T-i-double-g-errrrr (or something like that)

I knew I loved her the second I saw her though the chain linked fence at the shelter. Her striped face that looked like a tiger did not match her German Shepard everything else.  I remember the first time I took her on a walk, she pounced like she could not contain her body and looked at me with those eyes that could melt your soul, like no matter what she did, even bad, was never wrong. I knew this dog. She would be by first.

I’d never had a dog. The feeling of loving something so much was still a bit foreign to me. Others wanted to take her home from the shelter, but none loved her like I did.  I remember wanting her so bad it hurt in the bottom of my stomach, and when I thought of not being able to take her home my heart would crack and slowly start to bleed.  When writing the paperwork trying to adopt her, I saw the question, “why do you want to take this dog home” I wrote, “because I already love her and she is my family”, and she was, and she is still today.

Months later I remember looking in the review mirror of my car and seeing her looking back at me and saying to her, “Tiggy, you and daddy are the best things that ever happened to me”, and I believed that more than I believed anything. This was my first family. She, was my first baby, and as the years went by she became less and less important. We had other babies, ones without fur. We got jobs that became more important than taking her to the beach every day, ones more important than even picking up a bone for her like we used to, and you still thought we carried the moon.

You still loved us, and you were not picky of how we loved you, you only wanted what we could give you. Right now I heard you breathing in the other room, but you are not there.  How did I just hear you breathing? I hear your whimpering for a pet, to be fed, but I don’t see you here in front of me wagging your tail. Tiggy, our house does not feel like home without you in it and I don’t know what to do about that.

You snuggled in bed with me the day I married my husband, jumped in again when we found out we were pregnant, and when we bought our new home, the one we would raise our children in. You were here the day I brought our daughter home, the day I brought our son. You never wanted anything but love, and never needed anything but us. I held you the day you came home, in awe of how much love I felt through you, and I held you the day you died, in awe of how much love you gave my entire life.

Tigger, you are and will always be my forever furry love. I miss your sounds, your sight, your warmth, you face, your cuddles. You will never be forgotten. I love you.IMG_3692

4 Scars and one year ago…

Well, it’s been a year, and let me tell you what has changed… not a whole hell of a lot, except I have 4 cool scars and no period (which is pretty great).  I will say that I immediately embraced the scars.  Can’t really say why, but I’ve started showing my midsection more since the surgery… I guess my subconscious wants to be proud of my battle wounds, I’m also half hoping someone will ask me what they are and I can tell them I got into some bad ass knife fight while trying to break up a gang altercation.  Believable, right?  Yeah that’s what I thought too.

It’s been a crazy year though.  New job, some pretty serious family shit, 4 lost family members and my daughter learned what sarcastic means.  I think that has quite literally been my proudest moment of the year…

Willa (my daughter) and I are in Arizona for the Ironman there.  We walk to CVS to gather supplies for creating signs for a friend and she begins to cough, sticking out her tongue saying, “man these germs here are really killin’ me.  Not really killing me, I’m being sarcastic.”  I swooned!  Apparently so did the older couple walking behind me because they started laughing uncontrollably.  I turn around and say beaming, “you laughing at my 4 year old accurately using the word sarcastic?”  To that they responded, “yeah, well actually we are laughing at a 4 year old even knowing what sarcasm is.”  My response was “well in our family if you are not sarcastic you die” then my daughter chimes in once more, “not really, she is being sarcastic”.

Now if that does not tell you a bit about my family I’m not sure what will.  My husband and I got married on April Fools day, because if you take life too seriously you miss the point of it all! We started the wedding with the minister’s first line being “Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. And wuv, tru wuv…” (if you don’t know what that’s from you have serious problems and I can’t help you) and I have absolutely no regrets.

I learned sarcasm at a young age too. It the primary language spoken in my house, and if you didn’t speak and understand it, your feelings would forever be hurt. I didn’t want to live in the land of eternal butthurtdome, so I tucked away any urge I had towards normal communication and traded it in for a witty whip of a tongue.  It’s truly become a way of showing my love, so I tell everyone, “hey, if I’m too nice to you, I just don’t like you all that much.” And when I say that I almost always get someone piping up saying, “hey you are nice to me” and my response is “yeah, well…” with a shrug of the shoulders as I walk away.  Sometimes my husband forgets this about me, so I have to nicely remind him to “chill out”… he loves that (if you aren’t picking up on the sarcasm here we aren’t friends).  But basically if anyone has an issue with my sarcasm, not only are you gunna have a bad time, but you are also gonna have to take that up with my dad and siblings (maybe mom a little bit too).  Lately I’ve been battling it out with my oldest sister because she get’s to the one liners faster than me, and I really don’t like that.  Please stop.  You are not impressing anyone, okay?  Ugh, alright fine, I’m impressed.  There, I said it… bitch.

So what is the point of this post? Let’s see if I can remember… Oh yeah, big shit can happen in your life and it does not have to impact you negatively.  It’s been a year since I lost 3 organs, but I’ve gained 4 scars, a pride in my midsection, gotten even more resilient and maybe even a little bit more sarcastic (if that was even possible).

 

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A Matriarchs Last Power Play

I’m finding it impossible to try and explain the magnitude of this to an outsider.  An outsider meaning any person who does not understand the magic and history of the hill.  Some of the magic and history will remain our family secret, but I’ll do my best to describe some.

On top of the hill sits a Matriarch with her wisdom, strength, pride, generosity and power.  A matriarch is so magnetic that she draws those close to her like the planets to the sun.  We are the planets and a matriarch is the sun, giving the planets warmth, energy and light.  This Matriarch happens to be my Grandma.

When she built her home on the top of the hill we had no choice but to surround her with our own homes below. Our Grandmother had 6 children, all have lived, or still live on the hill.  That’s where I lived and that’s where Melinda lived.  Our Grandmother brought us Melinda, and Melinda brought us the boys, who all lived on the hill. Essentially every day of my childhood was spent on the hill with my cousins, “the boys”.  Building forts, riding wagons down the steep hill into the street and sledding down the rocky hillside. A walk into the back of the canyon lead us to the ranch where we had a donkey named buttercup, an ostrich named Ruby, howling packs of coyotes and where we waited for horses to be born.  Every day was an adventure.  None like the last, each better than the one we had before.

Our Grandparents ran what they called “Camp Koonce”.  All the cousins would flock to the top of the hill when they weren’t in school to Camp Koonce.  It’s where our spirits were built. They had t-shirts made for all the cousins to wear those summers, baby blue with fuzzy white letters spelling out “Camp Koonce”.  The summers when all we did was play in the canyon, make mischief and cool off in the pool. We never spent a holiday anywhere but there, never anywhere but with her. Of course that meant we were also never without Melinda, the youngest girl of our Grandmother’s six children. If I were to tell you about all the adventures we had on the hill, or the story of how we got there, I’d have thousands of pages to fill the insides of the most interesting book you’d never put down, and then I’d have to kill you.  But I only have a blog and I’ve likely already lost some of your attention and I really don’t want to go to prison.  My family is the shit.  My grandmother, “The Matriarch” was a force. She was the glue, our gravity and the core of it all.

Melinda and the Matriarch were always together.  They eventually lived together on the hill in the house the boys grew up in after my grandfather passed away, years after the house on the top of the hill burned down.  They became even more dependent on one another as the years went by.  That house became the house we all gathered, because that was where the matriarch was.  She always brought us home, always pulled us together.  She made us a family who buries secrets for each other.  The kind of family you would consider doing bad things for if there were a half good reason.  We took on strays too, making our family bigger as the years went by.

Melinda worried what would happen to her when her mother would pass.  Our Grandmother was getting older, yet she was determined to outlive us all, and there were days I could be convinced that she would.  I think Melinda feared that she would have no force without the Matriarch.  Melinda was a tiny woman standing less than 5 feet, but her lack of height she made up for with heart.  It’s as though the two were the perfect balance.  Melinda was so filled with emotion and almost fragile, yet never broke no matter what she took on, while my grandmother could topple you over with a single look. I know powerful men who cowered beneath her.  I know powerful men whose power she gave, and as quickly as she gave, she could take it just the same.

Melinda had suffered from MS for as long as I can remember, yet never letting it bring her down.  Because of her family and her faith in God, she always had a smile on her face.  Her Granddaughters were her everything, and when the family was around she absolutely lit up, so the family came around often.  We gathered around the two of these women, and they became the reason we would all come together.  We thought we had more time with Grandma, and we knew for certain we would have more years with Melinda, even though she never wanted to live without her mother.

My grandmother fell ill with pneumonia and sepsis, like she has before.  When she went to the hospital we thought we could be close to losing our force.  After bouncing back and claiming she would live 5 more years, things turned quickly.  Grandma’s force was not as strong, and she said she was “ready”.  When Melinda heard the news that her mother would be released from the hospital on hospice, she got sick with an infection, which she has had many times before. The two women became roommates again in the same hospital room, both in a sleep not knowing the other was doing the same.

When Grandma left the hospital to go home, we all gathered around her bed giving the space the warmth and light we got from her.  We told stories and laughed in her room filled with family and friends.  In the end I was stroking her hair telling her how beautiful she still was, and talking with one of “the boys” about times as kids on the hill.  Her eyes opened a bit and she had a look like she was searching for something, for someone, and that was it.  The matriarch was gone.  I walked into her closet and searched for something for her to wear, not knowing what else I could do.  I’m immediately filled with guilt that I didn’t bring the kids over more often.  But my lesson is not to take the ones who are still here for granted, because as fast as they come they go.  Even in death the Matriarch teaches me.

Melinda does not know her mother is dead.  She still has not woken up and no one knows why.  Her hospital room is filled with friends and family.  The people she has touched over the years pray by her side.  I think my Grandmother could not bear to leave her behind, and Melinda so desperately did not want to be left.  Never had a day gone by they hadn’t spoken, and maybe they were talking just then.  In the end I was holding her son who was holding her, my hand on her petite leg, her youngest talking to her on speaker so desperately trying to get there in time, her sister and best friend singing her song to her, “My Melinda”.  Her eyes opened a bit and she had a look like she had found someone, and that was it.  34 hours after the matriarch had left she found her youngest girl and took her, neither woman having to mourn the loss of the other, as neither knew the other was gone. No one deserved to meet her maker more than Melinda and Grandma knew it.

So here we are, a family whose lost their glue, their sun and their gravity.  But gathering at your home today without the two of you, it sure didn’t feel empty.  We still gathered, told stories, laughed and felt connected.  The space was still filled with the warmth and light we got from you.  We are just missing the two who used to bring us together, The Matriarch and her light filled girl.  We are still the same family, just in mourning, and in need of a Matriarch and a light filled girl.  Maybe someone else will step up to the plate.  You never know, maybe that someone is me.

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Follow your Arrow

Spoiler alert, this particular blog is about a week old and I have since stopped “embracing my stillness”.  I guess stillness just isn’t my thing, but that blog comes later… until then, go ahead and read this one about the full week I embraced my stillness (it was pretty painful).  And now I have to go to the gym…

I’ve found myself listening to a lot of music lately. More than I usually do because I find myself walking a lot… like a lot, because I can’t do any other damn thing.  I feel like everyone has that one thing that always puts a smile on your face, no matter what you are in the middle of.  For me, it’s always been music.

Music has this way of transporting you to a different time.  Either back to somewhere you have already been that you would like to revisit (Norah Jones and Sublime have done that a lot for me lately), transports you to somewhere you would like to be, or keeps you right where you are.  No matter what, music evokes something within, and anyone who argues that, I’d say you just aren’t listening close enough.

I have vivid memories of driving in the orange 1965 Mustang listening to a mix tape with Rancid, Sublime, Stray Cats and The Offspring, my girls riding with me headed to the beach.  The smell of sunscreen and tar comes flooding back to me, along with the conversations of “rigging it” (which meant making out) with boys and where the bonfire was at that night.  Whose house were we going to sleep over at (usually Alia’s) and who were were going to meet up with became the most important weekend topics.  The days when the only thing that mattered was your tan, whether or not you were grounded, and how you would get beer that night.

Simpler times.  And I can get back there simply by putting on my headphones.  Then rushes in the smell of sunscreen and tar with the sounds of teenage giggles infiltrating my brain.  Would I go back?  Not a chance.  But I do love to visit.  The thing is, I’m happier now.  I’m confident in me and I feel the earth under my feet.  I’ve embraced my imperfections, fixed what I wanted and am not afraid to be who I am.  I’m honest to a fault because I’m not scared of who looks back at me in the mirror.  Everyone has an arrow and it’s up to you to follow it or ignore it.  I have chosen to follow mine, no matter where it points.  I’m goin to disappoint people sometimes (which I absolutely hate) but I know that as long as I continue to follow my arrow, I’ll land on my feet.  My arrow has always brought me joy, laughter, success, and love.  I’m reminded of something my sister once said to her daughter when she asked her mom the meaning of life.  Her answer?  “Well my little one, the meaning of life, is love.”  Sister, I could not agree more.

Now if there is only one thing you take away from reading this, please let it be this; follow your arrow!  Listen to music that speaks to you, let it make you smile, laugh, cry, hurt, see, feel uncomfortable, and let yourself feel it all. Every bit of it. The good, the bad, the pain, the love, the deceit, the graciousness… feel it all and don’t apologize for how it makes you feel. “Say what you feel, love who you love, ‘cuse you just get so many trips ’round the sun, yeah, you only life once.” Thanks Kacey Musgraves.  For a small town girl you sure know a lot of shit.

 

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You can’t see everything coming

I couldn’t sleep. My world had been spun into chaos the day before my surgery. Sometimes things happen differently than you would have wanted, but in the end it becomes the path that leads to your next adventure. So there it is, change. Not the way I had intended, but I’ll embrace it.

I woke up at 3am, jaw tight dreaming about work. I take a shower as instructed (dial from head to toe) rinced with mouthwash and took of my jewelry that has become a part of me. I went back to the bed and kissed my husband who whispered “make sure to come back to us”, grabbed my bags and waited in the dark driveway for my sister.

Pulling in it didn’t yet seem real. Even walking in, “checking in?” he said to me, like I was about to walk into a ritz. I’m most definitely not at the Ritz. As I waited with my sister we chatted about older times, our children and life. Then it was time, “all patients please come with me” the nurse said as I was ushered off to pre-opp. Another young woman stood beside me and she asked “are you having surgery too?” And to that I said “yep… what are you in for?” I couldn’t help myself. She answers “a hysterectomy”. I honestly Have no control because the next thing I remember doing was giving her a high five and saying “yeah, my hysta-sista!” We chatted for a bit and wished each other luck.

Eventually my room was filled with family and even a stuffed unicorn. Leave it to my daddy. It was time. I was pulled away in my bed and whisked down the hallway. That’s when I started to see stars. Mouth got dry. Hands started to shake. Breath got heavy. They pushed me through double doors into a large sterile room with 3 other people, lots of impressive tools and the operating table with a large stirrup I knew would be for me. My last words to my Dr. were, “if I wake up without ovaries I will find you.” We shared one last laugh. So surreal to have to slide yourself onto the table knowing when you wake up parts of you will be missing. Lights go out. Time passes. Pieces of me are lost.

Apparently for some redheads (the nurse said) painkillers don’t work. Well mother trucker! They tried everything and maxed me out! Turns out plain old Motrin works best for me. I didn’t know my ass from my thumb and only recall half of my conversations. I waited for a hospital bed for 10 hours! Thank god my other sister drove down to keep me company (and had plenty of junk food). And thanks to Shea who happened to be working at the hospital that day. The smoothie was on point. I had one of the coolest conversations with my sister, and I felt pretty damn lucky. My life is filled with great shit. The best shit. And even the bad shit can help you get to your next level of awesome.

Finally to a room! I thought I’d finally get some peace and rest, but the hospital was at full capacity which meant I’d have a shared room! Panic was on my face wondering what old farting hip-replacement bunky I would get. Would she hack all night long and smell of cabbage? Then I heard her voice… it was my haysta-sista! We shared stories and bonded as the women we still were. Both strong and taking life by the balls. I hope you read this hysta-sista. You are now a part of my story.

Another sleepless night filled with family, new friends, and laughter… and yes, it hurts to laugh. But I have relief. A weight has been lifted and now I start a new journey that wound up being different than the one I had planned. But just because you went in with your eyes wide open doesn’t mean you can see everything coming. And that is ok.

Men have bigger vaginas

As the day approaches I have started feeling a bit more anxious about it.  Before I was calm about it, almost too calm.  Now I’m starting to realize that I’m a little scared.  I’m not scared the way most would think.  I’m scared because its really playing with my biggest fear – being debilitated.  If I cannot run, lift, yoga, surf, spin… I will just absolutely burst!  I have so much energy that sometimes it’s hard for me to figure out what the fuck to do with it.  It’s honestly one of my favorite things about myself, but it can really get in the way sometimes.  When I’m grumpy my husband will say “why don’t you go run or something?” and I’m sure you can all imagine how well that plays out… until I get back from my run and thank him for being a twat.

I was telling my husband about my anxiousness in the kitchen this afternoon and we started talking about the recovery.  His answer to me was “yeah, well when I got my balls snipped..” Ummm, what the fuck, you are telling me what now? Now I must preface all of this by saying that he was joking (he is not suicidal).  My husband knows he suffers from having a mangina, and I like to remind him of that any time he sneezes and thinks he is dying. Now all of you men out there who want to complain about your outpatient surgery where you have to ice your nuts for a day (I know at least two of you who will read this… you know who you are) I just have one thing to say to you… stop your bitching!  It’s the least you could do for your woman after the many years of her taking the pill, getting an IUD (OUCH!), taking the morning after pill, bleeding once a month for 7 days (and not dying) for most of her life.  Oh, and for having your babies.  Our bodies will never be the same.  But yea, a little snip and a day of ice is an awful lot to ask of you.  I’ll say it from all of us women – Sorry, not sorry.

Now there really is no question as to who is the tougher sex.  It’s been clear since the inception of man when Eve was the only one ballsy enough to eat the damn apple.  And the truth is, the human race would cease to exist if men were the ones who had to carry and deliver babies.  Dear lord, can you imagine a man on the rag?  I’m sure us women would have to take our tough men to the hospital every month as they claim something must be horribly wrong, and how this feeling can’t at all be normal.  But we would know better, as we always do.  And we would likely have the day marked off on the calendar, the car gassed up and a fucking flask already packed in preparation to mask our eye rolls with smiles and slurs.

So I guess the creator had it right from the start… women should carry the children, ovulate, not be a pussy when they are sick, and just overall know how to suck it up.  In my personal opinion, if there is any truth to this Adam and Eve story, the bible got the interpretation wrong.  Truth is, God put the apples on the tree as a test, but not in the way we think.  I bet God said “alright, I’m going to put this tree there and tell them it’s forbidden, and the one who is tough enough to question this is who I’m betting on for the future of this race”.  So thanks for the faith in us, God.  You done good.  As it was so eloquently put in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, “you chose wisely”.  Thanks for the vagina and being omniscient enough to know that Adams was bigger.

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That feeling that makes the world go round

I’ve spent years contemplating this surgery.  Years going back and forth about whether or not to take everything, some, or nothing.  There were times I thought I’d take nothing out.  Leave life to chance… then I had kids.  There was a time I thought I’d remove everything putting myself into medically induced menopause.  Ugh, yuck.  All I associate menopause with is crazier women, dry skin, hot flashes and no sex drive.  Did I mention no sex drive?  Well, no thank you.  Not for me.  Nope.

I feel like much of what makes me, well, me, are my hormones.  They help me feel sexy, take control of situations, they give me power.  I like having desires, I like having power, and I sure as shit like to feel sexy.  I want to come home and feel like I cannot wait to… well… you know. I’m not ready to lose that part of me.  I don’t think I’ll ever be ready to lose that part of me.  There we have it.  The ovaries stay.  So ovaries, hear me out; please don’t kill me. Not even I would laugh at that.

My desires stay, my sexiness stays, my emotions stay, and yes, my bitchiness stays (sorry husband).  After all, I am a fairy and if I’m confined I get feisty, and if I am trapped I die. I can’t think of anything that would make me feel more confined or trapped then losing that part of me.  So I’ll take my chances and get to live the rest of my younger life full of sex.  Great sex.  Sex that I want to have because my desires tell me to, not because I’m going through the motions.

So here is to the ovaries – May you stay and keep me feeling that feeling that makes the world go round… horny.

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