There is alcohol. Wine, fancy cocktails with basil floating in them like pine needles, and beer.

There are long, dark wood walks with a dog that follows, lingers, then sprints to a pile of damp leaves. There is the observation of joy, as she thrashes in gold and rusty brown and dirt. When she jumps into the van, my sweet girl smells like she was out all night, and it’s Thursday afternoon.

There is work, swallowing handfuls of chocolate chips from the fridge meant for Sunday pancakes, dinners out at restaurants I can’t afford, where we share appetizers and order just one more.

There is splitting the check even though I ordered just one more, and knowing it’s understood. I needed that.

There is time with friends.

There are phone calls to mom, and not calling mom, because I don’t want her to know details. There is knowing she is there to listen to the details if it comes to that.

There is music from when I was his age, and his own music, the inappropriate language, the grinding bass, the beat. There is time at the gym, lifting metal, finding downward dog in a room full of women who look they don’t have a clue even though probably half of them have been where I am now.

There are impassioned conversations about Trump, the Supreme Court, moving to Canada, the latest from Trump.

There the memes of Obama and Biden.

There is tv and slippers and sleeping pills and falling asleep with the tv on so I don’t have to think about anything but the carefully written dialogue written by writers on another coast that belong to a union and  are probably talking about Trump right now.

There is knowing, somewhere, in my head, this is not cancer. It is not Alzheimer’s, or living without heat, or living alone, or being old, and wishing for what will never come again.

When I find myself dealing with another variety of grief, I may or may not turn to the same these things I have found  along this journey.

Inside this life of mine, right now, I still find bliss and laughter, even though this heart of mine weighs more than my whole house, weights more than anything I have ever carried.

I have found a way to lift this heart and love this child and move forward into the tomorrow and next month.

Sometimes I can’t. Sometimes my knees buckle and I lean knowing I have lost it all. I find myself on the sofa, wishing I had softer socks, or a magazine, or a softer pillow, or it was ten years ago.

Then my daughter asks me to sign her permission slip. A student calls with a question. Sophie sighs in her sleep and I know she is dreaming of bunnies.

So I pull myself up and I take myself down to my bedroom. I find sleep, I do not dream of bunnies, that I know of anyway.

But I wake up next to Sophie and that helps.

My family is home with me tonight. I’m a little bit angry and totally blessed.

Well, mostly blessed.

I hope I dream of bunnies.

Night To Remember

August 26, 2014

My daughter left for a week in Disney World with the Boys and Girls Clubs at three o’clock this morning. My son and I spent hours discussing, debating, fighting over a trip to the woods tonight to celebrate the end of summer. Long story short, I won. No trip to the woods but he was allowed to stay out until 10.

Long, long story short, I lost. After about three minutes of due diligence I discovered him on his way to, you guessed it, the woods. He threw his phone in the car, swore he wouldn’t take a walk to the forest, (shades of Little Red anyone?) and took off in the direction of the Square. Two hours passed. I had his phone. I’d put it on the charger, and heard no texts, no snapchats; it was silent as my phone. And that is really, really silent because Katy was in Disney world.

So I went out to look for him. I walked around the Square, I walked around the Circle, I headed over to Cunningham Woods, following the footsteps of about 5000 teenagers with much “cooler parents” than me. I took the shortcut behind the old barn, I heard voices, all different voices, girl voices, and man voices, punk voices, and rap voices, freshman boys with changing voices, and freshmen girl voices I recognized, in between drags on their cigarettes. No son.

I headed back in the car. Three minutes after I drove away, I was pulled over. My lights weren’t on. I told the officer the tale of the son and the horribly strict, uncool mom, and he told me go home and drink some tea.

I went home for tea, probably not tea, maybe seltzer, most likely aspirin and tap water, and was greeted by a the sounds of one or two dogs next door- barking, shrieking, wailing . There was a dog beneath the porch of the abandoned house next door. Barking, shrieking, wailing. They didn’t sound like any dogs I knew.  Did someone make a trip to the shelter this afternoon and decide the poor thing should spend the night outside?

I pulled out my phone and stepped beyond my back door to investigate. It’s a new phone, I hadn’t downloaded the flashlight app. We don’t own any flashlights, haven’t bought one since we discovered we could buy the app for free.

Walking toward me, ablaze in light from his high beams and his very own flashlight, the kind with batteries, a police officer,  (a different police officer from the one I met 20 minutes before.)

“Someone called in, is that your dog out there? The neighbors think they hear your dog next door, makin all kinds of noise.”

The officer, me and the Flashlight went over to investigate. It took time, the officer was even more cautious than me, but yes, that was Sophie, who had someone gotten her leash (from our earlier dog walk in search of Colin) all tangled up in a skunk’s tail. I guess dogs sound different when they are in the throes of battle and stench.

By the time I was calm enough to approach her, or felt like I really didn’t have a choice because after all, a cop was waiting for me to get the damn dog back in the house, and this cop probably had better things to deal with, like the party at the quarry with 5 thousand kids all belonging to incredibly cool parents, kids who weren’t doing anything more than exchanging snapchats and discussing who had who for home room, a couple of whom might need rides home from some of our finest. Because their really cool parents were already sleeping. Or at their very own party-

By the time I was calm enough to approach her, the skunk had died, choked by Sophie’s leash, or by the mighty Sophie herself. Sophie is sleeping soundly now, and our house does’t smell like wet dog anymore. It smells like dead skunk.

Colin just got home. He’s outside inspecting the dead skunk. I really, really hope the damn skunk is dead. A trip to the ER with an angry injured teenager might be a little too much excitement for one person to handle.

When he gets back inside, we can discuss the war. The war between Sophie and the Skunk. Not our nasty brief skirmish.

What I learned from tonight? I really really need to renew my license, and to take off the Sweet Bloodthirsty One’s leash as soon as we get home.

There’s probably more, but I want to go watch tv with my son and pretend we are both about two years younger. The Simpson’s marathon is still on, so after an hour or, we might not be pretending anymore. He might share the quilt, and might let him wear Dad’s slippers.

It’s My Party

July 28, 2013

My family threw me a surprise party today. There were hamburgers and hotdogs, grilled chicken and pickles, vanilla cake with strawberry filling, ice cream. I got a candle holder in the shape of an owl and some candles scented like apple pie to nestle inside the owl, approximately where the owls digestive tract would be. My daughter gave me  a designer contact lens case, my neighbor gave me a bracelet, my brother in law cooked for hours.

I had plans for this evening; my friends at church were holding a pot luck to meet the candidate for the position of Director of Congregational Life. But when I got home from the surprise party, I was a little drunk. My sister in law’s gift was a really good bottle of Chardonnay. And I wanted to wait for my son to get home from an afternoon with his basketball coach. Mostly, I was a little drunk, and overfed on chips and cheese.

I gathered the dogs. Sophie, the Magnificent, Wondrous Creature and Coco, the Almost As Magnificent and Wondrous Creature, who lives next door. I found the last of the headphones that work. I poured a cup of this mornings coffee into a go cup. I sprayed on bug spray, I stuffed my bare feet into a pair of Colin’s sneakers.

I went to the woods. I was alone. I put Warren Zevon on my phone, placed my head phones over my ears, and followed the dogs. They raced thru the woods. Coco hops, he’s a mini  Doberman Pinscher. Sophie bounds on three legs; she might have Lyme, she might have arthritis, we can’t afford another trip to the vet.

The dogs laughed, and ran, and wrestled. I sang along to songs about Carmelita and headless gunners. There was no one else there, it was almost dark and the clouds promised rain.

I was probably still a little drunk from earlier, I don’t drink much these days. So it felt like a party, walking in the woods with the dogs, some songs and my own self.

Second time round, and I guess at my age it’s ok; happy birthday to me. And thanks to all of those in my life that make me incredibly so happy.