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Inhaled

It’s been a year now

a year since those words were spoken, “The cancer is back,”

Since those words were hurled at me like insults, like fighting words

like rosary beads, like last rites

a year since my doctor started calling me after hours with updates on my results

and you realize that one cell phone number you never want to have is your doctors.

a year since my family got scared

My older, tougher, badass brother let me hear his voice shake

My sister in law and I cried together when I told her.  She understood the fear of leaving your children motherless.

The pain of taking from them precious moments in their life with ‘Mommy is sick.’

She understood loss.

It’s been a year since the finality of this life

and that I might have to face a much earlier ending than I had planned

threw me into a bottomless pit

threw me into pain so deep my mouth made no words,

my eyes made buckets of tears,

my chest heaved with refusals, rebuttals, buts, pleases, this cannot be and no, no and no!

It’s been a year since I inhaled so deeply all that life gives me every.

Single.

Day.

The crisp, cool, fall air full of leaves and pumpkin seeds,

Halloween candy, the smell of new leather boots,

Since I inhaled those gorgeous, October sunsets followed by those amazing October fire pits.

Orange and Yellow flowers,

Scarlet and Cream hoodies,

My best friends’ smiles,

My daughter’s shampoo,

A year since I breathed in hugs from my Mom where I let her really, truly hug me and my knees went out while she held us up.

A year since she brushed my hair back and told me she just knows it will all be okay because it just has to be.

A year, since she showed me again why she is strongest person I have ever known.

It has been a full year, since I inhaled so much of life.

Inhaled all that life can give me into the depths of my lungs.

The pit of my soul!

I inhaled so many kisses.

Wet doggy kisses

and 1 year old baby open mouth kisses

Sweet, love-you-want-you, husband kisses

You’re my Mommy and the best in the world 4 year old kisses

It’s been a year since life.

Slowed.

Down.

It’s been a year since life.

Got.

Small.

And.

Simple.

Everybody knows, cancer the first time means you might be sick for a year or so while you fight

You might lose your hair and get too skinny

But when you hear that it’s back after you got rid of it the first time you know

That this time might be different.

You might have to make peace with things

It may not be a fight this time

It’s been 12 months

since I began to believe that I better get on with the business of living.

I did things I knew my husband wouldn’t.

It’s ‘too expensive’ he’d say.

We did it anyway.

We bought new windows and new carpet.

A new couch and a washer and dryer.

We took the kids to Colorado.

We went to TPC Sawgrass and saw Rickie Fowler win.

In a playoff.

We went to a Cubs game and watched them win against the Cardinals in the final game of the National League Division title.

And we sang, “Go Cubs Go,” for days!

We asked my Mom to move in with us.

We both pursued promotions at work.

We went to Okoboji in the winter.

We walked on the frozen lake.

This summer, we joined a pool.

We brought our own cooler of beer each time we went.

I went back to school to finish my degree.

I took my daughter shopping.

I took my niece for a pedicure and another niece for a milkshake.

We took our family camping for the first time.

Everyone got the flu.

I conquered my fear of bees.

It was so awful and awesome.

Our whole family was in our sister in law’s wedding.

We danced the night away

And my husband danced with his sister and brother and father

In a circle of life I will never forget.

She held her new husbands hand

And we all knew that she would be taken care of

By this life, this love.

I dyed my hair dark brown for the first time in my life.

I took time off from work to take my daughter to the pumpkin patch.

and to be there for her Halloween party.

I shared tears and sadness and reality with coworkers in ways that reminds you

that work is a job

but some of the people there

They are your friends.

I drank some dranks.

I attended so many of my friends’ weddings and cried as I witnessed love move life and life moved forward with each couple’s vows.

And danced and danced and danced.

I rode my bike alot.

Including one 10 mile ride down the mountain in Aspen.

A beautiful, giant deer crossed the path in front of us.

I was terrified and awestruck.

It was perfect.

I cried as I ran down the mountain carrying my 2 year old son who had fallen and cut his head.

I was as alive as any person has ever been while I ran holding a sweatshirt to his head while blood seemed to pour out of him.

I would have wrestled a lion if it meant his safety or his future.

Turns out – he just needed a Bandaid.

I learned first hand that head wounds bleed alot.

And boys hit their heads alot.

That was the first of at least 5 more to follow.

I went to concerts.

Taylor Swift, Salt N Peppa

Being girls.

Being alive.

Dancing.

I went to the Symphony.

The trumpets, the conductor, the violins, the cellos.

They moved me. They wooed me.

I learned to play some new drinking game at a garage party.

You play on teams.

I played with another girl.

We beat the boys.

It was a moment of pure joy and revelry.

My husband has experienced a new phenomenon called, “Getting your wife a beer” in public.

And has become the best husband ever.

This year, I have packed all of the life I could find into 12 months.

And, I have no regrets.

I smoked some cigarettes.

In Colorado, I even smoked a joint.

On the deck of our hotel.

On the side of a mountain.

On a 45 degree summer night, under a full moon.

Life’s meaning became full and intricate and hilarious.

I giggled with my husband.

I laughed at our idiosyncrasies.

I felt free and happy and without gravity.

I inhaled.

I played sand volleyball in the summer.

I said, “Yes,” to playing competitive, court volleyball this fall.

I run and jump and pull muscles and burst random blood vessels on my knuckles.

I block spikes, I try to spike, I set, I bump.

I compete, I sweat, I breathe, I drink gallons of water.

I inhale.

I got botox with this radical notion that I’ll probably live so long that my wrinkles may eventually be a problem.

I have gone to church every Sunday for almost three months now which is also a first in my adult life.

My kids love it.

My husband loves it.

I love it.

Some weeks I have gone with a hangover.

Some weeks I have gone without my husband.

Through the last 12 months, I said, “Thank you.”

I said, “Yes.”

I bought the dress I’ve always wanted for one of my girlfriends weddings.

It was too expensive.

Who cares?

I will keep that dress for years to come.

I visited my 88 year old Aunt.

And we took a selfie together.

And cried together about her husband, my uncle, that we both miss terribly. I felt him standing there smiling.

I inhaled.

I tried (and failed miserably) to make a holiday door hanger.

But, I painted, I laughed, I took videos.

I got three of my old school besties to join snapchat.

We use it like facetime and talk to each other.

No random photos with funny captions.

No funny quotes.

We’re so 90’s.

I love them for that.

I inhale.

It’s been a year since the doctor’s told me, “They cancer is back.”

It’s been a year since I watched my 4 year old and 1 year old cry at the top of the steps while I cried at the bottom knowing to hug them was to put them in danger of radiation exposure as it coursed through my body killing off whatever cancer remained and my heart splattered all over the walls as it burst from the pain of seeing my babies cry and not being able to comfort them.

And I cried myself to sleep that night.

Alone.

With my doggy on the couch nearby as the only comfort I could have.

And I was so grateful to have it.

I inhaled.

It’s been a year since my husband and I enjoyed the most beautiful 2nd anniversary on a patio, drinking wine, holding hands, wondering why anything, anyone, any entity would want to severe the bond we share.

Wondering if death could even severe it.

We had wine and cheese and dinner and life.

A three legged cat crossed our paths purring for us to pet it.

Owls were in the background.

And windchimes.

I inhaled.

And, as I await the results of my yearly scan to tell me my future,

read my palm,

forecast the next year

read my tea leaves

I am scared to know the answer.

But I also know in some ways it doesn’t matter

because hearing you have cancer again

is a blessing.

For a brief moment you get to stop taking everything for granted

You get to live this life

absolutely all of it

the good, the bad, the ugly

without complaint

without bitching

and realize how amazingly beautiful it all is

even the bad moments are so damn beautiful

you just want more of them

you want to be here for all of them

and for the last 12 months I have done my best

to live them

to appreciate them

to believe in a future

to live in the present

and

I have inhaled.

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Weightless


Some days are heavier than others.
Some days are inappropriately meaningful for the rest of your life.
Tomorrow, Thursday, January 22, 2015.
Weighs a million pounds
Weighs 3 million kilograms
Weights 20 million liters
Some days are so weightless.
Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, my 36th birthday
were light
and lovely
they are hot air balloons floating in my memory now
Lighting up my life like 4 beautiful weightless lanterns
of joy
of laughter
of easy street
good food, good family, good friends, good times
no worries
no doctor’s appointments
no stress
no future or past, just now.
Tomorrow, weighs infinitely heavy in it’s ability to alter my life
move my path
change my course
It is lead weights
It is dead weight
and cement blocks
filled with sand
tarred and feathered
drawn and quartered
Tomorrow, a palm reading tells me my future
Tomorrow, a doctor reads my labs
Tomorrow, I collapse into an ugly place, an awful place
I question tomorrows, I question time, I question answers, I pray and pray and pray and pray that this story is not yet written
Tomorrow, I face again the truth,
That time is a blessing
That time is a beautiful gift
That time is not infinite.
Or tomorrow I remove shackles from my ankles
I run into fields of daisies
Just me and the sunshine and my dog and my babies and my love
to laugh and bask and dream and be
Maybe I have a future that extends for years and years
Maybe I have one more life that may come to be through me
Maybe…
I have dreams
They aren’t that big really, but they are so wonderful
They are the best dreams anyone in this life ever dreams
I see my children start school
I see them bang up their knees on dirty summer bikes
I see their tears, I see me pick them up and kiss their owies
We get Neosporin and Bandaids
and we try again
I see them learning and becoming who they were made to be
I see teenagers growing from what once were babies
I see stronger bones in their face,
I see too big, crooked teeth
I see too much hair
I see weird colors and ugly piercings that I love just as much as I hate
I see eye rolling and awful music played too loudly
I see dances with undeserving boyfriends and girlfriends
I see closeness between them that keeps them grounded
Reminds them of who they really are and really aren’t.
She will always be smart and responsible
He will always be carefree and loving
I see dances with the ‘one’ and ‘that smile’ on her face
on his face
I see my sadness and happiness at their journeys in life and hoping they choose wisely
Hoping their path is not perfect, but not impossible
I see wedding days
I see grand children
I see my husband graying
I see my husband praying
beside me
I see me there
I see me healthy
I see life surrounding me
and weighing nothing as I revel in it
I see myself grey and wrinkled and happy
I see myself writing and reading to my grand children
I see myself tomorrow
Scared and breathless
hopeful and scared to be hopeful
fingers crossed, no double crosses
einie meenie minie moe
don’t step on a crack
no black cats should cross my path
superstitious because it is so far out of my control
All I can do is trust and let go
But, these dreams will be a red balloon released into the sky
A wish sent up to the Heavens
For light and happy days
These dreams take flight tomorrow.
These dreams lift the weight of tomorrow
and turn it into Helium
Turn tomorrow into a beautiful, hopeful balloon
These dreams make tomorrow
Weightless.

At Last

Sometimes her smile, her laughter, her questions
Drop kick me in this part of my gut that was easy to find when I was 5 or 7.
Today, it is calloused and hidden and you can’t just access it.
You can’t just tickle it or reach it.
You must truly teleport to it.
And sometimes, like tonight – she puts on a wide brimmed hat and an even wider grin
She smiles her “sorry, not sorry” smile
She makes jokes
She brightens the room and my mood
She asks so many questions
She dances and watches her skirt twirl just so
She embraces all that is her
so effortlessly.
She does not apologize.
She knows she is beautiful.
She knows she is smart.
She loves that she’s made just the way she is made.
She doesn’t like bugs, but she loves science.
She loves dresses and leggings.
She is bright. She is hilarious.
She catches idiosyncrasies I wish I could hide.
She imitates my cough.
She talks about Jesus like she’s had more than 1 play date with the man Himself.
She draws inspiration from Disney and plants.
Her brother and capes and strawberries.
She blesses me every day with a joy I can’t describe.
To be near her
To be next to her warmth of spirit and literal warmth – no really the girl is warm like a space heater
Is to be reminded of my humanity, of hers, of yours
She is so thoughtful and sweet and inside her heart is made of the same material as her Daddy’s – all spinach and oatmeal and burlap with a dash of honey, 13 strawberries and healthy dose of silly string – hearty and wholesome and sweet and silly
So much so that sometimes I am her opposite and lost in creating connection with her.
My creative spirit flounders sometimes as I grasp at straws
and to talk to her, to be with her requires my writers block to lift, requires me to be smarter and gentler and more amazing than I actually am and she’s so smart she can see that when it happens.
she quietly brings me along, she’s patient with me, she waits for me to have something funny to say, something neat to tell her, to be focused and funny and tell her things she knows she’ll need to know someday – like why lady gets so mad at the Tramp and what it means to fall in love and why Daddy is my favorite person I’ve ever known
but when the block lifts, when the fog in my head dissipates and organically we are in synch, when we connect
when our hearts and spirits intuitively recall that time she was connected to me through her belly button
when I ate only popsicles because that is all her little spirit could tolerate inside my womb
we laugh and we smile and we swell up with a love so big that it breaks my heart and blows my mind
even as it soothes my soul
we don’t speak many words, we just laugh and snuggle and tickle and give eskimo kisses and she loves how I’m so cold and I love how she’s so warm and I breathe her in and I know in those moments that nothing I did before and I nothing I will ever do after, will matter near as much, will ever bring me as much peace, will ever be more important, will ever be more ‘meant’ than the moments I share with her.
She drives me to be my best self all day, every day. And I love her so intensely that I fail at being as good as the Mom I think she deserves.
But she seems to understand the impossibly high expectations I have of anyone in her life and loves me anyway and the strange, sinewy truth of Mother and Daughter is written all over her sheepish, confident grin.
Her wavy, golden hair.
Her quite confidence.
Her end of night goodnight where she spontaneously tells me she loves my arms and my elbows and my eyelashes and I tell her that I love her ear hairs and her ponytail and her toe jam
And she twirls her special Addilyn twirl right into my solar plexus.
And we are a fairy tale, we are a wish I never let myself wish and a dream I never let myself dream
and she is here lighting up my life
At Last.

From His Rib

I curl in next to you
And I’m sure I came from you.
I am of you.
I am yours.
You are mine.
Made from your rib He says
Makes sense
Because I would follow you anywhere
Even to Hell
Even to Applebees
Because you are the Bees Knees
And your head shape looks pretty similar to me
Or Mine
If I had all the Time in the world
To just be your girl
It would never be enough
My partner, my road dog
You throw a log on that fire
And let it burn
And I will in turn stand by you
Through flame and high wall
Through 10 foot waves and missed phone calls
With you, I will learn how to be patient
How to ask fewer questions
How to wait
Oh How I hate to wait!!!!!
Maybe even better – I will learn why to wait
I learn to be my best self
And I want to be!
For you.
I want to be the best wife in the history of wives
But I know I will still come up short
I can only hope that you will forgive my short comings
That you will keep leading
Keep guiding
Keep trusting that I am right behind you
That I am following
That I have the caboose
On lock down.
That I won’t drown
If you look away for a second
I will learn to swim
I will learn to tread water
I will learn to tread lighter
I Will. Learn.
I will not give up.
I will stay.
I will learn to be quiet
When words don’t tell the story anyway.
When all I need is your touch.
Your arms.
Your love.
Your rib.
My Love.
My Life.
You.
Me.
One.

Woody

If I had to sum ‘em up
If I had to describe a people, a clan, a work in progress, art in motion
A blood line
Mine.
It would go something like this.
These Woody’s – they are my family. Mi Familia.
They are dreamers and orators and writers and philosophers
They do not toil in the boringness of life
They are vibrant and persuasive
They are mouthy and bold
They are strong – no I mean, really strong
They live by a ‘code’ always
Each person’s code just a little different, but it is strong and overrides all else – even love for each other.
They love music and poetry
Politics – oh how they love their politics!!!
And their Thanksgiving.
And God.
They have compassion for causes and people, but lose sight of that same compassion when faced with each other.
They are so forgiving of strangers and hold grudges with one another that they carry to their graves.
They talk too much and fail to listen as often as they should – really listen.
They are always speaking their mind and telling the truth – who it hurts be damned.
They are farmers and workers and party animals and judgers and trend setters and decision makers
They are passionate and broken and crazy and addicts
Because to love like that requires that you do something – drink, get high, freak out – something!
You will know them at work as the boss, the one you don’t want to cross, the one you know will get the job done – no matter what.
You will know them at a party as the crazy bastard cracking up the crowd, the one passed out in the corner, the one working the room who brought the goods.
You will know them when a song comes on as the one who claps, who moves to the beat, who rocks out and starts a dance party.
You will know them in America as the founders, walking along side the revultionaries.
Who worked their asses off to make a name for themselves and build a life for their off-spring.
And build one they did.
By fighting and mouthing off and standing for something and working and falling in love and having lots of babies!
There are so many of us – I dare you to find a proud American family and not have a Woodworth in their lineage.
I dare you to fuck with one.
It’s like poking a bear.
I don’t know why it’s in our blood, but damn….that sense of fight or flight, that ability to rip your heart out, it’s almost like it comes naturally. Which to be honest, is pretty scary.
They marry up in stability.
The lucky ones find someone so patient, so forgiving, so selfless and so good-natured that they can make a marriage last.
Most of us can’t sustain that kind of kindness for forever, that kind of forgiveness, that kind of acceptance of another’s faults.
To be a friend to a Woody, to be a partner, is to have the thickest skin and loads of forgiveness because we screw up a lot. And we screw up big alot.
And we have so much to learn about being reliable and consistent, kind and unselfish, thoughtful and patient.
But, boy do we live! Boy, do we pack a lifetime into our years. You will never be bored. You will never wonder where you stand with us. We can’t hide it even when we try.
In spite of all this life, their hearts hold up, their legs don’t give out.
They stand, they write, they talk, they share, they work, they dream – they dream BIG, they struggle, they love and they love and they love.
Someday, they will start to see themselves in each other – even when they are awful – especially when they are awful and love each other. More. Honestly. Forever. Without grudge or judgment.
We’ve all been there. And we all need each other. To find forgiveness of others, find forgiveness of ourselves, learn how to be better, learn how to love others better.
We are all opinionated assholes.
And I love you for it.
Woody.

Cancer. Doesn’t. Care.

Cancer is random. Cancer is unpredictable.  Cancer is a lone cell gone mad.  Cancer is a crazy ex lover with a better memory than your crazy ex lover.  Cancer doesn’t care about your husband.  Cancer doesn’t care about your children.  Cancer doesn’t care about your parents.  Cancer doesn’t care about you career.  Cancer doesn’t care about your dreams.  Cancer doesn’t care about your positive attitude.  Cancer doesn’t care about your healthy lifestyle. Cancer doesn’t care about your religion. Cancer is ruthless and indiscriminate. There is no person or people that are exempt from it’s destruction.  You cannot kill cancer with kindness.  Cancer kills women and children, cancer kills the sick and weak with the same ferocity as it kills the strong and healthy.  Nothing and no one is sacred. Cancer. Doesn’t. Care.

The Sound of Loss.

Wow!

The Manifest-Station

The Sound of Loss. By Lyn Girdler.

cs-lewis-let-go-monkey-bars image courtesy of Simplereminders.com

There are screams you will hear in your life. Like the scream of someone stubbing their toe, or hitting their head on a kitchen cabinet; maybe even catching their finger in the car door. They are screams of visceral, cellular pain. There are screams of fear and shock; someone encountering a spider, or being jolted by a loud, unexpected noise or even the collective screams of a packed cinema house at a horror film. Those are screams that you hear and then let go of.

Then there are other screams, ones that will wake you up on a cold winter morning, seize your childhood innocence, and not let go of you. Like the sound of your mothers scream when she wakes to find your father giving CPR to her child as he lay there, breathless.

It is a sound…

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