From the time our children were babies, we vacationed on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We rented the same house, No Egrets in Corolla, year after year. It felt like our own summer house, and in fact, until they were teenagers, our daughters thought we owned it.
We enjoyed visits from relatives who came to relax with us on the beach. We celebrated birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays. Neil and I sat out on the deck every night and talked about life, shared our dreams and made plans like it was New Year’s Eve. One year we came home to Virginia and remodeled our whole kitchen so it felt more open and beachy. Another year we decided to put in a pool so it felt like we were on vacation all summer. Another time we planned to bike more at home since we enjoyed it so much there. Corolla was where Neil encouraged me to write and I encouraged him to find work he enjoyed. It was truly one of our favorite places.
The first summer after he died, I could barely face our own house without him, let alone the beach house. Last summer, I started to feel a yearning for the coast and the sand, but couldn’t bring myself to go. This summer I was ready. Continue reading →
Twenty-two years ago, my baby sister got married and recently I reminisced about little snippets of that day.
I remember my sister’s beautiful dress and how sweet and young she looked. I remember mixed look of pride and hope and worry on my parents’ faces. I remember Neil sneaking outside to take a few quick puffs on his cigarette anytime an opportunity presented itself, meeting other relatives over their common vice. I remember Gina twirling and twirling with abandon on the reception dance floor as her dress flew in wide circles around her. And I remember dancing a bit crazily myself with my sisters to the immortal words of Sister Sledge: “We are family. I got all my sisters with me…all the people say can they be that close?”
Continue reading →
It was one of those unusual days in the ER when nothing was going on. No car accidents, no sick kids, no broken bones – and the nurses left the department in a rare opportunity to relax at the cafeteria for lunch. Alone in the department I strolled around looking through the windows to the sunny summer day outside. As I watched, the glass ambulance doors opened and a man wandered through. He had a distinctive swaggering walk and blond hair that was long enough to fall in soft curls, but I couldn’t see his face behind the bloody towel he clutched
over it. Continue reading →
“I can’t wait until I retire,” my friend said at lunch one day. “Then I can do all the things I want.”
“ I can’t wait to finish the semester,” my nephew said during my visit. “Then I can relax and enjoy life for a while.”
“I can’t wait till this chemo is finished,” my patient said at her appointment. “Then I can get back to normal.”
We’ve all said things like this, haven’t we? We’ve all imagined how much better the future will be when we get past the present.
My house is quiet these days. My two younger daughters are away at college and my oldest is married and building her new life. My empty nest is far emptier than I ever imagined without Neil to share it. I often find myself saying, I can’t wait till the girls come home so the house feels alive again.
The other day I came across the very famous Scripture reading from Ecclesiastes that talks about a time for everything. Our lives have seasons just like the weather does – the college season, the work season, the retirement season.
This is my empty nest season. Continue reading →
It was one of those negative days where everything was annoying. The birds were loud and woke me up early. The coffee didn’t brew on time and tasted stale when it finally did. The exercise class was harder than usual and I barely kept up. The toilet upstairs hadn’t stopped running after the last flush and used up all the water in the well. The cat and dog had gotten into a fight and as a result the cat got sick in the bathtub. Worst of all, Neil wasn’t there to listen to me complain. Continue reading →
I have been doing some self-reflection lately, thinking about the words I use and the things I say. I try not to use any curse words and I try to speak kindly to and about others, but….
I realized there is one bad word I use quite regularly. It seems there is often a ‘but’ in my sentence, and the way I use it generally means something bad. Continue reading →
A tree has been in my front yard for the last twenty years. It provided shade to our front deck. It provided privacy to our windows. It provided a climbing spot for kids and cats, a home for birds, a job site for a woodpecker, beautiful colors in the fall. It grew from a little twig to a huge tree so quickly Neil and I often laughed that it reminded us of our relationship. One minute we hardly knew each other and the next we were married and raising a family!
But everything has a season and the tree was dying. It was breaking off in pieces and proving dangerous to my roof, my car, and anyone siting underneath. It was time to cut it down. Continue reading →
I brought up the decorations and the tangled tree lights from the basement and faced the huge stack with melancholy. Neil loved Christmas and overdid it every year. Not an inch of our house was void of Christmas cheer; from bathroom to basement, it was all decorated. And when he ran out of decorations, he put bows on everything, including the pets and the dining room chairs. I sat on the floor staring at those boxes and remembered another time long ago when I found myself sitting on the floor. Continue reading →
I pulled out the Thanksgiving decorations and planned the menu. I invited my brother-in-law and cleaned the holiday dishes. I prepared a centerpiece and baked the pumpkin pie. I made the pine-cone turkey place settings that have adorned our holiday table since the girls were little.
Everything was the same as all the other Thanksgivings, yet everything was totally different. In a somber mood, I sat down to read through Neil’s Caring Bridge website from last year. Continue reading →
A few weeks ago I noticed the photo albums lining our living room shelves. With a sigh, I pulled one down and settled on the couch to browse through it. It was of a trip Neil and I had taken to Italy years ago, just the two of us, our daughters having their own vacation back in the States with my sister.
As I turned the pages I smiled, a few times even laughed out loud, as I remembered the details surrounding each of those pictures. There we were, complaining about climbing the 463 steps to the top of the Duomo in Florence; snooping around in Sienna to find Frances Mayes’ house; playing around in a deserted Tuscan castle we found; pitching pennies into the Trevi fountain and giggling hysterically because it was so crowded we kept missing. Continue reading →