It’s an age thing

On Thursday I turn fifty. For those of you looking for a number that is 50! 5-0! The BIG five- zero. Honestly? Bring it on. I have lived through a lot in those 5 decades. I mean, some of the hands I was dealt were pretty freaking hard. Some of them were downright awesome. Someone said I was middle-aged. I’m looking forward to the next 50!

But here’s my question: When do I get to start blaming things on age? You know, situations like when I start searching for my glasses and they are on my head. Or worse? On my face. (For real. I have had them on my face while I have been looking for them.) Or how about when I walk into a room and stand there as if I have never even seen the room before because I have no idea why I walked into that room in the first place. Lets not even get into phones left in the refrigerator, keys left anywhere from an end table to the bathroom, and having to depend on Google to ring my phone so I can find it.

Now let us talk about the telltale signs of “you’re getting older” syndrome. When everyone becomes “that kid” to you. “You wouldn’t believe how that kid at the store was disrespectful.” or “Did you see how those kids were driving?” Everyone just seems young. And what about when your doctors are suddenly becoming younger than you are? When is it okay to call them Doogie Houser? (If you understand that reference, I think you’re with me and can call them that.)

Now, I know you’re with me on this one. Hasn’t the music at the grocery store become so much better than when we were younger? I mean before it was so old and elevator-y. It certainly wasn’t anything you could sing to and you definitely couldn’t get your jam on to it. Now? Well, just recently I was caught singing along to an old tune “…I think we’re alone now. There doesn’t seem to be anyone around…” Yes, I got my hips a-movin’ and my shoulders rollin’ to some Tiffany. Eighties teen pop that toured the malls. Shopping malls. Tiffany and Debbie Gibson. Teen Mall Pop Queens. Why didn’t stores play good music you could move to long before this point in time? During one trip I heard that song, Journey, Belinda Carlise, and Prince. Pretty eclectic. The music has become better. I don’t think that’s a sign of getting older, though. I think it is a sign of the stores finally having better taste.

I am not even sure I want to get into movies but I feel I must. Why do magazines such as People and Us, etc. insist on having “Anniversary” issues? I mean, come on, y’all. I grew up on The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles, Ferris Bueller, and the like. I can recite most of the dialogue in at least half of those. Now? They’re celebrating 30 years here, 30-plus years there. Unnecessary. These movies are not old enough to be called classics, y’all. They are timeless treasures that are ageless. Ageless. Then they tell me their actors are hitting up their 60’s. So? They are just having birthdays every year. Simply celebrating life with cake. Enjoying another journey around the sun. Not getting old in the traditional sense of the word.

Because, baby, we are timeless!

A tale of two sisters

I haven’t written about my sister since she died. (I cannot even express how hard that sentence was to write. I had to stop writing because I couldn’t catch my breath.) I don’t know why I haven’t talked about her. Writing was how I processed everything when my Mom died. But with my sister? It’s just not there. The words. The feelings are there. It’s like someone took hundreds of LiteBrite pieces and threw them on the floor. Where once there was a bright, beautiful picture of my sister and me, there’s now just a jumbled pile of faded, dull pieces of plastic that have no rhyme or reason. No light behind them. I know I have to pick up those pieces. Some people say I can make a new image with them. One where I shine for both of us. But seriously, how do you make half of a Lite Brite shine? I want to take every damn piece and hurl it across the room. It doesn’t work without both of us. Suggesting it would is ridiculous. It will never shine as it did before. Never. The whole damn Lite Brite has been shattered beyond repair.

So, how do I find a new reality? How do I find a new me without her?

I wish there were a name for someone who loses their sibling. If you lose your parents, you are an orphan. If you lose your husband, you’re a widow. If you lose your sister, you are … lost? Alone? Sisterless? She was my person.

There were times she would withdraw into herself and not return texts or phone calls, and it would piss me off. Oh, that would piss me off so much! And she heard about it. But, you see, I did that, too. And we always came back to each other and talked about things. That’s the thing. We always came back to each other.

We used to send each other quotes or songs that reminded us of each other. Sometimes they were funny. Sometimes they were meant to say “I see you and I am here.” Sometimes they were just “Hey! Get me this on Amazon.” (Not much of the latter one because we didn’t have that kind of money but it was fun. I was very close to getting that T-Rex costume I want.) It was our way of always staying connected through the good times and the bad. It was our way of reminding one another that we had each other’s backs. For life.

I could never imagine “for life” would be cut so short.

The turning point in our relationship was when I asked her to be the maid of honor at my wedding. She was shocked. Her initial response was to ask if I wouldn’t rather have a friend or someone closer to me fill that role. When I told her that was exactly who she was and I couldn’t imagine anyone else, well, I think that was the first time in as long as I could remember that she hugged me- without trying to strangle me down in a wrestling hold. A real hug. It was the best feeling in the world. It marked the transition from dueling sisters to real friends.

Oh, and as friends, we did have fun. I am sure we were responsible for my Dad’s grey hair and the hair he lost. We tended to revert a bit to giggling kids when we got together. Once our funny bone was tapped, we were gone. Everything was going to be funny. Family get-togethers? Forget about it! We weren’t going to check how much longer something had to cook or if we had enough clean dishes for the crew. Nope. We had to leave the room to laugh at something. To express the ridiculousness of something that happened or was said. Sometimes it was just because we needed to laugh and wanted some sister time.

I still laugh about one of the times she visited me for an extended time. It was a full house. All three of my kids. Both of her boys. Me and my husband. And Chelle. Well, if you know anything about me or my family, you can well imagine we didn’t have a quiet house. (Still, one of my greatest joys when it’s a full, loud house.) There were boys peacock calling each other from one end of the house to the other. Two of the kids playing a very intense Wii game. The Dobie loving the action with an occasion bark. One kid watching TV. I’m just walking through the house trying to talk over it while I am trying to clean the kitchen or grab laundry or bark orders to one group of kids or another. Well, there Michelle sat on the couch flipping through a People magazine as calm as can be and said, “Boy is your house loud.” Never looking up (and her voice never above a normal conversational tone) and just went right on reading her magazine. It struck me at that moment it was the perfect Jenn vs Michelle moment. I’m swimming through the chaos not even noticing it was loud and chaotic while she was very aware and totally unflappable (and slightly amused) by it.

We were best friends. We had a relationship no one in this world was privy to. We had a bond that no one in this world had. We had secrets that no one in this world will ever know. She and I had something that I will never have with anyone else in this world. No one knows what we had because it was ours. No one. Because that’s what sisters do for each other. They carry each others’ secrets, share each others’ joys, and share each others’ burdens. No one can know one hundred percent about another person and I don’t claim to here. We weren’t perfect but we were pretty damn good sisters to each other.

I don’t know how to do this. I have picked up the phone more than once to call her and tell her about the latest thing I found on Amazon. Or the latest celebrity gossip. Or the calls I go to make when I need her the most. When I am hurting. When I am scared about life changes. When I need to talk to her about our kids in college and how much we miss them. Or to cry over a really hard situation we should be helping each other through but that I am now navigating all alone.

And the phone call that is the worst of the worst, when the only person I want to talk to and the only person who knows me the way she did, the person who could help me through my pain is the one phone call I want to make to make the most. I want to talk about how much it hurts that my sister died. And how hard it is. And how fucking hard it is to breathe sometimes because I cannot imagine this world without her. She was my person. She would know what to say. If she didn’t, she would at least talk to me and help me through it. She would be with me. And now? She is the only person who can never help me through this and it sucks. It is the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with in my life.

This hurts. Oh, my sweet lord, this hurts. Unlike anything. And I know I will never be the person I was before she died. There is “before Jenn” and “after Jenn” and my job is to make sure that I find a way to make “after Jenn” have a life that means something. For her. For me. For all of us that were left behind.

But for now? I’m going to have to try to figure out what that picture looks like. I don’t know how. But I will. In time.

Twenty-Nine Years

Happy 29th Anniversary to my best friend and amazing husband, Clint. (Damn. We’re getting up there in age, babe!) I can’t imagine anyone I’d want to go on this journey with other than you.

Our first post ceremony kiss

I remember when our biggest issues were who was making the bed, or stop squeezing the toothpaste from the middle (sorry!), and the right and wrong way to fold the towels (not even bringing up fitted sheets), and of course forgetting an “important” day.

When life threw some pretty hard curve balls at us like losing our baby boy and then losing parents, we had to figure out how to adjust to how we worked together as a couple in a new, harsher world. We struggled but never lost sight of the “we” part of the equation. We grew closer in spite of the pain life caused us and even the pain we caused each other. We’ve always found our way back to one another.

No matter what, we can count on each other. We’ve seen more loss, more death, more pain, more suffering, and more tragedy in our lives together than either of us could ever have ever imagined. Things that could tear a marriage apart. But when one of us was nearing a breaking point, the other always stood strong for both of us until the undertow’s pull let up and we both stood up strong again.

We’ve raised three amazing and unique kids who have grown up to be amazing and unique adults. (And, yes. Yes, bless the weird and wonderful in them!) From those first few months of crying with that colicky little pain in the ass (we survived!) to truancy court (totally their fault!) to going toe to toe with administration over a dance (closed minded asses!), we survived with a lot more humor and good memories than outsiders could ever understand. And now? We’re sending the baby off to college. Where did the time go? (I know… My face and your beard.)

But here’s where it gets tricky. Twenty-nine years ago I made a promise to you. I promised when the kids were grown, it would be a time of celebration for us. A time to look back on all that we have been through and the family we created together and raised to be the strong, confident adults they’ve become and celebrate a job well done as we look towards our next chapter together. I promised, though there’d be tears, there would never be regret. Only excitement for what is to come. Wherever that may take us and whatever way we’d get there.

Here is to our next 29 years and the 29 after that! May we never stop laughing, never stop dancing, and never, ever stop reaching for each other’s hand.

This is why my teen can’t have nice things

I went up to the high school tonight with the teen to pay booster fees for the VetMed competition team. While we were there I realized I hadn’t been charged for some personalized yeti type mugs. The two payments effected each other.

So I was passing money back and forth from the booster chair to the teacher. (I’m in a room with two teachers and some PTA-ish mom’s iykwim) Finally, I said and did the motion: “I’m making it rain, baby!” One laugh (props non-Stepford) and a few polite giggles.

Then the two teachers were in another room and came back out and double checked to make sure it was split up correctly. (You know how sometimes I intentionally turn off my filter but sometimes it happens and I’m just as shocked as everyone else? Yeah…)

So, I look from one to the other and at the booster chair, bust a laugh and say, “If I’m handing out any more money, I need to be tucking it into somebody’s g-string.”

I went to the car to listen to music and wait for the teen after that.

Mom. Of. The. Forking. Year!!!

(Cross-poated on IG)

Missing my Mom and hoping she would be proud of me

Not a day goes by when I don’t think of and miss my Mom. Sometimes the grief still sneaks up on me in an overwhelming way and comes pouring out of my eyes. Take today for example. Gabby and I were talking about a movie sequel/ prequel and I casually said, ” But I don’t want her mom to die.” Boom! Before I knew it, the tears were streaming down my cheeks.

It still doesn’t make sense to my heart how I can live in a world where my Mom doesn’t exist. It just doesn’t work right. I still need her. I will always need her.

January 6th is the anniversary of her passing.

Passing. That sounds so easy. She passed. No. Just no. She was ripped from this world and left a void that can never be filled. Longing for her words or hugs never to receive them. Advice I need but will never get. Adventures we were supposed to share that never happened. Grandkids that are pretty damn awesome that will never know for themselves how amazing and hilarious their grandma was. She didn’t pass. She was brutally ripped away by a disease that is cruel and terrifying and one that is considered the “sister” to mine. In some ways that has helped me understand her in ways I couldn’t when she was alive. How’s that for a ironically sick twist?

Oh God I miss my Mom. My heart just does not understand. Time doesn’t make it easier. It just changes things. But the pain stays. The longing that I have no idea how to put into words but tugs at me in a relentless and unyielding way stays. Some days it rips my heart out through my tear ducts before I even realize it’s happening.

Damn. I just wish she was here to see my kids and to see who her baby girl has become. I hope she’d be proud of me as a mother. That’s my heart. I wish she knew me now.

I love you, Mom.

Being okay with just okay

Today was a day where I could only do the bare minimum. The bare minimum is okay. Just being okay is sometimes the best I can do.

Oh, I don’t like it but I don’t like it because I’ve always worried about the judgement of other people. Well, here’s the truth; even if I try to hide it, I’m not myself and those who really know me see through it. Some will stay and some will go. I need to be okay will that. My autoimmune diseases and chronic illnesses will always be a part of me. I’m in acceptance mode with that. Some friends will get on board. Some won’t. I’ve officially passed that choice and/or burden onto them.

I’m okay with sometimes just being okay. If all I do is get up, brush my teeth, and put on leggings and a top, that’s okay. There is freedom in letting go of caring about the judgement of others. No pretending anymore. No pressure. It’s being okay with just being okay.

This is the life I was given and I’m doing the best I can with what I have. And that’s okay.