Sunday, December 22, 2013

How It Will It Change?

The question was asked, the answer was given.  My best guy friend in this entire world has asked the woman he loves to be his bride.  I couldn't be happier for him and strangely wistful as that same time.

Mike and I have been friends for 16-17 years; and like any relationship, we've had our ups and downs.  But we have remained friends through the yelling, the slamming of the phone, the unfriending on Facebook.  There have been periods of silence and times of constant contact.

He has encouraged me to follow some of my God given talents like writing and photography.  He's given sage advice, which really has been God speaking through him.  He is my go to guy when my heart is troubled.  He's heard me cry until I was empty.  He empathized with my broken heart. He's talked me down when I've been agitated.  This year, he pulled me right off the edge of the abyss.

I have a healthy respect for marriage and the boundaries that it places on friendships, even more so when it's a friendship between a male and female.   It will all change now and that's why I am so wistful.

I am so very over the moon happy for him.  For almost two decades we've talked about finding that special someone with whom to share our lives.  He finally found her and it's been along time coming.  I haven't met her, but I know I like her because he is happy.  What more can you ask for your friend, other than his or her complete happiness?

I can't imagine my life without my best guy friend in it, but I know that change is coming.








Monday, October 14, 2013

Dear Finnegan...

It's been 10 days since I said goodbye to your sweet face.  10 horrid days of unbearable silence in this house.  Little boy, I tried to do everything I could for you. As soon as I saw your little legs weakening, I took you to the vet.  Dr. Metzler said it was a treatable condition and I had to decide whether to treat you or let you go.  I decided to treat, but in the end you deteriorated so fast, 16 days.  So fast.

When you looked at me with those big brown eyes upon my return home on Friday, Oct. 4th, I knew what you were telling me.  Yes, you are a dog and I am a human, but those cords of unconditional love allow for the most meaningful communication.  That look said it all and my heart broke into a million little pieces.



I think about that day in 2004, when I went to the Humane Society and found you.  You were a matted, flea infested, stinking thing they named Pancho.  Really?  You didn't look like no stinking Pancho, but there you were, a stray, needing to be neutered and facing heartworm treatment.  There was something in that face of your, those big brown eyes that reached in and grabbed me by the heart.

Kimberly and I loaded you into her vehicle and took you straight to Petco to have you dipped and shaved.  I got you home and you decided that trying to mark your territory.  I nipped that quickly and off you went to to start the treatment for heartworms.  The vet said keep you quiet, but you wouldn't sit still.

I found out the hard way that you didn't like storms.  I still have the shredded carpet to prove it.  I didn't know that either, at the time.  You didn't like your crate, but even though you were housebroken you did have accidents in the house, much to my dismay.

Oh my goodness you were a difficult dog, but so darn cute.  Watching you run to the back yard was really a joy.  That little docked tail wiggling and those long ear flopping in the breeze.  Watching you sticking your head out the window as we rode around, those ears in the wind.  You never wanted to stay in the backseat.  You would stand on the console and rest your head on my shoulder.

I miss your little food hog ways.  The way you were always tangling around my feet while I was cooking dinner or washing dishes as if I would toss you a crumb.  Oh wait, I would.  Do you remember filching the toast right off my breakfast plate?  Or figuring out how to open your food container and eating 14 cups of food one day?  You were a stuffed sausage when I got home.  I made a call to the vet who said to watch you for diarrhea and puking - great!  And you silly dog, you still wanted your evening meal.

I miss your begging face as I am eating pizza, well eating anything.  I don't have a reminder to feed Mollie now.  You were better than a clock. Every evening around 7:30 you started bouncing around.  All I had to say was, "ready to eat".  You'd hop and bounce and spin in frantic circles as though you hadn't been fed in days.


In spite of all that you were my baby boy.  My stupid dog.  You were never a lap dog, but you enjoyed being close.  You followed me everywhere.  I couldn't pee without you sitting in the door waiting for me.  You just have no idea how much you are missed.

Do you remember the day I got you home from the vet, freshly shorn and vaccinated and you jumped out of my vehicle while I was driving down the road?  Thank goodness, I had your leash on.  All I heard was a thump, I looked over and you were gone.  I got the car to the side of the road and slowly pulled the leash up and there you were, dangling from the other end.  Once I got you in the car, you were just all grins and giggles (yes I know a dog doesn't really grin or giggle), as though you accomplished some great feat.  Sure you scraped up the bottom of your paws and bled all over the passenger seat...lovely.

Finnegan, nothing with you was easy.  From day one you were a challenge, but regardless, you were my bud.  Always there for me in the evening when I got home.  You made life less lonely.  You also made me laugh.  There wasn't a person who walked into this house that you didn't hug in your special boy way.  Actually, there was one, the only one and he...well that's a post for another day, but how you reacted to him, that's how I knew he was special.


But sweet Finn, like him, you are gone.  I was with you every moment of that journey.  I cried my heart out and when I thought there were no more tears they just kept coming.  As we sat here at home and I loved on you, Mollie nudging you and licking my tears and you staring up at me, I poured my heart out to you.  Feeling so guilty but knowing I was doing what was best for you.  Knowing didn't make it any easier.

When we got to the vet's office, I almost walked back out.  How could I do this to you?  But how could I let you suffer one more night?  I signed the papers and the tech came in.  He said his heart broke when he saw your name on the board.  He has always been sweet.  He asked me the hard questions about your remains and if I wanted a paw print.  There I was holding you on my lap talking about what would happen to you.  

Dr. Hageny came in and I asked her to help me be very sure that what I was expecting in your recovery with the meds was possible, but as I had feared over the last week, no medicine would magically return the strength to you muscles.  I couldn't continue to pick you up and carry you around and it just wasn't fair to you not being able to walk or sit or run.

So she gave you a sedative and said it would take about 15 minutes.  Within 3 minutes, your little head was lolling around, but you were looking at me with glazed eyes and I just talked to you.  My insides mush, my heart aching, and your little heart beating as I rubbed your tummy.  We waited.

Dr. H and Anthony (the vet tech) came in.  It was time.  So I talked to you, rubbed your silky ears and told you I loved you and I would miss you and that you were a good boy.  I watched her give you the medicine that would slow your heart to a stop.  Such a pretty pink color, yet such a deadly thing.  She was halfway though injecting you, and I knew you were gone.  She finished the injection and listened to your heart slowly stop beating.  There was no last inhale of breath, no sudden movement.  You were simply gone.  I howled, if that is what you would call it...that guttural escape of sound that a wounded animal makes. 

They let me have as much time as I wanted with you. I stood there scratching your chin, rubbing your belly, playing with your floppy ears.  You were cute even in death with your pink tongue tip sticking out.  Finn, you are missed.  I know I will get through this, as will Mollie.  She misses her crate buddy.  She's been crying the last few nights and I know she realizes you are gone.  I miss all your sounds, your snoring, your noxious toots.  I miss you curling up by my feet.  I miss your barks and all your annoying quirks.  But most of all, I miss that sweet, soulful face.  You will be remembered my Finny Winny, Stupid Dog, OMG Finnegan!!!, Finners, Finn Finn.





The Kindness of Strangers

Over the last few weeks, I have been the recipient of random acts of caring from perfect strangers.  By coincidence or divine intervention, these individuals who do not know me have been there to offer comfort in moments of heartache.

Maybe in those moments God knew I needed a gentle touch to remind me that He is present in my life and even though I don't understand why things are the way they are, He has a plan that is greater than I can imagine.

It started a few Sundays ago, I was falling asleep to one of my stations on iHeart radio when the song "Oceans (Where My Feet May Fail)" came on.  I couldn't stop the tears streaming down my face that night nor can I stop them when I hear the song.   Subsequent to that night, we started a sermon series at church...Greater Than.  God is Greater Than My ________.  You can fill in the blank.  "Oceans" has been something of a theme song for this series, so I have heard it a few times over the last few weeks.

I was standing during the worship portion of service when the band played a  song, the name escapes me, which started tears sliding down my face.  I have the ability to cry silently in church, so I quietly brushed aside the tears while talking to God in my head.  The song ends and I'm a sniffling mess when I hear the first bars of Oceans, the haunting violin.  I take a deep breath and try to remember to exhale.  



And the tears come, a flood trying to sweep me away...so fast I cannot wipe them away.  I let them fall.  That's when I felt two hands rest on my shoulders with a gentle tug backwards...a complete stranger whispering, "do you want to go sit in the cafe and talk.  You can tell me what's wrong. Let's get a coffee."  She held me there for the duration of the song letting me cry and offering the gift of her heart and understanding.  When we finally sat down, I thanked her and said there really wasn't anything to talk about.

Don't get me wrong, I could talk, but does it really matter to a stranger that my heart has been wounded, my dog was sick, I'm on the verge of losing my job, I'm stressed out. It's been a crappy year and I know others have it worse, but this is my hell that I'm living.  Turns out she is a Stephen's Minister.  This is what they are trained to do, to listen to those who are hurting and need an ear to bend and a hand to hold.  Being an Stephen's Minister is something I have thought about for year, and here was a one offering me a sympathetic moment.

There was also a lady who accompanied her to church, an older woman with a heart just as sweet.  She wrote me a kind note and spoke with me after service.  It did my heart good that day, just to feel God, through those women, wrap me up in His arms.

Flash forward a couple of weeks.  I was having dinner with my bestie at a local Chili's.  It was literally 24 hours since I had to put my sweet Finnegan to sleep after a rough 16 days.  My heart still aching and I was avoiding home and Mollie and the unbearable silence.

We get seated and our waiter, Joshuah, arrived.  The first thought I have is, "Really Lord, you have to seat me in a section with a waiter who reminds me of someone who has crushed me?"  Yes, that was literally my first thought.  He was as sweet as he could be.  I like engaging people and not everyone can be a successfully engaging waiter/waitress, but Joshuah was.  He answered our questions, took our orders and moved off to get our drinks.

His return with the libations was accompanied with a British accent, which made me giggle as it was so preposterous.  As he dropped off the drinks, I said, "oh we are British now" and a humorous conversation of sorts was started.  I asked him if he could do Australian and he broke off a bit of that before strolling off to take care of his other tables.  We had witty repartee all evening with him even though each time I saw him my heart gave hurtful thump.

The evening was ending when he brought our tickets.  After he dropped them, I was talking about my boy and started crying again.  I couldn't help it, and still can't because I miss that annoying little dog.  Tears streaming down my face, when Joshuah came by to pick up the checks.  It took him half a heartbeat to look at me, asking if I was okay.  When I shook my head no, he said, "do you mind if I give you a hug?"  I said no and before I could say another word, I was wrapped up in a tight hug from a stranger.  My face buried in his polo shirt, with the smell of man and food assailing my senses.

He said, "I know I don't know you or what's wrong and you don't have to share if you don't want to..."  and hugged me a little tighter.  I told him that I had to put my boy to sleep the night before.  He immediately responded that he'd been through the same thing last week with his best friend.  I broke the hug and shortly after that he walked off, returning with a napkin.  Handing it to me, he said, "I don't know you but I love you."

Here is this guy who doesn't know me other than I'm his customer and he's offered a healing hug and kindness in a moment that I needed it.  Yes, there was some angst on my part due to his resemblance to someone, but in that moment, it didn't matter.  There, in the middle of a Saturday evening meal rush, there was a gentle soul offering a sweetly tender gesture to a complete stranger.

My heart still hurts, my job is still in jeopardy and my sweet boy is gone.  But in two very poignant moments, God used strangers to wrap me in His arms and for that I am grateful.  It reminds me that He is there when the oceans overwhelm and my feel fail.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Of Mumford and Sons and Music in General


Music has always been a integral part of my life.  For as long as I can remember I have loved music in a variety of forms, most rap being the exception.  My high and lows can all be tied to a song or songs.  

My first love:  "I Melt With You" by Modern English and "Alive and Kicking" by Simple Minds.

My divorce:  "How's It Gonna Be" by Third Eye Blind and "Fields of Gold" by Sting

My totally dysfunctional rebound:  "One Headlight" by The Wallflowers

Someone:  "Inside Out" by Eve 6 and one to be later named maybe...

Sure these songs are wrapped around memories, both good and bad.  To this day, I find myself holding my breath when I Melt With You or Alive and Kicking are occasionally played on the air. Memories float around.  I can't say that these songs are lyrically powerful or anything other than the pop music of the day, but I still enjoy them for the emotional ties.

There is such a void of good music these days.  I'm talking about the music that endures the test of time, not today's poppy, crunchy, lyrically bereft, albeit catchy tuned drivel that passes as music.  Yes, I am sure the generations before me have said the same thing about "my" music.  Do I think the likes of Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus will be heard on the air 20 years from now?  One can hope not.  

But then along come a band that is so different from the norm. You realize there is really amazing music, enduring music if you care to search.  It's the music that invades my heart.  It is as though the songwriter entered my soul and penned his/her music for me.  It's beyond just enjoying a particular song or a band. Not sure how to describe it.  Maybe it's like being one with the music.  

There has been one band that has accomplished that feat. U2. Need I say more?  14 albums between 1980 and 2009, of which I own 9.  There was a time that they became a caricature of their larger than life personas around the release of Zooropa (1993). In 2001 they achieved redemption, if only for an album, with All That You Can't Leave Behind.  

But I digress.  This post was to be about the beauty that is Mumford and Sons.  I was lucky enough to get pre-sale notice for their original show in June.  Alas, Ted had a medical emergency and the show was rescheduled for September 18th.  I was heartbroken since I was to have been in India.  As there is a greater plan for everything, the trip was cancelled and I wouldn't miss Mumford after all.


video

I had heard of Mumford and Sons, but I had not truly listened to them. Yes, I knew they were Grammy winners. Then it happened, one day Little Lion Man graced the speakers in my car and I really listened.  I was hooked.  Mesmerized by that one song.

Little Lion Man started a renewal of my love affair with music. I had to purchase Sigh No More and to be honest, it was the best $14 I've spend in a long long time. It's been a while since I have purchased a CD where every song is well written and you can understand the depth, the meaning, the heart of the lyrics.  I would have worn out the CD but along came Babel. 

Finally!  A new band that leaves me musically speechless.  When you stop to listen to their lyrics, you are immersed in a band that speaks to deep spiritual themes. Sure the masses will not realize it and/or will probably gloss over it.  They, in no way, promote themselves as any sort of God-centered band or believers.

On the surface, to the casual listener, they are a catchy, cool, retro, folk vibe band...banjo, mandolin, guitar, keyboard, stringed bass, and a killer kick bass drum...but deep down, where it matters, they speak of deep truths. Blending the temporal and eternal within lyrics in which is woven the themes of grace, unconditional love, and the hope of eternal love/life.  It's there when you listen with the heart.   

Now to circle back to the beginning of the post. The other song that makes me think of someone is Ghosts That We Knew.  While it has not received any airplay locally, it is by far my favorite song on either album.  It is such a heartachingly, beautiful love song.  It squeezes my heart when I heard it the first time and it induces tears right now. I was crying when they played it.  Marcus' voice is so haunting and melodic, and there is such an ethereal quality to this song when he sings it.  It hit hard, because someone knew the ghosts and saw the pain and still loved, even if it was a brief moment.

Apologies that I did not get the entire song. This will have to suffice, but the entirety remains etched in my psyche.

video


September 18, 2013, while sweating outside with thousands of other unknown fans and my bestie, I enjoyed the show.  I have such an unexplained crush on Marcus Mumford.  Maybe it's his lyric writing, or his musical abilities, or perhaps his nearly flawless voice while singing live.  There is something about him that holds me in awe.  They are as good live as they are on their CDs, raw, vital, and powerful. Their quick acoustic set was just dreamy, all quiet, wispy and wonderful.

For me, Mumford and Sons are modern day poets of olden times. Craftsmen whose lyrics resonate and musicianship dominates the mass-produced, teenybopper flotsam that is called "awesome music" today.  They are to the decade of the 2010s what U2 was for the 1980s.  For me, there is nothing better.


Sunday, September 01, 2013

The Escalator Paradigm

Had an interesting conversation coming into the building the other day. Co-worker and I came up the elevator and got to the doors at the same time a couple of men did. There is a button to open the doors for folks that need assistance. We all arrived at the same time but the men graciously waited for us to hit the button and allowed us to walk in first.

The amusing part of this is the fact that we all waited for the door to open on it's own. The men could have simply opened for us, but I have observed that many guys have no idea how to open a door for a woman any more. But that's another post for another day.

So the discussion, upon walking in the door, was with one of the guys. We were joking about standing there waiting for the door to open and the comment was made that they could have grabbed the handle, but how that would be too easy. The general consensus is that we've become lazy.

Escalators are a prime example of that. In the elevator, going up to our respective floors, we had a good laugh about what happens when escalators fail. Have you ever noticed that when they stop, people will actually walk away from an escalator? Seriously. As if walking down or up the escalator is a horrible task. However, the beauty of a broken escalator is automatic stairs. What to do, what to do...a broken escalator...wait, I think I'll take the elevator.

Please note, when a escalator breaks, you don't have to call the fire department. You clear the equipment and unlock it and voila! Yes, being rescued from a stopped elevator by a hottie fireman has its advantages, but the thought of being enclosed in that small box strung up by cables strikes a certain amount of fear into my heart.

Maybe it would just be simpler to stay in ground level establishments.