Category Archives: cry

Sometimes, for reasons I can’t explain …

I cry.

And then, when I go to work, which unfortunately, I have to, I cry there too.

I try to hide it, but sometimes, it is obviously, due to the questions and odd looks, evident, for I am questioned.

Or maybe mentally assaulted is the better description.

Have you been crying?

What have you been crying about?

What’s wrong?

Why yes, I want to say … I have been crying nearly inconsolably for absolutely no reason at all.

None.

I have broken things that I don’t really care about, deleted things that I did and find myself on the outside of everything I hold dear to my heart … but that is simply a byproduct.

Just forty-eight hours ago, I was manic and driving 90 miles a hour to keep up with my thoughts.

But there were no tears.

Only euphoria.

But now, I cry just to be crying.

One jag after another until I have a headache and nothing, other than red and swollen eyes, to show for it.

I cry at song lyrics, at the rebuff from a friend, because the light turned red, for the homeless man I saw at the intersection.

I have no control over it.

I want to, but it is beyond what I am capable of.

For whatever reason, it pisses people off when you tell them you don’t know what you are crying about.

What?

Do they never, ever, ever cry without a reason?

Really?  Do they actually expect people to believe that?

Don’t worry, though, not everyone who swings between euphoria, ecstasy, and suddenly in the dredges of despair but still thinking in terms of the ecstasy factor, is nuts.

A few of us hold a golden trophy with our bipolar names on it, but not everyone.

It isn’t contagious.  Remember that.

It.

Isn’t.

Contagious.

And the oddness of it, in itself, is, in that in itself, there is oddness.

They want to know why.

There isn’t a why.

They want to know what about.

There isn’t a what about.

I used a gallon of the “it get’s the red out” Visine today.  A useless fluid that burns the eyes and does little to hide the fact that I was crying about nothing in particular.

Why is it so important to have something to cry about.  There are moments, such as the one I am currently in, that I cry because I simply can’t stop it.

I could make up stuff to cry about, but I shouldn’t have to.

I should be able to maneuver though this stage of my, what should I call it?, psychosis? without being put on the spot to try to explain the unexplainable.

Maybe I should start telling people I have a hangover.  Maybe that would be more well received than the response of I’m not crying about anything in particular, I’m just crying.

Because I’m nuts.

That always goes over well.

I’m nuts.

Does that soothe your mind?   Always have been and have little hope of being otherwise.

Sometimes I cry.

Get used to it or get over it.

If I am very lucky, it will only last a day or two and I can go back to being simply, though wonderfully, semi-manic.

I can assure you, it is much preferred.

I don’t get to the crying stage very often, praise the Good Lord, but when I do, I’m there.

Nothing that can be said, no pats on the head or uninvited and unwanted hugs can change it.

It is what it is.  Those who feel this way from time to time know, without a shadow of a doubt the sheer amount of courage it takes to move from one minute, one hour, one day into the other.

The rest of you … I will always be an enigma and I am tired of trying to explain it.

It is what it is and that is simply the way of it.

It doesn’t change who I am because this, accepted or not, is who I am.

If you know me you already know that.

If you don’t, you never will.

No hard feelings.

Tomorrow is a brand new day.

a light shining in the darkness, whether in day or night, is a grand thing.

a light shining in the darkness, whether in day or night, is a grand thing.

This day started out …

on the wrong foot entirely.

I suppose it is partly because I am a bit of a dreamer and mostly because I am especially susceptible and vulnerable to harsh words.

I found, before I’d really had a chance to begin my day, my feelings hurt, my spirit bruised and my pride wounded.

It wasn’t the first time.

It won’t be the last.

But it always hurts.

Always chips away a bit at the self confidence I work so hard to achieve and hold on to.

Always makes me feel less than I thought I was before.

And so it went.

I cried my tears and kept the ones threatening at bay more to prevent curious questions than anything else.

What am I  supposed to say after all?  I had my feelings hurt?

That answer is met with shaking heads and comments like ‘girl, you need to toughen up”.

Yes.  I know.

I wasn’t going to let it rule my day, though, that I had already decided.  Maybe I was on the verge of tears.  Maybe I did slip away and cry a couple of times during the morning.  Maybe I did berate myself for being the way I am and wishing fervently that I could change it.  But …

I decided right off that this would be a day of encouraging others and lifting them up as I wished to be lifted.

The day progressed fairly normally, with fluffed pillows, niceties exchanged between patients and family members, little touches to encourage those who were ailing; the usual day to day stuff I always do.

None of that, however, prepared me for what I would encounter in the late morning hours.

He was my last patient,  and I knew from research that his wife had been gone for many years and his youngest daughter, the last of three children to die,  had passed away two years before.

For all counts and purposes, he was completely and totally alone in the world.

I went into his room and introduced myself to him.  He looked at me for a long time and I wondered if he understood what I was saying.

Then he spoke, his voice barely above a whisper and said “I thought for a moment that I had died and gone to Heaven.  You remind me so much of my sweet Lacy.”

As it turned out, Lacy was his daughter, his favored child and one who worshiped her father.  He asked me to sit, which I did, in the chair beside his bed, and he proceeded to tell me about her.

She cooked him dinner every night and made sure he had snacks in his kitchen. She took him to the park and on long drives into the mountain when the leaves changed in Autumn.  She had, he related, a way with stories and often sat with him, while he ate his dinner, and told him one story or another.

He focused those tired and aged blue eyes on mine and asked me if I would tell him a story.

I didn’t have the heart to say no.  I told him a story about a rogue squirrel which found it’s way into my sister’s swimming pool and the adventure and hilarity that followed.

He laughed out loud until he nearly wheezed and said it was the funniest thing he had heard in a long time.  He smiled a wide smile, crinkling his wrinkled face until his eyes nearly disappeared altogether.

It was a wonderful moment for me … this laughter on an old man’s face.

I rose to bid him goodbye and he once again caught and held my eyes in his gaze.  He, with sincerity and a love that nearly shattered me, said “I love you, Lacy, you know that don’t you?”

I took his frail hand in mine and after pressing a kiss to his papery cheek, said ‘Yes.  I Know.”

In the few moments I spent with him, the beauty of his spirit helped to heal my bruised one and the harsh words of the morning were forgotten, useless and harmless against the joy he brought to me.

I had intended to swing back by to check on him and to tell him how much my visit with him had meant to me, but before the end of my shift, he left this world.

I’m sorry I didn’t get to tell him how he touched my life.  It was my intention to encourage him and yet, he brought me a kind of joy that comes about only once in a while.

Harsh words will always hurt me.  It is my nature.  I cannot change who I am at the core, but the encounter with the man who knew me as Lacy gave me something wonderful to bring up when the tears threaten.

I cried for him, but not out of sadness.  No, that would have been wrong.  I cried because I, not as Lacy, but as myself, never got to say goodbye.

Life unfolds as it should and while some of it is painful, for the most part, it is an incredibly wonderful journey.

I was blessed to know Lacy’s dad.

My Dad ... the man I admire most on this earth.

My Dad … the man I admire most on this earth.

I wonder at times …

just what kind of influence I have on my nieces and if it is, in fact, a good thing.

When they come over, we stand in the rain and try to catch raindrops on our tongue.

We stand on the porch in the dark of night, talking to the man in the moon and try to count the stars.

We watch lightning bugs and look for meteors.

We laugh at silly stuff and listen to music.

We bang on the piano keyboard making all manner of noise and then pretend that we know what we are doing.

I play Mahler, Beethoven and Bach for them and then we dance like mad to Crazy Train.

We watch Lord of the Dance and documentaries on Alaska.

We make up songs and sing them loudly, through a hairbrush microphone.

We burn incense and light the lava lamp.

We brew tea using a teaball and have tea parties with Irish Breakfast tea.

We sit in the floor and draw pictures using markers, chalk and crayons.

Blue is my favorite.

We let the dog in the house during a thunderstorm because I have a hard time denying them anything.

We don’t watch TV and we rarely watch movies.  There is so much that is there that they, as little girls, don’t need to know.

There is so much there, that me, as a big girl, don’t need to know.

I want to let them know how much I love them without exposing them to the things about myself that make feel crazy and out of control.

I don’t want them to know that sometimes my thoughts race, my mind falters and I don’t, more than any other hope I have, want them to be like me.

Manic and exasperated or crying and inconsolable.

I want, though, to let them know, that it is OK to be different from everyone else, to march to their own drummer, to follow their dreams and to seek what they want to know.

I want them to know that wherever they go, whatever they do, whatever endeavors they undertake, I will support them, love them and will always, always stand in the rain with them.

joy unspeakable

joy unspeakable

youthful innocence

youthful innocence

Taking stock …

and re-evaluating my thoughts, emotions, feelings, friendships; things in general.  I find myself in an odd position.  This time of year is very difficult for me.  I have, since the death of my husband, taken at least one day near his birthday, which incidentally, is tomorrow, off from work.

I never know how I will wake up … it could be the “well, just another day” mode, or the “hysterical, uncontrolled, inconsolable sobbing” mode.  So, I avoid contact with the human race during that time because I am most unpredictable.

I know that I am not the only person who faces such days with this outlook.  I would love to say that I am free from the memories, thoughts and flashbacks.

Actually, I could say that.

But I would be lying, and I am a terrible liar.

If I have learned anything, it is that it is good to know yourself.  I think I have that one nailed.  Unfortunately for my family and friends, I remain an enigma.

Sigh.

It makes me feel a bit disconcerted that, after all this time, the birthday of someone who has been dead for years still has the ability to effect me in this way.

Don’t roll your eyes.  Of course I loved him and miss him.  But over three years later?  Give me a damn break already …

I had planned to spend the day at my favorite waterfall and then at a lake that holds special significance to me, however, due to an appliance malfunction, I will be at home.

Might as well cook, since I’m going to be here anyway and possibly reap the side benefit of being able to torment the appliance deliveryman with the smell of red sauce simmering on the stove.

I can only hope that he doesn’t find me sobbing like a child.

How awkward would that be?

Either way, I will get through the day and be thankful for many things.  It doesn’t mean that I won’t lament over the things that hurt me, but those are less frequent than the blessings.

There is no point whatsoever in ignoring the white elephant in the room.

I miss my Jim; my Jamie.  I miss seeing his sweet smile on his birthday. I have not, as odd as it may seem, dreamed of him even once, since his death.  I suppose, on some level, I am grateful, for I would hate to wake each morning tormented by the past.

I am not big on torment … or pain … or sorrow.

Life goes on and we either live it leave it.

I choose to live it.  Even when it makes me sad for without sadness sprinkled throughout, how could I truly embrace the joy.

I am a Sagittarian optimist.  I am, even as the tears threaten to fall, looking for the silver lining.  The tears will still fall.  My heart will still mourn.  My thoughts will still stray.  But at the end of the day, I will believe that everything will be ok.  And it will be.

Glass. Half. Full.

It’s just the way I roll.

spiritofjim

fear and uncertainty …

filled his blue eyes, open wide and full of worry.  At first glance, from the hallway, the only visible things were a single foot protruding from beneath a blanket and a partially filled urinal on the tray table.

I wondered, before walking into the room to speak with him, what I would find.  I was already feeling badly for him simply knowing that a container holding his urine sat on a table where soon, his lunch would be placed.

I felt that surely, had there been family present, that would not have been the case and, not to my surprise, I found him alone.

He was worried.  It was evident in his sad, sad eyes.  They were wide open, showing the incredible blueness, wrinkled at the edges from a lifetime of emotion; laughter, tears, anger.

He was a widower.  He had children, but his voice betrayed his attempt at courage as he spoke of wishing to go home.  His blue eyes became even more sad as he spoke of a home that he knew, in his heart, he would not return to.

I felt a wave of righteous fury toward his children, none of whom had been to visit him during his week-long stay in the hospital, as he spoke of having nobody to care for him.

I thought of my own father.  Thought of his sadness were he to lose my mother and be left to live out his days without the woman that he loved more than life.

Many times, and to my mother I have said such, I have prayed that if my parents cannot die at the same time, I hope my dad goes first.  I cannot bear to even entertain the thought of him trying to cope without my mother.  He is strong in body and spirit, but would be lost without her.

She, on the other hand, is tough as nails.  A survivor full of beauty and strength and would, though with sadness and tears, move on and make the best of a seriously bad situation.

While her tears would cut me deeply, tears shed by my dad shatter me.  I would be of little use to him, not that he would last for long without her as he would soon die of sadness.  I know this as surely as I know the sun rises in the East.

But I digress.  I wasn’t speaking of my parents, but of poor, sad-eyed mister who lay in the hospital bed, dwarfed by the room, confused by the lingo, hurt by the antipathy of his children.

He wanted to go home and held, other than that wish, no other ambition or hope.

It would not come to pass.  He would not go home.  Not to the home where he lived for over fifty years with his wife before she died.  Not to the home where his children, who had now abandoned him, had been raised.

He would not go back to where the garden once thrived with vegetables and a myriad of flowers in the summertime, the trees bursting full and golden in Autumn.

He would not walk the familiar halls that had brought him comfort in his time of need.

He would not sleep in the bed that conformed to his body due to years of use.

He would be a stranger among strangers.

It took all of my strength and everything I could dig from the depths of myself to not burst into tears while speaking to him; seeing him old and broken and alone.

His wide eyes, full of worry, filled me with compassion and empathy.  I, in my mind and heart, brought him home with me.  Though there is an unwritten rule among nurses to not become too attached, he has been here, dancing on the edges of my thoughts, since the day I met him.

I have cried for him, prayed for him and inwardly cursed his children for their inattentiveness.   I want, in these last years of his life, happiness for him.

I try no to get too attached, but I am human and I fall in love with those the world has so blithely displaced.  He will remain in my prayers and though I will likely never see him again, his eyes will haunt me.

They haunt me now as do so many others; young, old, suffering, addicted, betrayed, sickened, world-weary souls who need, more than anything else, to be loved.

I have said it before and I reiterate it now … I am too softhearted to be a  nurse.  I always have been.

violinhands

Leviticus 19:32  ~ Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honor the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the Lord.

I started over today …

for the first time in a long time.

At the bottom.

Eight times.

I had cause to go to the second floor of a building, a building I’ve been in countless times.  The elevator was being inspected, so I took the stairs, again, as I had done countless times.

I usually always take the stairs, but was feeling lazy and not in the mood today, but fate would have its way.

It always does.

I walked up the two flights of stairs, ending with my right foot on the second floor landing, just as it was supposed to.  I started to step towards the door and realized, with something akin to terror, that I hadn’t counted the steps.

Oh shit, I murmured under my breath.

I know how many steps were there.  I’ve counted them hundreds of times.  Every time, as a matter of fact.  I always count steps.  Not just stairs, but steps.

I know how many it takes to get to the second floor of this building, or the third, for that matter, just as I know how many it takes to get many places.

I am a counter.  I count.  But it hasn’t been an issue, other than counting just to be counting, for years.

On this occasion, however, I had, for whatever reason, not counted them; it had become an issue.

Maybe at another time, it wouldn’t have mattered, but this time, I was frozen.  I had to be sure.  I had to be certain and it had to be right.

I turned around, careful to start out, left foot first, on the first step down and emptied my mind of numbers, for it is against the rules to count going  down if I didn’t count going up.

I sang, in my head, Beast of Burden, to keep the numbers out of my head.

Apt, I think now, looking back.

Once on the first floor landing, I pivoted around, careful to not make an  uncountable step and began my assent with my left foot.  It is, even when things are going well, a rule.  And counted.

Twenty four.

As expected.

Right foot on the landing.

But … and isn’t there always a but?

Had I taken a step between the first and second flight and forgot to count it?  I could not be certain.

So I turned around, careful to pivot and not make an extra step that would need to be accounted for and started down.   Since I had counted going up, I counted going down.

Twenty four.

Right foot on the first floor landing as expected.

I turned around.

Left foot first, I began up the steps again, careful to note that an extra step was not taken on the platform between the first and second floors.   I arrived on the second floor landing with my right foot.

Twenty four.

I was certain of it.  I knew in my mind and my heart that it was twenty-four.

I couldn’t move a muscle.

I felt the tears  begin to burn behind my eyes as I realized that I could not go on with my task until I had assured myself that I had done it correctly.

So back down the stairs I went.  Left foot first, counting as I went.

Twenty-four.  Twelve on each level.  It was right.  I knew it was right, but I turned around and began up again.

I counted out loud this time and squeezed my fists together, left, then right, to correspond with my steps.  I made certain to not take an extra step  between the first and second flights and continued to the top.

In the end, I completed this sequence eight times.

Eight.

My legs were so tired.

My thighs are strong from frequent, arduous hikes, but now, they were aching and cramping from the absolute concentration and focus on making certain to hit every step just right and say the number, out loud, as my foot hit the step.  Too soon or too late and it meant an automatic do-over.

Tears of frustration and shame poured down my face.

Once I had successfully accomplished walking up the stairs and taken care of the business at hand, I stopped by the elevator to ask the man how much longer it would be.

I felt fat and lazy asking such a thing and he looked at me as though I was fat and lazy to ask such a thing.  He said it would be about five minutes, so I sat in the lobby of the second floor of the building and waited.

I didn’t have the courage or the strength to attempt the stairs again.

While I sat there, waiting under the condescending eye of the elevator inspector, I thought about what the trigger might have been.  What had caused this unexpected moment of panicked relapse.

I was fooling myself, though.  I didn’t need to think about it.  I knew what the trigger was.

I always, irregardless of the catalyst, know instantly.

I felt the tingle on the back of my neck as soon as the moment occurred.  As a matter of fact, when I felt that tingle, I wondered what would happen.

When nothing did for a few days, I felt like a super-hero.  I had avoided a calamity.

Not true.  It seems that, at times, my brain has the most fun when it can torture me.   It is almost as though it is not a part of the whole, but one of the bullies that tormented me through elementary and middle school.

I’m too old for this nonsense.  I have come too far to go back. I refuse to go back.  I couldn’t survive it again.  I barely survived it the first time.

No.  I won’t go back.

When the elevator inspector was finished, he said, disdainfully, to me “ok lady, load up”.

I didn’t look in his direction.  I looked at the floor as I counted the steps to the elevator.

Once home, many hours and much counting later, (art class, which is always a joy, was almost unbearable.  I counted every circle, every line drawn, every pencil stroke, doing my best to hide that I did so and still not certain if I succeeded) I came into the house, after walking up the four porch steps six times.  I came in and prepared to take a shower hot enough to blister my skin.

But I couldn’t.  I kept wondering if I had counted the cinder blocks that keep the first step on my porch from being too high, as a step.

Eight more times.  Eight.  Fourteen total.

I was wasted.

I came inside, locked the door, sat down on the floor and sobbed.

After I had cried myself dry, I put on a pot of coffee.  I love the smell of coffee.  Smells, good ones, soothe me.  I found myself wishing, even while I was hoping it wouldn’t, for rain.  The smell of rain in the mountains in springtime has a way of calming me.

In the end, I turned to words.  As they poured out of my traitorous mind onto the page, they fell, in a way, like rain.  I like the sound of words and I like saying them.

They have soothed my wounded pride, my damaged confidence and my weakened spirit.  God knows of that which I need and gave me the words to get me through the torment that this day wrought upon me.

Tomorrow?  Well, it will be what it will be and I will face it with courage.  I panicked today.  I won’t panic tomorrow.

Posts about Mother’s Day …

and how much we love and appreciate our mothers will likely be abundant.  My mother knows already how much I love and cherish her as I tell her every day.  My daughter tells me regularly that she loves me and shows it in a thousand beautiful little ways.

This post is, in a round-about way about Mother’s Day, and yet along a different vein altogether.

While for many, even those who have lost their mothers to death, Mother’s Day weekend is a time of tearful celebration.  It is a time to reflect on family, on love, on life itself.

But the celebratory spirit doesn’t reach everyone.

My heart is heavy tonight for those that I both know personally and those I simply know of, who have been unable to conceive a child.  A child that would be cherished above all else.  A child to complete the circle of life as far as they are concerned.

Imagine a day where children are celebrating their mothers,  mothers are celebrating their children and yet, for so many, there is no child to celebrate.

No hand print cards.

No artwork on the refrigerator.

No smells of talcum powder and baby shampoo.

Only an emptiness that threatens to consume them; mind, body and spirit.  A brokenness that soon leads to feelings of failure and inadequacy that fill each waking hour of every single day.   Knowing that they would give the last drop of blood in their body for a single moment of holding that tiny life, born of themselves, in their arms.

Imagine the anger and frustration, the anxiety, depression and psychological pain that comes from the anticipation followed by disappointment, month after year after decade until there is nothing left but a hopelessness that destroys everything good and pure in their lives.

It would, I imagine, be all-consuming and destructive on many levels.

Mother’s day, for them, must be like pouring salt in a wound, shattering an already broken heart.

Yes, my heart goes out to them and I am, even as I write this, crying openly for the hopes and fears that they harbor inside themselves.

I wish I could encourage them, hold them against my breast and tell them that everything will be ok.  But in their minds and hearts, everything is not ok.

So I will do the only thing I know to do … I will pray for peace, for hope, for the fulfillment of their dreams and the for the courage  to face whatever tomorrow may bring.  I believe, with everything in me, in the love of a faithful Heavenly Father and while I don’t always understand His ways, I trust him.

I know that such prayers are answered, for I have seen it with my own eyes, felt it with my own heart and rejoiced in the glory of it with my own spirit.

1John 14-15 ~ 14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: 15 And if we know that he hears us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

Hope is a good thing … and no good thing every dies.

blackandwhite_rainbow

George Jones’ death …

took me back, in my mind, many years and unearthed several memories that I had suppressed.  As a kid, whether we were driving to church or going on vacation (for my Dad was in charge of choosing stations), there was one of two things on the radio; sports or George Jones.

At the time, I thought that surely, this was the worst thing that could happen to a person.

However, as I got older, and developed my own taste in music (and sports, though that is irrelevant in this post), I found that I listened to quite a bit of George.

Or “Possum”, as he was familiarly known.  It wasn’t the most flattering nickname, but in reality, he really did, somewhat resemble, a possum.

Sorry George, but as my dad is fond of saying, “the truth will stand when the world’s on fire”.

When I look at my LP collection, I find that there are several of his albums there.  When I still had eight-tracks (and for those of you too young to know what that is, look it up) there were many “George Jones” in that collection, too.

My dad was a fan.  I was always trying to impress my dad and win his approval, so I suppose that some of my “George admiration” came from that.  But at some point, I realized that I just plain liked his music.

I also liked Conway Twitty, John Conlee, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Reba McEntire, Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, Elvis and Lefty Frizzelle (just to name the ones that come easily, without stressing my brain, to mind).

So sue me.

The music today that calls itself country has little to do with what I grew up with.  As a matter of fact, it has little to do with music at all, but then, I may be biased.

OK, I am biased.  But so what?  Even though I have a hard time playing a note of music, I know what it should sound like.  I understand it on a personal level and appreciate it in the very basic way that one understands and appreciates it.

It is a huge, very consuming part of my everyday life.

But I digress.  I was talking about George and the impact his death had on me and I know, without asking, on my Dad.

I don’t consider myself immortal.  I believe with my whole being that, if I died right now, I would go to Heaven and I have no illusions about living forever.  But …

Seeing my idols and the people that I have “known” all my life die … well, that makes me think.

I don’t remember a time in my life that George wasn’t a part of it.  He was popular when I was born (or so I am told, as I don’t remember those first few days) and became moreso in the years to come.  And now he is dead.  His music will live on for decades and generations, but the man himself is gone from this world.  That is a sobering thought.

It hurts my heart nearly as much as when Andy Gibb died.  That was a black day in my life.  I loved him more than life, but he chose drugs over life.  Choices.  It all comes down, once again, to choices, BUT, I digress once again.

I cried like a child when, first Maurice Gibb and then again when Robin Gibb died.  The Brothers Gibb (Bee-Gees) were my favorites and remain so, even though only Barry remains.  Sometimes, when I think about them young and beautiful, singing their songs as only they could, I still cry. (If I keep this up, I will be crying before the night is out).

It was an end of an era for me, as it was when Conway died, as it was … then when Waylon died … then when Johnny died; well, this could go on for pages, but you get the idea.

The same can be said of George.  I’ll miss you, Possum, and will, most likely, cry for you now and again as well because … well, because I loved you, too.

RIP, George … RIP.

Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes?  Who, indeed?  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xi3GgoLtlWk

Today, I had to go to court …

because I let my driver’s license expire.  I’m not certain how it happened as I renew all of my licenses, passport, tags and anything else I can, online.  But I did and I found myself sitting in a courtroom waiting to be chastised by a Judge who, though he seemed friendly enough, intimidated me to the point of nausea.

If an officer hadn’t pulled me over on a snowy evening as I was coming home from art class just to inform me that I had a tail light out, I would still be driving around on an expired license.  I didn’t look at the date.  Why would I?  That is what I have email reminders for.  But this time, the reminder didn’t come and I was told that I had been driving around for SEVERAL MONTHS on an expired license.

It only occurred to me later that he didn’t have me call someone to come get me, but let me drive away on that expired license.

The officer was kind and I think he actually felt a bit guilty that he had to ticket me, but what else, really, could he do?  He told me that all I had to do was call “the number noted in red” on the ticket, could pay it over the phone and avoid an appearance in court.

Sounds simple enough doesn’t it?  Well, there was a flip-side to this particular coin.

I called the number a few days later to pay the ticket and hung up the phone feeling like a common criminal.  The lady told me that “people who are charged with driving on an expired, revoked or suspended license are not allowed to pay over the phone”.  So I requested the afternoon off and prepared to show up, pay my fine and be done with it.

As the day drew nearer, the butterflies in my stomach increased.  Each day, I thought of little else and began to imagine all manner of scenarios in my mind (and my imagination is top notch).  I started having nightmares, sleepless nights and long, stress-laden days.

I kept reminding myself that this is only a ticket, and I encouraged myself by remembering that I renewed my driver’s license within 48-hours of getting the ticket.  It was all good, all OK and there was nothing, in reality, to get all worked up about.

This morning, however, when I woke up, after spending the night plagued by nightmares, complete with creepy music and all, the first thought that came into my head was COURT!! (a reminder to be careful what I pray for, for the other “the minute my eyes open thoughts” were much more pleasant, even if they were annoying)

I went through my usual routine, minus coffee, for somewhere along the way, I had used the last of it and didn’t have a back-up bag in the pantry … but I digress.

I went to work and tried as best I could to focus on what had to be done and keep the nagging worry to a minimum.  I kept re-reminding myself that this was only a ticket.  Only a ticket.  Only a ticket.

I showed up well before my appointed time, in my nursing uniform, complete with band-aids that hadn’t been used stuck to my name badge and took my place at the back of the courtroom.  The light above the Judge flickered continuously and I wondered how he could sit there, hour after hour, with that going on.  I focused on that silly light until I had worked myself up even more, convincing myself that by the time my turn came, he would be half-crazed, as was I, from that constant, maddening flickering.

And I never moved a muscle.

For nearly two hours.

I had the beginnings of palpitations before I ever reached the courthouse, but after sitting in the courtroom, my resting heart rate (which is usually between 55-65) was well over 100.  I was certain that I was going to either pass out, throw up or die.  Dying, at this point, was the best choice.  How sad is that?

After what seemed like hours, my name was called and, instead of going directly in front of the Judge through the gate that separates the criminals from the Bench, I went the long way around and entered through the exit.  I apologized  when he commented on it and his laughter should have eased my mind, but it didn’t.  It took every ounce I will I could muster to not simply burst into tears in front of him and humiliate myself the rest of way.

I remembered to say “Sir”, “Your Honor” and “thank you” while the officer who gave me the ticket never uttered a single word.  I’m not certain it was even him, though, because at the time of the ticket-giving, his bright headlights were in my rear-view mirror and his flashlight in my eyes making him completely back-lit.

I couldn’t have picked him, with any confidence, out of a line-up.

When I finally was given my leave, paid my fine and left the building, I made it nearly to my car before I vomited and then burst into sobbing tears.  I put my convertible top down as that usually calms me, but I cried all the way home.  What a day.

I can promise this … I have looked at the expiration date on my driver’s license no less than a hundred times since I renewed it.  I will likely renew it a year early just to avoid the situation I found myself in today.

I am eternally grateful that I have a full pack of Oreo Double-Stuff cookies on hand and an unopened pint of Ben and Jerry’s Cannoli ice cream in the freezer because if there ever was a day for it, this was it.

It’s not easy …

to look over decisions that we’ve made, roads we have taken, choices we have labored over only to find that they weren’t the right decisions, were the wrong turns and were bad choices.  But it is a constant in our lives.  Not every crossroad we come to will have an outcome that is favorable.  Sometimes, the results can be downright devastating.

If the only person such things effected was ourselves, it wouldn’t, I suppose, matter, quite so much.  But our decisions, our outbursts, our tantrums, our misdirects … they, like a long, intricate line of dominoes, fall, one against another, starting a chain reaction that can last for years and through multiple lifetimes.  Purity and innocence can be taken away so quickly that it would seem as though they never existed.

I have a wealth of understanding on making mistakes and living with them; learning from them.  Some of my mistakes have hurt no one but myself, others have touched the people I love the most, causing pain that was never intended, hurt that, though time has surely layered with a cushion, can never, ever, be completely erased.

I understand pain and insecurity.  I have known joy and heartache with equal measure.  I have lain, curled in a ball while sobs wracked my body to the point that I feared my bones would break and didn’t care if they did.  I have known despair and felt the icy fingers of death claw at my mind.  I have thought long and hard about how easy it would be to simply drift away into nothingness where life could no longer kick me senseless.

It is because of these things that I have more understanding than I wish to, that I stand now, with my head up and my spirit intact.  Life did not break me.  It bent me, at times nearly beyond redemption, but it did not break me.  I look around and see others that have been bruised and bent themselves.  They weren’t broken either, but none of us came out of the fire unscathed.  None of us came away from it all whole, but full of holes that left room for the pain and suffering of others to fill.

Because of my broken road, I have found compassion, I have found empathy and I have found beauty that is so stunning that, at times, it nearly breaks my heart.  And along the path strewn with shards of brokenness, I have found others, stumbling along trying to find their way.  And through discouragement, faith and determination, I was encouraged.  We are all, in one way or another, broken and simply knowing that makes me feel less alone.

2-46

Matthew 12:20 ~ A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench