Be Happy Anyway

Be Happy Anyway
From Brave Girls Club

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Left Hand to My Right

I took one of those online quizzes on Facebook about which part of the brain I use the most. According to the test I use both halves equally. I posted the results and one of your former bosses and friends, J.S., responded with the comment about being left-handed and being his right mind. This made me laugh because you being left-handed used to make the same joke.

The conversation continued and led to JS sharing an article about engineering and art:
Popular belief is that the left hemisphere of the brain is for rational, analytical and logical thinking and the right hemisphere of the brain processes visual and audio logical stimuli, spatial manipulation, facial perception and artistic ability.
Oddly enough, you were the logical, rational one, but you could put things together like nobody's business. You never considered yourself artistic until I shared with you the art of Zentangle. You thought I was the creative, artistic one.

This started me thinking about how you and I complemented each other:

  • When we walked together, I would stand to your right leaving our dominant hands free to write, use the phone, whatever.
  • We were both musical. After all, that's how we met in high school. But you admitted that you were jealous of musicians who learned to feel music rather than just play notes on the page. I on the other hand, from a young age, was deeply moved by music. I was even found crying at age three in Macy's department store. My mother asked me why, and I said the music was so sad.
  • You loved Classic Rock and some Heavy Metal while I kept my tastes centered around 80s Pop music. In high school, you could be found rocking out in the garage to Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Boston, Kansas, and the like. Meanwhile, I loved groups like Duran Duran, Toto, Men at Work, Genesis, Chicago. Our road trips found us listening to both and I learned to appreciate your music. Now, I often to turn to the classic rock station on the satellite radio. It often makes me cry.
  • You appreciated that I had an eye for design. Whenever you moved to a new place, you asked me to help you arrange the furniture, pick out wall decorations, and accessories. I was amazed by how spatially inclined you were. There wasn't anything you couldn't put together. You drove a little Mazda 3. Many a time we stood in the Ikea parking lot trying to figure out just how we were going to get home a full-size bed frame, mattress, 4 x 4 Expedit, desk and kitchen paraphernalia. We always got it home.
  • While math was your forté, I found writing to be my calling. But you sure did love books and poetry. I was scrolling through old emails looking for something of you to hang onto and found you had sent me many poems that you had found that spoke to both of our hearts.
  • Speaking of books. You loved audiobooks. I thought this was weird until our first road trip together. We listened to a book about vampires (so not my genre) called The Passage. Then the sequel The Twelve. Then you got me started listening to Atlas Shrugged. Who would have known that you could get me to listen to a socio-political commentary in novel form. (I should probably listen to it again.) Your brother got me listening to more Sci-Fi. This makes me feel closer to you, too.
All this thinking about how you complemented me led me to create a page in the leather journal you bought for me for my birthday last year.

When this page was finished, my inclination was to send you a text about it. You would have given me lots of compliments and told me how you wished you could actually hold that hand. Today, however, it is I who wishes your hand was here to hold. IMYAITOY

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Packing Lunches

You and I were a predictable couple. We woke at the same time every morning, texted good morning conversations until we could no longer procrastinate getting up, followed the same morning routines, griped about morning traffic idiots, texted each other throughout the day, came home every evening and packed our lunches for the next day.

I had a pink lunch cooler and you had a red one. Mine is much worse for wear, but yours stood the test of time.

When you drove home for visits, you would pack two coolers - the lunchbox and a mini Igloo. We learned how to save money while traveling by packing snacks, sandwiches and drinks. You loved my strange whole wheat sandwiches, apple slices, bananas and bean burritos. You fueled your nine-hour drives with bottled water and Dr. Pepper. You loved your Dr. Pepper. Even though you had given them up for Lent on more than one occasion and got on a water kick, you always came back to it.

Today, something made me look up at the top of the fridge where I saw your lunchbox. Immediately, a flood of memories came over me. I had a sudden realization, one that had not occurred to me before this moment: I will never get to make my strange whole wheat sandwiches for you again. I won't get to give you a hard time about Dr. Pepper. We won't wander through the grocery store together searching for the perfect balance of  healthy snacks vs. things you loved to eat like gummy bears and Butterfingers.

Will I be able to use your lunchbox as a replacement for my dilapidated one without having a meltdown? I'm not sure. How many little things am I going to find around the house that will bring me to tears, things I thought I had put out of sight? I find a greeting card, a piece of candy, a shower poof, deodorant, shampoo, mowing sneakers, some little piece of something that you left behind thinking you would be back for it again. The list is endless.

I'm not sure what the formula is for making pain go away. Instead, I think I will make a whole wheat sandwich.

Friday, July 11, 2014


We always used to note when we saw 11:11 on the clock or 1111 in an address. It was our thing. It was something that Peggy had shared with me and I had shared with you. It was our way of letting each other know we were thinking of each other.

When you passed away, I noticed 1111 all the time. It was special but painful. However, little by little, I catch that time less and less. I might see 11:12 or 10:11, but never 11:11. It bothered me for a while, but then I began noticing something else. 12:12 or 1212.

This morning when I got up, these lyrics from an Anna Nalick song (Breathe) came to mind.
"Cause you can't jump the track, we're like cars on a cable,
And life's like an hourglass, glued to the table.
No one can find the rewind button, boys,
So sing it if you understand,
And breathe... just breathe,
Oh breathe, just breathe"
I then got up and went for a run.

When I run, my mind wanders all over the place. I hear song lyrics; I have "woulda, coulda, shoulda" conversations with myself; I complain about the branches on the sidewalk; I wonder why people don't bring in their stinky trashcans…it goes on and on.

On the last stretch of my run, I noticed the address 1212. It gave me a new perspective. 1111 was our thing, our time, our place. We will always have that time, but I am eventually going to have to move on - move forward in time, move forward to another place, a place where I can remember you fondly and without pain. I am naming that time and place 1212. I look forward to that time and place.

In the mean time, IMYAITOY (I miss you and I'm thinking of you.)

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Cardinal

Every morning on my walks, I see a cardinal. This morning he followed me for quite some time. Although I have my phone with me, I am never fast enough to capture a picture of him. However, it gives me a smile nonetheless. I looked up cardinals today and found this description:

The cardinal tells you that you can handle challenges, and to believe in yourself. It is important to be proud of yourself for your abilities or for the things you have achieved.

This is significant because, you used to tell me how proud you were of me and my accomplishments as a teacher and more importantly as a mother. You always made a point to remind me of everything that I have overcome these past 2 years. That is something I will miss about you.

Things you were proud of for me:

Having the gumption to get myself out of a difficult situation.
Driving a 20 foot moving van while towing the Le Sabre on a flatbed.
Being able to ask for help.
Taking a job that I didn't want so I could take care of my kids.
Getting the job I wanted.
Staying at that job even when it was challenging.
Learning to mow my own lawn.
My creativity.
Deciding that my health was important and wanting to do something about it.
Losing weight - even though you loved me how I was, you celebrated each little victory.
Each time I improved my running/walking time or went a little farther.
Each 5K I entered and completed.

There are so many more times I heard you say how proud you were of me, but those are the ones that stand out in my mind.

I love you. I miss you and I can't wait until the thought of you brings me more smiles than tears.
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