I Miss Her….

So I bought Marianne Williamson’s new book called A Course In Weight Loss.  I’d like to lose some weight, mostly because my knees hurt more than I’d like to admit and the only thing I can think to do is take some of the weight off of them.  I completely buy into the idea that our emotional and spiritual issues manifest in physical symptoms.  So I believe that taking a spiritual approach to my extra weight would be far more beneficial (and cheaper) then say joining Weight Watchers (which I’ve also considered).

I got the book in the mail before we went to Disney World and read the first few chapters.  My intention was to begin the 21 lessons as soon as we got home.  As of today, I can’t bring myself to start it.  The problem is with the first lesson.  The gist of that lesson is to take down the protective wall we have built around ourselves.  Our extra weight and emotional eating problems stem from holding on to this emotional baggage.

I asked myself what it is I’m holding onto after reading that chapter.  What is hurting me?  Who or what am I angry about?  Over the past few days something has been bubbling up.  It’s Amy.

It’s been over a year now.  I openly grieved for a reasonable amount of time and then I filed it away.  It’s  in a drawer called “Lost Soulmates” way back in the recesses of my mind.  I flipped this switch that seemed to make it impossible for me to grieve for anything at all.  When my grandmother died, I shed a few tears for my sweet mother and cousin because watching their grief broke my heart, but inside, I couldn’t feel my own.

Amy’s death was the most unfathomable thing that could have ever happened to me.  We were supposed to watch each other’s kids grow up and maybe move into a retirement community together when we were 85.  She was so ALIVE.  If I went back through my cell phone voice mailbox, I’m sure I’d hear the message Kristin left telling me about the birth of the twins.  She had a beautiful house with a nursery she’d decorated in a froggie theme for her little boys.  I made the trays of food for her baby shower and carefully moved all the gifts into the nursery.  In the last month of her life she lent me an ear and reassured me when I was going through a tough time.

A wonderful, sweet woman is with Amy’s husband now.  She is the mommy those little boys (who are now 14 mos old) know.  We are friends on Facebook.  I am happy to have a window into the boys’ lives but sometimes it hurts so much to look through it.

I’m not sure if it’s the holiday season or trying to address that darn wall, but I miss her so freakin bad right now.  It’s just not fair.  It was too early for her to go…

Happy Birthday Amy…

Dear Amy,

So today is your birthday.  I still can’t believe you’re not here.  It’s been years since I’ve celebrated your birthday with you.  The last time I remember was your 21st.  I’m sure I was around for the 22nd and 23rd, but after that I moved away.  This has been a tough week for me and in a way I’m surprised because like I mentioned it’s been years since I celebrated one of them with you.   Those people who’ve been with you for most of them are having a spaghetti dinner for you tonight.  I wish I could be there.  Actually what I really wish is that I could call you up and say “ha, ha, now you’re 35 too, we’re so old.”  But you’ll never be old, just plastered in my memory forever as a 34-year-old expectant mom.  If I try real hard I can still see you waddling in the bedroom with that piece of cake for me.  Why is it again that you were supposed to be on bedrest but were serving me cake?  I’m sure a few people would have scolded me for letting you do that.

You know I really believe that you are still with me.  A few weeks ago as I was falling asleep I thought of you.  I thought about how I was on vacation and too busy to call you after the babies were born.  I had two days that I could have said congratulations and I loved you but I chose to wait until I got home.  By the time I got home it was too late.  I don’t really have any regrets about our friendship except for that one.  I went to sleep that night thinking about it and then you came to me in a dream.  It had been a long time since I’d dreamed about you and I don’t believe it was coincidental that I saw you on that particular night.

I wonder what you are experiencing these days.  Your mom talks about Heaven a lot.  I try to think of what Heaven is.  I like the way Sylvia Browne describes the other side.  Basically, if I’m remembering correctly, she says it is just layered on top of this side.  That we are totally intertwined and us humans are just too “closed” and stuck in our life drama to see it.  So I’d say that you are floating around seeing and feeling the underlying love in everything.  I’ve also wondered if you’re working some sort of magic out there too.  So many of your friends have gotten pregnant since you left, including friends who had struggled for years (like you did).  Not that you are the stork or anything, but maybe you’re just helping people get the timing right.

I know some people will read this and think I’m crazy.  I’m sure there is a logical explanation for so much of what I experience as you still being here.  On this one I don’t want to be logical, I want to be hopeful and faithful.  I’ll cling to the idea that no one really knows for sure.  I’ll count my frogs, my dreams, and the latest baby epidemic as gifts and messages from my favorite angel.  So keep them coming and let me hold you tightly in my heart until we meet again!!

I love and miss you.  Happy 35th Birthday, Little Mama (maybe that would have been my nickname for you)!

Les

PS:  I just reread this and have to say I soo wouldn’t have nicknamed you Little Mama…it’s pretty dorky. (And quite frankly it’s probably you who brought the dorkiness of that to my attention anyway!)

Goddess Amy

I have thought of several blog posts this week and even wrote one that I saved and am not sure about publishing.  Aside from the one, I haven’t had the creative urges to sit down and put any of those ideas into words.  On Monday I said I’d write about the sculpture.  Since then I’ve gone back and forth on the idea.  I’ve had moments where I thought it was just too personal, moments where I figured anyone reading would think I was absolutely crazy, and moments where I wasn’t sure it needed any words or explanation at all.  But sitting here on Thursday afternoon it occurs to me that since I said I’d write about it I ought to stick to my word.

Unless you are a new reader to my blog, you know my precious friend, Amy, died in October.  This was the first time I’d lost someone so close.  She was a sister to me and someone I just knew would be in my life forever.  I know that sometimes people die young, but I just never expected it to happen to someone I loved so much.  In my process of grief, I’ve uncovered an enormous fear of abandonment within me.  If I could lose Amy, I could lose anyone.

When I left for Salt Springs on Thursday I realized it was the first time I’d traveled without Mark and the girls since Amy’s funeral.  I cried and then did all I could to distract myself.  I listened to a great interview with John Waters on NPR.  When I lost the radio station I put in my Ipod and listened to music.  I’d wanted to travel in silence, but I just couldn’t deal with the silence.  In the silence my fears were too loud.  But at least I was on my way to a healing place.

The weekend was good.  I had a few moments of emotional release.  (Those things tend to happen when you allow them to.)

I knew that part of the reason I was there was because of Amy.  I needed to think of her, cry for her, and release the fear surrounding the loss.  What I wasn’t really expecting is the way I would connect with her.

The second day we had a session where we put together ingredients to make a special soap clay.   We were then instructed to create a Goddess.  She could be anything: person, animal, or symbol.  I hadn’t made anything with clay since elementary school.  I had no idea what I was doing, but started forming the clay.  I began to make the shape of a woman and then added angel wings.  Very soon, I knew what was coming through.  After the body and wings were done, I molded her long flowing hair.  Then I had to decide what she was wearing.  The bridesmaid’s dress she was supposed to wear in Kristin’s wedding.  After that I added a bouquet with beads for flowers, put shells around the bottom (b/c certainly Amy’s heaven is a beach somewhere), placed a halo on her head and a butterfly on her shoulder.  I was so excited as I watched my “Goddess Amy” emerge.  I was truly in the flow during the whole process and Amy was there with me.

After our assignments were complete we were told to ask our Goddess what message she came to give us.  (Everything we create is expressing something.)  I looked at mine and inwardly asked the question.  The message that she had for me was “I am always with you.”

Ramblings

I have had no burst of inspiration today.  There’s no words of wisdom or deep questions I have for myself or you.  I’m writing this on Sunday, April 25.  The 25th of each month is no longer just another day.  The 25th will forever be the date that signifies one more month without Amy in my life.  Someone wrote the other day on Facebook that they think of her everyday.  I paused for a moment realizing that I don’t think of her as much anymore.  Everyday seems like a lot, but compared to every minute it is not.  For so many weeks, maybe even months, a minute could not pass without a memory or thought of Amy coming to mind.  But yes, like the friend on Facebook, I do still think of her everyday.  Yesterday I was on the couch reading and I stopped for a moment to think of her.  I looked up from my book and on PBS was a commercial for a documentary about frogs.  Today the girls brought me yet another mysterious toy frog that they found in their room.  She’s still sending me signs.  I hope she never stops.

I used a gift certificate and bought two books yesterday:  Love Without Conditions by Paul Ferrini and The Master Key System by Charles F. Haanel. I started reading them both yesterday.  Apparently The Master Key System is a 24 week program.  You are supposed to read each chapter over a week period and apply what you are learning.  I’m excited about it, but hope that I can stick with it.  I’ve bought and read several books like this one and never treated them like a class, but instead just devoured them and placed them back on the bookshelf.  Intellectually I understand a lot of what (I think) is going to be presented in this book, but it is really time to take it to the next level.  The best way to get to that next level is to use the book as suggested.

The other book, Love Without Conditions, is just wonderful.  Seeing as I had my belief in Jesus shaken a bit a week or so ago, this book is just what I needed.  It is not a channeled book specifically, but the text comes through the author from Jesus.  Ferrini says in the introduction that we all have access to Jesus and can commune with him and get the same information from within our consciousness directly from him.  I believe that because I have experienced it!  I have realized through some of the comments I received on that post, some answers I received within, and from what I read in this book that I really don’t need absolute proof of Jesus’ human existence on this earth for me to know that he is a spiritual teacher for me.  His words and lessons will not change.

Happy Monday everyone!  Have a great work/school week and for those of you who might be wondering…I did sign up to give a talk at church this summer.

Four Months

Yesterday, Gavin and Brantley turned four months old and tomorrow will mark four months since Amy passed away.  For those of you who are new to reading this blog, this post explains more.

I still think of Amy everyday.  Most of those days I have at least one misty-eyed moment.  This past week I’ve spent a lot of time on her Facebook page reading all of her “notes” and looking through her pictures.  The other day I was reading one where she’d answered the question “Who do you miss?”  Her answer was “living-Heather and Leslee, not living-Paw Paw.”  Who would have thought that we’d never have the chance to live in the same city again.  And who would have thought she’d be with “Paw Paw” so soon.

I am becoming friends with the woman (K) who is taking care of the babies and I keep up with her too, through Facebook.  She traded in her car a week or so ago and bought a Honda Odyssey so that she could trek the boys and her own son around.  I laughed because Amy HATED mini vans with a passion.  She swore she’d never buy one and I’m pretty sure she made fun of me when we bought ours.  K posts pictures of Gavin and Brantley pretty regularly and she updates her status with comments about diapers and laundry.  I love having the insight into what is going on with Amy’s family and I know K is a loving soul who is giving her all to the boys, but I still can’t believe it’s not Amy.  I forget sometimes, but only for a second and then it rushes over me again.  The boys are absolutely beautiful and I wish I could hear Amy describe them and tell me all about their schedules, quirks, likes, and dislikes.

I don’t really have that much to say.  I just wanted to make note of the significance of today and honor Amy.  I’ve been thinking about her a lot the last week.  One day I was sitting on the couch on my laptop when Callee came over and handed me the thank you card Amy had sent following the baby shower.  The card had been on top of the dresser that Callee is not tall enough to reach and between two books.  She’d done some climbing and searching to get to it.  I like to think it was Amy who put her up to it.  When I went to take it back the books were neat and organized.  She hadn’t disrupted anything in retrieving the card.

In the card Amy writes that she is grateful that her and I are closer than we have been in a long time.  And it was true.

I miss her.  I love her.  And I am so proud that she was my friend….

Letter to the Boys…

Dear Gavin and Brantley,

It has taken me two months to get around to doing this.  At some level the longer I put it off the less real it would be that your mommy is no longer here in her body, walking around with us.  I miss her so very much and am so sad that you’ll never have the opportunity to be in her physical presence.  I wanted to finally take the time to tell you about her, from my perspective.

I met Amy in high school.  We were on yearbook staff together and in Ms. Brown’s math class.  We were both the teacher’s pet that year, Amy more than me because she could actually excel in Math Concepts, I squeaked by because Ms. Brown remembered how good I was in Geometry.  The day that we really became friends was when we ran into each other with our moms on a tour of UNCC.  As a part of the tour a girl let us check out her dorm room in Moore Hall (the freshman dorm).  In that moment Amy and I looked at each other and said “Let’s room together and live here!”  It was decided.  I called the friend I was supposed to room with and weaseled out of our agreement then filled out the housing paperwork to room with Amy.  We started to hang out a lot together leading up to going to college.  By the time we moved in together in late Summer of 1993, we were already close.

That year was a great one.  We had so much fun and became like sisters.  When we weren’t out hitting the frat parties, or dancing at The Pterodactyl, we would just stay up into the wee hours talking, “roommate gab” we called it.  One thing I learned about Amy that year is that no one could help but fall in love with her.  She had the best personality and was so easy to talk to.  Unlike me, she could be the life of the party without having one single adult beverage.  A lot of guys had crushes on her that year.  And over the course of our friendship at least one guy I was into lost his heart to Amy.  I was pretty upset when that happened, but she went to great lengths to get me to forgive her and of course I did.

Amy was always a good friend.  She was there in the hard times, always.  One thing I remember is that she had such an amazing instinct about things.  She’d warn me about people and I’d never listen.  Back then I thought she was jealous.  Now I realize she was just very aware of people.  Every time she was bothered by a relationship (whether friendship or “love”) I was in, it always turned out badly.  She never said “I told you so” although she could have on several occasions.

There is so much more I could say about her.  She was silly, fun, enjoyed nice things, loved talking to people (was the first person I knew to have a cell phone), never compromised on her standards, and knew how to love and be loved!  One thing that stands out about our freshman year of college is fire drills!  Since we lived in the freshman dorm, someone was always pulling that alarm.  During those drills, we’d go out and sit in Amy’s blue Ford Probe listening to “Vacation” by the Go Go’s.  It would play over and over and we’d sing at the top of our lungs until we saw our dorm mates heading back into the building.

I will say for certain that Heaven has a very special angel now.  Your mother was AMAZING!  She was a gift to so many of us and was so generous that before she left, she gifted us with the two of you!

I love you boys!

“Aunt” Leslee

WTF?!?

It is Wednesday night.  Tomorrow I am posting a beautiful click story from Kim Wencl and on Friday you will read this.  It occurred to me that following Kim’s love-filled post with a sad and angry rant might not be the best idea, but right now I want to put what I feel into words.

It’s been a little over a month since Amy died.  I don’t really get this whole grief thing – I’m new to it.  I’ve been told, much to my dismay, that you don’t really move through the stages of grief evenly as much as you bounce around between them.  I think in the beginning I just skipped anger.

There’s a reason for everything.

We all choose our path and make our contracts before we enter this life.

We are all going to learn and grow because of this.

Amy completed her journey, accomplished her goals, achieved her dreams, and she was ready to go.

Something good will come from this.

This is what I told myself.  This is how I kept from getting angry.  But tonight I sat down to meditate and all that I could think was WHAT THE FUCK?

I want to call my best friend.  There are things I need to tell her.  And yes, I know, she’s with me and she’s listening and she’s sending me signs.  I know this, I really do.  I get the signs (or some of them) and I understand.  But what I really want is to hear her say “I’m proud of you, Les.”  I want to hear her ask me to move back home just one more time.  I want to hear about her big plans to redecorate the house.  I want her to write on my Facebook page about how “Aunt Amy” will play dress-up and put on make-up with Bella and Callee. I want her to be standing in front of me so I can look at her one more time and be in awe at how small and perfectly shaped she is and wonder how the hell she got her hair to grow so long and thick so quickly.

The thing is mostly I’ve gone back to the routine.  I think about Amy as much as I did before she died.  I think about her when her name pops up on Facebook, when I hear or see something that reminds me of her, or when there is something I want to tell her.  Because of the distance she wasn’t a daily part of my life.  I don’t experience the loss as much as others.  So here I am feeling so sad and so lost and then I think of Kristin, Tim, Susie, Brad, and Candie and I just think what the fuck?

From what I have read on Facebook, Gavin came home from the hospital today.  I want Amy to call me and tell me what it’s like to have both of her twin baby boys home.  But then I remember, she’s not going to call.  Christmas day will mark the two month anniversary of her death and Gavin and Brantley’s first Christmas.  What the fuck?  It sucks and tonight I’m angry about it.  For the first time, I’m really angry.  It is just not right.  It is not right that my best friend died without ever seeing or touching her baby boys.  It is not right that her husband, mom, and sister have to hire a nanny to do the job that she was supposed to do.  It’s not right that she doesn’t get to be the matron of honor in Kristin’s wedding.  And it’s not right that I can’t call her and talk to her RIGHT NOW!

So tonight, in this moment, I am totally human and filled with a very sad anger.  Since I can’t call Kristin (we usually cry..I mean talk every week but she’s out of town) and cry in anger with her, I did it while I typed.  Thanks for bearing with me on this one.

Giving Thanks for Rebirth

I am writing this on Sunday night, November 22.  It will post on Thanksgiving day.  My intention was to write a post of gratitude on this day named just for that.  It’s been a difficult past couple of months though.  There’s a lot in my life to be grateful for, but it’s hard to write about on a day when I’ve found myself in tears three times, missing my friend.  So instead I’m chosing to express thanks, not for what I have, but for what is happening to me now.

In October I had two life-changing events.  The first was a reality check in the form of some tough criticism.  It should have shaken my foundation, but for some reason it didn’t.  It was a truth I always suspected, that had hidden itself under a pretty package and lots of sugar coating.  The second event was, of course, losing one of my best friends, Amy.  The person I was died the day she did.  I’ve tried, in moments, to venture back to the thoughts, desires, and ideas I had before that day and they’re gone.  I’ve tried to have the same conversations I had before that day and I can’t.  I know this is all meant to be.  It is a huge wake up call.  I’m hitting the snooze button right now though.  I’ve always been one of those people who sets the alarm an hour before they really need to get up, just so they can snooze for an hour.  Right now, I’m trapped in the hour.

I haven’t started “doing” anything yet, but my internal guidance system is hard at work.  When I sit mindlessly lurking on the internet, I get that uncomfortable feeling in my gut.  Today I finally listened.  I closed the laptop and I picked up “Class Lessons” by Joel S. Goldsmith.  Reading it, I was reminded of my nature, of the reality of who I am, who we all are.  I thought more about how I’ve lost my way somewhat.  I don’t study and meditate the way I once did.  To some extent, I’ve let my ego take the wheel.  Losing Amy shined a light on that (which is funny b/c during a conversation she once said to me…”this is all about ego, nothing else”), but in the aftermath I’ve been too numb to make the necessary changes.

I read Joel S. Goldsmith’s teachings and I am reminded not to judge the situation.  Today I received an email that made me very happy.  I was torn between dancing or crying(happy tears).  Later on I thought more about it and realized it was also kind of scary and intimidating.  It was only then that I had to stop myself from judging.  I want to let go of the duality.  I want to let go of the concern for myself.  Before Amy died, I had a g-chat conversation with my cyber-friend Biswajit (who has become a sort of spiritual teacher for me) and he asked me what I was looking for (on my spiritual journey).  My response was something like  “to have a true realization that I am taken care of.”  No sooner had I typed that into the chat box, did he come back with a big NO! He then said “your purpose here is not to be taken care of.  It is to take care of others.”  I knew he was right.

Now I am in the midst of a rebirth.  I am discovering a new life.  I am working my way through the grief and fear.  I am hoping to initiate the changes I am being pulled to make.  I know that it takes silence and clarity to hear my inner voice, but it is that voice that will guide me to my rightful place.

 

Butterflies

I’ve been noticing butterflies around a lot this year.  We walk to school everyday (unless it is raining) and they are everywhere.  I can’t say I’ve ever noticed so many.  In Bella’s kindergarten class they have an aquarium with caterpillars.  They’ve been observing and learning about them since the first week of school.  Some have already built and left their cocoons, becoming grand butterflies, some didn’t quite make the journey, and some are still moving slowly through the process.

I like the metaphor of the butterfly.  It’s beautiful to think of all the ways we, as humans, enter cocoons and then come out completely transformed.  Callee, my 3-year-old, made a comparison one morning a couple of weeks ago as I drove her to school trying to hide my tears.  She asked me if I was crying because my friend was in a coma (it took her a few days to understand that Amy had died).  Then she posed this question.  “Mommy, is a coma like a cocoon?”

I got this beautiful image of Amy as a butterfly.  The way her spirit must have broken free of that human shell that enclosed it.  What I have learned through reading and studying near-death experiences tells me that the feeling of being set free and transformed into spirit is a bliss that can not be described.  There are no words in our human language that can even come close.  I know that Amy understands that now.  I said to her husband that now she has all the answers.  He replied that he wished she would give them to us.

I guess that’s the journey of the caterpillar.  Nature, instinct and life forces them to wrap themselves in these bubbles.  They wait there in the dark not knowing when they will be ready to leave or what is in store for them when they do.  I’m certain the picture isn’t clear for them.  I doubt there is some secret butterfly school in which those fuzzy worms are told they will become creatures of beauty, capable of amazing undertakings.  They just do what they are pulled to do and eventually, when the time is right, the answers arrive.

We are all caterpillars and butterflies going through our various stages.  We trod along until life sends us the signal that we must go inward.  Our cocoons are not all the same.  There are many ways in which life as we know it ceases to exist.  For me it is grief.  I had never understood the true meaning of grief until I find myself sitting in it.  It is all that envelops me now.  It is a dark and uncertain cocoon.

It is the butterfly that gives me hope.  I have hope that, like the caterpillar, I will transform in my silence and stillness.  In time my cocoon will weaken and a new me will emerge.  In the meantime I will be patient with the process and await the answers instead of trying to force my own.

Dear Amy (my stuff)

I’ve allowed myself one week to write to you and about you on the blog.  Tomorrow I’m going to tell your favorite story and then go back to the old routine, well with the exception of the click stories.  (I’ve received four already and plan to post them on Tuesdays and Thursdays.)  For my last letter I just want to tell you how I’ve felt.

I guess it was nearly a year ago when I made my “25 things about me” list on Facebook.  One thing I thought about including in the list and did say in a comment was “I am not who I used to be.”  I wanted to make it clear to everyone who knew me when I was younger that I was not proud of a lot of my choices.  When you read that though, I think it hurt you.  I can’t exactly remember (see that’s why I need you) if you actually told me or I just got it via Kristin, but I’ll never forget the gist of what you said.  It made you sad that I felt so much regret for that time in my life, because for you it was a wonderful time.  You were right beside me on that journey, picking me up when I slipped, helping me laugh when I wanted to cry, and just simply having FUN!  Somehow I’d forgotten all that fun and chose to focus on the “bad” stuff.  You wanted me to remember it the way you did.  The funny thing is, once I was told what you really thought of me not being who I used to be, I DID start to remember it differently.  I chose to reflect on the good and I began to change.  I started to accept and embrace the past, letting go of all the guilt I’d held onto.  Those little steps of self-acceptance and self-love opened my heart.  Over this past year I have begun to love more deeply and more passionately and I believe you had a big role to play in that.  I thank you so much for the gifts you have given me over the past 18 years.

I also want to tell you that I’m sorry.  I’m sorry for moving so far away.  I’m sorry for missing so much over the years.  I’m sorry for crawling into my own little world and forgetting to reach out to those of you who had invested in me for so long.  I’m sorry that you only met the girls a few times.  They would have loved you so much and you them!  I’m sorry for not sending pictures of them.  I’m sorry for not staying with you when I’d come to NC for visits.  I’m sorry for not expressing enough gratitude for all the lovely gifts you sent me and my family over the years.  I’m sorry for not telling you I loved you enough, but glad I at least said it recently.  I’m sorry for dumping my drama on you and not taking enough time to ask you how you were doing.  You have taught me so much about living and I’m sorry I am only realizing it now that you have made your transition….

Here are a few things I’ve learned from your example:

1.  When you find people you connect with, stay connected.  TALK ON THE PHONE to the people you love! (I’m easing in to this one, you know I’m not a phone person.)

2.  There is nothing wrong with asking for what you want and expecting to get it!

3.  Be generous and helpful.  Reach out to people in need.

4.  Life is short, make the most of it.  Have things, do things, and be with people that feed your soul!

5.  Seek your own answers, make up your own mind, and don’t let anyone ever pressure you or guilt you into doing/being something you DON’T want to do/be.

I’ll probably think of more lessons later, but those are the ones that stand out to me now.  Thank you for the biggest gift of all (that came in the tiniest little package): YOU and your beautiful friendship!!!

I know you loved 80’s music and singing Karaoke.  This is the first song we ever sang at Rainbow Deli!