because your friends it can wait

MAJOR pet peeve of mine….MAJOR…guaranteed to set my teeth to grind and mutter an expletive or two…perhaps more…MAJOR pet peeve of mine is distracted driving.





We all see it. Perhaps some of us are guilty of it. Certain family members and friends I am looking at you. Lady at the school drop off yesterday morning I tapped my horn at you. Redneck Bubba in the pickup truck driving up 99, I glared at you when I changed lanes to pass you and you were in the fast lane. Lady in the ‘cedes sitting at the GREEN light this morning, yes, I was yelling at you.




As I write this, one of my daughters is preparing to attend a memorial service.

It can wait.

For those who might be keeping score, this will be the second funeral for a friend that she must attend within the last three months. Yes, she agrees that this is two more funerals for people in their 20s too many for her to be attending. Today she will be saying goodbye to a friend who died three days before his 25th birthday.

It can wait.

Her friend was a father, a fiancé, a hard working business owner. He was a good friend to many and someone not afraid to show kindness to anyone and everyone.

It can wait.

My daughter’s friend died while working, traveling in a car with a business partner. The car he was traveling in was T-boned by a pickup truck driver….a distracted driver.

It can wait.

So today a gentle giant of a young man is dead. His little girl will grow up without her daddy. The love of his life is no longer planning a wedding but is preparing to bury her love. Parents, siblings, friends and business partners are saying goodbye to a much loved and respected human being who has inspired all to live like him.

It can wait.

I look at one of the many pictures my daughter posted in remembrance of her friend and all I can think as I see these bright, shiny, happy young faces is so much promise of so much life to live…so much life to live.

People, put the god damn phone away.

It can wait.

shifted revolutions

Late one August night in 2001, I had an emotional crisis which my darling husband had to talk me down from and hug it out. My then youngest child, my sunshine-y, happy baby girl who was slumbering peacefully in the room next door was going to be starting kindergarten the next morning. No doubt she was having happy, sweet, sunshine-y dreams about her very first day of kindergarten because that was all that she chirped about as I bathed her, brushed her golden hair and tucked her into bed with kisses and hugs. She could not wait.

But me? I had resolved that she wouldn’t be starting kindergarten after all. That’s right. It was settled, I told my darling husband. Jodie would not be going to school.

But…Bill countered…she has to go to school.

No. No she does not. School will ruin her. Look what it has done to our 14 year old first born…a perfectly normal adolescent who would rather chew ground glass than hang out with mom and dad because

Oh my gawd! Mom! Dad! No!!

She used to love and adore us like the sun and the moon that rose and set for her every day. The she went to school.. It’s too late for her and Zoë and Abby but we can save this one. No school for her. I am the center of her universe. She is Mommy’s baby girl. She even still calls me Mommy. School willI ruin it all. No school for her.

I told you it was a crisis.

Bill obviously talked me out of it because Jodie did happily skip off to Miss Smith’s bright classroom the next morning. Our then teenager continued to put us through the paces but we all survived…as we have survived three more teenagers. And yes, the center of Jodie’s universe did shift as it did with all of my children.

Dammit school!

So now I start to adjust to the fact that my third circus clown has left The Big Top…and her empty room…and the even quieter circus tent…and remembering not to set a place for her at the table…and on and on… I’m going to be okay…I think…and then Laurie shares I was the sun, and the kids were my planets and…



I’m a mess all over again because Beverly Beckham is right. When Hollie left the first time and then left the second time with Hazel and when Zoë left and now Jodie it has been the end.

I was the sun and they were the planets. And there was life on those planets, whirling, nonstop plans and parties and friends coming and going, and ideas and dreams and the phone ringing and doors slamming.

And I got to beam down on them. To watch. To glow.

And then they were gone, one after the other.

Yes, they do come back but it is never the same, noisy, chaotic, busy circus that was life under The Big Top when I was the sun and they were my planets.

celebrating the one stuck in the middle

Because ever since she was a small child, she has reminded us of the fact that she is the forgotten middle child arguing with proof…a grandparent who literally has never remembered her birthday even when her parent reminds them…her oldest sister…her youngest brother…and for so many other reasons, we celebrate our brooding, aloof, “Slytherin of the siblings”, forgotten middle child because today is National Middle Child Day.

And why not have a day just for the one stuck in the middle of the family? Margaritas, hot dogs, and even mathematical expressions have their own special days. Why not have one day a year when we celebrate the joys and pains of being stuck in the middle because if we were to really understand the middle child we would appreciate the fact that it is the middle child whose role is actually wildly character-building in so many ways.

So here’s to the one who is lucky to have older siblings who have paved the way and showed mom and dad how things should be done…distracted mom and dad too…a lot. Here’s to the one who is more adaptable by nature…or actually says to hell with all this, I’m doing what I want; like when you potty trained yourself during the drama-trauma that was right before your baby sister was born. Perhaps I might never get you being one of those over-achieving, always trying to please every one, first born kids, but I can’t help but admire your quiet determination, your adaptability, your independence, your realism and all that is amazing about you, my child stuck in the middle of this family circus act.

no place I’d rather be

Traveling to Washington for my sister’s wedding means driving from the 209 to Yakima, Washington – 11+ hours of driving according to Google maps – with 8 stops along the way.

Yes, eight stops.

Traveling with this crazy. Now can you imagine why 8 stops a long the way? Add the crazy Oregon drivers traveling along Interstate 97 at the break neck speed of 50 mph and the road closure at 5:30 PM with literally one lane of a highway open for one mile with NOTHING GOING ON but a mile of road cones, and it ended up being a 16 hour adventure.

But you know what? It was a day spent with my favorite, crazy Hazey-Face, her mama and darling daughter #3. A day with great music, new and old…um, Hanson?

Yes, Hanson.

An attack grasshopper.

No, really.

Abby will never invite a grasshopper along for the ride ever again. Ever.

It was an adventure. But like the poet Rihanna sings, when I am with you there’s no place I’d rather be. Truly.

raw deals and their beautiful disasters

The Fourth arrived and exited as loudly as it often does every year and it was good.

I said it was good.

It was.

It was good.

Of course I still allowed myself a little bit of melancholy because I do sometimes.

My little brother he will always be and like every other person out there who has lost a sibling, I am more than entitled to miss him. He would have been 52 on July 4th but he will forever be 41 just as he will forever be my broken little brother who looked for approval that was never going to come…at least from those he sought after. In retrospect I try not to focus on the raw deal that was most of his life because it was mine too and raw deals seem to run in the family. Sadly, even to the next generation.

My sister’s children  have lived through more than their fair share of raw too. Given that which Val tried to survive through and the choices she made, it’s hard not to be surprised. But her daughter, my niece, proved to be a survivor surviving really the only way one does survive and thrive and that is to break away and cut the ties. My nephew, on the other hand, struggles not to repeat his mother’s life…and ends up repeating it anyway because family ties that chafe and rub your heart as raw as ours have done are pretty hard to cut away, at least not without some pain and damage. Some of us just can’t handle that pain I guess. I know Randy could not. Neither could Val. And, it seems, neither is her son able to right now. His sister, so much like me, tries to help, tries to fix and, like me so many times before, is hurt in the process. Right now, she is hurting a lot because it’s hard to watch her own brother, the one who was the person she practiced on, the person who taught her about fairness and cooperation and kindness and caring, quite often the hard way is hurting and lost to her in a way that she can not fix. I know this hurt. I know it too well times three…perhaps times four. But all I can do is remind her that all that she can really do is just love him…even if it means loving him at arms length, or even miles and miles length because she deserves to heal and her son deserves so much more…much, much more than than the raw deals we have survived.

So, together, although separated by 3,000 miles, we cry a little for the little boys lost that are our brothers…and pray that her brother will, like us both, survive. It’s all that we can do.

I also felt some sadness for my own daughter and her friends. When you’re 21 or 22, it’s hard to imagine that you’ll be going to a funeral for a friend, a classmate but it sometimes happens. I met her friend, Josh, just two days before he died. Standing in line with Abby, Jodie and Daniel to see Inside Out (go see this movie), I hear, “Hello Abigael!” Naturally, I turn as Abby does because I am the only one who calls her Abigael and I must see who is this other person who calls her Abigael. Abby introduces me to a young man with laughing eyes and a warm smile telling me that this is her friend, Josh.

We shake hands and laugh a little together, Josh and I, because we are the only people who call Abby Abigael. Abby and Josh talk a little bit more but soon wave their goodbyes because, popcorn and snacks in hand, we are ready to go see Inside Out while Josh is seeing another movie that night. It’s hard to imagine someone as engaging as this young man seemed that night would be hiding so much pain behind those laughing eyes and warm smile as his but apparently there was much pain; enough pain that he would take his own life. So now his young friends gather at “the Hook” to remember and celebrate their friend, Josh and tomorrow will bury him. And I find myself sad again. Sad for the end of this young man’s life. Sad for his friends. Sad for his family.

Three men. Three beautiful, young men.

All it takes is a beautiful fake smile to hide an injured soul and they’ll never know how broken you really are.