Another Year, Another Anniversary

This Saturday, I will most likely be holed up, somewhere quiet, to pass the day.

Why?  Because that is April 9. 

2 years from the day that my sister and friend, Midnite, passed from this life, beyond the Veil, and onto the next stage.

After last night’s posting about the family in Fort Yates that suffered so much, I was a little down.  So much suffering and tragedy, it breaks my heart to witness it, and not be able to act.  There are so many times that I wish I could do more, say more, give more.  But there’s only so much that can be said, that can be done. 

And the same is true here.

I wrote, last year, about my friend.  About how she changed my life, how she lived, and how she died.  And now, that time has come ’round again. 

A lot has changed in the past year.  I truly found a new home, here in the blogging world, and thanks to my wonderful new “chosen family”, I’m once again writing, really writing from my heart, as I always wanted to do.  I wish that Midnite could have been a part of this, but it was not meant to be.  I know that a part of her is with me still, and always will be, but she has moved on.  And so must I.

This year, the anniversary of her passing is still painful, but not as badly as it was last year.  Time has softened the edges of it, blurred the lines a little, and the memories aren’t as sharp or well-defined.  This, too, is a natural part of the healing process.  I know that it’s different for each person who was touched by her life, and I know too, that there will be more “moments” where I simply am overwhelmed by her loss.

But the better moments, the happier memories, are starting to outweigh the grief.  And this… is a good thing.

I still miss you, Sis. 

And I will never forget.

Love you.

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A Song, A Moment, A Card, and A Smile

Or otherwise known as Valentine’s Day – Perfect Day, Apocalypse, or both?

I had a pretty good start on yesterday.  I got surprise flowers from my OtherHalf, had a pretty good day at work, got flowers for my girls, and a gift of kisses (Hershey’s, since I’m no longer allowed to kiss him in public) for OnlySon. 

For some reason?  I didn’t eat supper.  Maybe that’s where I went wrong.  I’m hypoglycemic, so when my blood sugar drops, I get all shaky, weepy, and off-balance.  I’m not sure, but that could have been part of the problem of what came next.  Obviously, my brain was not working at full capacity.

YoungerDaughter worked after school today.  She works as a dietary aid at the local hospital, and I pick her up on school nights, as she doesn’t have a car.  So, when the time rolled around to go after her, I drove up and parked in the parking lot at the hospital and waited. 

My mp3 was playing, and I was fussing with my phone, when Linkin Park’s “Leave Out All the Rest” came on.  I’ve been obsessed with this band lately, and have almost all their songs on my mp3.  But I should have known better with this one song. 

This song is the strongest trigger for me as far as my friend Midnite is concerned.  It reminds me so strongly of things that she said to me over the years that I knew her, that it almost seems as though she’s saying them to my face whenever I hear it.  I thought I could make it through the song, now that it’s been almost 2 years since she passed away.

Well, I made it through the song, but not much further.  After it was over, I realized that I was sitting in the parking lot of the hospital where she passed away, and that was the pull on the trigger.  I had a moment.

A “Moment” is a code word that Midnite’s son, my nephew, and I use to signal that we’d been thinking about her, and were “temporarily emotionally indisposed” .

While this was going on, I was also talking with another friend, Sparrow, who had noticed a post I’d put up on FB about my moment, and how stupid I was to pull this emotional trigger on myself.  She’d immediately checked on me, making sure that I was alright.  She was one of the people that helped me make it through the aftermath of Midnite’s passing, and she’s always been just that thoughtful and amazing. 

Moving on.

YoungerDaughter finally finished work, and we drove home, where I found something lurking in my mailbox:

A lovely card from a lovely friend.

Just the sight of that bright pink envelope made me smile, before I even opened it, because I knew that whatever was contained within, it came from one of the kindest hearts I’ve had the pleasure to get to know in this last year.  And they would be good words.  Happy, heartfelt, make-you-smile words.

And I was right. 

Thanks, Lil k!  Just what I needed, just when I needed it most.

Seems like this is becoming quite the trend with my blogging family – Thanks, my friends, for turning the night back around to love.  Blog-family style.

The Music in My Head

It’s kind of funny, but I have music in my head most of the time.

And it all depends on my mood what’s currently playing between my ears.

When I’m up, happy, lights on the board all green and go, I’ll be listening to a variety of things, like Katy Perry, Sara Bareilles, Danny Kaye (yes, Danny Kaye) singing funny old songs, Gino Vanelli‘s Black Cars, the Black Eyed Peas, and a new group I recently found called Bond, which is a group of women that re-works classical music to sound waay more modern and just really cool.

If I’m in a contemplative mood?  It’s a lot of Enya, EKO, Classical (especially piano like Chopin, and violin like Tschaikovsky), and a few Japanese and Chinese performers (LOVE taiko drums, thanks).  There’s one Asian performer called Agatsuma, that plays a really wicked shamisen, sounds almost like an electric guitar!

A lot of the contemplative artists are also the ones that I listen to while I’m working on the novel.  I have a specific playlist I use for that, which is music I feel has an “airy” feel to it, or “drives” me to write.  Sets the mood and tone for what I’m working on at any given time.

If I’m down, then it’s generally the more emo-style of music.  Placebo works well for me when I’m depressed, as well as song called “Cut” by Plumb.  There are also a few songs by Queen, Sara Bareilles and Katy Perry that really help me to express those emotions, without actually screaming and yelling.  Even Linkin Park helps here, they have a few songs that aren’t as hardcore, and can actually move me to tears.  Leave Out All The Rest in particular, as that is the song that I identify mostly with my sister and friend, Midnite.

If I’m angry, or have a stress headache (yeah, I know it’s weird, but it works for me), then it’s loud and forceful, usually pissed-off-type, music.  Pink, Linkin Park, Metallica, Godsmack, Celldweller, Fort Minor (which is an offshoot from Linkin Park, so there’s continuity there), AC/DC, Ozzie Osbourne.  The louder I can sing it, or have the drums pounding in my head?  The better. 

Really good drums always put me in a head-space where I can almost drift off to sleep.  I love drums, and as Sparrow can attest, it turns me into a drooling, vacant-stared goob.  But ack, I love it, and it seems to help calm my nerves, switches on the serotonin in my system, and generally puts me in transcendental state.  Oooh, look at all the pretty colors….

thump thump THUMP thump… just like a heartbeat.

And then, there are the random songs that squirm their way into my head.  Spongebob Squarepants singing his F.U.N. song, or It’s a Small World, or ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ by Big Bird.  And if you don’t know that one?  Here.  Yer welcome.
Oh, and notice – Big Bird’s head! I don’t remember it being that SMALL!!?!

 

The Terminator

When I was little, I was a tomboy.  I climbed trees and threw rocks.  I made mud-pies and rode horses like a heathen.  I was known for speaking my mind and being a very imaginative, creative obnoxious kid.

After we moved to North Dakota in 1981, I changed.  I became shy, due to all the strangeness that came with moving to a new state, new town, new school.  I was an introvert, hiding behind my books and horses.  I was a nerd.  Non-athletic and bookish, I didn’t fit in.  I was still imaginative and creative and obnoxious, but nobody really knew it except my family.

In high school, I changed again.  After my best friend moved to town to live with her dad, I began to come out of my shell again.  I still wasn’t athletic (one of my nicknames was “Jello Wrists” for volleyball, and I still wear it proudly), I was still bookish, and I was still creative, imaginative and obnoxious – privately, for my best friend and a few select others.  Outwardly, I was a model student. 

After I graduated, I went off to college and really started to become my own person, away from being my parent’s “little girl” and my brother’s “little sister”.  I wasn’t compared to anyone, because nobody there really knew any of my family, so I was able to just be me.  Creative, imaginative, and obnoxious.

Then I became a mom, and I changed again.  I was the “Mama Bear”, always protecting my kids, fighting for them, and being firm with them to teach them manners.  My best friend (same one from high school) used to call me “The Terminator”, because I didn’t put up with any crap from the kids.  Whining wasn’t allowed.  Begging went unheard.  Tantrums were met with their bedroom door closing behind them till they could behave. 

I’ve had a reputation for many years of being tough.

When I met OtherHalf and we started dating, one of the things that he said drew him to me was the fact that I wasn’t a “pushover”. 

A few years ago, my very dear friend and sister, Midnite, and her son, William, became part of my “chosen family”.  He still calls me “The Aunt” to this day.  His friends actually fear crossing me. *shrug*  I’m protective, what can I say?  Also, he talks me up a bit, so… there’s that.

What I’m trying to get across, and badly, it seems, is that I’ve had this reputation for so long now, for being the “solid oak”, that it pisses me off when I have a crack in the veneer.

I was so angry at myself earlier that I almost deleted the previous post, and all the comforting and supportive comments that went with it.

I’m supposed to be the glue that sticks everything together and makes it stay.  I’m supposed to be the rock that will not move.  The nurse that springs to action when someone’s in pain or injured.  The strong one that can handle everything.  The mom that’s always there to pick up the pieces.  The Aunt that doesn’t back down or show fear.

And I didn’t.  I’m not.  And I hate it.

Logic states that everyone’s allowed to have off days, to fall down, to be sad.

The Terminator says no.

We’ll see.

Butterfly in a Jar

“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge-
That myth is more potent than history.
I believe that dreams are more powerful than facts-
That hope always triumphs over experience-
That laughter is the only cure for grief.
And I believe that love is stronger than death.”
~Robert Fulghum

 

*One of my favorite things is butterflies.  I love, not just the colors, and the varieties of shapes, but the silent grace of these creatures.  Butterflies are a welcome sight, no matter where you go, people are happy to see them.

Moths, their cousins, are seen as pests.  They are reputed to *eat clothes* and people stock up on mothballs to put in their closets to keep them away.  They are not often seen as lovely, delicate, and silently graceful. 

I dare you to tell me these creatures are not just as beautiful.

Yes, they flutter more frenetically, at least the smaller ones do, and yes, they will flock toward a light-source, whether it be a lightbulb, or a candle’s flame. 

But they can be just as gorgeous, just as graceful, as their daytime counterparts.

They too, might sit delicately on your hand or arm, licking the salt from your skin, gently fanning their wings.

In my experience, moths are simply butterflies that prefer the darkness to the light.

They are not as showy as their cousins, preferring to keep their colors more muted, subdued.  They also tend to be smaller, except for this behemoth, the luna moth.  My personal favorite.  We used to see these occasionally where I grew up in Iowa.  Not often, just enough to keep me fascinated with them.

So, you’re asking now, why butterflies and moths, in the middle of winter?  What do these have anything to do with snow, with the holidays, with ice and cold?

Not a damn thing.

I’m tired of feeling like a creature, caught and kept in glass.

I found a Butterfly in a Jar in one of the local stores this weekend.  I instantly wanted it, but had to forego buying it.  No, it’s not a real butterfly.  It’s electronic, a beautiful, fake thing on a wire, that flutters around the jar when you tap on the lid.

I still want one, not so much because I have any desire to capture a real live butterfly, I prefer releasing them to capturing.

No, I want one – to remind myself that even though people may stare, may tap at the glass, and may even shake it up now and again – the butterfly you see inside the jar is not real.  You can’t hurt it, you can’t kill it.  The batteries, or whatever it is that fuels this electronic critter, will eventually run down, but it will not die.

The real ones are still free.  Still beautiful, still graceful in all their silence.

And sometimes, they’re not even butterflies.  Sometimes, they’re moths.

 Tonight is Yule.  It is also the night of the total lunar eclipse.  If it stops snowing, even for a moment, around midnight, I’ll get to see it.

And, like those moths, I will flutter toward it, yearning for the light, and the renewal that comes with it.

Daughters of Mars

The saying goes “People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.” 

Throughout my life, I’ve had people that have played large roles in helping me define who and what I am.  I’ve always been drawn to people with creative leanings – writers, artists, musicians, and crafters.  And each of these people has taught me valuable lessons about what I’m capable of, how far I can take my potential, and where the lines are that I draw in the sands of my life.

And two of the people who helped me define and break through the boundaries of who I am have their birthday today.

This time of year is ruled by the astrological symbol of Scorpio.  Passionate, strong-willed, obstinate and creative, magnetic and outspoken.  They are Daughters of Mars.

Each one of them was instrumental and strongly influential at different times in my life. 

In high school, I was an outsider.  An academic, with a love for horseback riding and fantasy books, I had no athletic ability at all.  Living in a small town, this was a big black mark on my record.

But in 8th grade, a girl moved to town that made it all bearable.  She was athletically talented, but she was also wicked smart, and had a finely twisted sense of humor and creativity that most of the others didn’t know how to handle.  She was artistic and knew that the world was not just our tiny village, but that there were other places, wider spaces, to be explored. 

She taught me that there were no limits to what I could do.  She opened up a world of possibilities (although she could never make me coordinated, gym class was hell, thanks), and taught me how to come out of my shy, nerdy shell.  She laughed at my one-liners, and encouraged my writing.  She helped me finely tune my sense of sarcasm into a razor sharp tool that later earned me the name of the “Dragon Lady” among our friends.

She was my best friend for 13 years, when we fell out of touch.  Life happens when you’re looking the other way, and we both had things we had to do, separately.  Recently, we have gotten back in touch, and it’s wonderful, rediscovering things that had been put aside for so long.

Midnite was the other strong Scorpio in my life.  She and I became friends about 7 years ago.  It was a time in my life where I was redefining my place in my community.  It was her that taught me how to teach others what I know, and to be willing to stand up in front of a group and lead.  She showed me how to be of greater service to others, sheerly for the joy of helping.  She and I were pretty much joined at the hip *laughing at self* and even when we fought like cats and dogs (which we did, regularly), we still spoke at least 3 times a week.  She pushed me harder than almost anyone else in my life ever has, and made me realize that life is too short to have regrets.

She also taught me about loss. 

Both of these women were born fighters.  They each had their battles in life, and I’m proud that I was able to be friends with them for some of them, stand at their backs for part of the war. 

Happy birthday, Daughters of Mars.  May your stars shine brightly on the battlefield, and blind your enemies with your brilliance.

Tuesday Theology

I am not normally a person that spouts about my religion a lot.  I have my own views on what I believe, and I never expect anyone else to follow, or subscribe to the same.  What works for me, and keeps my faith chugging along will probably not work for the woman that sits next to me at work, or my children, my husband, or anyone else on the planet.  So, what I’m going to talk about today is strictly my own viewpoint.

As we get closer to Samhain (Halloween), the veil between this world and the next gets very thin, allowing us to interact with the other side, and allowing them to slide back and forth, visiting.  It’s a mysterious, powerful, spiritual time of year for me, and for many Pagans.  This subject is on my mind this year for more than one reason.

Reincarnation.

My nephew and I were discussing reincarnation the other night on the phone.  He’d been having some disturbing recurring dreams, and was looking for my insight, or at least some comforting words to help explain. 

He was dreaming about his mother, who passed away in 2009.  He was talking to her, as were others in our family, and he couldn’t understand how we could all be talking, hugging, etc.   She would turn and  tell him that she was alive and well, not dead at all – and what was his problem? 

He was confused, in the dream, and woke up disoriented and jumbled.  It had been bothering him, as this dream would not seem to go away, but would come again and again, night after night.  So, I told him what I believe.

I believe that, when our souls are young, they root themselves in the Summerland (the pagan version of “Heaven”) like an anchor.  This is the whole of our being, all of our experiences, everything we see, feel, learn, know is tied here for all time.

When we are ready for something “new”, we send out a portion of this consciousness, and we “incarnate” into a human form of our own choosing.  We decide what we want to learn about, rather like choosing college courses, and a map is laid out for us.  We then are “Born” into this incarnation, all the while being tethered like a balloon to that anchor in the Summerland.

We go through the experiences that are on our road map of life, learning the lessons we chose, and at the end, when our time here is done, the balloon “pops”, we pass over the veil once more, and end up back at our Soul Anchor to process what we’ve seen, heard, felt, learned. 

This, I told my nephew, would allow him to interact with his mother’s “Soul Anchor” and allow her to have been reincarnated into a new life.  I believe that she has returned for her next life of choice. 

As for me, next time on “The Life is Right”, I hope to be able to continue helping people.  But I guess I won’t know that till I see what courses are offered.  I know that death is not the end, and I’m content to wait my turn.  I’ve still got a lot to do here and now.