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Words

I try to pinpoint words that when strung together, like beads in a necklace, express something with texture and richness; I hope for the occasional sparkle of a well placed gem. I frequently fail miserably. But on a good day, as with a candid photo, I unexpectedly capture a heartbeat, and it feels as if I've successfully seized fog with my hands.

Monday, May 23, 2011

A piece to read...

If you haven't seen this blog entry, written by Today show editor, Sara Pines, here's your chance. Beautifully written, touching without being maudlin, an authentic expression of the emotional challenge of losing a parent to dementia related illness.

From the url http://www.mariashriver.com, where Sara Pines is a contributor. You don't know me, Sara Pines. But I know you now. Thank you for writing this.



Bribery
Sara Pines is a producer and show editor at NBC's TODAY show and a contributor to the blogTodayMoms.com as Today's Sandwich Mom. She is the single mother of a beautiful five year old girl and a native New Yorker. You can follow her on Twitter @sarampines.
 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Is This Good-Bye?

Pretty sure I’ll still be here tomorrow. Fairly certain I won’t be enduring more agony than discovery of another chin hair, and emptying the cat box. Thinkin’ the rapture was called off on account of life. Doing what it does. Turning pages in a book not nearly finished…

But there will be a good-bye in the near future. Wednesday. Oprah.*

Didn’t watch her every day. Sometimes wasn’t interested in the topic. Sometimes, like with any long friendship, our bio-rhythms didn’t match, neither did our diva quotients. Found her annoying. Looking at herself all the time on that damn magazine cover.

But, also like friendships counted in decades, she has my respect and affection. And she awes me. You know how I am with that combo. Loyal to the core. And so is O.

She’s stood by through a lotta life. I counted once. The biggest of huge events that Bestie and I have seen while watchin’ Oprah.

Bestie’s parents died.
As did my husband.
Bestie’s girls were born.
Her husband left.
We changed careers.
Again.
Our children leapt from our arms and into their own lives.
We both remarried.
I had breast cancer.
Friends got sick, and got well.
Some said good-bye, forever.
We laughed, every day.
We cried, sometimes as often.

It felt, in particular moments, that the emotional flooding from those events would wash us away. But Bestie and me, well, we learned to body surf and O, she was splashing right along with us, make-up smeared, hair messed up, drippin’ everywhere. And we have loved her for it.

So, Oprah, this is my note to you:

We’ve had mentors who chose us, guided and taught, and knew us well. And some that’ve never seen us, don’t even know we chose ‘em. Don’t know how you did it. Made your way on to both lists. We’re feeling lucky you did.

I’ve learned when the earth is moving fast and you can’t find north, even with your Girl Scout compass, truth will point you home. You have spoken truth. You have spoken for those who don’t, won’t and can’t. Given glory to guts when some only wanted to see pretty, and easy, and popular. You still showed what needed seeing.

I know by now life is a mix of hellos and good-byes and sometimes you can’t tell one from the other because a tale’s not all told. I’m thinkin’ this is one of those times. 

I've thought on occasion, ‘please, how can I miss ya if you won’t go away’ – even with my loved ones. But you? Not thinkin' it with you. Hopin’ you’ll linger. Press your luck. Stay a while longer.

Thanks, O. Thanks for hangin’ 'round, same time, same station for 25 years of growing. Thanks for truth-telling, thanks for tellin’ on yourself, makin' it safer for us. Thanks for the good you’ve done and the lives you’ve changed.

Take naps now and then. Goodness knows you earned 'em. But only for a while. Then shake it all off and rise refreshed, stretchin' into something surprising. 

Meanwhile, we’ll all be lookin’ forward to findin’ out this was a false alarm. Really, one of them hellos.


See ya, on the other side of the rapture. Where I expect to be left behind. With Oprah, laughing and crying, ready to tell more stories.



*Guys, you've stumbled into a chick flick. Be gentlemen. You may cross your fingers privately and hope it doesn't last too long. I swear it won't.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Necklace

In the package, a small, dark blue box. She flipped its cover open. A white opal suspended from a delicate golden chain. The expression of a boy man's affection for a girl playing at being an adult. At the edge of lives to come, still preparing for their jump.

Not especially drawn to the gem, she was to the giver, and therefore the gift. Resembling the jewel, he had fire inside seeking to break through fragile barrier. A soft stone, potentially eroded by handling and exposure to the elements. Made by nature and easily taken down by it. Both contained a flame. The stone and the boy man. Needing oxygen and careful touch.

His every move with her was honest. Discreet. Attentive. He was vulnerable and though she never told--tried never to let on, so was she. Because it was his temperament, he knew this. Even if he didn't.

So began their dance. As he heeded his intuition to protect her from things unknown to him, she felt more unworthy of his admiration. She did not know she was an innocent, had no need of secrets. Her heart remained unsullied. He unwittingly became her reminder of all she thought she wasn't. She could not face his lack of guile thinking herself a less than. And she backed away.

Each time she wore her necklace, its dangling stone draped below her youthful neck, a different truth appeared. To him. To her.

Time was brief before the relationship became too painful. So she wandered from his life by resolute avoidance. Didn't say a word, simply went away.

He didn't know what happened. Contained, he refrained from asking and instead just let her go. As is true with boy men, and girls pretending to be women, they thought they were transparent. Imagined defects shone for all to see.

Though her future found her happy, she did not forget what she had done. Her sins of omission, the last of commission. Her lack of courage. More evidence she wasn't good enough. Didn't deserve him anyway. Later, while watching someone evaporate from her grasp, she would remember. Ah. This is what it feels like.

And when the drawer was open, she'd spy the staid blue box among the foreign change, hankies, photos, half pairs of earrings missing mates, and dreams from long ago. Again. A wince. Stirring longing to explain and apologize, and move on. Completely.

Years passed full of life and learning, as they do for the very fortunate. The necklace became a token of the end of childhood, time of confusion. Innocence, as well, though she hadn't always understood. Finally, she forgave herself for not being fully grown while still a girl. To mark the occasion she released herself from the pinprick of the necklace.

Someone had told her the myth. Opal, the bad luck stone except when born to it. Its color turning black, integrity splintering if worn by one untrue.

To October's child she gave it. What the necklace needed. What she needed, too. A little October beauty twirled into her own destiny wearing a fiery treasure, a grown-up gift from auntie. As it once had been, symbol of delight and devotion. Only now, wrapped, inside a story.

She did then what she had not so many years before when she walked into a different life. And didn't wave good-bye. It wasn't too late for closure. To give the story a proper end without humiliation. She said farewell, I'm sorry, and allowed it lifted by the air. 

He had authored his book, too. Went on to write his life. She faded to far-flung memory. In a time long before, he'd been a boy man searching for his voice. She, for a short while, shared his path. A youthful love, though that word was never spoken. For they were not too young to realize -- to stay cautious with its use.

Never knowing where they'd alighted, if they landed hard or soft, each treated memory of the other tenderly. As they had tried to do back when. Without a place to acknowledge their common, transitory past, or finally speak their truths, it was all entrusted to the necklace.