics (whether I agree or not) and pictures of them and their families.  I also get to wish them happy birthday.

Today, two of my most vintage friends celebrate birthdays.  When I think of them, I smile a lot.  I laugh a lot, too.  I have so many memories collected, like a giant scrapbook in my mind.  We used to sleep over at one of the girl’s house on Saturday nights a lot.  We’d make pizza rolls and her parents went out for dinner.  We thought we were big shots, having the house to ourselves, but really, I think her parents just didn’t want her to be home alone.  We’d play records in the living room- Michael Jackson’s, Thriller comes to mind- and make up dances.  A couple of the boys from the neighborhood would sneak over, banging on the window, trying to scare us.  They succeeded exactly zero times.  These were nice boys from the suburbs and sorry fellas, but they weren’t menacing in the least.  These were the boys your mom wanted you to date, to grow up and marry.  They still are, I know, because I get to see them on Facebook too.

I’m lucky to have these memories.  I grew up in a nice neighborhood, filled with nice families and at a time where we had a lot of freedom.  We could get on our bikes and ride to each others houses and talk when we needed to.  We wrote each other notes about loves lost and stupid algebra class and other important things to a kid.  As we grew, we rode around in our parents’ cars and listened to the radio too loud.  And when we went off to college, we hoped life wouldn’t change too much.  Of course it did, but now we can reconnect and share our lives again.  Even though the connection is mostly through hitting ‘like’ on a comment or picture, we stay in each others lives.

Recently, I went through a hard time and a couple of these women reached out to me personally, just to say hi and tell me that they were still around to listen.  I was so touched, because it reminded me that no matter how many years may pass, they we remain important to each other because we are part of one another’s history.  Vintage, to me, suggests a level of quality and history and these friends are vintage, indeed.

Happy Birthday to my Vintage Friends.  You know who you are and I love you.

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Filed under Storytime

A Wish for My Friend on a Tough Day

Imagine applying for your dream job when you are a kid and waiting your whole life to  finally get it.  That’s what becoming a mom was like for her.  And now that her baby is starting school next week, it feels like she just got laid off- or at least a significant cut in hours.  She knows that she will find a new job, maybe even a great job, but not the one she really wants.  And when she called this morning to cry, I just listened and wished I could have kissed away her tears.  She didn’t need advice, although she knows me well enough to expect some anyway, she just needed to be heard and for someone to understand.  And I am humbled and grateful that she chose my number to dial.

In case I didn’t say it on the phone, you are an amazing woman.  What I love the most about you is the way you love fully, with your whole heart.  That little family you made is a testimony of your beauty and grace.  Be kind and gentle with yourself as you move through the next few days, even weeks.  The right thing will find you if you let it.  Give others the right to their own feelings on the subject, but don’t lose sight of your own needs and give them away.

And if all else fails, and you are still stuck in the muck and mud, remember that time I set my arm on fire in the dorm.  At least I can make you laugh.

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