I’ll cry if I want to

Maybe we shouldn’t blame 2016 for all the celebrity deaths and general calamity that have occurred during the past 12 months. People die all the time, famous or not, and it has little to do with the calendar year or any superstitious nonsense. And maybe we should all spend a bit more time mourning the innocent lives lost in Aleppo and less time grieving over celebrities. Maybe.

But the heart does not always heed logic. So I’ll mourn those who have touched my life, even if their deaths were less than tragic. I think that is a rational, human response. And I’ll blame this shitty year for all the shitty things that happened during it. I don’t care much if that is a rational response or just a convenient one, I’m still doing it.

You never know which deaths are going to hurt the most. I’ve lost family members, friends, and acquaintances. Some personal losses hurt more than others, and it is the same with celebrity or public-figure deaths. I was sad when Alan Rickman died, and David Bowie, and George Michael. I am sad today, hearing of Carrie Fisher’s passing. I’m also sad to read on social media so many posts proclaiming the foolishness of feeling bad over celebrity deaths.

It made me think about “why.” Why am I sad about Carrie Fisher but not Zsa Zsa Gabor? I suppose for the same reason I’m sad about George Michael but not (as much) Leonard Cohen. It’s not about who was the more talented or important person, it’s much more personal. I enjoyed some Leonard Cohen songs, and Zsa Zsa always made me smile, but George Michael and Carrie Fisher influenced me personally. They were threads in the fabric of my life. Small pieces, sure, but they meant something to me.

I remember being a pre-teen, dancing to Wham! songs in my room on sleepovers. Those early songs, and the music that George Michael made in the 90’s, were the background music of my adolescence and young adulthood. Eventually, his sexuality became a big part of his impact on me. My friends and I were more than ready for an openly gay pop star, but his struggle to come out publicly proved the world did not share our enthusiasm. It was like a barometer of the world’s homophobia, the timing of that coming-out, and I learned a lot from it.

I’m a Star Wars fan, but when I saw Postcards from the Edge, that was when I fell in love with Carrie Fisher. I must have watched that a dozen times, (with my mother, who herself was a bit eccentric and often embarrassing) and it soothed me and made me laugh and brought me a kind of peaceful joy I can’t really put into words. Then, much later when I saw her perform Wishful Drinking, I felt that same thing again.

So when I see posts telling me (not really “me” but people who have posted their grief which is similar to mine) to get over it, or to stop being so dramatic, I have to just say: Fuck off.

I’ll cry if I want to.

Today I mourn Carrie Fisher, a feminist, a public figure who was unapologetic about her mental illness, and one hell of a funny lady. If her death does not sting you, that is fine. We all have our influences and our loves. All I ask is a bit of empathy and respect.

Peace ❤

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She drowned in moonlight, strangled by her own bra. 

grasshopper pie

In the early eighties, my mom used to make it a lot. I’m not sure if it was a popular dessert then, or if my mom just liked it. She did love mint… But either way, a grasshopper pie often sat on the dessert tables of my childhood.

When I was a kid, I never liked it. Too strong, with it’s teensy kick of creme de menthe, it had an aftertaste I didn’t like much. And mint was much less tempting a flavor than the chocolate or even sweet fruits of other desserts.

I never really thought about it much as an adult. My mom still made it, rarely, for holidays. I’d have a piece once in a while, but I always got the feeling my mom made it for herself. No one else was a fan of it.

I’ve been feeling a bit low recently, and I don’t know why but out of the blue I remembered grasshopper pie. So I made one during the last snowstorm, and turns out in my family no one but me likes it.

I’m slowly working my way through this nostalgic pie, one slice a night, and I can’t decide if it is a comfort or tragically depressing.

grasshopperPie

getting into the christmas spirit

So two close family funerals in less than two months is pretty bad. Having it happen in the already hectic and family-centric months of November/December is downright shitty.

Finally, yesterday we decided to put up our tree and try to “get into the mood” of the holidays. House decorated, I took my kids to visit some family and attend a holiday light parade in a nearby town. So we’re driving down Route 95, and we see this:

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Yes. Some awesome person (maybe the real Santa!?) dressed in a Santa suit and took his motorcycle out for a spin. And just to kick it up a notch, he had Mrs. Claus in a sidecar (not fully visible in this pic, because my daughter took it from the backseat. Trust me, Mrs. Claus was there).

He made eye-contact with my kids, waved, and mouthed “Ho! Ho! Ho!” at them while driving down the interstate. Seriously.

Faith in humanity (and holiday spirit) restored.

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It has begun.

 

life is beautiful

This was supposed to be a fun post, but Sunday was a mixed bag of happy & sad, and the sad was really sad, so I’m posting about it, too.

First (happy part) I did The Color Run. Well, I mostly walked it. Being a “couch to 5k” program failure, I could not run the whole 3 miles. But I jogged part of it, and ran through all the colors, and ran for the finish line. So I’m kind of proud of myself anyway.

color run

It was a fun time, lots of smiling people, dressed wildly, laughing and getting messy together. Nice.

Then I came home and had several frantic phone messages to return (although it’s 2013, my cell phone situation is still so 2003). Turns out, there was a death in my family. So sad and totally unexpected. My younger cousin died, leaving a wife and twin boys (who will turn one just a few days after their father is buried). I am still kind of in shock, I guess. My childhood friend, the kid I laughed with, teased relentlessly, and loved my whole life is gone.

I just feel horrible. And I keep thinking, between moments of guilt (why didn’t I sit down and chat with him last weekend at our cousin’s wedding? why didn’t I call him more often?) and sympathy (how sad his wife must be. and his poor sister! how would I feel if it was my husband, or my brother? so awful.) I think about how fragile life is, how everything can just change in an instant, without reason.

At this point in my life, I’ve lost my share of family and friends. But every loss is difficult. It never gets easier.

Still, life is beautiful. The day was gorgeous, crisp and clear with a vivid blue sky that makes the yellow and orange autumn leaves pop out like an oil painting come to life. And the moon tonight was big and golden, turning the whole bay shimmering silver.

La vita è bella. Enjoy it, and the people around you, while you can.

on brain tumors and birthdays

I’m feeling sad and blogging (always a bad combo). Fair warning: there’s no point to this post.

My birthday is tomorrow. 39. Besides the usual “holy shit I’m old” and “I’ve done nothing with my life” feelings, my birthday is a time when I remember (or am constantly reminded of) my mother’s death. She had a brain tumor, and died the day before my birthday four years ago. So now, when relatives call or send cards or e-mail to say happy birthday to me, they also feel the need to add some comment about missing my mom. Like a “happy birthday, fuck you”. But they don’t mean it that way, so I say thank you and yes, I wish she was still here, too.

I know it sounds crazy, but her dying that day felt like a gift. If you have ever watched cancer slowly kill someone you love, you might understand. Over the course of three years, I stood by helplessly as my strong, smart, bad-ass mom turned into a confused, wheelchair-bound mute. I saw the pain in her eyes, her frustration at her body’s failure, her anger at the unfairness of disease.

So that morning, I held her and sang to her and dropped morphine onto her tongue as she took her last breaths, and I was grateful. That her suffering, and mine, was ending. That I was able to comfort her in her last hours.

And I knew that the collision of her day of death and my day of birth was just the kind of “circle of life” coincidence she would have appreciated.

I found this poem on tumblr a while back, and I cried. Then I printed it out with a picture of my mom and put it on my refrigerator:

I miss her most when I think of all the funny things
I’ll never tell her,

a graveyard of laughter inside me.

from williamtaylorjr (who has some really awesome poetry, you should check him out)

This is the picture I put with it. My mom dancing like an idiot at my wedding, before she knew she had (as she called it) a “monster in her head”:

babs

I was raised to see death as a part of life. Inevitable and sometimes sad, but natural. That doesn’t help me miss her less.

No one else understands me like she did. No one else will ever love me beyond reason, the way a mother loves her child. And all our little inside jokes, a lifetime of private phrases and code-words and secret hand signals, died with her that day.

I miss her.

Happy Birthday/Deathday to us, Momma.