Thursday, May 28, 2015

Outliving Our Nanas

Today’s is Tami’s first day without her Nana.

Today she’ll blink into the sunlight as it seems extra bright to tear-filled eyes. She’ll take deeper breaths than yesterday remembering how Patsy struggled to breathe. She’ll wonder about a future that Nana will not witness.

Today she’ll begin the inevitable journey of loss.

On my first day with my Nana, I was in Hawaii.

My Nana waited until I was so far away I couldn’t possibly be there to go through the rituals of mourning.  I missed the visiting, the casseroles, the flowers, the graveside.

I missed the talking. For the first time, I was very, very quiet with my Nana.

Tami’s Nana had the same thing mine did, pulmonary fibrosis, which is a hardening of the lungs. It steals breath away until the body can no longer turn oxygen into life. It’s a slow way to deteriorate and in my Nana’s case it took several years of her withering on the vine.

Patsy’s decline was much faster, a few months only, but just as devastating.

We know we’re meant to outlive our Nanas. 

We’re meant to carry on without them, to take what they’ve given us and live a well-organized life.

We’ll cheer for the Tigers and the Midshipmen, like they taught us to.

We’ll have happy hour with crown and gingers and champagne like they did.

We’ll love our husbands and raise our families with grace and dignity.

They had their time for all of that and when it was over, they watched our mothers. 

Lately they’ve been watching us. Just watching. Neither of our Nanas was very fond of being a passenger. They both hated giving up their car keys more than any other indignity pulmonary fibrosis had for them.

They were spunky, independent women who told us to stand up for ourselves, believe in ourselves, and keep trying even when the odds were against us.

About a month ago I completed Day 730. Two full years since my Nana passed. On Day 365 I’d traveled home from Maine. As a temporary refugee in Philadelphia, I awoke early on Day 365 and realized it was my last first day.

The last first of anything that Nana wouldn’t be around. 

We’d made the year and done weddings and birthdays and graduations and Christmas and football season. We’d done July 4th her favorite holiday and Mother’s Day. We’d laid flowers over her stone and turned our faces to the sky wondering.

Today is Tami’s first day. The only comfort I can offer her is that the days will keep coming, whether she’s struggling or soaring. So do the best you can and if it’s too much, just wait it out. Tomorrow is another day.

Eventually Day 365 will come around and you’ll realize you’ve been living your life without Nana witnessing it. And you’ll feel only gratitude for the time you had together.

We are meant to outlive our Nanas. And so we have.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Homecoming Post In Under the Wire

I paid up today.

I registered for the full reunion event and paid up. Even got the hotel room booked and paid for.

We’ve been committed since September, since I took on a more aggressive workout schedule and this crazy-ass diet.

We’ve been planning to go for months.

But now we’re totally in.

Herndon Hornets Class of 1995. Whoop.

And, actually, I’m pretty excited.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Happy Birthday and all that suchness

I let March completely pass me by. I blogged for the South Carolina Writers Workshop here and I blogged over at GenX stories here.

But, alas, Clemson Road, I did not post anything new in March.

It was my birthday month which I've written about before. My birthday is the day after Lady Gaga's which makes me think maybe she and I have some things in common.

I renewed my Hobbes tattoo this month. It's been a task I planned multiple times over the last 19 years but never actually completed. Then I wrote a short story about the experience with this awesome line in it:

He’s reflecting my lost-self back at me and I like what I see. I let her re-emerge and stand before him renewed.

I'll be submitting the story in May which means it can't appear elsewhere. You'll just have to make do with the images of the work and my description of the artist (on whom I developed a little crush):

Fading ink stretches up his neck from his chest like a collar and down his arms like sleeves. He wears a newsboy cap and hipster glasses and smiles a crooked smile.

It's now April and it's another birthday month.

Three years ago, Wordsmith Studio was born out of the April Platform Challenge created by Robert Lee (My Name is Not Bob) Brewer of Writers' Digest. We banded together, we challengers, and formed Wordsmith Studio.

It's been my honor to serve on the Wordsmith Advisory Group or WAG for the last two years. It’s our job to plan fun things, make sure people behave, and organize all of our writerly suchness into actual writing work.

I have also kept pretty consistently faithful to our Tuesday evening chats for the better part of two years. If you get a chance to stop by Twitter with the hashtag #wschat on Tuesday evenings at 6 & 9 p.m. EST you’ll find some good friends talking writing-like stuff.

I’ve gotten to meet one WSS buddy in person and will see another, my friend Sarah, when I go to Seattle in July to run another half marathon.

This groups is amazing. They encourage and assist, that promote and congratulate, they share and they write. Which, ultimately, is what I came to them wanting to do.

My anniversary post is going to be a then-and-now post. I’m working on it today and will have it up soon.

Until then, take a look at Wordsmith Studio’s writing prompts, community page, and Facebook presence. You can see how meeting a group of like-minded and like-habited writers will keep you pushing ever forward toward your goal.

Cheers and Happy Birthday!