roam with the angels, marine

In September, I wrote a post about my growing up friend Tiger, who was battling horrible cancer. This morning at 6:15 AM, Tiger went home to God.

His beloved wife Sarah was at his side.

One of his brothers contacted me, who is another kind of forever friend at this point. I owe my two friends whom I was with at the an apology, because I completely lost my composure (in a face mask no less) when I got the news. I knew the end was coming, but I don’t think you’re ever completely prepared for it nevertheless.

Tiger was also a friend to my husband growing up. They were in the same class in high school at Shipley. I was the year ahead of them. Tiger and I had been friends since I think I was about 14. I actually was friends with him a couple of years before my husband got to be friends with him.

2020 is just one of those years where I am ready for the next year. It has been a very difficult year for so many reasons for millions of people. This is just another glaring example of dear Lord, what a year.

And I don’t know about any of the rest of you but this is the year where I’ve been having weird dreams. Dreams of people who are no longer with us like my father, or people I am no longer connected to for no more of a reason then life took everyone in different directions.

I don’t know what all this means, and the dreams haven’t been bad it’s just been kind of pleasant. And I’m wondering if dreams can be a little more pleasant when the reality of the world we are living in is that it’s a little harsh right now.

And I know people are going to think I sound like a bit of a nutter, but my friend Tiger who died early this morning was in one of my dreams last night in the wee hours of the morning.

The dream was not anything weird or anything bad or sad, he was just wherever I was outside in someone’s garden and came up to say hello. I woke up shortly before 7 AM remembering that part of my dream because it was nice, and also because Tiger was probably even more of a rabid gardener than I am.

After I heard the news he passed away, which wasn’t until about lunchtime today, I’m still wondering if there was a reason I had that dream last night? This is where my Irish DNA kicks in and I feel a little fey, but I’ve had these experiences before over the course of my life.

When I found out the news I was with friends and for that I am really grateful. When it’s somebody who’s your own age who had meaning in your life it’s just so damn hard and it doesn’t matter how young or how old you are, it’s just hard.

This is just yet another reminder, a very somber reminder, of the value of life itself. Sometimes we take things for granted. And if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we can’t take life for granted.

I know Thanksgiving is going to look very different for people this year. But don’t be sad if it’s just a smaller group of family, be grateful that you can spend any of it together or even together virtually over a zoom call.

Life will go on, but I wanted to pause and take a moment to write about this. Tiger was a United States Marine for many years of his life, so that is why I chose that title for the post. It was very important to him.

Thanks for stopping by. Live your lives gratefully and always appreciate the magic in ordinary days.

a wish and a prayer

What a grey, miserable, damp, dark day. In a year where many of us have too much time alone with our own thoughts, today’s atmosphere makes it a day to hibernate and ponder, doesn’t it?

Spotify has this time capsule playlist. Listening to it has made me reflective and a little pensive. Right now Simply Red “Holding back The Years” is playing.

Lyrics
 Holding back the years
 Thinking of the fear I've had so long
 When somebody hears
 Listen to the fear that's gone
 Strangled by the wishes of pater
 Hoping for the arms of mater
 Get to me the sooner or later
 Holding back the tears
 Chance for me to escape from all I know
 Holding back the tears
 'Cause nothing here has grown
 I've wasted all my tears
 Wasted all those years
 Nothing had the chance to be good
 Nothing ever could, yeah
 I'll keep holding on
 I'll keep holding on
 I'll keep holding on
 I'll keep holding on, so tight
 Well I've wasted all my tears
 Wasted all of those years
 And nothing had the chance to be good
 'Cause nothing ever could
 I'll keep holding on
 I'll keep holding on
 I'll keep holding on
 I'll keep holding on
 Holding
 Holding
 Holding
 Holding
 I said
 It's all I have today
 It's all I have to say

Those lyrics are still profound, maybe moreso. It makes me think of the friends I have lost. Bright lights, but they burned too fast. One overdosing thanks to addictions they would not admit to, another to I think that their body just giving out after years of substance abuse even though they cleaned up their act for decades. One although still technically alive, had her life end when she wrapped herself around a tree one night…very intoxicated. There was even one who “fell” off their apartment balcony in NYC. There are sadly more, but these are the ones who come to mind.

Now the one in the massive drunk driving incident? She is still alive as far as I know but the traumatic brain injuries at the time essentially made her a child once again, with a child’s memories. So essentially, after the accident she didn’t know who I was, it was like she was a kid again and her memories just didn’t exist after a point. And her parents quite frankly did not make it easy for you to visit and she was also a paraplegic in a wheelchair, so I was young and eventually just stopped going. I still think of her often. She was such a good person and so bright. But one night, someone gave her the keys to her car back after they had been taken away. She would have been an awesome mom, I think, and we will also never know what trajectories her career would have skyrocketed to.

Damned if I know why I still think of all of these people, but I do. I think because I don’t think they would have had a easy time living through 2020. I mean, look at the rest of us, right? None of us are perfect, and even with the blessings our lives have, it’s one damn hard, stressful, sad year.

I have written about this before during 2020, but it all seems to be coming to a head again: COVID19, racism, truly ugly politics, and more. If these friends had survived, where would they be?

It also makes me think of people whom I am no longer connected to by my choice mainly, but sometimes theirs. One in particular whom I felt was so alone before 2020. The thing 2020 has taught a lot of us is the sad lesson that although we should have compassion for the struggles of others, we need to be mindful of our own families first. So what happens to these people? Do they just fall between the cracks of life?

Lyrics
 Has anyone ever written anything for you
 In all your darkest hours
 Have you ever heard me sing
 Listen to me now
 You know I'd rather be alone
 Than be without you
 Don't you know
 Has anyone ever given anything to you
 In your darkest hours
 Did you ever give it back
 Well, I have
 I have given that to you
 If it's all I ever do
 This is your song
 And the rain comes down
 There's no pain and there's no doubt
 It was easy to say
 I believed in you everyday
 If not for me
 Then do it for the world
 Has anyone ever written anything for you
 In your darkest sorrow
 Did you ever hear me sing
 Listen to me now
 You know I'd rather be alone
 Than be without you
 Don't you know
 So, if not for me, then
 Do it for yourself
 If not for me then
 Do it for the world
 Poet priest of nothing
 Poet priest of nothing
 Source: LyricFind
 Songwriters: Stevie Nicks / Keith Olsen

Yesterday I posted “A lot of people are struggling right now. This has been a crazy tough year. Send up a prayer to mankind so that people know they are loved.

I mean that. But where I am conflicted is some people I know who are struggling have to find the inner steel to climb out of the hole they have dug for themselves, all by themselves…as in we can’t do it for them or enable them in any way. And for so many people right now that seems an impossible feat. Why? Because 2020 is the year the unimaginable is happening…every damn day.

And then there are the people who want to climb out of the self-dug hole but say “It’s hard, I tried.” No sugarpuffs, life can be damn hard. But please, do it for yourself and those who love you. But will they? I don’t know. I hope so, but I don’t know.

2020 is the year of self-conflict (in a sense and I will explain.I think. I hope.) Human beings are not stand alone beings necessarily. We need each other. But COVID19 is isolating a lot of us. Some of us could really use a hug or just human contact. But there is the whole virus thing. Today I gave a friend a hug. I kinda know where she has been and what she was up to. She needed a hug. Maybe I did too. Not sure.

I have days where I just marvel at people. Especially on social media. It’s like normal social media has morphed into this whole virtual mean girls platform on steroids. People are just online assassins some days, and often you have to wonder for what? Because you are different from them?

And then there are the people who in the face of 2020 seem to have to post additionally how marvelously their lives are….and you know their lives are anything but happy, and wonder why can’t people admit when they are having bad days or a series of bad days? Would it be so bad? To me it’s preferable to living the grand illusion.

And the people who are struggling? Sadly now you can start to recognize it. So much of our life has become virtual, that you can see far more easily when the cracks are showing. So what do you do? You try to be there…but this is a year we also have to be there for ourselves and our own families.

There are people you would never think suffered from depression…who are. And people who prior to this kept their issues to themselves, but because of COVID19, life is just extra scary. And then there are yes the people who are milking 2020 to get as much free stuff out of people as possible. That really bothers me. And no, not being jaded, it is happening quite a bit.

There are many people I know who are sick or who have been sick. No not COVID19. Just other horrible stuff, like the ever popular Russian Roulette of step up and pick a cancer.

It feels like every day you hear something crazy. I just heard about the barn fire in West Pikeland Township on Yellow Springs Road. It had all of the sets, tools and supplies for the SALT Performing Arts. They do wonderful things and the arts are so at risk thanks to the economic downturn because of COVID19, and prior changes to tax codes that affect charitable donations. If you can give SALT Performing Arts a donation, please do. No homes were lost and no one was hurt, but wow what a blow. Do they do old fashioned barn-raisings anymore? I hope they do because I think that was probably a historic barn too. And don’t forget your local volunteer fire companies and first responders. They are our heroes in ordinary time.

We all just need a break from 2020, I think. Except I also feel 2020 has made us pause for the self reflection that makes us appreciate what we do have. I feel very grateful for my life and family…yes even when they are driving me crazy. (Like the one playing video games loudly a room over from the home office I am typing this in.)

2020 has just been one exceptionally crazy year for the annals of history. It will be the year we all remember with far more detail then the future will want us to. But what will we learn from all of this? I mean we certainly won’t forget the year from hell known as 2020.

I hope you appreciate I made it through the post without mentioning a certain malignant narcissist occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Like all narcissists he hates when things aren’t about him, so the parting shot? #VOTE like your life and country depends upon it…because it does.

Stay safe out there and check in on people.

it’s 2020! new year, new decade!

Found this photo above on a Google search when I put in “New Year’s Eve 1920. ” It just seemed like a fun image to kick off a new decade a century forward. So happy 2020 y’all!

The last decade which just concluded has been the largest decade of change in my entire life. I thought about it last night as we watched the ball drop in NYC.

As 2010 rolled around, I knew or I sensed, or I hoped changes were coming.

I was in the tail end of the wrong relationship and life partnership for me. I knew I wasn’t happy but I still thought it was just me, that I wasn’t working hard enough in the relationship.

I remember feeling guilty on New Year’s Eve 2009 into 2010 because I thought to myself as I looked at this person did I want to be looking at them when I was 70? What a horrible thought I thought to myself as in that moment if I was honest the answer was hell no. But it was somehow oddly and accurately prophetic because a few short weeks later in a February blizzard that was just all over.

I think people were waiting to see if I fell apart but I didn’t. I mean I had my emotional moments, it was a decade out of my life, the prior decade, but it wasn’t right so it didn’t last. When someone asks you to commit your life to theirs and they didn’t 100% commit to you and never shared a lot of their life, even their friends and relatives, it’s not going to last because it’s not the right person. I should have been smarter, but sometimes you have to go through something to actually understand it don’t you?

Mostly I felt guilty about feeling relieved it was over.

So that started the last decade with a bang. But things happen for a reason. I have great friends and family who were all waiting for me on the other side of that. It took a while to not me angry at those who actually called this person to ask them to return to me . They didn’t understand that on that February night in 2010 I closed a door without regret. I didn’t need to have the wrong person in my life to complete me. I completed me. I just didn’t know it until I closed that door.

That new decade was a new start for me. That phrase god closes a door and opens a window comes to mind.

That winter of that new decade, my friend Sherry and I and others received a Congressional Commendation from then Congressman Jim Gerlach. It was for something that Sherry and a wonderful doctor named Ken Marx thought of and I helped with called Operation Angel Wings. This will always be something that I was so proud to be a part of. It was a truly amazing thing to volunteer on.

Somewhere in this year of the last new decade, my husband and I began to talk more and more. We had known each other in high school. And the First Friday Main Line in October of 2010 was where it truly began. I think that is exactly when my heart also opened to a little boy standing with a cup of cocoa in the doorway of MilkBoy Coffee. That was also the evening I got to reconnect with my friend Eric who passed away a few months ago.

Also in the fall of 2010 I got a historical marker from the idea stage to actually raising the money to make it happen. The Wayne Natatorium sign. It was a cool piece of history worth preserving.

Then time went on for 2010 until it ground to a halt in December. That was the year I burned Christmas cookies for the first time ever. That was the Christmas that never really happened except for the motions.

This was the Christmas we lost my beloved brother in law and my sister’s amazing husband to a deadly form of mesothelioma. He was gone in a little over 3 weeks.

There was a blizzard in NYC right before his funeral- NYC was white and fairly silent for a couple of days. Keith is still one of the best people I have ever known. And I miss him, especially around the holidays. He was all about the holidays. He loved Christmas cookies.

But then on New Year’s Eve 2010 into 2011 when I was sitting in the still of my apartment after returning that day from my sister’s in NYC, the phone rang. It was my now husband. We talked through the night and into the New Year on the phone and I killed his Blackberry battery LOL.

I think my husband thought I was very quiet last night for a while. And part of it was because I was thinking of that New Year’s Eve 2010 into 2011. And all of the past decade.

2011 was a magical year and one of the hardest. I fell in love truly and deeply and was also diagnosed with breast cancer. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Quite literally.

But breast cancer freed me to be my better self, I think. More and more time was being spent in Chester County and by the spring of 2012 the transition was completed and I was out here. Best thing that ever happened to me. I am home, truly home in Chester County.

Life moved forward and I reconnected with many of my favorite people from growing up who also were Main Line ex-pats who moved to Chester County.

I learned how to be a stepparent in this last decade. I am still learning. I guess the biggest thing I’ve learned later in life in becoming a parent is that it is always a work in progress.

I also gained a stepfather and amazing stepsiblings in this decade . I am very blessed to have an amazing second father and stepbrothers and a stepsister and step nieces and nephews. It is fun to be part of their crew!

This last decade is also when on my parent’s anniversary one year I married the love of my life. Surrounded by friends and family in an amazing old house. We were married by one of our friends.

This last decade I have also let my inner gardener and treasure hunter out. I left myself open to new opportunities. Many of you have followed my journey here and other places I write. This has been the decade where I have truly begun to evolve as a writer. I have some amazing professional writers as mentors who have guided me along the way. Write what you know.

I have met all sorts of cool new people who often have been kind enough to share their experiences and lives with me.

I have made some friends the past decade that I will keep forever. I made some others friends that I let go of for various reasons, including that they left this earth. That sounds awful but it’s not. It’s the cycle of life. Another old saying comes to mind about people who are in your life for a reason, or a season, or a lifetime.

So much in my life has changed in 10 years. It really makes you pause and reflect and count your blessings. I start this decade in a wholly better place. The right place for me with my amazing husband whom I love to the moon and back. I am truly blessed.

So here we all are on the first day of a new year and a new decade. I wish you all the best and cheers to 2020!

What a long strange (and wonderful) trip it has been.

Happy New Year!

Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards

~ Soren Kierkegaard

if you actually want peace on earth start by looking inward

Oh yes. Peace on earth and goodwill towards men. But when you say it do you mean it?

The other day someone I know who I think very highly of normally decided to post something on a social media page that I found deliberately inflammatory.

It was one of those “don’t hate me because I voted for X” posts. Of course the immediate result was everyone up in arms. Those who found the post deliberately inflammatory were then immediately accused of “hastily making assumptions based on [a] false belief system.” Some are further told their behavior objecting to this is “socially unacceptable.”

Mind you this was said by a person who claimed they hadn’t watched TV or the news since 1983. Yet there they are on social media getting their information. It’s ludicrous. And how are they to judge who has a false belief system or not? Or who is socially acceptable or not? It’s just nuts.

Now the person that posted this thing originally is probably angry at the outcome of the most recent, more local elections. But when this is the kind of thing that you post why do you think people are up in arms and getting out to vote different types of people into office? Sorry not sorry, this is exactly why. You are fomenting the hate and you know you’re doing it. What does political goose stepping accomplish?

Answer: NOTHING good.

Then how can these same people as human beings then turn around and spout peace on earth good will towards men? The short answer is they really can’t. Because all they’re doing is antagonizing the other side from their side and what’s the point of that? Is there always this game of one upsmanship? It’s hypocritical.

Something my grandmother said a lot when I was little least said soonest mended.

Totally applies here.

Deliberately poking the bear in a public forum so you can get the last word when NO ONE today can discuss politics civilly is just dumb. It is in fact (in my opinion) deliberately aimed at upsetting people. If you’re going to post it on your own social media timeline, that’s on you and that’s totally your right because it’s like your virtual house. But posting something that’s deliberately inflammatory or provocative in a public forum? And we’re talking national politics in a local forum? Why bother? Don’t we have more important things to discuss locally?

We all don’t have to share the same politics but basically everyone in this country is unable to discuss such matters with civility in a public forum at this point. So please explain why the divisiveness of politics needs to be discussed especially during the holidays? You do realize there were even cease-fires during wars during the holidays.

Seriously.

For example: The WWI Christmas truce (German: Weihnachtsfrieden; French: Trêve de Noël) was a series of widespread unofficial ceasefires along the Western Front of World War I around Christmas 1914.

It’s not a question of someone being a snowflake versus someone else not being a snowflake, it’s the simple thing of why do we always have to be at each other’s throat’s?

Do you seriously think these politicians you are defending until the death actually give a crap about you as an individual? They don’t. They don’t even know your name after they cash the donation check. But you keep on attacking your neighbors over their honor (politicians) and the perceived slights to their honor (politicians).

And then to watch someone else, a purported adult, completely troll someone else while calling them a troll? I would say that wasn’t so smart or so nice, but then again the person who did it is kind of fake and just wants to belong so maybe someone should just accept they are kind of a wannabe bobble head.

But it boggles the mind. Because this wasn’t in a place where there was some contentious local or national political drama going on they just posted it essentially to stir the pot and why? Does it make pain they are experiencing more palatable or something ?

None of these people in essence are capable at this point of having mature, respectful dialogue on any political issue. So maybe they should just leave the topic alone as keyboard tigers online?

Yes these people are your neighbors. Citing personal experience, I find it astounding the difference between online and in-person behaviors. And a holiday function I recently ran into someone who has literally eviscerated me more than once in social media forums. Completely holier than thou and nasty. Then I saw them face-to-face and in person. I realized what a nothing they were in person, almost invisible, which might be part of what drives her online? It’s sociologically fascinating.

I could have at that point really been kind of mean to this person publicly and it would’ve been completely justifiable given the way they have treated me in the past online. But what was the point really? So I let it go and I was socially pleasant because that’s the way I was raised. I don’t know how they were raised because they really couldn’t handle that, and that in and of itself was kind of funny.

If these people want to get down to it, what is “wrong” is deliberately stirring the pot and saying you’re not. I would probably respect you more if you just said “I’m going to stir the pot with this.”

The thing about these people to do these things as they really aren’t interested in your political perspective they just want you to accept theirs. And that is bunk.

If you really want peace on earth, then start acting like it beginning with your online behavior. And I am not saying my behavior is perfect. What I am saying is that as a collective of human beings we can do better.

National politics are ruining our local experience. We have the choice to stop that. I wish we would.

In 2020 let’s try to keep it real. Or be more real.

Pax.