March


 

 

 

My mom

 

My mom and me

Terri, her sister (Pam also one of my bffs!) & me

Terri, Allen and I at his Oscars Party a few years ago…

 

March birthdays have always been tough! My mom’s was the 3rd and Terri, my bff’s  was the 5th, my oldest granddaughter’s is the 6th, my dad’s is the 11th, my daughter’s is the 15th and my mother in-law’s is the 17th and our nephew’s is at the end of the month.  I used to complain. But the older I get, I realize that I am blessed to have that many special people in my life born in March!

Sadly, my mom and Terri are no longer with us. Yesterday was my mom’s birthday and tomorrow will be Terri’s.  It’s funny, you really don’t know what to do. I mean, it stopped being their earthly birthdays for them when they entered heaven. But as long as I live on this earth, I know that I will always remember their birthdays.

I guess I am just writing this to remind everyone that life is short. And well… if you have a big birthday month too… where all the birthdays seem to be crammed into one month! Embrace it and realize how blessed you are!

It seems as if just yesterday my mom was carrying me around or I was sitting on the curb with my best friend. Or attending an Oscar party with her that our Kindergarten friend Allen has annually! March is still full of birthdays of people I love. But I wouldn’t complain if I still had two more to celebrate again!

A Heavenly Birthday Wish

I remembered you today, even though you are not here.

I lit a candle in my heart and shed a wistful tear.

But somehow I know you’re celebrating in a different way,

and don’t worry about earthly things like specific kinds of days.

Everyday’s  a celebration in heaven up above,

filled with joy and peaceful things and the most precious kind of love!

And so I blow out the candles and wipe my tears away

knowing you are celebrating with the angels, every single day!

Diane Reed 2019

 

 

 

 

I Will Always Remember You


 

 

daddy playing the guitar to me

I am blessed to have the dads in my life that I do. We celebrated them today. And I am so grateful for them both. Having said that, I am not sure why this year was especially tough for me. It started out looking for cards. Funny because as a greeting card creator, I usually have taken on that task myself. But my daughter is getting married next Saturday!! And my plate is pretty full. Though I did manage to throw a little BBQ  in honor of our dads, I just couldn’t shake the one that was missing.

You see my dad died at 51 jogging around the block. It is funny to think that he was younger than I am now. Just a few weeks after Father’s Day thirty-four years ago. You would think that the missing him would subside. But it never does. If I think about it long enough, I usually can fall to pieces, at least inside. Like looking for cards. I found some pretty good ones this year. But I had to put back the ones about carrying me and putting band aids on my knee and being there to watch me grow up as I silently whispered…”Daddy I haven’t forgotten you, thank you.”

I remember the long talks and the Saturday drives, You being the one to take me school clothes shopping every year and going to the top floor of your office building so you could make Snoopy Calendars for me and my friends. And you telling me that someday all the disk drives that filled that floor would someday, maybe even in my lifetime, fit on one desk and maybe even in my hand! Oh how I wish you could see just how much your predictions all came to pass.

I remember loving to make you laugh and wanting to show you first when I got an A or learned something new. I remember you loved to read my poems and said you thought I had something special. Sometimes I wonder what you would think of me and I have a million things I want to tell you and a million more I want to ask. All I can say is thank you for being there when I needed you most, whether to just sit there with me through a broken heart,  telling me that I hadn’t even met anyone who deserved me yet, but I would.  And being so happy for me when I was happy again.

You were such a great grandpa for such a short time. But you showered your new grandson with such love. And I have a feeling that you hand picked my baby girl for me from up there in heaven. As I looked through all the pictures to go back and find ones of us. I watched as a whole lifetime passed me by. You missed so much. It isn’t fair…. that the good ones die too young.

Happy Father’s Day Daddy. I will always remember you.

daddy playing the guitar to me

My Dad singing … “Winston tastes good like a cigarette should.” (For those born after the sixties, it was a commercial jingle. He was always a funny guy. The hole still is raw if I stay there too long. Today,  I just had to wander back. I am sure there are many that stood in front of the cards this year and remembered too… That the good die young.

“Funny How Things Change”


 

marineland

I grew up in Palos Verdes, a small town South of Los Angeles. My bedroom window overlooked Marineland and the ocean. (Now a resort – so sad it is no longer there!) When I was younger I was a Mattel toy tester kid. Not officially, but my dad would bring home random tester toys for me. He was a Marketing VP in Sales there, in El Segundo. I wish I still had some of those toys, I bet they’d be worth gold now.

shrinking violet Shrinking Violet – one of my Tester Toys!

We were not rich, but I was blessed. My dad grew up with a single mom and they struggled. A lot. He had to sell magazines to buy his school shoes. I know that my dad worked hard to climb up the ladder. Always making it to Vice President in all his jobs. Transferring us all over the country as he climbed.

Street I grew up onvallon

My friend Terri once told me that she’d been jealous of me  when we were growing up. I had the dad who went on business trips and came home with surprises for me, while her dad was a Cal-Trans guy who stayed home. I kind of thought it might have been nice to have a dad that was home more. I guess everything is relative. “I used to get lost in your house, I thought it was so big.” she’d told me once. (It really wasn’t that big.) “Funny how things change.” she said.

daddy

My dad and me in the living room of the house we rented across the street from Terri’s in San Mateo. So funny, he doesn’t look real happy about having his picture taken.

My best friend was four when we met in San Mateo where we were renting a house across the street from hers. A few years later, we moved. And moved, and moved, until we settled in Palos Verdes.  Things got given away or lost in our moves, hence why I don’t have my first Barbie, or most of the tester toys any longer. Terri had all her firsts. She lived in the same house she always did until she got married and moved out. Her mom saved everything. Though Terri doesn’t have them any longer. She died last summer.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that comment, she made so many years ago. “Funny how things change.” It kind of hurt. She was referring to her wealth. She’d made some good choices along the way. I did not. She worked hard and completed college. I went, I still have my units all in a nice little bundle. I know, because I checked a few years ago. (Imagine they still have my records all of these years later!) She became an Interior Designer and was very talented. She married a guy that  ended up grandfathering into his dad’s business and making it very successful. In the end, they probably had more money than both of our parents put together. And though it makes me a little sad to say it, I know that was important to her.

Terri fought cancer for the last twenty years. Not only that, she fought stage four cancer! Having money has its perks, you can design your own medical team as well as try alternatives and it may keep you alive longer than most. And that was truly a blessing. But the comment; “Funny how things change.” Always bothered me. What did she mean by that? I know exactly what she meant. She had a lot of money and I didn’t. I have to admit that I was surprised that she’d always harbored that competitive bone, and hadn’t realized it until she’d made that comment.

I didn’t not have money. I just didn’t have as much as she did. Between her right choices and hard work, and a little dumb luck, marrying a guy that would someday inherit a business that would be very successful, she never wanted nor worried about paying a bill in her adult life, like I have. Don’t get me wrong. I am blessed. I was just never motivated to need more. Maybe because I was a little privileged as a kid, and stupidly, a little embarrassed by it. Maybe the ones who feel they don’t have a lot at an early age seek for more later. I just know that Terri died with a closet full of clothes with price tags still on them and a drawer full of jewelry with some pieces, equaling a whole year of my salary. That being said, she was also one of the most generous people I know.

Losing my best friend and reflecting on our friendship of over a half a century has made me realize what is important and what is not.  That material things really are just so unimportant. But then, She probably knows that now.

I miss her terribly. I am glad that she is not suffering anymore. Her sister gave me one of her leather jackets. Though a material thing of hers, it makes me feel closer to her when I wear it. Losing Terri has taught me one of the most valuable lessons of my life. Even if that windfall never comes for me. I don’t need fancy cars, or big houses, I am happy to just be able to pay my bills on time.  And I know that I am blessed. I have a husband that loves me in spite of myself. I have amazing kids and a great family and wonderful friends. And now I even have a job I like going to and a boss I love!

I will always miss Terri. But I am glad she is not suffering anymore. I know now that she is in a place that holds the kind of joy she was always seeking from her “things” here on this earth. She is free from pain and has a new body. I think a lot about her everyday. She has left a gaping hole in my life. I miss the places I would find her, an early morning email waiting for me to open,  a phone call on the way home from work, summer get aways, the way she loved my daughter so much, her quirky  sense of humor,  and laughing at the dumbest things. Sharing things you can only tell your best friend without being judged. (Well probably judged, but that’s okay. Smile.)  I guess now, I just think a lot more about what is important and what is not. And you know she was right It really is Funny how things change.

01p091 One more of me and my dad

It’s A Circumstanial Thing. Right?


 

sad girl staring out window

It has taken me almost a half a century to understand that one of the greatest measuring sticks we have in our life is death. As I have lost friends and family members, recently  I have learned that our legacy is more important than the “things” we gather, here on this earth, because they are all left behind to be given away by someone else anyway. It is more about the things we give away while we are here that really matter most.

And it is not only about material things, even more so, it is about our self and our time. I am beginning to come to terms with the fact that I am selfish in giving away pieces of me. I give freely to the people I know love me. But even at times, I’d rather be alone. And if someone is difficult, even if I love them, I have learned to avoid rejection or dysfunction at all costs.

I spend time with a handful of people I choose to, that matter most to me, and don’t really go out of my way to make new friends. My husband is constantly wanting me to reach out to friends at church and I have always dug my heels in, except for a select few. I remember when we moved away from the place I literally grew up, away from all of my friends, to a brand new place and he’d said, “you’ll make new friends.” I told him, I have all the friends I need. Well, that would have been very sad if that was true, because some of those friends now, are the ones in that handful of friends I mentioned earlier, that I have grown to love and choose to hang out with most.

I do know that I tend to want to come home from work which is a “people” job, and retreat into my own little shell away from everyone, not answer too many questions, or have too many plans and just unwind. I know that I disappoint my very socially inclined husband, and I feel bad and then that makes me mad because I feel guilty and that is up there among the top four feelings I hate to feel… Frightened, Sad, Angry & Guilty!

Depression is something I have never bought into. I mean, I know it exists organically. I worked in a Psych Unit for almost six years. It is a very real condition. And there is treatment for that kind of Depression. I’ve witnessed the successes of those treatments. But what I am talking about is admitting that I have it or not. Which I was told that I do by our counselor. And have fought that diagnosis ever since. In fact I got mad and stopped going to counseling. Thinking of course you are going to have to label me. I’m not depressed! I’m mad and angry and exhausted!

I mean, crap happens and you are sad, or scared or angry because of it, right? It’s a circumstantial thing. Depression doesn’t happen to people like me. I go to work every day, I don’t sleep my life away. I laugh and joke and live! You work through the crap and it goes away. Right? Maybe not. Maybe you work through it, but the layers of fear from all the things that have happened in life pile up and you don’t know how to deal. For the first time since then, I have wondered. Maybe she was right?

Fighting a war inside your head is exhausting. Being expected to even know how to begin to talk about it, takes your breath away. Even people like me, who talk for a living. It is like caring too much about everything but being perceived as if you care about nothing. Always looking back, wanting to fix where you were, being afraid to believe in tomorrow. Sometimes faking a smile and saying you are fine, is so much easier than trying to describe your pain. I mean, don’t think that I can explain how I feel when I don’t even understand myself. Always wanting someone to just say “It’s going to all be okay” and  for me to really believe it. And wondering if you will ever feel like it’s really okay.

A lot has happened to a lot of people, horrific things that I can’t even imagine and they have turned around and made their journey into lessons for others. I know that some of my experiences can be an opportunity for a better testimony, that if I can get through it, others can too.

I guess that I’m beginning to realize that finding the courage to understand is our reward.  That it’s okay to cry for the ones that we miss, but so important to embrace the ones that are still here. That fighting for life is making us stronger and that stronger is a very good thing. And that I need to learn how to really and truly, genuinely love the person I have fought for all along… and that, that person is me.
To love God first, and then ourselves is one of the  hardest lessons I’ve ever had to learn. For I can’t love anyone else until I understand who is loving you.

She builds people up because she knows what it’s like to be torn down.

praying woman's hands

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has known what God has prepared for those who love Him.                                                                                             1 Corinthians 2:9

Tomorrow IS the Answer!


We have a local site with someone who anonymously keeps us updated on all of the local emergency occurrences  happening in our area via his Facebook page, which I followed since I drive over 50 miles a day, to and from work, and his traffic information seems to be the most up to date. Sadly his recent reports have been on a few local accidents that have occurred on our local train tracks. Even sadder, they seem to not be accidents but suicides.

computer screen frustration

I try not to get sucked into the comment threads, because at times they are so frustrating and can make you look pathetic, wasting even one minute arguing with a stranger, though as a writer that some might describe as opinionated, I can never keep my mouth shut when it comes to the above subject.

When I was a young girl my boyfriend’s mom killed herself. She’d attempted it a few times before that, but succeeded when we were dating. It was one of the most horrific of experiences I’ve ever lived through. And I have never really been able to describe the pain she left behind.

tears

I sincerely believe that if she’d received the right kind of help she would still be here. She was vivacious and funny, smart and beautiful and one of the most generous people I’ve ever met. Everyone loved her. She was a mother, a wife, my boss, and one of my best friends. It happened around this time of year many decades ago, and it still affects me as if it were yesterday. Statistics say that this is a high suicide time of year. And our census was usually up during the holidays at the hospital where I worked many years ago.

I believe that her pain was real. I believe that she was chemically imbalanced and that her issues were organic. And I believe that she could have been helped. I also believe that I was far too young and inexperienced as was my boyfriend to be held responsible for not knowing how to help her. And yet I think that because we couldn’t, it affected us both in ways that we still are dealing with in our own separate lives today. So yeah, I do believe that when someone kills themselves it is no just about them. Having said that, I believe that this woman that I loved, that might have been my children’s grandmother, missed a whole half of her life, I know that she missed weddings, celebrations, births and probably deaths and sadness too. But her life was far from over.

Today I was very disturbed by the comments that a few particular people made defending suicide saying that some people just don’t want help and not condoning it, but making it almost okay and defending the act. It is not okay. The next comment was…. “It’s not about you.” You wanna bet? It’s about everyone involved. And it is something that lives with you forever after. Always asking what could we have done? Even over thirty years later.

My childhood best friend just died of cancer last year. She fought to save her life for twenty years. She did everything she could to fight. She finally didn’t have a choice. I understand that depression is a disease. I understand because I have it. But don’t tell me that it is okay not to fight for life! You do have a choice.

The way that conversation was going could make somebody feel that it was okay not to fight, that if your pain is so great, go ahead and jump in front of a train and maybe kill some people in your wake, don’t think about the people who will have to clean the blood off of the tracks or the conductor who couldn’t stop in time. Suicide is one of the most selfish acts anyone can do. And they may be fighting words for some, but I will never change my opinion. No matter how you do it, Somebody has to find you. And most likely it will be someone who loves you.

I was then told that I must not know  about mental illness. Hmmm, I guess working in an adolescent unit of a private Psych Ward in LA for almost six years does not count? I counseled a lot of kids and adults who were in excruciating pain and I must say that one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever experienced was running into them later in life and being introduced to their families. A husband, they never would have met, and kids they never would have had, and living a life they chose to fight for. Meeting people they never would have met, experiencing celebrations and love and new babies, all that they never would have known if they’d stayed stuck in their hole. Telling me how grateful that they were that we didn’t give up on them!

And so Yeah, I still believe that… Suicide is not the answer and I won’t be a part of ever saying that sometimes the pain may be too great. Perhaps it is for that day, maybe even for several days. But it will get better. I am proof. I have been pretty wasted in the toxic wave of my own depression. To the point of not wanting to go on. But I believed in something greater than my own pain.

Don’t give up today because the sun really will come out again and though you will still have your happy and sad days, you won’t miss the happy ones when you finally decide that…  Tomorrow IS always the ANSWER!

kiss on stoop

 

The future is exciting. Always believe that something wonderful is going to happen.

Today Was A Bad Day


crying with head down

I smile and life goes on,

I even laughed today,

but something that would normally just annoy me

ruins my whole day.

My feelings are all muddled

and yet I have to face my life.

I have to go to work,

be a mom, a friend a wife.

Things that normally wouldn’t hurt me

fill me with so much pain,

I lash out in anger,

needing someone else to blame.

I want to cry and yell,

to fall into a heap

to make the world go away,

to make it stop, so I can sleep.

I want to ask you why..

you think that I should be okay?

When I just lost my best friend

only yesterday?

My laughter isn’t real

my smile is purely fake

My heart is aching

the whole time I’m awake

The hole is gaping, I can’t forget,

as all day the memories weave

How does anyone do it right?

When there is no perfect way to grieve?

Diane Reed

2015©

I Miss You Lucy


You know that one house and that one friend’s mom that you remember from your childhood? It was the one place you always felt welcome by that one mom who was not yours. You felt special because you knew she really wanted you around and it wasn’t because you were her kid and she had to feel that way. It was your first experience of knowing your worth and feeling valued because of who you were and not because of who you belonged to. Sure, I knew my mom loved me and that mattered to me, a lot. But there is a time in your life when you feel funny and interesting and likable because you are who you are, and only because of that. And someone else enjoys you and wants you around.

I grew up in Palos Verdes California, down the street from Lucy. She was that mom in my memory and always in my heart. I was about eleven when I met her. My mom was an artist when I was growing up and Lucy was always decorating something. I am not sure what ever came of the meeting or if my mom ever painted the mural she inquired about, but I do know that her oldest daughter, Kathy and I became fast friends along with all of Lucy’s daughters. She had four. It was like I hit the Jack Pot meeting them. They all went to a local Catholic School and because they didn’t go to our public school, the neighborhood kids were small minded and slow to embrace them. Well, all I can say is… their loss was surely my gain!

I took turns being good friends with each of her daughters during different stages of my life. And then a few years later, Lucy went through a divorce and met a man named Bob, who she married, bringing two more kids into the fold. It was a wonderful family and I loved each one of them in different ways throughout my life. But Lucy ended up being my friend that I’d go visit years later. I remember staying up late at night for hours at a time talking to Lucy. I loved spending the night at their house and when they moved, I think I went into a small depression. Until, we reunited when my mom discovered a phone number that had gotten “misplaced.” That summer, I promptly moved in with them in Orange County where they’d moved and spent several weeks hanging out with Lucy as she picked out new wallpaper and tile for the 6000 foot home she was building in Fallbrook overlooking their several acres of avocados that Bob was going to manage.

The plan was for me to find a job somewhere in Fallbrook and join them. But between getting very engrossed in a serious relationship and missing my own mom a little more than I thought I would, I didn’t follow through with the final plans to move there with them. Though, I did get a job offer after I’d moved back home. And always kind of regretted not getting to live in that amazing house that my sweet Lucy built for her family and included me in that plan. Even though I never lived there, I visited several times a year for many years until I got caught up in having my own family. Slowly, the visits became less frequent. Though Lucy and  Kathy, attended my dad’s funeral and Bob and Lucy attended my second wedding, and Lucy even came to stay at my house a time or two, I regret letting life interfere with our visits and I often wonder how different my life might have been if I’d moved into that wonderful home.

A few years before Lucy died, I took my daughter to visit her and we had such a neat visit. I wanted to share a piece of Lucy with her and I really feel she “GOT” who Lucy was to me. I will always be grateful that she agreed to go and that we have that memory.

Tonight, while I was driving home, I drove past a house with a long driveway filled with cars and it reminded me of that house in Fallbrook. It always looked as if it was having a party, because of all the cars parked there. But they all just belonged to her family, each in their own rooms or in different parts of the house just living there. And it gave me this warm melancholy feeling. And it made me think. Legacy isn’t just something physical that you leave, it’s not a building or a fortune, but something intangible. Something far more valuable. It might leave a hole when it’s gone that takes your breath away, but even more, it gives you that place in your heart to fall, the one person, or place you remember when no other place works quite as well.

 

It’s been over a year since she has left this world

and yet, sometimes knowing that she’s not just a phone call away any longer,

takes my breath away.

lucy

winnie goodbye quote

 

My Other Ex by Jessica Smock & Stephanie Sprenger A book review among other thoughts


I am at a place in my life, teetering at the edge, where I am just finding my voice, and am at the very early stages of feeling comfortable in my own skin. Defining me and who I really want to be. And you know what? It’s not really what others say about you. It is about what you think of yourself. I think I have finally grasped that. Took a half a century but better late than never, right?

I have a hard time trusting people enough, to really make the friendship effort at this stage in the game. And yet even though I have tons of friends, and several really good ones, I never really felt as if I fit in to any one place perfectly. Today, I just read a great line from a book I am about to share with you guys (below) where the writer said; She refused to make the hard choices, to fight the waves”. Wow! How profound is that?? I related to that sentence so much that it brought tears to my eyes. I never belonged anywhere because I never wanted to fight the waves. I have ridden most of them in to shore. Not that my life has been a picnic but when it comes to making the harder choice, well, lets just say that, THAT line took my breath away!

I was at a shower recently with a bunch of church friends and someone who I would consider more a friend than an acquaintance genuinely hugged me “hello” and told me that they were happy to see me. After a bit of catching up and other small talk, I confided in her that I really felt that I was “faking it”  and “not just here, but really at any of these church things.” And…. Without missing a beat, she leaned over and whispered, “Diane, we are all faking it!” At that moment, I think I loved her more than I had the moment before!

friends talking at table

And I know what she meant, not that we are faking what we believe and that our faith is not real, but that the veil is pulled down a bit further at parties like these. We share just enough. We only know parts of each other. The other half is covered for only the very few to see. The smiles are real, well they are NOT, not real, if you know what I mean. But I want more. I think we all do. And, I always feel glad I made the effort to go, and yet a little empty when leaving. And yet the little affirmation about faking it, about perhaps I’m not the only one that feels that way was like a little unexpected party favor that I got to take home that day.

I just finished reading My Other Ex by Jessica Smock & Stephanie Prenger and I have to tell you that I know what my Christmas gifts for my friends are going to be this year! I am in love with this book! I originally purchased it because a great friend and fellow writer, Leah Vidal was a contributing author. So I knew that I would not be disappointed. But I literally, could not put this book down! It capsulized my friend’s statement; “Diane we are all faking it!” Each story makes you nod and cry and connect and feel as if we are not alone And in someway, I could relate to each and every story and friendship. The twist here… is these stories are of  great friendships, best friend friendships that went awry.

friends two little girls with braids

Some as far back as childhood, some from college, some from business, or through kids or other chance meetings.  All compiled in a format that reminds me a little of the Chicken Soup for the Soul style, and yet the stories here aren’t contrived nor always healing with a happy ending. It is real and heart wrenching and makes you cry and laugh and like I said, nod, a lot!

I have taken away something from every story. No faking it here. No sugar-coating the facts. Just honesty pure and simple and sometimes painful to read. In my lifetime I have had some great friendships. Some that I have shared about here in this blog. But there have also been a few that fell through the cracks, for reasons of their own. Ones I never thought about writing about. So that makes this book even more interesting.

 

It is the first book in a long time, that I haven’t just skimmed over to get to the next page when it got a little tedious. There is no tediousness here. The women sharing are all obviously top-notch writers, hand-picked from the authors and you know from their other projects (see their website) http://www.herstoriesproject.com      that each story was chosen with the utmost care. This one is a no brainer. Ya gotta read it…. If you are a woman and you ever let go of a friendship that still haunts you a little today, this book will help you realize that we all have a lot of the same feelings. kind of like the way I felt… when my friend said to me… “We are all faking it a little Diane!” We really aren’t alone. This book just put it in print!

Note to the authors*  (Would love to buy the audio of each woman sharing their own story!)

my other ex book cover

In One Blink


 

photos3

Memories of promises

made of tule and lace

lace

lost inside a moment

in one blink it’s been erased

floor crying girl

learning lessons can really hurt

and the pain can seem unending.

couple hugging melancholy woman's face

Smiles and sometimes laughter

stashed behind a heart’s pretending.

letter bundle

Faded letters now just memories

along with promises once made,

ring

by all the ones who’ve let me down…

the ones who should have stayed

bride walking in the waves

It’s hard to face  yesterday

when I stopped believing;

sad couple

 the day when I  realized promises

 don’t stop those you love from leaving.

woman crying outside the door

Diane Reed

2013

For my book…

Moving Day


mirror renass

Looking back into the mirror,

split personality mirror

a reflection of my past…

mirror brokennnn

The doors I chose to walk through

and the ones I closed too fast…

three doors

Messages I never got

letter bundle

and the ones that I received…

phone call

the ones I knew were just your lies

and the ones that  I believed

phone off the hook

all pour through my memory

like rain beating on my heart

RAIN

years are not the only thing

that have torn my dreams apart.

breaking up

and made me see the strength in me

as I gather them up with care

moving day suitcases

and move on to another day

memory alone

where I won’t find you there

Diane Reed

2012

looking back quote

Wanting…. To Feel It


Even though you are here…

I am alone

I run through my heart

And no one’s home

open window blowing curtains

Even though you are talking

I can’t hear

shhh

It’s like I’m driving away

Forgetting to steer

no traffic

Everything is spinning

I want to feel it

ballerina spinning

Everyone is so in love

Just want to feel it

jumping in his arms

It takes everything in me

To not feel it.

girl jumping off cliff with umbrella

Diane Reed

2011

Behind The Door Of Yesterday


girl at a new door out in field

Behind the doors of yesterday

girl carrying huge key

we all hold that perfect key

ballerina

unlocking places in our past

ballerina sitting on floor

where shadows used to be

dancing in the wind

Dancing upon moonbeams  until all  the music dies

SONY DSC

letting go of all the pain as the broken winged one flies…

floor crying girl

Falling hard from our dreams, when we finally land

 baby in a bubble

searching for our innocence all where we first began.

finding Diane3

Diane Reed

2013

As I continue to work on my book, I feel stuck. I am in a place of pain. Of total confusion. I guess ambivalence would be the best word to describe where I have landed. I keep going backwards. I need to start moving forward. I have a story to tell. A lot has to do with my past. I have the framework sitting there for me to build upon and yet I am not sure why I need to write these silly poems that have nothing to do with me today….

Or do they?

Thirty Years Ago Today…


album daddy and friends

My Dad is the one squatting with all his friends surrounding him It is crazy how much my son looks like him here.

01p091

My dad used to always play the guitar and sing to me…. I think he knew all of five songs! One of them was: “Winston tastes good like a cigarette should” from the commerical. He used to tease me all the time.

daddyMy dad and me 50 years ago ~

He never felt comfortable going to church or getting his pictures taken… You can tell he wasn’t too thrilled here.

I do remember he came to church when I got Baptized. After he died I prayed for God to give me a peace about knowing he was indeed saved and with The Lord… and at that very moment I found the sweetest letter my dad had written in the Air Force about God to my mom. Isn’t God great?!

DADDY & ME

My dad and I at the County Fair

WEDDING DAY WITH MY MOM & DADDYI was so happy here… little did I know I’d lose my dad only five years later…

I remember getting the phone call  on the day that my dad died. It was that kind of surreal unexpected horrific “Kennedy moment” that I will never forget. Heart attacks are like that. They are filled with unsaid goodbyes and conversations that ache to be finished even three decades later. The one thing that I will always have is the way that my Daddy loved my writing. He always encouraged it and believed in me. One of his last letters to me mentioned it and in the end, written words from me were my last connection with him.

My dad died July 9, 1983. My son had just turned 3 and barely had a chance to know his papa but I remember how tickled my dad was when he taught him to play pacman and his 3 year old grandson got to BABY PACMAN! And I am so that he never got to meet my daughter who was not yet born, though I do have an inkling that he might have hand chosen her in heaven if God lets dads do that kind of thing! There was just so many things I still wanted to say to my dad but it was too late. Today it is funny to think that I am now older than my dad was when he died. You’d think I would have learned the life lesson about goodbyes and always doing it in love. I guess that may be the reason that I tend to try to say “I love you” every time I say goodbye now.

I’d been a Daddy’s girl as I was growing up.  He was the one who used to take me shopping for school clothes every year. It is strange now but I don’t remember my mom ever going clothes shopping with me. I guess because it was OUR thing, my daddy’s and mine. We had a great relationship.  He was the one I’d talk to about boys and the one in my life that I cared most about  not disappointing or always wanting to make him proud. He had the kind of quiet integrity that in the end, filled up the chapel to standing room only where his services were held.

When our Pastor asked us if there was something I’d like him to talk about regarding my dad, I remembered that I’d written him a Father’s Day card a few weeks earlier. So I ran up to see if I could find it. Sure enough he’d saved it in the drawer by his bedside. I will always be grateful that I had the chance to give him this last message….  I know he didn’t just read it once. It still comforts me that I know he knew even without a poem. But in memory of today and him I wanted to share it with “YOU”  my friends here today. This one is for you Daddy!

No one could ever fill the shoes I once put over mine,

lost within your slippers, my feet were hard to find.

Yes, your overwhelming presence was felt within your shoes…

A feeling so great, though I’m grown, I know I’ll never lose.

Each night when you’d walk in the door from working hard all day,

a security would fill me up and push all my cares away.

And though I’m now a mother with a small one of my own

I’ll always look back upon the days before I was fully grown…

And when I’m with him on the beach, sometimes it brings to mind

stepping within your footprints as I’d follow close behind

I pray that now that I’m the one followed by little feet

I’ll leave half the footprints I found within your feet.

Diane Griffin

1983

If we said a thousand goodbyes…


QUOTE WINNIE THE POOH PRING

The messages attached to “Good bye” mean different things at different times in our lives. To some it means see you later when to others it holds the sting of finality. And then there are those who though they may have said it a thousand times … they are the ones who will never completely ever be gone. They are the ones whose “goodbyes ” have as much strength as a feather.

And then…. there are the ones who are completely gone. They have left this world. Their ashes have been scattered and we will never hear their voices (at least not on this earth) again. In a way it really makes me resent the game playing in the frivilous goodbyes. I mean after all, life is so fragile. It should mean so much more than it seems to. We are not game pieces that can be moved by the toss of a dice. We are human beings with lives that are already hanging from the most fragile of threads. We can only play with the hand we are given but it makes how we play so much more important.

Inside the memory of a thousand good byes

my grieving heart sees through it’s lies

past the dreams we gave away

wondering now… what if we’d stayed?

so tell me again go ahead

beat the horse until it’s dead

Explain it to me, please just try

What should I do with your goodbyes?

Diane Reed

2013

winnie... if the comes a time

Saying Goodbye to Best Friends…


When I was a little girl you became my second mom

I’d spend the night at your house and we’d talk till well past dawn

Your daughters were my best friends I was friends with them all

but later in life, when we grew up, it was “you” who I’d call…

Oh Lucy, how I dreaded the call I got today. So many memories flood my heart as I write this. You were always my soft place to fall, my advisor, my confidant, my constant. So consistent in my life. Always just a phone call away. Opening up your home for me to live with you guys when I was younger and then for visits whenever I could get away. I grew to love you like my own family. I smile as I think about our late night chats as Bob would call down “Lucille!” And you would tell him you’d be right up and then two hours would have passed as you stayed to chat some more. I loved your stories. Some of them were life changing for me. Some molded my life in ways that made me into who I am today.

When you found the Lord, you were so on fire. And that fire never went out. I could come for a visit or pick up the phone and you were just as in love with your Lord as you were on the first day you really found HIM. Even our last phone call was all about HIM. And I am so confident that in my own selfish sadness (please bear with me while I catch my breath realizing that you won’t be here for me anymore) I know you are so happy, free from pain in your wonderful Savior’s arms. But in the meantime I need to adjust knowing that I won’t ever hear again your wonderful voice and the joy you always seemed to have in it when you would hear it was me on the other end….

I’d hear…. “Oh helloooo baby, or Diane-eeee or Darling” You always made me feel that you were soooo happy to hear from me in a way I don’t think anyone ever has before. And I’ll miss that.

I am so glad that I got to bring my baby for a visit a couple of years ago. She remembered visiting you as a little girl but it had been too long. It was quite an adventure getting to your wonderful *mansion* in the dark up on the hill in Fallbrook…. *funny the memories little kids have*… I remember as you were building it and going with you to pick out wallpapers for ALL those  bathrooms and the tile for the pool. I will always cherish memories of that wonderful house you made into a home. It looked so much the same as I remember the last time we visited… another constant in my life.       Sooo much more than just that house, you were the one who never changed. And on the way home from our visit Brookie said; “Thank you Mama for making me go with you. I love her too.”

Oh Lucy, what am I going to do without you as my soft place to fall? You have left quite a legacy in your path… so many lives you have touched. You will be missed. But you are home now. Heaven must be so wonderful for you. So many people who you have touched, waiting in line to greet and thank you! Save a place for me! I love you!

 LUCY

Click on the song below to understand WHO Lucy has been in this lifetime to me!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=6j_YpZQi-I4

Like Romeo And Juliet


Disclaimer:

This poem is for my book that I am working on (all fiction don’t worry!)

 Pieces of the Circle

letters with ribbon

True love can’t be forgotten

though years have hid it’s flame~

Lost love held inside of me

without shelter or a name

ring

 Finding me in my despair,

weary from the pain

so ready for young love

to be restored for me again

woman at the mirror

We hesitated in mid air

like a note sung by a singer~

The scent of love we used to know

somehow made us stop and linger~

couple on a hill

Did we understand the cost

of choosing to stay or close the door?

Did we deserve to take our turn

and even ask for more?

holding hands at sunset

The love inside of me grew until

I thought that I would burst

I feared  that what I held dear,

by my loved ones would be cursed

goodbye hug

The past has met the present

like waves upon the sand~

The foundation was never ready

for us to step on or to stand

walking on the beach

We were caught inside a love story

with all the tragedy and pain

No one would ever accept our love

or allow it to remain,

young girl running away from yelling boyfriend

like Romeo and Juliet,

like Elizabeth and Browning.

Our love was like a soaring sea

as we struggled to keep from drowning.

past lovers quote

God became our rescuer,

The One who calms the seas.

The One who knows all of our tomorrows,

and what they all will be.

Jesus loves me and you

And so we rest in HIM

and put us in His care

And when we I look for true love…

I know I’ll  find Him there.

Diane Reed

2013

*Note* This poem is stored here for future use in my book. (Previous chapters can be found here in this blog.*)

Safe Keeping


boo boo

Like a bruise, my heart has places that…

I don’t want to touch again.

Like paint that never dries

or a story that never ends.

beach book

My mind keeps wandering back

and I get lost in the past,

then you come and wake me up

writer asleep

like pushing forward fast!

Snapping me right out of

the nightmare that kept me sleeping,

a kiss

handing back the heart

you were holding for safe keeping.

young couple making up

Diane Reed

2013

Child Within~


I had to come back to this place

always heard whispering in my ear

Oh Little girl, somehow I knew

I’d still find you here.

reflection black and white

Among the memories waiting

wondering if  I was coming back

to find the child I left long ago

forgotten in my  past.

praying family of hands

I gather you up and hold you close

as we walk through the rooms of our soul

Pieces of you and me once broken,

healing and becoming whole.

little girl in mirror

Looking inside from the child within

I see all the pain you must feel.

Knowing that we must tend to each wound

before we  truly begin to heal.

lonely little hop scotch girl

We walk through the lonely places

that once held our yesterdays

oh how I wished I’d protected you

in so many different ways.

contemplating life

And yet I know that through the hurting,

we’ve gained strength in what we’ve learned.

In all the lessons remembered,

in all the times once burned.

bride walking in the waves

In every tear we ever cried,

and every broken heart,

in every time we were in a crowd,

and felt a million miles apart.

crying girl

We learned to hold the truth inside

and somehow we got by,

we built the walls around our heart

and “they” never saw us cry.

couple on the dock

We learned that fighting to survive

was what we had to do,

and so I lost the biggest part of me

the day when I lost you.

hands sillouette

It’s hard to face the ugly truth

and really look inside,

to know I left you all alone,

living with the hurts and lies.

finding diane mirror

You were the child inside of me

and I failed you the most.

In the mistakes I made along the way,

in the different paths I chose~

reflection in mirror black and white

But I’ve come back to find you,

to finally bring you home!

So that together we can learn to live

and never be alone!

finding Diane two

I want to find the kid inside,

and heal the pain we knew.

I want to learn to love the me,

that I forgot to love in you!

triumphant

And as I pack up all your things,

I have hope in what will be…

As I learn to love you more…

Cuzzzz after all you’re ME!

Diane Reed

2013

The Places That Hurt Before


little girl window seat

Her heart was bruised
and a little misused,
she learned at a young age
how it could break~

boy walking away

Years went by
and life went on,
she learned the games
of give and take~

girl lost in the woods

But she always wandered back
into the forest of her yesterdays~
looking past the shadows
losing her way inside the maze~

letting go diary

Now the bruises on her heart…
They don’t hurt much anymore~
unless you push very hard
on the places that hurt before.

Diane Reed ’13

advice about the past

Never Mind


nevermind

“Never mind” she wrote.

Her sentence broke,

she stopped in the middle

saying  much with so little.

“Never mind means more” he said.

His words still danced in her head.

He was right you know,

he knew, but even so,

she smiled as she read

what he had said…

“Never mind is like saying

 let me go”

But we really know…

hugging couple

It means, “hold me tight”.

Yes, he was right,

and so she begins to say…

 “maybe you could stay”.

But the words are hard to find…

“Oh just never mind”.

crying quote

Diane Reed ’13

If you have to ask…


Sometimes…

If you have to ask,

couple on the dock

You already know the answer.

Diane Reed

Just saying….

Dr. Suess

I am sure that I did not come up with this saying. And I know that it has been said a miillion different ways. Note* The way that Dr. Suess even has tried to say it. (above)  But I recall about a thousand years ago when at 18 years old I was engaged! I remember asking a lot of people if they thought that 18 was too young to get married. I recall an older woman (perhaps my age now… sigh…) who said “Honey, if you have to ask, you already know the answer”.) Her words resonated and I never forgot them and they have kind of been my measuring stick for any hard question that I might have since.  Because the truth really is that if you have to go outside of yourself for advice, when choosing something for your own life, the real question is; who knows you well enough to answer?

http://youtu.be/NWixUIMTjYc

(my blogger friend Joy is now suggested this song… wish I knew how to do this the right way but I loved the suggestion!)

I think that I am finally GETTING the message after all of these years. I have never had enough confidence to be my own authentic self. I have always relied on other people’s opinions to guide me. My New Year’s resolution this year, is to trust what I know in my own soul. If I have to ask… I will go directly to where I began to find the answers so long ago…

Jesus kissing praying girl

Fire


It’s been thirty years

And it’s been twenty days

And the feelings are somehow the same

It’s as if you weren’t here

And as if you won’t leave

Makes me wonder if you ever came

My mind is still whirling

And my heart has gone blank

The memories have all been erased

Like the scent of the past

The fragrance can’t last

YOU are just my yesterday….

The pain is so deep,

I can’t hardly sleep

Though,  I know, that I’ve finally learned….

I won’t do it again…

Look back where I’ve been…

for with fire, you always get burned.

Diane Reed 2012

Unexpected Love


Our store was called Rose In The Woods.  It was supposed to mean:    “A thing of beauty in an unexpected place.”  My mother in-law thought it up and I always loved the sentiment. Sometimes things of beauty are so unexpected they go unnoticed.

Recently I had been feeling very sorry for myself. My daughter’s dog Buddy died and I was blind sided by my grief. Silly old dog! Everytime I turned around that dog was underfoot. And whenever I left the house without putting the trash cans up, I could count on coming home to a mess. That dog countersurfed like there was no tomorrow. No matter how far removed I thought an item was, that dog seemed to be able to manuever his fat little body up far enough onto the counter to retrieve his prize! Like he was on a treasure hunt! I am sure if I had put up a spy camera and video taped him… it would have won the prize for Funniest Home Videos!

I would wonder who ate all of the tortillas or all of the buns and sure enough I would go out to his yard to clean up his messes and would find empty plastic bags out there. He would make me want to scream!

But that dog was so smart. From the time my daughter was young, her bus would drive by and he would sit at the end of our deck and h000owl… knowing that his girl was on board! He would roll over, high five and speak on command. He knew the difference between shaking and highfiving! He could sit or lay down and  when she would call him, if he didn’t come right away, she would start counting and he always came before she reached three!

When Brookie went to look for apartments, her main prerequisite was that they had to allow dogs. She finally found one that allowed them. I am glad they had that time together. They spent many hours at the dog park near where she lived. But he howled when she went to work so eventually after several months of trying, she relented and had to bring him back home.

My dad and I started walking with him a few years ago and they fell in love with each other. Some mornings it was very dark and we could barely see my dad who lived up the street. We would meet half way. On foggy mornings, before I could see him, Buddy would start crying for me to let go of his leash, and my dad would squat down to greet him. My dad ended up paying for surgery for Buddy a few years ago that prolonged his life by three more years. Below is a poem I wrote about our walks….

It began kind of quietly in a shy kind of way

“Maybe I’ll walk with you” is what I heard him say

And when my dad joined us, it became our group of three

The day my Dad began walking, with my daughter’s dog and me…

Each morning I’d think, I don’t want to get up

But then I’d think …it’ll be good for my dad and the pup!

As I climbed the road behind those two

I heard my dad say “this is soooo good for you!”

Just a few minutes a day became my most treasured of times

In the steps that we took, and the wisdom I’d find

All fit into the little time that we had

As I would keep step as I walked with my Dad

We walked up hills and around bends

We started out as family and slowly became friends

Talking about politics and old time religion

I loved hearing his passion behind his opinions

I followed him up hills and behind doors unopened

I heard new stories I’d never heard spoken

He sparked a new interest in things I’d not learned

And made me care~ where I’d been unconcerned

We laughed and joked as he remembered times as a kid

And the hilarious things his brothers and he did!

He taught me things about the constitution

And his own ideas about different solutions

No school could teach me the things I have learned

No time I’ve invested could earn the return

And in all the gifts I’ve been given or treasures I’ve had

Not one could compare to the walks with my Dad!

Buddy’s illness hit so suddenly and before we knew it we were making the decision of what to do. Brooke was in LA at the time and was devestated. When her Dad was talking to her, I called up my Dad and asked him to call her when we hung up because I knew she was going to need her Papa! Later she said both her grandma and papa prayed with her and said the perfect things. Another moment in my Scared Of Daddy Long Legs experience of not getting to be there for every moment your child needs you.

Even though my husband and I had grown children, we realized that in all of our adult life, we had never had to make that kind of adult decision. Deciding whether or not to put down a beloved family pet.

I would not allow Brookie to drive home in her devestated condition and we did not want Buddy to suffer so she came home later the next weekend hitching a ride with some of our best friends who were coming to our area for a visit.

My husband and I had buried him and when my daughter came home she pretty much collapsed on his grave. It was devastating to watch her grief mingled with ours and we all were suffering. Unfortunately the grave was too shallow and the next day she noticed that it was unsettled and so she added more dirt and one by one carried more rocks out to it. I think in a way that was her closure and a good exercise for her to help get through the grief but it was horrible for a mother to feel so helpless as she watched her baby in so much pain over losing her beloved friend.

The other day I came home and found my son who lives in town at my house with all kinds of garbage cans filled and gardening tools and shovels out, totally clearing out the side yard where Buddy lay. I had told him the story and kind of felt he seemed a little removed from the whole situation but was blown away by his explanation of what he was doing He told me that he wanted to surprise Brooke the next time she came home and have a nice garden growing near Buddy.

At that moment I knew I had done something right. I saw the love in my son’s eyes. My first born kidlet who was stubborn and independent even as a little boy. He showed me in that moment how much he cared and how much he loved his little sister. I couldn’t have asked for a better gift that day and realized that I had just witnessed another example of a thing of beauty in an unexpected place.

We don’t always see the best in each other because we are more alike than either of us would like to admit but my son has proven that when the going gets rough, he is the first one there to step up!

Reblogged from my other blog~

The Well


I was trying to explain something to my husband this morning and it turned into a huge discussion that kind of spoiled my good mood. He is the kind that can just brush his shoes off and move on while I am left wallowing in the mud where I feel my heart was dropped, feeling misunderstood and judged. I think that It might be a guy thing. Maybe I am just expecting too much from them~ or… of anyone for that matter, maybe it is a lot to ask to be understood.  Who knows, All I know is that it feels good when it doesn’t seem to take so much work to just feel “GOTTEN”. And at certain important times of my life, I have felt more understood than others and have appreciated the ones doing the understanding.

I tried to remember another time when I felt that way and it was with a different husband a couple of decades earlier. I was almost 8 months pregnant and something happened on a particular day that impacted me in such a way that I even remember her name. If you know me at all, I know a lot of people and it takes a while for names to register so it is especially impressive that I remember one that I spent just a few days with almost 25 years ago.

It was the day that Jessica McClure fell down the well. I began following the story as soon as it aired. It was about a little eighteen month old baby girl who had fallen down a well in her aunt’s backyard in Texas.  I was just one of many, who tuned in to pray and watch the story unfold. Hour after hour, even day after day, we listened to her mom call down as they sung “Winnie The Pooh” together through that small hole she was wedged into and it did me in. I think I cried and prayed more in those two days than I ever had in my life except for maybe the day that my dad died. I am not sure if it was because I was pregnant and emotional or my little niece was about the same age but I  bonded to that mom and her baby, praying and watching along with the rest of the world as the crews of heroes went about rescuing her and strangers began donating equipment to help with her excavation , after two days , even my husband was watching and praying with me.

But just as they were about ready to pull her out, he went across the street. I asked him to wait and watch with me but he just had to go get high at the party house. Even though we did not divorce until several years later, I remember knowing at that moment that our marriage was doomed.

And like I said earlier… I am not sure why that exact second impacted me so much but it has stayed with me like “A Kennedy Moment” for all these years. I watched as they pulled that baby out of the well and praised the Lord and loved the heroes involved. All by myself, as tears streamed down my cheeks watching it all finally come to cohesion  alone in my living room. I remember going across the street later and finding the coverage on there too. I let it all register for a few minutes without saying anything and then I burst into tears as I kind of surveyed the whole scenario, as if my future was being played out right in front of me (and little did I know right then, but it was) as my husband kind of looked at me cluelessly, as I said, “I can’t believe that you couldn’t have waited two minutes to share that experience with me.”

I am so sure that, my neighbor’s houseful of friends all in their haze of being high and all childless, had not a clue in the world what was the matter with me, but the fact that my husband didn’t “GET” it resonated clearly in that instance. Even though our divorce was due to something completely different years later, I think that, THAT day I knew it was just a matter of time before the other shoe would fall.

Today I have a wonderful husband who tries to understand my Jessica McClure moments and even though he may not get them all. And even though today it still takes a lot of work to really feel that he understands the things important to me, I pretty much know that he would not have gone across the street that day and he would have stayed to watch the rescue with me. At the very least,  I know that he makes the effort to stick around everytime  I wander back to the well. I can still feel the tears when I remember that little voice faintly singing up the tune; “Winnie the pooh, winnie the pooh, silly old bear.” And to this day, I thank God for the heroes that never gave up. The elation we all felt as a nation as we watched those beautiful men pull her up alive. It makes me realize that I have heroes in my own life that I thank God for. Especially, the ones who never give up on me.

The Gift We Almost Missed


When you found me, I was tired and weary. I had forgotten how to dream and I had walls up all around me. Some you helped build long ago, the same ones you helped me take down in our times together. You gave me back something that I had lost…  you gave me the gift of my youth.

The memories we shared were like the best tasting honey ever, and I remembered with an old weary heart, soaking up all of it until there were no memories left to remember. Every day was better than the last, we danced the dance of getting to know each other all over again… the one I once knew so well, had memorized and then tried to forget with the exact same passion I had loved you with.  And yet, we worked through it, all the painful memories. You asked for my forgiveness and in giving it, my heart healed and my world seemed to somehow feel more aligned with everything around it.

I began looking forward to your words, to your affirmations. Your words were like salve upon a wound, they had healing powers and I was lost in a world so rare, so right and yet so wrong.  And so… …..   all in the click of a key, my life changed. It all started quite innocently, the catching up, the remembering… so innocently…

But you wanted something  more, something that I could not give… In-between the youth that you offered and the life that had happened in-between the past and the present, the path had changed. I had changed. You had changed, yet we hadn’t changed enough. Slowly I tried to back away and even though you would say that you knew you weren’t entitled to be angry about any of it, you still were. And even though I wanted to go back and make it alright for you, I could not change the past. Though I was not sure what to do. I did not want to abandoned our newfound friendship, I continued to reach back through the distance but we knew nothing was going to make it right.

And you must have seen the writing on the wall because all of a sudden you weren’t there anymore. It wasn’t me this time. It was you.  I waited for your reply and wondered if you were okay.  But then I realized, you nor I were ever going to be okay when we weren’t in touch or when we were. Even though it felt so right sometimes, we knew the truth.  I had taken a thousand opportunities to just stop over and over again, and something always would happen that seemed to make it impossible to stay away. Neither one of us could “just” stop. And so the Merry Go Round kept turning.  Both of us, in our own way, would try to stop riding for a while but in the beginning,  the pain was so raw, the sting was so painful that a new  panic would set in. I remember feeling so wild with grief one time, that I felt a little  like Hellen Keller must have felt  in the Miracle Worker, floundering in my blindness, seeking to understand. And the thing that gives me hope is that Hellen Keller later, actually became one of the wisest souls to live. She literally gives us new meaning to: “I was blind and now I see.” (Hopefully in the places that I was blind in my life… I will see things with the same clarity that Hellen did.)

But slowly, as we began to play the game of jumping on and off, over and over again it suddenly got very old. And we realized it wasn’t fun anymore, but we kept riding, until one day, one of us just quietly got off. And this time it was you. Who woulda thought? There were no words of anger or tears cried, there wasn’t even a goodbye. The door closed just as quickly as it had opened.

And we were okay.

We still could breathe and we even  lived through each day, one at a time~ Though some were harder than others…  And we still looked in the places we used to go to find each other. Recently, I even caught myself looking at a star and “willing” you to look at the same one. Or found myself listening to the same radio station and wondering if you had just heard the same song.

And I can’t say that I haven’t wanted to reach out to you again, sometimes many times a day. To make sure you are really okay, to ask you what made you finally strong enough… But I know that it would hurt us more than it would help me and so I remain silent… remembering…

The love will never go away. The places you once were ~  still feel pretty empty when I look and you aren’t there, and  just perhaps, they always will.    I just know that I will never look at them the same way again…

You are still in my daily thoughts and prayers and I hope I will always be in yours… not so much as a possibility of anything more but a sweet memory of a gift we were given. One that few ever get to experience. I am not sorry for the time we shared nor am I sorry for our unspoken goodbye because it was all meant to be…..to remind us of God’s love. The perfect Gift. The one we almost missed.

A Thing of Beauty in an Unexpected Place


Our little historical clocktower building before the earthquake

Every once in a while I will run into an old customer that asks me if we are ever going to re-open our little gift shop, Rose In The Woods (the name was supposed to mean A thing of beauty in an unexpected place) that was destroyed in the San Simeon earthquake in 2003. The other day, someone asked me that again, they even told me that they saved an old receipt from my store that day and that she still carried it around with her all these years later, as a reminder of just how short life is.  That is when I  realized that I hadn’t talked about it for a long time.  But it is good for me to be reminded where we have been and where we are now and to remind myself that even  today… I am a survivor. Maybe you could even refer to my whole journey as a thing of beauty in an unexpected place.

But for those of you who don’t know my story…. I will tell it here…to share with you and to remind myself once again… to be grateful. And hopefully soon I will get this lesson I am supposed to be getting or quite possibly should have already gotten!!!!

It was a few days before Christmas, my daughter Brooke and I planned to drive about an hour away to a neighboring town with a mall, to go Christmas shopping. As I wrapped up each customer’s purchases in our special bags with ribbons and tissues, they would announce that “this was their last gift that they had to buy.” And I’d think to myself, how I hadn’t even started shopping yet and panic just a little!

 We’d planned to leave our little store in the hands of our employee and sneak away to take a stab at our own Christmas shopping that day and were looking forward to spending the day together shopping at other people’s stores!


As I drove up in front of our store, my daughter Brooke who was 15 at the time, asked if she could wait in the car. It was before ipods and maybe even texting but I knew that she could entertain herself with the FM radio and CDs for the time it took me to open. I used to put cookies and hot apple cider out during the holidays and for some reason, I was able  coax her into coming in that morning, explaining that if she helped me open, the sooner we could get out of there. Our employee happened to be late getting there that day and so she surprised me by jumping out of the car agreeing to help, and followed me in.

As we were opening,  a customer walked in and the Federal Express guy pulled up with a back order of quilts for me as my daughter pleaded, “Pleeease mom, DON’T open that package NOW!”  I used to hang all my quilts on a fat dowel with ribbons in order to be displayed better, and I told her that I had to open them because it was so close to Christmas and they were already late but that we could just price them in their plasic zippered bags and asked her to just put them in a basket up front to at least have them out.

About that time, our employee showed up as another customer walked in and my husband who was in his office across the street, above the chamber, called and asked Brooke to run an errand for him. We both rolled our eyes as if to say “We are NEVER going to get out of here” but she ran out the door to do as he asked. As  I finished pricing the quilts and my employee started dusting,  we heard a loud bang that exploded outside, shaking our building.  For some reason, I yelled for everyone to get in the back and they did. At first we thought it might be a bomb because we were in the midst of talks about terroists during those days back then, but as soon as the ground began to rumble and our painted little wooden floor seemed to roll like a wave was beneath it, I knew it was an earthquake. The women screamed. It was all just a little too surreal. Suddenly everything stopped after what seemed like minutes and once it was over, a wall of bricks fell through our roof right where my daughter would have been placing the basket of quilts.

Outside was mayhem. As we stumbled out, unhurt, I found my daughter crying as my husband held her and I ran to them and hugged them both tight. Brooke was in the middle of the street when my husband  found her still clutching the coffee cup that was an order for a customer, she’d been bringing back over for pick up . She watched the whole thing. She said after she walked down the stairs and started crossing the street, she heard the building crack and then saw our awning in the front of the store snap around to the side of the building and then felt the rumble and watched as the clock tower fell from our historical building

and then saw the roof slide down onto all of the cars below.

Someone told me later that my husband barely touched the stairs as he flew down them, knowing that our daughter had just walked out the door and went to find her. He immediately asked “Where’s your mom?” And she sobbed, pointing  across the street where the wall of bricks had just fallen into our store. They just stood there for what seemed like hours but was maybe just a few minutes until I opened the door and we all ran out.

My husband’s  brand new truck, was parked a few spaces from mine. The dust was similar to what happened during 911, it was hard to see. People immediately started pulling bricks from cars and my heart stopped as I saw my car and pulled the sleeve of a good samaratin explaining through my tears that no one was in that car. It was flattened to about the height of my waist. No one would have ever survived. (It is the blue Explorer above)

And that is when I realized how God had spared my baby, our whole family. Sadly they found two women who were working at the store next to ours. They had run out the front door and were found in-between our car and another. For several weeks I kept hearing how people had thought that they had been Brookie and I.

Cars Parked on Park St. after the earthquake

I am not sure why I knew to tell everyone to get in the back but I know it was not me. My daughter told me that she had cried to me later asking “Why did God make this have to happen to us?” And I replied. “He didn’t make this happen. He SAVED us.” A conversation I don’t remember ever having but one that impacted her in a special way, ever since.

I have no doubt that God sent HIS Angels that day

For a while I thought that the experience would have changed me. It has in a way. I realize that those two women could have been us. I realize that my baby could have been waiting in the car that day or putting the quilts in the front of the store where the wall of bricks fell. I realize how everything was finely orchestrated that day. Every step, every phone call, right down to our employee being late to the spot in the road where my daughter safely stood as if Angels surrounded her there as she watched the world as she knew it, come crashing down around her with not so much as a scratch on her.

I don’t know why not us when the two other ladies were found dead, but I know that I learned that day that stuff is just stuff and even though we lost everything materially (though our vehicles were covered by our insurance)  this story would be totally different if it had ended another way. I know that dents in cars, spots on carpets and material things are not as important as they used to be to me. I also know that we were pretty spoiled back then and I didn’t appreciate then, what I do have half as much as I do now. And that if nothing great happens ever again. THIS is ENOUGH.

 I don’t know why bad stuff happens to good people, but I do know that God did save us and He can take anything and make it beautiful again. Even a little rose in the rubble. Even me. As I am…..still and always will be…

a work in progress!

The Love Template


When I was nine, I wanted to write a novel. When I was twenty, I thought I was ready. I thought I knew it all. Now I am twice the age and I am sure I know even less than I thought I did, over three decades ago. I have always loved the concept of, what I know for sure…. Because the statement alone does not profess expertise of a certain subject, it only explores what I think I know about it as it relates to me.

Take love for instance. If I could go back and rewind my life and insert wisdom in different periods of it, how would I live it differently? What would I tell the younger version of me? Would I have listened? I wonder. How funny it would be if this older version of ourselves could pop in during different crisis in our life and tell us what to do. Would we even listen? I guess, maybe once we realized it was really ourselves, someone who had lived through the messes we got ourselves into and had the wisdom of hind sight, we might, I mean who argues with themselves? Well, cough, choke and sputter. I think I do, every day of my life. I reason with me every day. I berate myself for the insane choices I have made at times and want to ask myself; “Really?” in regard to half the dumb moves I have made over the years and very recently as well.

And yet, I wonder, what have I learned? I question myself all the time. Do I have good advice for myself, let alone anyone else? Do my mistakes and the lessons I have learned from them, hold any value in helping others not make the same mistakes? If I had to say what I really know for sure what would I say?

My advice right this minute is to be true to you. I am not sure that I can truly say that I have done that. But I know that I am working on it. I wish I knew then what I do now. My heart is full as I am filled with regrets. I wish that I would have been stronger and listened to my heart. I am angry now with the adults in my life that pushed their own agendas on me. I understand that they only wanted the best for me. I really do. And yet, it was their version of the best. I was not brave enough then to ask them….”And how is your version of the BEST working out for you?” Because from where I stood… my response would be “not great!” All I know now is listening to them was not being true to me, to what I wanted. It was not just me being young and not wanting to hear what they had to say, it was actually not always the right advice. Just that simple.  Just like today, my kids have to learn for themselves what is right for them. I can’t push my own agenda on them. What might be perfectly right for me, may not be for them. I can share my lessons and hopefully they will have less hard ones by what I share but we all need to learn by our own choices. God gave us that right. It was His idea. We get free choices. Sometimes I wish that He would just tell me what to do but in His wisdom, He gives us all a template, it is our choice how close we stay inside the lines of it.

I  guess it sounds kind of vague when I say that I wasn’t really allowed to love the people I loved, I was pushed and nudged and berated. And I stupidly listened to all the white noise, the voices that criticized me, as my heart was screaming to be heard. All of my life, I have let others tell me what to do. I never really ever relied on where my own heart led me or my gut instincts. I have felt things with my heart and then second guessed myself, asking others what they thought. Now I wonder why did I care so much what others thought, I mean really why? I can’t believe that I put so much weight on everyone else’s opinion but mine.

It started as far back as I can remember. I was told that I should forgive, I was told to look the other way. And then I was told to not forgive, to run as fast as I could, to shut doors, and move on. I fooled myself into thinking that shutting doors was empowering, and giving second chances was forgiving. I put up with things far too long in the name of forgiveness and not wanting to be called a quitter. I stayed in situations that I never should have and yet the time finally came when I was not just hurting me, I was hurting the ones I brought along in my crazy making and I had to save them.

My childhood was filled with uncertainty. I was always worried. I was in such a hurry to grow up so that I could control my own destiny. Mistake number one! Who in this world ever controls their own destiny? And if I was controlling mine, I was sure making a mess of it. And if my template was what I learned growing up, that was mistake #2.

The first time I fell in love, I fell hard. And I think that I have been trying to survive that love ever since. It was intense and new and exciting and terribly, terribly damaging. The abuse that I endured was not so much physical though there was some pushing and shoving and yeah a little more than that, but it was so much more than that. It was so emotionally challenging that I constantly felt as if I were at the bottom trying to reach the surface in order to come up for air.

Everyone had their opinions about that one and I finally succumbed. Between the abuse and people’s well meaning counsel I conceded. We were engaged by that time, so it didn’t mean just a break up, it meant relinquishing a dream we had built together. When it was over, I thought I had died. And I definitely thought that I wouldn’t survive the pain. But when I finally was able to let go, I felt what I thought was empowerment. As I look back, I realize that I was mistaken, what I thought was strength, when the pain seemed to subside, was more like just being numb to it. Now I think it was just part of my heart dying.

Next, there were a handful of guys who I dated, some I remember more than the other, but for the most part, the emotional pull was not there. Maybe I was just not going there again. Falling in love had once been all I ever wanted and now it was something my heart seemed to avoid. Love meant pain I conceded.

Until, I met the boy, a boy who rocked my world, different than all the others. He was quiet and yet, a leader among his friends. He commanded respect without demanding it. He was so different than anyone I had ever known and for some odd reason he loved me back. All his friends were blown away and told me so this boy could have any girl he wanted. Everyone thought he would be the last of the friends to marry. And yet he ended up becoming my husband.  He was tan with broad shoulders and very distinct features. He looked a lot like Michael Landon with a little John Wayne mixed in and he took my breath away for years. But it wasn’t just about looks with him. He was special. He had this wonderful heart that I got to see. He had views and opinions and yet he didn’t push them down your throat. He only offered them if you asked. He was perfect in my eyes and I was thrilled that somehow he had chosen me. He would walk into a room years after we were married and I would feel giddy. I loved him so much.

But what do they say? If you grow up with an alcoholic parent, you are destined to marry an alcoholic. That made me so angry when I heard that because I heard that after I had married him. This wonderful boy had one flaw, his very own pain, not to mention the little gene in his genetic makeup that caused addiction. I couldn’t believe that I had found myself in the very place I had run from. I was worrying about him coming home okay and driving drunk. I was worried about his health and safety, not to mention his job that he had worked so hard to grow in.  And I was the total textbook codependent. An enabler, trying to re-fix what had been wrong in my childhood. This time, I thought I was going to make it work. I think I tried with all my heart until I almost lost it, my heart that is. Finally I realized that I could not save him. But I could save me and I could save my kids and so I did.

Where my dad was not a raging alcoholic, my husband was. I had bitten the head off of the proverbial chocolate bunny and I was in really, really deep. There were a few times that I almost left and my mom talked me out of it. Some of my well meaning friends from church persuaded me to try, guilting me into it by reminding me about all the things I already knew about vows and loyalty and forgiveness. But this time I had my kids to think about. And it was only getting worse. I finally pulled the plug. We had tried before and he was stubborn. He was not budging and so I took my kids and walked away before it was too late. . But I always wondered if it was too late. The guilt I still carry because of my divorce is excruciating. I have read verse after verse in the Bible trying to get some relief at no avail. Intelectually, I realize that God would not have wanted me to stay in the situation that I was in and that all I need to do is put everything at the foot of the cross. I know that and have and do daily, I know, I know once is enough, but I will always second guess myself and wonder “if just perhaps,” I might have left but not been so quick to divorce, if things might have turned out differently. Like they say, hind sight is 20/20. We see things much more clearly after the fact. Yet,  in a way, I don’t. I used to be so sure that leaving was always the right answer. Abandond ship, take no prisoners, sink or swim, every man for himself. And yet with all the tools we have now days, I am not sure that not exausting all the tools is not an option before sealing the deal? It has been a thought I have wondered about since finally relenting and recently going to therapy myself. If nothing else, it has brought up a lot of questions I have begun to ask myself.

I was so in love with my husband and yet year after year, the things I had to deal with helped chip away at that love until it almost went away. I had to wonder if I had ever really been in love or if I had just loved the fantasy. My first husband was a man’s man. His friends came first. I know he loved me but he loved himself more. Years later when he was dying, he asked for me to forgive him. And now, especially after experiencing a good therapist, I have wondered if things had been different, if we had found a Therapist like I have now,  if we could have survived without divorce?

The thing is I was always so concerned about what others thought and yet was so stubborn. It was a crazy making dance I would do. Now I realize that I just wanted their support but not necesarrily their approval.  But at the time, approval seemed so huge. Now I know that it’s not what your mom or your friends or anyone else thinks. It has got to be between you and God. Even though I know I prayed and took it to God or thought I did,  I don’t really think I knew how back then. When my marriage fell apart, it was surreal, I felt as if I was in slow motion. I felt in labor again, the pain was inexplicable. The unfathomable had happened. Like the first break up, though now we owned a house and had kids together. It was so much more than a dream. It was a life, my life, dying. A nightmare except I could never go to sleep to escape.

No one ever taught me to fight. When I was growing up, I lived in this Polly Anna existence. I hardly ever saw my parents even argue and I don’t think they ever did. The handful of things I did manage to see, rocked my world and usually were related to my dad’s drinking but other than that. My mom seemed to just suck it up and take whatever my dad dished out. Don’t get me wrong. My dad was amazing but there was always this underlying piece that just didn’t fit.

I remember thinking as a young girl, I am never going to let anyone treat me like that. I am not sure why I thought that. I mean my dad really loved my mom and she adored him. There was just this perfect little world I lived in that almost teetered on the edge of abuse. Not physically, but in a much more ambiguous sense.

Now fast forward what seems like a thousand years and here I am, still struggling with another man, my wonderful husband who loves me. This time, I had learned, no alcoholics! So I did a one-eighty and found someone almost perfect. He loves the Lord, has never done drugs. He drinks a bit but I have never seen him drunk. In fact, he is always the designated driver for me! He came along when I was drowning. He was God sent, I am sure. He saved us. He loved us. Sure he has his faults but I have to wonder if they seem bigger to me because  of all the ones who came first. When is it his turn? Is my heart so numb that I forgot how to love the right way?

When I realized this it made me think. I know a woman who I prejudged. Not in the worst ways but it is something I don’t like about myself. The ones I usually don’t connect with at first, end up being lifelong friends. I know that about me and so I also know that my first knee jerk reaction toward someone isn’t always right on. After several casual conversations, we finally had a chance to really talk and I learned that she is slowly going blind. I mean at this point in my life, and considering my own weary eyesight, I guess we all are to some degree but she really is. She told me that she has chosen her profession to set herself up to be able to support herself since touch and not sight is the necessary tools she needs in her career choice. But no pun intended; this little piece of information made me see her in quite a different light.

That little ephiphanie has led me to a whole new platform, something I never considered before. Something I am very passionate about now. I think that the key is that everyone has a story. I wonder now if I had stayed with my first love and if we had gotten the necessary help, if it would have been different. I know now that he was dealing with his own childhood nightmares, much different than my own. My heart breaks for him as I have learned his story.  I wonder….what would have changed for us if someone had counseled us? An entirely differnt story might have played out for both of us. I do know that even though  it seemed like hell back in those days, I also look back now, at a lot of those days as “the good old days” and challenge anyone going through their own version of hell to not make such  hasty decisions. Because our first loves mold us in ways that never leave us. And if it is really true love, and really worth the work perhaps if you could get help, in the beginning, just perhaps you could not bring baggage to all the other places you end up that aren’t going to measure up to the good old days. And if nothing else, at least you will be satisfied that you tried. Because believe me, the baggage you bring from each relationship to the next becomes pretty heavy!

When I was struggling therapy used to be a dirty word. Oprah was not a household name and self help books told you to meet your love at the door naked, wrapped in cellophane. But when you were wondering where your husband was at 2 in the morning, that advice was about as helpful as telling me to jump off a bridge which was where I was headed when there was no one walking in the door for me to meet in celophane!

But today we have resources. We have counseling and mentors and churches that have much more to offer than they did when I was grasping at nothing but the white noise that bombarded me with the advice I didn’t ask for. In the end, hind sight is 20/20, you never know whether to really stay or go. I wish there was some life line that we could go to and really get God on the line and ask HIM what He would have us do. And in a way there is, He gives us prayer and the discernment to hear Him and yet it is a hard place to get to when you keep getting in the way of the answers. It takes patience and a listening spirit.

So what have I learned in the last three or so decades about love? I would say without a doubt that the Author of Love is God. Now that I am a parent, I understand the ultimate sacrifice of His love in giving His Son to us because He loved us so much and wanted us to SEE the Light. I mean if I know anything for sure, it is that God’s kind of love is the true template for all the others that come after;

1 Corinthians 13:1-13 – Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

What I know for sure is:

Love is patient, it puts up with a heck of a lot in it’s own name. It is kind, plain and simple, it is not mean.  Love does not want to see the other one hurt and avoids it at all costs. It is not jealous.  it is satisfied with just being loved back  It is not all puffed up and boastful, it does not brag and cares more about their loved one than themselves. They are proud of , and gives all the credit to the one receiving our love. They care more about the comfort of their loved one than themselves. Love does not lash out or belittle, it does not want to hurt back when their feelings are hurt and it is not easily offended. Love keeps no record of fights and arguments and wrongs we feel were committed against us. It remembers nothing negative. Love does not rejoice in sin or immortality. It is not malicious or violent. Love is honest and  celebrates the truth and everything about it. It protects and shelters the one they love, watching over and caring for without complaining.  Love puts aside it’s own wants and desires and puts the one they love ahead of themself. Love is loyal and true and can be trusted till the end of time because it never will fail or fall short. True love never gives up, it is forever.

And even though I am constantly working on it, and know that I will never measure up to this beautiful template of love we have been given. I am just happy that Love does not keep any record of my wrongs and the very good news is…. I can keep trying and I will because I am finally getting to know the Holy Spirit Who gives me HOPE to be better and love greater.

So I guess my advice would be to never give up. Sometimes it is not how you are loved but how you love that changes everything.

Pedestal Sitters


I am a work in progress. Though, I wish that I could say that I have” arrived” for once and for all! Sometimes I have to admit that I have asked myself, when will it be my turn to be a “pedestal sitter”? How I wish that I could be the mentor rather than always the one being mentored. But I guess we all have our places and someone has to be the  example for the works in progress to give hope to the ones still in progress. At times I have wondered if any of us really ever get there. I mean the ones who are examples, the ones who get to be the pedestal sitters. The ones we think have arrived. What are their struggles? If we really could see them the way their family sees them, would they fall off of the pedestals we put them on? What if we lived with our mentors? Our Pastors and politicians, our bosses and teachers, are they who they really seem to be? Well, the fact is, no one is perfect. Even if they tend to want to keep up appearances, facts are facts and pedestals usually always fall. And in turn the pedestal sitters are just as fragile as Humpty Dumpty.

I remember as a kid, my dad was a high profile businessman. Even when we would go to his company picnics, he seemed to command an unspoken kind of awe, whether professionally or at play, in the office or on the softball field. He was respected in ways I did not understand or appreciate as a child.

 I just saw the dad who would sit in his easy chair and drip something on his tee shirt as he ate and laugh at the “Mr. Murray” that I got to see and realize that even at a young age, I was privy to another side of my dad.

There are ghosts in my life. There I said it. I wrote and rewrote that sentence and there is no other way to say it. Some are more prevalent than others. But they are there. Like an old movie being rewound. Like a character from my past, walking around with me, whispering in my ear. No one else can see him but he is there. Always saying things that I imagine he would say. Is he my voice of reason or judgement? Is she my little child still inside of me clamoring to be set free? Perhaps he is my dad.

How I would love to have my wise old dad show up, when I needed his wisdom the most. And yet sometimes I forget that God IS there, like my dad in a way, always there, always, oh my, that is a thought I love and fear all at the same time. HE knows my every hair. Okay, that’s kind of comforting. But my every thought? That’s downright disturbing! I mean, I stub a toe or pinch a finger and a million words my mother would be horrified to know that I know, pop into my head. Not that I say out loud but they do come to mind more than I would like to admit at times when I am not at my best. And yes, my mother still remarks if she disapproves of me and I still feel a bit like a pre-teen. Do we ever stop being the child when our parents are around? No matter how old I am, I still have the urge to wait for my mom to look the other way before I salt my food.

God never turns His head. He is always there. Though I have treated Him like a vapor and placed Him in an abstract place in my heart and forget He is always watching. No lock will keep Him away and yet He doesn’t force his way in, he waits to be invited. He is the only ONE worthy of a pedestal and yet walks with the servants and finds me worthy at my worst, without a pedestal or a life free from sin. He finds me where I am and gives me a place far better than any pedestal a place of grace to rest and be restored.

For I will be merciful and gracious toward their sins and I will remember their deeds of unrighteousness no more.
Hebrews 8: 12

If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, pray, seek, crave, and require of necessity My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7: 14

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right, persevering, and steadfast spirit within me. Cast me not away from Your presence and take not Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit.
Psalm 51: 10-12