Category Archives: Parents

The Summoning

She ran the stone one last time along the edge of her sword, restoring its former sharpened perfection. It’d been a single year’s passing since it had been used.  From such a distance it was of little use to her, hence the blade had become blunted.  In the mountains that she left, there had been intrusions, events that had come to pass that were far from her control.  The will that she could not bend darkened the forest even more than she thought possible.  Her sons, who stayed behind, had seen a side of human nature that no child should ever see.  It was time to stop the madness.  Her youngest son, in particular, needed protection that she could not provide from that distance.

She stood, testing the strength in her arm. That, too, had become soft, but the memory of how to rule her kingdom was etched in her fibers, ready to be summoned at will.  And now that time had come.  He was coming home.

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Image by alphacoders.com

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Had it only been one year?  He scrubbed his hand over his face.  So much had happened in that time, most of which he’d rather forget.  They’d be safe, she told them, until she prepared the way and summoned them, but no sooner had she left, than the shadow awoke.  Without his mother’s protective energy, the darkness filled the crevices of the forest, threatening to steal his soul.  The landscape had changed in a few short weeks after she had left.  No longer were there stable paths lined with hope and promises of a beautiful tomorrow.  The footing had become unpredictable, with no clear vision of what the next moment might hold.

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Image by alphacoders.com

If it were not for the quiet hum of her lingering energy pulsating beneath his feet, he would have fallen many moons ago.  Oftentimes he would press his cheek to the ground and weep, struggling to drink in the light that she had left behind.

The shadow had raised its head time and time again, lashing out at him, crying out for her.  Their savior, their strength.  So far away.

The villagers converged and surrounded him, took him away, and offered protection when she could not.  Though kind and generous, ‘twas not enough. He missed the connection, however frayed and blackened the threads were, for it was all he knew.  Little by little he found his way back to the forest edge.  But nothing had changed.  The never-ending pulsating force still beat strong. Too many nights he sat, watching from afar as the shadow sat alone, tipping his head back, letting loose a soul-crushing howl, so full of sorrow, pain, and loneliness.

“It is not what we once knew,” his older brother said one night.

He clung to his brother, his only ally in the unrecognizable terrain. Though not much older, he still exuded stability and comfort.

“The forest is deceiving,” he continued to say. “The shadow hides well within the darkness.  No, little brother.  It is beyond repair now, and I would have you stay with me.”

So his brother led him away that very night.

“I miss her,” he said, blinking back the pain in his heart.

“As do I, but we will be as one, until we unite with her again.”

Displaced from the home they knew, they ventured out, and took to honing their skills of survival.  Left to fend for themselves, their minds and shoulders broadened with seeking the truth and wielding their swords.  No longer thin and timid, together they became a force to behold.

At long last, the summoning arrived.  Settled now into his routine, he looked around.  Could he truly leave everything and everyone behind?  It had become a place he so desperately wished to escape, yet so desperately wanted to remain.  He was strong now.  He had proved that to himself.  He could stay.  But there was no choice.  She had made that decision for him.

With heavy feet and saddened hearts, they walked together to the portal that would take him home.

“You’ve always been there for me,” he said.

“And will always be there for you.”

They clasped forearms and stood awkwardly for a few moments before pulling each other into an embrace.

“You behave yourself, little brother.  Do not give her trouble.”

He swiped his sleeve across his eyes.  “When will you join us?”

“As soon as I can,” his brother said, ruffling his hair. “I promise.”

He nodded.  A shuddering breath and quivering lip betrayed his confidence.

“Go.  She is waiting.”

Grasping the hilt of his sword, he was ready to face the adventure before him.  There he would learn of different clans, different languages, a new way of life, completely leaving behind all that he has known.

The portal shimmered before him.  His mother, the pillar in his life, stood on the other side, her image steadfast through the wavering fabric of worlds.  A smile that promised a different path for him encouraged him onward.  A smile that reminded him of her comfort, her strength, and that he would not be fighting battles alone.

Her arms extended into a welcoming gesture, beckoning him to join her.  His shoulders squared in response, for though he was eager to see her, he was too old, too changed for such emotional release.  Taking one step forward, he stoically reined in the feelings that unexpectedly bubbled to the surface.  A sense of urgency swirled in his legs and feet and the corners of his mouth lifted against his will.  The burden of the past, the nights of burning tears melted away into a lightness he had not known since he was a child.

He turned to his brother and removed his scabbard from his waist.  “I won’t need this anymore,” he said, handing his sword to his brother.  “I’m going home.”

He stepped through the portal and quickened his footsteps until he found himself surrounded by his mother’s arms.

She looked to the portal and held out her hand, a question forming on her lips.

Her oldest smiled through simmering eyes and shook his head.

“Soon, Mama.  Soon.”

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Image by alphacoders.com

 

 

 

 

 

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The Path…Interrupted

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The path had been washed clear a fortnight before by the season’s first gentle rains, and in the days that followed, the spring’s warmth absorbed any hint of dampness that would cling to her feet.  She could find no fault with her path or her duties as Guardian, and though optimistic, she remained vigilant, anticipating what she could not see.

A sudden wind stirred the grass and an unmistakable rumble rolled beneath her feet.  The ground shook and dread fell from the trees.  Her pace quickened to match the beat of her heart, but where to turn, she did not know.

The shadow loomed to engulf her, the forewarning she knew too well.  She did not have time to change her footing, as the beast came at her vicious and strong, tackling her from behind, forcing her to taste the harsh reality of her choices.

Not willing to relive yet another blow, she scrambled to her feet, but slipped.

Thick, oily, green-gray mud bubbled up from between the cracks on the once smooth path, through the seams she had spent years of her life mending.

The blue sky swirled with fear and darkened to a toxic hue, then unloosed its watery fury, pelting her with shards of wet, gleaming steel.  Her shoulders hunched against the pain as each stab created divots in her armor.  With cold and shaking hands, she swiped at them uselessly.

Footsteps approached.  Some fast, some slow, but she recognized each one. They’d always been there, surrounding her, urging her forward.  Never had they allowed her to falter or lose sight of her task.  Normally she basked in their presence, but now she dare not look up, for she did not want them to see the uncertainty in her eyes.  The need to run and claim to the menacing skies “Let me be!  I am not as strong as you believe!” exploded from her cells, howling for release.

Wisps of light circled her, hovering only moments until she closed her eyes in surrender.  Blue-white heat grazed atop her damaged armor, the depressions filling in and strengthening her with resolve.  Tears spilled, but quickly evaporated in the knowing that the path before her, though flooded with sludge, was solid.

With each step her load lightened and the curve of her back disappeared.  Instead of studying the ground before her, seeing only the small section of the path, she stood tall and faced the beast that now stood before her.  She grasped the hilt of her sword, ready to strike it down.

Its eyes were rimmed with sadness, but could easily have been mistaken for anger.

She paused.  The air stilled around her, quiet as the impending death, and with ancient eyes watching the slow movement of her thoughts, she drew her sword from its sheath and held it steady at her side.  Her fingers twitched, anxious for a reason.

The great beast’s gaze slid down the length of the sword and held fast at the deadly tip.  Its bristly hairs stood on end.  It slowly raised its head, the sadness in its eyes replaced with venom that spilled over and trickled down its time-worn cheeks.

Her armor did little good when he looked at her in that vile way.  She knew it was time.  Time to leave the forest behind, lest he draw the light from within her heart that she held so close. One step back, one last look, before she turned.

“Why do you leave?” the beast roared, its pain-soaked voice ripping through the thin fabric that cloaked her soul.

She slowly turned, her hand once again tightening on her sword.  Whispers penetrated her mind, a reminder of her strength.

“Why do you stay?” she asked.

“The forest is dark.”

“The meadow is light.”

They stood, face to face, bound together by time long past, a bond neither could break.

“I cannot go where you lead.”  The words spilled from their lips in eerie harmony, entwining like the overgrown vines suffocating the abandoned forest they once shared.

She shook her head.  There was no more for her there, and though she found a bit of relief, the sadness grew inside.  Sadness for the beast who will never know peace.  Sadness for herself, for neither will she.

It Never Rains In Southern California…

Perhaps that’s true, but the tears still flow – for joy, for fear, for sadness, for guilt – and it all stems from breaking out of my comfort zone, headed toward new paths, leaving behind that which I knew so well.  The urge to go back is strong at times.  Some days I feel like I’m in over my head, swimming in unfamiliar waters.  It can be scary at times and exhilarating at others.

 This journey that started a few months ago has been an odd mix of freedom and bondage.  I’ve had the freedom to pursue goals in Los Angeles with the determination of a locomotive, yet a part of me is still tied to old habits and beliefs I embraced in Idaho.  If you can imagine that one… yeah, I’m feeling like an emotional Gumby being pulled apart.  

I ain’t gonna lie. It hurts terribly to be apart from my boys. This time away from them stretches my emotional boundaries farther than I ever thought possible.  Those days when my boys text me “I miss you :(” are the hardest on my heart.  I battle the “being there now” versus the “paving the road for a better parent, a better me, a better future for us all.”  But the same guilt that causes me to pause and question my reasoning is the same guilt that motivates me to push forward.  It’s a guilt that won’t let me stop until I fulfill the promises I’ve made.  And quickly.

~“Strong is what happens when you run out of weak.” ~

I’m much stronger now, physically, mentally, and emotionally.  The softer edges have once again sharpened, but in a different way.  I’m decisive and quick to rid myself of that which doesn’t serve me anymore.  Every moment is motion forward.  And when the time is right for my boys, they’ll walk beside me, albeit on their path, and hopefully I’ll have done one or two things that they can learn from.

Besides… I can’t turn back, because I know too much.  I know I have focus.  I know I have perseverance.  I know I won’t cave under pressure.  I know that by stepping out of my comfort zone, I’m expanding the boundaries exponentially.  I know “fear” is no longer a part of my vocabulary.  I know I can step into the thick of things and figure it out.  I know what I’m capable of by the progress I’ve made and the people I’ve met.  I’ve seen the true me.  It’s the me I want to show my boys.  It’s the me I want to show the world.

Hang on, because the ride is far from over…

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The Wake Up Call, The Kick in the Ass, and The Silver Lining

I never thought it would happen to me, but there it was. I had known about it for six months, but assumed I could right the sails and keep the boat afloat.  I got caught up in what many families are facing:  The end to a well-paying, long-term job.  During those six months, like a cornered animal, I got a tad cranky.  I felt threatened.  After 18 years of working in my bunny slippers, with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine in hand, I had a wake up call. One I didn’t want to answer.

I was about to be thrown out of my comfort zone and into the world of *gulp* job hunting.

Which wasn’t easy. Especially in this small town where professional jobs are at a minimum and the lines are long for the rest of the jobs that open up. Small towns are awesome.  Small towns create a sense of belonging. I love knowing everyone at the bank or the grocery store. I love the fact that one of our busiest streets really isn’t so busy after all.

But none of that matters when the well runs dry, when I’m faced with decisions, when I feel like a failure.  A new plan was needed fast.  The more I thought about it, the more I looked at the circumstances, the choice was clear.  I needed to look outside of this town.

If I were to be honest, I’d been feeling as if my wheels were spinning and that I forgot who I was – still.  I’d been talking about a finding new direction for awhile, but since I was swimming in my comfort zone, I had no reason to get out of the pool.  Well, guess what.  Losing my job was the kick in the ass that I needed to move forward.

What I hadn’t counted on, though, was that I would be going at this alone. The boys and I had been a tight unit and I assumed we’d move together. But ‘twas not to be.  They wanted to stay with their father in Idaho for their own reasons. Reasons I understood, but still I felt I failed on many levels. Was I that bad of a mother that they didn’t want to be with me? Shouldn’t I sacrifice a few more years and stay here just in case they needed me? How much would this hurt them in the long run?

Infused with guilt, I spoke with my uncle who reminded me that, in the face of knowing we would miss each other, would miss the routine we’ve developed over the years, both boys made a very deliberate decision.  Sure, they could have taken the easy way out and followed me, looking to me to handle things, but I’ve taught them to be free thinkers and to make choices based on what they felt was best for them.  It had always been my intention to pass at least one morsal of something to them, and here I had my proof.

Feeling somewhat better, I chose to practice what I preach:  Do something that is best for me.  After putting my needs on hold for 25 years, now is my chance to follow opportunities that will further my choice of career. Opportunities I cannot find here in North Idaho.

I want to show my boys a side of me they haven’t yet seen before – the woman who waited patiently behind the mother.  I want my sons to see me as a healthy and successful person, not the overbearing, overprotective mama bear who pushed them to realize heights I knew they were capable of, all while I was feeling frustrated because I wasn’t reaching my own potential.  I want to be the best person I can be, to show them that my happiness is as important as theirs. My reasons for doing this, as painful as the process might be, will serve them as well as me.

And the timing is right.  My job had allowed me to work from home for the last 18 years and over those almost two decades I’ve seen my oldest through to graduation and my youngest get through middle school.  I’ve taught them as many life lessons as I have experienced myself, taught them social graces, and how to be kind to others.  Now the rest is up to them.

Yes, I’ll definitely miss the little things, the daily routine, the chance to hug them when they’re feeling sad or happy, but through Skype, texting, phone calls, and Facebook, I’ll still be able to nag – I mean, guide – them through the trials and successes and celebrations big and small. The moments we share will be sweeter, the visits will be anticipated events.

The silver lining to all of this is that I will have the opportunity to discover who I am and what I need to feel whole, because when we become mothers and wives, so many of us lose sight of ourselves.  It’s a continuous process, one I started two years ago. I have a very specific plan A, with no plan B, so there won’t be any falling back.  Only forward movement. By expanding my horizons outside of this town, I will be able to bring more of the world to the boys.  It’s the put-on-the-oxygen-mask-first-before-putting-it-on-the-children mentality.

My uncle also told me, “Go ahead and feel guilty if you must, but it would be a mistake not to try.”

So try, I will.

This song, The Reason, by Hoobastank, is for you, boys. You are my reason.  I love you.

CRAZY S**T MY BOYS OBSESS ABOUT – THE SLENDERMAN

Truth – for the most part we use our internal radar to weed out falsehoods from fact.  We could have hard-core facts (pro or con) shoved in our face about something, but whether a particular subject resonates with us or not determines if it becomes a belief.  If a belief somehow serves us, we’ll fight to hold onto it.

Two years ago my oldest called me over to his computer, totally freaking out.

The second of the original Slender Man images, by Victor Surge – alastairstephens.com – Do you see him under the trees?

J:  “Mom!  Look at this!  The Slenderman!”

Me:  What is that?

J:  The Slenderman!  Oh, my God, Mom.  You have to see this picture of him!  He’s real!

Me:  Seriously?

J:  Yeah!  If you look at him, you’ll die!

Me:  So they guy who took this picture is now dead?

J:  Probably!  But not everyone can see him so those are the ones who are  safe.

*eye roll*

For those of you who don’t know about the Slenderman, here is an explanation from ufosearchonline.com:

“Slender Man (or Slenderman, depending on how you spell it’s name) is described as wearing a black suit strikingly similar to the visage of the notorious Men In Black, and as the name suggests, appears very thin and able to stretch his limbs and torso to inhuman lengths in order to induce fear and ensnare his prey. Once his arms are outstretched, Slender Man’s victims are put into something of a hypnotized state, where they are utterly helpless to stop themselves from walking into them. Slender Man is also able to create tendrils from his fingers and back that he uses to walk. Whether Slender Man absorbs, kills, or merely takes his victims to an undisclosed location or dimension is also unknown as there are never any body’s or evidence left behind in his wake to deduce a definite conclusion.  Slender Man is most often seen as a tall, extremely thin man with long, strange arms, and a face that no two people see the same way (if they see any face at all). Where he comes from is as much a mystery as what he wants.” 

*Big sigh*  How could it be that my son had so readily accepted, albeit with a fit of tears, that the Easter Bunny wasn’t real when I broke the news to him? (Yeah, yeah, yeah.  In my defense I thought he already knew and was just going along to make me happy.)  My son had eventually figured out that I was Santa Claus and took that with relative grace when I confirmed his suspicions.   The bottom line – he trusted me enough to accept my truth.

But in the case of Slenderman… no dice.  Nothing I said would convince him.  The fact that this mythical creature existed obviously resonated with him.  I can’t possibly begin to understand that one, but until we moved out of our house on five forested acres, he refused to go outside after dark, swearing to me that one night he saw the Slenderman peek around the corner at him while he waited for the dog to come back inside.  And now that we’ve moved into town?  My son is always out after dark.  Apparently the Slenderman doesn’t like to hang around the lake or Starbuck’s after dark.   But in the heavily treed areas…

Look… over my shoulder… Um.  Yeah.

There’s only so much we can do to protect our children from beliefs that freeze them up or make their imaginations go wild.  At this point, this is one of those things I have to file in the “Let It Go” folder.  He’ll figure it out… I hope.

If you really like stories that make you wonder… what if,  check out Souled, a novel about what happens when a high school wrestler invites another soul to inhabit his body.  You can purchase it for $2.99 on Amazon.  Just click and download.  Easy.

If You Let Them Go, They’ll Stick Around

I had no idea that the gap that launched me into single status could possibly get any wider. I can see now, though, how inevitable it would be, for as I kept taking steps backward, slowly turning away from the disaster my life had become, and finally running like hell, my scenery changed, my viewpoint cleared, and my vision sharpened.  I found myself standing in a place my ex would never understand.  The rules regarding school work, curfew, healthy eating – the rules that united, albeit loosely, the ex and I together – soon became the mother of all disagreements.

Seventeen years ago, as part of my efforts to be the “perfect” mom, I adopted other women’s examples of what raising children “should be,” even if it didn’t resonate with me.  Man, was that exhausting.  I had rules up the wazoo and fought to keep them in place.  And the boys fought back.

But eight months ago the blinders dropped to my feet and I found that I had forgotten to preach what I practiced.  The solution was so simple.

Let them be.

Which is exactly how I prefer to be treated.  I don’t want anyone telling me what to do or telling me what path to choose, so why should I do that to my boys?  Sure, my body may be older, but my children’s souls are just as experienced as mine.   These boys aren’t mine in the possession sense.  From a spiritual point of view, I don’t have the right to put borders around their spirits and make them the exact image that society or even I believe to be true.   I’m here to guide them, not mold them.  They know who they need to be.  Besides, what a waste of time when quite possibly after 18 years, they’re going to do and be what they want anyway.  I know I did.

It is my belief that we come into this existence knowing what our life path is.  The road map has already been printed up, although our free will sometimes overrides that map and takes us on some wild side trips.   When we truly deviate off that path,though, it doesn’t go unnoticed.  Don’t we feel the discord when we want to go one direction and someone tries to convince us otherwise? Especially if the only source of righteousness is in their own mind?  Or what about compromising on something we truly believe in?

My mother pushed me to go to college because it was what I “should” do, yet all I did was spin my wheels, lost a lot of brain cells, and ran up a student loan that never should have been.  Besides, halfway through the first year I realized I still didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up.  This is one area I won’t push my boys on.  No amount of lecturing is going to make this the right choice for them.  True motivation must come from them.  Otherwise it becomes my job to keep them going, a burden that will have us both resentful.

In the months past, I’ve gotten a clearer view of who my boys really are.  Without the shoulds masking their true source, I’ve been able to appreciate their way of thinking.  I’m beginning to understand what makes them tick and why they don’t fit into the boxes I’ve been trying to put them in.

Sex, drinking, drugs, school, safety, curfew – those are issues I will never compromise on.  Honestly, though, I have no control over their ultimate decisions on those topics, but I’ve made damn sure they know what the consequences are if they deviate from my “recommendations.”  So, armed with that information, it’s their decision as to what outcome they desire.

Some may think this is the wrong approach or the lazy way to parent, but it is actually very difficult at times.  To stand back and watch their actions put in motion a set of reactions (whether they be mine or someone else’s) makes me want to peek out from behind splayed fingers.  It’s nothing short of a challenge to stay back and let them do damage control.  On the flip side, when they are really thinking it out and the outcome is in their favor?  It’s awesome.

It felt good to finally release the ties, because forcing the boys to do what they clearly do not want to do didn’t resonate with what I was all about – freedom of choice and independence. I’ve let my boys make choices of when to go to sleep (though the connection between late nights and being tired the next day still hasn’t sunk in), meals, what school classes to take, and friends.  As long as safety isn’t an issue and they’re not hurting others, I’m good.

Which might explain why they gravitate to me and not to the “other.”  That “coolness” factor I seem to have with the boys and their friends is, I believe, actually the elation they experience when they connect with who they are.

Think about the people we tend to gravitate toward – those who speak to and understand our souls.  Not those who contradict or repress our fires, but those who stoke it, feed it, and encourage it to rise.

My boys’ path is their own.  I’ll be there to dust off their knees, put a band-aid on a broken heart, give them advice on hangover cures, and I’ll give them room to fly, because they’ll need it to get over the Grand Canyon-size crevasse of thought that yawns between “the other half” and me.

Okay, I Give Up

The life I give my boys is an outside-of-the-box kind of normal.  Our house is lovingly referred to as “The Pit Stop” as we are rarely there and when we are, it’s to sleep and grab a shower and perhaps a few Z’s before we head out the door again.  My erratic work and writing hours revolve around the boys’ equally erratic hours, shaped by their activities and sports.  And the time that we actually spend at home, we spend together, yet apart.  We have vastly different interests and temperments – I’m a hummingbird on speed, my oldest a little faster than a snail, and my youngest, somewhere in between.

I love reading, writing, exercising, yardwork…my boys don’t.

They adore Skyrim and Zelda…I don’t.

My oldest enjoys making decadent desserts.  My youngest enjoys eating decadent desserts…I don’t, on either count.

My oldest and I love watching movies…my youngest doesn’t.

My youngest and I love hiking…my oldest doesn’t.

That being said, I’ve tried to reverse things a bit and make it “normal,” but failed miserably every time, ignoring the fact that when I’d tried to do what other mothers and fathers did with their family lives, it felt wrong for me, felt wrong for us.

I’ve pushed the boys on eating habits, on school, teen-tude behavior, and all I got was a big shove back.  Not fun for either party involved.

Although rules and regulations are set in place, I gave up on trying to “be normal.”  And it was freeing, because I didn’t have to pretend anymore.  But skipping not too far behind that freedom was its annoying friend – guilt.  I thought I had it all figured out when I wrote the Girl Power post, but I still found myself looking at all of my friends, wondering if I was off base.  Shouldn’t I be playing board games or something?

I realized that trying to do what is “right”, for me anyway, is a lot like being a kite.  Flying freely, yet anchored by the shoulds of the string, I’d feel “normal” and “accepted.”

But when the kite string is released, the more visible my free falling or “different” behavior is. While it’s kind of cool to do the rebel yell thing, there is a moment of ahh…damn…should I really be doing this?

I’ve come to the conclusion certain things aren’t going to happen – it just doesn’t work for us, no matter how hard I try.   So one day after sweeping up the pieces of my latest attempts, I sat the boys down and said, “Listen.  There is no ‘normal’ here.  Our routine is just what happens as the day unfolds.  We may not bond over playing catch, but we can bond while we do the Warrior Dash.  I may not bake at Christmas time, but I’ll share a box of Oreo cookies with you.  I’ll even be there for you if you want a tattoo.  You know how completely unorthodox I am…”

My oldest had stopped me and said, “We know, Mom.  We like you that way.”

*Happy dance*  They know I love them, and that is the glue that keeps us together.  But then again, it could have been the Double Stuff Oreo cookies…

I Am Now, Truly, An Orphan

Source: nightmaresaboutyou.tumblr.com

Since Sunday night at 5:20 p.m. to be exact.  For about 36 hours now.

Though I had felt as if I had no parents for many, many years, this made it a hard core reality.  I had shunned both of my parents long ago, never wanting to have anything to do with them (damn, I was so proud of myself, being so independent and all).  My mother had died 17 years ago, but there was still another half of the parenting duo alive, and despite the fact that we were  separated by hundreds of  miles, my father was always there for me to ignore.

What a hollow victory this turned out to be.

A week ago my aunt Mary called from the hospice center where they had taken my father.  Apparently what the doctors diagnosed five weeks ago as a urinary tract infection, turned out to be a stroke, and his condition had deteriorated since.  It’s been a bit on the stressful side, due to my oldest brother’s immoral and illegal conduct – I’m setting that one aside for another blog…or a novel…**counting on fingers how many times he has tried to screw the family**…No.  Definitely a novel.

I apologize, I digress.

So, last week my aunt called me from the hospice center to let me know my father was unresponsive.  She offered to hold the phone up to his ear so I could say something to him. I hesitated, because I really had nothing to say.  I had made my peace on my own, so what was left?  But my brother was on his way out to Arizona from California, and once he got there, I knew I wouldn’t have another chance.  I didn’t know what I could say.  All I knew was that I didn’t want to have any regrets.

Death is a process, a very personal journey, and I wanted to respect that.  So instead of taking the stance of daughter-to-father and get in his face, I decided to go toe-to-toe, soul-to-soul.  I could see no other way.

Later my aunt would tell me that when I first spoke to him, with her cell phone to his ear, his labored breathing had slowed, as if to hear me better, and as I spoke, his eyes moved behind his lids.  He had heard me.

I opened my heart up as wide as I could and tried to see the playing field for what it was.  Completely off kilter.  I was strong, healthy, with at least another 50 years with which to make good with myself.  His body was shutting down.  His life was coming to an end.  Another soul, another incarnation, just waiting…waiting for whatever moment souls wait for before they let go.

I couldn’t even begin to question his life’s plan, because I don’t really even know my own.  All I knew was that moment was not the time to speculate.  That would be his job…once he had passed.  Neither was it a time to judge, condemn, or hold a grudge.  That never did any good anyway – in life or death.

So I said what I needed to say and told him good-bye, feeling as if there was so much more to say, regretting that I didn’t say more.  But it didn’t matter.   My brother had arrived at the hospice center, threw a hissy fit as only my 50-year-old brother can, and my aunt, my only connection to my father, left the hospice center for the last time.

A week had passed since then and each day my father did what he had to do to complete his life.  I wish I knew what went on inside his head – so different, I’m sure, from what went on in mine.

To everyone who might ask, “Are you okay?”  My answer is:  I think I am.  I feel a touch of sadness, perhaps for what never was and never could be – at least with any sort of normalcy.  I feel cheated, like…This is it?  Is that all I get?  Born into a dysfunctional family, growing up in an abusive environment, separation, and then death?  What the hell was that all about?

I’d released the hold he had on me, but his passing truly severed it.   Now there is no going back.   There is only moving forward.

You may be wondering what I said to him and, as always, my friends, I invite you into my head.

“Whether this was a part of the plan we agreed upon in Soul Place, or you just made really poor choices and went way off course, we both ended up in a place I wish we hadn’t.  I’m sad for the years that could have been, happy for the years that weren’t.

I love your soul, but not your heart, because it never was with me.  I trust you will find your lessons learned and the time here well spent.  For now, Godspeed. I wish you well.

Say hi to Mom for me.  I’ve tried, but with all the voices in my head, I can’t hear her say anything back.

I don’t know what else to say, so I guess I’ll say good-bye for now.  

I’ll catch you on the flip side, Dad.  I’ll catch you on the flip side.”

My dad