::Mother::

You could say I had three mothers. She was a doting mother to the babies. She was a controlling mother to the children. She was a cruel mother to the teenagers. 

When I was a baby, then a toddler, she could be silly, loving, and fun. But the older I got, the more unhappy she became.

I was born happy. 

And she seemed to hate me for it.

I sometimes wonder if my mother thought she could give birth to her rescuer. At least I, as the oldest, felt somehow responsible for doing that. But there were five others. Did they ever feel what I did? Did they have the same mother(s) I did? 

Thinking about it now, it seems she wanted me, or us, to unring the cruel bells of her past. But she had shrouded them behind a curtain, and she refused to pull it back, to let us see. To know. To understand. Consequently, we had no clue what we were responsible for. But I, for one, wanted desperately to fix it for her. For us. Because the life we were living hovered above the deep end. At any moment it could drop and drown us all. 

But what were my mother’s dreams? What had she wanted to be, if anything, before marriage and children entered her life? I often wondered, and from a very young age, whether or not I was conscious I was doing it, I watched for clues. Who, really, was this person who carried me for nine months in her belly? 

She often sang softly to the radio, and her voice was beautiful. 

In the early years she and Daddy would turn on the radio, scoot back the furniture in the dining room and dance to the music. They were amazing. 

My mother was a singer.

My mother was a dancer.

She often would say that my first word was “pencil.” I remember her drawing for me when I was very small, and just learning to master putting lines on paper. Her drawings were charming.

My mother was an artist.

I can remember being very young, a toddler, and watching her put on her red lipstick and fix her hair every work day before Daddy came home . I was in awe. In my mind she was a movie star. A queen. She slayed me with her black hair and hazel eyes, her flirty grin when she looked at my Daddy. 

As a teenager, I wondered if any of her talents pulled at her, if that was what kept her in such a dark place. But my mother was someone I could not talk to about deep things. I tried once, and her only response, between drags on her cigarette, was,
“If you keep thinking about things like that you’ll drive yourself crazy.”

Had she driven herself crazy? I remember a time, back when we lived on North Marion Street, that things were very rocky. I was about four.

Mother had a controlling friend who must have been incredibly overbearing. One day, this friend came into our house and rearranged my mother’s kitchen, without asking her. I think my mother was gobsmacked, had no clue how to handle the invasion, and had no idea how to stop it. 

She resented this woman, knew she needed to break free, but felt trapped. Mother seemed to take it as if she was not smart enough, capable enough, to do anything. She fell apart. In the end, it seems it was a nervous breakdown.

The priest came to the house several times, and counseled my mother. Things got quiet for weeks, as if someone was sick, or had died. I was so young that the memories are sketchy, but Mother was either put to bed, or had gone away. 

When she was ‘back,’ she brought a new normal with her. And things were never the same.
Even now I wonder what happened, exactly, during those months, that caused the shift. Whatever it was, it marks the time when the singing stopped. The dancing stopped. The laughter stopped.

The drinking started.

Mother is gone now. Daddy too. I can’t ask them anything. All I can do, or try to do, is write myself to a place where I find peace. 

By writing it down, I sort through the wreckage of the past.  I do what I can to organize the broken pieces. I hope to find some pattern, or even beauty, that illuminates like a stained glass window. Beauty from ashes. Magic from shards. 

It happens. It happens all the time. And if it exists here in this life, I will find it. 

If mother is watching, I pray she’ll help guide me to it. She no longer has anything to lose, if she ever did, by revealing her story. And it is so intrinsically tied to mine, that my story can barely be told, without knowing hers. 

::Helpers::

Mr. Rogers used to share something his mother told him when he was a boy: “If you are ever in a situation where you’re lost, or in danger, look for the helpers. There are always helpers.”

If he were a boy in need of help, he would be looking for me. I am a helper.

The interesting thing about helpers is, their first instinct is to step up; to take care of things. They jump in, exhibit calm, do what needs to be done, and try to make sure everyone is taken care of.

In seminary, we had a course about the different types of people. I learned that these people are, in a way, saviors. They don’t do it for themselves, or for praise; they are naturally service-oriented. 

And the downside of that is, “nobody saves the savior.”

When I went to the emergency room earlier this year, I was on my last thread of a nerve. My pain tolerance is almost dangerously high. There are several reason for that, which is a different essay entirely. But that Wednesday, I was in tremendous pain. My left abdomen was bulging, and the pain was so intense I could barely breathe. 

My son called that morning … his sister had called him. — apparently with a “check on Mom” alert; I’d told her I might need to head to the ER. He insisted he come and take me. “Mom, you are NOT taking an Uber to the hospital! I’ll be there in about an hour.”  

Yes. I would have taken an Uber. But was so happy to have my big, strapping son coming to go with me. 

We arrived at Saint Thomas Rutherford and I was quickly admitted. [Ed note: this was before the Covid. No masks were required]

I received the standard issue hospital bracelets and was shown to a room. My nurse, Sam, was a beautiful young girl. She clucked over me, took my vitals, we joked around a bit … when I’m nervous my first go-to is to try and make others laugh. I had Sam laughing. 

Lying on that bed in that room in that hospital, I was not the helper. Everyone else was a helper. I was the one being helped. The gravity of that reverse was so ‘opposite,’ I could barely handle it. My eyes teared up several times. The kindness of my son, of Sam, of Dr. Steinberg, of Don the guy who wheeled me down the hall for the CT scan … was almost too much to take. In spite of the pain I was in, the helper in me felt like I should be fixing them all dinner, giving them a haircut, making them an outfit.

I got my CT pictures taken, got my belly poked and prodded, and the diagnosis was, once again, “undetermined.” But that’s good, right? They’d have seen the bad stuff, if there was any. That’s what I’m thinking, anyway.

And I wasn’t there very long, maybe a couple of hours. Chris brought me home, and urged me to come stay with them in Franklin. I declined. I was perfectly fine, except for the undiagnosed pain. And as we continued to rule out the scary possibilities, I was more and more inclined to just roll with it.

But after my son left, and as I looked through the file of papers they sent me home with, I couldn’t help it. I cried. I was feeling pretty fragile, and deeply humbled; so overwhelmed by the kindness everyone had shown me. A helper is not used to being helped and, quite frankly, is not altogether comfortable with it. But I knew God’s hand was in all of it. I could see it.

And I heard one of the messages being given to me: “Let others attend to you.” 

It’s been months since then, and the problem seems to have gone away on its own. I’m back to climbing on ladders and taking on projects that are generally bigger than I am.

But I’ll never forget that Wednesday in January, when my daughter, my son, the hospital attendants … they were my helpers.

::Higher Ground::

Separate together

Common new phrases: ‘shelter in place’; ‘isolate together’; ‘curbside dining room’; ‘together separately’ … and the list will, no doubt, grow as days go by. I’m always happy to expand my vocabulary. Now is no exception.

It’s interesting, the way people are responding to the current unrest. On the one hand, there are guys who bought up all the TP with plans to sell it at premium prices.

I can’t knock free enterprise, but in the midst of a declared national disaster, ‘this’ is not ‘that’. It’s called price gouging, and it’s illegal.

On the other hand, there are those who – when they get an inkling that you might have a need, will throw open their trunk and ask, “How many can I give you? No problem, ma’am, I’m on my way to the church with this stuff and if you need any, I”m happy to share.”
These people … angels on earth. The hands, feet and heart of Jesus. That’s what they are.

They are the ones who help lift our gaze to the road before us, and the higher ground ahead.

I’m a grown woman. Really grown. I mean, I’ve been here awhile. I rarely remember that, and when I get the message to “check on the elderly in your neighborhood,” I start thinking of the ladies down the street. Then I start laughing, when I realize: I’m older than they are. WHAT?! Yes. Yes, I am. But I’ll check on them anyway. Because that’s what neighbors do.

In the main, I’m a hermit. I love being, living, creating alone. I cowrite weekly, via Skype. But I rarely come face to face in person. Rarely in the energy field of other people, rarely experience their scent or the texture of their sweater when I hug them.

Those things I do miss from time to time. But what I realize is, my lifestyle has prepared me for *this*. The need-and-the-call for everyone to, basically, live as I have lived for the past twenty years.

But we are a creative people. We Skype, and Zoom, and Facetime, and text, and call … we will always find a way.

The connective tissue between those who love each other cannot be destroyed.

::Regarding the Book, the Pain, and Me::

Girl At The Window

About a year ago, I finally pounded out the last pages of the first draft. A project that began in 1995. The early chapters are covered with the splatters of someone in the midst of an attack. The blood was boiling as the words hit the page. Twenty-plus years later, I can tell you this much: distance gives perspective. And through the years, as the story continues to write itself, the narrative shifts, changes. It — if you’re doing it right — becomes reflective and wise. I am reflective now, and wiser than I was then. So it’s stunning and a little uncomfortable to look back at the initial writing and see how unwise, how in pain, ‘the writer’ was.

I thought I wanted people to know the truth, as I knew it. Writing it down was a form of therapy; I wrote during the divorce process, sometimes all day through the night and into the next morning. I still have those pages, written on an old IBM Selectric. I haven’t read them in awhile, largely because I can’t bear it. That young woman was so broken, and — because she had no place else to put it — she poured her brokenness onto those pages. Maybe that’s how she was able to keep breathing. To put one foot in front of the other. To get from there to here.

It’s been twenty-four years since I started the book. The woman writing this now is not the same woman who wrote the first one hundred sixty five pages. Yes, all those things happened. But wasn’t it another lifetime? The scars are there, they show that wars were braved, but that’s okay. Everybody has their tragedies, losses, betrayals. Love is the ticket to all of them. There is no love with out them.

Think about that for a minute.

Loving someone is the bravest thing a person can do. To truly love means you’ve cracked your heart open and said “yes” to the utter bliss of it, and to the deepest emotional pain possible-while-still-breathing. A surrender to that depth of caring, of vulnerability, invites it. Invites it all.

My parents were the first example of what a marriage, and love, looks like. Theirs was filled with laughter, and dancing, and alcohol, and drama. It all swilled in the chalice of the Holy Catholic church. Daddy was an usher, Mama was fragile and beautiful. Our family, which topped out at six kids, sat in the front row every Sunday, “those stair step Myers kids.” In our chaotic house Mass, and the prayers we prayed there, were the two things that I could always count on. They became my lifeline.

When I say Mama was fragile, it doesn’t mean she wasn’t strong. It means she was different after she had the breakdown. I don’t remember much about it, but I remember the priest coming to the house.  I was young, and confused. My brother Bob was about two, and we were farmed out to family members each day. I went to Uncle John and Aunt Mabel’s. Bobby went to Nanny’s. Daddy dropped us off every morning on his way to work. When I got to Uncle John’s house, it was still dark. But the front door was unlocked. I climbed out of the car, shut the car door, walked up the driveway to the porch, opened the front door, went inside, shut the door, sat on the couch in the dark, and waited for someone to wake up. I was five years old.

Now, sitting here knowing that in March I’ll hit seventy one years of age, it’s a strange feeling; I think back on that little girl. I am she. She is I. We are us.

In a way, it’s like looking at an old movie of someone else.

But I guess if I had to do it again, and was delivered to my aunt and uncle’s home in the dark, I’d still open the door, go inside, shut the door, sit on the couch in the dark, wait for somebody to wake up and turn on a light.

That was a long time ago. Now, I have five beautiful grandchildren, each one a gift from my son Chris and his wife Shanna. On days when I’m not sure what I’m doing still here, I tell myself that they’re the reason I’m upright and taking nourishment. I know that’s a bit dramatic, but I really am determined to keep myself healthy so I can dance at their weddings. And I’ll foster their creative energy, their sense of humor, and their musical prowess till the day I die.

My mother has ten grandchildren, and nine great grandchildren. Daddy passed away in 2014, and mother lives in the moment, from day to day. She’s sweeter than she’s ever been, partly because she doesn’t have a clue who anyone is, other than Karen. Karen, the youngest of her children, watches over her and makes sure she’s well cared for. 
Last time I saw my mother was when I went home to bury my Daddy. We visited, and I probably told her who I was ten times in fifteen minutes. Her response was always, “Well, I’d love to get to know you.” I looked into her eyes, and thought to myself, Mother, you’ve never known me. And for so many years, I couldn’t find you in there. Now, you’re gone completely. I’m trying to learn to be okay with that.

It’s awkward. I’ve worked hard to make peace with the fractures in my family, and with the ones who caused them. I know I’ve built an invisible wall of protection around myself, a sort of PTSD response to family drama and the heartbreak it caused. I wish I didn’t need it, but I do. And so, there it is. But I no longer have the time, the energy for, or the interest in keeping track of who, how, and how often family members have done me wrong. Seriously. Let’s stop.

It’s funny what life does to a person. You start out as a little squirt, being exactly who you are. You can’t really be anyone else, because you haven’t discovered there’s a choice, so you’re just you. Then, with all its pre-conceived judgments, life gets in. You start questioning everything about you. Maybe you were wrong. Maybe you aren’t who you thought you were. So, for the next several decades, you start jumping and adjusting in time to everything that’s said to you about who you are. It’s exhausting; just when you think you’re making progress, just when you think you’ve left that original, ‘unacceptable’ you behind, the bottom falls out. And you’re back to square one … face to face with yourself.  But the truth is, that’s the best gift of all. If the world didn’t need ‘you,’ you wouldn’t have shown up in the first place.

I’m still who I thought I was, way back at the beginning of things, and while I’m a little more careful as I navigate, I have not really slowed down. On the scale of “women types,” I’d say I’m a square shouldered work horse with a great attitude. I can clean myself up and be in groups with the best of them, but given the choice I’ll hit the drive through in my pajamas.

As far as what the future holds, I’m planning to write … songs, essays, articles, books of any sort, fiction or non-fiction. My grandson wants me to write children’s books — a “NannyBoo” series which, I must admit, sounds fun and funny. NannyBoo’s their name for me, once I was christened by three-year-old Chloe’. But whether or not I write the “NannyBoo” series, I plan to write whatever comes out; I’ll write it all down as long as I can. And I’ll finish that book. If it doesn’t get published, at least I’ll be able to leave it for my children to read when I’m gone. They can gain a deeper understanding, if they’re interested, of who their mother really was, and why she was that way. They’ll get to know me better and, by extension, themselves. That’s the best gift I can give them, after all.
Knowing the “me-of-me” is, I believe, the lesson at the center of all the lessons we can ever be faced with. I’m here as me, you’re here as you, and we’ve got us. Let’s give authenticity a shot.

::The Journey::

journey of love

It’s January 12, 2019. My last post was on returning home after my mother’s funeral. She died on Halloween Day. My Daddy died three years ago. So I am now, in my dotage, an orphan. An old woman orphan.

These days, life stretches out behind me, like it stretched out before me when I was young. I’ve been here awhile, and sometimes I wish I’d handled things differently, made different choices, seen different outcomes. But that’s a tight, smoking circle that always leads me back to this truth: the lessons learned were worth the price of the trip. I am who I am thanks to every little thing. And yet …

Days come and go, the sun rises and sets. I make choices every morning, change my mind mid-coffee, reevaluate over lunch, set out to accomplish “at least one material thing” mid afternoon, resign myself to the day I’ve spent over dinner, and start looking at the clock around six thirty, wondering if it’s too soon for pajamas. Do you do that? I don’t know, maybe I’m an island of internal conflict, arm wrestling with procrastination … winner gets ice cream.

But in the grand scheme of life, there are some things that I can feel good about checking off.

  • I’ve come through decades of counseling, most of it good, in my quest to unpack all the baggage, and to unearth who I was put here to be.
  • I’ve painted houses, and portraits, written articles, and songs, designed homes, developed media projects … each activity a response to the creative pool that undulates inside me. I never reached for fame. I was and am always on a mission to follow that creative urge, whatever it was or is, to its completion. 
  • Loving, more than being loved, has been my modus. “Spill love everywhere” is a motto I embrace. Even if it seems invisible; even if it appears, in the immediate instant, to make no difference at all. Keep it up. Keep going. And when I spill love on others, I can’t help but get some on myself. Love is messy. It gets all over everything. 

A favorite quote:

“Her finely touched spirit still had its fine issues, though they were not widely visible. Her full nature spent itself in channels which had no great name on the earth. But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive, for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.” – George Eliot, “Middlemarch” 

In this huge world, with all these people, it’s easy to want to be relevant. Publicly relevant. To make a difference, and be recognized for it. But I’m consciously choosing, in this little life, to focus on the doing rather than on the being. It matters not who knows it, other than I. I know. I know the truth; the beautiful, ugly, magnificent, broken truth about who I am, what I’ve done/not done, for better or worse, throughout these years. 

When I lay my head down on the pillow at night, in the sober darkness, I am fully present for that truth. I beg God’s forgiveness, His mercy, and His grace. Broken people do broken things, every single day. We’re all broken. But we can — in our brokenness — aspire. Aspire to wholeness. And it’s love — of self, of others, of this life we live — that will get us there. 

::Leaving::

Baby Celia and Mama

 

The text from my brother was there when I woke up. “Mother’s gone.” I rolled over in bed and laid there for a minute.
Gone. Mother was gone. The space she never really seemed to fill up completely, or well, was officially empty.
I texted my children. “Grandmother’s gone. I’ll keep you posted on details. Love you madly.” Heart heart.

I got up, peed, and called Bob.

“She passed quietly, when Karen was out of the room. It happened early this morning … about 2:30.”

“Any idea what the plan is?”

“No plan yet. The funeral home has been there, and Karen has gone to breakfast with Cornelius.” Cornelius is Karen’s grown son.
“Okay. Just keep me posted.”

Bob. My brother. I was the oldest, he was next in line. We spent our childhood together in the family foxhole. We grew up, drifted apart, then back together. He and I, in our separate lives, had sought all the good counsel we could find, determined — each of us — to land on our feet as the people we were put here to be. And for the most part we succeeded. Our lives had been shaped by our childhoods, as most lives are; we were determined that our choices as adults were not defined by them. We’re now in our senior years, and we’ve never been closer.

The funeral arrangements lunged and looped like a Chinese fire drill. Ten grandchildren were all over the world, we six children were spread across the country … and schedules were impossible to coordinate.

“Karen said the funeral director told her he could oil mother down if we need to wait a few weeks till everyone could be there.” My stomach turned, but before I could respond, he continued … “and she said no, she’s not going to leave mother in an icebox that long. We’ll schedule around when we siblings can be there, and hopefully the grandchildren can make it. But we gotta move on this.”

“Agreed.”

So we gathered, we hugged, we rosaried, we viewed mother’s body in a box. We attended the funeral Mass where the young priest talked, in personal terms, about life, and death, and the fact that the circle of life, while it can be painful, is also beautiful.


We drove to the cemetery and sat facing the box. The deacon read a passage, we all bowed our heads. We watched in silence as the swarthy worker removed his hat, adjusted the pulleys, and lowered the box into the ground. When he was done, he gave a quick nod, put on his hat, and walked away.

After a couple of minutes we began to rise and drift into small groups; we chatted in hushed tones, and headed to our cars. It was a sizable group, I guess. Mother’s six children, some of her grandchildren, a couple of great grandchildren, nieces and nephews … each person knew a ‘piece’ of Ruth. And now, she was gone. Her story is gone with her, except for those pieces she left with each of us.

No two pieces were exactly the same, and I couldn’t help wondering … if we put them all together, would they make the whole of who she was? There was no way to know. And maybe that’s the way it’s meant to be, after all.

My daughter Michelle was heartbroken that her schedule prevented her from coming.
“I can’t be there then.”

“Go, my darling, and live your life. Grandmother is not in that box. She’s up above the clouds, young and healthy, dancing the jitterbug with Granddad.”

::Beginnings and Endings::

Beginnings Disguised

Beginnings are sometimes hard to wrap our brains around. 

A baby’s last push into this world, that would be seen as an ending — of life inside her mother’s womb — and yet, that first gulp of air is the breath of Spirit; a beginning infusion which, repeated throughout her life, will sustain her, until she draws her last.

What happens then? Some say they know; have crossed over and come back. Who am I to question them? I can only wonder, hope, and believe.

I’m wondering this morning if life itself isn’t one long, dramatic birth canal that carries us to places we’ve only read about, dreamt of, and imagined. 

My mother is 96. She lies in her bed … old, frail, a mere shadow of the woman she’s been. She’s unresponsive, for the most part, and time is growing short. Soon, she will be gone.

But on that other side I see her emerging, young and beautiful, running into the arms of my Daddy, who passed four years ago. Truth is, I believe that, in many ways, she is with him now.

Beginnings — endings. The circle of life. All of it a painful, and wondrous, and a miraculous journey.

What the caterpillar knows as an ending, is the beginning to the butterfly.

Caterpiler and Butterfly

::Starry Night::

Starry Night Sky

 

The depth and breadth of the things in this building suck the oxygen out of the room.

  • First exhibit, childhood. Promises to hold,     support, love … to encourage and protect. They   lie in pieces on the ground, dusty and forgotten.   Forgotten to everyone but me. Check check   check. Check check.
  • Up the escalator to the mezzanine, is high school, and teenage years. Potential recognized and undermined. The remnants of hope’s fire, a burnt offering of the dreams held there. A young girl with no one to reflect back to her the truth of who she was, gifts she brought, or the light she shined.
  • Shattered glass on the second floor, shards of a dark and betrayed relationship. Two beams glow bright, the children born, and a third, the tender flame of one who left too soon.
  • Top floor, on golden shelves sit baskets, overflowed with bit and pieces, half-made Golden Giftspromises of friends and family. Those whose only real crime was that they failed themselves before they ever could fail me.
  • The ceiling above is open to the sky, dark and starry.  Constellations weave a spiderweb, a language all their own. They tell of secrets yet revealed, and assure me that … no matter how it seems, I am not alone.

Heart Stars

 

::The Microphone Business::

Vintage Microphone

 

When I was five or six I was drawn to the microphone at the Knights of Columbus spaghetti dinners. My Uncle John would step up on that stage and use it when he introduced Monsignor Fletcher to say the blessing. And when he announced the three piece band, made up of parishioners. Ladies with blue hair played the stand up bass, the accordion, and the saxophone. Their pearls and ear bobs swayed or bounced to the rhythms while the grownups danced.

But it was when they took their break, and the microphone stood up there all alone that I felt the pull. I wandered up. I sat on that stage, just a low riser from the floor. I pivoted and suddenly, I was there. I wandered over. I looked out at the people seated at long tables, talking and laughing. The microphone was about a head and a half taller than I was. No way could I reach it. So I stood.

Years later I would actually use microphones, in the studio and on stage. For years I worked in an industry where people think if you haven’t “sold” a song or gotten famous, you’re just a wannabe who didn’t quite have the stuff.

But the truth is, the fame part was never an issue. Never a goal. It was always about the music. And music is its own thing. Fame is about politics, and strategy, and not just a little bit about the dark side of our nature. There are those who squeak through to the main keylight unscathed, but it’s not a huge percentage.

Looking back on my years in the “microphone” business, I know that every prayer I ever prayed about it was answered. But the picture looked quite different than I had imagined. The clarity I have, and the perspective given by years of experience, make me grateful for being blessed to do what I’ve done, and am doing, without ever having sold or being driven by anything but the music.

 

::BECOMING REAL::

flower-through-the-crack-e1535130634263.jpg

I was a child of the sixties, and grew up in a household centered around the Holy Catholic Church and Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. My parents were children of the Great Depression; they learned that life means do without, stretch a dollar, work hard, and drink harder. I was their first child, born to them when they were still young, tragically beautiful, and very much in love. When I was a little girl I would shyly study my mother’s face … her wide eyes, long eyelashes, full red lips. She was clearly a movie star in hiding. I wondered what she was doing in this little life, in this house on North Marion Street, with its linoleum kitchen floor and one parched sapling in the front yard. Even at five, I knew she’d been miscast. Through the years, five more babies, and alcoholic chaos, it became an undeniable fact: my mother belonged in a different movie. 

As the oldest daughter, I took on the job of laugh inducing peacemaker. Lots of oldest daughters have that role. My brother, two years younger, was mother’s tenderhearted caretaker. We spent our childhood together in the family foxhole. Nothing will bond siblings like friendly fire. It’s a sort of hellish, heartbreaking love that no one else knows. No one. But at the time, it was our family’s brand of ‘normal,’ so imagine my surprise when, years later, I learned that some families have no foxhole at all.

I lurched through the decades, reinventing myself over and over, determined to be whoever those claiming to love me told me I was. It took over forty years, and one spectacular betrayal for me to stop, and turn my attention to the whisper of truth. It was there all along, but I hadn’t heard it before, because I wasn’t ready. Not only had I become ready, I threw up the white flag of surrender. I’d run out of things to try, people to be. And I was exhausted.. All I had left was me. When I finally gave into myself, it felt like declaring bankruptcy. 

I remember the date. May 12, 1991. My attorney’s call that morning woke me up. She was calling to let me know the divorce was final. She’d used the word, “Congratulations.” I got off the phone, and laid in bed, waiting. I didn’t know what to expect, but I thought surely I would feel … something. Relief? Excitement, maybe? All I got was silence. I threw off the covers, walked into the bathroom, and stared in the mirror. I looked into my own eyes, searching for … someone. Who will I be now? I whispered. I had no idea.

Ever since I was a tiny girl, there’s been … something … like a tiny thread … woven deep inside me. Piled over with years of Catholic school, alcoholic parents, sweet babies, difficult marriage, broken dreams … you’d think that thread would have broken, or suffocated, or disintegrated. It never did. 

Like a flower finding its way to the sun through a crack in the stone, that shimmering little strand found its way back to me. 

The very thing I feared would be most difficult has become easy, feels natural. Coming home to myself is simple, and honest. I am moving back toward the center of someone I’ve always known. It warms my heart, settles my belly, and brings perspective into sharp focus. I know where home is now. And I see that I was right here all the time. 

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