Saturday, May 26, 2012


This is entry number thirty-three in this here blog, and that number has me thinking.

My mom was thirty-three when she had me, her last child of four, her second daughter. I was thirty-three when I had my first daughter. Three is my favorite number, so two of them together is good, right?

Plus, one time when Nine and Seven were just Three and Two and we took them to Disneyland, Belle told Nine that "Three is the most MAGICAL number" (and then Aurora nodded with a knowing smile). I don't know if you've ever heard Belle speak in person but that girl is convincing. Her voice sounded like a kiss from an angel and I found myself nodding furiously and shrugging my shoulders and getting choked up as she said that to my girl. I was all, she's right, this IS magical, it's all magical, we're all covered in fairy glitter dust and the world doesn't exist outside of Disneyland and this moment and I can barely see straight enough to take my 249th photo because the silver lining is so bright right this very magical second.

But this week hasn't been quite so magical. I'm hoping as I write that I find my way to a magical place again. Come along if you aren't already wondering what in the world my point might be.

(And by the way, don't judge me or my Disney princess moment. You can look down at me from your anti-princess pedestal, hating what they stand for and blah blah blah, but when you see one of them look at your baby girl, or your niece, or your friend's kid in the flesh, you too, will forget that she is just a student {with some sort of tattoo under that satin gown} trying to make a Hyundai payment so she can take her cheating boyfriend to Subway after work. You will forget all of that and you too will think that girl eats berries brought to her by bluebirds and that she farts butterflies. You will.)

Back to the real world.

This week, my Mom had a procedure done, and as seems to be par for her difficult course, she had complications afterward. The kind of complications that sent her screeching back to the hospital in an ambulance and sent the ER doctor running out to make sure she was going to make it into the hospital at all, what with her blood pressure hovering at 233/80 and her pupils constricted to pinpoints.

She couldn't breathe, it seems. She'd been overmedicated to the point of overdose. She needed oxygen and blood pressure medication to stabilize her. She stayed in ICU for three days, where a lung infection took hold, so she was put on antibiotics as well. She's now in a regular room and we hope my Dad can take her home today because her vitals look good and she's starting to be a bitch again, which in this case, means Mom is BACK. When she's endured a health crisis, we know that once that fire gets stoked again, we're in the clear.

As you might guess, this isn't the first time we've had a close call. We've had enough medical mishaps with that lady that I am now convinced she is actually part cat. I'm not sure how many lives she's burned through so far, but I do know she's got at least a couple left. 

Which is a very, very good thing, because I need my Mom. My Dad needs her too, and my girls, and my brother and the rest of the family and her friends, but I need her most. Me. This one typing right here. I do. I don't know how those of you who have already lost your Moms live your life with that Mom-shaped hole in your heart, and I hope I don't have to learn that route anytime soon. 

I think my Mom feels the same way about me. There's something special there. 

She called me from ICU a few days ago, as I was driving Nine and Seven to school. I saw the call was from out of state, so I figured it might be her, or my Dad calling from the hospital, so I handed my coffee to Nine, picked up the phone and pulled over because I had a feeling this wasn't the conversation to conduct on speaker with the kids in the car.

She said: "I didn't overdose." And I said "Mom, I know you didn't." but I was thinking, What, no crack hit in recovery? Dad didn't provide you with your usual dose of heroin on the way home from the hospital? Duh.

But that wasn't what got me. 

Because then she said this: "When I couldn't breathe, I was so scared, and all I could see was you. All I saw was you. And you were dancing and dancing, and I knew I was going to be okay. And then when I got to the hospital, I couldn't see anything."

In that moment, where she felt like she was facing her darkest fear, she saw my face. And when she told me that through her tears, her voice sounded like the kiss of an angel and I melted into a puddle of my own quiet, salty tears. It was me, sobbing into my cell phone, with Nine and Seven in the back seat holding my coffee watching everyone else drive by on the way to school, asking me "Mom, why aren't you driving, we're going to be late again!?".

So I don't know if my Mom is part princess or part cat or part bitch or what configuration of magic she is, but I do know that she is alive and kicking and headed back home to my Dad within the next 24 hours, which is a lot better than where I thought she might be headed a few days ago.

I thank God that He let her stay here. I get more time to have her love me and to love her back. When I see her, she will look at me with lovesick eyes and I will let her. I will lay my head in her lap and let her stroke my hair, and I will inhale and outhale and try to burn the moment into my brain as deeply as it will sink into my heart.

She tells me I am her sunshine. I will keep doing my best to brighten her day the way only I can, and I will hope and pray for more and more days to do just that. And I will hope that a very, very, very long time from now, when she is gone, that I will still be able to shine bright, but I have a feeling I am only a reflection of her and that I may go dark. I can't bring myself to think about that happening, so I won't try.

Instead, for now, I will picture her face and hear her voice and feel her touch, and I will burn bright for the both of us, for as long as she needs me to.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


A handful of things I've pondered recently:

1. Satin, floral-print genie pants are not - I repeat, are not - current pool deck fashion. That's not to say I didn't see someone wearing satin, floral-print genie pants on the pool deck. Because I most certainly did. I mean, my eyes were bleeding, but I'm pretty sure.

2. If you ignore the clumps of dog hair that are stuck to your comforter/couch/clothes/walls/rugs long enough, your husband will finally (sweet baby Jesus, FINALLY) say it's time to get someone to help clean the house twice a month. He may preface it with "If you can't handle your two jobs and your two kids AND keep the house clean, you need to find some help.", but that's okay because all I heard was "Spend money!" and "Stop cleaning!".

3. When you buy your kids new swim goggles, the surf/ski kid behind the counter who takes your money is giddy. You know why? Because he knows that you will be back at that swim shop every two weeks, all summer long, because your kids will lose those goggles and every other pair you buy for them until school starts again. And that surf/ski kid who works at the shop will sit there smiling, drinking the Jamba Juice you want, but can no longer afford, because now you're paying his salary. Go team! 

4. It's really hard to get mad at your daughter for being sarcastic and sassy when you're pretty sure she learned it from you.

5. A Venti iced green tea isn't a luxury, it's a necessity. Call me an asshole if you must, but if you aren't handing me a tea as you're saying it, well then, who's the asshole now?

6. When you're reading a magazine about lifestyle and fashion and you answer "yes" to four out of the five Do You Make These Fashion Mistakes? questions, it's time to rethink what you're putting on your body in public, even if your body does currently look like raw pizza dough.

7. I know the Paleo way of eating is supposed to be great for you, but there has to be a reason we've evolved from caveman status. I don't want to have that must-hunt-and-kill-and-gather mentality all day. I also don't want to eat meat for breakfast/lunch/dinner/snacks. Allegedly, that kind of frantic, protein-filled day ends with one quesadilla and two glasses of Chardonnay.

8. On that note, hypothetically speaking, when you get to be a certain age, you can't drink wine and eat quesadillas for dinner and not gain weight from it. And one day, you're going to look up and think holy crap who's body is this??

9. When your eczema ear turns into a full-blown earache, one so painful that you can't sleep on that side of your head (or open your jaw all the way, or touch your neck), it's probably a good idea to go to the doctor. But when you don't have the time or energy to find the doctor you need, make an appointment, or go see him, ear drops from Whole Foods and a few Excedrin are good in a pinch. Stay tuned. Hopefully I won't have to start blogging in sign language anytime soon.

10. No matter how much beer bloat you subjected yourself to in college, you were smaller back then than you are now. Nothing makes that point more crystal clear than looking at your dance team uniform from college and realizing it looks like it might fit an American Girl doll. But just in case you need further proof, trying the uniform on helps. And by "trying the uniform on" I mean yanking it up to about mid-thigh, and giving up before suffering further humiliation (or a torn bicep from all the pulling it took to get it that far).

Happy Friday-lite, everyone. May your weekend be humiliation-free and chock full of Chardonnay.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


It's been a minute since I've written here, I realize. I've been spending the time both sitting under clouds and admiring their silver lining.

The first couple of weeks in May are loaded for me. First off, I celebrate my birthday at the beginning of the month, which as I get older is equal parts dark cloud (I'm getting OLD) and silver lining (lucky me - getting old is way better than the alternative!).

But five days after my birthday marks the anniversary of my sister's death, which always puts me in a funky, pensive mood. Inevitably, I replay where I was when the phone rang. The way I questioned the validity of the news, and made my husband call the sheriff to get confirmation, even though the sick pit in my stomach told me I already knew it was true. The rush of regret I felt then, and still feel now.

I think about how she was when I was a little girl, her mannerisms and quirks. How she sounded, smelled, looked, laughed. What she ate, what she wore, the car she drove, where she lived.

And then, how she died, where she was, what she must have been thinking and feeling. Was she afraid? Did she think of me? Uncontrollably slippery slope, I realize, but each year, at least once a year, that's where I am, and that's where I was yesterday.

And then, in the middle of that day and all those thoughts, I saw a picture of my niece. My sister's silver lining. She is hands down the best thing my sister ever did. That girl has gorgeous, strong, colorful wings that flap furiously and take her around the world, and yet she is able to stay grounded. She has seen the darkest of clouds at a young age, and chooses to seek and find and focus on global silver linings instead.

She is the opposite of my sister. She is health and peace and life. I can feel her thankful heart beating all the way from the other side of the world, and seeing her graceful profile in that photograph reinforced for me how grateful I am that she is here.

By just being alive, my niece dulls the pain of my sister being dead. Talk about silver lining. If I could, I would wear that shiny girl like a bracelet. 

Speaking of bracelets and birthdays (and let's throw Mother's Day in there too as an uncomfortable transition because, wow, Debbie Downer blogger), the traveling husband frequently says I'm too hard to shop for, because the only jewelry I wear with any regularity are my wedding rings.

I wear my rings all the time. (I only take them off to slather my finger with this weird cream I have to use because apparently I have eczema on my ring finger from washing my hands too often, as moms tend to do when they have kids and stinky, hairy, slobbery puppies. Nothing makes you feel old like a doctor telling you that you have eczema on your finger. Except another doctor telling you that you have eczema in your ears. Really? In my ears? I couldn't wait to tell my husband that it's official, those aren't potato chip crumbs in my ear, I have a real issue. Marriage with me just gets sexier.)

Surprisingly, I have a point.

Which is that I don't need diamonds for Mother's Day (or my birthday). Right now I need the kind of sparkle that only a silver lining can deliver. I would like some hugs and kisses and potentially breakfast in bed. I want to know that I'm loved and appreciated in the form of me not having to cook or clean anything, and I want lots of smiles and attention in the form of me being sent to a spa where a silent masseuse skillfully turns my body into a noodle, and then hands me cucumber water while ushering me into a private room where I can soak in a warm bath. 

Keith Urban/Robin Thicke/Bruno Mars (if he were taller) serenading me while this is happening is optional, but it would be a nice touch.

But even if none of those things happen, I'm happy. A bit melancholy, perhaps, but happy. And grateful to have another year with all the people I love.

The eczema can take a hike, but all the rest deserves a big outhale, and so, I think, do I.