Saturday, June 30, 2012

Mommy's Home

I forgot how time consuming it is to chase after a little one. I've missed a few days of blogging about Gracie's visit. Today her mom and "Nemo" got home from their trip to Haiti. Sweet Gracie's face lit up when she saw her mom.  It was amazing to watch! I'll write more tomorrow when the house is quiet.

Wishing for you a day full of smiles,
Merry ME

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Gracie ... Day 3

"A child can teach an adult three things:
to be happy for no reason,
to always be busy with something,
and to know how to demand with all his might that which he deserves."
Paulo Coelho

One more stroll around the block before going night night.
It feels very important to me to introduce Miss Grace to church.  Perhaps I'm trying to make up for what I didn't do with my own kids, or Gracie's mom.  I'm not going to spend too much time analyzing it. I'll just take her with me whenever the opportunity arises.

As with most things, timing is everything. And this morning it worked out just right to get to church on time. She was up,  bottled, cerealed, played with and put back down in time for a quick early morning snooze. Then woke up just as it was time to go.  Yeh, it could be just happenstance, but I think
maybe I had a Helping Hand.

Grace was not exactly sure what was going on, but quickly found her groove. She sang every song, raised her hands in praise just like Grammy, and even did a little preaching! She said "hi" (her first and only word) to just about everyone she saw as we passed the peace together. She was blessed by the Fr. Miguel, Mtr. Judi at the communion rail and by a woman who told me Grace is filled with the "spirit." Is it too early to know these things? Are we all filled with the spirit but forget or neglect to remember that unless we are in church?

In his sermon today, Fr. Miguel, challenged us to go to God when the winds of a storm begin to blow. Not to wait until the gusts are tearing down trees and the water is rising. I remember the storm that raged when I first learned that Gracie's mother was pregnant. A teenager and still in high school, none of the adults in her life, including me, thought it was the best time to be having a baby. But I've been a teenager before and I know that timing is not always the first thing people think about in the heat of passion. I believe, however, that God does. (S)He has the answers to the questions we can't even begin ask.  When I found out that Ashley was going to name her baby girl Eleyiana Grace, I knew my prayers to calm the anger words and hurt feelings had been answered.  While I'm pretty confident that God has lots of things to do that take precedence over naming a baby, I think the name Grace as in "the manifestation of favor" was Divinely inspired. In my book babies are God's way of saying the world will go on and our precious Grace is no exception. The baby girl in my granddaughter's womb, seen only by her Creator, was gently kissed by "Almighty grace." May she live into that gift.

According to the word grace is descended from the Latin word, gratia. Ancient Romans,  had three distinct meanings for gratia : a pleasing quality, favor or goodwill and gratitude or thanks. "If you have something to be grateful for you can say thank-you, gratia, gracias, or grazie."

I simply speak my G-baby's name. Eleyiana Grace.

Wishing for you God's favor and peace,
Merry ME

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Water Baby

Astrologically speaking neither Gracie or her G-Pa were born under a water sign. But don't tell that to G-Pa who has one week to turn his granddaughter into a "water baby."

Yesterday after her mom and grandmother headed off on their annual mission trip to Haiti, I left Gracie alone for about 2 seconds. In that amount of time Little Miss Speed Demon had discovered the cat's water bowl, made a b-line to it, and splashed water on the floor. Damn if she didn't try to suck it up.  I know, it's gross. But not so gross that I couldn't snap a picture of it.

Later, that same afternoon, I dangled Gracie's feet in the pool to help stave off dinner so she could keep on some semblance of a schedule. I know, seems crazy doesn't it? Whoever heard of a staying on a schedule while vacationing in Florida without your mom?  Well before I knew it, Gracie had worked herself off one step, was standing on the second then went for an all out swim with Sweetie.

One of Johnson's (aka G-Pa) claims to fame is being able to predict when and where brewing tropical storms will hit.  He lives by the Weather Channel.  According to him this morning was perhaps our only chance for some beach time because of storms headed in our direction. It's almost a given that when Leila and Ashley head for Haiti some kind of natural disaster will strike.  Johnson says if they got out of Miami this morning, then they're good to go. We haven't heard anything to the contrary so I'm guessing they are already on the Island, working at the orphanage.

As soon as Miss Grace finished her first nap of the day, I dressed her in her surfer girl outfit and we were good to go. All the beach paraphernalia one has to cart through the sand for a couple of hours is kind of crazy - towels, blankets, sunscreen, hats, something to drink, wallet, camera, etc. - add to that a baby and her supply of formula, Gerber fruit and veggies, more sunscreen, more towels, a bottle of water, all stuck in a king-sized bag that could most of the gold in Ft. Knox. But, we made it.

We drove across the Intercoastal into black skies and pouring rain.
Not a good omen for beach going But just as G-Pa predicted, once we hit the ocean, the winds had pushed all the rain clouds to the west. Except for the stinky kelp strewn all over the beach and the rough-ish surf, it was everything we were hoping. Gracie ate her first handful of sand - yuk. Had her feet sucked into the sand by waters going and coming at the same time.  Put her toes into the Atlantic Ocean. Searched, and found, her first shark teeth. I've lived near the ocean for a good part of my life. I have never once found a shark's tooth.  Guess I just needed to have the ace beachcomber with me.

A couple hours later the whole sandy crew made it home. Gracie, completely worn out, made the transition from car seat to crib without waking up.

Seriously, I don't think life could get much better than this. G-Pa and I have to figure a way to keep the baby here for longer than a week, though I'm not sure Suzi Q would care much for that arrangement. She is used to my undivided attention, is not sure about sharing me.  If only I was quicker with my camera. Last night Suzi stepped on one of Gracie's books and it started playing music. She spent about 5 minutes circling it and barking before she managed one more tune. There sure are lots of opportunities for laughing when you have a baby around.

Wishing for you sunshine and surf and someone sweet to share it with.
Merry ME

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Gracie's Here!!

Waiting for the plane.

So serious

Mirror, mirror on the wall whose the fairest of them all?

Gracie and G-Pa

Let me touch that hair on your chin.

Say Cheese!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Vaya con Dios

William is a young man at church that I have watched grow from a toddler to semi-adult. He looks and acts pretty grown up but his birth certificate only puts him at age 18.  For as long as I've known William his life's dream was to join the military. My dad used to worry that none of the services would let him be a pilot because of his eyesight. And he worried that William's dream would be for naught.  But overcoming obstacles is the stuff making dreams come true is all about. With a little determination (okay, a lot of determination) William's military dream is just over the horizon, almost close enough to touch.

In high school William joined the Navy ROTC. That's when I first noticed how the boy was being shaped into a man. He stood a little straighter. He wore his uniform proudly in drill team competitions. Like his shoes, which glistened, his rifle was always clean and polished.  (Do high schoolers get real rifles?) I'm sure when he was with kids his own age, he relaxed some. Around adults William always had a "yes, Mam" or "no, Sir" at the ready.

William started coming to church when he was a just a baby. He would sit quietly with his Dad, never making a sound. As he grew up I helped train him as an acolyte. In recent years he has led the procession into each service by carrying the cross.  When I saw him stand at the altar next to the priest, I didn't see a soldier, I saw a man of God. Disciplined, respectful, poised, filled with light that shone from the inside out.

Yesterday was William's last day at church for awhile. At the end of the week he leaves for Perris Island, South Carolina, for basic training in the Marine Corps. He signed up last year and like a horse in the starting gate he's ready to burst forth and run full speed ahead into the life he's dreamed of.  If there is one thing I can't abide it's a dream crusher, so I've had to keep my mouth shut. My heart aches to think that William will come home from boot camp, dressed in cammies, and ready to do what Marines do.  I can't bear to think of William in harm's way.  If it were up to me I'd surround him (and most kids I know) in bubble wrap and keep him close to home. I'm sure his mother has had that thought more than once. But like his mother and father, the people who have watched William grow up, must trust that the Almighty Drill Instructor will cover him in grace.  We must trust that he will take the lessons he's learned in his short life and meld them into the ones he's yet to imagine.  We have given him roots and we must now give him wings.

I use the plural pronoun "we" loosely. His church family helped but it was William's parents who molded his character.  They led by example. William is not the first of his siblings to be in the military.   I believe that the God of peace and love will calm their nerves as they kiss William goodbye and send them into the world.  I also believe they are going to need a big box of tissues and lots of prayers.

I've tried to think of some good advice to give this young man before he leaves. My standard words of wisdom "don't talk to strangers" don't seem to fit the situation. So I think I'll say:

  • Be brave when you need to be, but don't forget to be gentle. 
  • Love and laughter are the languages used around the world. 
  • Don't forget those at home when you are far away. 
  • Don't forget those who are far away when you are at home. 
  • Dream big but keep your feet on the ground.  
  • Make wise decisions. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Respect others' opinions. 
  • Look for the face of God in everyone you meet. 
  • Call your mother.

Today I give thanks for the privilege of watching William grow up. I am grateful for his willingness to serve our country.

Vaya con Dios, my friend,
Merry ME

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Feeling Old

Last week Sweetie and I were looking for a car dealership in a part of town we don't often frequent. We passed it on the freeway, took a right and got lost in a maze of condominium complexes, medical offices, and a few strip malls. All separated by walking paths and/or retention ponds.  I couldn't help but notice there were very few trees except for the scraggly new ones planted to take the place of the woodlands that were cut down to make the neighborhood. The buildings all looked alike. And the few people I saw seemed to be clones of each other. 30 something, walking a small dog of the yappy variety.They were undoubtedly either coming from the gym or going to the gym.

Since we couldn't find the car place we decided to locate a pizza joint we ate at once and really liked. Again our search proved fruitless. Again we drove through a carbon copy of the other place except there were more shops and even less trees. The more we circled the apartments and condos the more depressed I got. I wonder if that kind of stacked up on each other kind of living is the alternative to a big house in an older established neighborhood. I felt old. I'm pretty sure if I was younger, working as pharmaceutical salesman,  going for sushi after a good work out, drinking red wine from fancy glasses, could talk about the economy or politics or sports, owned a BMW and a French Bulldog I wouldn't have felt so out of place.

Today was even worse. I had to take my computer to the Apple store for a new battery. I had an appointment at the "Genius" bar. I arrived ten minutes before my appointment time, went directly to the back of the store. When someone noticed me he asked my name and if I had checked in.  What I thought was a welcome committee, the aisle formed by 2 blue shirted, Ipad holders on either side of the door was apparently the place I was supposed to check in. No problem, the "Genius" looked me up on his Ipad and told me to wait.  I am not kidding when I tell you I felt as if I'd just walked onto the movie set of some futuristic sci-movie. To start with I counted at least 16 blue shirts. Several of which had those big circle things in their ears, had face piercings and tattoos. I'm not judging how they looked, just that there were so many in one place.  I doubt I could have been more intimidated if I tried to walk down a hall in the White House.  The outfits were different, but the "Geniuses" were every bit as intent on what they were doing as secret service guys in dark suits.

Then I looked at the people who were there to shop or take a class or get a repair.  Except for the 3 year old (who could maneuver around the computer on the kids table like a genius in training) and a couple older folk sporting white hair and glasses, everyone was in the same age group - somewhere between 18-35.  A few pushed baby strollers and drank Starbucks coffee. Some were engaged in conversation on Iphones.  Others balanced on black balls at tables just the right size for the toddler but way too short for grown people. I considered trying to sit on one of the balls while I waited. Since I was pretty sure I'd fall on by ass in a very undignified legs over head manner I chose to stand instead. I looked over people's shoulders to see what they were doing. I'm pretty sure the language they spoke was ancient Chinese.

Justin was the genius who helped me. He was polite and patient. He checked my computer out, verified I needed a new battery. Not only was this kid MacSavvy he could multi-task. As he typed my information into his Ipad he tried to explain to me "life cycles" of a computer battery. While we waited for a printout I couldn't help but overhear the older couple next to me explain their screen went black every time they closed the top ... or something like that. You know the stupid feeling you get when your car makes a clicking noise that sounds like something is horribly wrong under the hood but when you take it to the mechanic it purrs like a lioness with a stomach full of antelope? I think that's what was happening to them, because the computer was checking out just fine - no dark screen, no pinched wires. I watched as the lady kept shutting the lid harder and harder to re-create the problem every time the genius looked away.  I could tell by the look in her eye she was considering hitting it with her shoe.

Justin tells me he'll replace the battery on his lunch break so I don't have to be without my computer over night. I thought that was pretty nice. I couldn't help but notice that everyone in the store was nice even if I couldn't understand much of what they said. When I went back later to pick up my computer, I knew I had to check in. One of the blue shirts saw me waving my receipt and pointed to the check in person who pointed at the nearest blue shirt who said follow me which I did without incident except for almost being swallowed up by the crowd near the laptops.  In five minutes I had my machine in one hand and my credit card in the other.  Even though Justin told me I'd have to pay for the battery because it's consumable the handheld calculator/phone/card swiper said I owed nothing.  It was a stroke of good luck I couldn't fathom so I made the guy go check with a human. Wouldn't you know the computer was right. I got my battery for free. So I sign the bottom of the receipt and hand my new best friend his pen back and he sticks it right into the hole in his ear like a librarian might stick a pencil in her beehive hairdo. I couldn't help myself. I started laughing. It cracked me up to see him looking all "geniusy" with a pen in his ear. He laughed too so I guess he's had that reaction before.

Here I sit in my own quiet den, typing on a spic and span Macbook feeling like my grandmother must have felt when the push button phone was invented - old.

Merry ME

Sunday, June 10, 2012

It's Raining, It's Pouring

For awhile this year those in the know weather wise were telling us to conserve water because of the drought we were experiencing, partly due to not having much of a rainy season, and partly because we were low on water reserves from last year.  The good news, at least for the grass and flowers, is that the water table is slowly rising due to all the rain we've had recently. It started with TS Beryl. In the last 72 hours parts of town have had 6-12 inches of rain. And its still coming down.

Not realizing it was going to be so wet, Sweetie and I hopped (okay, we didn't really hop, it was more like just opened the door and sat down) in the car to do some errands a few days ago. By the time we got to the store the clouds had opened up, the rain coming down pretty hard. A car in the parking lot attached to a medium-sized boat made me wonder if the driver knew something we didn't. At a stop stop light we could see water had almost filled a drainage ditch - not much draining going on there. A duck had taken to high ground and appeared to be deciding whether to dash across the street,  dodging cars and rain drops, or jump back into the rising waters. I thought ducks weren't supposed to mind water, but this guy had clearly had enough for the day.  He had a look on his little duck face like he'd heard one too many choruses of "raindrops are falling on my head."

As long as there isn't a lot of booming thunder and clashing lightening, and the electricity stays on, like ducks, I don't mind the rain. Seriously does it get any better than a rainy afternoon nap? Or a hunkering down with a tall glass of cold tea (or, depending on the temperature, a cup of hot tea with lemon) and a good book? Or curling up on the couch to watch a favorite old movie? Or spooning with your Sweetie?

The problem with a lot of rain in my neck of the woods is the oak trees are so old that sometimes they just fall over because the ground is so saturated. Or limbs crack off. Now that I'm a homeowner and the person in charge of knowing what my insurance covers and what it doesn't, I worry about falling trees. I'm guessing that yes, a tree does make a sound when it crashes through your roof, even if there was no one there to watch it, because said watcher was in the middle of an afternoon siesta.

And after the rain stops the 90 degree temperature and standing water make for humidity and skeeter breeding grounds. Ah, the pleasures of living in a swamp!

The pool in the back yard has almost reached the cool deck. I've learned that crystal clear rain water turns a pool cloudy and greenish in color. What's up with that?

It's hard not to feel grateful when it rains.  Grateful for the life sustaining gift of water outside, and grateful for a place where it is warm and dry inside. But when it rains for days on end, it makes think I should learn how to measure in cubits. An ark might be a good thing to have on hand. Or at least a row boat.

Wishing for you rubber boots and umbrellas,
Merry ME

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Zen and the art of Dieting

Sweetie left early this morning to go to a GAL training session in Daytona.  I'm alone in the house except for one brown dog and two black cats who are all sound asleep. In my book this day of solitude is similar to Haily's comet. It doesn't come around that often. I feel quite sure it HAS happened before, but not so often that I can consider it a normal occurrence. Please don't get me wrong. I like having Sweetie around. He pretty much keeps his nose in a book or sits at his computer so it's not like he's disruptive or bothersome. And let's face it, he's pretty darn sweet. But there is just something delicious about having a place to one's own. For a day. Or two.

So, you might ask, what am I doing with myself to soak up all this solitude? Have I laid in bed snoozing between chapters in a juicy novel and crunching on chips? Have I dropped Michael Bolton into the CD player and turned up the volume? (Ordinarily, MB wouldn't be my first choice of singers, but when you want to fill a place with music you can wail along with, he's the man.) Have I bopped through the living room to Dan Seals? I wonder if it is a symptom of my advanced age that I have not given myself over to the music. (At least I'm not listening to Montovani.) It's weird, I think, that I seem to be enjoying the quietude when I can have that most any day of the week. 

To be honest, I did sleep in. How could I not? I had the whole bed to myself (except for the very center which Girl Cat claims as her own special spot), five pillows, two quilts, and a sprinkling of rain outside my window.  But once up I sat down at the computer to await the muse.  

Perhaps the main reason I'm being more sedentary than usual when I find myself alone, is that I'm starving. Okay, maybe starvation should be saved to describe POW's or drought-bloated African children.  Maybe I'm prone to a tad bit of exaggeration. But you tell that to my stomach which is used to demanding and receiving. The same stomach who has eaten baked chicken, baked chicken cut up and made into a salad, backed chicken tossed into a green salad, and baked chicken covered in a tablespoon of spaghetti sauce for the past days. The same stomach that cries for a piece of chocolate cake.

It's only my opinion, and you are free to have your own, but I think "diet" is a four letter word in the negative sense. I mean look at the word - DIE-t. It tells you right up front what you are going to feel like until you've met your weight loss goal, or grabbed a bag of potato chips like a lion would an antelope's leg and refused to let go.  I know there are those of you reading this who might say if you don't diet you're not going to live very long anyway. And I also know the benefits of small, nutrient-filled, fiber-rich portions washed down by 8 ounces of water and followed by a brisk walk are far greater than the opposite which I normally embrace.  I'm just one of those people who prefer to ignore my own preaching.

Sweetie started this whole subject of losing weight - him, not me. Then my doctor gave me the leave-10%-on-your-plate-lecture. Then my writing buddies talked of weight training and Zumba dancing and counting Weight Watcher points. I felt like I was stuck in the middle of the pack at the Boston Marathon and couldn't do anything but let the crowd carry me along. (Okay, so I don't know what it feels like to be in the Boston marathon but I'm prone to exaggeration)  But if Sweetie can give up Lays Wavy chips for cucumber slices and Publix Sport Bread for kippered herring, then the least I can do is cut down on my portions and make friends with baked chicken.  

I may have made a preliminary mistake by not calibrating my home scale with the one in the Doctor's office.  Letting my stomach lead me into the kitchen at 2am, I prowled around for something to hold me over til my breakfast of eggs with baked chicken and salsa. Before getting back into bed, I carefully stepped on the scale so it wouldn't creak and awaken by roommates. I won't tell you the number but I almost shrieked. It was a good four pounds OVER what I'd weight a week earlier.  So maybe the baked chicken diet is not the fastest way to drop pounds, but it's impossible that I gained weight. IMPOSSIBLE. Isn't it? 

I just finished a book about writing and Zen Buddhism. A lot of the Zen stuff went over my head. 
"Simply I'm here. Simply snow falls." Huh?? However, one of the things I take away from the book is that one has to continually practice. Whether writing, or meditating, or, dare I say dieting, " don't look for success and don't quit."*

Did I mention I'm starving? 

Wishing for you, food for thought.
Merry ME

*Long Quiet Highway, by Natalie Goldberg, Bantam Books, 1993, pg. 161, pg. 105

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Creating and Connecting

I've been thinking a lot lately about being creative and how creativity manifests itself in different ways in all of us. In my writing group last night we talked about creating. I would imagine .that like most groups that get together with a joint purpose, we are  no different. But since I don't have a lot of experience in group settings (I'm a lone ranger who lives for positive feedback) this group feels magical to me. It's ironic, I think, that right now I seem to be more comfortable with thinking about creating, than creating itself. 

[On another subject but maybe related my head doctor suggested today that I could be stuck in "avoidance" mode. Not sure of what, or of who. Letting go? Making changes? Accepting?  Perhaps by thinking about creating, I'm avoiding actually being creative. I think with my writing there is some truth to that. But that's another story (no pun intended.)]

I've heard it said before that we all have a song to sing, or a story to tell. I would go a step further and say I think we are all born with the spark of creativity in us. Perhaps as beings created in the image of God we are literally born to create - a song, a dance, a story, a painting, a marble sculpture, a grand meal, a cure for cancer, a perfect 10 off the balance beam, you name it. Each of us has within us a creative purpose. Maybe we don't know what it is. Maybe we know and (dare I say like me) are too afraid to tap into the wholeness of it. Maybe we get a taste of it and soar. Or maybe we get a taste of it and shy away. Regardless it's there. And the reason it is there is that when we own our creativity we touch others - on a heart level. And by doing that we produce joy, hope, trust, love and community. When we are in community we are reflections of the Divine Creator. Don't you know that S/He lets out a heavenly "YES" when someone gets it?  

I don't think this is an original metaphor, but it works for what I'm trying to say. Suppose that when God was creating mankind S/He was thinking of an orchestra. S/He made a few flutes, some violas and cellos, some trumpets, a couple tubas, some drums, a triangle and a bassoon. If you've ever been to the Symphony you know that in those moments before the the lights go down  there is a cacophonous sound coming from the stage. All the instruments are warming up, getting in tune. There is no harmony or balance. But you get a hint of what it might sound like when the first violin comes out, plays a note and the whole orchestra echos. Then the maestro comes out, taps his baton on the music stand, there is a moment of hesitation as each musician takes a breath and then together as one, the disharmony is vanished with the wave of a baton, the instruments connect and music happens.  

The metaphor can be extended to the oil paints on an artist's palette - blobs of red, and blue and green - but when blended a picture emerges. Or dancers on a Broadway stage, or words in a book or members of the USA hockey team from years ago. I think if we each seek, find and implement the spark of creativity we were given, then we can't help but add our "notes" to the Divine Symphony. 

I'm not usually so philosophical. I've been reading "Long Quiet Highway" by Natalie Goldberg - one of the best woman writers who writes about writing. The book is helping me process and validating the reasons I write. 

"Americans," writes Goldberg, " ... are so disconnected and isolated as individuals and as a country that one way to reconnect is to begin with a connection to ourselves. Writing is a way to connect with our own minds, to discover what we really think, see and feel, rather than what we think we should think, see and feel. When we write we begin to taste the texture of our own mind."  

Hard as it is sometimes for me to put sentences together that make sense, it is when I'm writing that I discover things about myself. And it is writing that connects me to others who may feel the same way, or think the same thing. 

My pal Terri St. Cloud posted this quote by Mark Nepo (Facing the Lion, Being the Lion) on her blog today:  
'It is not enough to recognize the larger order - we must love it.We must not just look at it, but appreciate it, move toward it with awe,and then, that awe emits its own gravity which pulls everything into view.It is a gravity that confirms our place in the Universe. This is whysincerity, curiosity, and gratitude are such strong, compelling tools ofthe heart, which when inhabited, bring us back into the web of lifewhere we can feel how everything is connected.' 

Creativity and connection seem to be the theme of the day. 

What do you think you were created to do? Are you a piccolo? The oregano in homemade spaghetti sauce? Or that  special, unique color in a box of 64 Crayolas that waits to be used as the finishing touch on a child's drawing? 

Wishing for you a spark to ignite your creativity.
Merry ME

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Life Rolls On

I've told you about my friend and writing buddy Amy before. She's a cool lady. Funny, gutsy, and in my opinion, just a little bit crazy.  She'd probably probably prefer the word adventuresome to crazy. The girl who rode her bike across Europe for 6 months alone is the same girl who encourages me to take a leap of faith, mix things up a little, embrace change, get up at 4:30 am to write 300 words, or rent that motor home and drive across the country writing blog posts like I'm the woman's version of Charles Kouralt. Much as I love entertaining some of her wacko ideas, I know I'm just too chicken to actually do them.

I think that's why I get such a kick out of watching her do things. Amy shows me a side of life I'd only see on the news, and opens my eyes to what life is like from the perspective of a wheelchair  and how it feels to rely on the kindness of others - sometimes for help into a bathroom stall, sometimes to push her across a sandy beach, sometimes to read her stories in front a crowd.

Amy & her Posse
Take yesterday for instance.  While I kept my lazy ass in bed, pushing the snooze button every 8 minutes while awaiting Amy's phone call, she was up (probably before the sun) preparing to go surfing. Yup, I said surfing.  As a part of the Christopher Reeves Foundation, Life Rolls On, came to town for  give disabled men, women and children a taste of sun and surf (in Amy's case, a few face fulls of salt water) For the 6th year in a row LRO hosted They Will Surf Again at Jacksonville Beach. They had their biggest turnout ever of surfers, volunteers and sponsors.  I suppose if one is in the middle of a group of psyched up people about to do something new, kind of scary, a little bit dangerous, and a lot of fun, it's not hard to get caught up in the excitement. Before the surfing began, there was all kinds of whooping and hollering. I was one of the whoopers!

Amy's to the left in the middle of all those helpers!
It was a beautiful day. A good reminder of what the world looks like in the hours before noon. I haven't been to the beach in months. I love swimming in the ocean, but I have to tell you, reports of shark bites in knee high water scare the fun of it right out of me. Not so for the hundreds of people who were there to help people with all kinds of disabilities get on a surfboard, go out beyond where the waves break and wait for the perfect ride. Amy got several good starts, but kind of rolled off to the side before really getting a good ride.  Volunteers were in front and back of her surfboard, and lined the sides. One group was there to catch the surfer in case of a fall, the other to catch the board.  I couldn't see a lot of Amy's attempts because of the volunteers, not to mention I was trying to take pictures (with a zoom lens) while standing on the shore at that place where the waves meet coming and going and kind of suck the sand out from under your feet, not to mention keeping my eyes peeled for a circling dorsal fin. Da Dum. Da Dum.

After about 5 tries, my beautiful, brave buddy sailed across the top of a small wave right into the shore where she did a bit of a flip. I gasped, but saw how well trained the "catch the surfer" team really were. When Amy was back up on her board, encircled by her group, she smiled that kind of smile people get when they've succeeded. You know the one that spreads from ear to ear and says, "Look Ma, I did it."

I don't know what Amy's gong to do next. She won't sit idle for long. Finishing her memoir (at nine words a minute) is a high priority. Seriously the woman inspires me and makes me tired at the same time.  Go check out her blog. You'll be glad you did.

Wishing for you a opportunities to try new things.
Merry ME

Friday, June 1, 2012

RIP Adrian DeMeza

June is here. My niece calls it the month of insanity. For many it is  the beginning of a transition from one grade to another, high school to college, or college to the "real" world. One door closes and another opens full of possibility, hopes and dreams. 

Adrian DeMeza, 18, was one of those high schoolers. A senior at Stanton College Prep in Jacksonville, Adrian had been accepted at Florida State University where he planned to study biology/pre-med. But Adrian won't be decked out  in his cap and gown, smiling, waving and strutting to strains of pomp and circumstance. Instead, he was buried this afternoon, leaving a big family and a host of friends to wonder what went wrong. Adrian took his own life on Wednesday.

I don't know Adrian, would have missed even hearing about his death, except that a school mate told the small congregation that met at church for mid-week services.  One of the reasons I don't read the paper anymore is because the number of children(teens) who are dying violent deaths, and the number of obituaries listed every day seems to be taking up too much room.  I don't know what circumstances led to Adrian's decision to end the pain he had to be feeling. I heard someone say he didn't get into the college he wanted. But you and I both know there was more to it than that. 

According to

One of the leading causes of death amongst teenagers is suicide. The Centers for Disease control report that it is the third leading cause of death, behind accidents and homicide, of people aged 15 to 24. Even more disturbing is the fact that suicide is the fourth leading cause of death for children between the ages of 10 and 14.
Teen suicide is a very real issue today in the United States. It is important to recognize the fact that the suicide rate amongst teenagers is on the rise. In order to prevent teen suicide, it is vital to recognize what leads to it, and then treat the causes.

Excuse me .... 10-14? What does a ten year old know of suicide? Shouldn't he/she be out riding bikes or playing with dolls, or reading Nancy Drew mysteries? It makes me sad to think kids (and now that I'm in my 6th decade I think teenagers are still kids) live in a world where killing themselves is even an option. Dying is the purview of adults, isn't it? 

Where, I wonder, did things start to go so wrong in Adrian's life that he started looking for a way out? How did it happen that a child whose smile according to his obituary "could light up a room"  would rather die than go on living with the emotional pain he was in? And how many why's will Adrian's family have to ask before they realize the answers were buried along with their beloved son/brother/grandson/brother?

Several years and many tears ago, I stood at the same crossroads as Adrian. I was full of pain and rage and just wanted it all to stop. Looking back I don't think I wanted to die. But I couldn't think of any other way out. I wasn't as effective as Adrian. I had to have my stomach pumped, then look into the faces of the people who loved me and promise not to do something like that again. 

 I wish I could have held Adrian's hand in those last hours, listen as he told me his story and convince him to put the gun down, that as dark as things look today, the light will return tomorrow. Hold on, I might have said. You are not alone.  You are loved way more than you know. Trust me, on this one Adrian, because you can't trust the lies your sadness is telling you. I promise it will be different; maybe not easy but different. Hold on, Adrian. Oh God, please hold on. 

In this technological age, I think humans are farther apart than ever before. Rather ironic, isn't it, that one can send a text message that is read within seconds, but we don't hear the cries of our young ones. I have started the practice of thanking servicemen when I see them. Thank you for your service, I say. Maybe I should - we all should - make it a practice to smile at each person we cross paths with - the crabby ass honking his horn behind you in stop and go traffic, or the mom in Walmart at 5:30pm with hungry, tired children crying for dinner and attention, or the teenager who is covered in tattoos and piercings - to exchange not just pleasantries, but heartfelt how are you's, then be prepared to listen to the answer.  I'm not saying that we can tell when/if a person is contemplating suicide. But I do believe that a kind word, a helpful hand, a smile can make someone feel less alone. Maybe that's all it takes. 

And I beg you, watch your family and friends - from little kids to grandmas -  for signs of depression. Don't wait til its too late when all you'll have left are the whys.

Rest in peace, Adrian. I pray you are at peace, walking with the angels. 

Merry Me