What a long road it has been. Mother died in March of 2007, Dad followed in 2012. But it has been the in between and the since that has really been the journey. It has been probably the most illuminating of my life. I went to San Angelo this week to wish a dear friend Happy Birthday and to go to Sam’s. As I sat at the table with some awesome women, listening to Charlotte tell us about her “God-smack” moment, I began to look back over the years since I found my friend again. The first day that we had actually spent the day together, we had gone to the river walk in Angelo and I had taken about a million pictures. Mother and Bill had not been gone too long and it was one of the first times I had left Dad and John on their own. I remember that Carrie and I had gone to eat and I was still so shy that I told her what I wanted off the menu so that she could order for us. Looking back, I wonder if she thought I was nuts. There would be many trips to Angelo over the next few years, two semesters of college under my belt and many long talks about so many things. Her house became my safe-haven. The place of solitude that allowed me to just think. I could go there and sit quietly on the porch and just breathe. I think God knew that Carrie would be the friend that was patient enough, had lived through enough to just let me heal, guide me along and never judge me. That she would open up her heart, her home, and give me a place that peace and quietness would allow me to listen.
As I sat at the table the other night, perfectly okay with who lived in my own skin, perfectly at peace with my own independence it started me looking back at just how far I have come.
Afterwards, John and I went to Sam’s to do some shopping. I had not realized that this was the first time in over a year that we had done so. Sam’s was a “daddy and I” place, even if I didn’t realize it at the time. So many memories of him flooded my heart that I spent the biggest part of the time crying my way through. Picking up nuts and cheese for the upcoming holiday, taquitos, and a block of cheddar. These were all favorites of dads. I always brought him home a block of extra sharp cheddar and a can of mixed nuts. He and I have spent many nights in the wee hours having crackers and cheese. That was our time. Our time in the middle of the night to plan, to learn and to enjoy each other’s company.
I went to visit Mark for the first time in what seems like a lifetime when he got to come to Texas this summer. Something he said has stuck with me ever since. He and I had taken the golf cart down to the water’s edge and I had left my camera up at the house. Mark told me that it was a good thing because then only he and I had the pictures of those memories together. It made me realize just how much I had hidden behind that lens. That I had been living but only to a certain point. It is like the day that Kristen got married. I had given my camera to Wes to take pictures of John and Kristen walking down the isle. As long as Wes had the camera I felt emotion. I was shaking so violently and crying that I was afraid that I wasn’t going to be able to stand when I was supposed to. The minute he gave me back the camera, all emotion stopped and I was in shutter bug mode. Taking pictures of everyone else and everything else to share with Daddy. The last years of his life, it was me and the camera that brought life outside in to him. He encouraged and was excited about the things I would capture. I brought him Kristen’s wedding, I brought him the animals, the changing of the seasons, the Christmas decorations, the blooming flowers or the rising and setting of the sun. I captured everything on the outside to share with him. My friends, the kids, the town, to help him feel like he was a part of it all. In the past few months I have done very little photography. I have captured very little. What I have captured seems lacking. Seems to have lost some of it’s luster. The same is to be said about my writing. A million stories I have shared with Dad, a million ideas, and a million tears.
There are always going to be barriers and barbs in life, it takes great friends and family to pull up on the top wire and step down on the bottom in order for us to reach the light of the other side.
When Mother died there seemed to be so much left unsaid. But I now realize that in life there was much unsaid between us. That even though we were very close, I was extremely guarded with her. As was she with me. She was the one that taught me to hide the true inner feelings of my heart. She guarded her own heart and thoughts so well. It wasn’t until after she died that through her sisters I learned of her past. I learned why all those years I dreamed of a young man that I hated. I hated him for taking her from me. I hated him like you would hate a cheating parent’s lover. Somewhere in my own mind I often wondered about her cheating on dad. Only to find out in the end that it wasn’t a lover that she pined for, it was my step-brother that she had lost years before I was born. That it was her own guilt, her own past demons that brought about the depression in her soul. A thing that neither dad or I could help her over come. In fact, Dad never knew. She hid it away from him very well. When he was out working was when it hit her the hardest. It was his strength, his love, his being that brought her out of it. It was something that even I couldn’t help her with. It was her sisters and Dad that had to help me understand it all. If I had one wish that I could have fulfilled for her was that she could see what an incredible person she was. How many lives she touched and how many hearts she made smile. If I could have her for one more day the thing that I would be sure to tell her would be that sharing it all in honest would have helped us all. She was quite the wonderful Mom and woman.
Through my dad, my lovely daughter and terrific son-in-law, Trey , John, my most wonderful friends that have stood beside me over the last five years, and my aunts, I have learned so much. I have learned to share and to be honest with myself first and with all of them. I have learned that my existence isn’t not an intrusion. Yes, I thought it. I used to not call my friends, or share with them anything because I feared that I was intruding on their lives. I guess that is the one thing that has been the hardest to overcome. Someday’s I still feel that way. I will think about someone in my life and instead of calling to check on them I just don’t. Because I don’t want to intrude. I am learning still. I can’t tell you were that hang-up comes from it just is.
Even my best friend didn’t know my thoughts, my feelings, or my life. It wasn’t until I started putting incredible people in my life that I began to learn their true value. That they taught me that sharing is loving. That even though I loved very deeply that sharing of myself was the ultimate act of true love and friendship. I am not an intrusion on the planet, I am an asset. That my feelings, my ideas, my thoughts count for something. I don’t have to write about them and let people that love me choose to read about them, I can actually share them. People love me and want to know about me. That has been one of the hardest things for me to learn. Being married to an alcoholic just reinforced that idea. I never had my own thoughts or my own feelings when it came to him. John would tell me what I was feeling, what I thought, and what I needed. Not wanting to argue, for it is always a mute point with a drunk, I just stopped fighting. Stopped fighting for what I believed, for what I thought and felt. But, that just enabled me to lock myself away even more. The past year I have learned all these things matter. Not the past, but the future. For instead of living, I had thrown myself into caring for everyone else. For doing all that I was supposed to do to be a good daughter, a good wife, a good parent, a good person. To own up the all the responsibilities and hold the world upon my own shoulders. With the passing of my Dad, so passed the last vestiges of that having to take care of everyone else.
With the passing of Daddy, I have felt so lost. Lost on so many levels. I felt his loss greatly, he wasn’t only my father, my parent, but for so many years he was my best friend. There was nothing that I couldn’t share with him, that we couldn’t talk about or that we couldn’t solve. I miss all of those people in him. But for the first time in my own life I was free to go and do all the things I wanted to. Except now I didn’t know what I wanted. I didn’t know how to feel or what to feel. I didn’t know what I wanted from life any more. I was supposed to take care of my step siblings in some way but I really don’t know what dad wanted me to do there. I think that more than anything he wanted me to just accept them and love them for who they are. He did. Years ago he told me that he had come to terms with who they were as individuals and accepted them and loved them for just that. I feel sorry for them in some ways. I know that there was so much left unsaid between Parent and Child. Unfortunately, those things will always be unsaid. I had learned that already with Mother. I just hope that I can be as awesome as my aunts were when and if they come asking. When they want to know I will always be here and always try to answer as fairly and honestly as my aunts did for me. I pray that there will come a time when they will want to know the truth about our Father. His thoughts, his ambitions, his dreams and always his love for both of them. Other than that, I can’t do much for either of them. Love them and pray that someday old wounds will heal, scars will form and new relationships will happen.
I am as delicate and beautiful as the summer flowers. I am allowed to bloom where ever I am.
I guess the last six months have probably been the most growing months of my life. They have been days filled with grief, with happiness, with uncertainty but they have also been filled with love, with friendship, and will rebirth. Filled with headaches and heartaches but a time of growth and expansion. A time to stop and quietly begin again. To open myself up to my own needs, my own wants and desires. A time to finish up loose ends pay off all the debts both monetarily and spiritually. A time to seek new adventures and learn new things. It has been a time of planning and sorting, getting rid of and acquiring. Above all else the past six months has taught me about me. Taught me how strong I really am, how passionate I am and how patient I can me. Taught me to be thankful for those people in my life and those that will come into it in the future. It has taught me to seek out and share what is in my heart. To let go of the anger the past caused, be still and quiet so that I can hear the things that I need to and to speak out about the things I must. The next few months are going to be costly, they are going to be painful but I know in my own heart that it is all going to be fine and the people that I entrust will help me along that path.
I am going to be okay, I have begun to get my feet planted firmly back on Terra firma. I am learned that it is my choices, my wants, my needs, and my desires that count now. When Mother died, I set out to find myself. I wasn’t lost, you don’t find yourself, you create yourself and with everyday that goes by I do just that….I create a better more wonderful me than was on the planet the day before. It has been a long road to figure that out but with every little step, with every passing sunrise and sunset I paint a brighter more loving picture.
I am strong and fierce. I am me and that is the best I can be.
So, at the moment the plans are like this…. finish what was begun years ago. Get rid of all the excess and find that special place to fulfill my own destiny my own hearts desire. Vague but if you know me real well, you know what that means. 🙂