Monday, August 3, 2015

Packing Up the Car and Going.

This weekend, I had the pleasure and the opportunity to re-connect in person with some of my most favorite lady-bloggers.

Most of us live so far apart, some of us, though, live so close together.  This means to me - there never seems to be an occassion where we can actually come together, where we can make gatherings happen, outside of BlogU or BlogHer or book signings (AHEM, ladies, I'm waiting!!!). 

Since the summer is rapidly coming to a close so any opportunity is defintely welcomed, and also means a gathering is something that I will do everything in my power to make it happen.

Drive almost 3 hours to the border of New Hampshire and Vermont to swim in a lake and spend 2 hours with a handful of the most talented writers and kindest people I've ever had the pleasure and honor to call friends?  Pack up the car, we're going.  I don't care if we sit in traffic, if we miss lunch, if we end up with sand in places we shouldn't have sand, if we could have just repacked the cooler and gone to the boat 15 minutes away.  Pack Up The Car.   We're Going.

The reward for packing up the car and going was the hugs and squeals and smiles and chatting.  The Reward for Packing Up the Car and Going was my smiling and my hugging and my squealing.  The Reward for Packing Up the Car and Going was Emily coming away with new friends; and my husband seeing me smiling and hugging and squealing.  Because truly, isn't that the reward we all want?  The smiling, the hugging, the squealing?  The catching up with friends, the memories of our kids playing in the water and splashing, digging sand holes for "sick fish and dead fish" hospitals.

The reward for packing up the car and going .. is worth so much more than the traffic and frustration and hot sand and running late and being uncomfortable with people you don't know.  Packing Up The Car and Going?  Totally worth it.

Her smile?  Totally worth it.

My Smile?  Totally worth it.

Ordering an extra dessert that you don't really like so your husband who drove nearly three hours across the state to swim in a lake with people he doesn't know doesn't have to choose between two of his favorites?  Totally Worth It.

The Memories, The Rewards - Totally Worth It.

That I missed connecting with a few of my favorite women?  Heartbreaking.  But that I know they were so close, SO CLOSE, even worse.  We'll get there again.  We will.  The hugs, the smiles, the squealing and catching up?  The memories of our kids playing and splashing together?  It'll happen.  They'll all happen.

Thank you, Ladies, for making me feel like one of you.  Even if I'm just on the outskirts, 2 hours away, trying to be one of you.  You've all made me feel welcome, loved, important.

Totally Worth It.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Blog Conferences and Famous People

Everyone has their list of celebrities/famous people they'd like to meet.

Face it, we do.  It's human nature to want to surround yourself with successful people; not just for their knowledge but also because we have this sense ingrained in us from the moment we are old enough to realize it - that spending time with these people in very close proximity will end with at least a little bit of their amazingness rubbing off on us.

It doesn't always happen that way, but sometimes - just sometimes - it does.  And when it does?  Oh Man.  When it does ... it's amazingly fantastic and completely unforgettable.

I like to liken myself to a blogger, even though we all know I'm not even remotely close to being as successful as others, I like to write and I think I'm pretty decent at it.

I've been to exactly ONE blog conference in my very infantile writing career.  One.  That one blog conference touched me so very much (not that way ya perverts) I couldn't wait to go back ... only... only this year I couldn't go.  Instead of dealing with this like a calm, rational adult - I spent the entire week leading up to, the weekend of and moments after (so far) whining like a five year old who has to watch her little brother/sister open all sorts of birthday presents while not having any for herself.

Now, I'm not the most mature adult there is - I know this - but these bloggers?  They're my people.  They are my tribe.  They are my audience, my encouragement, my readers, my fans, my Friends.  They're My People.  I am forever grateful for the twist of fate that sent me reeling into their orbit, into their path and standing alongside of them for pictures, seminar sessions, 80s themed proms and free drinks. 

Last May, still trying to wrap my head and heart around our new normal, I joined a twitter party.

If you've never been to a twitter party, I suggest it so very highly - it's impossible to keep up 100%; because you don't know every single person that is taking part.  You only see those you follow, those who use the hashtags that you use, those that are retweeted or commented to by those you do follow .. It's horrible and wonderful and amazing - take it from me, try it once.  

Okay, back to me.  Last May, I logged into twitter at the urging of some of my friends; this twitter party was different than any other I'd taken part in.  This twitter party offered prizes.  Books, mugs, swag - and a free ticket into the Blog U Conference's Inagural Year ... I don't need to tell you how farfetched I thought winning anything, let alone the grand prize, was.  I'd had the worst year to date, and I knew my luck was less than stellar.

On top of that?  I'm not a really real blogger - not of the same caliber these bloggers are.  I don't have a following, I barely post - and when I do, it's all self-serving.  These bloggers - men & women alike - they move people, they start movements, they make money with their writings, they share the deepest parts of their souls, they host amazing give-aways, they are so talented I don't compare.  I didn't think I would belong, I wouldn't fit in, I would stand out because I was an imposter.  And that was only if I won!  There was no feasible way I could have gone otherwise, it just logistically and financially didn't make sense.

There are four questions asked during this twitter party.  Four.  Four chances to win swag -- or your way into the conference.  I answered each one, had some great laughs and "met" some fantastic women.  Nearing the last few moments of the "party" I started to feel my heart rate accelerate.  This was it.  The one chance I had to go.  I don't even remember the question, or my answer, but I do remember the 2 minutes between when I answered and when Kim responded "Congratulations, @Tink_143!! You're The Grand Prize Winner!!  DM @TheBlogU with your email address.  We'll see you in Baltimore!"

I couldn't breathe.  I think I responded something like "Get the fuck outta here!!!  are you serious!?" or "No Fucking Way!" I won my way in and I couldn't have been any more grateful than I was in that moment (or so I thought.. more on that later)

BUT ... here's the best part.  Up until I'd won?  I didn't have my name on my Twitter Account.  There?  There I was just @Tink_143.   The next day, when Kim and I were chatting on someone's status update - I told her "I'm Tink" ... she was floored.  Out of all the years we'd been talking, (really, I'd been cyber-stalking her) she never knew I had a blog or a twitter - because I don't promote myself.  She had to prove to the others involved with the Twitter Party that my name was selected randomly, because all of those involved were some of my favorite bloggers and they'd all been made aware of our recent tragedy**.
Amy Effing Mayo didn't fit

Back to my original thought.  We all have these celebrities we'd love to meet; just for a photo op, autograph - ask questions - have a meal - share a laugh ... we all have a list.  Now, don't get me wrong.  I do have a list of movie stars and TV show actors/actresses and musicians I'd give just about anything to spend 5 minutes with.  Even more than that?   These bloggersThese women (sorry Mike - I hadn't read your words prior to BlogU14) these women were my celebrities.  They were the ones I would have sold my soul to meet.  To hug, to laugh with, cry with; to have them accept me into their Tribe.  And here I was, just a few weeks away from acheiving that very goal. 

I don't fly.  Ever.  I hate it.  I have such anxiety that it physically hurts, and I was flying - for the first time in over 9 years - ALONE. A.L.O.N.E. What the fuck did I get myself into??  Adding my anxiety about flying to my anxiety about arriving in Baltimore and attending an amazing conference where I didn't feel like I would belong - I was a hot.freakin.mess.

For My Minion - Who Has Never Flown .. Yet
Cue Andrea.  Andrea - my darling friend, who lives so freakin' close to me I'm horrified we'd never met before - Andrea used to fly all the time, she knew just how to keep me occupied.  She kept me talking the entire freakin' flight ... and I bet she has no idea what I said, or what we talked about because I don't remember it.  All I remember is her snapping a quick picture of me for Emily, my snapping a few shots of out the window for Emily and rambling about who knows what.  I wouldn't have survived that flight.  She set me at ease (as much as one could) from the moment I heard her voice "Amy?? Amy is that you!?  It's me - Andrea!  UDG!!! is anyone sitting with you? Can I sit here?"  There is no way I could ever properly thank her.  Ever.

Once we landed, I had to find the amazing bloggers who were going to rescue me from an aimless airport wandering and hoping some kind blogger would find me and take pity.  Thankfully, even though I found them - we found Michelle's van - drove through Baltimore at what felt like warp speed - I got motion sickness and made the WORST first impression ever (dude, that crash test dummy standing guard in that parking lot was glad to see me go!) - these women are among my closest friends, even if they don't know it.
... This Restaurant Hated Us ...

After a lunch date with nearly 50 other bloggers where we took over an entire restaurant (Friends, tell me you didn't go back there this year?!), where I met even MORE amazing women and where we completely turned the waitstaff against us.  "really, separate checks!?" we finally headed to campus ... where we were met with open arms, squeals and tears.  New friends greeting us as if we were old friends.  New friends that would remain friends for the weekend, and beyondI met my roommate, who is fucking amazing.  She's smart, kind, talented, beautiful, open and loud.  All the things I hope to be!  I also met a wonderfully charismatic, beautiful, hilarious, talented blogger named Tabatha.  I have this amazing feeling that these women (and Mike) will be in my life forever.    

Megan, Maddie, Tabatha & Me - NickMom Prom 2014, Baby
Between laughing so hard we couldn't catch our breath, learning so many amazing things from so many amazing women, learning tips and tricks I'd never considered and rescuing fellow bloggers from errant blinds - friendships were forged, relationships were solidified and a tribe was born.
HRH Amazing Amazon Bongiorno autographed all of her books for me.
Shit-Tay-Tay ... The Amazing Stacia <3 comment-3--="">

Why has it taken me a year to write this out?  I think I've just come to grips with how perfect that weekend was.   Truly, perfect.  All of it!       The weather was gorgeous, the campus was out of this world, the bloggers were ... indescribable ... That's why it hurt so much that I couldn't go back this year.  

The one regret I have from BlogU14?   I didn't take as many pictures as I wanted to.  I was (believe it or not) shy and completely lacking self-confidence to ask for them. 

I have photos with some of my favorites - that apparently my computer refuses to relinquish (look for an edited blog post in the future) and I couldn't link to every single blogger there - because It would just be a list of amazing people to read.

I couldn't possibly begin to tell you about each and every amazing person I had the pleasure and honor to share space with.  This blog post is littered with more than enough reading material to get me through a day, so hopefully, for you all at least the summer.  Well.  To at least get caught up with the amazing things they've written so far.

I'm telling you - these bloggers.  They're inspirationalThe mountains they've conquered, the ocean's they've crossedthe words they've written, the Marathons they've masteredThey're the reason I want to go back.  They're the reason I have my passion back.  Well, okay, not the only reason, my life is a ridiculous story that begs to be written about.  But these women?  These Bloggers?  That one lone dude who has larger cahones than I've ever considered to be the ONLY dude at a Blog Conference with at least 200 strange (in the best possible way) WOMEN ... his wife loves him a great fuckin' deal.

I missed the lessons, I missed the learning, I missed the prom and the open mic .. but I missed my friends the most.

It's on - BlogU16 ... you'd better be ready.  Amy Fucking Mayo - Is coming back. 

Brace yourselves.

My apologies to anyone I've inadvertantly missed, or omitted .. please know you're all incredibly important to me.  More than I can ever say.

**I'm trying so hard not to focus on this - because it does not define me, it is only a piece of who I am.  But it's important to note: each one of these women supported me and my family in our rebuilding, our loss and our needs.  Mentally, emotionally, physically - in all the ways life-long friends support you when you're in a situation as dire as ours was.   They were there for us.  Women I'd never met.  Banded together, to be there for me.  To make sure I knew I am important to them, just as important as they are to me.  And I will never forget it.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Cinco De Mayo ... Truthfully

A friend of mine recently recommended I write up a blog post using Cinco De Mayo as a way to bring traffic to my blog, attention to my writing and just an over all fun way to incorporate my married name into social media trending.

I'm not usually one to worry about page views, or blog traffic - I've had this blog for years and I'm fairly certain I have maybe 3 faithful readers.  And usually, I'm fine with that.  However, this time, this time I think my friend, Lisa, was on to something. 

When Lisa approached me (at the ungodly hour of 4:15am) through facebook, she thought I might want to take this leap; honestly, it scared the shit out of me.  Then, the more I thought about it - the more I though, why the fuck not.   She recommended I do a post like one of her old posts,  but "obviously something more creative. (Which I know you can do)" (she gives me way too much credit here.) 

So without further ado - my leap into what I'm calling "LOOK AT ME!!!  I'M WRITING! writing"

Cinco De Mayo ... play on words, fun - creative - witty - humorous .. all things I like to believe I am, all things I'm falling short on here.  That's funny, because I'm short.  Like really short.  Like any shorter and I'd be considered a midget, legally.  So, short.

Alright, enough stalling.

CINCO DE MAYO:  The Amy Version - five things I bet you didn't know about me, that I'll deny vehemently should I ever be confronted about these five things (or any other things) in public.

  1. I don't really like drinking.  Right - you're shocked; I just beat the fuck out of your reality and blew up your mind.  I know.  It's okay.  You can sit down again, I promise, the rest of these cinco truths will be nothing as earth-shattering as this one.  So now that I've done that - right out of the gate, mind you - let's explore it a smidge.  I'm Irish & Italian, primarily - I'm supposed to enjoy drinking.  It's in my blood!  my bones!!  my genetic make up!  Except ... I don't.  I enjoy a glass (or bottle(s) ahem) of wine; should the occassion call; but I'd much rather curl up with an iced coffee or a hot mug of tea and a great book.
  2. Prior to last year (or so) I didn't like tea.  Okay, I lied.  Two Earth-Shattering confessions, right out tha gate!  Your understanding of my psyche is crumbling, isn't it?  It's okay, you can take another minute if you want.  I'll wait here ------- back?  Alright, let's delve.  I'm not talking about Lipton Iced Tea, or Arizona Iced Tea, or Twisted Tea, even.  I'm talking about hot water, a bag full of sticks, leaves and other assorted flavorings.  I mean think about that, let it steep for a minute.  (see what I did there?  I am pretty clever.  Though I had to point it out, so maybe I'm just a glutton for "LOOK AT ME AREN'T I FUNNY!!!)  Lately, with certain blends, I've become addicted to drinking a nice mug of tea and reading a book or two.  I don't sweeten it, or add cream or milk, or anything else.  Just water and a bag (or diffuser) full of twigs, leaves and other assorted flavorings that come within the blend.
  3.  I Love Birds, but I will *never* have a pet bird.  Ever.  Recently, our neighbors took a vacation.  A vacation that I am insanely jealous of, that I will most likely never be able to duplicate but one that I will (playfully) hold against them for as long as we are friends/neighbors.  (Freighbors, as my lovely friend Foxy says) Whilst they were away, Emily and I took care of their birds.  They have two.  They're loud, messy and incredibly ungrateful.   At least dogs & cats pretend to be amused and thankful whenever you're around.  Birds are just - douches.   
  4. I'm addicted to bingewatching shows.  No joke.  I have consumed entire seasons and series of shows on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime.  But I don't watch things people tell me I should watch.  (this goes back to that whole "don't tell me what to do" aversion I suffer from).  I refuse to watch: American Horror Story, Sons of Anarchy, The Walking Dead, Orange is the New Black, Doctor Who ... and a variety of other shows that I don't care enough about to list out.  I have, however, devoured Mad Men, Covert Affairs, Suits, Devious Maids, Ugly Betty, Parenthood, and a slew of other ones I didn't care enough about to remember, or recommend.  Then I get pissed when I reach the last available episode, like hostile and violent.  Pissed.

  5. And finally - I have not done one single bit of required reading for any of my courses.  With the exception of Children's Literature and even then, it was limited reading.  I don't need to actually read the chapters.  It's weird and stupid and I'm still getting a 4.0, maintaining my place on the Dean's List and mostly enjoying college; non-traditionally, of course.  While my courses have been mediocre and uninteresting - I still enjoy being a college student, and look forward to earning my degree and moving on with my learning.   Even though, every chance she gets, Emily reminds me that I "only WORK a college MOM" I'm "not actually a student there!"  I will be, someday, a student here; instead of one of the smaller sister schools within our University System.

So, that's me.  In a Cinco De Mayo get to know list ...  I hope it was close to what you had in mind, Lisa -- thanks again for the prompt!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Today, we focus on Love.

One Year Ago
One Year
God, It Doesn't Seem That Long
But then, It Seems Longer
One Year.

One year since I've seen their faces, except I see them every time I close my eyes. 
Every dream I have, every nightmare.  

... Every Single Time ...

I Miss Them.  
So much my heart hurts.

And still, we grieve as if it were just yesterday.  

Today, instead of dwelling on what happened - today, I'm dwelling on love.  the love we have, the love we had, the loves we lost.  Love.  Today is About Love.
Ours, Theirs, Yours.


So, join me in loving them.  Join Me in Love.
Serandipity - Sera
Gulliver Alloysius - Gullie
Olliver Francis - Ollie
Pixie - Meep
Maximus Elizabeth - Maxi

This is where they live now.

They are - so so so - so very missed.

It's hard to believe it was one year ago

Though she hasn't been gone nearly as long, she is missed just as fiercely.

And now they are all together again, as they should be.
They remain in our hearts, in our minds and in our memories.

And in the Stars.

They are our Stars <3>

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Right Here, Right Now - The Year of Amy

It's no secret that 2014 was quite probably, the worst year of my, our, life so far.
With the loss of our home, our pets, a loved one, friends who just - disappeared from our lives ... our daughter suffered far more than any child should ever have to suffer; and I know there are others out there who suffer more or worse and I hate that, I do.  There are always other tragedies, there will always be other tragedies, but this one was ours.

So.  On January 4th of this Year, I posted the following Facebook Status:

In 2015, I resolve to be me. To be happy. To see the positive in as many situations as I can.
I also resolve to not chase after people who don't care enough to chase after me.
In 2015, I resolve to make this year the year of Amy.

I've lost track already.  Lately, I've been stuck in the past.  I've been letting my fears and anxieties take hold, gain control and derail me further. I've been suckerpunched into a vortex of negativity; one that I refuse to spiral down any further.
Easier said than done, of course, but I'm a work in progress.  We all are.

Here's where I've decided to take a stand and not let this track be the one I continue on.  Right here.  Right now.  The Year of Amy?  Has resumed.

I am no longer going to dwell on what if, what could be, what was, or the hows & whys of it all.   I am no longer going to be held captive by my fears and anxieties.  Right here. Right Now.

Starting with this moment; I'm Done With It.

Do you know why they'll love her?  Because I Love Her.

The hardest part of all of this?  Following through.  I'm a natural worrier, I'm naturally concerned with the whys and hows.  I truly don't care what people think of me, unless they're my friends - in which case, I need to know the truth.  The honest, 100%, absolute, heartbreaking, tear your guts out truth.

I don't know where this NEED comes from, but it's there.  Glaringly, every day. Until now.  Now?  I'm too old for this shit.  I don't care anymore.  It's not MY problem if people like me - even my friends.

This weekend I did something I never ever ever do - I bought make up.  What??!!  No, really, okay - truthfully I bought some face wash that has been ravely reviewed and the make up was free.  Then I thought, Why Not?   I Don't know how to USE half of it, or what half of it even IS - but I have it now and I can learn.  I'm pretty smart. 

I'm Done.

Are You?  Is this a fight you have too? Am I alone in this internal battle?  Caring about what my friends think?  What they really think?  I don't think I am.  I don't think I could be alone in this battle, but what I do think, is that this - THIS is a battle I'm going to win.  Today.  Right here, Right now.

The Year Of Amy.  Sounds Pretty Fucking Awesome To Me. 
Do you know why??  No?  Okay, then.

I'll tell you why, it's because I Am Pretty Fucking Awesome.

I'm offering up a challenge, to you my dear readers .. be kind to yourself and forget about the rest.  You don't need to know what other people think.  Why? Because YOU ARE FUCKING AWESOME.  That's why.  Let it go, make this - the year of You.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Adventures in Dental Care - A Cautionary Tale

Yesterday, after months of waiting, preparing, planning, making appointments, cancelling appointments, remaking new appointments and all of the hoopla that goes with it - Emily had her two front bottom baby teeth extracted. 

To say it went less than text book - is more than an understatement; it's a joke.  A horrific joke that I should have been prepared for.  That I thought I was prepared for.  That I was sooooo not prepared for.

I don't recommend the Oral Surgeon we used, at all, ever.  Not for kids, not for adults, not for dogs, cats, ferrets, feral rats - not for anyone.  I had heard great reviews, had done the research I could, met the office staff, the doctor and the rest of the medical team; essentially we did everything we thought necessary before the actual appointment.  Our initial consultation went great, no way could I have ever anticipated the situation we found ourselves in.

So, now that Em's appointment is over and she's back in school - I think I would like to take a moment to impart some wisdom to those who may have to go through anything similar - and also to those who would be; so without further ado:

If you're running late - exceptionally late, by the way - explain it to the parents, explain it to the child waiting.  No answer, explanation and just a ticking clock doesn't exactly help with the fear, anger and anxiety they might be feeling.  Also, have some fun things in the waiting room for the kids to do.

Tic Tac Toe - again daddy??
Don't lie to the child; especially if said child has anxiety, fear and anger.  If there's a needle involved - tell them.  Sticking it in their gums and acting surprised when it hurts them and results in further anxiety, fear and anger won't help anyone.
She is mini, but she is fierce.  And afraid, don't lie.
Explain what you are doing, what you are going to be doing and what each tool is going to be used for.  Surprising them with needles, pliers and other scary looking tools and then acting shocked when fear, anger and anxiety increase won't help anyone.
If you're running late, don't rush the second parent out of the room without a chance to give said child a hug, kiss and encouraging words.  When you do that, you put yourself further on the kids shit list, which isn't a great place to be.  Especially when fear, anxiety and anger are already large factors.
A Daddy's Girl, she needs to see him too. 

Make sure no one is standing near the feet of said child - even a seven year old with flailing feet can inflict decent damage to the head/neck/face of someone twice her size when fear, anxiety and anger kick (HA!) in.  I should note, she apologized to the dental assistant (or whatever her title is) and completely understands why she refused to re-enter the room to assist with Emily.  I wanted to leave the room and refuse to re-enter.
Listen to the parents.  When they tell you their child has high anxiety and fear with regards to the upcoming procedure - even if it's as minor as having teeth extracted - they're not just saying that because they believe their kid is a delicate little flower.  Chances are - it'll take you 2 hours to pull 2 baby teeth.   Without considering your significant delay from the first oral surgery you were conducting that caused you to run more than 30 minutes late for their appointment.
We know our kid, you don't - listen.  Please. Listen.

and finally - don't threaten said scared, anxious and angry child with a trip to the hospital instead of doing things "the easy way" in your office.  That only serves to further piss off the parent, who is currently monkey-holding said child down and trying to use calming, soothing words, tones and explanation to undo the damage you've inflicted by lying about the needle 45 minutes ago.  As we all know, threats - don't work with kids.  Especially those kids who are strong-willed and stubborn.

It kills me that this experience was as traumatizing as it was - for both of us.  All three of us, really, daddy heard every single thing that happened in that room - from two doors away, and couldn't get to her.  He couldn't fix it, make it better, make it stop or step in.  He could only listen.

Oh! I lied, one more thing ... don't let the tooth fairy flake out.  The one thing Emi looked forward to after the appointment concluded was the tooth fairy visit.  Bitch forgot.

Don't worry though, she'll make it up to Emily.   There's already a plan in place.

Thankfully, she still has an amazing smile, an infectious giggle and a killer personality.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Healing. Slowly.

I have learned that if you allow the grief to consume you, it causes you to waste each day you are given - and those days are not promised, to waste them is such a sin to me I had to find some way, some how to face them and see the positives in them.

I told myself the following things pretty early on after the fire - about a week or so later, and I've repeated them almost daily ever since:

I lost my wedding dress, and wedding photos; but I have my husband.
I lost my baby pictures, and all her baby things; but I have my baby.
We lost 14 + years of our past; but we have a future; and while I will miss those furry faces each and every single day for the rest of my life, I am relieved and grateful that I had them in my life at all.

What a blessing those babies were for me, to me, with me. If I dwell on the things and pets I lost, I would never be grateful for the things, pets & people I still have.

On November 27, 2014 at just barely 7am in the morning - Dexy passed away in my lap.  15 Years, 7 months and 7 days old - her body was old and tired.  She was old and tired.   She saved me, us, in the days, weeks and months after the fire.   She showed us what surviving was.  Even though she was plagued with pain, a persistent cough and congestive heartfailure - she survived.  She made it home, enjoyed our new house, her rightful place in the middle of our bed - and She Survived.  Because of her, WE Survived.

.. Sweet Girl ..
As she was taking her last breaths, Emily was able to kiss her nose - hug her neck - and tell her she was loved, would be missed and cherished for every day we had left.  It's hard, you know, to teach a 7 year old that it's okay to let go, to cry, to say goodbye to a faithful furry friend.  It's hard because, we didn't get that with the other 5, we just had to let them go.

.. Best Buddies ..
She made sure to kiss Dexy five times - one for Maxi, Ollie, Gullie, Sera and of course, her sister Pixie.

I'm beginning to think my little minion of evil (or as you know her Emily) has some sort of intuition.  When she was 3 or 4, we attended a Halloween Party-esque event at a local toy store.  She dressed up in a costume, danced with kids, "trick or treated" through the store and of course took part in some silly party games.  One of the games was "how many candy corn pieces are in this jar?"  She took a minute, paused, cocked her head and replied "576" - we smiled, giggled at the outlandish number and wrote it on a paper with her name, age and phone number.
Two weeks passed, we forgot about the contest - and the phone rings.  Not only did Emily WIN the toy, but she guessed the EXACT number of candy corn pieces in the jar.  The Fuck?

A few years later now and she's won silly things off and on ever since.  Games of luck/chance at the fair?  Kid wins a giant toy.  Games of "guess how many"?  Kid nails it. Random fire?  She knew, not when, but she knew it would happen - she said so for months.  Knowing we're about to have another star in the sky?  She knew.  Somehow, that kid knew.  It doesn't mean it hurt any less, or that it wasn't a shock, because it did and it was.

See, a few weeks before - she participated in a paint nite with me.  The picture we were to paint, was this serene, tropical beach side with palm trees and a sunset over the water (closer to mine on the left).  The picture she painted, revealed a different scene all together:

She started with FIVE Stars in the Sky .... go ahead, take a minute

Take a minute - I did - and readd the stars you see - not just the ones circled .. count them all.  Now, remember Rufus, Maxi, Pixie, Ollie, Gullie, Sera - that only makes six.  Count Again.

Now, take another minute, grab a tissue - and consider this:  the date this was painted?  11/12/14.  Somehow - she knew.

So it's fair to say:   In our losses, we're healing, learning, growing and discovering - together. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Helpful Hints for Helping Friends

Ten Months Ago, tomorrow to be exact, my world was shattered.  

It felt like it had ended, actually.

Five of the most wonderful animals I've ever been lucky enough to call family were lost to a devastating housefire.  Five of the most independent and dependent family members were taken from a (then) six year old girl - and I was angry.  I am still angry.

She was angry.  She IS angry.

Since the fire, we have rebuilt our home.  Slowly, we are rebuilding our lives.

What kills me about this entire situation, aside from who we've lost of course, is the callous response from some people.  Some people who should know better than to say the things they have said or have been saying.  

Callous, heartless, downright mean or cruel things.

I've decided to use my anger and frustration regarding these people, the best way I know how - by writing it out.  In this case, I'll be writing a top 10 list.

Be Prepared - there are a lot of sarcastic "inspirational" type images in this post.  I'm not apologizing for them, in fact, I wish I had more.


The Top Ten Things You Should NEVER Say
(or Do) To A Family After A Housefire

10.   You must be so happy to be standing here today.
Yes, yes we are - but we are also shattered and weary and weak in the knees at who/what we've lost.  Please, don't remind us how "happy" we should be that we weren't *physically* hurt.  Our beds, are entirely too empty - and our hearts, are fucking shattered.

9.   Don't remind us how terrible our circumstances are.
As terrible as YOU think they are, we realize they are so much worse.   The reality of losing everything you've worked your entire life for - and your precious pets -  hits you, hard - and often.  Most times without warning, the reality of loss is far more than you could imagine.

8.    Don't tell us how much worse things could be.
We know.  Trust us, We Know.   But right now - they are pretty fucking bad.  This includes (but is by no means limited to)
  •  God Is Good.
  •  You Are So Blessed.
    You'll forgive us if we don't feel like either of these things mean a whole fuck of a lot to us.
  •  Everything Happens For a Reason.
    really?  What possible reason could there be for a six year old girl to have to bury her five pets?  Including her new puppy?  I'm not entirely sure there is one, so please, kindly - go fuck yourself, after all - it happens for a reason.
  •  You Should Be SO Grateful.
    We are, We are incredibly grateful for the rsponse, the support, the fact that we are still standing - but really, don't say it.  Just.  Don't.   Say.   It.   Please.

7.    Don't say "I Understand", Please don't.
I know this one is meant with love.  But even if you've been through a fire yourself, or have buried a pet (I'm sure we all have) there is no way you could ever possibly understand - because you're not me, you're not Mike, You're Certainly Not Emily - and you didn't buy the fucking Keurig.

6.   You're in my prayers.
Now, before you get all pissy with me - just listen.  We're not religious people. We are faithful people, don't misunderstand.  However, at this point - we're pretty fucking pissed at God.  One of my most vivid memories of that day is praying - out loud - the entire drive home "Please God - let them be okay.  Let them All Be Okay.  Please God, I'm Begging.  Don't Please Don't Take Them From her.  Please please please"    Needless to say - I don't need to know you're praying for us.  I mean, if I know you - I already know that you are, there's no reason to say those words out loud.

5.  What Happened?!?
I know.  curiousity.  I'm guilty of it too.  I'm one of the nosiest people on this planet - and I NEED to know everything, at all times, always.  Emily has this affliction as well.  Unfortunately, some don't know how to control this affliction, or when it may (or may not) be appropriate to utter these words.  And besides, when I'm ready (and I am now - another post to come) you can bet your bippy I'll be screaming it from the rooftops.  because we know what happened.  We don't know why, but we know what - and how.  And when the time is right - we'll tell you.  So don't ask.

4.   Are You Serious?!
Nope.  I Lied.  Made the whole thing up.  Aren't I fucking Clever?!  I should write a book, I'm so fucking imaginitve. 

3.  Smile.  Don't be Sad.  Try Not To Cry ...
There are still days, when I just can't.  When Emily - just can't.  Our family is missing pieces, and will be for the rest of *our* lives.  Because of something I brought into the house.  It is prefectly okay to be sad, angry, less than happy.  It's impossible to smile all the time, and the tears - well, they're plentiful and free flowing.  Often at times that don't make sense to YOU - because they don't make sense to US either.  None of this does.

2.   This Is NOT Your Fault.
Or don't feel guilty, or you can't do that to yourself, or any of the phrases that mean the same thing.  Because I can't help it.  I'm Catholic by nature (even if I'm not Religious) - it's in my Soul.  I bought it, I plugged it in, I left an hour earlier than I needed to that day.  I DID THOSE THINGS.  Me, full body, mind and soul, I DID those things.  I know I can't keep this train of thought because it's not healthy.  I know I cannot blame myself for a freak accident, a faulty piece of a kitchen appliance.  Part of my process, is knowing - at least in my head - that I had a hand in her heartbreak. 

1.   Wow.  You guys really made out in this deal.
Are.You.Fucking.Kidding.Me?   No, but really, ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS?!  I know, number 4, but really - this is right up there with God Is Good, and You Are So Blessed - stupid, ignorant, mean, cruel and just fucking thoughtless.   We made out in this deal - did we now?  Sure, we have a beautiful home, with beautiful *things*  and we've definitely changed a few things around; but certainly we haven't "Made Out In This Deal" - I'd give it all back - each and every fucking thing back - if it meant they were still here.  If it meant Emily would never know this level of loss, of devastation, of heart break.  I'd give every single thing back.  And if you thought about it?  You Would Too.
Just - Be There For Them.  
Quietly, Strongly, Steadily.  
Be There For Them.