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December 2019

May 2019

The Blank Canvas

This morning I had cats and coffee in the back yard.  Since Henry still thinks fences are for climbing, a great deal of cat herding is usually required,  but the morning is still my favorite time of day.

I walked down the damp brick sidewalk and stepped into the gazebo.  On a pollen covered easel right beside the door is a blank canvas.  I bought this particular canvas in 2012, to create a masterpiece for my nephew and his new wife.  It rested silently against the wall in our spare bedroom for the first year.

In 2013, the cardiomyopathy that our Mom had lived with for almost twenty five years eased her from this life and into the next.  I knew that her cats would be coming back to my house and I had asked Mom if I could have the wicker furniture on her porch when she no longer needed it.  I had some strange notion that it would give the cats the feeling of home but only living under the bed for the first year seemed to comfort them. 

We built the gazebo in the fall of 2013 so that the wicker would be protected and create that safe space for remembering that Opie and Elle....and I needed.   

Gazebo Jules' Dad and Sister visited that fall to "see the leaves change one last time". 

In 2014 I bought an easel and created a work space in the gazebo.  The canvas spent the next year waiting. 

In 2015 Paw Paw returned to Heaven, along with our dear friends Donna and Cathy and the canvas continued to wait. 

In 2016 Johnny's health worsened and he had to face the challenges of cardiomyopathy and several hospital stays.  I would sit in the gazebo and whisper prayers to Heaven.  That year I bought a new set of brushes and paint and bees and the canvas waited.

I'm not sure where the last two years went.  Jules spent a great deal of time building a car.  The house required attention... windows and paint and carpet and decluttering.  I dealt with Lyme and Hashimoto's and a wet crawl space and delighted in new babies.  Johnny and Charlie returned to Heaven and the canvas waited.

I sat for a while, staring at the steam rising toward the sunlight.  Leaf shadows slowly formed on the screens and I listened to the cars passing just beyond the fence.  I took a very long look at that very patient canvas. 

It's been a very busy day and sitting here just now, remembering how much I saw in those few moments just before sunrise, I'm thinking that canvas may not be blank at all but a placeholder in time.  A silent reminder that our memories are always with us, colorful and vibrant and indelible and perhaps that is the way it is meant to be.


May 1, 2019

Every breath is a new beginning.

Every moment comes with the gift of choosing.

Twenty-one years ago I stood in the shower, preparing for the work day, looking forward to the weekend with Shannon and Denise.  The water felt wet, Agree shampoo smelled lovely, sunlight was starting to brighten the bathroom, a normal day...until it wasn't.  It didn't hit me like a lightening bolt.  I didn't feel fear or panic.  I simply knew, KNEW, that that was to be my last shower.  I quietly accepted that Friday, May 1, 1998, was my last day on earth and I had to tell everyone that I loved them.  

Shannon was at Mom's.  Jules was sleeping.  I got dressed and went to work.  An ordinary day.  Until it wasn't.

I don't know where the "knowing" came from.  It didn't really overshadow the day.  I had a long conversation with Shannon at lunchtime and we talked about dinner out and a job interview that she had scheduled for Monday.  She told me that she would be home when I got there.  She told me she loved me.  She never said it first, and the "knowing" hit me for the second time. I quickly told her that I loved her too.  Our last words.  How blessed am I?

Shan and Me

Twenty-one years.  I always "knew", from the first moment I held her, looked into those big blue eyes, that if anything ever happened to her, I could not survive.  I know that I was an overprotective, hovering, drive her crazy kind of helicopter Mom, but she was very forgiving.

The truth is that the person I was on May 1, 1998 did die that day...shattered in a million pieces, lost beyond recognition... but somewhere in that darkness I decided that I could not disappoint Shannon, knowing that she would be watching.  I had to let our love find a way to be stronger than my sorrow.

There are so many things that happened over the next few years .... so many people who touched our lives in ways that made miracles undeniable, so many whispers from my Angel, that kept me from the abyss.  

I want to dedicate this year to remembering them.  I want those lives and those generosities of spirit to fill my thoughts and inspire me to discover what comes sixty-five.

When I got up this morning, I didn't want to write.  I wanted to buy a new bra and take the camera out of hiding.  I didn't want to relive the saddest moment of my life.  But I got a text from one of my dearest friends that she was remembering with me, that she had read my blog, that perhaps I might have something to say after all.  Maybe not, but here I am.

I have lived twenty-one years without my best friend, the love of my life.  I wouldn't have believed it possible.  But this life is a gift that we can not take for granted.  There are lilacs to smell, tiny boys to embrace, baby girls who will one day need to learn about fairies, geriatric cats to feed and a husband who has a Corvette to piece together and I plan to be there when it hits the road.  

What did John Lennon say ... " Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans."  Maybe so, but plans give me a to-do list.  A list with little boxes that I can check off and feel satisfaction in the action.

Today is my day with Shannon.  The sadness that is a part of every breath, hums quietly beneath my thoughts and I am okay.  I have rediscovered a new, subdued joy that also hums...a slightly different song, a slightly louder song and I am so very grateful for both.

 p.s.  If Angels are aware of blogs... I love you sweet girl !