First and Last

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They say there are 2 loves in your life—your first and your last.

This weekend, going through old pictures, I came face to face with my first.

David E. Lane II. He wore starched shirts, bow ties (before they were cool), pressed khaki’s, round spectacles and a signet ring. Pre-med. A reserve in the United States Marine Corps. He was the most handsome man I’ve ever seen. I was intimidated to the core. For weeks, I’d rush back to the dorm before the class I shared with him. I’d dress up in my cutest outfits, freshen up my make-up and tease out my hair—don’t judge—it was the late 80’s/early 90’s. And by cute outfits I meant denim shorts with a fold down waist, a belt created from a bandana complete with beads. All my outfits had matching bows, yes, bows and I wore cute while socks on my loafer clad feet. Once I wore black ballet flats with gross grain ribbons that tied up the ankles. Oh I thought I was cute in those shoes. The only issue is that it began raining on my way over there. The rain caused the ink in the ribbon to bleed in rivulets down my ankles and across my feet. It was horrendous. These were pre-cell phone days. I ducked into a building, used a pay phone to call my cousin. “Hurry!” I screamed into the phone. “and bring a wet washcloth.” He must have heard the sheer panic in my voice because he came right away, with a washcloth. No telling where he managed to find that. I can guarantee you it wasn’t in his dorm room!

He was cool. He was different. The starched shirts when everyone else was in t-shirts were a by-product of his Marine training. He wasn’t a Jr…he was a II. He drove a car like I’d never seen before. He wasn’t a young kid straight from high school living the college life of kegs and all night parties. He’s completed basic training. He was a trained solider. He appreciated education and all it had to offer. He didn’t want to know how many skips you were allowed before you failed. He was taking theatre classes to fulfill a fine arts requirement. He loved to learn, he was smart and he had a goal that a good education would make possible.

I was cast in my very first college show with him. It was a horrible show! To this day I don’t understand what Woyzeck was about or what my character had to do with anything. But I had a part…and so did he. For that reason and that reason ALONE I will always remember that show with the fondest of hearts. I would take the stage, again in my cutesy little outfits. Peach short suit with silver trim. Pleated skort and fuzzy read sweater or red pants with suspenders and a jaunty black and white shirt. I might have been terrified and shy but I looked good.   Hahaha I was so tongue tied I could barely mumble my words in the scene we shared. Hour after hour, night after night, I gazed at him wishing I were smarter, prettier, braver or more interesting so I could talk to him. He tried to start a few conversations but I was a total introvert and couldn’t….just couldn’t…converse.

One on horrible, stormy afternoon he pulled up the door of the Stone Center where I stood shivering in under the door jamb. My dorm was a mile away. Literally. He pulled up in his Isuzu Impulse and told me to get it. I lied and told him I had a ride. I wanted to get in that car but I was so shy that I couldn’t. Later he told me he followed me home, in the rain.

One night at a cast party that my friend Beth MADE ME GO TO things changed. I walked into the room and saw him sitting there in jeans, a collared shirt and his round glasses. I can still feel the way my heart pounded in my chest. Especially when he crooked a finger and beckoned me over. “Sit down and put your arm around me. We are going to talk.” So I did. And we talked and talked and talked and talked. The party ended and we walked around campus. For hours. It was the night before parent’s night so in the wee hours of the morning he walked me home. Outside the dorm he said, “What’s our real name?” I answered Elizabeth. “That’s what I am going to call you.”

My favorite television show as Little House in the Prairie . This was a total little house on the Prairie moment!!!!

From that moment on he never called me anything else. I thought it was the most romantic gesture ever.

The play, as weird as it was, and it was WEIRD. I think it was written by a German man suffering from syphilis. UGH. As odd and strange as it we were invited to perform at the Alabama Shakespeare festival in Montgomery, Alabama. As an actress, quite a feat. As a young girl with a crush performing there paled only in comparison to David saying, “Come ride with us,” as we were all getting in cars to travel. The car was full. I told him so. He patted his lap. My heart stopped, my breath caught and I panicked. In the end I rode from Jacksonville, Al to Montgomery, Al in a compact car sitting in his lap. This was a pre-seat belt era.

And so it began…my first love, my first romance. And it was everything I’d ever dreamed about. He was romantic, thoughtful, confident and smart. He was a marine and one weekend per month donned his uniform and oooo-laaaaa-la. A confident man in a uniform. Instant love. There were love letters, sweet dates, flowers and spontaneous trips. It was the romance I’d always dreamed of.

Eventually I brought him home to meet my parents. More and more he traveled home with me. We were building our lake house so there were often friends of my parents or aunts and uncles there to help. It was those friends who nicknamed him G. For gnat. “You ae just like gnat…always flying around, pesky and irritating,” they teased. So he became G to them from that moment forward.

My world came crashing down when he was placed on active duty and was sent to California to prepare for deployment. In a grand, romantic (but stupid) gesture he snuck away from his platoon and flew home to spend New Year’s with me. Kissing my solider at midnight before he left for war. It was the magic found on the big screen. It was the plot of every romantic movie I’d ever seen. Only it was real and he was the hero and I was the heroine. He was Tom Hanks and I was Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail.

This was the Dessert Storm era. My love’s unit was activated and he was deployed. On tv I watched the shock and awe campaign. The highlight of my day was rushing to the student center to mail my letter and to check my mailbox. It was a petrifying time. I was a young girl, in love, watching a war unfold knowing my love was somewhere in it. To this day I can’t hear the Smithereens Baby Be Good song without remembering exactly how I felt sitting alone, in the dorm room, holding letters and watching CNN.

Months later I was there in a navy blue and gold short suit with a double-breasted jacket and gold trim the day he came home. Seeing him, hanging out of the bus sky light calling my name is still one of the singular best moments of my life. That first hug…oh that first hug…every girl should have a hug like that once in her life. In what seemed like a totally heart-stopping gesture he had Elizabeth tattooed on his hip when all of his Marine buddies were having total BA tattoos done when they were shipped back to friendlier lands. I used to wonder what he ended up going with that tattoo.

My family threw him a coming home party. I wore an American flag Laura Ashley style jumper with a red and white collar. Somewhere amidst the flags and the welcome home hugs the moonshine came out. I wasn’t there but I’ve heard stories that he asked my dad if he could marry me just before the moonshine kicked in with full force and passed out.

Days later he took the train from Alabama and proposed with a carat, round cut diamond ring.

Months later he looked at me and said, “I can’t. I just can’t.” And with my first love I had my first heart break. And as hard as I loved him I mourned losing him as equally hard. My grief overflowed and I found myself in an emotional tailspin. That is another blog for another day and a story I am not quite ready to tell. Suffice it to say…I was broken.

He graduated and went to Officer Candidate School. Weeks, months would go by and then I would get an unexpected call, from him, and the whole thing would start over again. Intense times of falling right back in love only to be told “I am sorry” again before he went away. Over and over it happened.

Like most memories only the good times remain. The fights. The temper he brought back from Iraq. The family issues he brought with them….those have faded with time. All that’s left is the memories of being loved the way I’d always dreamt of being loved. DEL II will forever be idolized as perfect in my mind.

It was during this time—this horrible, horrible time in my life that I met what I later thought would become my last love.  He was my friend at a time when my life felt over. He had a crush on me at a time I never felt like I would be loved again. I was struggling to recover and he wanted more. But he waited. He kept trying. He wooed me with fur bunnies, letters and trips to the circus. I didn’t rush into anything with him. It developed over time. It developed as a friendship.

We met when I was given the leading role in a play. The lead actor had to drop out and he was suddenly there—dark and moody, my romantic lead. Art imitates life. Our lives took on the plot of the play we were in

There were 4 of us in that play that developed a close friendship. I graduated with them as my best friends. He and I had dabbled in dating but he always wanted more than I could give with my broken heart. He had a temper and could be quite childish when he didn’t get his way. I wouldn’t give him his way so he pouted and went away,

It was years and a failed marriage—on his part and mine—before we reconnected.

And so began what I thought was the last romance of my life. And that was okay. I’d had a passionate, emotional, stuff dreams were made of first love and I was going to end in a love built in history and friendship. It was like the best of both worlds.

And for a while it was just as I’d dreamed. We got married under a fiery orange and electric yellow tree in New Hampshire. We bought a house. He became a Poppy, an extra dad to my children. Soon he became a father to a daughter all his own.

But that didn’t go as planned either. And for the 2nd time in my life I watched love leave.

Why?

It’s still a question I ask. Why did David say “I can’t, I just can’t”? Why did the last make the choices he made knowing that it would lead to the end of us? And the questions don’t stop there

What about me makes me so hard to love? Why am I attracted to men who break my heart? Why is it easier to leave me then to love me? Why is the one thing I want—to love and to be loved—so unattainable for me? Is it over? Did I have my first love and my last love and now I just wait out my life alone? What do I have to change, to do to be in order to be part of a WE and not just a ME?

Sometime I ask these questions in sorrow. Sometimes I ask them in anger not understanding why I am where I am. Sometimes I feel sorry for myself. Sometimes I am totally content being a mom and having a good job and my own little home. Sometimes I ask out of honest curiosity. Sometimes I wail out my questions in jealousy as I see lives all around me being lived out the way I wanted to live out mine.

I miss being loved. I’ve had it twice but lost it both times. I miss taking care of someone. I wasn’t always good at it and would love to have the chance to redeem myself. I miss making plans and having someone the help carry them out. I miss having a complete family. I didn’t have that with my first love but I had that with my last love. With my first love I’d dreamed of what it would be like to be a home, to be have children and to make a family. With my last love I’d given him a ready-made family and created a bigger, blended family. But it wasn’t enough.

I wish I had a crystal ball or a time machine. I’d go back and learn from my mistakes. I’d fall in love with a carefree heart but with a wiser mind. I’d know the flags so I could avoid the pitfalls. Would I make the same choices? Of course. No matter how much I’ve been let down or hurt I have 3 incredible, unique and amazing babies.

Maybe that’s my path. Not to be loved or to love a man but to focus all my love on my son and daughters. Maybe I shouldn’t be wasting my time wondering why and, instead, should focus my energy on wanting something else from life. Maybe….

Who knows? This weekend I walked down memory lane and stirred up some old hurts. But I also got to relive some incredible memories. I got the chance to remember my first love. I got to ponder on if I’ve had my last love. If I have then at least I’ve loved and even briefly, been loved.

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All kinds of love 

What a weekend! 

The weekend started with me becoming a “mom” to a brown eyed, slightly bow-legged, floppy new dog named Kiki Brittany. Kiki is her name but little bug wanted to add Brittany in memory of her sweet counselor who recently passed away. It was a Symbolic weekend to adopt. 

The decision  defies logic. It’s ridiculous to add another dog into the family…but we did. Or rather colton did. I just said yes.  Heck…I’ve made a lot of bad decisions in my life. At least this one made my babies happy. 

How could I say no?

Kiki Brittany


Saturday my babies, both dogs and I headed to Toccoa for my sisters wedding.  For the first time I got to see the pavilion named after my dad’s mom and my namesake—Elizabeth Hayes. Evidently she was the queen of the Tugalo and know all the history of the area. She grew up in that area and knew every story, every event and all the history of the area. That was my nanny.


My moms besties came to the wedding to support her. They aren’t my moms but they love my mom and they are like family. My Aunt Debbie was there too. She’s always loved me like her own. And there was my mom…running around making things beautiful and special for my sister. My daughters looked precious and my niece looked so pretty. She hugged me and told someone I was the best aunt ever…okay…I might have swayed that vote with a trip to NYC…but still…what a Thing to hear. My sister was there to get married but I was the one that felt surrounded by love. 


I woke up to a handmade pinch pot and a story that my little one had very proudly written. So proudly that she woke me up at 6:30 am on SUNDAY to open it. 

“…I was so tired because I had a long day and I snuck downstairs to sub (ahhh man I forgot the n) it’s a-pposed a be snuggle-with my mom and she plays with me.” Her daddy has let her pick out other gifts as well. Her proud, Beaming smile as I opened them was priceless. 

My son wrote me the sweetest note. A note that made me cry because it was so heartfelt and perfect. I am raising a good man. As a mom that is the best gift of all. 


My incredible daughter wrote me a note that listed all the reasons she loves me. I hate that she and I had to fight before I read it. Not my best mommy moment. By a long shot. This fight was my fault and I am sad I hurt her fragile little heart. Especially when I read page after page of pure sweetness. If my daughter really sees me the way she describes then I am doing something right. Her note was 4 pages long. I don’t have a picture but it will get its own blog. 

Pancakes on the breezeway and a morning looking through old pictures of my mom’s mom and my mom through the years was a perfect way to spend the day. Here is my talented grandmother with my mom wearing the wedding dress she’d made. 


Before I left my son, dad and I loaded an iron bed into the truck my parents made it possible for my son to drive. But it wasn’t any iron bed. This was the iron bed that had been my dad’s as a little boy. It was the bed my parents had when they got married. And now it’s mine. I love having a piece of my own history. 

I assumed my day was over when we rolled in to our humble little abode at 8pm. But I was wrong. Waiting on me was gift from my secret mom friend. And it was PERFECT. If someone had asked me to name my favorite things I would have picked the things she gave me. To be loved like that tickled me. Even my little one said, “Wow, mom, they know everything you like!” How very, very cool to have someone really know you and love you so much that they know exactly what makes you happy. 


But still it wasn’t over. My son’s friend dropped by flowers and the sweetest card. She said I wasn’t her mother but I had treated her so nicely during a crazy time in her life and she wanted me to know how much it meant. I hadn’t realized how much she needed someone. I’d just treated her like my own but it had mattered to her. 


It was Mother’s Day and I was lucky enough to spend it with my mom. Luckily I got to spend the weekend with other people that love me or that I love like like moms. Being loved and being loved like that makes all right in my world. 

I am the mom to 3, have a mom and have been loved by women who loved me like a mom loves a child. I’ve been lucky to have loved the moms of my parents. I have provided love to someone who needed it. The are all kinds of love and this weekend I got to experience all of it. 

It was the PIT

I am a semi-sufficient, indecent,  single lady. But there are a few things that make me understand that there is a reason why life was meant to be lived in pairs.

I was brushing my teeth when I noticed a black dot where a black dot had never been. Right at the lovely intersection of arm and pit. I had to find a pair of reading glasses to check it out. Even then I wasn’t sure it wasn’t an errant piece of confetti. I’d recently let my 7 year old decorate for my nieces birthday. She’d used an entire bag of confetti. I know have confetti everywhere and I do mean everywhere!

But this wasn’t shiny. 

I had to take off my reading glasses, take out my contacts and put on my Coke bottle glasses to get a proper look. Getting old is hell. 

Properly bespectacled I saw it was not glitter. I let out a very wimpy, every girlie squeal. It was a little embarrassing. But the glitter had legs. I was 100% freaked out. 

“You got this,”I said to myself in the mirror. “Deep breaths. Think.”

Suffocation! I just couldn’t remember with what. Just for future reference stress reliving bath gel globed into toilet paper (I was out of cotton balls) DOES NOT suffocate. Suprising, right. I tried it 3 times just to be sure. The tick was still there but I wasn’t nearly as a stressed after the 3rd failed attempt. 

Fire!!! Burn their booty and that sucker will let go. Problem. I couldn’t see well enough to hold a flame to the derrière of a bug. 

I am resourceful. I had toothpicks! So I lit one up. And aimed toward the black dot. I missed. 

If at first you don’t succeed….

I tried and missed again.

Now I couldn’t make out the tick from the ashy residue of burnt skin. But I tried. Again. And again. And again. 

At this point I had a very brief, very ridiculous melt down. I’ve birthed 3 babies…1 with a worn out epidural. I’d pushed a washer and dryer down the street (I’ve told that story). I’ve run the warrior dash for Pete’s sake! And I conquered every obstacle. And I can prove it-


But this small round dot was about to undo me. 

‘This is the reason god meant for people to live in pairs!’ I thoght. No one should have to get their own tick off. I know, I know…ridiculous. Hey we all have our breaking points!

So I had a moment. 

It’s a tick. Not a nuclear bomb! I acknowledge the absurdity of my moment. Next to the inability to program my remote and my freak out over the snake in my garage THIS MOMENT was kicking my single-mom-bad-@$$ demeanor. 

I honestly considered leaving it until I could visit our work Health clinic for professional removal. But I knew I wouldn’t blink much less close my eyes with this THING attached to my armpit. I contemplated enlisting my son but quickly disguarded that idea. No boy should ever have to get a bug out of his moms armpit! 

Anticlimactic ending. In the end I grabbed tweezers and yanked that sucker out. One more obstacle overcome. I will admit to doing a little happy dance when it was over. 

To the lady in the milk aisle


To the woman in the Publix milk aisle on Tuesday:

Thank you. Not a frivolous thank you but an honest to goodness-you gave me one of my coolest moments of my life- you made a difference-kind of thank you. 

When you decided to say hi you had no idea that I’ve been questioning why I write of late. You didn’t know I have been paralyzed thinking that my blog was self-indulgent and worthless. 

You did not know that I am coming out of the other side of a sadness that’s made me retreat from friends and hide from life. 

You didn’t know that I am terrified of my job status, nervous about the summer when we are not as “busy” and that all this keeps me awake for hours each night. I feel worn out and I look even worse. But you didn’t see that. 

You didn’t know that saying,”you don’t know me but I read your blog,” would do for me. You didn’t know that being able to share that moment with my 14 year old daughter (who loves to write) was priceless. You didn’t see is squealing and laughing and hugging right there in the Publix parking lot. You don’t know that she had looked at me….PROUDLY…and said,”I am so excited mom. I’ve been waiting for someone to say something like that to you!” Anything that makes a teenage girl look at her mom proudly is significant. Seriously significant. 

Telling me that you enjoy reading and that you can relate gave me a validation I desperately needed. Knowing my words made another mom smile or nod as if to say oh i totally get that or I am not alone...gives me purpose. 

Right there in the milk aisle you took the time to speak. You provided encouragement and support to another mom. Do you have any idea how special that makes you???? You made a huge difference to another person. Thank you. 

Thank you for adding “I can tell you put your heart into it.” I do. Knowing someone notices that made my heart flutter. In that moment I knew joy. Simple, meaningful joy! 

You probably thought you were just buying groceries and speaking to a stranger. You didn’t know the positive impact that brief encounter would have. 

You certainly had no idea that your gesture would inspire me to pay it forward. Knowing how incredible you made me feel I was eager to make someone else feel as good. So I did. Your gesture will, hopefully, continue to have a positive ripple effect for a long time to come. 

I love to write. Writing has kept me sane, healed my heart and allowed me to NOT put my children in an orphanage (kidding). My teen daughter has my blog to thank for making it to 14. I’ve hoped to make people laugh. I’ve written when I’ve wanted to cry. I’ve used my written words to tell people how much they matter to me because I am not good at conversation or speaking what I feel. So I write. And I always worry about what I write. I am always embarrassed and fearful that I will be laughed out. Ridiculed. Scoffed at. But I keep writing. 

And you’ve read it. And you took the time to tell me you enjoyed it. 

I was buying there to buy milk because I suck at grocery shopping. Over the weekend I had purchased 3 boxes of cereal, little Debbie’s, a pre-cooked chicken…but I forgot the milk. It was one of those weeks that I’d spent my grocery money but didn’t have the makings of a meal.  I’d spent 20 minutes putting away groceries when I was asked,”what’s for dinner?” And I had nothing to offer but little Debbie’s, 3 boxes of cereal with no milk and some sparkling wine. I was kicking myself for being stupid when you spoke. 

Oh and I was feeling guilty for feeding my babies the Tuesday  $5.99 pizza from papa johns -AGAIN–and I was feeling like a slacker for throwing some pineapple and watermelon in the buggy to make it a “well rounded” meal. 

But you didn’t know any of that. You just took the time to speak and to say something nice. 

Thank you!

May we all take a few minutes each day to say something nice to a stranger .

Me

Sweethearts

It’s been a hard but rewarding week to be a mom.

My baby girl is still sad. We are talking a lot about heaven and missing miss Brittany. Today she asked if we could call her. Everyday she asks a question in a different way that I think she’s hoping I’ll say yes to…can I call her? Will I see her? Each time I have to say no it makes her sad all over again. “I miss her” she keeps saying. All I can say is I know baby. 

It hasn’t all been sad. She’s smiled some. Tonight she even managed to dance and dab through a soccer game. 

But she’s back in my bed. She is still tender enough that I feel like I need to protect her. She is a sweetheart with a sweet heart. 


My big girl spent the week learning cheers and bolstering her courage go try out for the North Oconee High School cheer squad. Today was the day. I hid cards on all of her many bags with messages like “no matter what happens I am so proud of you” and “you are amazing, spirited and incredible no matter how the day ends”. I wanted to be positive but realistic. 69 girls. Girls who has longer cheer backgrounds, tumbling lessons and years of experience. 


She was proud of her tryout. And we talked a long time about that being enough. She was brave for trying. Strong for believing. Precious as she performed and showed great work ethic as she practiced upstairs well after her bedtime last night when she thought I didn’t know. I told her that was enough. She was a good sport and pretended to believe me. 

I am not sure who was more nervous…me or her…as we waited 45 minutes for the list to post. I lie. I was more nervous. I was petrified. I practiced my “this does not determine your worth” speech a thousand times in my head. Until she turned to me and said,”If my name is not on that list just let me get in the car. No pep talks. No talk. Okay. Just be normal. Just take me home. I’ll be okay. No pep talks, okay?” Well hell-I’d worked to hard on one! But I agreed. 

When the list posted girls, still on tryout attire, complete with required bows swarmed. I got out of the car holding my breath. I saw girls look, quietly turn and brisk walk away fighting back tears. I didn’t see my girl. My baby girl said,”I think I hear her momma. I hear kinsley!!” Crying or cheering I wanted to ask. I went to my toes to try and catch a glimpse. 

 

I am the mom of a North Oconee High School junior varsity cheerleader. 

That makes me proud. It makes me prouder still that she whooped once when she made it but restrained from saying anymore because she was aware that not eveyone around her got the same good news. A sweetheart with a sweet heart. 

Sitting at my desk yesterday I get this text. 


Later that same day my sweet boy comes to my office. Presents me with a Reese’s cup and a Diet Coke. To help ease the sting?  He gave me his 1/2 smile-the one he saves for me-and gently broke the news: He had received his senior portrait packet. He said when he got it he turned to his BFF and said,”this is gonna kill my mom.” He wasn’t wrong. But he came to tell me, in person, and bought me my favorites. A sweetheart with a sweet heart. 

Tonight I read a letter, from a college expressing interest in my fella. A school with a swim team. A school that liked his swim times. A school in Wisconsin. Ah hell no was my immediate reaction. But on reality…well…it won’t be my choice. 

My babies all faced something this week. And I faced it right along with them. Each heartbreak, each nerve wracking moment, each victory and each milestone. It’s been a big, hard, rewarding week. A big week to be a mom. 

I will miss her

There are hard things you do as a mother–watch your little ones get hurt, seeing them learn painful life lessons, ground them when they do wrong so they learn what’s  right—and they are hard. 

It’s hard to have them let go of your hand and toddle off the big kid school. 

It’s hard to watch them drive away. 

It’s hard to dry their tears when their heart gets broken for the first time.

Those are hard. 

Today I had to do the impossible. 

My little one is socially awkward and painfully shy. When she find someone she likes we jokingly (although it’s not in jest) the stalker. She immediately bounds. She loves that person fiercely. She clings to them. She gives out squishy hugs often. When she loves she loves hard. 

My bug goes to the rec department for after school. It’s not ideal. It’s k-5th on a loud, noisy gym. You find your own playmates. For someone timid and nervous about making friends this is hard. But it was our only option. So we made the most of it. 

Her tales of after school were of not glowing. It was loud. The big kids were mean. No one would play with her. They called her fat. They made fun of her when she did handstands and her belly showed. I teared up more than once on the way home.

But then things changed. She got in the care one day and announced she had a new best friend. She had someone play that played with her. She was happy. She was connected. 

With Brittany.

Brittany was a counselor who took time with my girl. They made friends. They played and hugged and did all the things that made Sadie feel safe, content and happy. 

And today I had to tell my sensitive, big hearted little girl that her beloved Miss Brittany wouldn’t be coming back. 

About 1p I got an email. 

At 1:45 I got a personal call because the other counselors knew how close Sadie and Brittany were. 

At 3p I was sitting in a cold, sterile room when they told all the kindergarteners-third graders very efficiently and matter of factly explained that their beloved miss Brittany was in a car accident and died and that she was in heaven and wouldn’t be coming back. 

My 7 year old was sitting in a counselors lap. She saw me but wouldn’t make eye contact. I saw her face after the news was told. 

As planned they delivered the news and then hustled the kids to activities. Those that were visibly upset were encouraged to stay behind and talk to one of the counselors they brought in to help. 

My girl got in the parchute game line. She wouldn’t look at me. One they way out the door I heard her say,”where is miss Brittany?” The line paused. A counselor leaned down and said,”did you not hear Ms. Lisa?” Sadie shook her head no indicating she had no idea what was said. I knew she’d heard. I was watching her face when she heard it. She’d heard but not understood.  I rushed to her and gathered her on my arms and repeated the news. Her eyes big, she listened and then said,”I have to go to the gym for parachute games.” I let her go. 

A few minutes later, boundaries be damned, I marched into the gym and peeked around the corner. There was my bug lifting and pulling the paprchute whiles kids chased balls and played tag under it. She saw me and gave the the saddest smile I’ve ever seen. I sat on the bleachers where she could see me. 

It wasn’t long before she came running to me with tears in her eyes. She laid her head down in my lap. “Want to go home baby?” She shook her head no. “What to play with your friends?” She shook her head no. “Want me to sit here with you?” She shook her head yes. So we sat there. Me rubbing her back and her fighting tears. 

And so went the afternoon. She’d sit a bit and then run and join in the games. Then she’s run back to me. I told her I wouldn’t leave. Several times I had to tell her. “Momma will sit here as long as you want,” she nodded and ran off again. 

It wasn’t long before she was back. “I wish she was alive,” she said. I solemnly nodded. She crawled up for a hug. “I miss her.” 

Then off the went. 

The next visit,”will I see her again?” No. I told her. Not here. She walked away this time. 

Back and forth we went. Sometimes she wanted very specific details about where and why and how. I have her what a 7 year old could handle. But, as hard as it was, I answered every question. 

“Momma her dog!!!! She will miss her dog. She has a doggy!” This time tears did spill over. I wrapped her in my arms and told her that her dog would miss her but that someone in her family would take good care of the dog. After that she was ready to leave. 

We did homework. In between quarters and dome counting she would suddenly remember and ask a question. Her little mind seemed to need details. What road? Where was she sitting? Was it her fault for speeding? Did she ride in a ambulance? Did she go to a hospital? Was her mom sad? And on and on it went. “I wish she were alive.” Was how it ended. 

In the bathtub she asked if she was going to die. My grandmother died after her 100th birthday. My little one must have picked up on that somewhere along the way because she very pointedly asked how old her grandpa was, how old was gramsey, how old was I, how long until she was 100. I knew she was looking for assurances that those she lived wouldn’t leave her too. 

Just before bed  she sat came beside me and said,”I need help spelling some words.” Okay. She plopped up beside me in the couch, snuggled in close in her too big t-shirt, giant notebook and blue marker. She looked so innocent, so sweet and so sad. 

With her blue marker, her favorite color poised over the notebook paper she said, “I need to know how to spell Brittany.” With my heart in my throat I watched her painstakingly sound out the words she wanted to use. 


You have to do hard things as a mom but today was one of the hardest mommy moments I’ve ever had. 

My girl had a full family one day and a split family the next. She had her own room in the house we brought her home to one day and was uprooted just a few weeks later. She went from 2 parents who doted on her to blue days and blue weekends. For someone so insecure she’s lost a lot at a young age. 

“Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry,” I heard her quietly chanting to herself at one point. I hugged her close and told her it was okay to be sad and to cry. So she did. And my heart broke with every tear. 

She dried her eyes and reached back for her notebook and markers. 

This time she diligently drew a picture. “This is my mommy on the swing. My daddy has a swing too. Colton and Kinsley are her on the slide with me,” she explained. “We are pink and my daddy is blue.” She said. I listened and then asked if she wanted to call her daddy. She did. 

My girl lost someone important to her today. She doesn’t really grasp it fully yet but the hurt reminded her of losing other people and things. It seemed to resonate with her-this feeling of loving and then that person going away. 

She’s in my bed. On my side. Her thumb in her mouth. I told her sometimes you needed your mommy when you were sad. Truth me told I need her close tonight. I can’t fix it. Can’t make it hurt less. I can’t explain it. I can just love her and hold her and tell her it’s okay to be sad and to cry. I can be there. 

As a mom you have to do hard and horrible things. My heart and prayers are with the moms of the 2 killed this weekend. They are enduring the worst thing a mother will ever have to do. 

Front porch cousins 

My cousins were my first best friends. We spent many a day on this front porch. From drumming up mischief, making fun of one another and taking turns seeing who was going to ask grandpa for a trip to the ice cream store…it all happened in this front porch. 

How manu conversations did we have while we waited THE FULL HOUR our parents told is we had to wait to go swimming after eating? Longest hour of my life! 

Bare footed, often clad in only bathing suits, mouths sticky with rivlets of sugar from long melted popsicles…we must have looked a sight hanging it like banshees on the front stoop of this ancient antebellum home. 

Screen doors slamming, the pitter patter of bare feet on hard word floors, occasional sounds of “your it”; the clink of silver ware, the muted sounds of adults talking in the distance and the sporadic outburst of innocent laughter…it all made up the sounds of our childhood. 

At some point the conversations shifted from cooties and buggers to dating and holding hands. We watched as one by one-one of us would leave the porch in an old bettle bug or a bright yellow Nissan headed out to a football game or a date. 

Not long after that the conversations were about potential husbands or wives. More than one of us started our married life right here on the front porch. Some leaped off the porch-put his new wife on his motorcycle roared off into the night. He wasn’t the only one. More than one tuxedo clad gent and white gowned bride shared a kiss or held a hand right here on this front porch. 

This Easter we gathered back. It’s not Nanny’s house any longer. Now it’s nanny/Danny’s. We gathered together for the first time in a very long time to share a Sunday meal. And a tradition would have it we had warm, homemade banana pudding, baked from scratch cakes, mashed potatoes and spinach casserole. There were 3 kinds of beans-pretty from the garden outback. Gelatin salad and deviled eggs; mac-a-man-cheese, rolls and more than one kind of meat. It was a feast-just like it’s always been. 

And just like years passed after the meal we all made our way to the front porch–hiding from dish duty even after all these years. We took out spots. Kids jumped out of every door. They were in trees, running in the yard, standing on the gravel admiring their first cars and sneaking candy. Only this time we weren’t the ones with sticky hands and blue colored lips. This time it was out children and we were the ones yelling,”don’t climb too high” or “you are going to put someone’s eye out with that things!” 

I wanted to get a picture to capture us back on the front porch-where we belong. Very typically..

I am bossing eveyone around. Slick was laughing at me trying to be the boss. Sandi with a I was reminding me she was older and Jeff was about to say something to make is all laugh. 


We try again. This time Jeff did say something funny-and probably inappropriate judging from Sandi’s face. Slick was egging him on while I remained determined to get my picture. 

Finally I got one.


Somthing special happened on the front porch. Another generation of cousins, and best friends, was there to take on the tradition of making one anther laugh, sharing dreams and making plans. As life is supposed to be a cycle started again–right there on the front porch. 

There next to the slamming screen door 4 more cousins smiles-arms entwined-genuinely liking one another. 

One by one the screen door slammed and someone came out say goodbye. One by one the family peeled off…and when there are more than 50 of you…that’s a lot of screen door-slamming-front -porch-hugging! One by one we called goodbye just like we’d always done. 

Front porch cousins …those are the best kind!