“Men Would Leave Their Wives For You.”

I just wanted to know if I looked all right.

It was my first time as a bridesmaid and I took my job oh so seriously, the way I do with any jobs of love. I dive in headfirst. We were waiting in the lobby and I was playing with my shawl. I wasn’t sure if periwinkle was really my color (it isn’t), or if I should have gone the professional route with my hair and makeup. My beautiful date was just trying to cheer me up. Did he say it in the lobby or at the end of the night? I only know that he said it and it stuck. After he took this picture of me:

Funny the things you remember, when you don’t know how to hold onto the more important things, because you think they’ll be there forever, or nearly, and a day. And you don’t know what will be the most important things anyway. They change.

I have a photographic memory, and a pretty good sensory one too. I remember the colors of the Orlando sky, on a February evening. I remember every breeze I’ve ever felt, I’m sure, and how it felt then in my curled bridesmaid hair. I remember telling him I felt like I’d never be happy again. I was at a wedding, sure, but only a week after a funeral. There were too many of the latter, and not enough of the former. I knew it wasn’t logical to say, but I couldn’t yet feel the alternative. Like a smile that doesn’t reach the eyes, it was a thought that didn’t fully reach the heart. I just missed my grandfather.

And my grandmother, who had already been gone more than a year. We lost my grandfather then too, in almost all ways.

The wedding wasn’t canceled or postponed, but my grandfather’s daughter was due to get married a week after he passed away. How I wish he could have been there to sail her down the aisle. “Stairway to Heaven” was there for that, and we were too. She met her groom later in life, after he already had grown kids, but they met just in time. My grandmother had been on her literal deathbed, not yet ready to let go, and he had said to her, “I’m going to marry your daughter.” The only thing bad about him, my uncle said of my aunt’s new groom, is his name. Steve. Was it an unlucky name in this family? A great guy in all ways, but named Steve. That was the name of my deceased father. The middle child, in between my uncle and aunt.

Instead of crying another river of tears, or drinking to oblivion, or getting anxious and strung out, I absorbed love in through my pores. The wedding wasn’t unremarkable. It had Led Zeppelin and love, and more love. My cousin’s yarmulke blew off his head in an upwards manner, but there wasn’t an open door or window, so we all just thought – magic? The other Steve? The bride’s parents – my deceased grandparents? What causes a yarmulke to fly upwards anyway? Maybe these are the questions you should ask yourself, and others. Instead you sing a little Eric Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight” and ask, “Do I look all right?”

Your date holds you, moves you, and says: “You look wonderful tonight. Middle-aged men would leave their wives for you.”

He wasn’t for people leaving their wives. He was quite against it, but he was trying to breathe life back into me when I couldn’t breathe it back in myself. It was enough breaths to smile and laugh and dance. And eat, of course. And meet the groom – my new uncle’s – twin sons and recognize them as family. Isn’t it funny that I wondered if I’d ever feel happiness again, after so much loss at once, in my more youthful days. It wasn’t even that long ago, not long enough not to feel it all over again. I mourn that 20-something girl who thought she’d never be happy again, because she was, 100 times over. She IS.

The best was yet to come. Do you know it still is? The worst was yet to come. Do you know it still is too? And oh, Steve. Had I known. What would I have done differently? We just saw you in February and I would have held on longer had I known, and I hope I did anyway, because we always know. We always know our time is limited. I just wish you had more time. You made my aunt so happy. I miss that day because love and innocence were so strong and tight that day, and now, it’s been over a decade. And what does love do? It grows upwards and closer together. I don’t mourn a decade ago. I mourn a week ago, when you were here. I mourn every time I don’t cry, because I think if I start I’ll never stop, and I’d drown this house and town.

We are learning to breathe above water.

When it comes to more youthful days, I wish I had let go, only to find that then I’d learn to hold on more tightly.

This is me linking up, as one of my favorite things to do, with Finish The Sentence Friday. This week’s timely topic is “When it comes to more youthful days…” And there’s still time to write yours. Come link up with your spin on the matter: HERE.

My uncle, Steve Salzman, passed away unexpectedly on Des’ birthday, Monday, June 13, and now there’s a new way to live – to fill this Steve-sized gap in our lives, and boy, it’s big. May you all hold your loved ones close tonight, and always.

Thanks For the Memories – See You Next Year.

Last week, I got added to a Facebook group for my high school graduating class. It made my head spin! It’s been.. 17 years. That’s twice as old as I was then. I can’t help thinking about all the things I thought I’d be, and I can’t help thinking about all the things I am, but haven’t stopped to appreciate. Because they hurt. Because they aren’t what I expected and how I expected. And I’m not really who I expected to be by now, but maybe that’s ok. My 17-year-old self might shake her pretty head at me and ask, “Why didn’t you go big? I always told you to go big by now.” Well hey, maybe I still will. Somehow.

There she is. High school graduation party.

graduation

My fourth and fifth grade teachers came to my graduation party. I was so humbled and appreciative for all the things they put into one ear, that stayed in my head and jostled around a bit – and never went out the other ear. My fifth grade teacher told me she’d eat her arm if I didn’t grow up to become a writer. I talk about her sometimes. Do you know what else happened last week? I got to indirectly talk to her (through her daughter and husband on Facebook) and tell her how much I took her words to heart. It was such weird timing – a week of Facebook graduating class groups, and 5th grade teacher conversations.

It’s enough to make your head spin, and I was already head-spinny enough with the end of kindergarten, the end of daycare for the year, Des’ birthday coming up, Scarlet’s birthday coming up, my birthday coming up, and the constant growth I see.

That was so non-specific. We’re all growing!

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It’s the sayings they write on your yearbook – “Thanks for the memories. See you next year.” They get me every time! I’m not entirely sure if other people are as sensitive about the passing of time as I am, but since I’ve only ever been me, I can tell you it’s simultaneously exhilarating/terrifying. I’m talking lump in my throat and pit in my stomach. When they used to change the format of the TV guide, I’d have a panicked moment of missing the old format. Luckily I always adapted pretty fast and I’d get to a point in which I couldn’t remember how it used to be. They changed the Facebook format a lot too. You know it.

TV season finales or worse, series finales. The ends of books. An entire world was contained within the pages of one book. Like most kids, I eagerly awaited the end of the school year because quite frankly, summer rocks. That excitement would always move me over the hump easier than my sensitive heart wanted. I would have little rituals. “This is the last time I’ll sit at this desk. This is the last time I’ll use this locker.” I would read what people wrote in my yearbook. I wouldn’t cry.

I’d ease into summer, because, quite frankly, summer rocks.

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If you’re sensitive about the passing of time, the end of the school year is a bit of a kick to the stomach. It takes so long to grow within the walls of your school or daycare. It takes 9 or 10 months – enough time to grow a whole baby. As much as you learn academically, you also learn emotionally and socially. You self-actualize a bit more than ever before, with any luck.

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I still get that lump in my throat and that pit in my stomach, of the happy and sad variety. It’s no longer my end of the school year. It’s no longer my yearbook to get signed. These lives belong WITH me, but TO someone else. Two someone elses.

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How much will I separate myself and let it flow, just let it flow?

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How will I learn to celebrate the passing of another year into another brilliant summer, and contain the hope of what lies beyond? How will I have my own journeys and let my kids have their own journeys, and let it pair together into a sensitive and sentimental bunch. How will I go on my own adventures, let them go on their own adventures, and also love and appreciate our many years of joint adventures? How will I learn not to count our time as limited, and just count it as beautiful?

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How will I learn to celebrate the successes, get over the setbacks, separate what is what, and learn not to be afraid of pianos falling from the sky, because there certainly a lot of pianos perched to fall out of the sky, aren’t there?

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I think I’ll just ease into this summer, because, quite frankly, summer rocks.

“I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don’t let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories

Remember the good times that we had?
I let them slip away from us when things got bad
How clearly I first saw you smilin’ in the sun
Wanna feel your warmth upon me, I wanna be the one

I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don’t let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories

I’m so tired but I can’t sleep
Standin’ on the edge of something much too deep
It’s funny how we feel so much but we cannot say a word
We are screaming inside, but we can’t be heard

But I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don’t let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories

I’m so afraid to love you, but more afraid to lose
Clinging to a past that doesn’t let me choose
Once there was a darkness, deep and endless night
You gave me everything you had, oh you gave me light

And I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don’t let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories”

And umm.. as I was finishing this post, “My Old School” came on Pandora on random.