Thursday, October 30, 2014

Monday, October 27, 2014

Something Wicked this way comes..

This past week has been ridiculous. Between a mysterious spider bite that appeared one night, the possibility of ringworm, and the maybe broken, probably not, but omg it hurts finger.

I am done.
 Like, give me Xanax, and a down comforter type done. 

It all started with my period starting a WEEK early. (I am never going to say Aunt flow, or "visitor" or "I started") I don't have time to sugar coat it for you.

I woke up to horribleness, utter destruction and chaos. NO ONE wants to be a week early, and unprepared.

I dealt with this appropriately, you know, eating copious amount of carbs and switching between an intimidating three headed monster , to a weeping disgusting mess, who only wanted to hug her children and smell their hair.

It was rough.

Then the bites appeared. On my boob. Since my health insurance only covers, um nothing, I decided it apropos to text pictures to my friends asking for their diagnosis.

When that didn't satisfy me, I just started showing everyone. Clients, co workers, lady in the check outline. I even camped out at the Minute Clinic at CVS hoping that somehow I could work my bite into regular conversation.

Have you seen a spider bite? Is this a spider bite? Am I going to lose my boob?

Then I just started putting EVERYTHING on it. And I do mean everything. Somewhere in there, and there are possibly three different concoctions that could have attributed to its healing, it started to feel less like I was going to die.

The day it started to feel better, I slammed my finger in between two plates at the gym.

Then right about that time, my phone decided that it was time to stop working.
AND THEN I woke up to Sophia sporting what I can only assume to be ringworm, on her face.

Slow clap.

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Friday, October 24, 2014

A baby gone.

Allessandra stopped sucking her thumb.

I watched her through partially closed eye lids last night, trying to catch her in the act. I truly thought that she would roll away from me and tuck her face under the covers, preventing me from seeing the fuzzy blanket being stuffed up her nose between the silent suction of her thumb.

She didn't, though.

We promised her a big surprise if she could go a week without sucking her thumb.
Josh and I didn't even give it a second thought, because we both agreed that there was no freaking way she would stop cold turkey.
And yet,

she lay on her back with her her arms crossed across her chest.

 A quiet determination, against the need to self soothe.

I don't think this was just for my benefit, I genuinely believe that she has quit the act entirely.

I don't know how I feel about this. On one hand I am delighted that she stopped, and on the other I am uncomfortable and weepy.

I watch her getting older, not just by the new marks we trace on the wall, but by the shedding of the baby ness that once totally defined her.

She has always been articulate, but as of late she is more precise, and fluent with her language. She tries on new words, carefully placing them into her sentences to gauge my reaction.

"Mom, candy cane is totally oppressive!"

This morning in carpool, she leaned up out of her seat to rest her chin on my shoulder.

I miss you during the day.

I turn my head slightly to see tears welling up in her eyes.

It's OK to miss me. I miss you too.

She looks at me for a moment, and seemingly satisfied with my answer, exits the car door, nearly falling on the sidewalk from the awkwardness of her backpack.

As I pulled away from the curb she turns to wave at me, her massive bag swinging side to side.

I'll see you at the end of the day mom! I love you!

And just like that, she disappears through the towering school doors.

The baby about her may be slipping away, but I know she will always know that I miss her when she's not around.

And that's enough for the both of us.

For now.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Dear Worst.

I talked to my brother via Skype last night. We discussed many different things, one of them being Jonah, which we usually bring up when one of us is feeling particularly nostalgic.

Given my post yesterday, I suppose it was my turn and I spent most of the time asking the same questions.

 See, J was the last one to see Jonah.

He showed up at his place to take Jonah to see dad, frustrated that he couldn't reach him by phone.

He recounted the music blaring and his inexplicable gut reaction, that this time, he shouldn't pick the lock.
I conclude that this obviously was Jonah's spirit halting him at the door, because it was never J's purpose to be exposed to such desolation.

He shrugs at this. He tells me dreams and lets me decipher them. He makes me laugh until my sides ache.

I am in awe of my big brother. He wears other's people's grief like a backpack strapped to his shoulders, carrying on, moving straight forward without pausing for a breath.

In this world, I know without a shadow of a doubt that he shares my pain.
I will never forget that night on the deck, the night when all hell broke lose. Dad's gone, Jonah is gone. We sat next to each other, holding on for dear life, like we both had been showered with gun fire and neither one of us knew what to say.

It was an awkward exchange, he said, "I am so sorry Chels, I know he was your brother." and I wrung my hands feeling flustered.
Don't say that, that's like saying I am sorry because he was your dad.

In the time of confounded grief we don't take ownership by bloodline. We take ownership because we feel altogether destroyed. 

The day that J took dad's spot at the head of the table, I felt wrecked. Not by the act, but by what it meant.

In hindsight it was only natural for him to do so, a natural progression. He looked so regal and confident while I felt like a little girl with dirty fingernails sat forever at the kids table.

During that horrible week J took over all the minuet details.

Picked people up from the airport, carried bags, filled in words when others stalled.

When I assured him last night that, no, I wasn't there when he died, he didn't judge me, but instead recounted a story of being followed by a squawking crow the night dad passed away. "The crow", he remembered, "perched on my car, and then flew off into the distance."

I tried to lean on my hysteria while he laced his fingers together boosting me up over all my emotional hurdles.

I both hated him and adored him for that.

The same brother that stepped on my baby doll's head, was the very same person that showed up first to the hospital when I delivered Allessandra.

The very same week I moved to Georgia he moved to Australia. I remember the distinct feeling of splitting, like a wishbone in different directions.

We both understood that that night when I found out about Jonah, that night where he moved me to the other room as I screamed, sealed us together for life.
No amount of mileage  would change that.

I never told him how grateful I was for all he did. Never truly thanked him for extending himself, for visiting, and making me laugh. For loving my girls and always letting me ask the same questions about Jonah.
For reading my blog post about the woodpile and texting me simply: fucking woodpile.

To J,
I appreciate you, I love you, I also think you are the worst.

Saturday, October 18, 2014


"Write what you know."

I know loss. 

Not the minuscule loss of lost keys or misplaced shoes. A kind of loss that brings you to your knees, begging to be taken too.

Of wondering why staying here is your destiny while others carry on, painfully not here. 

The first loss I ever experienced was losing my mother. 

I lost her in the same way, one watches someone walk out the door and never return.

She was there, until she wasn't.

Sometimes, even today I place my hand on my belly button, the only distinct part of me that was from her, and I think of what it would be like to fill that emptiness with the mother ness of what I craved.

Experiencing pain at such a tender age leaves gaping wounds, maybe I spent years of my life avoiding them, covering them up with false bravado and stuffing pictures of my "new mom" into picture frames labeled "Me and my Mom." - 

Never thinking that this was a facade, never imagining that doing so was like cutting her face out of a picture, letting other people come to the conclusion that, I had a mom and she never died.

I lived in that fantasy for years. I was the princess in the castle just waiting for my mom to return.
I imagined what I would say, answering the door, pulling my suitcase from the closet, "I knew you would come back! It's so great to see you! Did you change your hair? Let's get going!"

She would explain to her sister the confusion, they would throw their heads back and laugh at the down right silliness of the whole situation. OF COURSE they belong with their biological mother! We would scamper out the front door, with promises of Christmas visits and phone calls.

I think I have been waiting my whole life for her to save me. Imagining the conversations, the cups of coffee and failed attempts at cooking. Your mother almost set the whole house on fire making meatballs!"
I laugh at this story, relishing in my poor culinary skills, never trying to better myself because secretly it's something that links me to her.

I think we would order pizza a lot, watch bad TV- I would lay my head on her shoulder and she would let me, maybe place her hand on the side of my face and kiss my temple, like I do for my girls so often.
I think I have been searching for her my entire life. 
The first time I saw her gravestone I was stuck at the proximity of her body
I remember telling my new parents this and the quizzing looks on their faces. 

To them I was a warm bundle of baby in her arms, a nine month pregnancy, a toddler, I was hers for two whole years, and yet, I sit here now and have zero visual memory of her. To them she was a person, not a person in a photo. 

My Nephew lost his dad when he was four. Brutal blow. One I know so well.
D is now eleven years old, and to him Jonah was superman, he saved puppies and kittens in trees. He gave to the poor and adopted orphans in his spare time. 
The pain that he is going through at this exact moment resonates with me like acid to skin.

We let him romanticize Jonah, because he would never believe the alternative.
Because he never got to scream "I hate you!" to him and slam a door. He never got to make up his own mind about his father.  So we let him cry about him, and nourish the the idea that, "He was sick." 
At his service, held at Veterans Beach - Nora spoke so eloquently of the father of her son, given the circumstances of their volatile relationship, this was surprising to me. She promised the solemn faces staring at her, that D would "only hear good things about his father." 

I remember standing there, watching D running through the sand, completely unaware that we were there to scatter his father's ashes.

Like my mother's funeral, the only thing I can recall is a dramatic staging of me throwing a rose into a hole in the ground. Closure for the black skirts and trousers that surrounded me, a flourish ending, like doing so, I had accepted the fact that I would grow up without my mom.

I remember watching D running and just knowing that he would ache for his dad the same way I do for my mom. That he would compare photos side by side, Do we look alike? And he would never stop hoping that one day, the door bell ring and he would be standing there.

Because even though she is technically gone, I don't think i'll ever stop looking for her. In faces, smiles, tears, sunsets and sunrises, I'll find her somewhere.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


A few seconds ago Sophia ran out to the patio and demanded to know where the fire was.

The air is full of someone's fireplace. Smoky and pungent, smells exactly like my childhood.

My dad always had the wood stove cranked. Early fall, the leaves would change and the wood would pile up in the driveway. Every day after school and every weekend we stayed outside until it was all stacked.

My dad had a methodical way of aligning the pile and being that he was a perfectionist, this usually resulted in screaming matches between him and my brother. I remember it being cold during these arguments. The kind of cold that required a hat and gloves, pink stained cheeks and puffy clouds of breath.
I was obsolete during these days, spectacularly invisible. Too much of a little girl to carry bags of heavy wood.

Years later after everyone had left and it was just me, Dad was just grateful that someone not him was hauling wood.

I remember feeling lonely sweeping up the leftover sticks and dust.  In those days I had my own methodical way of handling the looming pile in front of me.

One piece at a time. 

I quickly realized that  putting my aggression into a task was beneficial.

If I could go back and place my hand on my own back and say, 'Hey Chels, you should probably go for a run or something" I would have, which is why taking on the wood pile task was a huge part of sorting out all my "issues" during that particular time.

Even today, in Georgia, 60 degrees out I smell the wood stove and think of "home."

I am surprised that Sophia knows that smell. Being that she is only three, she would have no recollection of a wood stove or even know what fire smells like.

Yet, she does.

Which is why I will stay out here writing and watch her play.

She twirls around in circles, stops for a moment, presses her face to the breeze, she closes her eyes and inhales as deep and as loudly as she can. Then she turns to me, watching as I watch her, and she just smiles.

Thursday, October 9, 2014


I held a one year old today. I mean, as best as one can hold a one year old, with the head smashing and fist eating and pulling of necklaces.

I felt a little stunned, shoved into a moment that I couldn't remember. I had this once, and I can hardly recall it.
Do you remember the first time they hugged you and put their head on your shoulder? You felt like you were queen, but then they start saying "I love you Mom, fifty million!" and you take it for granted.
They draw you pictures and want to hold your hand, and you brush it aside because it's no longer rare, and sometimes just a tad annoying.

I held that one year old close to my cheek and kissed her forehead, remembering how it felt to be Allie's mom. How every breath I took revolved around her, the midnight feedings, the cozy corner of the couch where I fed her a bottle while she held my fingers.

How quickly we forget.

This afternoon Allessandra put on her fairy costume in her bedroom..(for privacy) and pranced around the house.

I snapped pictures of her, and while I was editing them on the computer, she leaned over and said, "I look  like an angel...just like when I was with Grandpa."

And even though I try my best not to react when she says things like that, I wiped tears from my face and kissed her forehead.

...she certainly can wear a pair of wings...

Friday, October 3, 2014

Dear October, thank you, I love you.

There was always something about October.

Like an old friend that shows up once a year-knocks at your door with a patchwork quilt, fuzzy boots and candy corn.

You invite her in, hand her knee socks and a mug of piping hot cider.
Sit down October let me tell you why I love you...

October changes the light, everything is just a tiny bit darker, perhaps spooky, but that's OK.
Spooky is just a part of her charm.

I fell in love with October at a young age, and not for the bags of candy or the costumes.

It was this one day, when I realized that there was more to life then my immediate circle. That beauty thrived in placidity.

I grew up in a constant state of chaos.

 Arriving home from school most afternoons, there lay a quiet that can't be described.

I think it used to scare me, however this one October afternoon I arrived home from school and I was struck at how the light hit the house.

It was a brisk fall day and so eerily quiet, I remember standing still, alone in the driveway looking up at the windows.

There is nothing like entering an empty house with the chill of October on your neck, while leaves intersperse throughout the driveway.

I remember leaving the the lights off, and the stillness that doing so allowed.

October grasped my hand and pulled me to the window, to look out at what she had created. A world of vibrant colors, with just a hint of mystery.
I've been hooked on that feeling ever since.

When I think of October I think of Dad. The way he would stand in the window just as I did that day, and wave as I left.

How when I said "goodbye" to him, I admitted that his presence in that window was what I would miss the most.

I remember that day like it was yesterday, the looking up and then looking down, not realizing that it would be that stupid window that would make me grieve for my Dad. Not realizing that October would provide me with such happy memories and such longing to be home with him.

 If I close my eyes and think hard enough I can stand in the living room of that house in October and imagine the interchange between him and I- like a mirror's reflection.
You stand here and then we can switch. 

I wonder if I was there now, and the light hit just right, if I could see his shadow waving from the street.