My Grief Lives in My Lungs

Grief lives in my lungs.  My lungs temper my grief – keep me upright, keep me alive, keep breathing…putting one foot in front of the other.  Grief lives in my lungs.

I had quit smoking in the months before my dad died.  I had tried so many times to quit smoking and this time seemed to be working.  Oh sure, I had cravings, but I was managing them. 

My mother called, “Come quick. It’s an emergency.”  Part of me knew.  I stopped breathing.

And then, I went tearing down the hill after putting shoes on.  Normally I would have gone barefoot. I don’t know why the shoes. In case we had to go to the hospital? Part of me knew.

I was breathing hard by the time I got to the house. Shallow, unsatisfying breaths.  My father dead on the floor.  I quickly knelt and started chest compressions, went to blow air in his mouth.  Cold.  He was cold.

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Happy Halloween

I am not one of those people for whom Halloween is a high holiday. I enjoy it, but I seldom dress up though I have fun when I do. Which begs the question — why don’t I every year?

Well, partly because I’m always a witch whether I dress the part or not.

We had punkins come trick or treating at the office on Friday. About 40 of them from a local preschool. One little girl solemnly told me, “I just love your costume.”

I miss the days when Chef Boy ‘R Mine was little. He rather enjoyed trick or treat and the whole costume thing. For his first school Halloween, the children were allowed to wear their costumes to school. That was the year of the infamous Ninja Turtle Costume — Donatello to be exact.

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The Williams River

I woke up and felt a breeze on my face.  The strains of a mandolin and sunshine floated into the tent. 

My back hurt and I was cold, but I was happy.  At one with the universe.

We were celebrating Donnie’s life while she was still with us to enjoy her own wake.  Camping on the Williams River with the Bing Brothers – what we called a Bing Thing.  Always a good time. 

The rock falls on the Williams River.

This one was bittersweet.  It was the 4th of July weekend in the early ‘90s – I had 4 days off or something like that.  It was enough time to relax and get into the timeless groove of good music, good food, and good company in good surroundings.  The Williams River campsite in Pocahontas County was rustic and pristine.  It was cool – sometimes cold – a nice escape from the insufferable heat of the Ohio Valley.  These people had been camping there for years – loved it, honored it, took care of it.  There were a big bunch of us, yet it was still private and intimate.  A contradiction in many ways, but enjoyable in them all.

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The Spanish Notebook

Three years ago today, I checked into the resort on Ibiza — Destino Pacha. I went to attend my son’s and now-daughter-in-law’s wedding.

Spain was a very good vacation. One of my best, but I’m not sure it was the best. That might have been Hawaii in 2017.

The Spanish Notebook

Spain, however, was my most unusual vacation. I went alone. To a foreign country with very little grasp of Spanish. I went to attend my son’s destination wedding. I also used the occasion to celebrate my 60th birthday.

I had never traveled alone for a vacation. There have been business trips and solo sojourns in hotel rooms, but never a whole vacation. I was giddy. I was excited. I was scared. I wasn’t sure how I was going to pay for it all. Usually, I had someone to share costs with.

I was alone.

My mother could not attend my son’s wedding due to failing health. It’s a long trip and she was just not up to it. My ex-husband was in the process of being diagnosed with a debilitating disease and was physically incapable of making the trip.

For the Hawaii vacation in 2017, I thought I had pulled out all the stops. I took my mom to places we hadn’t seen since 1970 when we lived there. We had a full list of things to revisit and see again. I made a notebook itinerary with detailed plans, flight schedules, hotel reservations, daily agendas, etc. It was pretty OCD. It saved our butts a few times.

That notebook was so successful that there was no question I would have one for Spain.

The Spanish Notebook ended up being more than 100 pages and was spiral bound for me by a friend. I mapped out everything. I had only two weeks in Spain, and I was determined to do and see as much as possible. The wedding was only going to occupy me for about 2 days before the happy couple went about their honeymoon. (And who wants their mom/mother-in-law on their honeymoon with them?)

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