Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The last post about my mom

"I'll wait no more for you like a daughter, that part of our life together is over,
But I will wait for you forever, like a river.

My mom died this morning at 5 a.m. eastern time.

When the phone rang, I knew what it was. Somehow though, between the two of us, Neil and I could not find the right button to push to answer.

Neil looked at the caller ID and said that it was Florida. All I wanted to do was to go back to sleep.

Twenty minutes later the phone rang again and this time it was my brother, in tears.

He said Mom was gone. We talked for a few minutes but whatever we said is blurry in my memory. I went back to sleep. I felt like I could have slept for hours more, but Neil woke me before he left for work. I got up because it was our housekeeper's day to come and she gets here early.

I felt a weird lightness.

I think it was because I was with her for the last two days of her life. I spent Monday and Tuesday with her. I got home last night after 9 p.m. By totally random chance, I timed things just right. I'm glad my mom died within 12 hours of my leaving her. If it been another day or more, I wouldn't have felt, as I do, that we were with her at the end.

On Monday, after several days of being semi-conscious, she was somewhat alert, at least relatively. She looked right at me when I talked to her and she moved her mouth a little.

I won't swear she knew it was me but I won't say it is impossible either. I talked to her about a lot of things and I told her that I knew she could hear me and that she didn't need to say anything.

On Tuesday she was different. She was unresponsive to voices and only barely responsive to being touched, as in grimacing when we turned her. Mostly though she was resting, peaceful.

Her vital signs were starting to deteriorate. As the day wore on, she was so quiet and still that several times I had to look really hard to tell that she was breathing.

When I finally left, I knew that I was saying goodbye for the last time. A lot of people said she waited for me to come, and then a lot of people said she was waiting for me to leave.

I talked to her, alone, for a bit before I left. Talking made me cry. And after a while, I had said all that I could think of. Which summed up, was really that I didn't need to say a lot because my feelings transcended words.

I knew this time she couldn't hear me. She was so far gone and I couldn't make my voice project much. I was talking mostly for myself. It was as though the emotion behind the words was so powerful, it could be conveyed through the air, could leap from my heart to hers, as from synapse to synapse.

And then I drove my rental car to the airport and got on an airplane and came home. At the Fort Lauderdale airport I bought a t-shirt that said Life is Good. I look at them in the gift shop every time I go home. They are pricey for t-shirts, but I wasn't expecting to pass through that airport again any time soon. Maybe ever.

I wasn't surprised to get the call this morning. My dad died on November 30, 2010. I predicted that my mom would go on October 30.

I have cried so much over the last 10 days, but today my eyes are dry. My brother, who has been stoic throughout this emotional time, broke down and wept this morning.

My brother dealt with his pain by making arrangements for the interment and calling as many people as he could think of.

I called my children. I wanted to spare them all the heartache and uncertainty of this time, so I waited until this morning after Mom was gone. They each took the news philosophically.

I called some of my cousins, because my brother asked me to.

I went to Sugar Land Animal Services and spent two hours with the cats, the way I do every Wednesday.

I went to the community center and walked on the treadmill as I do most afternoons.

Mom will be laid to rest, or rather elevated to an above-ground vault, on Sunday morning. I won't go. My brother will go and as it turns out, two sets of cousins will be in Florida this weekend and will attend.

My brother was vacillating about whether to fly his kids down for the day. We talked about a possible celebration of her life at a later date with all of our kids. A little ceremony at the site and then maybe a weekend at Disney World. Mom and Dad loved Epcot especially.

My mom is gone. I'm sure grief will ebb and flow. I'm good today, maybe I'll be sad tomorrow, maybe not.

Maybe now memories of mom in happier times will come and replace the sad ones of the last two years and 11 months.

In the Jewish faith, it is said upon a death, blessed is the true judge. I think this means it is not for us to try to understand, only to accept. Rhyme and reason are the responsibility of a higher power.

I'm too much of a control freak to take that on board without question.

But Mom was 90 years and five months old. She had a good run. I can accept her going now with grace and gratitude.

This is a happy time in a happy place. My parents and my children. So much happiness, so much love.

"Dear mother the struggle is over now
And your house is up for sale
We divided your railroad watches
Between the four of us

I fought over the pearls
With the other girls
But it was all a metaphor
For what was wrong with us

As the room is emptying out
Your face so young comes into view
And on the back porch is a well-worn step
And a pool of light that you can walk into

I'll wait no more for you like a daughter,
That part of our life together is over
But I will wait for you, forever
Like a river

In the river I know I will find the key
And your voice will rise like spray
In the moment of knowing
The tide will wash away my doubt

'Cause you're already home
Making it nice for when I come home
Like the way I find my bed turned down
Coming in from a late night out

Please keep reminding me
Of what in my soul I know is true
Come in my boat, there's a seat beside me
And two or three stars we can gaze into

I'll wait no more for you like a daughter
That part of our life together is over
But I will wait for you forever
Like a river."

Carly Simon

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Defying gravity

"Everyone deserves the chance to fly, and if I'm flying solo, at least I'm flying free."

Mom is still alive. Her body at least is a fighter.

The morphine is keeping her relatively comfortable, her vital signs are good, but she is refusing food and water. She will open her eyes but is otherwise unresponsive.

I've been doing research on how long it takes to die from starvation and dehydration. The consensus is that death will occur within two weeks. It has been five days now for mom.

My brother is with her now, for one day, to see her one last time. I'm so conflicted. I feel like I should be at her side and I also feel like it won't make any difference to her, she won't know who I am or that I'm there.

I think I'm angry at her for not trying harder when my dad died, for giving up on life.

I don't know when to go. I have commitments in my life that won't allow me to just go and stay for the duration. If I go to see her now, I may not be able to go back a short time later to put her to rest.

It's like I lost my mom three years ago when my dad died, and it tears me up to see what she has become.

I can't cry, I can't care, I love my mom, but the body in that bed isn't my mom. I know she is being kept comfortable and not in pain and that is the most important thing.

If it were me, I wouldn't want my children to see me that way. If I put myself in my mom's shoes, I don't think she'd want me to see her this way.

Or is that just rationalization?

My brother says he is there on both our behalves and then I can go on Monday, either to see Mom or to see to the arrangements, to be there for her interment.

There won't be a funeral. There is no one to invite. Her friends disappeared along with her memory, those who haven't passed on themselves. At 90, friends are few.

Mom is not a believer, so there will be no service. Someone will say Kaddish because it is important to my brother, whether he attends or not.

I'm so restless. I don't know what to do with myself. I have a show this weekend that I've spent a lot of time preparing for, and I feel like I will let people down if I cancel. People would understand of course. A dying parent, of course they would understand.

It's just that I could cancel and my mom might live another 10 days.

Or is that just more rationalization?

My research into death from starvation and dehydration is reassuring, insofar as it sounds like a serene way to die.

Strange as it sounds, as the body becomes dehydrated, the brain releases opiate-like chemicals, which can lead to decreased pain and discomfort, even feelings of euphoria.

I'm really not angry at my mom. I have forgiven her for many things. She wasn't the best mom ever, especially when I was a kid. She was a better mom to me when I was an adult. I think she did her best, but due to circumstances in her childhood, she may have looked at life and at parenthood through atypical filters.

Mom is a Holocaust survivor. She left Germany on a Kindertransport when she was 16, not knowing the family in London who would host her, not knowing much English, not knowing whether she'd ever see her parents again.

That's one reason why it so was hard for me to accept that she could survive something like that and then just wanted to give up near the end of her life. She was in her 88th year when my dad died, and all her interest in life died with him.

I have to say it. I felt like her children and her grandchildren meant nothing to her. That I meant nothing to her.

And now I'm left with a boatload of mixed emotions to wade through, about my duty to fly to her side, to hold her hand, to say one last goodbye, to be with her when she crosses over.

If I could have my druthers, I'd remember her the way she was and blot out the last three years of memories of the woman living in my mother's body.

Or is that just more damn rationalization?

I will do the right thing. I will go to say goodbye. I will give her permission and forgiveness and tell her I love her and I understand that it's time for her to go and wish her godspeed on her journey. She's earned that much, she deserves that much and more.

I was never the daughter that she wanted, although I think there were times when she was proud of me. Even if I still can't be that perfect daughter, I can do my best to be a daughter she would be proud of, here, now, in the twilight of her mortal coil.

This is Mom today.

"So if you care to find me
Look to the western sky
As someone told me lately
Everyone deserves the chance to fly
And if I'm flying solo
At least I'm flying free
To those who'd ground me
Take a message back from me
Tell them how I am
Defying gravity
I'm flying high
Defying gravity
And soon I'll match them in renown
And nobody in all of Oz
No Wizard that there is or was
Is ever gonna bring me down."

Stephen Schwartz (Wicked)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The ending of days

"Gone the tears that you have wept, you'll dance in freedom ever after."

My mom is dying.

My mom is actively dying.

Mom is 90, in an advanced stage of dementia, with macular degeneration, no quality of life and no will to live.

All things considered, she looked pretty well as recently as a month ago.

Mom has been in hospice care since May, 2011. More than two years now.

On Sunday night at about 10 p.m. I got a call from a hospice worker. She was calling, according to protocol, to let me know my mom had fallen and had some cuts and bruises. Hospice made the decision to put her back on continuous care.

Mom has periodically had continuous care, usually after a fall or once when she had a viral infection. When she is in a stable state, hospice provides services, such as bathing her three times a week. A chaplain and a social worker visit her regularly. Sometimes volunteers visit her. Her case is managed by a team led by a registered nurse.

The hospice worker assured me that this wasn't an emergency, so I went to bed.

About 1 a.m. the phone rang. My mom was complaining of pain in her leg. In a sleepy state, I gave permission for her to be taken to a hospital emergency room for an X-ray.

At about 3 a.m. the phone rang again.

Mom had a fractured hip. Either she'd fallen and fractured it or the bone had broken causing her to fall.

I wrongly thought that a fracture was milder than a break. Something like a fissure or a crack that would mend on its own in time.

The hospice worker said the treatment options were surgery or pain management. I couldn't imagine my mom, in her mentally diminished and frail state, undergoing surgery. Pain management was clearly the way to go.

I also asked that she not be admitted to the hospital. I asked for her to go back to her assisted living residence.

In April 2011 mom was taken to the hospital after a fall, admitted and kept there for a week. She came out in a much weakened state, from which she never fully recovered. A month later, she was still in a decline. My brother and I were united and adamant about not wanting her to go back into the hospital. That is when she was admitted into the hospice care program.

We have been in agreement since that time. We do not want her going back into the hospital.

So in the wee hours on Monday morning, mom went home to her room at the assisted living residence. Hospice put her on 24-hour crisis care, and started her on hydrocodone.

In the morning I did some research on hip fractures and it was all bad. The surgery is a difficult one, especially so for the elderly, with a long and painful recovery and rehabilitation period. My mom would not want to go through that. My brother and I would not want her to go through that.

On Tuesday my mom still had significant discomfort and her hospice team lead recommended stepping up the pain management and starting Mom on morphine.

Now we wait. There is no mortality benchmark, no one size fits all time frame for a hospice patient on morphine to live or die. Some patients receive palliative morphine for weeks, even months. Some pass away within hours.

Mom is conscious but unresponsive. She is being offered food and water but we are not forcing her to take any. The kindest ending I can imagine would be for her to simply drift off into sweet everlasting sleep.

Not knowing when it will happen is the hardest part right now. That and being so far away.

I've been told that hearing is the last sense to go, and that if I talk to my mom she'd hear me and know I was there, even if she couldn't acknowledge it or respond. The wild card here is her dementia. The last time I saw her, she had no idea who I was. So there's no particular reason to think that my presence or my voice would give her any comfort.

Then again, maybe it would be better to err on the safe side. I'm thinking about it constantly, almost obsessively. The next few days will be pivotal. I think if she doesn't die right away, she may live a little while longer. If she makes it to the weekend, then maybe I will try to go see her again next week.

In so many ways I just want this to be over. I really lost both my parents when my dad died, three years ago this coming November. I just haven't been able to mourn for them yet. As soon as we buried my dad, my mom spiraled into this terrible, demanding, long, slow tailspin of ever-increasing cognitive impairment, ever-declining physical ability, and most recently, an unrelenting desire to die. "Give me a pill," she'd say, often, to anyone and everyone. "Help me to pass."

Her life had lost all purpose. She wasn't living, she was existing, that is all.

I'm already talking about her in the past tense.

Her heart still beats, her lungs still expand and contract, her body is still alive, but my mom is long gone.

She is a Holocaust survivor and an atheist. I have no real personal faith, but I'm asking the powers in the universe anyway.

Soon, soon, please, please, let her body rest.

This is Mom and me last spring. She still knew me then.

"You've been taken by the wind, you have known the kiss of sorrow
Doors that would not let you in, outcast and a stranger

You have come by way of sorrow, you have come by way of tears
But you'll reach the destiny, meant to find you all these years
Meant to find you all these years

You have drunk a bitter wine, with none to be your comfort
You who once were left behind, will be welcome at love's table

You have come by way of sorrow, you have taken a long way home
But the love that waits for you, you will someday come to know
You will one day come to know.

All the nights that joy has slept, will awake to days of laughter
Gone the tears that you have wept, you'll dance in freedom ever after

You have come by way of sorrow, you've come over a stony ground
But when love calls out your name, you will lay you burden down
You will lay you burden down."

Julie Miller

Monday, October 21, 2013

Rescue redemption and renegade beads

"I am older now, I have more than what I wanted, but I wish that I had started long before I did."

Do you remember Dolce?

She is my daugher's rescue foster boxer and on September 5 she looked like this.

This is Dolce today. And this is where you sleep when the cat steals your big fluffy bed.

She is a beauty. Once she has her vaccinations, is spayed and completes heartworm treatment, she will be available for adoption. She should be good to be before Christmas. In case you are looking for a dog. Or a Christmas present.

Remember my crazy customer story? Here are the beads I made for her, they are the pale yellow ones in the set.

I haven't heard anything further from the customer, for which I'm thankful. I hope she found the perfect beads to match her focal.

I used Straw Yellow for the pale yellow, but I'm guessing she would have said they were too pale or not really yellow. She wouldn't have returned them, more likely she'd just have complained and left me disgruntled feedback.

Who needs that?

In a story that is related only insofar as it involves a bead sale, a customer bought five of my silver glass beads on Friday. I could only find four of them.

Even though I keep my online inventory completely separate from my show inventory, this is the third or fourth time I couldn't find a bead. Maybe the fifth.

The first time, it was a fish bead and I told the customer it must have swum away. She was cheerful about it and chose another fish. I never found fish one. The second time, I told the customer and offered to remake the bead.

Rule 1. Never offer to remake the bead. She didn't like any of my SIX attempts. She choose another bead from my shop and I gave her a discount. That bead never showed up either.

I suspect Zamboni, the bead thief.

In the next case, a regular customer placed a large order and later said that one of the sets wasn't in the box. I remember the set because it was encased and different from my usual styles. I think I remember putting it in the box. But the customer is always right, so I offered to remake the set. See Rule 1 above. A lot of beads later I had a sufficiently similar set and sent it along. My customer was thrilled.

Not long ago, I couldn't find a focal bead purchased by another regular customer. I had a very similar one in my inventory, a prettier one really. I mailed it to her with a bonus bead and without comment. The customer left happy feedback. I never solved the mystery of what happened to that missing bead. Zamboni again?

And once again, on Friday, I couldn't find one bead of five, and again I had a very similar one. This time I did solve the mystery. I went back through my sold orders (as I had each time) and it turns out I sold the missing bead in April. I suspect I meant to copy the listing and forgot to change the photos, or accidentally renewed the listing instead of copying it. Oops. At least it wasn't Zamboni. This time.

I'm probably bound to burn for this, but I sent out the order with the similar bead and a really pretty bonus bead. I'm hoping the customer will be so wowed with the beauty of the beads, she will be totally happy and never scrutinize the replacement bead side-by-side with the photo. Even then, they are quite alike, some style and tonality. The differences are subtle. I just know what to look for.

Worst case scenario, my customer says I sent the wrong bead, I apologize profusely, offer a refund, and tell her to keep the similar bead. It's a calculated gamble. At stake is $25. I'm feeling lucky.

Of course I'm also gambling that she doesn't read my blog.

Before I continue with my love/loss/redemption story, I'd like to share the letter I wrote (but never sent) to Marty at the beginning of January in the year 2002.

The letter went through several iterations, including some that were much longer and more emotional, before I nailed what it was that I really wanted to say.

When all the crap broke lose between me and Marty, a good friend told me that the last one to speak loses the power. Up until this time, I felt as though I had always given away the power.

I needed to write the letter more than I needed him to read it.

A brief recap. In his note he'd said this.
Things with Mary are, to borrow your Chinese curse, interesting. We are in touch, we still love each other, and the distance is the issue.... Meanwhile, we do our best to hang on.
Here is my letter.
No Marty.

The distance was always the issue. With Mary. You’ve just forgotten. Or you think, it will be different now.

We have both been such fools – you for letting me go – and me for not letting you go.

Time we have wasted on the way.

It is as though your words are etched into my brain: "Thank you for finding my life and sharing yourself so deeply with me. I have fallen hopelessly and madly for you.... darling.... stay with me, please..... I want you. We are not finished either - thank God.... Thank you for life, darling Lizzy.... Thank you. I love you, my sweetheart.... forever yours.... Your lover.... your Marty."

A man walking into a movie theater in a Hawaiian print shirt to meet a woman he will take home and hold in his arms all night. A man standing in a kitchen, in running clothes, making a turkey sandwich with tomatoes and mayo. I have never loved anyone so much.

For once, for a brief moment in time, you had it right, Marty. It wasn't just good writing, any more than it was deliberate deceit. It was warm and real and vital and undeniable. I would have followed you to the ends of the earth. Whither thou went, I would go, and your people would be my people. I would have forsaken everyone I cherish for you, everyone who loves me and needs me.

And then this: "Okay... Liz. Stand up on your own two feet. You can do it. You can fucking FLY - if you want to. You don't need to be dependent on anyone. Not even me. Start there. The rest will be easy."

(Sure. It will be easy – when the heart forgets. When pigs have wings.)

I remember everything. Every inch of your skin, the way your hair feels when I touch it, the way you make Stetson smell like some fine cologne, the way your body changes shape in response to mine. And, finally, the incredible sweetness of learning how to make you tremble.

Love we have wasted on the way.

Because you couldn’t get Mary out of your heart, couldn’t bear to think of her with another man. I am a very needy woman, I was anesthesia at a time when you were hurting. You and Mary miss each other and you're still in love (you think). You still love each other and you do your best to hang on.

It pains you to think of the hurt you caused me.

You tell me this - this perfidious piffle - and you keep your personal ad and daily activity and, for God’s sake Marty, new pictures on

Just WHO are you looking for?

Oh, yes, I know. Venus with both arms - and a price above rubies. Mighty Aphrodite.

So sure, Happy New Year, and good riddance to the old year, filled with insanity and horror and inestimable sorrow - and a maelstrom of shit that makes our pathetic little romantic tragicomedy look like nothing more than a storm in a demitasse cup.

Let the water come and carry us away.

Elizabeth Bunn
January, 2002
Houston, Texas

"Look around me, I can see my life before me
Running rings around the way it used to be
I am older now, I have more than what I wanted
But I wish that I had started long before I did

And there's so much time to make up everywhere you turn
Time we have wasted on the way
So much water moving underneath the bridge
Let the water come and carry us away

Oh when you were young did you question all the answers
Did you envy all the dancers who had all the nerve
Look around you now, you must go for what you wanted
Look at all my friends who did and got what they deserved

So much love to make up everywhere you turn
Love we have wasted on the way
So much water moving underneath the bridge
Let the water come and carry us away

Let the water come and carry us away."

Graham Nash

Friday, October 18, 2013

Just another crazy customer day

"And I have the sense to recognize that I don't know how to let you go."

Today, for your amusement, I have another crazy customer story.

I had this bead set listed on Etsy.

A few days ago I got two messages on Etsy in succession.
1. do you do custom work?

2. I bought this bead on ebay and I am having trouble finding beads to go with it. I thought if you can make me a pair like your yellow ones but lighter I think it would be a good match.
She had won this bead from the amazing Cynthia Tilker.

Making a custom pair of beads hardly seemed worthwhile, but I asked Neil and he observed that it might lead to more sales from the customer. Plus sales have been slow, the beads are twelve-dot no-brainers, and I'm nice. So I replied.
Hi Susan - Yes, I can do that. The cost would be $10 plus $2.00 shipping, paid in advance. Let me know if this is OK. Cynthia Tilker does such beautiful work, I'm a big fan of hers too.
When I next checked, I'd gotten seven more messages from the customer. Spelling and grammar mistakes, all hers.
1. its my first from her. the last one was $$$. ok send me a reservation. can you make the sprinkled stff black?

2. the last one she sold got $444.00

3. forget what i said about sprinkles it was meant for someone else. if you can make a lighter yellow i thing your blackish color in the backround is good. can you make it black and light yellow.

4. no sprinkles just light yellow and black. if you think you can match my bead send me a reservation to pay you.

5. the yellow ones you have in your set can you make the yellow match my bead better? If its a yes great

6. Please send to Sue Bxxx, street address, Scottsdale, Arizona, zip code

7. im having trouble learing etsy im new. i want 2 beads to match my bead. i thing a black backround will make it even better. send me a reservation for $12.00 ill pay
Against my better judgment, I created a reserved listing for her. I copied the listing she liked, changed the title to: RESERVED for SUSAN SOMEONE, and changed the description to read: TWO BEADS ONLY reserved for Susan Someone in the style of the listing pictured with paler yellow.
Here is your reserved listing. I can't promise to match Cynthia's bead since I don't have it in hand. I think my beads will coordinate with it.
Much more quickly than I could possibly fire up the torch and make the beads, let alone anneal them and photograph them, nine (nine!) more messages arrived. I've corrected spelling and some grammar.
1. i thought i asked you to make a lighter yellow

2. ok i pay now then you make the bead?

3. im new to etsy. just learning.

4. $40 for 2 beads is a little to much for me.

5. I paid the $12 but those beads you made me look nothing like your set. I wanted the style of your set. you made different styles.

6. I paid you now the pictures are gone. the beads looked nothing like your set. Whats going on?

7. I think for now on I have to see pictures with everyone. Im down $12. You showed me pictures that looked nothing like your beads and the pictures went away.

8. now i have to try to get my $12 back. this is so ridiculous. I just wanted 2 beads like your yellow ones but lighter and you sent me pictures (that are no longer here) that look nothing like yours. they werent even yellow.

9. I see you get reviews that are nice. Why did you decide to do this to me? Keep the 12 bucks its not worth the aggravation. You taught me a $12 lesson. see pictures before paying. I have no idea how you sent me pictures and now they are not there.
She even e-mailed me, after she'd gotten my email address from the PayPal transaction.
my two beads look nothing like your set.
I tried explaining, as though I were dealing with a sane person. Why?
Susan - I haven't even made your beads yet. You will be getting two beads just like the ones in the set, but paler yellow. It's not too late to cancel the sale. If you are uncomfortable and would prefer a refund, I will happily refund your $12. Once I make and send the beads, custom orders are final, so please decide now if you'd rather cancel the sale.
Two more messages arrived.
1. Someone sent me pictures. I thought it was you. I have no idea who it was. Im sorry. I still want them.

2. I found the beads. I am so SORRY. SO SORRY. Please forgive me.
As I said, I'm nice.
No worries. Etsy can be a little confusing at first. I will be mailing your beads on Wednesday.
But I told myself, one more word from her and I'm done.

Predictably enough, the camel's back got broken. She sent another message.
can i see a picture before you mail them.
Without blinking, I refunded her money and cancelled the transaction. I feinted and hedged my bets with this explanation.
Dear Susan - I've decided to cancel this transaction. I didn't explain well enough up front that custom work isn't refundable or exchangeable. For $10 (minus fees) I don't want to worry about whether or not you will be happy with the beads. Thanks, Liz
Neil said, you haven't heard the last of her. Neil is one smart guy.

Here are her next two messages.
1. i wouldnt of returned something that cost 12 bucks whether i liked them or not.

2. Hello Elizabeth, I would like to cancel my order #1234567890, placed on Oct 14, 2013. I apologize for the inconvenience and look forward to hearing back from you soon.
I couldn't resist. I replied.
Here is where it gets more weird. Four more messages (and counting? God, I hope not) arrived.
1. I never wanted to cancel this order you did. I would of kept them no matter what. I never return anything so I dont know why you was so worried I wouldnt write them. Furthermore I never wrote this.

2. I never wanted to cancel this order. I wanted the beads. I dont know why you was so worried I didnt want them. Furthermore I never wrote this.

3. What did I do so bad that you dont want to make my beads? Because I asked for a picture? Those things I said earlier were meant for someone else. I thought I explained that.

4. All I wanted was a picture. As soon as I asked you for a picture you cancelled my order. Most artist show approval pictures even before the buyer pays. AS long as they were some shade of yellow they would of been fine. I really like your beads and I never ever returned anything.
I have no words. I won't be responding to her. Ever. Again.

The funniest part is, I made her damn beads. I made three, to be sure I had a closely matching pair. They turned out really nice.

What I'll do is make another dozen or so of the same style in a variety of colors and list the set.

And keep my fingers crossed that she doesn't buy it. You can't block someone on Etsy, but you can damn sure cancel any future transactions.

End of my funny story. I hope. On with my older, sadder story.

January 1, 2002. New Year's Day. Marty wasn't coming back.

I posted this.
I spent most of yesterday grieving.

I spend hours today writing him one of those letters where you say everything you really want to say and then some - and then you burn it.

It turned out so great, I am tempted to send it. But I'm going to sleep on it.
I knew that if he wanted to come back, he'd have to want it more and work for it harder than anything he'd ever wanted or done in his life. But he didn't want to come back.

In his own way, I believed he was trying to be kind, to tell me he wished me well. I chose to hope it was something else.

Well, he did write twice in three days and send me a fucking picture of himself.

Oh yes, and he wanted to clear a clouded conscience. It was that time of the year. And the last time we spoke, in early October, he said he cared - and then I heard not a word for almost three months. Silence can speak volumes.
So he wants to be civil, to send holiday greetings and well wishes and chit chat. And I want to turn it into something more profound - well, I guess I just better get over it.

I'm not sure I can respond in kind. At one time I thought I couldn't stand to lose touch completely, to not know if he stayed here or moved or got married or lived or died. I wanted to have some contact, even just as a friend.

So here is the opportunity. But I'm not sure I can be light and cheery and tell him a pack of lies about how well and happy I am.

You know, maybe I do love him enough to let him go with grace, to wish him no ill, to even hope he finds happiness. Of course, it would be a lot easier if happiness happened to find me first.
Sleeping on it gave me no insight.

On January 2, I was just as confused and conflicted.
I am listening to everyone's advice and I haven't called or written back to Marty at this time.

But isn't it possible that he meant no harm by writing to me?

Because, if he really wanted to hurt me and use me, all he'd have to do would be to show up with flowers and contrition, and, with a little persistence, I'm pretty sure he could have me anywhere he wanted me again.

All he did was offer holiday wishes and say nice things about me.

So is it wrong to accept Marty's friendship, such as he is offering it? To try to salvage some sort of vague consanguinity out of the ashes of love?

As for the rest of it, the hope and the disappointment, the resurgence of my feelings for him, well, that was all self-inflicted, wasn't it?
I didn't know how to stop caring.
I am not delusional, I do not think he is coming back, I understand it is over, and I know it would be almost impossible for us to be together again even if he had a total change of heart, which he clearly hasn't.

But I don't know how, today, this minute, to make my heart stop aching.

I know time will help. I know this is a temporary setback. I know it won't take me another five months to get back to where I was a week ago. But where I was a week ago was still in a very sad place.

Despite everything, I don't believe that Marty is corrupt and evil. I think he is immature and was careless with my heart when he spoke all those words of love last summer. But I believe he meant them at the time he said them, that he felt the feelings, if only briefly, that the intimacy scared him shitless, and that he is, in the end, a lonely, lonely man.

He is, in fact, a lot like me, lost in his dream fantasy of Mary, the woman who kept him at a distance and always guessing. He isn't really happy at heart, any more than I am.

So, what do I really care what he thinks of me, if I let him see me bleed, if he knows I am as big a fool as he is? Let me wear my heart on my sleeve, let me say the things I want to say - he's not coming back anyway so it doesn't really matter, does it?

I can spill my heart out, say my piece, let it all hang out - it changes nothing.
Days passed. I remained immobilized, lost in indecision.

Then, on January 10, a light clicked on.
I think you will be pleased with me. I have listened and I have pondered and I have deliberated - and I have let Marty's last letter go unanswered.

That letter, you recall, said that he and Mary still love each other, and that he wishes and hopes to move home again some day, and maybe they'll have a chance to become a real couple again.

Hmm. Lots of qualifiers there. Wishes. Hopes. Some day. Maybe. A chance.

On New Year's Day I spent hours trying to write the words that would bring it all to closure. And the more I wrote the less I knew what it was I really wanted to say.

So I did nothing.

I was still struggling with it though.

I felt like I was standing on the edge of a precipice - the one that represented my liberation. I was getting ready to jump and I was pretty sure I was going to fly.

Then something else happened.

He posted fucking NEW pictures of himself on his personal ad.

In one picture he's sitting at a piano and in the background are the bodies of women holding wine glasses. He's wearing a bright multi-colored striped sweater. The word flamboyant comes to mind. So does the word asshole.

And I want to give him the lie, I want to say, how dare you feed me this sanctimonious BULLshit about Mary and your love for each other and your plans to be with her again - and then work so diligently to market yourself to prospective new conquests (victims)?

But all that would do would be to tell him I still cared. Right?

So I didn't.

In the end, maybe there really is nothing I have left to say to him.

I declare myself free of the albatross that is Marty.

Happy Independence Day to me.
It was progress. But it wasn't to be the last time I would declare Independence Day from Marty.

One day at a time, one baby step at a time, I went on living my life.

Nothing is ever simple.
I still have to figure out what to do about this new relationship with Mark, who says he loves me and wants to give me a diamond ring and is sure that if I let him make love to me I will forget all about (Marty who?).

Regrettably, right at this 10 seconds of the universe's unfolding, I am not in love with him.

"What ravages of spirit
Conjured this tempestuous rage
Created you a monster
Broken by the rule of love

And fate has lead you through it
You do what you have to do

And I have the sense to recognize
That I don't know how to let you go

Every moment marked with
Apparitions of your soul
I'm ever swiftly moving
Trying to escape this desire

The yearning to be near you
I do what I have to do

And I have the sense to recognize
That I don't know how to let you go

A glowing ember
Burning hot and burning slow
Deep within, I'm shaken by the violence
Of existing for only you

I know I can't be with you
I do what I have to do

And I have the sense to recognize
That I don't know how to let you go.

Sarah McLachlan

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Thriving is better than revenge

"Why wait any longer for the one you love, when he's standing in front of you?"

It's hard to believe that it's been eleven months since my daughter's ex-husband walked out on her and their then five month old baby son. The little butterbean is 16 months old now, and thriving. We got to spend some time with him this past weekend.

My daughter appears to be thriving too, but I know the hurt goes deep. It doesn't help that her ex is, according to Facebook, in a relationship. He's dating someone who posts about what an awesome boyfriend he is.

I do have to wonder about a woman who dates a man who walked out on his wife and baby, who was unfaithful while his wife was pregnant. She may not know the latter, but the baby is empirical evidence of the former.

Maybe it will help my daughter let go and move on.

A few months ago, I asked her if she'd thought about dating. Her answer was, I'm not ready. Something about the flat way she said it made me decide not to ask again. She will tell me when and if she wants to.

I do understand not being ready so very well. And I know it won't be easy, with a toddler. Her ex has the baby 8 nights a month. My daughter uses those nights to catch up on work, do laundry, and take care of all those little things that she doesn't have time to do the other 20-odd nights a month, because she's feeding a baby and playing with a baby and bathing a baby and reading to a baby and putting a baby to bed. And then I imagine falling into bed herself.

When she is ready, I have to believe she will find her way.

In light of the harm done to my daughter and the courageous way she has rebounded and rocked the single mom thing, I allow that the despair I suffered in the story I've been recounting might be considered overblown and melodramatic. I will always acknowledge and honor the pain of those who've suffered more egregious damage and borne it more stoically and bravely than I did.

But my story is what it is. I felt the feelings I felt. I'm recording the story as it played out, for no other reason than that I feel like telling it.

A few days ago, I saw this quote on Facebook.
When you can tell the story and it doesn't bring any pain, you know that it has healed.
I looked it up, and it's attributed to inspirational speaker Iyanla Vanzant.

There was a time, more than a year after Marty left, that I realized I was 90 percent healed. I thought I might never manage that last 10 percent, and I was OK with that. I was grateful that I'd come so far.

And look at me, I'm telling the story now. And while I remember the pain, I no longer feel it.

After three months of no contact, on December 27, 2001, I got an e-mail from Marty. It started like this.
Hi, Liz.... Just wanted to wish you happy holidays and hope that you’re well and happy....
There was a little stuff about work and about his divorce being final.

It ended like this.
Here are a couple of photos – one with the boys at Thanksgiving dinner, and another of me by Oswego Harbor, one of my favorite places in the world.... A greeting card of sorts, I guess.

Fondest wishes and hugs to you.... Marty
The last time we talked, he had told me his relationship with Mary was still as unresolved as ever, and that they weren't currently speaking. But he clearly didn't consider it to be over, despite the fact that his personal ad was back online from about three weeks after he pushed me away.

Until now, our phone call in early October was our last contact. One of the things he said during that call was that he didn't enjoy hurting people. At the end of the call, I told him, you know I love you (a mistake, I know), and he said, you know I care.

Then there was silence.

So it came as a shock to to get the email from him. And I have to say a part of my heart was gladdened.

I knew it might mean nothing more than that he was bored and lonely one night and thought about me. Or maybe he wanted to reassure himself that he was still desirable to me and then he could push me away again.

The remote possibility that he realized he made a terrible mistake and wanted to come back was probably just my ego running amok.

So, why was I having cold sweats and shakes?

While I was still deliberating what I wanted to do about it, I got a second message from him, on December 29. It was short, silly, flirtatious.

Obviously, for whatever reasons, I was on his mind.

On December 30, I sent a reply. I didn't beat around the bush. It started like this.

Thanks for the holiday wishes.

So, you went to New York - how did things work out with Mary?
And it ended like this.
Take care,

I posted about it on the support forum.
I wonder what he will do with that.

I wonder what I will do if he calls and asks me to see him.

I wonder how I will feel if he doesn't.

I think I will be OK if he doesn't. I'm used to that by now.

But if he does, what am I going to do?

Yesterday was such a beautiful day. And all I could think about was that it was the perfect day to go to the zoo - and I wanted to go with Marty. I just wanted to walk around and look at the animals and maybe sit in the sun somewhere and have a cappuccino and not worry about anything serious like long-term relationships and love and loss.

Just for comparison, I pictured the same scenario with Mark and it felt totally different.

I don't know what is going to happen, 99 percent probability, nothing. More likely than not he's bored and lonely and wants to reassure himself that he still has me in his power. Whether he does or he doesn't, I am damn sure not going to let him think that he does.

Nothing in my life before like this that has gone wrong ever got turned around and went right. Does that mean it couldn't? No.

But it would take a huge amount of work to rebuild trust. If he does want me (which is extremely speculative) he is going to have to work harder than he has ever worked for anything in his life.

And if he doesn't, well, I think I am pretty immune to being hurt further by him. I can take this attention he is choosing to pay me now as some richly deserved salve for my crumpled ego and go on about my life feeling a little lighter-hearted.

How sure of myself I sounded.

On December 31 I got my answer. It started like this.
Hi, Liz.

Things with Mary are, to borrow your Chinese curse, interesting. We are in touch, we still love each other, and the distance is the issue.

I wish and hope to move home again some day, sooner rather than later, and maybe we'll have a chance to become a real couple again.

Meanwhile, we do our best to hang on. On any given day, that can feel sad, happy, great, miserable..... you name it.
And it ended like this.
I hope it doesn't seem strange to you that I wrote... It has been a remarkable year in my life, and I have to say how well I think of you all of the right and bittersweet ways one can.

It pains me to think of the hurt I caused you - you are a lovable and sweet woman who deserves happiness on your own terms. So, at this time of year, I found myself thinking of you and wanting you to know our memories are warm and happy ones for me.

Happy New Year!
It was over - all over again.

Damn Marty. Damn me.

I didn't think it could still hurt so much.

I posted this.
So it ends now. One more river of tears, one more getting up tomorrow and starting my life all over again.

Three days of hope, hope that I didn't even allow myself to recognize as hope until it was blighted. I slept with hope in my heart and woke up with hope and now I find myself back in the darkness.

Surely three days from now I will be back to where I was three days ago. Or maybe I will be even better than I was three days ago.

But right now I want to cry until I come to the end of all the tears in the world. And I want to call him and tell him how much it hurts, I want to drive over and knock on his door and look him in the eyes with my heartache and bottomless sorrow and love and tell him he has made the most terrible mistake any human can make and not leave until he knows it.

But what I am going to try to do is nothing.
That night, New Year's Eve, Mark came to my house with a ring box, an engagement ring. I wouldn't open the box, wouldn't even look at the ring.

I was sad and sick at heart, and I was weary of resisting his relentless desire to hold me and to make love to me.

I wouldn't, couldn't marry him.

But what the hell did it matter whether or not I let him touch me.

Marty wasn't coming back.

"Lay, lady, lay, lay across my big brass bed
Lay, lady, lay, lay across my big brass bed
Whatever colors you have in your mind
I'll show them to you and you'll see them shine.
Lay, lady, lay, lay across my big brass bed

Stay, lady, stay, stay with your man awhile
Until the break of day, let me see you make him smile
His clothes are dirty but his hands are clean
And you're the best thing that he's ever seen.
Stay, lady, stay, stay with your man awhile

Why wait any longer for the world to begin
You can have your cake and eat it too
Why wait any longer for the one you love
When he's standing in front of you."


Friday, October 11, 2013

Keep calm and carry a bead

"For a moment all the world was right, how could I have known that you'd ever say goodbye."

I'm not a very flexible person.

As much as I'd like to think of myself as an easygoing, laid back, go-with-the-flow kind of person, it's just not the case.

I'm an uptight white girl.

I don't like it when things mess with my agenda. So, for example, if I am going to the community center to walk on the treadmill, and it's closed because the air conditioning is broken, or if I am going to volunteer at the animal shelter, and they send me home because all the cats are in quarantine, I'd be annoyed, upset. Not ruin-the-rest-of-the-day upset, but peeved. Not that either of those situations has happened. I'm just anticipating having to deal if they did.

My first husband and I had issues with this. I like to plan ahead and he was all about spontaneity. I wanted to make plans in advance to get together with friends and he wanted to just drop in on them and encourage them to do the same with us. This became a stalemate that resulted in us not getting together with friends much at all.

Neil and I are aligned on this. He'd never want to drop in on anyone and if someone dropped in on us he'd be very tense. He's a planner too, an over-planner at that. When we go on vacation, he wants to have activities all lined out. I'm OK with planning on the go. I'm also OK with chilling on vacation and not having specific activities at all.

My days and weeks have a rhythm, and I like it that way. Mondays I have enamel class. Tuesdays and Thursdays I make beads. Wednesdays I volunteer at the shelter. Fridays depend on whether or not it is Neil's 9/80 Friday off. If it is, I spend time with him. If not, I make beads. If Neil works Saturdays and I don't have other plans, I'll do a second shift at the shelter. I also make beads on Sundays if Neil is working, unless it is a bead show weekend or I have an HSGB meeting or something fun to do.

I work out at the fitness center every free afternoon. Most weeks that is five times. Sometimes four and sometimes six.

I'm a creature of habit.

Thursday morning I was making beads. I ran out of mandrels and came into the house to dip some more and eat a bowl of cereal. I heard my iPad beep with a Facebook message.

It was Ashley, one of the Beads of Courage coordinators. She asked me if I would be interested in making 80 pairs of Team Beads. I said sure. Team beads are beads carried mostly by athletes and sometimes by celebrities such as musicians. Gavin DeGraw and Johnny Reid are Team BOC members, as well as athletes on the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team and participants in the Alaskan Iditarod.

Anyone can sign up for the team and Carry a Bead. For $20 you get a matched pair of handmade Team Beads, a pewter Team BOC charm, a string or safety pin (you can decide to pin or wear your beads), a story card to share where the beads traveled, a Note of enCOURAGEment card to include a special message to a child in the Beads of Courage program and a return envelope.

Once received by Beads of Courage, all Team Beads continue their international journey to one of 30,000 children coping with a serious illness.

Here is what your Team Beads might look like.

I can't say a lot more about my project because it is going to be a surprise, except that I'm very pumped. It is for an event that will take place in late November, so I have about a month to make the 160 big-holed beads. I'm happy that I'm getting compensated for it and I'm happy to be part of it.

I look forward to telling you more and showing you the Team Beads I make.

Near the end of November, 2001, while still deeply grieving about my broken relationship with Marty, I met a man named Mark.

There were warning bells ringing out right from the start. It is a testament to my sad, weak state that I ignored them.

Mark began planning our life together pretty much beginning with our first conversation.

We met up at Whole Foods. My friend Nancie did my hair and came along with me to check him out. After she left, Mark drove me over to Half Price books in his white Prius Hybrid. We browsed for a bit, he took me back to my car and I went home.

He was tall and lanky, not bad-looking, a couple of years younger than me. I didn't think I'd see him again. There was no chemistry. On my side, anyway.

But he was persistent and kept calling me. I told him about Marty, about how Marty had spoken words of love too soon, before he really knew me, and how he had retracted them later.

And don't you know, after about two weeks, Mark told me he loved me.

My water heater died. Mark went with me to buy a new one and then spent hours in my cold garage installing it, while I sat comfortably inside, nice and warm, relaxing.

Hey, he wanted to do it. Who was I to say no?

But then he had to go and say he loved me.


In early December I posted on the support forum for the first time since September.
I am still fighting the horrible depression triggered by the broken relationship, and while I believe I am almost totally over the man, I am not over the hurt he caused.

Facing life alone has been much harder than I ever thought it would be, but because of the pain I am still in from the loss of love, I am just unable to form new attachments at this time. I have gone out a few times on dates with nice enough men who would like to take it to the next level and I just can't yet.

Maybe they just aren't the right men, but I hardly have the energy to go to work and keep my life going let alone look for ways to meet new men. I have to work on getting well first, or at least controlling the depression to a level that feels something like well.
I may or may not have been over the man, but I was struggling in my life.
I'm not looking for happiness 24/7, just a neutral feeling, a relief from the fear and heaviness and yes, the angry feelings. I'm angry that my house is a mess and that I don't have the energy to keep it clean or engage the kids in doing more of their share. I'm angry that my pets are adding to the mess and the chaos and that the cat scratches the furniture and sits on the countertops and the dog still makes mistakes and won't go outside when it's cold and damp.
At the same time, I was striving to look for the good, to deliberately practice gratitude.
Let me try to say something positive. At least we have each other here. We have hope that there are doctors and therapists and medicines that can help if we can stick with it and keep trying. We have enough to eat today and clothes and a bed to sleep in.

I have a job that I like and am good at and even if I can't pay all my debts I can pay some of them. I may be alone today but the perfect man for me may walk in my door tomorrow (and this time he won't leave just months later). As long as we are alive there is hope.

I also think about dying a lot, but not about doing, just wondering about whether it would really be a way to peace or just more bad karma to outlive in future incarnations. I wonder about whether there is a reason and a purpose for everything or if things are random and coincidental and meaningless.

I measure my mental health by the days I stop trying to figure this out and just live life.
I continued to see Mark, mostly because he kept calling and asking. I was very honest with him about my mental health, or lack thereof, mainly because I didn't give a damn what he thought about me one way or the other.

One Saturday morning in mid-December he called, wanting to see me. I told him I was still in bed and was feeling too depressed to get up.

An hour later he showed up at my door with a brown paper sack of groceries. He took it into my kitchen and chopped up all kinds of fruit for a fruit salad. I love fruit salad.

Then he mowed my yard.

Yet still I had no feelings for him.
I really think what would help me more than anything would be if a new lover with all the good and none of the bad of (what was his name again?) appeared on the landscape. I know we are supposed to find happiness and satisfaction within ourselves but to be honest, being in a good relationship (while it lasted) was the best antidepressant drug for me ever. And it came so close to being everything I ever wanted, and I truly believed it was going to last.

I guess the lesson maybe is that we never know what could happen. Maybe if Mary had never contacted Marty again he would have died of cancer or been in a plane crash. There are never any guarantees and to give up control of our own happiness completely is always a huge risk.

Still I rail at the fates that made our paths even cross. The dance was not worth the pain. There must have been some life lesson here I was too stupid to learn the last time around when a man I was in love with went back to a troubled former relationship.
I wouldn't let Mark touch me. But one night we were watching TV, sitting apart on the sofa, and he took my foot and started to rub it. It had been so many months since I'd had any physical affection. I acquiesced and tentatively allowed him to rub my feet. That is as close as I would let him get.

On December 23 he asked me to marry him. I'd known him for a month.

I can't even imagine what he was thinking. He had a small house in Bellaire, three dogs, no kids. I had a small house in Jersey Village, and two kids. Where did he think we'd live? Never mind that I didn't love him.

I wrote about it in a letter to my mom.
Mark is complicated. I don't see it leading anywhere. I like his company except that he is too pushy and doesn't listen to me. I keep telling him I'm just interested in going out and having fun and taking things very slowly. I've told him I'm battling major depression and getting over having my heart shredded into ribbons and that I'm not ready to be physical.

He says he understands - and then he tries to kiss me. He also says he loves me. Last night he asked me to marry him. I think he is trying to prove to me that he isn't another Marty who declares love for me very quickly and then disappears a few months later. I said thanks, that is a sweet thing to say, but no.

The trouble is, I am not in love with him and I don't love him, and right now I need one or both to get involved in a physical relationship. I don't have the desire to reciprocate physically or emotionally with Mark. It's probably because he isn't the right person, and also because I'm still not totally healed from the hurt Marty caused.
I talked to a friend about the situation. He thought I should not see Mark any more because, knowing how he feels, even if I am being honest with him, I am using him.
I guess I know that is true, but I am lonely and it isn't good for me to be alone so much and if the powers in the universe want to put a Mark in my life, maybe I should not try to be so noble. Maybe he has something he needs to learn from me, even if I am never going to be his lover.

Yesterday, while I was out at the mall, he came over and mowed my front yard. Little things like that mean a lot. I can't picture Marty ever doing a thing like that. But I still can't love Mark and I am almost certain I never will.

Love and logic - who can reconcile them?

I just know I want to love and be in love with a life partner. There has to be someone out there who I can love and who will love me back and stick around.
And then on December 27, out of the wild blue yonder, I got an email from Marty.

The subject line was: Thinking of you....

"Looking back on the memory of
The dance we shared beneath the stars above
For a moment all the world was right
How could I have known that you'd ever say goodbye

And now I'm glad I didn't know
The way it all would end, the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance
I could have missed the pain, but I'd have had to miss the dance

Holding you I held everything
For a moment wasn't I a king
But if I'd only known how the king would fall
Hey, who's to say, you know I might have changed it all

And now I'm glad I didn't know
The way it all would end, the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance
I could have missed the pain, but I'd have had to miss the dance."

Tony Arata, performed by Garth Brooks

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


"You're way over me, I can't even see how, someday I'll need you the way you don't need me now."

Technology Day was a great success. We came home with a 47 inch Sony Bravia, a Tivo, even a new land line phone. We had breakfast at Cracker Barrel, even picked up some groceries at Target while we were there buying a baby gift for a friend.

Technology Installation Day was a total disaster.

Neil worked all weekend, while I did a bead show. It was fun and exhausting. Spending seven straight hours, two days in a row, interacting with customers is tough for this introvert.

I sold a lot of beads, including both of my bead challenge sets. Here is a picture of the second one.

Considering that they are inconsistently sized and are still strung in the order I made them, I'm quite happy with the sales. They were made as a creativity challenge. Getting a little money for them is just gravy.

I have another show at the end of the month and I've already started a new set. I'm hoping to have two, maybe three done. They are fun to make, no two beads alike, just three colors, all dots, all melted flush.

Sunday night we celebrated Neil's birthday, early, since we will be visiting the butterbean on his real birthday, with his kids and son-in-law. Afterwards we came back to the house for cake, baked by Neil's daughter. That's when Neil and the kids tackled the TV and DVR setup.

You'd think with three hip twenty-somethings, setting up a TV and DVR would be a breeze.

Apparently not so.

After a couple of stressful hours of getting nowhere fast, they gave it up. Neil even hooked up our old TV which is sitting on the floor.

It has something to do with our wireless signal, or possibly our router, or the way the cable comes into the house. Or maybe we're just technologically challenged.

I'd be happy to just apply money to find a solution, if I just knew who to call to come over and make it all work.

But now it's a point of pride and Neil is going to figure it out.


Probably not this week.

Possibly not anytime soon.

There just isn't enough time.

Work is eating his dinner and he has softball on Wednesday and Thursday nights and then we are off to Keller for the weekend.

I'd try it myself, starting with a new router, but there's the change I could knock out our whole internet connection, and that would not make anyone any happier.

In the meantime, there are plenty of other things to do besides watch tube. Neil feels the loss way more than I do.

I made beads this morning, walked on the treadmill this afternoon, watched another episode of Prime Suspect on my iPad. Tomorrow morning I am going to work at the animal shelter. It's been a week and I can't wait to see my cats, see who's new and who's still there, and spoil the lot of them.

And the heat has broken a bit, which is always a wonderful thing. It's not really cool yet. I'm still torching in a t-shirt and cotton skirt and not much else except for my Birks. But the change in the air promises that fall really is coming and we've survived one more blistering Texas summer.

November 2001 was a lot like October 2001. Which was a lot like September 2001 and August 2001. Just cooler and darker.

I was still fighting my demons.

In case you are wondering how much longer this story goes on, the answer is another year, more or less. Luckily it won't take nearly that long to tell it.

I'm not sure I'm able to convey the relentless bleakness I experienced that fall of 2001. Perhaps it can never be expressed in words. You had to be there - but be grateful that you weren't!

I was desperate for relief, tired of the endless effort to hide the cloud I was living under from almost everyone in my life.

There were days when I thought I was gaining ground, moving though the stages of grief. I wrote this to my mom.
At least I am no longer grieving for Marty. I have finally reached the anger stage. I am so angry that a human being could do this to another human being. I think about the things he said, and I want to scream lies, lies, lies.

For a long time I defended him and didn't blame him for my depression, but now I do. I am lonely but I feel unable to relate to other men. I know its OK not to date or try to build another relationship right now, but I'm frustrated that I'm getting older every day while waiting to get better.
I had better days followed by bad days, which was disappointing and frustrating. One day I'd think, I am over Marty, and the next day all the heartache would come back in living color.

Despite the pain, I knew this was a first world problem
All along, I am consciously aware of my many blessings. So many people have a tougher row to hoe, I have healthy, good kids, people who care about me, a good job and my own health (other than depression - which is better than having cancer or some other grim disease or permanent medical condition).

I'm just impatient to be well so there is even a chance for me to move forward with my life and be able to draw the love that I need so badly. But I have to heal from the inside out, not use another person to put a bandaid over the still oozing wound in my heart.

I look back and think, I have made so many mistakes - even that this illness is a punishment - but then I try to remind myself that I also have done many things right. The past is what it is, no one is perfect. But I seem to need constant validation that it is OK to be imperfect and that I am still lovable.
I had this crazy idea that there was a subliminal connection between us, that he hadn't forgotten me. I believed that whether or not we ever had contact again, the pull would remain at some psychic level, yet I knew that it would diminish over time.

Time passed slowly.
One day he will be sorry. He'll never find anyone as good for him as me.

But it has nothing to do with me.
I went to visit my mom and dad the week before Thanksgiving. My kids stayed with their dad. I flew home the day after Thanksgiving and my older daughter met my plane. She dropped me at the house and went back to her dad's for a football party.

I reached a new level of loneliness.

Thomas came over to help me fix a plumbing leak in my bathroom. We'd never quite patched up our friendship and I knew this would probably be the last time I saw him.

But that was OK. I already had his replacement waiting in the wings.

Enter Mark.

"Holding on, safely to fall
Like there's no tomorrow forsaking it all
Bound and determined to share all of our days
Loving and learning our special ways

That I'm holding on to, and you've been letting go
And wherever you've gone to, I'm so far below
You're way over me, I can't even see how
Someday I'll need you the way you don't need me now

And you don't need me now, like you needed me then
And I'm wondering how I'll be feeling when
I'm way over you, I can't even see how
Someday I'll need you the way you don't need me now.

Clint Black

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Turning on and tuning in to technology

"Life's full of flaws, who knows the cause, living in the memory of a love that never was."

October is many things, including Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and I'm thinking pink.

Tomorrow is Technology Day, as declared by Neil. We are getting a smart TV. I hope it knows how to make coffee.

I'm a little stupid about technology, in some respects, especially TV respects. I don't watch TV much, except PBS. I'm subjected to TV if I sit with Neil, as he flips from channel to channel. I'm not missing much.

We still have a VCR and I still watch videotapes. Our library has a cart of tapes that people donate, I think, and they cost 50 cents apiece. I usually pick up a few when I go, and I have a collection of favorites that date back to pre-DVD history.

Due to some glitch in our antiquated tape and tube technology, we can't watch one thing and tape another. We can only tape what's on. We, or at least Neil, can program the VCR to tape while we're away, as long as the cable box is set to the channel we want to tape. Yes, we have cable. More channels, more commercials, still mostly nothing to watch.

I've figured out how to watch old TV shows on my iPad, thanks to my Amazon Prime membership, and we want to have that capability on our new smart TV. DVR is another must. Plasma or LCD, high-definition modes, refresh rates, who knows.

I love my iPhone and I'd marry my iPad, but sometimes I miss the days when it was exciting to get home and catch up on email. I know I don't have to check my email every time my phone and tablet chime, almost, but not quite, in unison. But somehow that chime stores itself in my head and I have that subliminal sense that there's something I'm forgetting to do until I check my messages.

I'm not always good about answering my cell phone. Neil would say that he gets me about one time in ten. He sometimes acts annoyed about it, but I don't think being accessible 24/7 is an obligation. I still look at my cell phone as something I have in case my car breaks down or I need to order pizza on the way home. (I made that last one up, I never order pizza, much less on the way home.) If you text me, I might not see it for half a day because I don't live and die by my phone.

Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful we live in an era of cellular communications. I might not have survived raising my daughters if we didn't. When they started going out with their friends, without me, I bought them cell phones. I told them, your phone will be charged, with you, and you will answer it when I call, or I'm taking it away from you. I tried to limit my calls to times when they weren't home by the time I expected them, and they were good about answering or calling back quickly. Just knowing I could contact them (and they could contact me) eased a lot of anxiety.

These days, my devices stay turned on and I stay tuned in, but every now and then I think it would be nice to drop out for a little while.

Twelve years ago, on an early October Sunday morning, after seeing my personal ad profile back online, Marty wrote me a short playful note.

Without hesitation I picked up the phone and dialed his number.

He answered, and I said, Marty, and he said, Liz. It was the first time we'd spoken since August 1.

It was both wonderful and heartbreaking to speak with him again.

He told me that the situation with Mary was as unresolved as ever, and that they were not speaking again at the moment. But he also said that he hadn't gotten over her, and what they once shared, in his heart, and he couldn't be in another relationship because of that.

He claimed that the feelings he had for me were real, that he never meant to hurt me, and that he didn't realize how fragile I was. He said that he'd forgiven me for my instant messenger conversation about him with Robin.

But he also said that it was mostly about Mary. And with her doing the pull and push away thing (sending the letters, holding out hope of reconciliation, and pushing him away again) it left him feeling very bitter and unready for another relationship commitment.

So in a way, we were in the same boat.

In a letter to my mom, I wrote.
I can't explain how much it means to me that we could talk to each other again, even if I don't expect you will understand that.
My kids had been staying with their father for a couple of weeks. I was ready for them to come home. My younger daughter was ready too, but my older daughter was balking.
She came home with the intention of going back to her dad's (she even left her things there). She said she really didn't know what she wanted - she looked so sad.

We talked for a long time and she decided to try staying with me for now, with the option of going back to her dad's if she wants to. She said she was happier there. I don't blame her. It's not fun being around a parent who is grieving most of the time and angry the rest of the time about the condition of the house.

I said that maybe we both had things we could work on to improve. But my heart was breaking. I told her I wanted her with me but I'd support her and love her whatever she decided. I don't want to make her stay out of guilt, but I couldn't stop crying. It just felt like one more person was leaving me, one more failed relationship.

Still she went and got her stuff and has been home three nights now and things have been OK and I have been making a big effort to spend time with my children, not stay in my room, not cry in front of them and not gripe about the mess.

I just didn't think my life could get darker.
I was writing to my mom every few days.
Work has been taking a lot out of me and what is left I am trying to use to be a more present mother to my kids than I have been for a while. I find work to be a much greater effort than I once did. I am amazed that so far no one has noticed.

I feel pulled in so many directions. I am trying to fulfill commitments I made when I thought I'd be feeling better by now.

Then there is always the ongoing wash and the groceries to buy and the meals to cook and clean up and the bills to pay and the paperwork to file and constant small repairs around the house.

None of that matters as long as I can keep my job. I am taking one day at a time. I don't think I can be fired for having depression but if there are layoffs or if the company is sold, all bets are off. I can't begin to imagine job hunting in the state of mind I am in, and at that point I have no idea how I'd afford medical or psychological help.

But if I let myself worry past today, I get into a panic, so I focus on getting through this day - or sometimes this hour.
October was passing but my desperation was hanging on like grim death.
I can't believe that this won't turn around one of these days. It has never been so bad or gone on for so long, but surely something will help me soon.
My mom invited me to come for a visit.
Wow - what a wonderful offer. It brought tears to my eyes. The idea of a week surrounded by care and love.
My brother tried to be there for me too.
Philip called last night, even though we'd spoken over the weekend. I think when you told him the kids were staying with their dad, it finally sunk in how serious this is. He was very supportive and told me he loved me. It made me cry, but what else is new. I am so lucky to have people who care.
Robin continued to provide a constant shoulder.
Having him to talk to has been a such a great help to me. But I also think it is time for me to stop leaning on him. I'm grieving for Robin too. If I hadn't started seeing Marty, Robin would never have started seeing Sue.

Robin offered me unconditional love and would never have left me. Now I have to accept that loss too. I can't keep depending on him. I know he still cares about me and loves me as a friend and wants to be there for me. But I know it can't go on forever. I feel like such a burden to him, as it is.
During all this time when the weight of the ocean was crushing the breath out of me, I was trying to go on living and that meant going out with people. Dating. I know, I can't believe it either.

The same weekend that I met Marty, I met a man named Thomas, a pilot, flight instructor and skilled cabinet maker. He was a very nice man but the chemistry just wasn't there for me. We had stayed in touch, and after Marty left, I started going out with him, as a friend. I knew he wanted more than a friendship but he wasn't pushing me and I needed someone just to be there.

One night, after he'd taken me and my kids and my daughter's boyfriend to dinner, I said something (thoughtless) that hurt his feelings and he left, angry at me.
I want to call him and beg him not to abandon me, but I know I can't feel anything more than friendship for him and it isn't fair to keep using him. If I hurt him, I don't deserve even his friendship.

I feel so ashamed. I can't seem to do anything right. And again, I have to accept the consequences of my actions, just like when I sent the chat log to Marty and there was no way to take it back.
I went on a date with a man named Rob.
I met Rob for ice cream and he seems like a nice man but I just can't sustain the pretense that everything is all right with me right now. He called me this morning and I had a hard time just getting through the conversation. I am going to have to let him go. I can't begin a relationship while I am so sad and scared.

I took my profile off the Internet and I am going to stop pressuring myself to find another lover. I have to finish the grieving, no matter how long it takes, no matter if someone else or most people would be over it by now.
I floundered about some more in my bleak little spot on the bottom of the deep blue sea.
The kids are going to their dad's tonight and I have to say I feel some relief that I don't have to go home and put on an act or fix dinner or pick up dinner or even eat dinner if I don't feel like it.

Rob called me again this morning. I didn't tell him not to call any more, but I did tell him that I had felt very blue yesterday. Might as well give him a clue that things are not so great with me.
I called Thomas to try to make amends.
He is one of the only people here who knows how unwell I am. Part of me says I should cut him loose and let him move on, part of me needs to know there is one person I can talk to who isn't 1,000 miles away.

I did explain again that what I really needed was just friendship without any hidden agendas, and that I am fond of him as a friend, which is true, for the most part. He seemed to accept that.
I wasn't fooling anyone though, least of all myself.

It was the end of October. My sorrow about the breakup had now lasted longer than the entirety of my relationship with Marty.

Grief has no timetable though.

I couldn't will myself over Marty. God knows if I could have I would have.

All I could do was live my life, nanosecond by nanosecond.
I am anxiously waiting for the day I can just say I am feeling better. But the heaviness and sadness are still very bad. Tonight, after my daughter went to bed, I went to bed and cried. She was coughing and couldn't sleep so she came in and I got up to fix her some tea with honey and we were sitting on the sofa and my tears wouldn't stop - they were actually splashing on her. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever finish crying.

"Love will abide, take things in stride
Sounds like good advice but there's no one at my side
And time washes clean love's wounds unseen
That's what someone told me but I don't know what it means

'Cause I've done everything I know
To try and make you mine
And I think I'm gonna love you
For a long, long time

Wait for the day, you'll go away
Knowing that you warned me, of the price I'd have to pay
And life's full of flaws, who knows the cause
Living in the memory of a love that never was

'Cause I've done everything I know
To try and change your mind
And I think I'm gonna miss you
For a long, long time."

(Gary White)