Sweet Child O’ Mine, A Meeting with an Old Friend

She was drunk. She had hoped it would help her sleep. She had hoped it would help her to be able to finally climb into the bed that she had shared with her husband of over 20 years with. She was so tired. So fucking tired. Her husband had been convicted of hurting a child. Her youngest son had run off in response, while her oldest stayed by her side. She’d been barely holding it together for too long. Living in a little cocoon. But at that moment of trying to get into bed, she finally broke down. Finally, she laid on the floor and wailed. Her oldest son, her child, her baby, had to see her in her weakest state. Drunk, and sobbing uncontrollably because she couldn’t get into the bed she had shared with a man who was now in jail, as he would be for years to come. She begged her son to call her mother. He did, while taking care of her as well. He waited for his grandma to get there and put his mother to bed, so she could get some rest after living a nightmare that actually came true.

She walks into the bar and I see her as she once was, when we were just teens. Striding towards me, she is statuesque, blonde, violet blue eyes, and wearing a huge smile. As she zips to the table, so many men turn their heads to look at her. Some of them appear to get whiplash as a result. She’s a ravishing beauty after all that she’s been through. We hug for what seems like forever. We haven’t seen each other in 26 years, but you’d never know it, by the sounds of our laughter and the constant exchanges of “I love you.” I think to myself, “Oh my God how did I ever let this light out of my life?” We were best friends at one time. But life pulls us in different directions. Even though we lived just a few towns away from each other, our lives were busy. She was married, and so was I. We’d each had two children. We were part of our community, and our kids kept us plenty busy.

I’ve already ordered her a Bud Light. I’m sipping white zinfandel and water, because I have to drive home after our meeting. We sit down and start talking. She goes first because she has a story to tell. One that is difficult to hold in. I let her have the floor. I let her go, and let go she does.

But this story is not about her ex-husband. This story is not about her sons. This story is about her. A beautiful woman, that was my best friend during our teenage years. She and I fell away as high school friends often do. We find lovers that we marry and plan on staying with for the rest of our lives. We have children that mean everything to us, that make us better somehow. That we in turn make better by raising them up right. We become involved in the places that we live, in our communities, in our children’s activities, in our lives. It becomes our lives and nothing else matters. But then the unthinkable happens: your husband is accused of taking advantage of a young woman.

She told me that she knew that the light had switched in his brain somehow. They’d been married for 20 years and he started becoming abusive – mentally at first, and then physically. But she had been living with the mental abuse, or as she called it, “passive-aggressiveness” for so long she knew how to diffuse it. For some reason though, this time she no longer could. He started hitting her. Why after so long? She has no idea. But he did hit her. He made her feel small, like she was inadequate. He turned into a stranger. Someone she didn’t even know. She stayed though, for her kids, for the idea that they were “pillars” of the community. They took good care of their kids and the kids of their friends.

When her husband eventually went to prison, she hid herself away. Her youngest son started his senior year of high school shortly thereafter. He told her that he was dealing with some aggression at a home football game. That was what brought her out of her funk. She said to her self, “no one is going to make my child pay for the sins of my husband.” So the next football game, she went. She dealt with the animosity, so that her son didn’t have to. She is one tough momma bear and she loves her boy immensely. While she was there she saw a good friend of the family who, taking her hand said, “If you need anything, anything at all, call me.” She looked at him and knew that he meant every word he said.

She did eventually call him, and they became inseparable. He brought her back to life. He helped her figure out her way, helped her figure out how to continue to take care of her boys, even though she was damaged. He helped her to realize that the man she had married all those years ago was no long the same man. He helped her figure out that the men that were contacting her with offers of help, were only wanting to take advantage of her. To fuck her, own her, hurt her even more, and then disregard her like yesterday’s trash. If she didn’t have this wonderful, flawed man in his own right by her side during this time, who knows what mistakes she might have made.

She finalized her divorce as quickly as possible. She lived in utter poverty for two years. Sometimes, without even electricity, warm water, heat, or food. In short, all the damn things that we normally take for granted. She had nothing. Every time she went to an interview, they would uncover her history and the job offer would disappear. She would think to her self, “They have no reason to judge me. I am NOT the sins of my husband. I am ME!”

Taking a break, we both look at the crucifixes around our necks. As our conversations have progressed, we keep touching them throughout. This recognition turns our conversation towards the topic of faith, and therapy, but mostly faith. We realize as we hold hands across the table and cry, that our faith is what’s gets us through. I told her I haven’t taken my crucifix off for 14 years. When I had to have an MRI recently, it killed me to remove it for even that hour. She told me that her original crucifix broke, and she found herself lost without it. She then acquired the one that she wears now, and she finds herself touching it daily. It’s her center, as it is mine. She says that without her boyfriend, her faith and her therapist, she would have never made it through this part of her life.

She’s grown. She’s changed. Yet she’s still the wonderful and fun girl she always was. With a twinge of jealousy, she looks at me and says, “You are so lucky. You get to grow old with the man that loves you. My ex-husband stole that from me.” She does tell me though that she has been redeemed with her new love. The man who simply took her hand at a football game, and said if you ever need me, call. God, she is so glad that she did.

I think she’ll make it, I do. I think she has found her happiness. She’s found it in her children and in this new man that accepts her for what she is – good woman, with a tough past. But then again, who doesn’t have a tough past? Who doesn’t have a broken road? Isn’t it astonishing when that broken road leads us to the right one?

As I leave her, we hug some more. We once again exchange our “I love you’s.” We promise to not leave 26 years between us again. And we haven’t. We talk almost daily. She is of my heart and one of the strongest women I know. I love her now and forever. What her husband did, doesn’t define her, or her grown up babies. I admire her strength and the ferocity of her love. She is a good woman, a strong woman. And she always will be.

***Edited by t from aslongasimsinging.wordpress.com. Read him. The man rocks my world, and makes my pretty words more beautiful with his touch. This may be my last post for awhile. I promise to come back. Just not sure when. Take care my dear readers and followers.***

They Called Our Town Death Valley

The teenagers from the surrounding towns called our town Death Valley.

I remember standing in front of Adam’s casket. I was 17. He was 17. He had on his high top sneakers. They were shiny and red. At least I think they were red. It was so long ago, I don’t really remember. He wore high tops all the time though. Of every damn color you could imagine. He was wearing the requisite 80’s men’s blazer. Sleeves rolled up of course. Our Adam. His face was at peace, but we weren’t. He’d lost his life a few days before. Driving under the influence of so many things and driving way too damn fast. His head was so damaged from the accident. The casket was open because he was Greek Orthodox, but it shouldn’t have been. He looked dead. He looked horrible. I sobbed as I stood there and I had my senior picture in my hand.

When I was talking to Tracy this week I recalled a conversation I’d had with Adam. It was a snow day during our Junior year of high school. He told me he liked me for more than a friend. I told him I felt the same. Then he broke my tender teenage heart. He told me if we did go out, he would just use me. I thanked him for being honest but inside I was devastated. I longed to taste his kiss, and hold his hand. Hey, we were teenagers, we hadn’t got to the whole sex thing yet.

I stood in front of his casket and cried. Thought about his ending. About us as survivors. The surviving teenagers in Death Valley, Saline, MI. The deaths weren’t over yet. There would be more accidents, a heart attack, a suicide. We’d lose more of our youth, our innocence. And our immortality. I looked at Adam’s face one more time. I said goodbye to his life and his light. His beautiful smile. I dropped my senior picture onto his chest, along with the hundreds of others. Then I turned to my friends and hugged them. We then went outside to the porch and had a smoke with the rest of my stoner friends.

We are NOT our Daughters, Our Daughters are NOT Us

A daughter is a mother’s gender partner, her closest ally in the family confederacy, an extension of her self.  ~Author Unknown

As long as a woman can look ten years younger than her own daughter, she is perfectly satisfied.  ~Oscar Wilde

When Meggie was a teenager, it was never my intention to live vicariously through her. Try as I might it did happen on more than one occasion though. It happened with competitive swimming, with music, with boyfriends. School work too, I’m sure. I saw her, this gorgeous and viable young woman. I wanted everything for her. I wanted her to do everything I didn’t when I was growing up. If she wanted to pursue a new endeavor, Roger Darling and I did our very best to ensure that she got the chance to do so.

She is such a beauty. She looks like Kate Hudson. I saw boys swarm around her like bees take to honey. I didn’t understand it. She looked exactly like me. Acted like me. How could it have been so easy for her to attract attention from young suitors, but I had to work hard for every boy that I wanted to date. Except for Roger Darling, that is. He was always a good one for me.

I never tried to push her to date a certain guy. Well, I take that back. I tried a couple of times. One was with her BFF, M. He’s one of my “other” sons. I love him like he’s mine. I guess he sorta is mine. Rog and I think of him as one of our family. He’s blonde, beautiful, and loves my girl like no other. But there was no more feelings  for her other than best friend love. And though it was hard for me to deal with, I had to let go of the hope that her true love would be her BFF, M.  He is going to be her Man of Honor at her wedding in December. I think that’s pretty damn cool. I don’t know what it is about she and I. We like being friends with dudes. I think it’s easier sometimes. Less hormones to deal with.

I did want her to date another guy, A. But only because I knew he was going to be rich when he was all grown up. They’re BFFs too. Now that he’s done with college he is well on his way to great success. Oh well, she’s found the love of her life, and he climbs and trims trees for a living.  The boy is super damn smart and looks like Eddie Vedder. He’s got a bright future ahead. I worry about her getting married at the age of 22, but she’s a determined sort. She’s like her momma in a lot of ways. God help her future husband. He’s in for a rough ride, that’s for sure.

I have found that Meg has done so much more in her life than I have. And she’s only 22. I told her just because she’s getting married, it doesn’t mean that she can stop pursuing life. She is to get her ass out there and hustle. Do what she wants before she has babies and settles down. Find hobbies, and do them. Travel, sing, write, hell, whatever she wants. Sometimes I want to be her. But then I have to remember that this is her time. My life is not hers, and her life is not mine. We must love and respect one another. And we do. I love that she has my free spirit. I couldn’t be more proud of her. She is an amazing young woman. She will continue to do great things.

Though I’m older than her, I’m still pursuing life. Trying new things. Becoming more me than I have been, in years. It’s partly because of her. Because of my girl. She’s taught me that it’s never too late. It’s never, ever too late.