Sunday, July 27, 2008

In Remembrance, There is Life

*Tuesday, July 29- Rocking and Rolling here in sunny CA, as I am sure you have already heard!  Yes, we felt it, and yes, we are fine.  I haven't felt one that large since Northridge which was quite a while ago.  We take earthquakes fairly casually here in So Cal, which is not really a good thing, but they are something we have come to expect.  From all of the news coverage, you would think that we are about to fall into the ocean.  Nope, everyone went back to their daily lives about 37 seconds after the earthquake happened.  Thanks for stopping by!

Angel Daughter Number One has been extremely busy shooting a freelance movie this summer.  Yesterday was her first day off in a long time and she was exhausted.  There is something about the faces of my sleeping children that make me want to hold onto each peace-filled breath.  AD1 did not catch me until I snapped several lovely photos of her, napping in my bed.   I hope she won't mind my sharing this picture, but something about it makes me feel as if all is right with the world.
There is nothing in the world that I love more than watching my Angels enjoy one anothers company.  When they are happy(especially with each other:)), my soul sighs...
Angel Daughter Number Two decided to take AD1's lead by taking a nap in my bed today.  Lucky for me, AD1 didn't get the opportunity to warn AD2 about my paparazzi nap-seeking obsession!
This was her reaction when she heard the familiar click of the shutter.  She is a photographer, and so it didn't take her quite as long to realize that she was being photographed in her sleep.
Mark and I took the girls(all but AD1 who was back on set) to a local art festival in town.  I handed my camera over to AD2 so that she could take some interesting pictures for me.  I have a natural curiosity and fascination with most philosophies and religions.  I am drawn to certain theological icons.  Before I became ill, I volunteered as a Spiritual Care Counselor at our local hospital.  After doing so for three years, I even considered going back to school to receive my masters in Theology.  Unfortunately, that dream had to be placed on hold because of my chronic illness.  I haven't given up on the dream, though, and maybe, if it is something that should be, it will be someday. 
I shot this photo on the way out of the festival.  It was taken looking directly up towards the sky.  This amazing tree had so many twisting and interwoven branches that it reminded me of how intricate all life can be.  Adaptability is a gift which is given to us, but often taken for granted.
Another shot taken by AD2.  I like the way that she can look at something that most of us would dismiss, and see the inherent beauty which exists.
AD 2 took this picture for me as one of our beach neighbors has a garden full of these cute, little mushrooms.  I love all of the colors and textures.  We all need a bit of whimsy is our lives. 

And so, I am ending this day remembering how important it is to live while we still have the chance.  It was a day of laughter and tears.  A day of fresh air, sunshine, and ocean breezes.  A day of love and sadness and lots of remembrance.  It was a day that my brother, Robert, definitely made sure to remind us all that he is still with us and that he wants us to know that:

In remembrance, there is life.

There is a Jewish expression which is used to toast one another during a happy event.  L'chiam-To Life.

My prayer for you, as I put my own head on the pillow tonight is this: L'chiam, my friends. To life!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

July 27, 2008

I orchestrated what I might have the courage to write in this post, at least fifty times today.  I tried and tried to come up with the perfect words that might surmise the multitude of emotions which have been swirling tenaciously around my mind and circling my family's psyches throughout the day.  I wanted my words to reflect exactly what we all might feel, as another "first" approached reminding us each about where the oozing raw spots still lay open...unprotected by the small amounts of healing which have taken place over the past five short months since my beloved brother, Robert's, death.  I wanted this to be possible and right and healing.   And then my eighteen year old daughter called me crying because she misses her Uncle Robbie.  She was not with us, and it hit her suddenly and damn hard.  

Today would have been Robert's forty-second birthday.  He should have been forty-two.  He should have been allowed to turn forty-two.  We should be celebrating our July birthdays together, as we always had.  He should still be but who am I to question?

In order to keep myself from being sucked out into the cold murky waters of the undertow, and to save my family from some written word which might cause them tears which they might not fall into without my help, I am going to abstain from saying very much right now.  My husband and our Angels read my blog, and what I write sometimes elicits certain responses in them which might be hard for me to justify, today.  In other words, I want to be very gentle.   
So, we will spend the day by ear.  Doing what feels right and skipping the things that don't.  And with a little bit of hope, we will be able to gaze up to the sky at the end of the day, and know that we did not spend the day without my little brother.  Instead of being pulled out to sea in an uncontrollable roll of the waves, I would like to look back on this day with the ethereal feeling of flight and hope.  The hope that Robert knows how much we love him.  The hope that my nieces will be okay.  The hope that we will be allowed to see them once again without retaining an attorney.  The hope that a family which once was, will be allowed to be again.  The hope that my dear sweet Angel Nieces will once again, have the opportunity to get to know their Daddy through the closest person to their Daddy with a shared history.  Me, their Auntie Deb.  Keeper of a treasure trove of gifts which will be passed along lovingly and with the funny sense of humor that I shared with my only sibling.  I make this promise on the day of my brother's birthday.  I will be here for as long as it takes and for as difficult as the battle may become in order to be an intricate and supportive Aunt for my brother's daughters.  

I never quit the people whom I love.  Never, ever...

Remembering your birthday, Rob, and promising you once again that Mark and I and our girls will do everything within our power to help your girls grow up around people who truly care about their well-being.  

I love you, little brother.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Celebrate the Only You Who Will Ever be You

There is an indisputable fact about human beings.  We are all unique.  Each one of us is as individual as our thumbprints, as varied as the crystalized pattern of a fallen snowflake.   No two of us are exactly alike.  There never has been, nor will there ever be, another you.
I see this illustrated on a daily basis, amongst my four angel daughters.  All of them were born as a result of the exact same mingling of DNA.  They are the only four people on this planet who were created as a result of my husband's and my love for one another.(And like I sometimes like to tell them, they are the only four people who have ever lived inside of my body!)  Yet, each one of them is so varied.  So extraordinary.  So unique.

I noticed this today as I was going through some photos that I took yesterday of my two youngest angels.  They are undeniably sisters, yet they are also quite different from one another.  While my youngest angel is dark haired and green-eyed, my third angel is fair haired and blue-eyed.  AD4 is boisterous and often outwardly silly, but AD3 who can also be very silly, is more reserved and introspective.  Each one has her own personal style, which is quite contrary to what some people believed would happen as a result of my dressing all four of them alike until my oldest was eleven years old.  All four of them carry the unique distinction of being mine and Mark's daughters, yet once you know them, you will quickly notice the differences which are a result of being one of a kind.
As I sat here thinking about this for a while, my heart began to swell with the satisfaction of knowing that this uniqueness which we each behold is no accident.  Regardless of familial bond, regardless of how many siblings or relatives each one of us has, we were all sent here to share our very distinct gifts with one another.  What you have to offer the world is transcendent and unequaled by what anybody else has to offer.  Your gifts can never be exactly matched in anyone else.  And although we may share a common kinship with one another, no two of us will ever be exactly the same.

What I am saying is that you are extraordinary

Friday, July 18, 2008

As Another Year Begins

I was humbled and tickled by all of the lovely birthday wishes that I received from you, my family, my friends and my wonderful blogging buddies.  This photo was taken at my birthday dinner.  Our adorable waiter, Emerlito, decided that he needed to be in the picture with me to memorialize the moment.  Mark and our Angels took me out to one of our favorite fondue restaurants.  That steaming pot in the middle of the table is melted chocolate.  What more could anyone require for a happy, happy birthday? 

Another year has passed for me, as another one now begins and I am choosing to begin this year just as I did the last one and the one before that.  With a heart filled with hope.  

I would like to share my favorite quote with you, as it is something that has buoyed my spirit from sinking too low at times when I needed something to grab hold of.

Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without words, and never stops at all.

-Emily Dickinson

I could not have said it any better myself.

I appreciate everyone who stops by my site.  Each one of you brightens my days in ways which I cannot describe.  Thank you.

With love,

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Viewing Life From a Different Distance

Watching fireworks from a distance provides the observer with bursts of brilliant color, beautiful shapes and perfectly choreographed fire dances.  A show put on by individuals who have spent a lot of time studying Pyrotechnics. Everything appears to be perfectly orchestrated and seems to go off without any glitches.  A vision of near perfection when observed from the proper distance.

Move in a bit closer and the dance takes on a whole different look.  Random explosions that seem to occur without any rhyme or reason.  Black and green smoke fill the skies and float upon the surface of the water creating a confusing scene.  The dark skies light up, yet the explosions seem to be just that...Explosions.  Sudden and not easily observable while watching from a distance. Haphazard and chaotic, yet still strangely beautiful.

This was my experience with fireworks, this year.  We were able to observe one show at a distance and it was perfect and lovely.  Something that has become fairly familiar after spending forty-six summers of my life observing Fourth of July displays.  However, less than a fourth of a mile from my front yard on the ocean, a very different scene took place.  Fire seemed to settle on the water as ringlets of smoke cascaded down from the heavens.  The "oooh's and ahh's" which usually rise from the crowds of observers were replaced with an almost eery quiet.  A different kind of awe was taking place.  The awe of viewing the same exact scene from a very different perspective.

Life is like that.  Perception can be variant depending upon where something is being viewed from.  From one perspective, things may seem to be easy and charmed, yet when looked at from another viewpoint, the ordinary is suddenly extraordinary.  The things we expect are replaced with things we have never seen.  We are suddenly struck with the realization that there is never really only one way in which to view our lives.  There are many, many ways, once we open ourselves up to different distances...Different perspectives.

This year has been a lot like that for me.  In many ways, I feel as if I have been observing my life from a different distance.  Sometimes, chaotic and uglier than anything I have ever experienced before.  Sometimes, just as I had expected.  And sometimes, strangely beautiful from distances I never imagined standing at.

May we all remain mindful of the many, many different perspectives from which our lives can be viewed.  May we keep our spirits open to looking at life from where ever we might end up at any given moment.  May we remain open to the views from a different distance for in some ways, those are the places from which we can learn the most.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

I Strive to Someday be as Good as my Dog Believes I am

For no particular reason, I decided it was time to share these four-legged angels with you.  I can do that since it is the eve of my 46th year on this earth.  I like to grant myself special permission to do frivolous things on my birthday.  It makes me happy.  And what else is there, if we can't make ourselves happy once in a while.  The handsome, burly gentleman above is Duke.  He lives next door to our beach house.  He loves to escape the confines of his yard to come over and say hello to our dog, Becca.  I'm pretty sure they have a secret crush on each other.
This little lady is my sister, Lulu.  She is a Wire-Haired Dauchsund who belongs to my Dad and my Step-Mother.  I know for a fact that she is the favorite daughter.  Hmmph...Daddy's little girl!
The Newest addition to our family is my baby brother, Rambo.  A crazy shitzu who also belongs to my Dad.  The reason his name is Rambo is because he runs around the room ramming his ten pound body into anything or anyone he pleases.  Sure, he looks innocent enough here...
And last, but never least, is my sweet girl, Becca.  She is some sort of mix which may or may not include Dalmation and Lab.  Whatever she happens to be, she is almost always the heartbeat which lays at my feet.  
As my angel daughters grow up, Becca and I become more and more attached to one another. We understand each other.  I understand that she wants a bite of everything I eat and she understands that she must kiss me when I am feeling sad.  It's a very symbiotic relationship.

May you give yourself permission to indulge in something entirely frivolous.  I bet it will make you smile, and you look so lovely with a smile on your face!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Life in Pictures-Part Three: The Afterglow

After Angel Daughter Number Two's graduation, we went out to dinner.  The day turned out a little differently than we had planned because of my Dad's illness.  It would have been unsafe and unwise for him to drive two and a half hours each way to attend AD 2's graduation, and so, because God granted me a very empathetic and compassionate spirit, I decided to extend an invitation to my Mother's side of the family.(Let's just say they caused me unnecessary pain and grief for months after my brother's death.  Easy target, I suppose.)  The proverbial olive branch needed to be extended and was received with great enthusiasm by everyone except for my beloved brother's wife.  She has dug her way into so many sick and delusional lies that she must now hold strong to them in order to save face.  Not a good way to live life, especially while trying to raise two young daughters without the benefit of their father.  My brother, God rest his soul, would be absolutely infuriated by her behavior, as is the rest of my family.  Unfortunately, she has convinced everyone that she should be feared.  She holds my two nieces as the ultimate trump card.  I have already lost them and my only brother.  She cannot take anything else away from me.  And so, I am trying in whatever ways I can, to find a way back into my dear niece's lives.  I do not, nor will I ever fear evil.  I will not give up on my two other angels.  They need me as much as I need them.  This post was not supposed to be about the things which have been lost, so I will end this train of thought only to say that life does not always turn out the way that we expected it to.  Sometimes we have to fight for the way that things should be.

Dinner turned out to be a very happy and celebratory event.  It felt really good to be with my step-brother and his wife.  As the girls made their ways home and to other events, we lingered over dessert and talked about future gatherings.  I am very grateful to still have a step-brother even though we were not raised together as children.  We were brought together by my mother and her husband about twenty-five years ago.  We are family.
As with the way that things go with three teenage girls living at home, our doorbell rang at two am.  Everyone was asleep except for Angel Daughter Number Three and her Angel Friends.  When they heard the doorbell ring, they screamed(if you haven't heard teenage girls scream, lately, you are very, very lucky) and came tearing up the stairs.  I met them before they woke my husband and told them to calm down.  Of course they wanted me to investigate, and as soon as I turned on the porch light and looked outside, I was the first to observe the newest addition to our landscaping.  As the four little faces peaked out the door behind me and saw what had happened they all started laughing hysterically.  It was then that they took off up the slope because they spotted the perpetrators.  As I stood by myself in the middle of the street wearing nothing but my PJ's, feeling semi-comatose and bleary-eyed, I decided to run inside to get my camera.  When the angels came back, they told me that they caught several of Angel Daughter Number Four's little guy friends running away.  I snapped a couple of pictures because I was mostly unconscious, and told them to go back to bed.  And NOT to wake AD4, who would have been up for the rest of the night planning her revenge.  Teenagers...and hormones...I will survive, I will survive...
Nice job, huh?
The next day, we headed down to our beach house for a graduation get-together.  Notice the Batman pinata which was the hit of the party!  Of course my husband chose the Batman theme because he just knew that AD2 would love it.  AD1 broke it open with her brute-like strength and the kids went in for the bounty!
Teenagers and sugar.  Twice as sweet:)
Here's AD1 receiving an adorable snuggle from her boyfriend, The Cheesemiester.  I love it when she looks like this.  Total, natural bliss.
Finally, we said good-bye to Grandma Dot.  She is Mark's mom who lives in New Jersey.  We flew her in so that she could celebrate the day with us.  It's nice knowing that we will see her again in a year when AD1 graduates from college.  Her visits are too far and few between!  We miss you, Grandma Dot.

And so as life slows down a bit, and my birthday approaches next week, I will be doing some more reflecting about life, love, and purpose.  

On this Fourth of July, as we celebrate our independence as a nation, I wish for you a sky that is filled with the brilliant colors of fireworks.  May you find your corner of the beach blanket and know, as you gaze up into the sky, that you are not alone in this great, big, crazy world.  Never, ever alone...even when you are.

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