Tag Archives: love

Take a Bow

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Tonight two of my girlfriends and I had dinner and a movie.  We went to see The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.  When I saw the commercial on tv last night, I thought it looked pretty intriguing so I searched online and viewed two other trailers for the film.  I definitely knew I wanted to see it.

I won’t ruin it for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, however, I will say that it is so poignantly charming and tender despite its somber undertone (death is everywhere, but life is, too!).  I cried and loved Benjamin right from the start.  I wanted to bring him home with me!

 My tears came for many reasons:

  • My husband loved movies and would have enjoyed this one with me
  • Essentially it is a love story (not just romantic) and reminded me of how much I miss him
  • Having danced ballet virtually my whole life and as a part time teacher, I really loved this facet of the movie
  • The beautiful and timely message that you have to accept both the joys and pains of life
  • The acting was superb

Thankfully I had my two lovely friends there for support.  They graciously allowed me to cry unashamedly.  Walking out of the theatre I had a fresh flow of tears just thinking about how fleeting life really is.  One of my friends joked that perhaps we should have watched The Tale of Despereaux  instead!

But I do wonder what F. Scott Fitzgerald would have thought of this silver screen adaption of his short story…now that’s just the English teacher in me talking!

Live Through This

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2008 has been quite a year for me.  I never imagined that I would lose both my mother and my husband in the same year.  But as painful, terrifying, and debilitating as it is, I know I will make it.  The truth of the matter is that we can live without lost loved ones even when our carnal flesh feels we can’t.

If that wasn’t the case I would have died my first death when my grandmother died in 1994.

And again when my uncle died in 2001.

And again when my great-aunt died in 2002.

And again when my aunt died in 2004.

And I would have died twice this year alone.

I was very close to each one of them.

Yet I’m still here.  I have had many comatose moments in the pit of despair since he’s been gone.   I am crawling out of it at a snail’s pace.   At my lowest points I feel that I can’t go on.  However, I know these thoughts are strictly from the devil.  He wants me to believe that I can’t exist without him which spawns depression and suicidal thoughts.  But the devil is a liar.

No matter what you are going through, and I can guarantee that you will go through something in the year to come, just remember you can make it!  I hope to grow and learn from my trials .  What else is there to do?  Eventually I hope to use my testimony to help other widows and stepmoms through this difficult time.  And as long as I am alive, I have a chance to do this.  I have lived through a lot of strife in my short time. You can, too!

I hope everyone has a blessed year in 2009!

Griefcase

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I don’t think most mental health professionals support compartmentalizing emotions.  However, as a way to get through the day, I pull out my “griefcase.”   I am constantly in and out of it to examine and understand the following contents:

  • My husband:  Memories of love, laughter, and life…why so soon?
  • Nicholas:  I refuse to let him get caught in the mayhem as he has suffered a major loss as well.  I’m trying to shift my focus onto him and tend to his needs more.
  • Jazmine:  She misses him but is finally to the point where I think she understands that he is in “the sky.”  It just breaks my heart that she has to live without his gentle spirit.  He was definitely a father figure to her.
  • Ethan: I hope he believes (I have a feeling that they and their mom for that matter were told something contrary) that it was not my choice for them to leave.  I pray he feels our love and uses it to help him endure
  • Evan:  My baby…I miss him…I truly hope that his time in treatment wasn’t in vain.  I want him to know how much he is loved by us.  I hope Evan knows how much we were looking forward to him coming home!!! I’m so sorry that he didn’t get to make it!!!
  • Eliza: I have many hurt feelings about her.  Call me naive but I thought I was making a breakthrough with her.  How she was so willing to throw her own kids under the bus to punish me totally befuddles and saddens me.  I feel like I have no closure because I was carelessly discarded when my husband died.  Maybe I should try the letter writing thing where I get my feelings out and then don’t actually mail it.
  • Her brother and sister:  Oh my goodness, evil is alive and well!  People never cease  to amaze me!  And they keep wanting to interact with me for some strange reason.  Her brother called on Christmas Eve.  Her sister called twice the day after Christmas.  Neither the twisted sister or the demented brother will leave a message.  I’m sure you can guess what the brother wants.  Now the sister, who knows?  Unfortunately, I am not stable enough at this point to converse nicely with these lovely people so I continue to ignore any attempts at communication.  I just can’t tolerate any tomfoolery or malarkey.
  • Me: It’s probably more of me stored in the griefcase than anything else.  Am I still a stepmom I wonder frequently?  What do I do with myself?  I don’t want a new life–I liked the one I had.   I’m still a wife it’s just that my husband is dead.  Needless to say, I’m one mixed-up Ms.
  • Our house: Of course everything is just as he left it, especially in the garage.  The Mountain Dew that he was drinking is still in his cup holder.  I don’t want to touch anything and I can’t bear to part with his stuff.  I could try selling the house but I almost feel like I would be leaving him behind.

Coach should add the “griefcase” to their line-up–they would sell well!

What Kind of Poem Is Appropriate?

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I had the pleasure of meeting poet Jimmy Baca at the NCTE in San Antonio.  I was looking forward to hearing him speak because I love his work. 

I want to share with you all a poem that cuts me to the very core every time I read it.  This poem in particular is from his book Healing Earthquakes, and was written about the death of his brother. 

 It is  poignantly beautiful.  The intense love that he felt for his brother is perfectly palpable with every word he so carefully chose.  Here is a brief excerpt that I can really identify with:

…But your dying

made a rush of silver knives

explode through my soul,

cutting every tendon that controls my body

and in a huge surge of volcanic emotion

I want to fall on the ground and scream

at the injustice—

my heart completely shatters its composure

a fierce rumbling of pain drives a stake

from the center of my heart outward

and every flower bleeds tears at dawn,

leaves droop with green sadness,

the sand howls up in dust devils

dancing its death step

and I want to stop the world from spinning,

freeze the earth’s axis with my cold grip

and cry your life back,

change the way your life had been,

place my hands in your soul

like a potter at the wheel

and make a beautiful vase of your soul

and fill it with fruit and flowers and candies

and armfuls of brimming-over love

at the hour of your death

I crush the clock fate carries,

and sadness walks in me like rain

across the desert,

carving gullies of grief,

cutting the land with deep gouges

where in the bottom I live

never seeing sunrise again

never seeing

top-land life,

in the gullet of this grief I roam

like a mad elk seeking exit.

and finding none,

only more curves, more turns,

caught in the maddening maze of why you had to die…

Have You Hugged Your Husband Today?

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My husband was a very affectionate man.  He loved to hug and kiss me.  He liked to cuddle, too.  We always held hands while driving, even if we were not traveling far.  He ended every conversation whether long or short with “I love you.”  I was his most prized possession.

I miss him.  I miss his touch, his laughter, his essence….I loved the very smell of him.  His chest was my favorite pillow. 

His life was a cup in which I heartily drank from.  Nobody filled me quite like him.

After reading this post,  I urge you to go hug your husband just for me.  Even if he is not in your presence, send him a “hug” via text message, email, or phone.  And really put one on him when you do lay eyes on him.

Girls, I can hardly wait for the day that I will be able to hug the one I love again!

To Her, with Love

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I have received such an outpouring of love from students both past and present.  Upon learning of my loss, I have had mounds of student visitors bearing cards, teddy bears, flowers, and plants.  Not to mention the  myraid of text messages and phone calls I have gotten. 

There have been so many former students visiting me in the last couple of weeks that the staff has been forced to escort various groups to my class.  Typically visitors are asked to come during a prep or teacher’s lunch, but I guess I must look like I need cheering up because they have definitely relaxed the policy for me.  

I was a bit surprised how quickly word spread.  However, when I learned that the majority found out through a current student’s message of condolence for me on her Facebook page, I smiled.  The kids put everything important to them online.   This act spurred text messages sent and forwarded to any student who has ever had me as a teacher.

I have barely had an appetite and have eaten little here recently.  I was quite touched earlier in the week when Ashley, one of my students who comes to my room for our lunch period placed a bag of chips in front of me.  She shyly explained that she had to make sure that I ate something becasue she has noticed that I no longer eat.

Really, I am filled with such gratitude and awe that they care so much about me.  A teacher couldn’t ask for anything more.  I know exactly how Sally Fields felt when she uttered those lines after winning the Oscar.  Not only do they like me, they love me!

Decade

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Today Nicholas is turning double digits–as he likes to say! To commemorate this day I have written a poem.

Decade

In a decade you have managed to kindle the fires of my heart. 

My sweet tart

 

The inception of your life was a sacred moment and I am most thankful

 

For I am blessed by your kindness, your intelligence, your zest for life

 

Sweet, funny, charismatic, compassionate

 

Gifted

 

A talented artist, reader of tomes, awesome scholar, climber of trees, and everything in between

From child to tween

Your interests are varied—tae kwon do kicks to student counsel

 

So opinionated about current events

If it depended on you Obama would be president

 

You are for

All things STAR Wars

 

The Lego King

And Builder of many things

Especially dreams                                                                                       

 

The world is your canvas

No stone is left unturned

By your unbridled curiosity

Not even stitches could stop you from pursuing adventure

 

Our nightly devotionals are a highlight

After reading, a kiss, a tuck –in, and a flip of the nightlight

 

You truly make my heart melt

 

A “son” that shines brighter than all others

 

I feel lucky that I was chosen to be your mother

 

You represent the best of me and dad

 

a beautiful smiling soul

 

First my darling baby boy

 

Now my ten-year-old joy

 

How proud you must be

 

Of all you have accomplished

 

In just one decade.

Party of Six

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We started off as a family of three, then overnight five, and now Jazmine, my 21-month-old niece, makes six.

Jazmine is my middle brother’s daughter.  Her mom is incarcerated in the same prison as Eliza, believe it or not.  My brother was doing the best he could with her but I knew that I could do better.  My niece needed me.

I know that it worried my mother that my brother was raising her alone.  And shortly after she died I decided to get her longterm.  In fact, I took her home from the hospital that very night.  I kept her for a week and relunctantly returned her back to my brother’s care after the funeral.  I couldn’t stop thinking about her.  My brother wasn’t doing so well dealing with his grief.  He wasn’t taking good care of himself and thus was inacapable of taking appropriate care of Jazmine.  I toyed with the idea of getting her on a permanent basis but I was just so tired!  Then practical thoughts about daycare and really just starting all over again scared me into not taking action.  I knew I would have to sacrifice a lot.  I also knew that I would need my husband’s help and consent.

So I left it alone but God didn’t.  He put it on my heart to get her and filled my head with constant thoughts of her.  He reminded me that he would give me all the strength and resources I would need to take care of her.   He cleared the path for me.  Therefore I had no reason not to get her.  Even before I could pose the question to my husband, he already knew what I needed to do.  He immediatedly encouraged me to get her which relieved me greatly.

I had no idea how my brother would feel.  When I approached him with my suggestion, he was pridefully hesitant at first.  I think too that he may have been slightly offended because he thought he was doing just fine.  I pointed out how he could not even comb her hair adequately or that he could hardly find a sitter for her while he was at work.  I gently reminded him that I was there to help beacuse I was his sister–not a social worker.  I also pointed out that she was my niece, too.  I guess my arguement was convincing enough because he gave me permission to take her with me that following weekend.

That was over four months ago.  Jazmine is like the daughter I never had.  She is an adorable, smart, and inquistive child.  I just really love her so, as does my husband.  She is the little princess of the house.  Just ask the boys!

Not to say that I haven’t had to get used to having a little one around.  I have in a major way.  I can no longer sleep in, we now have day care expenses, frequent diaper changes, the pain of teething, immunizations, potty training in the very near future (can’t seem to remember training Nicholas because he was SO easy!), carrying a diaper bag (can’t seem to do this! I just stuff a couple in my purse or stash them in the car.  My husband finds this hilarious!), and pushing a stroller to name a few new routines that have been added to my already complicated life.

But she is a real peach.  She often calls both me and my husband “Mommy,” which I find hilarious!   Every time I whip out the camera she automatically says “Cheese!”  She loves to talk on the phone and says “hello” just like Scooby Doo.  One time I was talking to Rhonda on the phone when I noticed that someone had picked up the line.  I was confident that it had been picked up at Rhonda’s house because only Jazmine and I were at home at the time.  When Rhonda checked the phones in her house and gave the all clear, I realized that it could only be at my house.  Still in disbelief I said “Jazmine?,” and just as clear as day, she said “what?”  To this day, Rhonda and I still get a good laugh at that episode.  

 I am a neatnik and I think I may have rubbed off on her.  When I sweep, she dashes to get the dustpan.  After eating she meticiuosly picks up even the tiniest of crumbs.  If the plate she is eating from is paper, she puts it in the trash pail afterwards without being prompted.

In a way she is helping me heal.  I know that my mother would have wanted me to help my brother.  If my mom is watching us, I know she is pleased.  And that is a great feeling.  So I actually  feel quite lucky to have her.  Even when she is being “Jazmania” as I like to call her when she is having one of her frequent temper tantrums.  Still, I know I made the right decision.  Yet I know we will all be sad to see her go upon her mom’s release.

A Woman Possessed!

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Ian and Imani have been through a great deal in their short lives.  My husband I go the extra mile to assure that they are safe. When Ian and Imani first arrived at our home they referred to our house as “Husband’s and Rhonda’s house.”  One day while driving home Imani wanted to know where we were headed.  Ian replied, “To Husband and Rhonda’s house.”  I spoke up, “Ian and Imani we are going home.  You guys live there, too.  From now on you can say, ‘We are going home.’  Do you understand?”  Yes, they responded uncertainly.  Of course I had to provide this gentle reminder to them a few more times before it finally sunk in.

Everyday Imani and I have a game we play. Whenever I come in from work Imani takes off running.  I can hear her little feet charging across the floor.  The first time Imani started this game, she hid under her bed.  Imani called out my name over and over again.  I went to her room but she was not there.  So I turned around and went back down the hallway thinking she was in our bedroom.  Nope.  She was not there either.  Imani called my name again.  I went back to her room and did not see her.  I finally figured that she was either under her bed or in the closet.  I checked in the closet, she was not there.  I lifted the bed skirt on her bed and there she was.  Laughter filled the room.  “You found me Rhonda!”  “Yes I did,”   I always affirm. Imani hides under her bed every time.  One day she tricked me and pulled her “blankie” in front of her and slide back against the wall.  I did not see her at first.  I left her room thinking she had finally changed the hiding place.  Then I heard her call out my name.  I went back in her room and found her.  Imani loved how she was able to trick me and told everyone so.

Ian loves for me to read to them before bedtime.  I let them choose the book and we take turns sitting on their bed.  After the story, we say our prayers.  Then my husband and I give Ian and Imani hugs and kisses before tucking them in for the night.  We always exit by telling them how much they are loved.

 Ian is like my husband’s little shadow.  I think he enjoys having a male role model.  One evening I had to run to the store and took Imani with me.  My husband and his friend were watching the game so I thought that Ian would want to stay home with the guys.  When I returned, my husband pulled me aside saying that Ian was upset because I didn’t take him.  Wow!  I did not realize that he would feel left out.  I really didn’t think he had even noticed.  Since then, I always make sure to ask Ian if he would like to go with me.

My attachment to the children is growing by the minute.  I check on them constantly just to make sure that they are comfortable.  Even though I am not their bio mom I find myself being really possessive of them.  Morocco talked about this in an earlier post titled “Life in the Village.”  She talked about being territorial with her son.  That is how I feel about Ian and Imani.  It feels surreal.  I did not go through this emotion with Kierra.  Maybe because Kierra has never lived with us, and more importantly, she has a mom.  I am Ian and Imani’s mother figure.  Ian and Imani know that I am not their mother but when they are talking to others, they refer to us as their mom and dad. 

I have an issue concerning Ian and Imani being in the presence of the BM.  I feel so much anxiety over this.  My husband is attending a meeting tonight at Kierra’s school and I am unable to attend.  Ian and Imani may have to go with my husband if we do not find a babysitter.  BM will be there.  I know this may sound crazy but I do not want them around her.  I know she will walk up to my husband and the children and strike up a conversation.  (Background note…whenever we attend any of Kierra’s functions together, BM is very standoffish toward me.  She does not speak.  She walks all around us as if we were invisible.  In the earlier years BM would snatch up Kierra and leave before we could see her.  This morning I found myself trying to rearrange my schedule so that the kids don’t have to be around her.

However, I stopped myself and pondered the situation and oh, my goodness!  It quickly dawned on me that this is what BM must have felt when I came into Kierra’s life.  In some weird way I want to reach out to BM so I can let her know that I get it now!  But I’m afraid to do so given the fact that I have tried to “break the ice” with BM on numerous occasions with no luck.  I am never sure what to do where BM is concerned.  She runs hot and cold.  At times she can be so sweet and then at other times she is frightenly aloof. BM will be one way this week and the next week the total opposite.

So my question to you reader is: should I reach out to BM again or let it go?