Posts Tagged ‘ocean’


Einstein said that the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again while expecting different results.

So…I might be insane.

I’ve been reading through my Peace Corps journals recently. I’m almost through one of five. I wrote everything down every single day. I wanted to remember everything: smells, sounds, people, conversations. I did a remarkable job. Reading through, I’ll hit a sentence that brings back an entire day’s worth of memories. Oh yeah, I remember that training session! And what that food tasted like! And how mad I was at the bitches smoking by the doors of our compound so we all had to smell their exhaust! And how it felt when that scorpion stung me!

My first reaction in reading through was pride in the person I was then, then sadness that I lost much of my confidence and center. When I went into the Peace Corps, I’d just finishing my stint in Boone with Johnny, my best friend. We were extremely close. He taught me more than perhaps anyone else I’ve ever met in my life, and I was in a very strong, Zen, centered place. I lost that while I was in the Peace Corps. Not that Johnny didn’t try to help me keep it: he wrote letters, which meant a lot as he hates to write, and he called me every week. If it hadn’t been for him and my parents, I don’t know if I would have made it through all two years.

Anyway, the main reason I wanted to go through this exercise was to find out why I ever even liked my ex-husband in the first place. At this point, I don’t remember at all. I remember how I felt around him when we were in Lesotho, but I don’t know why. I hope I wrote that down.

First, though, I have to make it through Katiso, subject of one of my published short stories. It’s been an interesting experience. I have this memory of Katiso and our relationship, and it has absolutely no correlation to what I wrote down in my journal. Even when I was writing down what was actually happening, I was totally making up things in my mind. There are a lot of “if only” statements: if only things were slightly different, they’d be perfect; if only he did this one thing differently, it’d be amazing; we’ll be perfect once these things are ironed out. It’s like I imagined our relationship even while we were together. And if that wasn’t scary enough, I could replace Katiso’s name with my most recent ex’s and the story would stay almost exactly the same.

No joke.

Almost exactly.

That frightens me.

So I called Johnny.

Full disclosure: not only is he my best friend, but he can see my future. He’s always had this ability, and sometimes I’ll purposefully go months without talking to him because I just don’t want to know. Everyone thinks it’d be great to be able to know your future, but it’s more annoying than anything else. Trust me. Because knowing your future does not give you the ability to change it.

I told him what I was thinking, and he said, well, I was just waiting for you to figure that out. (See why I sometimes avoid talking to him?)

I just don’t know what to do from here. Okay, I keep falling into these same types of relationships (and Katiso wasn’t the first–the first was a boy I met in high school who kept me under his thumb for an entire decade), so how do I stop? What is the lesson that I need to learn to be able to break the cycle? Johnny had some suggestions, but he can’t give me all the answers. Well, he could, but what would be the fun in that?

What I’d really like is to find someone who loves me for who I am and not what I can give to or do for him. I want someone who makes me feel special, who thinks of me often, who encourages me to grow into the best version of myself I can be. The only time I’ve ever had that in my life was with Johnny, and we were never romantically together. He managed to do all of that while just being my friend. And that’s why I have such a high standard of friendship. We bought each other flowers. We left each other cards. We cooked meals together, pretty much every single day. I moved down the street from him. We watched movies and cuddled together on the couch. We talked about deep, important things. We went on trips together. We knew everything about each other. It was like the perfect relationship, except it was just missing that final piece.

So I guess I’d like to find my Johnny. I suppose that’s my answer. I should stop settling for anything less.


Now, on an entirely different note, mom’s one-year anniversary is coming up October 17th. I’m sad and depressed, as could be expected. We’re going down to the beach to scatter her ashes, as she wanted. It’s going to be heart-wrenching.

I got a new tattoo on Tuesday. I wanted a filigree design on the inside of my left wrist that matches my modified wedding ring. I told my artist that I wanted to incorporate mom’s initials, SSS, into the design, but they didn’t have to be front and center. He came up with this design that has SSS in the middle of a filigree heart. It’s amazing. Every day, I love it more and it means more. It has a power that I didn’t imagine. I feel like it’s turning me into a different person. I’m sure it’s not the way mom would have chosen for me to remember her, but it’s exactly what I needed.

I’ve learned that the feeling of loss never gets easier to bear: you just learn to live with it. Compartmentalize it, someone told me last week. I had hoped it would become less acute, but I guess that’s not the way these things work. So I’ve compartmentalized it. It’s now on my wrist. I stare at it all day, every day.

Pain into beauty. Such is life. Or so we hope.


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Back to the Beach

Dad and I went to the beach this weekend. It was hard. There were a lot of “the last time I was here” moments.

Like the last time I drove down this particular stretch of road, I had to stop to try to get mom more comfortable because her back was hurting so badly and the catheter was uncomfortable.

And the last time I stopped at this gas station, I had to figure out how to help mom get to the public restroom. Not so easy in a wheelchair, let me tell you.

And the last time I walked down these stairs, it was following the volunteer firemen who came to carry mom so she could make it out safely.

And the last time I used this tub, it was to give mom a bath on the little bench that my aunt brought for us.

And the last time I was at this table, it was to feed mom the blueberry pancakes that she loved so much.

And the last time I was out on this deck, it was to roll mom out in the wheelchair so she could sit in the sun for a few minutes and listen to the ocean.

And the last person I know who slept in my bed on the first floor was my mom (she couldn’t make it up to the master suite).

And the last time I was on my computer at the dining room table, I could see mom through the bedroom doorway.

Needless to say, it was difficult.

But it was also nice. Dad needed the time away from all the paperwork and the stress of being at home. I needed a short respite from my thesis and the stress of being at work. I rented a bike again (a road bike this time!), and I rode down to the aquarium and met dad for a quick spin around the new facilities there. We also went to see the Blackbeard exhibit in Beaufort, then did a little shopping (more looking than buying) and had a very good dinner at the Blue Moon Bistro.

I brought the little heart that has a bit of mom’s ashes in it. Part of me thought it would be nice to bring it to the beach. Part of me couldn’t bear to leave it behind at home. So those two parts combined and I brought it along. I hope it doesn’t become my safety blanket. I know she’s not in there, but it’s a helpful touchstone.

I’d been doing okay with things on the grief front for a while…until a few minutes ago. My company’s having a pot-luck lunch on Thursday, and I thought I’d bring mom’s shrimp dip, which everyone always loves. I was searching through old emails to find where mom sent it to me. It’s so, so difficult to see her little avatar picture and to read emails from her. It’s like a tease, like maybe if I just send an email, she’ll write me back. I don’t think it works that way, though. I’m not sure heaven has an Internet connection just yet.

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Yesterday was busy.  I could tell mom was feeling much better because she wanted to run a lot of errands!  I didn’t mind too much, but I do have to watch my patience sometimes.  I’ve been trying to put myself in her shoes, and it would make me crazy not to be able to drive myself around.  Mom’s always been strong and independent, and I know it bothers her a lot to have to depend on others to cart her around.  So she can boss all she wants!  🙂

I also had to help her with a Jockey party in the evening.  Not something I would elect to do on my own.  I was happy to help her carry her sample clothing and such, but I wasn’t told until the last minute that I had to wear some of them myself!  I think the clothes are great and all, but most of them aren’t for me.  I’m a jeans and t-shirt person, or else a fancy dress and heels person, and most of the Jockey clothes she sells are in between.  (But if YOU are interested in such clothes, please check out her stuff at http://www.myjockeyp2p.com/sites/salliematlack!)  It was interesting to watch her work, but it drained her of all her energy.  I suggested that she take it easy for a while, or at the very least make sure that she has someone with her who can help if something happens, if she gets too short of breath, etc.  Hopefully she’ll take a little break and let her Jockey team help her out.

My parents have their week at the beach this week, and mom wanted to come for the weekend, but they weren’t going to come down until Saturday because they wanted to spend as much time with me as possible.  I decided to come on down with them so she could have a full weekend.  So after her radiation this morning, we drove down to their place at Emerald Isle.  I’ll be going back tomorrow afternoon to Wake Forest, then back to West Virginia on Sunday to get ready for work and class on Monday.  *Tired.*

Mom felt well today.  But she got a call that wasn’t so great.  The results of her PET scan came back, and they found a spot on her liver and a couple in her bones.  She said the oncologist wasn’t generally an overly positive person, so the fact that he sounded hopeful was good.  He told her that non-smoker lung cancer spread more quickly than smoker cancer, but the flip-side of that was that the non-smoker cancer reacted better to treatment, and they were usually able to extend life longer.  “It’s not expected,” mom said, “but it’s just one more thing we need to deal with.”  I said it could have been better news, but it also could have been a lot worse.

We’re waiting now on the results of her biopsy.  If it’s the EGFR stuff, she’ll take the pill.  If not, it’s chemo.  She’s praying for the EGFR.  But…if it is a genetic problem…while it will make treatment more palatable to her, it will be more worrisome to me for obvious reasons.

Mom wanted a treat for herself for lunch, so she got a double cheeseburger at Wendy’s.  Not such a good choice, but I could have told her that.  😉  It REALLY did not sit well with her stomach.  I talked with her a bit about the importance of good nutrition.  I know that mom isn’t going to become macrobiotic or anything, but moving to a diet of whole foods, free of additives and preservatives and refined crap, will only benefit her body and help it heal, help it get through chemo and all of her treatments.  I hope she will take that advice seriously.

We stopped by Fran’s (a clothing store) on our way to the house because I really needed a new bathing suit.  She helped me pick one out, and then we went a little overboard.  She found a suit and cover-up that look amazing.  Then she found a cute pair of shoes that would have looked great with my suit and wrap, but they hurt my feet a bit, so she tried them on and ended up getting them for herself.  She spotted an amazing pair of purple shoes for me, and she grabbed a pair of cheaper sandals for my suit.   I’m not going to complain!

We went out to dinner (which was not very good at all), and mom made it through, though she was exhausted by the end.

I’m really proud of dad and how well he’s taking care of mom.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen him be so nice to her.  I know she appreciates it.

As for me, I’m exhausted.  I did not have enough time this week to give to work, and I was just barely able to finish my school assignments.  I need to write a 12-page research paper and revise a creative non-fiction essay next weekend so they’re done and I can focus on my mom again the week after.  I’m lucky I have such understanding co-workers and professors.  And I’m very glad I’ve been able to spend this time with my parents.  This might be the last good week mom has for a long time, though I’m hoping that’s not the case.

I hope the sounds of the ocean put her soul at ease and allow her to begin the healing process.

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