Tonight, I packed my eighteen year old son’s stuff in two trash bags and a shopping bag and left them all in by a dumpster. I walked away and didn’t look back until just before I got in. He was standing in the middle of the driveway, looking around for the bags as if they weren’t right next to him. It was ten degrees, he was wearing a tee shirt, and somebody else’s sneakers. I don’t think he believed I’d actually drop off his clothes and leave. He looked up at me, and I don’t know what his face said. Fuck you, maybe. Why? Did you remember my toothbrush? What is going to happen to me now?

My son’s smile is warmer than the sun after winter. He is funny, and he can dance. He used to play basketball for hours, and if he wasn’t on the court, he always wanted to be connected to some kind of ball. If we went for a walk on the beach, we had to throw a football. If we took the dogs for a walk, he was in charge of the tennis ball. He’d dribble in his room. He’d play basketball in the driveway and eat dinner in between shots. My son stopped smiling about two years ago.

He still lived with me until today. In sophomore year of high school, sports and school were just hobbies. Drugs took over. Doing drugs. Posting pictures of doing drugs, or lip syncing to songs about drugs. Going to the woods, to the quarries, to whoever’s house was unoccupied by parents or belonged to parents that had their own stash and shared.

I’m not going to tell the tale of then to now. I don’t know how we got from early morning cereal before the game, to begging him to wake up to go to class at a community college because a judge made it a condition of his release.

I just know my son is not here tonight because I told him not to be. He is staying at a house with a dumpster in the driveway, that reeks like weed from ten feet away. He is staying there because last night on the phone he refused to come home. His words were slurred, and sloppy, his voice didn’t belong to him. And he’s been doing drugs for a while, so there’s something new on the menu.

He promised last night he’d wake up in the morning, and go to school. I was supposed to pick him up on my way to drop his little sister off at school.  “Mom, I’ll be ready.” He’d straightened up a bit by the time our last conversation.

I woke up early, packed his toothbrush, and a change o Read the rest of this entry »

At the end of the day, after so many days, it is my job to let them go, and wait for them to fly on their own.
Whether they smash spectacularly into tree, soar into the sun, or crash into the waves of the coldest of oceans on the coldest day of the year, my job is done.
I am the audience. The one who still needs thoughts and prayers, because both of mine are still here. Soaring, crashing, and trying to find their way, even when they have no idea where it is they want to be. Or maybe they do know, but keep smashing into walls because they’re too busy staring at some stranger’s Finsta account.
Be kind. Be loving. Watch out for low flying wires, people that tell you something is too good to be true, and dark alleys that reek of, you know what they reek of.
Try to remember a little bit of what I told you. If you forget every damn thing, know that I’m a phone call or a heart breath away, waiting to hear your voice, asking to hear the sound of mine.

If I was to step way far to the back of the room, a big room and look at a painting of my life, my whole life-
There would be wrinkled toes and clenched fists, a brilliant green swimming pool littered with nicklels tossed as bribery to slip my face inside the water, my smile on the first day of school in the Simplicity pattern dress my mom sewed the night before. It fell around me like a gown, white and peach daisies, holding my brothers hand inside my own.
There would be Linda Weaver‘s impossibly long legs, tucked under her body while we lounged away the morning in our sleeping bag forts.
There would be birthday parties I wasn’t invited to, and flute music dancing across the canvas, all the way through.
School and homework led me to a lifelong love affair with procrastination,
I’d need to make room for a thousand assignments I started,
and even more space for all of the projects I wish I had begun.
There would be Mountain Lakes, and tan O’Sullivan girls, the Eveleth‘s kitchen ,
The Club would loom over a lake, you’d be able to smell the fried chicken from Sundays.There’d be an inch or two devoted to my red, white and blue sunfish and the time I took a boat out in a storm and didn’t tip. Everyone capsized that afternoon,
or maybe no one else went out that day.
There would be the bathroom at the Tourne,
 the floor would be littered with bottles of Colt 45.
There would be Oniko and Lisa, and a whole lot of boys. (Another canvas, another medium is needed for the boys of this life.)
There would be daddy saying goodbye outside of the Mountain lakes Club and again ten years later.
There was college, and nothing.
There was too much time in bathroom stalls, and not enough listening to the bands we were there to hear.
I love you, Rachel Cohen DeSario. Jeannette de Beauvoir and Paolo Palazzi-Xirinachs,
We’d be hiding in some smoke waiting for Paolo to move his turn in Scrabble. J and I’d be scowling, Paul would zipping Zima.
Fast forward, I’m running out of oil and it’s expensive- you’d see my babies.
My first, my boy, my Collie bear. He’d be high on a rock in back yard in Dorchester
Singing “Circle of Life” from Lion King.
He’d be fencing in gym class, catching snakes outside the pool, Staying awake worrying about where to sit at lunch,
Most of the time, he’d be holding a ball.
Next came Kate.
As an infant, she held onto me, for 2 years, she dangled or clung to wherever I had available flesh.
These days, she smells like milk, her blue eyes smile, her mind is a millions miles away.
When I call her back, she comes back. We hold hands, though these days, not when someone’s watching.
Someone’s always watching.
Blonde, fierce, smarter than all of us put together, Katy is the one in the middle. She speaks to all of us, for all of us.
I’d see the South Shore Y, Walden, Wollaston, Cape Cod, James Paul with a cocktail, a dented mini van, and most recently, Quincy college. Most days, I love to come to work.
In the corner, or behind a moonlit night from last September, you might see Colin, the Colin I will see tomorrow at breakfast. He’d look mad. You’d see me, reaching towards him, and his back, clenched, his fists, clenched.
You’d hesitate a moment at the scene
Then your eyes would take you back
to the sea of color surrounding
the two of us-
Lakes, city lights, bars, stadiums,
rocking chairs, tangled sheets,
Christmas trees and snowmen,
Mountains, oceans, miles of sand,
Stacks of books and record sleeves,
Kitchen tables, covered with platters and pitchers,
and wine and glasses of milk
Surrounded by chairs,
Filled with the people I love.
I am blessed. I am blessed even when I don’t know it.
It’s hard to see-
it’s impossible to step back when I’m bent over weeping
For all the things I don’t know
and all the things I think I know.
I need to find a way back to all the things I know.
Everything’s going to be alright.
I need to take a few steps to the back of a room,
get down on my knees, lift up my head,
I have to find the right words for the prayers
and believe the quiet words
from deep inside my shaking heart.
I need to believe.
Everything’s going to be alright.
I need to step to the back of the room
and study the big, beautiful picture.

15 feels like shit.

February 22, 2016

Let’s just say a friend of mine has a teenage son.

And this friend’s been having to deal with a lot of teenage angst.

This friend has been on edge, which is a nice way of saying she’s ready to pull all her hair out. My friend likes her hair.

Then my friend took a moment to remember how it feels to be miserable and left out and scared and angry at the whole world.

She remembered what 15 felt like.

It felt like wearing jeans two sizes too small- uncomfortable and embarrassing, or being lost in a shirt a shirt 2 sizes too big, that your mom swore looked great, knowing everyone thinks you look ridiculous. It smelled like Clearasil and blackberry brandy, anger and old kleenex. It tasted like tears, flat beer and words that couldn’t be taken back, no matter what. It felt like regret and fear and rock n’roll and springtime and the heart when the phone started ringing and the heart when it realized the phone was never going to ring again. It felt like all these things every single day, every single hour. Just thinking about this made my friend very tired.

My friend is thankful she is not 15.

My friend is going to try to use a combination of breath, empathy and attending her “kickit” kickboxing twice a week to help her not make his misery all about her.

My friend is going to try to be a little more understanding of what he’s going thru.

She is not going to let her sympathies turn her into a doormat.

It is going to be a process.

I wish my friend a lot of luck.




I still have hives.

Maybe you don’t even know that I have hives, so let me explain; a little more than a week ago little strawberry bumps sprouted all over my body. From my ankles to my collar bone, welts were scattered across my skin like clouds, except really ugly, menacing, hot pink clouds. That itched. And still itch. A lot.

These are the days before Christmas. I need to shop, make lists, cook something and cover it colored sugar, I need to figure out what to do for my children’s teachers, (money to the room mother), our choir director, (gift card) and my supervisor at the work study job at the college I’m currently attending, (a really nice card and something in the muffin family.)

And all I want to do is find this mysterious itch that has been plaguing me for a week and scratch it.  All I want to know is how much longer until my next dose of Benedryl.

I will get everything done. Every year there is something getting in the way of all that needs doing, and it always gets done. This year, all it is is a fervent desire to scratch. And I still have one more trip to the doctor’s, two refills for my medication and a couple of really good friends who will help if I need it.

Colin and Katy are in the Christmas pageant this year. On Christmas Eve, Katy will make her debut as a Wise One. Colin grudgingly agreed to take on the challenging role of Donkey. So I’ve got a minor skin disease. At least I don’t have to try to sleep on dried out straw. In a barn. With farm animals and all of the bugs that like to hang out with farm animals.

That must have been really uncomfortable.

This past week was the last week of the semester at school. Classes ran long, finals loom. By Monday, I need to know where all the bones go, how to use a blood pressure cuff and be able to list the physiological benefits of weight training.

Wednesday  brought us to the frantic search for a tree stand and a tree we could afford to put inside it. For the first time tonight, I strung the lights all by myself. It’s a beautiful tree. On it’s branches hang ornaments my children labored over every year since kindergarten. They are mixed up with with crystal sleighs, and blown glass icicles I bought before I found myself inside  a life with kids and animals.

There were conversations with my kids about what happened in Connecticut.

In the middle of it all- the amazing, the time consuming and the tragic; on Tuesday afternoon hives sprouted on my body. Red welts along my back, inside my arms, on my ankles.

I went to the doctor on Tuesday, she told me I was having an allergic reaction. She gave me steroids, and suggested benedryl and oatmeal baths.

I still have the bumps. But now the drugs I’m on to get rid of them are keeping me awake.

I’ve got time now to study, sweep up pine needles, catch up on Thirty Rock.

I want to sleep. I need to go to church tomorrow. I need to study the endocrine system tomorrow. I need to stop by my friend’s house and decorate gingerbread men with my daughter tomorrow.

Instead my body is telling me to write a novel while I scratch the back of my left knee.

My brain needs some undivided attention.

And my heart, it beats. It carries me along. It sends me up the stairs to watch my kids asleep.

So I’m a little itchy and awake.

Tomorrow when I’m spent and sleepy, someone will tuck me in while another wipes me down with Benadryl. The people that  I love will carry me.

Tonight, the world doesn’t make much sense to me.
Our corner of the world has a Christmas tree with a crooked angel that opens and closes her arms, not enough lights and tinsel that seems to end up on the floor. Two kids are upstairs sleeping. Sophie the Wondrous and the Magical Dog is staring out the window, waiting for the return of Michael, the Delightful, Disappearing Cat. The dishwasher hums, the radiators rattle, the keyboard clicks.
My world makes sense tonight if I fill my mind with the noises here, right around me. For this, I know I am supremely blessed.
I want to offer prayers, that doesn’t seem to be enough. Hugs, oh my God, hugs? I want to fold the whole wide world inside my arms and have it all make sense and wake up tomorrow to a place where it all does. Make sense.
So tonight, I will pray. Tonight, many, many of us will pray, though some may call it something else.
Tomorrow we will wake up and watch the news, have difficult conversations with our children, shop, wrap, grieve.
And tomorrow night, we will pray again.
Until the night we forget because we are tired, or tipsy, or lost.
Or until the night, the prayers are heard.
We’ll see.
Tonight, the world doesn’t make much sense to me.