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Dying to Live…

 

 

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“Country Grammar” by Nelly was playing at level 60 on the car stereo.  It was a beautiful day.  Nothing spectacular but last night’s rain made everything seem clean and fresh.  My ruby red lipstick matched my weekend hair.  I enjoyed a quick breakfast with my colleagues; eggs, fresh spinach, salsa, cinnamon bagel with butter, and coffee.  The conversation was flavored with both frustration over unrealistic expectations and laughter about how neither of them had recognized the fully made up “weekend” me.   

It was hard for me to focus. I was excited about the upcoming week/weekend so, I said a quick good-bye and headed towards the lobby doors. Honestly, I don’t even remember if I waited for a response.  After all, the drive ahead was long, it wasn’t’ like we weren’t all staying in the same hotel, so, I was certain we could continue the conversation when I got back. 

The clouds were like marshmallow puffs that moved slowly back and forth against the brilliant blue sky.  Water on the plants glistened from the previous night’s rain and even though the sun was shining brilliantly, the chill in the air made me consider wearing my jacket instead of carrying it.  I stopped for brief minute to take in the beauty of my surroundings.  Just as began to marvel and how so many simple things could work so well together to produce such an amazing result, I remembered that I “had things to do” and walked away. 

I stopped for gas. Fiddled with a gadget I purchased to hold the phone which, of course didn’t work correctly.  ” Damn, I needed those 10 minutes!” Frustrated over “wasted” time, I threw the gadget, the box it came in, in a bag, tossed it in the backseat and got on about the business of getting on about the business of my day. 

In my infinite wisdom, I decided that if I drove a little faster I could make up for the time that I had lost earlier.  To be completely honest, I fell in love with the feel of the way the engine feels when the car does what it was intended.  In retrospect, the open road, and the music were the invitation.  Running late (aka needing more time) was my “RSVP” and from that moment on it was full speed ahead. 

I didn’t have any deep thoughts.  I would like to say that I was contemplating the meaning of life but I was just enjoying the music from my Spotify playlist.   

I was laughing to myself.  I was thinking that, in a few years, people from my generation would say things like “In my day, our lyrics were deep…” and then put on DMX, Trick Daddy, Nelly, Ja Rule, and Ludacris.  It was funny to me. The music was like a soundtrack to a movie that constantly plays (in my mind) and I am the star.  There was nothing on my mind but the moment.  Nelly’s Country Grammar began and he and I were”goin down down baby low speed in a Range Rover” and that’s when it happened. 

There was a little blue car with Montana plates in front of me.  I remember the plates because I kept staring at them. I wanted them (and the big rig) in front of them to “get the hell out of my way.” Clearly, whomever was driving wasn’t having as much fun as me.  Their sole purpose for being out today was to piss me off. Did they take some secret joy in getting in my damn way?  I know it makes no sense but Montana and the Semi really needed move on.  My time was extremely, limited however, getting there within the time frame was only part of the issue.  

The experience of the engine coming to life underneath me was beyond exquisite.  Even now, there aren’t words descriptive enough to take you there.  (It’s a feeling so unique that each time I think of it, I immediately begin to breathe deeply, move slowly, and sigh. I stop however, because here in Starbucks I dare not draw attention to myself🙂). 

I might have forgotten to mention that this is a 2 lane highway.  Every so often there are designated passing lanes but through the course of the 84 miles they are farther and fewer in between.  My patience is growing thin.  So, when Montana moves to pass the semi, I know that my time is coming. I laughed out loud because it almost “my time had come” to be ” one with the road.”  

“Now I’m knockin like Jehovah; let me in now” was the lyrical line that was playing as I attempted to make my next pass. Facing oncoming traffic is not the best time to realize the semi is longer than you anticipated but that’s what happened. I could see a car coming directly towards me but the speed at which I and the semi were traveling did not allow me to slow down to get behind.  Montana was in front of the semi.  I was on the side Nelly was going on about having “money to lend his friends now” and the car directly in my path was getting closer.  Just as Nelly was making his way “down down in a Range Rover” I stepped on the gas was able to get between the semi and Montana. 

My first thought was that I had no specific thought. (This isn’t like those Hollywood movies at all.)  There was only then and there.  As I continued to drive, my second thought was that this was my second strike (the other occurred at stoplight several years ago).  Then from nowhere the song that my mother (aka Gumby Girl) used to sing “Aint’ No Mountain High Enough” came on.  In my mind, it was her way of reaching out to me and allowing me to tap into a place that choose not to go.  The tears came.  I thought about how much I miss her and how I would give anything to sit and talk with her or just to hold her hand. I thought about how alone I feel and how (no matter what was happening) as long she and I had each other we knew that everything would be okay.  Those thoughts made me miss her more. During the time the song played it was as if she were sitting right there with me, reminding me that I am the glue. For them, I am the glue and that’s when it hit me.  Her words came to me. She would tell me that the hardest part of dying was leaving me behind.  She didn’t want to leave me alone.  In her mind, dying would have been easier had I been married but that was not the case.  She held on as long as she could but eventually she had no choice but to let go. Then just as quickly as the tears and sadness came upon me DMX  started with “Y’all goin make me lose my mind…up in here…up in here…” Came on.  Gumby’s way of saying ” Why in the hell would you take a foolish chance like that?  Why would you wish your experience on them?” If you knew my Gumby Girl then it would make perfect sense.    

I may be at peace with my life but the lives I would leave behind would not be at peace with me.  There are some things that we cannot control.  Actually, most things we cannot control, but the few that we can, I intend to.  Speed limits are there for a reason.  I intend to follow them.  The exquisiteness of the engine purring beneath me pale in comparison to watching the Natives (Abby, Kevlar, Scooter, Kaydie, Lilah, Natalia, and Gibby) learn, grow, and venture out into the world.  Of all things I could have done differently, better, or not at all, when I look at and/or think about them, I wouldn’t change a thing.  I love them with all that I am.  We have learned a lot.  We continue to learn.  Today was huge for me. So now as yet another artist attempts to make good on Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” I realize that for me, it really is “a new day.” I sincerely hope it is for you too.© 

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A Different Kind of Deployment…

“You feel like a shadow on the front porch of what used to be your life; looking in, very present, but only on the periphery.”

Traversing the world is wonderful, but missing out on time with your family, is not.  So, when the opportunity to take an assignment in my home state arose, I couldn’t have been happier.  If only I had known….

As difficult as being deployed is for the loved ones of those serving in the various branches in the military, it is that much harder on the service member. This is a “different kind of deployment” because although the service member hasn’t gone, their training schedules can keep them away for weeks at time and, in many ways, being just far away enough not to go home every day is much more difficult that not being able to go home at all.

You’re doing what you have to do to support them.  They are doing what they have to do as well – but it takes its toll on all involved.  There is distance – where before there was none.  You feel like a shadow on the front porch of what used to be your life; looking in, very present, but only on the periphery.

The back and forth takes its toll. Now you see them, now you don’t.  You look forward to being with them when you can, but even more than that, you dread having to “readjust” when you return to your life without them. You wonder if they really understand and/or appreciate the sacrifices that you are making on their behalf.  You don’t tell them how hard it really is and they don’t tell you.  Your conversations consist of things you will do and how great it will be.  It’s easier that way…but not really.  Things will never really be the same again. You dare not tell them…but it’s okay… because they probably already know.