Don’t leave me. I can’t breathe without you. 

I think she was about 33 in this picture. 
How could I possibly breathe without you? How could I take my next step without you? I don’t know how to be me without you by my side. Oh, sure. We’ve had our rocky times. Words left unspoken and words that should have been. Battles which raged on far too long, sometimes for years. During the times we weren’t speaking, I always knew you were nearby. I was okay knowing you were just a hop, skip and a jump away. Without Martha, there can be no Henry. He would be but a shell of a man if Martha were gone. I can’t even remember the day or the date that Henry and Martha were born. But I can feel the heat of the summer day and I certainly recollect why. 
I was eighteen  and you were thirty-six. You had come to the “Merca” to rescue me from the place where they keep crazy people and people who want to die. I was definitely crazy and I certainly wanted to die. I was eighteen and I felt like a ninety year old and I bore the scars to prove it.  My spirit was broken and I was tired. I remember seeing you for the first time in three years and on one level you were a stranger, but on another level you were the mother I had always known. I was a part of you and you were a piece of me. Our hearts are entangled and will forever be woven together. 

We got past that awkward stage eventually. You broke me out of the crazy place and we jumped a greyhound and rode our way to Cape Cod. We had just enough money for the ferry tickets to Nantucket. Can you believe the Captian let us sleep in the office that night AND fed us that night and the next morning – for free? All because they couldn’t believe we were mother and daughter. They were certain we were sisters and had to be lying about it. You were so young and so beautiful. You are still beautiful and no one believes you are in your seventies. But you are in your seventies and someday you are going to leave me. You are frail now. Not at all like the Martha I knew all those years ago. Has it really been thirty-six years since Martha and Henry came to be?

I remember the sun caressing my checks. I was a ball of eneegy ready to explode because I was no longer dead. You helped me find my will to live. Life was incredible in Florence, Italy! I had been there long enough to speak a little and understand a lot of the language. An American couple overheard us speaking English while out walking and they came at us in a heated gallop. “Oh, thank the heavens. Martha, they speak English”. Apparently, he believed his wife to ignorant to catch on to that tidbit of info so he just had to tell her. “My name is Martha. Could you PUHLEEEEEZ tell us how to get to the nearest McDonald’s?” The brat in me almost fell on the ground laughing. This was 1980, after all. There were no fast food restaurants in Italy. Period. I thought that poor woman was going to have a stroke right in front of me. Poor Martha and Henry. If they were so interested in American food, they should have saved their money and stayed home. All wasn’t lost. They went on their merry way in search of the nearest leather goods shop.  I bet that couple went the rest of their lives without ever knowing what the “Ponte Vecchio” was or the fact that it was the ONLY bridge in Florence which survived WWII. I lay odds they had some mighty fine leather coats though!  The most beautiful city in the world and most of them just wanted gold, leather and McDonald’s. It was tragic to witness. I’m ashamed to admit I was just the same in the beginning but if you stick around Florence for awhile, she has a way of changing you. What I wouldn’t give to stand in Piazzale Michelangelo with you for 30 minutes while staring down at la piu bella citta nel mondo. Martha, please come back to me. Let’s go back to the most beautiful city in the world. We were so happy and alive there. Even our fights were fewer and further between in Florence. They were never as ugly as they had been in the “Merca”. I miss hearing baby Kate say that. English was my youngest sister’s second language and she couldn’t say “America” when she was three. 

We spent the rest of our days doing this “Martha and Henry” routine when we were out on long walks. That happened to be any day the weather allowed us outside. We laughed until we almost wet ourselves. And now “Martha” lies in her hospital bed, in a level one neuro trauma center with a breathing tube down her throat. She has been there a week now. They weaned her off the vent this morning, but a mere 30 minutes later she had to be intubated again. “Mommy, mommy please wake up. Don’t leave me. I’m too little. I still need you”. How odd too feel so young and vulnerable at the ripe old age of fifty-four. I’ve known for almost five decades that there would come a day my parents would leave me.  When we’re young, we can’t even begin to fathom the fear and grief that can put a chokehold on you as that day draws near. As the tears surge down my cheeks, I can’t help but wonder if I will feel ninety again. Will I feel dead again like I did all the years ago in the “Merca”? I don’t know how I will be able to afford to keep my promise to you, but I will find a way. You want your ashes spread in Florence, as do I. I am good for it, mommy. Florence was the only place I ever got to see you joyful. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to experience the same feelings you experienced. Those two years were the happiest of my life. I couldn’t be happier that I got to share them with you. 

I love you, mommy. Please don’t leave me yet. I admit I am being very selfish. It’s so wrong of me and I can’t help it. Just promise me one thing. When you leave this world, please find a way to be near me from time to time. I will know you are there, just as I have always been able to sense when you were in trouble and needed me. I know you remember the night I ran all the way from the club to our home in Florence because absolute fear and panic set in for no explicable reason. I went flying into the house to find you in desperate need of an ambulance. Both times you have ended up on the vent, I knew hours before that you were in serious danger medically. I will know you are near to me. If you do leave me, I hope your journey will be full of peace and joy. I hope you find the hapiness that only Florence was able to give you here on earth. 

Thank you for teaching me the most important things one needs to know on this earth. Manners, compassion, honor, honesty, dignity, fairness, love and above all else, that ALL humans are equal. Race, religion and financial status is not who we are. Those things are just accessories. Who we are comes down to the choices we make when no one is watching. Do we do the right thing if we think we won’t get caught? Because of you, I am a better person than I might have been without you. 

I love you, Martha. I always have. I will see you in a few hours. 

Love and hugs,

The first child of your heart. (I never get tired of hearing you say that. 

I can stay ONLY if:

If my heart yearns for you with each of its chambers,  

If my body will be satiated by your caress alone, 

If my lust will answer only to the song our bodies sing as they meld, 

If my heart feels a searing heat in your presence, 

If darkness fades from my weary soul at the mere thought of you, 

If you are the smile upon my lips as I slumber, 

If you are my first thought when I awaken, 

If your name is the one which calms my fear in the darkness, 

Then, and only then, if I hear your soul cry out for mine, will I be able to stay. 

An Official Diagnosis! 

First of all, a huge thank you to everyone for all of the awesome get well wishes! That made me feel so loved. You guys are the best. One thing this blog has shown me is that I have great taste in bloggers! You guys really are the best. Thank you. 

So, check out what $10 got me on Tuesday.  An appointment with my favorite P.A., a shot in the toosh, a diagnosis and three scripts. $5 for the visit and $5 for all three scripts. I’m excited about that second part. I love Cigna Healthspring.  My official diagnosis – the creeping crud, as I call it. Just a virus. No special name for it. Just a virus. A particularly nasty one but in the end, just a virus. Sue said if I weren’t better by Friday to come back and I swear I heard the dreaded word in there somewhere – hospital.  No thanks. Did life support for eight days right at eleven months ago.  Not doing that again for awhile.  

I am still pretty tired but certainly feeling better than I have for the last nine or ten days. 

There is a moral to this story. Simple. Don’t be a frigging dufus like me. If you start feeling icky, go to the damn doctor. Don’t wait a week.   Sue said this virus is running rampant and it ain’t pretty! 

I hear the couch calling my name.  I have something crazy to tell you guys tomorrow so please pop back in tomorrow night. 

Thanks for everything you guys! 

Hugs, 

Leah

Sick, sick, sick! 

I have numerous comments to respond to and I will.  I apologize for not getting back to you guys sooner. I started getting sick on Monday and still have no clue what is going on. I’m going to try to get to urgent care today. I know I ran a high fever on Wednesday because I was actually delirious and now I have 3 fever blistersblisters! I only have those if I get a fever. I feel like my skin is sun burned, my gums hurt, fever, fever blisters and sick at my stomach IF I eat. I will get back to each one of you as soon as I get to the doctor.  

Hugs, 

Leah

And then came Lori.

I wasn’t looking for a new friend. I didn’t even want a new friend.  Lord knows I didn’t need one more person in my life to disappoint. Their words say one thing but if you are paying attention, at all, you can see the disappointment conveyed with their eyes.

“Yes, I am in too much pain to go to the yard sales with you”.  “No, my back can’t take 2 hours in a movie theater chair”.  “I would love to come to your Christmas party but don’t you think your guests might be annoyed when I uproot them from the couch because my pain says it’s time to lay down”? 

I could fill a very lengthy post with the “excuses” I have had to give over the years, but I don’t want to make you go stir crazy hoping for actual content to come along.

I was down to one friendship and that one was tenuous at best. She was past the point of being fed up with my “excuses”. We had been friends for a very long time. We had weathered many storms together. We were always there for each other, no matter what, day or night.

Then came Lori. She came before that other friendship died. We met five years ago. Our boys were in third grade and had become the best of friends. They wanted to spend every waking moment together. That meant sleep overs. That meant getting to know the parents. I wondered how often I would disappoint them. It was inevitable. The boys seemed to want to do their sleep overs here most of the time which meant Lori and J (soon to be ex) would bring Erric over to my house. We would sit around talking and cutting up. I liked Lori instantly. She likes loves to laugh. I took an instant disliking to J. I even tried hard not to like Lori, only because I knew I would eventually see the disappointment in her eyes. If you don’t have any friends to lose, then it won’t hurt. Right?

We spent the next four years being in and out of touch. They moved a few times, got new phones and changed schools. It broke Josh’s heart every time we lost touch. It was something else to see Josh and Erric’s eyes dance with joy when we would bump into each other at the store after a long absence. I bumped into Lori at the store about a year and a half ago. No more “bumping into” since then. We have been inseparable since that day. Her little punch buggy was loaded down with belongings. She had finally realized she deserved better. She was moving into her own place. Of course Erric could spend the night with us while she was moving.

I wasted so many years being afraid to let her in. I will always regret that. I will never regret finally giving in to her sparking eyes and infectious laugh! We are not best friends. Not even close. We are sisters. We can sit for hours talking and joking about the dumbest things. Occasionally, we get serious and chat about important things. But shit, who has time for serious stuff when you can giggle like school girls all day? And guess what? I have NEVER seen disappointment in her eyes! When I hurt too much to sit up, we just each grab a couch, get cozy and go back to laughing.

Lori doesn’t let my pain interfere with our sisterhood. She works around it and fits me in. She often brings tears to my eyes and sometimes even makes me pee my pants. I am getting older, you know. Sometimes, the tears come because for the life of me I can’t figure out what I did to deserve this amazing woman being my friend – sister. I can only hope that I give to her spirit what she gives to mine. Her love is unconditional. Her spirit is bigger than life. When I am with her, I know I am home.

Lori, my beautiful sister, I love you more than life itself. Thank you for being such an incredible you and for being willing to put up with me. Most of all, thank you for eyes that have never conveyed disappointment and never will.

I hope everyone has a “Lori” in their lives. If not, I hope you find one soon!

Hugs,

Leah

Regarding Bertha’s Legacy, Jamie’s Future.

This will be a quicky. I wanted to let you all know that I have not forgotten about or given up on Bertha and Jamie. I never will give up on that. This last week has been a real eye opener for me and I have come to accept that a couple of other little things have to take place first.

Most important of all is that I can’t fix the world while I am so broken. I am now taking steps to work on me and put me back together. If I am broken, how can I even attempt to fix something that has been broken a lot longer than I have and is shattered into far more pieces than I am. The best way I can honor Bertha and Jamie is to fix me first so that I can give them my all when I take on the world!

The second thing I have realized is that I don’t have a CLUE how to go about setting up and running an organization such as this. Knowledge is power and power can be a great thing when it is used for the right reasons. I have found a place where I can take some basic classes (for free) which will provide me with some of the tools necessary for such an undertaking and it will also help connect me with others who feel the same. Without a little knowledge and a few tools, I will certainly fail Bertha and Jamie. Failure is not an option. They deserve better.

There is only one race that matters. The human race. No child should ever go to bed hungry. No child should have to lay their head on their pillow with a fear of dying in the night from a stray bullet. EVERY child in this world should receive an excellent education. Every child should be raised with the knowledge that they are as good as every other child in this world. The best way you can honor your child is by teaching them that we are all equal and we all deserve the chance to reach our goals and fulfill our dreams.  Teach them that the ONLY right thing to do on their journey is to reach out for anyone who may be struggling on theirs and help them up. Teach your children that we are all in this together. Teach them that EVERYONE is worthy of a helping hand. Teach them that there is no honor in turning your back on someone who needs your help. There is no joy to be found when someone else fails, especially if we had an opportunity to help them succeed.

MOST OF ALL, IF YOU WANT YOUR CHILDREN TO LIVE THE HAPPIEST LIFE POSSIBLE THEN DON’T TEACH THEM ABOUT HATE. TEACH THEM ABOUT THE MIRACLES THAT LOVE CAN BRING ABOUT.

Until my soul is stronger and I have tools in my toolbox, please don’t forget about Bertha and Jamie.

Hugs,

Leah

WordPress community rocks!

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Because of the love and support this community has bestowed upon me, I am finding it much easier to hold onto this new found sense of self-worth rather than returning to the black hole. I have made the decision many times in my life not to be a doormat for others only to return to the black hole within days. That’s because I never had a support system like the one I have found in my followers. It’s mind boggling how a group of perfect strangers can touch the very core of my soul, yet the people I have known forever are blind to my pain.

I am doing this for me. I also find myself looking at the list of people who have liked, followed or commented on my post/posts and realize that I don’t want to let any of you down. You chose to invest some portion of your life into mine and I am honored and grateful. I feel like a little kid who wants to make her mommy and daddy proud.

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I have wanted to get serious about this blogging business for a long time and even though I received much love and encouragement with each post, I would continue to allow the gatekeeper of the black hole to convince me that no one really cared about anything I had to say. Well, I fired the gatekeeper and filled in the hole with cement so the joke is on them! I am completely lost when it comes to setting up WordPress so that it looks and functions the way I want it to. I have found a couple of local WordPress groups for beginners. The groups are free and run by people who have been using WordPress for a long time. I hope to someday have enough knowledge so that I will be able to help the newbies. I am going to take some writing courses so that I can feel more confident when I sit down to write. Due to years of neglecting my brain and having to take medication which affects the  memory pods, I have forgotten even the basics of grammar.

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There are no words to adequately express the love and gratitude I feel for each and every one of you. Thank you for lifting me up out of the darkness and for blocking the way back. I want you to know that every goal I reach and every dream that comes true will have a piece of each of you in it. It touches something very deep inside me when someone takes time out of their life to read my words and an even deeper place when you take the time to share words of encouragement, hope and love. I keep reading the comments of the last few days over and over again and tears stream down my checks. Only now, they are tears of hope and joy. Something is very different this time. I am very different this time. Thank you, from the depths of my soul, thank you.

I am trying to make sure I have responded to everyone. My hacker stalker is back again. I have lived here for eight years and have been through eight computers during that time. I have tried every anti-virus program out there. I have taken the computers to technicians and I have paid other technicians to come to the house. If not for this guy, I would probably be rich right now. I have figured out more on my own than any of them did. I am pretty sure I have a “man in the middle” issue going on. I am going to try yet another company this week. Please keep your fingers crossed. He seems to own my phones as well. The reason I am bringing this up is because if there is anyone whom I have not responded to, I would really like to hear from you as it means I probably didn’t get your message to begin with. Because your responses to my posts are helping me find the determination to never again give up, then it is critical that I don’t miss a single one.  

Thank you for hitching a ride on my journey. I don’t know how long this ride will be under construction but I hope it will be a very long time. Perfection is impossible to attain and if we feel there is no longer anything we need to learn in life, then how empty and boring our lives would become.

Hugs,

Leah