Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Moments That Speak the Truth

Imagine my shock that I wasn't completely flamed and chastised for my post, remembering September 11, 2001.   I really thought I'd have at least a dozen people telling me how heartless I am for making that point, about such a tragic circumstance. One that didn't even impact me first hand.

Thank you, to those who commiserate with me - not for my loss, but for my heart which labors to make sense of these feelings. Knowing there are others who struggle with the same ugly feelings.

It doesn't help us to label some feelings "Too Ugly to Speak Of". What good does it to do categorize such things? If that's the case, then no one can speak of a miscarriage, or the death of a child, or witnessing a horrible accident. When we say that some things are too ugly, or too inconsiderate, or too uncomfortable - it dismisses the heartbreak of those who suffer with it.

It reminds me of (and this is completely random) a show NBC did with Jillian Michaels a couple years ago - Losing It with Jillian Michaels. It only lasted a season, and came on the heels of her fame with The Biggest Loser -- but I do not exaggerate when I say, if it had been the only thing Jillian Michaels had ever done in her life - it darn near makes her a saint.

In this show, JM would spend a week with a single family, helping them build a routine of exercise and healthy eating to save their lives. Not surprisingly, she delved in to find out what caused this downward spiral of bad health habits in the first place.
For one family, with the parents in their 60s, it came out that their firstborn child had been stillborn or had died shortly after birth. In those days, women were told to 'get over it' and 'move on' and the husband told never to speak of it for fear of making his wife sad. So for more than 40 years of marriage - they never spoke of the loss of their first born son. Including ever saying a word to their subsequent, living children.

And the doctors thought it best not to let the mother even hold that baby.
Imagine the misery, the pain and the hopelessness of pretending for so long that nothing ever happened.

On the program, JM encouraged them to talk about their loss. To cry about it, to grieve. To FINALLY grieve! I cried and cheered at the same time, excited that this hour of television could possibly help thousands more families to heal from a similar hurt.  For that reason, I will always respect Jillian Michaels. (Oh man.. I looked and I can't find the episode - but if you're interested watch this one... amazing: Losing It With Jillian - Native Americans & Diabetes)

My point here, is that is damaging to declare some things too ugly to talk about. It doesn't help anyone.

Contrastingly, and back to 9/11 - my friend asked me to watch this documentary of The Falling Man 

This documentary looks at one of the most stunning, tragic realities of the devastation and desperation of that morning. The people who jumped to their deaths from the World Trade Center towers.
A fact has been all but erased from history. Too tragic.
Talk about things too ugly to talk about.
Quoting the documentary, "Lonely, ten second journeys. A very public way of dying."

In watching the video 11 years after the fact, I feel the impact of the tragedy of all of those losses.
One man, ( at 12:50) recounts his last conversation with his wife, "She said to me, that she loved me. She said to tell the boys that I love them. I was shocked that she was saying this to me. I said, Of course I will, of course I will but it's going to be alright."

He didn't know he was wrong. Clearly, hoping against hope that all would be well.

Then as the documentary goes back to the crowds of people clinging to hope of finding their loved ones, one woman stood out. Her heartbreak spoke directly to my heart when she said, "If I don't find him I have to start all over again. It took me my entire life to find him and I don't know what I will do without him." (37:49)

That is the kind of pain I can relate to. I know, because I've spent my entire life looking for someone too.
I can imagine the agony of having finally found him - just to go out on the ashy, soot-filled streets desperately hoping to find him walking around delusional, as opposed to the reality of never seeing him again.

That woman knew the agony of waiting her whole life to find someone to love, and the knowledge that she   had him for a brief moment and now he's gone.

It all leads me to imagine just how glorious that brief moment was.
I imagine that man spent his final moments thanking God for letting him know that woman.

That is what so many of us are looking for. Even if it's just a moment in the grand scheme of the universe.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Thoughts and Memories of 9/11

I remember so much about that day. I was working in news and that was the biggest news day of all news days.  The only way to get through a day like that  is to just put your head down and go - no time to feel, not much time to think. Check your heart and soul at the door and pick it up when the work day is through.

Then, when the day was done, I drove to the gym and sat in my car for a few minutes as the events of the day finally crashed over me like a wave. Drenching me and pulling me under, until I was unable to breathe and dissolved into tears. It was the first moment I could feel the pain of what happened that day. The lives lost. The sheer horror.  The pride of watching rescue workers running to the danger when everyone else was running away. Knowing people simply disappeared.
I composed myself, then went inside the gym long enough to see more of the never-ending coverage on the TVs , dissolved into tears again, then I left.

I remember later, talking with a good friend of mine who told me that he was fixated on the stories of people trapped in the towers, or on the plane that would meet it's demise in PA.  Those who made their final phone calls - told someone important to them that they loved them, and sent messages to family.

My friend paused, preparing to say something I will never forget... he said, "I can only help but wonder, if I were in that situation, who would I call? Since I don't have a wife or children, I supposed it would be my parents. And knowing that, sort of depresses me."

I knew exactly what he meant, even though I had not thought of it that way until he said so.

Over the coming months, we heard all the tragic stories of wives who lost their husbands, left to raise their families alone. And I know this is terrible to say, but even then (I was 31) I thought, "But at least you were married. At least you knew there was one person in this world who loved you. Enough to marry you. Someone to build a life with, someone wanted a future with you, no matter how long or short that future is.  Someone who loves you so much, to whom you are so important... that you're the one they need to talk to in the final moments of life.  That means something, and you are so blessed to know love like that whether it was for 10 years or 10 months." But mostly I thought, "I feel that loss every day - and I've never even met the man I'm mourning."

I know it's not polite or compassionate to share these thoughts. I'll be accused of being unkind.
But this is my truth. I know it is devastating to lose a love. I don't deny that. I am sympathetic.
My sister and my dad both left this earth without warning.
I can only look forward to meeting the love of my life one day, and hope that one of us gets to say, "I love you. Goodbye."

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

You Heard It Here First - A Winner!!!


Congratulations Kathy  -  you are the winner of Erin Ann's new book You Heard It Here First!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Everyone else...  the book is available right now on Amazon, 99 cents for the Kindle version and Erin Ann is offering the paperback at a discounted price of $7.99!! ( that's compared to the original price of $13.50 - Erin is just that sweet and generous!)

Kathy - we'd love for you to stop back and tell us what you thought of the story! I'll put your review on the blog!

Thanks for playing!


Monday, September 03, 2012

An Ounce of Compassion

Oh some relationships are more than hard.  They're disappointing.
I've had a friend who has become less of a friend over the years. And through the past few years... that woven cloth of friendship has raveled down to a bare thread.

That thread snapped last week. Right about when I said something that didn't validate her perfect life and ideal existence.  Yes, she's one of those women who has it all, a doting husband, beautiful kids, with a charming house in the ideal neighborhood... but she feels inadequate if she can't decorate the kids rooms with Pottery Barn.

What I said wasn't exactly unkind... but it clearly didn't give her the warm fuzzies that she gets from everyone else in her life.  I'm sure she saw it as an unwarranted attack. What I'm sure she'll never see - even if she reads this, is that she instigated it just as much as I did. Yes she did.

See, when I went through one of the roughest times of my life - I was unemployed and had just broken up with the man I thought was my last chance at getting married and having a family, AND I was turning 40, which put an especially fine point on all the hardships - she decided it was too hard to take my calls. She told me later that she couldn't take the negativity.

Oh, well I'm sorry my life is so unpleasant for you. Some friend. Some human.
What kind of person sees someone go through a rough time, and just drops them?!

All she had to do was say, "You know, you don't deserve this. You would be an amazing wife, and it hurts me that someone with a heart as big as yours doesn't have someone to share it with." or "Oh my, I don't know what I would do in your situation without a job! Are you doing okay?"

But she didn't. (In fact, she said things like, "Unemployed since April? You must have had such an AMAZING summer!"  Um, yeah, I sat at the pool all day every day, not the least bit concerned with finding a job or trying to feed myself.  Or the time I was interviewing for a job I'd rather not take, but for the circumstances, I had to - she said that I should decline the job so someone who really needed it could have it. As if I didn't need the job, because since I'm single, my mortgage is paid for by fairies!!) 
No. She saw something that was hard and she turned her back.

All I needed was a little validation. Then, over the years, we still kept up on FB (which is a mistake) so all I ever saw was her asking for validation - that it was okay for her take time to exercise everyday - or okay for her to leave the kids with her hubby and escape to Starbucks to unwind.  And I thought all of that was okay. Sure - every mom deserves that. But it was the fact that every time she asked for validation, she got it. Twenty comments of validation at a time!!

And I thought, it's not fair that someone who couldn't validate me in a crisis - can get so much validation from the universe for things that aren't even hard! Then I would think all these other friends, who think everything she does deserves a laurel and roses, are going to be surprised one day when they need support, to learn that they're suddenly too difficult to love.

Yeah, I admit it made me bitter. I guess I'm negative, but she's the most deserving person on earth.
She wants a cup of coffee and the world sends her Starbucks gift cards.  I want a job, and I'm ignored. (or vilified for drawing unemployment!) I want love, and no one cares.   So forgive me if it pissed me off a little that she's constantly asking the world for more and getting it - and I ask the world for basics and get nothing.

So a friendship died a messy, stabby death.

Just an ounce of compassion on her end, might have been an antidote to gallons of bitterness.

When we don't validate our friends' hopes and desires, when we don't acknowledge that they're having a hard time or suffering a loss... it's like saying that you think they deserve their misery.
And if that's what you think... I guess that's fine, but don't pretend to be their friend.