Thankfulness – My Kitten That Roars

Thankful

The first time I met Bethany was just a few weeks after I moved back from Kansas the last time. We were at a diner in the city, at a social thing, and we hit it off really well, and it was almost instantly. We talked for hours and hours that first day, carried it over to website chats after and eventually texting back and forth nearly constantly. After a few weeks, we were virtually inseparable, this is all when the dear lady had to drive the sixty miles one way to come and see me.

Now there are a lot of stories I could share with you, but two instantly come to mind and since they are intrinsically connected in the grand scheme of things, I will tell you both because I can do that thing and if you don’t want to read it you can go away and that is okay too.

My middle duck, My Connorface, has severe mental and physical disabilities. He doesn’t speak, walk, or even really crawl, and that is today, I am talking about almost ten years ago and he has made strides since then to improve on all of those areas. He wears diapers and constantly engages in involuntary self-injurious behaviors.

Now, knowing none of this at first, Bethany walked into where we were living at the time and picked him up and held him and loved him like he was her own and that hit my Naomi and I like a shotgun shell tot he chest. No one holds my Connorface see, not his grandparents, not his uncles, no one. Bethany just came in and held him and treated him exactly like Naomi and I did, like a sweet and wonderful little boy who has a laugh that will make your heart melt. He loved her to pieces too and would laugh and smile as soon as he saw her in the room.

If that doesn’t make you smile one of those half-tearful parental smiles, well, you have no heart and there isn’t much I can do for you.

The second story is truly one of my favorite things to tell people when I tell them about my mother and father-in-law.

Naomi was about three months pregnant with the Babeh Duck when we moved back to New York. In fact, it was a huge reason we moved back. I wanted my kid to be born at Strong, so I moved my entire life back to a place where I left running years before.

The day that Naomi went in to have the little dude, a date we got to pick because we were awesome, we got there and went through the agony of the entire process. Sweaty palms, anesthesia, screaming baby, Neonatal Intensive Care, all of it. That story is told elsewhere, this one is about the first time the little newborn got to be held by someone who wasn’t one of his parents.

My mother-in-law came down for the whole thing, my father-in-law couldn’t be bothered, and had been with us from minute one and was actually a colossal help.

However, it was Bethany that got to hold my youngest son first. Not her, not my family, Bethany. Now as much as I would love to say it was just to rub it in my mother-in-law’s face, which let’s be honest it kind of was in a way, Bethany had been there for all of the ups and the downs and the tears and the everything. Doctor Appointments, emergency trips to prenatal cardiologists, all of it and more. it was Bethany that had been there. Bethany that had done. Bethany that had been a rock that Naomi and I both clung to like sailors in a storm when it got to be the worst of the worst.

When I called Bethy the morning Naomi died, she didn’t even think about it and was there in what seemed like moments. Another rock I clung to on that day. For weeks afterward in fact, even to this very morning where I am writing about the woman and leaving out chunks and wholes because certain stories are mine and hers alone.

My Bethany, the kitten that is playful and loving, laughing loudly and proudly, loving Def Leppard and the Muppet Show, making a sauce that rivals Italian grandmothers, a consummate friend, and human being.

All my love Bethy, always.

Thankfulness – My Golden Light

Thankful

I can assure you that every one of you who is reading this has heard me talk about my MamaFrog, my Misti. If you have not heard me talk about the woman than you have indeed seen me talk about the Goddess. Siobhan was created because of, and for, Misti. Every single thing that Siobhan is and does is directly related in a tangentially way to her. Each word is carefully chosen, every story meticulously sculpted to make her as happy as possible. True, I write Siobhan because I love to, but if it were not for Misti, she would never have even been a blip in the inner workings of my mind.

It’s funny you know, for a woman I have never met face to face, I love her more than almost anyone on the planet. Misti is the sister I should have had and the sweetest woman you can ever know. She has the voice of an angel and the body of a demon. We are connected on so many levels and there is not one thing I would not do for this woman if she were to pick up the phone and ask. I have known her almost fifteen years now, fifteen years of love and pains for us both and we have always been there for one another.

See, she is My Golden Light.

We have shared dark, dark, days together. I remember verbatim the conversation we had the night my Naomi died. I remember the conversation when her disease left her for another. We never take from the other, never compel the other to accept because it is an automatic thing between us. It is empathy I suppose, but I am no empath like she is. This woman has saved my very life from ending, a common theme you will notice over the next few days, and I am honored to have helped her in the ways that I possibly could over the years.

At a very dark point, long ago, Misti told me to picture a Golden Light surrounding me and that was her. When the Darkness creeps in so close I can taste the foulness of it on my tongue, I see that Golden Light and I know it is then that I will be okay because my Misti is with me and she would never let anything happen to me.

Some ignorant people over the years have derided me for having such a close relationship with someone I have never met. Someone I have pledged life and death for in her protection if need be. They say it is stupid for me to send her Christmas presents because she is taking advantage of me. In this thing you read now, I will explain why those people are so very wrong.

I was sitting on the porch, it was a little after ten I think, everyone had just left and they had kissed and hugged and said they would be back tomorrow. The boys were long asleep and Terry and I were numb from the events of the day. I was chain-smoking and I called Misti, tears in my eyes and sobs in my throat as I heard her beautiful voice. I told her that we had lost Naomi, that she was gone and the sound that came over that telephone was not the noise of someone who did not care, the sounds of someone who wanted things and needed things. The noises over the phone that night were the same agonies my own heart was screaming into the Universe. They were my pains, and because of that they were were hers as well.

I don’t care if I never meet Misti, although I know for a fact I will, because even if I never see her face to face I know I will always tell people that she is one of the only people who has stuck with me no matter how stupid I was being, no matter how distant I had become, no matter what. I have been in a constant state platonic love with MamaFrog since the very first day I met her on a silly message board. She sang to my heart and we have been inseparable since and I can assure that it is not going to change, ever.

I love you so very much my dear sister.

RAWRZ

Thankfulness – My Best Friend and My Air Traffic Controller

Thankful

Gentle Readers Of Mine,

 

I am going to spend this entire week writing about the people in my life that I am thankful for. They are the people who are, to me, the sun and stars and all the things between them. They give me hope and life and love and laughter and if that isn’t something to be thankful for, what is? Yes, they are being put on here in a particular order. No, I will not tell you why. No, that isn’t the reason. No, it is not what you think it is either. Yes, I am going to keep saying this. No, I will not stop. Yes, I would love some hot and sour soup with extra tofu from Golden Dragon thank you very much.

The world is a terrifying place for me. I am scared of my own shadow most days and, without the help of the two glorious women in this written piece, I would stay inside and send local cats to go and do my grocery shopping for me. I see both of them far less often than I would like and far, far less than they both deserve. However, after all of that, they still put up with me and I cannot express to you the depths of what that means to me. Well, I am about to try, but know in advance that I am not going to do a very good job of the whole thing.

I am going to write far more than I would normally write, so maybe grab an extra cup of coffee, sit back and I will tell you the tale of tales.

I first met my best friend when we were in high school. It isn’t that we didn’t get along or anything, we just were not in the same peer groups. I mean, we were, but we weren’t. It’s a complicated thing that doesn’t matter for any of this. I don’t bring up high school to make either of us sound old, although even saying that sentence makes my rheumatism act up, I say it purely to tell you that there is no one I am not blood-related to that I have known longer than my best friend.

Like all things I do, I am going to tell you a story and then tell you why I told you the story. It is the summation of everything that this woman means to me and it encapsulates all the things that are good about a human being all at once and shows that she possesses all of these traits and more.

Many a year ago, like six I think, the group that was glorious and is no more were sitting around drinking an enormous amount of the cheapest booze we could get our hands-on. Boxed wine and peppery tequila some nights, but mostly window cleaner vodka and rum that you had to be drunk on something else to even call rum. We were laughing, smoking copious amounts of tobacco,  and listening and watching the glorious sounds of the nineties and early millennium on YouTube, and, as happens to me far more often than I would care to admit, I fell into a very, very, dark place. Being inebriated helped this situation, not at all and, by the end of my part of the evening, I was lying, shivering and crying on her living room floor repeatedly blowing the bottoms out of paper bags as panic attack after panic attack raked over me.

She sat with me. She sat with me and she made it better. She didn’t belittle me for essentially ruining the evening. She didn’t chastise me for drinking what I did. She didn’t even wag a finger and tell me never again. She laid me down on her couch, wrapped me up in a sheet blanket and kissed my forehead and, I think, sat with me until I fell into asleep. I wish that was the end of the story.

The next morning, hungover and still in that dark place I woke up well before anyone else and sat in her living room and smoked for what seemed like hours. The sadness did nothing but grow and grab me by the throat until I did indeed submit to it. I never did get up and do the thing I was going to do, the thing that I am alluding to so openly I don’t need to name. I didn’t do it because she opened the door to her bedroom, early coffee drinker and all, and I knew I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t because I was at her house, with her kids, away from home and I got that little bit of light that I needed. Not quite the story I usually tell, but the truth nonetheless.

I was undeserving of the act of kindness that saved me the second time. She came to the hospital in the morning that Naomi died. I hadn’t spoken to her in months because I was an idiot who, well I was an idiot. I saw her in the parking lot and, if memory serves, I got about two steps before I simply fell into her and the world went away for a while. I know there were phone calls made, things arranged, even shopping done, but the only thing I remember is falling into welcoming arms and the pain leaving me, if only for a few minutes as oblivion took me.

So, you see, my best friend is better than yours and I am more than happy to say that to the dying breath of my body because the truth can be felt like a thunderbolt when I say it.

She is the encapsulation of joy and hope and love and peace and dignity and kindness and wisdom and forgiveness and I do not deserve her, I do not deserve her at all. Plus, to those of you wondering why I have not said her name, it is because I forgot to ask her permission to do such and when I do, I will gladly come back and edit this. Seeing as it is Thanksgiving week, people are a bit busy, so be patient and you will get it. I am not a fan of seeing the word she in lieu of her name either, so at least you know that part.

Now, some people would think that adding to this would be a stupid thing as I have focused on my best friend, I disagree because the very reason I have become such wonderful friends with my dear Air Traffic Controller is because of my best friend. So, now that your awkward curiosity has been sated by my ham-handed segue, sit back and listen.

Now, I first met Colleen years ago. We did not have the same group of people that we associated with, so I did not get a chance to get to know her until just after my Naomi died and circumstances allowed us to communicate on a more regular basis than what we normally would have otherwise.

One of the first things you need to understand is that Colleen is one of the smartest people I have ever known. Not just book smart mind you, although that is an understatement. No, she has this insight into things that is kind of terrifying. Yes, I tell her that she is terrifying. Not often, but enough that I can tell you that. Colleen can see things twelve steps in advance and, as the Air Traffic Controller nickname can tell you, helps guide me away from the worst of things my brain tells me to think about.

Colleen is no stranger to the Darkness I can assure you, not only does she have her own as we all do, but she can navigate the Dark of others in a way that I have never seen before. Maybe it is as simple as an outsider looking in, but I think it is significantly more than that, and I will tell you why.

I have a fucked-up psyche. I am very well aware of this and Colleen can walk around in there for hours and not only not get lost, which I still do, but tell me things about myself that once I hear I just know they are the truth. There have been times where I have been as close to the edge of things as I like to get and Colleen comes in and, over and over, says the things that need to be said. Not what I need to hear, what NEEDS to be said and all of a sudden I am better. Not fixed, not whole, none of that, just in a place where I can look at myself with a less critical eye and see where to go next with everything. It is, again like her moniker indicates, coordinating hundreds of jumbo jets and making everything land safely. Not always unscratched but by the Goddess they all land.

Colleen is also one of the funniest people I know. it is this delightfully understated humor that catches you off-guard and all of a sudden you are laughing and it is a good feeling that makes you feel warm and happy and there is no expectation of the laugh, that’s it. Colleen is just a funny person naturally, a woman that can tell a story like no other.

Now I need to tell you about the Drums. The Drums and Colleen have connected in my head the same way my children to the word Ducks have. When I think of one, the other is inferred at all times.

One night, in the dark of my head again, I got lost and I was talking to Colleen and through a series of stories, thoughts, and metaphors, the idea of listening to the Drums was implanted. When I hear the Drums I am safe, where I hear the Drums I do not need to worry or fear because the Drums are the primal safety of the Tribe, the People, the comfort and oneness of Home.

I cannot tell you how many times I sit, EVERY DAY, and listen for the Drums. I sit and I calm my breathing and always they come. The rhythmic sound that is calling me to the Fire, to the comfort and absolute security of home.

Now I am not a fan of the term trigger when applied to myself, but I cannot think of a better descriptor word for the Drums. When that thought, not the word but the thought, enters my mind, there is a one-hundred percent success rate in calming me down and bringing me back to where I need to be to continue the day.

I love these women very much. They have been with me for a very long time and they, somehow, still call me their People even after all the nonsense and shenanigans I have put them both through.

Thankful?

I would be physically dead many times over without these women. I would be buried in a psych ward without these women. I would have committed stupid crimes for stupid reasons without these women,

I am as thankful for these two women as I am for nearly anything else in my life. They are two of my nearest and dearest friends, my absolute confidants. They are the walls I bounce ideas and, yes, myself, off of. They hold me when I am broken and do all they can to make sure that only do I heal, but that I am somehow better than I was when I started everything.

To say I am lucky and blessed to know these women is an understatement and I just wish I could have them see themselves as I see them just once, just once so they would see the wonder and joy and Home that they are to a broken, vagabond, Bear from the Valley who belongs where I live about as much as a Polar bear belongs in the Sahara.

Loves to them, loves to you all, I will be back tomorrow with more people and I will continue this until, well, until I am done saying thank you and make all of them feel what I feel every time I think of their name or see their face.

RAWRZ