Saturday, September 27, 2008

Remembering Your Wings or Why I Can Relate to a Helium Balloon

I spotted these pink balloons floating heavenward, the other day, and for a moment, my soul froze mesmerized.  It was as if a small part of me somehow remembered what it was like to fly.
So much has changed for me in the past year.  I lost my only brother.  I found out that family can just be a pretty word for strangers who don't know a thing about you, but who pretend that they do.  I also found out that family, when done correctly, can absolutely save your life.  I experienced the true meaning of the word "betrayal" and then, what guilt looks like on people who do intend to cause pain.  It's not a pretty sight.  

But I also learned that death does not separate souls.  It does not mean the ending of love.  It does not cause a relationship to fracture, and in some ways, it strengthens the bond.  In watching those balloons, I felt a momentary separation between my body and my soul.  I remembered what it was like to be free of earthly pain.  I recognized my soul as a very separate part of my being and it reminded me that I could fly.  I remembered my own wings, tethered to their earthly body, yet very much alive and vibrant.  And I believed...I do believe that the strand which tethers my own soul to my body is the very same thread that keeps me connected to those whom I have loved, but who are now flying freely.
When my girls were little, I always told them that a balloon that broke free was a gift for the angels.  A gift for the angels from my Angels.  Because of this belief, they never cried when they lost hold of a helium balloon.  They would stand stoically, necks bent backwards, gazing into the sky, their little hands waving as the balloon drifted higher and higher into the heavens.  They could be strong because they knew that their balloon might be caught by a band of playful angels, or a thoughtful soul looking down, watching over the people that they loved.  They knew that just because they couldn't see their balloon, that it didn't mean that it was now gone forever.  It was just someplace else.  Someplace different.  Someplace they remembered, even if that memory was only somehow felt on a cellular level.

We all have wings.  And although the only flight that we can now experience is with our feet on the ground, it is important to remember what it is like to fly.  And to remember that those who we love, who are no longer attached to this earth, still hold us very close.  As we do them.  And the relationship continues, although it is different.  Because if we try very hard to remember, we will feel the freedom of air moving us skyward like a balloon that has broken free.  And that feeling will be incredible...Absolutely incredible.

May you find a way to feel the gentle movement of the breeze which can bring your sight skyward and try to remember what it is like to fly.  May you take a moment to focus on that strong, invisible thread that connects you, undyingly, to those you love.  Near or far.  May you recognize that the love is just as strong as it ever was.  Flight or no flight.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Breaking Through

If we can still see the light pouring out of the darkness.  If we can look up long enough to see the waterfall of brightness cascading down from the clouds.  If we can capture a moment of clarity on a day in which we are feeling quite dull, then we will unfailingly be able to hold onto hope.  And hope shines much more brightly when we are able to take notice of the contrast.

May you seize the quiet, unexpected moments of hope that show up in your days.  

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Angels Taking Flight

May I proudly present to you, The Theatre Performance Bachelor's of Fine Arts Class of 2009.  This is group of talented, ambitious, spirited, intelligent, beautiful young people who represent the newest round of "adults" that are perched to soar into their futures.  Over the past four years, I have been lucky enough to watch these very special young people display their amazing talents.  They are dedicated, bright shining individuals who choose to express themselves through the craft of acting.  And act they do.  

Last night, as I entered the theater, I stopped to look at the playbill which represented their final year as a class together.  They chose to have a play written for them that would culminate their work, not only as individuals, but as a group.  There was no grandstanding, no hogging of the spotlight, no small parts, no big parts.  There was only a group of individuals celebrating each other's talents.  Allowing one another to shine.  Holding each other's hands until it was time to break free to go on stage.  I have watched these young people grow from their freshman year until now and the results have been nothing short of fantastic.  The play that was written for them called, New Beulah by Dan Moyer, is a bittersweet comedy.  It highlighted a small town which was being forced to move on because of big-city growth.  It was highly reflective of how these young adults must feel about moving past their college days into a world that is unknown and frightening at times.

I walked into the play seeing each of these individuals as who they are and left with tears in my eyes, and the memory of the characters, on my heart.  These kids are that good, each and every one of them.  They have perfected their crafts in a way that makes you believe that who they are pretending to be, is really who they are at that moment.  Remarkable.
Waiting for the play to begin, I watched my own Angels play outside.  I remembered my oldest Angel pretending when she was younger, and I realized that this is how she chose to test her own wings.  By playing.  Yet when she found out that playing was also an art, how incredibly overjoyed she must have felt.  Her soul could express itself through acting.  What a gift!

Waiting for the show to begin, my three youngest Angels support each other's endeavours.  It is good knowing that we are constantly adding on to our families along the way.
And here they are after the play.  My youngest three Angels supporting and loving on our Angel Daughter Number One.(striped shirt)  You were amazing, baby.  Go break another toe as you go on tonight.

To the wonderful Senior B.F.A. Class of 2009- You can all pull at my heartstrings like nobody else I know.  Each one of you embodies the spirit of an actor.  Each one of you performs your art in a way that is unforgettable.  You are all artists and I am lucky to have been able to witness your growth over the past four years.  Fly confidently into your futures.  You have so much to be proud of.

Just like the people in New Beulah, times change, people move on, and so shall we.  Our resolve is we are only just beginning our journey.
-The Senior Class B.F.A. in Theatre Performance Class of 2009

May you always allow your own spirit the time to play.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Calling All Angels

I need a sign to let me know you're here
All of these lines are being crossed over the atmosphere
I need to know that things are gonna look up
'Cause I see us drowning in a sea spilled from a cup

When there is no safe place and no safe place to put my head
When you feel the world shake from the words that are said

And I'm calling all angels
I'm calling all you angels

-Angels Baseball theme song by Train
The Four Angels Momma baseball team happens to be The Anaheim Angels.  If you have ever seen the 1994 movie, Angels in the Outfield, then you are already familiar with a wonderful story of hope and faith.  I like that our local team was the inspiration for such a wonderful movie.  I love that our team is called The Angels!(Even though Mark is also a huge Mets fan and that AD1 used to sleep with a stuffed pillow we called Mr. Met.)  Mark has taken our Angels to a countless number of games.  Angel Daughter Number Two is in the process of auditioning for a position in which she would represent the team with her incredible spirit.  Although I don't attend as many games with my family as I would like to be able to, I do enjoy the spirit and the camaraderie that having a "family" team initiates.  I love listening to Mark and the girls talk about the team and who their favorite players are.  I love the bonding that naturally occurs as they cheer for their team.  My husband is, and always has been, an absolute jock, so it is nice knowing that he has daughters who understand that love.

Several months ago, Mark and I attended a fundraiser for our synagogue.  As part of the live auction, someone donated their box for an Angel's game.  Knowing how much Mark and our Angels love going to the games, my paddle(the one that is raised to bid on something) somehow got very involved in the bidding.  By the end of the auction, we were the proud owners of twelve tickets in a private box.  It was an absolute win-win situation!  We were able to support our temple, while also supporting our home team!  I love it when that happens.  
Here I am, standing in the very best spot in the whole world.(which could be anywhere, as far as I'm concerned!)  Surrounded by my Angels.  As they get older and become more involved in their own lives, these moments sometimes become too few and far between.  When I am with my family, everything feels right with the world.
Their love for one another becomes more and more apparent, the older they become.  Watching them together, as a group, reminds me that Mark and I have done what we came here to do.  We have created a loving family and although life is not without some very rough spots, we can get through it if we stick together.
One of my freshman angels!  I have two right now, as AD2 is a college freshman and AD4 is a High School freshman.  I miss my college girls so much when they are at school.
In the back row, a couple of AD3's Angel friends sit next to her.  Next to AD3 is "T", AD1's sweet Angel roommate(our daughter, when she is away from her parents who live in Oregon),and AD 1 and her lovely boyfriend, The Cheesmiester.

In the front row is AD2's adorable, funny roommate, AD2 and then AD4's beautiful Angel friend and AD4.  I love that AD2's roommate felt comfortable enough with us to ham it up in front of the camera!  She fits right in with our silly family.

You can see my love sitting up there in the background, focusing on the game.
I drive them a bit crazy with the camera, but they have learned that if they just grin and bear it(Get it?  Grin and bear it...tee-hee.), then I will go away faster.
AD1 and The Cheesemeister.  They are too cute.(We missed you, Joshua.)
AD4 and her Angel friend.

AD3 displaying her team spirit!
And what made the night even better was that the Angels rallied and beat the Rangers 7-5!  It was an awesome game.
Did I mention how much I love my Angels and their wonderful Angel friends?  It makes me happy to see them so happy.(T, things will get easier, I promise, dear one.  Please be gentle with yourself.)

May you find moments to enjoy and fully enjoy the moments when you find them.  May your own angels surround you.  May you feel their embrace.  May you listen to their whispers whether they come from an earthly angel or on the barely noticed feathery wisps of a passing breeze.

Monday, September 8, 2008

My Angel Girls and A Request to Pay it Forward(For Honeydo)

Even when things cannot always be the way we wish for them to be, they can somehow be enough for right now.  Knowing that my Angel Daughters and my Angel Nieces have each other in their lives, once again, is enough for me right now.  I can breathe a bit more deeply knowing that, for this moment, my girls and my brother's girls have each other.  Mark and I have our nieces.  Here are my Angels as they should be.
This little one is quite a spitfire.  Her single goal in life seems to be to make everyone laugh.   Her skin is like porcelain and somehow, even at the age of five, her hair still holds onto that baby smell which is so irresistible.  Angel Daughter Number Three could not stop hugging her.
My youngest, and my brother's oldest sat together chatting throughout our dinner.  They are the closest in age, as far as the cousins go, and they really enjoy each other's company.
In this little girl, I feel so much of my brother's spirit.  She is wise beyond her nine years.  Once I got my arms around her, I did not want to let her go.  She loved her Daddy so much.  He wasn't only her Father, he was also her best friend.  He once told me that no matter how silly or ridiculous his jokes were(and there were some pretty lame ones), he could always count on a belly laugh from her.  I pray that somehow, her laughter will continue.

And now a word about "paying it forward".  In my previous post, Out of the Mouths of Babes or How to Make Amends, I received a painfully honest comment and request from someone who identified themselves as "Honeydo".  This individual commented once before on one of my posts called, I See Charlotte, under the name of "anonymous".   I would be grateful if you would go back to the comment section of these posts to read what this individual wrote and then leave any advice or opinions that you might be willing to offer here in the comment section.  I have the most wonderful readers and blogging friends who have supported me in ways that I cannot even begin to express.  If we could do the same for Honeydo, I think it would be something that this kind, gentle soul would truly appreciate.  Sometimes being brave is the first step towards healing.  I think it took some courage for Honeydo to ask for the help of complete strangers.  If you have a moment, please lend your words of insight, wisdom and support.(Thanks Blue for the heads-up!  I corrected the link.)

May you always find a place that feels safe when you need a place to turn.  May you find comfort and inspiration in the words of others.  May you be gently guided into making the best decisions for yourself.  Your life is ultimately your own... And you are worth it.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Out of the Mouths of Babes or How to Make Amends

I snapped this photo of my husband and our Angel Daughter Number Four, last weekend at the beach.  I did so with a telephoto lens, because to intrude on the moment in any other way seemed, well, invasive.  When done correctly, there is something very special and personal about the relationship between a father and a daughter which can never be duplicated.  It is solid and natural and strong.

Tonight will be the first time that I have been allowed to see my nieces since the day my brother died six months ago.  They are so little.  Only five and nine years old.  They are fatherless.  I am brotherless.  Yet, when I spoke to my nine year old angel for over an hour, the other day, I felt such an undying connection between her heart and mine.  We talked a lot about her dad, my brother, because she wanted to.  We laughed, I made her promises which I will forever keep.  My family, me, my angels and Mark, will now be the conduit between these young daughters and their dad.  The only direct remaining bloodline between one generation and the next.  Angel Niece said to me in a very serious, beyond the maturity of a nine year old voice:

"You know Auntie Deb, I was the one who wanted my mother to make amens with you.  I told her that I couldn't take it anymore!  I want to see my Auntie Deb, I want to see my cousins, and I want to see my Uncle Mark!!!  I miss them!"  

I was absolutely dumbfounded by her resolute honesty.  After a moment, I quietly asked her what her mother said when she told her that.  And Angel Niece told me that her mom said she thought that was a good idea.

Nothing is ever exactly as it should be.  We lose people we love.  We move forward in spite of the gnawing pain.  We look for other ways, other people to help fill the void.  We spend time being grateful for what is, after the fall.  We move ahead.

May you find a way to fill the voids that rest heavy on your own heart and soul.  May you be comforted by the relationships that still are.  And may you take the advice of a nine year old girl and make amens while you still can, even if that only means doing so in your own heart.


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Can I Get a Hallelujah?

My youngest angel came home from school today and told me the story of a young girl whose father taught her to "never quit" in the face of adversity.  He was crippled by an illness, but even through his pain and his ravaged body, he was still able to instill a very strong message of hope into the hearts of those he loved.  His daughter later went on to become an Olympic athlete.  I have to wonder whether she would have become the person that she was if her father had viewed things differently.  What if he decided to quit when he became ill?  What if he allowed the negativity of his illness to leak over into other aspects of his life?  What if he espoused constant despair instead of hope?  Where would that have left the people around him?

Yesterday, I received two phone messages from my brother's wife.  In the first one, she said that she wanted to make amends and move forward so that we could start supporting each other.  In the second one, she put my angel niece on the phone.  My fifth angel.  My little, nine year old girl.  Angel Niece said that she wanted to talk to me and that she wanted to see if we could get together soon.  And the breath that I have been holding for over six months finally released into a flood of happy tears.  

Do I fully trust that this is the end of the road for this battle that should never have begun to begin with?  I don't know, but it is all that I have wanted and all that I have fought for since the day that my brother died.  I made a promise to my brother after his death.  I stood there and I whispered into his ear that I would always be there for his girls.  I vowed that I would help to raise his children in whatever ways that I could.  I promised, never even considering the attack which would ensue in the days following his passing.  I promised, never even realizing that my promise would be tested immediately.  I promised...

And I never gave up.  I never quit.  I did this not only for the promise I made to my brother, but also because of the effect that it would have had on my own angel daughters if I had given up.  To teach loyalty, one must be loyal.  To teach tenacity, one must also be tenacious.  To teach hope, one must never quit.

Thank you so much for your constant support, compassion, and understanding.  My blogging friends have been such an incredible source of comfort and wisdom during a time that was such a difficult test to my spirit.  You have lifted my wings up off of the ground at times when I did not think they could even begin to flutter.  I am grateful beyond words.  So now I am asking you for one more thing as I pray that everything will turn out well.  Can I get a Hallelujah?  

Monday, September 1, 2008

Happy Labor Day

Hunting for sea glass, yesterday, I took some time to look around and take in the wonderful beach scenes that were happening all around me.  This brave very, very, VERY pregnant woman caught my eye.  I found her mesmerizing as she waded ankle-deep in the warm ocean water and thought about her baby doing the very same thing inside of her body.  I remembered back to my "labor"days, as I worked with all of my might, to bring my Angels into the world.  One by one, I carried them safely tucked inside of my womb, dreaming about who and what they each would be.  And one by one, they exceeded my expectations, as they continue to do to this day.
There was something about watching this woman and her little girl that made me feel nostalgic about the past.  Something that made it difficult for me to turn my eyes away.  As women, we go through so many transitions in our lives.  We are expected to create and let go, as if there is nothing to it.  Even those of us who do not have children experience these transitions as a part of our own evolution.  We create art, we create work, we create things with our hands that are made with love, and then, if we are to share these things with the world, we let them go.  Hoping, praying that what we have set forth, will be loved and appreciated by others.  It is the song of a woman's heart...To labor and then set forth.  The rhythm carries almost the same pattern as the ocean's waves.
I spotted these three young boys adventuring through the run-off tunnel which funnels into the ocean.  Three young men with nothing to do but test their own limits.  Camaraderie in action.  I thought about the lessons that they were learning by testing their own courage.  Just by watching them, I sensed that the young boy in the center would someday grow into a supportive, loyal young man.  I thought of our young people at war in other countries on this Labor Day.  Alone, but together.  Leaning on each other's shoulders to hold each other up.  Leaning on each other's shoulders to keep from falling.
And then I looked over and spotted my past, present and future.  The little boy who once led his friends through the forests by his house.  The man who is a supportive loving, husband and father.  The little Angel that I labored to bring into this world, and that I still continue to labor over in raising.  And I knew.  I knew that no matter how difficult life seems to get sometimes, I can always look towards them to bring me hope.  To remind me of what life is worth living for.  To remind me of what is worth fighting for.  For they are the shoulders that I lean on when I feel like I am falling down.

May you move gently, yet purposefully through the transitions of your life.  May the release be eased by the knowledge that you did the very best you could do in preparation.  May the shoulders of those you love feel safe and strong.  May your shoulders always be strong enough to bear the weight of those who need you.
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