Charlottesville: Loving Hard When It’s Hard

Charlottesville love grace

241 years ago, our founders created a country based on the radical view that liberty was not doled out by a self-aggrandizing monarch but was an inalienable right. The heirs of that spirit of liberty fought a Civil War to protect it, to declare it sacrosanct.

80 years later, another generation volunteered in droves to safeguard that same spirit for men and women across the world that they had never met. They knew, perhaps better than anyone in history, that it wasn’t just the fate of the war that hinged on their utter selflessness. It was the fate of humanity. Read more...

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Fall Risk

Fall Risk hospital love hard

The nurse wouldn’t even let me through the doors of pre-op until she had slapped a bright yellow bracelet on my arm proclaiming FALL RISK. Honestly, I didn’t know whether to be insulted or impressed that she knew me so well. I went with the latter.

If there are two better words in the English language to describe me, I haven’t yet found them.

I am, of course, a literal fall risk, even when I’m not on anesthesia. I am clumsy and uncoordinated. I fall down stairs. I fall off my bike. I trip on chair legs, sidewalks, even air. I prefer to think of it as a talent rather than a liability. At any given time my body is adorned with more bruises than jewelry and, usually, I have no idea where they came from. Read more...

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Love, Loss, and Time

Love loss time memory

When you lose someone, everyone is quick to tell you, in soft voices laden with reassurance, that you will forget. That time anesthetizes the sharp pains that disrupt your sleep and interrupt the most mundane moments of your day.

And they’re absolutely right.

But what they don’t tell you is that the forgetting hurts as much as the initial loss. That in the forgetting, you lose another piece of that which you have already lost.

That the resilience that propelled you through the gasping breaths of panic and the heaving sobs of loneliness is a double-edged sword. Read more...

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My Break Up With Social Media (And What I Learned In the Process)

why i broke up with social media detox and what i learned

It’s been over two months since I broke up with social media.

I wish I could say it was intentional, that it was part of some noble plan to be more mindful.

But it wasn’t. It was apathy.

Honestly, it was a lot like the end of every other mediocre relationship you stay in too long out of habit. Until one day, you wake up and you simply don’t have the energy to care anymore.

Like all relationships, the love affair with social media started out so promisingly.

The idea of being able to stay connected to the daily lives of friends and family regardless of geographical distance was revolutionary, much like email had been 10 years earlier. Read more...

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This is What An Invisible Disease Looks Like

mom boys disability epidermolysis bullosa

This is what an invisible disease looks like.

It looks like nothing at all.

There are thousands of them and they run the gamut from rare to common, physical to mental, life-threatening to debilitating. But they all have one thing in common – they leave no noticeable mark. To the outside world, we all look healthy.

Mine, and my children’s, is called epidermolysis bullosa, a rare genetic disease whose hallmark is debilitating blistering of the skin in response to heat, friction, injury or rubbing. I was encouraged to write something about it today for Rare Disease Day but, truthfully, I didn’t know what to share. Read more...

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A Promise To My Second Born

It is trite now to offer up written apologies to latter born children. To catalogue all the ways in which we have relaxed the rules the second (or third or fourth) time around. To humorously list the words they’ve learned too early, the movies they’ve seen too soon, the crappy food they’ve eaten.

In fact most of these articles aren’t apologies at all but thinly veiled parental pats on the back for being so nonchalant, so easy going.

Here’s the truth if we’re willing to admit it. The innocence of our latter born children is all too often sacrificed on the altar of their older siblings. It just is. Read more...

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Why I Hate New Years…

Judging by social media over the last few days, 2016 was apparently the worst year in all of humanity. The rash of posts and tweets heralding New Year’s Eve as the end of all the ills that have befallen the world left me a little befuddled (which, admittedly, is not hard to do).

This symbolic adherence to New Years as the closing of one door and the opening of another has always struck me as a little contrived.

Maybe it’s because I have always marked the passing of time by the school year, not the calendar year. Read more...

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Be The Inkeeper Who Opens The Door

Be the Innkeeper Who Opens The Door. Mary and Joseph. Be the Good. Christmas Kindness. All Year Long. LuckyOrangePants.com
One year ago tonight, I took the boys to dinner. As Jack was making his salad, an elderly gentleman with a walker was trying with some effort to open the door.

Without my prompting, the boys rushed to open the door for him. He seemed genuinely touched and told me what gentlemen they were.

For some reason, I could not stop glancing over at the man as he waited for his takeout order at a nearby table. Perhaps it was his eyes which bespoke a quiet, gentle loneliness. I know that look.

I have felt it. Read more...

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A Girl, Her Dad, and a Boy

One year ago, I woke up to Facebook reminding me, as I was still groggy and only half awake, to wish my dad a happy birthday.

And for a minute, it felt like salt in my wounds because he’s not here anymore damnit and I silently cursed myself for forgetting to delete his account again.

But then I went on a field trip with 20 first grade boys who were silly and sweet and wanted to feel and touch and learn.

And one of them – one who always has trouble staying out of trouble – seemed to need my attention. So I held his hand while we walked and I gave him my sandwich when he asked if he could have it because he didn’t like his own and I played games with him on the bus to distract him from hitting the other boys. Read more...

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Redefining Grateful

Grateful-notepad-serendip-love-thankfulness

I walked into Serendip the other day to buy some lamps (which I did by the way and they’re really fucking cool). As I was checking out, the owner slipped this into my hands and said “For the boys. I don’t really know them but from everything I can see, they’ve got their priorities right.”

Gaaaah.

That one hit me hard. Part of what has been causing me anguish over the last few weeks is a deep-seeded concern that despite all my efforts to show them what really matters, they have become ungrateful and unappreciative. That despite my best efforts to show them what loving hard looks like, their outlook was becoming harsh and negative. Read more...

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7 Things I Want My Kids To Know On The First Day Of School

Things I want my kids to know on the first day of school

As you lie in your beds on this – the night before the first day of school – I know you are dutifully trying to sleep despite the anxious thoughts creeping through your minds. My mind is racing too. Trying to remember what it is like to go 8 hours without seeing your faces. Trying to remember what 8 hours of silence sounds like. Trying not to mourn the end of our lazy mornings, our big adventures, and time that belongs to no one but us.

I promise when we walk through those double doors tomorrow, you will forget all the doubts and fears that are keeping you awake tonight. Read more...

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Believing When It Is Hard to Believe

I am, and always have been, an open book. I say the things I think the exact moment I think them. Apparently I write that way too. There is no filter, no editing, no careful selection of facts and emotions to create a picture of a theoretical existence.

And if being an open book means talking about the myriad times I have chosen to find joy even in heartbreak, it also means talking about the times when I could not.

Maybe it’s not pretty. Maybe it’s uncomfortable. But it’s real. Besides, a good book always makes you a little uncomfortable, doesn’t it? Read more...

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Years That Ask Questions: A Letter To My Father On The Second Anniversary Of His Death

Years That Ask Questions And Years That Answer

Dear Daddy,

It’s been over a year since I last wrote you a letter. Two years since I stood in church clad in a black dress that mom told me was more appropriate than the orange one I wanted to wear.

I had thought about that dress the whole 12 hours we drove home from Cape Cod, in the silence that filled the car between the calls. The calls about death certificates and funeral receptions and Valium prescriptions. I thought about it as we drove past New Haven and I made Billy stop the car so I could walk on the Green just as I had 15 years before. Just as you had 40 years before. Read more...

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Dreams

Image courtesy of Pexels
Image courtesy of Pexels

My favorite time of the day is the space between sleep and wakefulness, when you are vaguely cognizant of being warm and comfortable and you have not yet remembered the things that hurt. The blurry place before the light sharpens into hard angles when you cannot yet distinguish between what you have dreamed and what is real.

The place where, for one brief moment yesterday, I had a father again.

Like most of my dreams, this one came back to me in a series of disjointed pictures. We were looking for something. Keys one minute, pieces of a puzzle the next. One nameless object after another. Read more...

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The Weight of Time

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**Update: See this post featured on Scary Mommy!

Ten is the number of months that I was pregnant. Ten months of constant sickness, sleeplessness, and anxiety about whether I would be a good mother weighed on me much more than the thirty pounds I carried on my frame.

Four is the number of hours that I slept each night when my babies were new. The nights before your body becomes inured to sleep deprivation seem endless. And those four hours, cobbled together in snippets of brief respite, weighed on me during the day as I struggled to have a lucid conversation or stay awake while that tiny creature rested on my shoulder. Read more...

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