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Grief Unexpectedly

The news came as a shock tonight.  Sure we had that misunderstanding but the silence wasn’t supposed to mean I’d never see you again.  You must have been haunting me because you have been on my mind for the longest.  I did not get in touch with you because I thought – I don’t know what I thought, but I wasn’t angry, you were supposed to go on living.  It’s not right and it’s not fair and dying just wasn’t your fucking style!

I have nowhere for this grief to go.  Our sons best friends until those terrible teens.  I remember their last day of school in Fifth grade, my son who had been horribly bullied came home excited he made a friend who actually invited him to his house to go play in the pool.  Of course I had reservations…”Who are these people?”  I demanded a telephone number, certainly I wasn’t about to entrust my child in the care of just anybody.  My mind raced imagining the grim news of a phone call he drowned.  I took comfort in your assurance he’d be safe given it was an inflatable pool.  That day was the beginning of our friendship.

No, we weren’t up under each other’s faces everyday.  You were Suzy fucking homemaker! You put me to such shame. God, how you could cook! I spent most of the time back then sorting through some baggage.  I was in a shitty relationship, but not once did you ever judge.  I certainly couldn’t see it, but you listened.  You were FIRE.  But you always had room at the table.

When the dipshit and I finally broke up and I was in deep despair, you never yelled: “Snap out of it!” We plotted on revenge. When your mind got going you could make the devil look like a punk bitch. You had great ideas.  I’m just thankful there was a shred of sanity left in me because it wasn’t so much the ideas that scared me  rather than you were serious and would have rode shotgun if I agreed.  you were BOLD!

I remember the Thanksgiving we shared together, and the time there was some snafu for my son’s birthday and you and your husband without hesitation or excuse drove me, my family and his other friends to Dave and Busters.  I most certainly can’t forget the Christmas when I was really down on my luck and the gifts for my son didn’t end.

More than that, I don’t know if I ever did say how thankful I was that my son and yours were friends.  Not just because of the love and attention you gave him, but for the beautiful soul you raised your son to be.  Sensitive, kindhearted, loyal.

About that misunderstanding…

I won’t say sorry because it’s my feeling that there is nothing to forgive.  We did what we were called to do as mothers and we jockeyed for position as we should.  We always swore whatever happened between our kids, we’d remain friends.  We never said we weren’t friends, but rather we distanced ourselves.  I always wished you well in my heart, but I also respected the boundary or what I thought was a boundary you decided to erect.  I had no ill feelings towards you.  NONE.AT.ALL.  I hope you knew that.  It was my feeling our sons needed to know we were on their side 100 percent, and that as adults it wasn’t personal, just part of the job.

You were a wonderful person, full of light, laughter, love, and had just a lil touch of the wicked which made you all the more endearing. My heart is broken tonight, you weren’t supposed to leave, our paths were supposed to meet again…HERE on this plane.  I’d like to think you’re haunting me.  You’ve been on my mind so much lately, I wish cowardice didn’t win out.  I wish I picked up that phone.  I wish I followed my own advice tonight when my son asked me what I thought about his reaching out to your son out of the blue and I told him without hesitation “Pick up the phone.” Maybe you too put a lil invisible fire under my son’s ass.  Either way I know you will look out for him wherever you are, as you did here.  I believe in soul contracts, I believe each of us touches another’s life with purpose and agreement.

Remember the 4th of July when the kids were blowing up fire crackers and the police came? I was so fucking straight edged I was in a panic envisioning my son taken away in handcuffs.  Don’t know what you said to those cops but they walked away.  You were so fucking cool like that.  You could sell ice to an Eskimo.

I know your family must be devastated.  Your daughter recently married I am sure is in mourning, your husband must be in shock, I can’t even imagine what your parents must feel, your departure defied the way it’s supposed to be, we’re not supposed to leave before our parents, your brother whom you adored most certainly must have a hole in his heart. Your youngest is doing his best to contain his grief, I spoke to him a little earlier. I haven’t stopped crying.  My son is in shock and has been on the phone with your baby for at least a solid four hours now.

You have my word I will keep a close eye on him and make sure he’s okay. The others are grownups and might need a listening ear, but your baby is now mine to keep watch over however is needed.  It’s what we do, it’s what you did for mine without question.  I hope when you left you didn’t feel pain.  I am hurting and I don’t know how or when the pain will leave.  There was no closure, I didn’t get to say goodbye or to let you know how much you were appreciated.

There is so much left to say but I have to leave this here for now, I am so grieved I feel sick and I can’t stop crying.  I thank you from the bottom of my heart I never said it, but please know you were loved.

“Be careful.  Don’t think these little children are worth nothing. I tell you that they have angels in heaven who are always with my father in heaven.”
Matthew 18:10

I know you are working your magic from up above. I miss you so much but we will see each other again.

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When the Student is Ready, the Teacher Might be a Cokehead…

That flower child, radiant light, love, tree hugging “We’re all one in the universe” Guru you’re swearing by…of course they’re happy and of course that is what you aspire to be…

The only thing they’re FAILING to share in their story is the tray of coke in front of them late at night when no one is looking or the binges with the happy juice tucked away in the drawer no one knows about.

In all honesty that’s the story I rather hear.

I want the “How-to” on redemption not candy coated “hopey-feely-changey” shit…

Ever wonder how Jim was able to get so many to drink the Kool-aid?

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Dammit! Dare to Dream…

By the time one reaches their 30’s many are jaded…societal norms and indoctrination have taken hold and the power we were born vested within us to create has been dismissed as frivolous folly, an endeavor for fools…UNless one was fortunate enough to be blessed with wise caregivers who understood the wisdom of nurturing one’s gypsy even IF a bit eccentric…

I embrace non conformity…every artist knows in order to really feel whole, whether they suck or not they HAVE to be in touch with that part of them deep within…that vulnerable part…their soul and they must learn how to tame the fear and muster up the courage to say:  “Hello world! This is me! Here is my heart! Come and play!” Oftentimes the heart is greeted with spit balls and tomatoes and the artist must learn to deal with rejection, disinterest, criticism, DISMISSAL…and forge ahead despite such a “warm and welcoming’ environment.

We ‘appreciate’ artists who have left a significant mark on the world – it’s interesting how an artist’s work becomes more valuable when they die…why is that I wonder?…

Then there is the interminable challenge…when can one lay claim to being an ‘Artist’?…When can one OWN who and what they are?…What qualifies one to lay claim to the title of ‘ARTIST’?  External validation or self?

“I think, therefore I AM” – yet applying that principal literally doesn’t make me a ‘BRAIN’…so where is the truth?

They say LOVE is the answer…the answer to everything…and I believe it to be so…

When you don’t feed your spirit, your soul, your gift – you die a little bit every day…

All that garbage put out there…don’t believe it!  BE YOU!  You were born to create!  I don’t care what your thing is…CREATE!  Feel NO SHAME and tell the negative committee that meets inside your head to take a long walk off a short pier because they’re selling you a cheap pack of lies…

JUST DO IT!

Complacency and conformity is DEATH…do not surrender. Move outside the box…EVERY artist has the same group of negative Nellies or Normans in there who meet on a daily basis who work very hard at brainwashing you that it can’t be done and you’re not good enough…don’t listen to them!  DO IT!  Do it with abandon, passion and LOVE…

Leo Buscaglia shared in his Forward to the book entitled “LOVE”

We need not be afraid to touch, to feel, to show emotion.  The easiest thing in the world to be is what you are, what you feel.  The hardest thing to be is what other people want you to be, but that’s the scene we are living in.  Are you really you or are you what people said you are?  AND are you interested in really knowing who you are because if you are, it is the happiest trip of your life.  AND this loving person is also one who sees the continual wonder and joy of being alive that contrary to the media, we were meant to be happy because there are so many beautiful things in our world – trees, and birds and faces.  There are no two things alike and things are always changing.  How can we get bored?  There has never been the same sunset twice.  Look at everybody’s face.  Each face is different.  Everybody has his own beauty.  There have never been two flowers alike.  Nature abhors sameness.  Even two blades of grass are different.  The Buddhists taught me a fantastic thing.  They believe in the here and now.  If you live for tomorrow, which is only a dream, then all you are going to have is an unrealized dream.  AND the past is no longer real.  It has value because it made you what you are now, but that is all the value it has.  So don’t live in the past.  LIVE NOW.  When you are eating, eat.  When you are loving, love.  When you are talking with someone, talk.  When you are looking at a flower, look.  Catch the beauty of the moment!


The loving person has no need to be perfect, only human.  The idea of perfection frightens me.  We’re almost afraid to do anything anymore because we can’t do it perfectly.  Maslow says there are marvelous peak experiences that we all should be experiencing, like creating a pot in ceramics or painting a picture and putting it over here and saying, “That’s an extension of me.”  There’s another existentialist theory that says, “I must be because I have done something.  I have created something – therefore, I am.”  Yet we don’t want to do this because we’re afraid it isn’t going to be good, it isn’t going to be approved of.  If you feel like smearing ink on a wall, you do it.  Say, “That came out of me, it’s my creation, I did it, and it is good.”  But we’re afraid because we want things to be perfect, We want our children to be perfect.

Get rid of whatever is holding you back. CREATE.

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New Mommie Bloggers…

“New Mommie Blogs” well isn’t that special…you might call it snark, but see…I’ve been there and done that – here is the question on everybody’s mind and it has nothing to do with your ‘expertise‘ at being a mom…’cause…well, it’s an oxymoron to be writing a “New Mommie” blog while simultaneously claiming expertise…my brain is wrecked with all these “New Mommies” and all their near lil mini-catastrophes…as if projectile vomiting and a lil stink muffin neck-deep in spinach green baby shit is something that has NEVER BEFORE been seen. Heck, y’all truly are a bunch of rookies, back in my day baby pup had some lil virus and was shitting his lil baby brains out all night, there was shit on the floors, the walls, the lil baby thingy you slap on there to entertain them – a music mobile yea, that’s what they call ’em – splattering baby shit all over the room, I had to duck intermittently between baby shit missiles strategically aimed at me just to retrieve the poor thing from the crib…there was no mistaking it, this definitely was not friendly fire!

Now I’m witnessing y’all pontificating just what to do about scenarios such as these but having been a survivor I can tell ya this is not an earth shattering crisis. No, you might not want to get laid again anytime soon after being up with the master shit machine all night but you do want to make sure the baby stays hydrated. You might consider finding a lil tiny cork, but it is doubtful that it would stay in place so you must be prepared to deal with the shit until the ‘attack’ runs its course. Dehydration is the biggest danger in all of this. Chronic shits in a very young baby can be fatal so instead of sitting up there on y’all’s ‘puters blogging away volumes on the amount, smell and consistency you might just wanna git yourself outta the blogger’s chair and get the lil shit master over to the pediatrician who can assess the problem. After you lay out a few bills, walking on fumes, and the doctor has re-assured you that all is well it’s just something that has to pass, expect a couple more rounds of assaults. This is not the time to beat yourself up for failing to heed your financial advisor’s suggestion on Huggies stock, that window has passed.  Accept it, although you might do well to consider investing in plastic because you will find the only practical fashion for occasions such as this will be an extra-large garbage bag. I suggest purchasing the ones with built-in handles, this way you can simply remove the plastic drawstring and use it as a belt. Keep a few extra in the baby bag or expect lots of shit on your clothes.

Riding the subway during one of these baby shit attacks just might find you in a better position than usual…so much so you might find most are willing to let you have the entire subway car to yourself. But while worrisome, these occasional baby shit attacks are not really worthy of global discussion on the cyberwaves…just remember two key things:  Keep the baby hydrated and get him to a pediatrician.

You might find it helpful to have an extra piece of cake in the fridge when you get home. Never mind concern for the waistline, the minute you got pregnant that shit was gone forever, it took off with your ass…it’s okay…give yourself permission…have that piece of cake! You earned it.

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Remembering 911…

The Gift by Betty Laluna
on Polyvore

At 8:46 am on September 11, 2001, I was teaching a classroom of sixth graders how to solve simple equations.  By 9:00 am I was incessantly interrupted by a barrage of public announcements…”Janet Morales please come down to the office with your coat and books”  “Anthony Diaz please come down to the office with your coat and books” Michael Smith please come down to the office with your coat and books“….I heard police sirens and fire trucks and more interruptions from the PA system which by that point had become quite the annoyance.

By 9:03 am, about 1/4 of my classroom was empty, I noted it was strange just how many of my students had medical appointments that day…I thought it odd so many in the same school were pulled out of class but I continued with my lesson, business as usual.  We were going over a lesson on how to distinguish between facts and opinion as my student population grew smaller and smaller by the minute.

By 10:30 am I had perhaps 1/4 of my total class size present and accountable.  I continued with no idea or clue as to what happened.  I carried on…

A little bit before lunch our Teaching Coach pulled me out of the classroom and shared:  “There was an attack on the World Trade Center at 8:45 this morning the buildings are gone.”  My knees buckled from underneath me and I began to sob uncontrollably.  I was told not to say anything to the children and to continue teaching.  I returned to the classroom stunned.  The students saw the look on my face my eyes red from crying, lips swelled…you know how your face gets when it’s had a really good cry.  I was a mess.  My students grew concerned, they asked me what was wrong.  I couldn’t speak and their asking just caused more tears to stream down my face.  It was early in the school year, we hadn’t bonded yet – but every teacher knows that even in the classroom, we take the oath to protect our kids at whatever cost…we are also the surrogate Mommies during the school day and so it just wasn’t about me but these kids sitting in front of me.  I didn’t mean to alarm them with my tears.  I stood there trying desperately to compose myself.  I gestured with my hand “give me a minute” and I began to take deep breaths.  The mass exodus of students from my building began to make sense, the sirens began to make sense but now they took on a more ominous turn…I was eleven years old again, the same age as my students and this time I was the one guilty of abandonment.

Contrary to what I was instructed to do, once I was able to utter a sound I began to share that the World Trade Center had been attacked.  This of course found me sobbing uncontrollably once more.  Moreover, my student’s didn’t quite understand the significance of this, I was greeted by blank stares.  The previous year I had a classroom of students who had no idea what the Twin Towers were.  I taught a lesson in math and was attempting to demonstrate the concept of parallel lines and I used the Twin Towers as an example.  A majority of my students had no point of reference.  I’ll disclose I taught in East Harlem, an up and coming but back then “Inner City” neighborhood in Manhattan.  I am thankful I was able to take my students to see them.  The DOE has very strict rules on class trips to hear some administrators tell the story, and so I had to draw up a  whole elaborate scheme about how we were going to have a Science lesson in Battery Park City on “Bird Watching.”  This was the only creative angle I could find to provide the opportunity for my students to see the buildings from the park.  Little did any of us know on that lovely June day they would someday cease to exist.  I am proud of my little moment of defiance, my Principal having no grounds to deny me despite the arrogant smirk on his face.  I presented my lesson plan and we arrived at compromise.

In the midst of this terror, I remember reflecting upon that moment in the park months before, where before returning we dummied up our ‘instructional‘ field trip reports to justify our day in the sun, one eager student over embellishing he saw a bald eagle.  I so loved teaching, I really had such affection for each and every one of my students, their distinct little personalities – even the ones that knew exactly where they might best push that button which would reveal just a little bit more of me to myself.  I wondered if my former students who graduated and were now in Jr. High School connected to this event any more so than the students sitting in front of me. Were they okay?  I wondered so many things.  I wondered if I’d ever see my own child again.  This might seem strange to someone and a bit extreme; however, with no access to a radio, television, a telephone or the outside world, all I had at my disposal were the rumors and there were plenty.  One parent shared they bombed former President Clinton’s office on 125th Street.  Another parent shared there were more planes flying around with explosives, there was another rumor somewhat based on truth that a third plane was shot down in Pennsylvania.  My world was now at surreal.

I knew I was in no shape to teach, and I suggested that given the dwindling class size and what happened perhaps an assembly in the auditorium might be in order.  I thought it prudent to distract them while the adults had a chance to absorb what had just happened.  I reasoned even IF the children seemed unaffected there was no way a teacher could pull it off, not if they had any clue what exactly this meant.  We had the facilities and the technology to entertain them with videos.  My suggestion fell on deaf ears and I was sent back into the classroom barely able to function.  If this was the “IT” I had been waiting for, what else was there to teach really?  I couldn’t comprehend the lack of emotion or connection administration had towards this whole event.  I understand how it would be unwise to get the children riled up which is WHY it made sense to me to distract them; however, there was no consideration at all for the emotional burden this placed on staff.  Our school was on lock down which meant no one was to enter or leave the building; however, they failed to acknowledge that perhaps we might have had a loved one in those buildings, or we might have had a child in the near vicinity.  Leave no child behind but your own was more the policy that day and it exacerbated my own personal journey in coming to terms.  In fact it actually raised a level of trauma that I had been unaware of and was unable to articulate until years later.

While my students were eating lunch I tried to get an open line to find out how my own child was doing.  The lines were dead.  I had no cellphone.  Another teacher allowed me to try on her cellphone however, those lines were near dead too.  It was a hit or miss.  At a certain point I was able to communicate with my mother.  My son was across the bridge in another borough.  The bridges, trains and buses were all shut down.  I called frantically my desperation came from the notion that if this was gonna be it…if we were all doomed, if planes were flying with explosives, or perhaps a dirty bomb, I wanted to die holding my child.  I did not want to die in the confines of that Public School in East Harlem.  I wanted all my students safe and sound with their parents…”Why weren’t all my students picked up?”  My Principal breathing down my neck:  “Ms. Vega, hurry up there are others who also need to make phone calls

I got a line in to my son’s father.  I told him I was on lockdown I couldn’t leave.  Actually technially I could; but,  I could also lose my job so in essence, I was trapped at no exit.  I had no choice I had to stay.  But what kind of parent would this make ME?  I felt guilty for leaving my child to die in a stranger’s arms instead of my own…I got ahead of myself there I was in full panic mode, now hyper-ventilating.  I called a cousin in Queens, an Uncle in Queens, I desperately tried to reach family members to pick up my then four-year old son.  Nothing…they answered but none seemed too concerned.  I could not reason or rationalize this.  I finally got through to the Director of the daycare center, I was in tears all over again…”Please, please take care of my baby.”  He re-assured me “Don’t worry, the whole city is shut down but your son is in good hands and I don’t care how long it takes, we’ve got food, we have beds, and we will protect your son.  Calm down, we’re okay, he’s okay we’re all gonna be okay.”  I then began to plot how I was going to walk home because cars were not being allowed to drive across the bridges.  Should I stay or should I go?  I began to rationalize my walking out of that building to get to my child.  I didn’t give a fuck about the whole “Leave no child behind”  What about my own?  Today those students are in their 20’s.  I wonder how much “Leave no child behind” has served them and whether or not they’ve been educated to the extent that they truly understand the domino effect of world events.  Have they developed into critical thinkers or are they still reacting to what appears to be the implosion of society with blank stares…or is it learned apathy?  I’d like to think this is just my cynicism but I’m not too convinced that it is.

By last period I was down to three students.  Their last period was Art.  I asked the Art teacher would she be willing to dismiss them.  There was no way I could stay in an empty classroom for 45 minutes so that I could walk them down three flights of stairs when instead I might be able to get a head start in walking across the bridge.  She agreed to do this and I was met with a hint of disapproval by my Principal when I asked him whether I would be allowed to leave early; however my circumstances were different.  My peers had family members to step in, to pick up their children, I was a single parent and my kid was left out there with no one to retrieve him.  Out of a class of 33 students, only three parents left theirs behind.  I did not see the logic in my having to do the same to my child.  There is a point where parents must also be accountable and in my case we were not speaking of parents that were affected, in fact I learned the three students left had parents who did not work.  My first fear was the possibility that perhaps someone in my classroom might have lost a parent that day.  There were so many thoughts racing in my head…it was hard to sort out the push-pull.

You could smell the fire all the way up north in East Harlem.  Days later  you could smell the dead bodies everywhere…the putrid sweet stench of death enveloped the city.  My fear was a friend who worked down in the area might have been dead.  As luck would have it, I later learned she was okay.  She was late for work.  Just exiting the subway she saw the bodies falling from the buildings.  She shared something about getting to a payphone when a friend dragged her back down into the subway and they were able to catch the last train out of lower Manhattan to safety before the buildings collapsed and people had to run for their lives.  If I recall her words, she went into a dissociative state sharing with the woman who in a sense rescued her:  “Those are not bodies, those are dolls falling.”  I am thankful she’s alive.  We were in the midst of a rift and I don’t know if I would be able to live with myself if I were never able to say goodbye.  We assume we have forever and therefore can afford to hold grudges.

As I sped across the RFK bridge darting in and out of lanes fearful as a revenue generating bridge it might be blown up, I prayed all across.  I had never driven like a madwoman before taking every risk just to get across it.  I would continue to drive that way across the bridge for a year concerned about what appeared to me to be a lack of diligence on the part of ‘security’ placed there.  I noticed they’d pull over a random truck but I kept wondering…”What about the yellow cabs?”

By the time I got home hours later, my ex had finally picked up my son.  We got to the area around the same time and so within ten minutes of my arriving home he walked in the door with him.  I was angry at my ex as I could not reason or rationalize how on earth if he knew I could not get our child, how he could be so nonchalant about wanting to get to him.  I think that day everyone somewhat disassociated.  Nothing in the reactions of others made any sense to me.  If we’re dealing with the unknown I reasoned better safe and in the company of your loved ones than sorry.  Apparently I was in the minority that day.  I picked up my little boy and cried and cried and held onto him so tightly…I noticed my ex seemed to think I was overreacting, but the impact of this particular event in my eyes was worthy of the terror I felt inside.

I packed our bags that night and left for a relative’s home further out in the borough.  It would be two weeks before I could sleep in my own bed.   I know people around me thought my fear was a little high-pitched; however, I didn’t know at the time what sparked my hypervigilance.  Oklahoma got an entire week off when one of their buildings had been blown up.  New York City had ONE DAY to get their shit together.  This was TRAUMA and it did not matter if you were near the buildings or not.  This country  had never been attacked on the mainland.  Thursday, September 13, 2011 Teachers were to report for duty to ‘counsel’ the children.  Humph.  I spent a day in a classroom talking to students about the events that had no point of reference and therefore did not seem to be in  need of any particular comfort.  It did not appear from my observations to be a loss to them.  It became evident by their reactions, most of them were disconnected from the rest of the city.  They knew their community but they did not realize nor had they been exposed enough to world events to truly understand the significance of this event.  I’m not so sure that was a bad thing.

In 1979, at the age of eleven, I lost my father to a violent crime.  There is trauma enough in knowing you’ve lost a parent to gun violence, but it’s even more traumatic when you realize that he loved you enough to walk a whole block and a half with a bullet in his chest to come home and say goodbye to you.  I opened the door not knowing what was on the other side.  In shock I ran away from him instead of toward him.  At eleven years old, my teachers thought it was important that we were aware of world events.  I attended a Catholic School where most of the time I tuned them out, but even in the midst of daydreaming, doodling and sharing love notes with my 6th grade school crush, information would seep in.  I learned about the Iranian Hostage Crisis and the Ayatollah Khomeini, and I learned how the Russians with their Nuclear Weapons were the enemy, perhaps some of my own teachers acting out their trauma from the duck and cover drills where they were told to seek safety under their desks, and I learned about how the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor miles away was bubbling to boiling and could go at any minute causing mass casualties and disaster.  On the edge of this stood my own personal world catastrophe, my father was murdered.  I couldn’t quite make sense of it, how one minute someone could be alive and well and the next minute they’re dead.  A few days prior he shared with me he was dying but I was led to believe we had some time left, I did not expect death would come in an instant.  It was too much at once to process and I did not realize it then, but I suffered Trauma.  I went into a dissociative state.  People would offer their condolences and I’d reply “It’s okay.”  The thing is, what do you say to someone who is saying:  “I’m sorry?” I didn’t know what to say, I knew they didn’t do it.  It made me feel even more awkward.  I didn’t really want to speak about it, and I didn’t know what anyone wanted me to do, or how I should respond although the truth was it wasn’t okay, but it was easier to say that it was.  I did not want to deal with my reality.

The brain is a very high-tech machine when it comes to our thoughts.  It will protect you.  When presented with something you cannot reconcile, it will totally block it.  Cognitively I knew my father was dead, but I did not understand, nor did I have words for the horror so instead my brain decided it would manifest in some irrational fear that the world was going to end and that is because for all intents and purposes in my eleven year old mind…my world DID end, we were just waiting for the culminating activity.  So, every time the fire engines would race down the streets they became war sirens and I’d wake up from sleeping in a panic hyperventilating, it would take me some time to realize where I was and what was happening.  I’d have nightmares where the bomb was dropped, sometimes even feeling the burning on my skin in my sleep and I’d wake up and cry from the horror.  The therapists I saw after this whose job it was to identify my ‘problem‘ and irrational fear never quite caught on to this.  It took me thirty some odd years to reconcile all of this and realize that there is some degree trauma.  I realize that in life everyone suffers from trauma to varying degrees but having recognized where my source was is what allowed me to come to terms with FEAR.  I could never label or identify my FEARS, I just knew they were.  When I’d see a fight between two people, I’d panic.  I’d panic because my mind would go into flight mode, “RUN!”  because my mind would jump ahead zero to sixty and I anticipated guns would be drawn.  There were a number of ways my unexpressed fear would come to the surface.  My extreme reaction to 911 was one such manifestation.  Three days post 911, my mother could not understand my utter panic and without realizing it I shared:  “Those buildings were just like Dad.  There one moment, gone the next.”  The Harrier Jets flying above the city replaced the sounds of the war sirens, except this time they were real and tangible evidence I had reason to fear World War III.  It wasn’t as if it was an impossibility.

The sights, sounds and stench of death enveloped the city.  It went to bed with me, woke up with me,  it was in my classroom for weeks after.  We inhaled the remaining particles of the dead…the plume of smoke carried the decay far and wide for weeks and we were told to keep going.  Mourning is for the weak I suppose.

Four days from now, we will embark on the 12th Anniversary of 911.  The country sits at the edge of its seat once again facing the fear of war.  This time in Syria; however unlike past military actions, we are dealing with Superpowers who are not sitting well with our position to strike, and a majority of our Allies are not supporting us either.  Simultaneously, opinions on the proper course of action are wide-ranging.   Many afraid to even speak or hold an opinion because to do so, might label one a traitor.

What I’ve learned is that FEAR stems from a place of feeling out of control.  It causes anxiety, panic and stress.  It destroys the body from the inside out.  It eats away at you a little bit everyday until one day you are frozen and cannot move.  It is TERROR.  I’ve accepted I am powerless and cannot control anything.  To believe I can is an illusion.  I can only control me.  I am not at apathy.  I am a survivor.  Whatever happens…wherever this goes…be determined to survive.

May God be with  us all.

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Welcome to the Family…

foreverYou laughed when I shared he used to tell me when he grew up we’d share the bed together and his wife would sleep on the floor while he pushed you on the swing.  Observing the two of you in some ways brings me back to my own youth in some respects and this finds me revisiting some bittersweet emotions…

I look back and I honor the mothers who had the courage to let their sons walk me to my door late at night.  I took a lot for granted and felt a sense of entitlement…karma has a way of teaching you lessons even when you erroneously believe you’ve gained wisdom.

I watch you both, and you are a manifestation of all I could have dreamed…your attraction to one another somehow I’d like to think on his part morphed from the best parts of me…yet at the same time I am fearful because I like what I see yet I know the odds are stacked against young love…

He HATES when I try to ‘lecture’ him on going slow and tips on how to prepare for the worst.  A side effect of being middle-aged and knowing that people grow and change and don’t always stick around for the forever…

I want you to know that I like you…very much…

I’m glad he picked you…but I wish it was later…because you’re perfect but you’re both so young…

I dreamed of a family someday…a big happy one…

I plan to have ten grandchildren…

He’s my only son…did he tell you that?

Did he mention the acres of land he will buy and how there is to be a mother-in-law suite built on the property so that I can babysit?  Yes this has been mapped out since our last discussion where we decided you would be sleeping on the floor…this of course was all HIS idea and I thought it was a rather good one coming from a six year old.

But tonight you laughed at that almost as if you thought it silly.  Up until tonight I rather enjoyed that scenario…it worked for me.

I come from a different generation and all of this is an adjustment…

Tonight, I saw myself in you.

treetop

Jungle Tree Top Adventure

I watched you climb that Jungle Tree Top like a champ all the way to the top and I remember how in my youth I had the same courage…I’d dare to try anything until one day fear set in…and I watched you do this as my son held on for dear life and only made it to the first landing.  I asked him later on “What happened?” He shared:  “I’m not afraid of heights but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t fall.” He took it in stride when you outdid him in rock climbing too…

I know a lot about falling but that’s a whole other story…

waterballoI know the Amusement Park might have seemed a bit infantile…but it was what I could manage with my condition and my pocketbook.  I so get it might not make your top ten list but I really dug your spirit today especially when I admitted I might have goofed but gave the pep talk:  “Hey, no one here knows either one of you, it’s not like anyone from the neighborhood is gonna rat you out…go ahead! Release your inner child today! Fun is on the inside!“….I saw the looks you both gave me…even after following with “Why don’t you both have a water balloon fight?“…

Your mother raised you well.

I know that both of you are a good team.  He forgot an extra shirt and you forgot a set of bottoms…this left me having to give him the shirt off my back, while he gave you his.  He was not fond of the neon pink flowers or the bows he had to wear, but certainly my shirt would have fallen off of you given your delicate frame…and so I walked out of there wearing a tropical blue, white, yellow and pink tropical bathing suit top with mismatched red, white, black and pink plaid pants while you both walked hand in hand, he in a flowery bow top you in his shirt with nothing but a towel covering you on the bottom…proof that water balloon fights are fun.  At least for now.  But somehow I know you will remember this day.

On the way back as I played ‘chauffeur’ both of you sat behind me – I switched on the jazz.  I don’t know if he’s told you yet but he has this dream of you both getting dressed up and going to a jazz club.  He wants candlelight and good music.  He thinks you will appreciate it since you like to sing.  Tonight we had Popeye’s before hitting the waterfront in Long Island City.  Who said broke folks don’t know how to party?

What you don’t know is this is the same park two weeks ago while you were away I cried to an old friend “My son doesn’t love me.” And we sat on the same swing you both sat on tonight…except tonight it was different…

Tonight you took turns on one swing while I rocked in the other…

We talked of old fairy tales and stories we were fond of…

Momma if I were a big scary ape would you still love me then?”  “I’ll love you forever, I’ll love you for always as long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.”  “Goodnight Gorilla…”

Then he began to push you on the swing…higher and higher you went…but it got a little too high and you said nothing – so I did…I know he did not mean harm…he’s still a boy in some ways and has always been a daredevil, and so this was not meant to cause freight but rather it’s a sign he sees you truly as his friend…

He’s my son but I am a woman first…don’t ever stay silent…I don’t care who you are dealing with always demand respect.  Have firm boundaries.

Being embarrassed he began to joke and said when he had children (perhaps one of the ten we are expecting) he was going to push them in the swing and they would end up in a therapist’s office in trauma.  He knows about trauma…

You recited an entire screenplay drama around this scenario off the top of your head complete with repressed memories!  The victim going back in time seeing a swing…I let in the sound effect and let out a screech you then staying in character let out:  “I see it! I see it! The swing! It’s there!” We played out this whole scene and allowed the victim to successfully overcome their swing trauma sharing that in being pushed so hard he went all around the pole and accidentally kicked his father in the head in flight and so was no longer in fear of his father but felt sorry for him given his traumatic brain injury but still has certain phobias around swings…it was SICK!  It was INSANE!  It was FUNNY AS SHIT!

Welcome to the family…

My hope is…I’ll keep it to myself but I am very fond of you…

No…my hope is the best outcome for both of you and if ever the day comes…that instead of pain there will always be love and respect…

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