A Fitting Comparison

“Getting measured for a bra is like waking up blind.
It’s terrifying, shocking, carries a large degree of denial
and makes you question everything you thought you knew
about yourself and life.”

—- Sister Rain



It’s fascinating to me that we are able to live our lives without something we have lost and not feel the effects every second of every day. Of course a fresh wound is a different story, it requires a long recovery before even developing a scab, followed by it being ripped off at every sound, smell and place. A scar is the goal; the pain diminished, the permanent mark left on you for the rest of your life. What I’m referring to is years down the road when you have adjusted to the new normal without the piece of yourself long gone.

As documented here often, I can no longer drive. To quickly review: it was my thing, I would go anywhere, anytime, it was freedom, it was independence.

When Uber came to town I forced myself to appreciate it as a way to get out on my own without family and friends having to chauffeur me around. It’s not the same as sitting behind the wheel but I have learned that adapting is surviving.

Then one Friday this summer, a friend took me home after lunch. She told me she was going away for the weekend to the beach, she says she needs a break, she needs to get away and relax. I don’t say anything but I am immediately angry. Not at her but my circumstances. I had had a difficult week too and I would have loved to get away. Not to the ocean, which will never be the same for me again since my beach buddy, my mom, died, but to just get in my car and drive.



And with the start of her ignition as she drove away, I crashed.

Without a seat belt.

Without air bags.

It hurt like hell.

Had this been an actual auto accident, it would have sent me to the emergency room for sure.

As I struggled all weekend to heal, I wondered about our day-to-day ability to go on without being t-boned by the violent impact of a prior loss. On this particular afternoon I could not swerve quickly enough. It was a hit and run but truth be told yI am consistently run over by words said innocently. Most days I walk away without a scratch. Why do our psychological bumpers protect us most of the time and then one day, “BAM!”

I miss driving. Every day. But that day my inability to do so crushed me. I don’t know why. I never saw it coming. Call NASCAR. I may not be able to drive but that is what you call coming full circle.


$150 Later, We’re Rich

Mammogram, g-y-n, dental and eye
Tests and exams every year
Time consuming and bothersome, always
Some come with a level of fear.

But nothing compares to one day each fall:
Piper’s annual trip to the vet
His well-check appointment is nerve-wracking to us
His daddy’s and my palms start to sweat.

Just to be clear, Piper’s perfectly fine
His parronts on this both agree
But cancer took our first feathered boy
So it’s hard to approach leery-free.

The doctor listens to his heart and looks in his mouth
Weighs him and feels his little belly
She leaves the room with a sample of poop
We stand by with legs made of jelly.

Dr. C returns and we hold our breath
The diagnosis: everything’s great
Instant relief, we can finally exhale
It seemed like a very long wait.

My husband will tell you: happy wife, happy life
But this should be decreed:
Bird healthy, we’re wealthy
There’s nothing more we could possibly need.

Forty Is The New Spoiled Milk

I recently heard a reputable medical professional say that the human body is built to work for only 40 years. That explains why on the morning of that auspicious birthday, suddenly your knees crack, your lower back sings and you are exhausted from getting up multiple times during the night to relieve your past-its-shelf-life bladder. And why your arms are no longer long enough to hold reading material at a distance at which you can actually see to read.

The main thought I had, though, was how did my grandmother live to 96? How did she walk this earth, in great form, by the way, for another 56 years? She lost a kidney along the way but otherwise her parts were all original. I have a newfound respect for her and all who outlast a machine meant to operate for only 4 short decades. Even in my early 50s, I am apparently on borrowed time. My optic nerves recognized this at 47 and quit while they were ahead. Now that I know they stuck around 7 years after their expiration date, I’m a little less angry with them. After all, they served their time.

The doctor who presented this theory, by the way, is a few months older than me. Which adds credibility to his premise. He’s not just a scientist, he knows of what he creaks.


Sponging Off Each Other

Cameras are everywhere these days. Everyone’s phones, traffic, web, surveillance, security and elevator cams capture our every move. Big Brother is watching . . . but so are the actual people in the footage with us. Much like a child we try so hard not to swear in front of, we are all sponges, taking in what others say and do.

My husband was recently telling his hair stylist (I offered to change this to barber but he assured me his virility can handle the truth) about some upcoming trips and events he and I are planning, as well as some impending trouble my girlfriends and I will be getting into. His coiffeur (he’s probably reconsidering “barber” right now) said, “She hasn’t let it (the vision loss) slow her down.”

He shared this with me when he got home. I was touched and it made proud, something I typically don’t allow. It has been a long, dark road to get here, something I am as equally forthright about when I tell my story as I am about my everyday goings on. And I will also disclose in these conversations that it’s still difficult to live like this. But that’s what I’m doing, playing the hand I’ve been dealt, showing up at the table. We all are and others are observing us. Not in a stalking manner, although there is Scary Guy who lives a few blocks over that I avoid when I walk for exercise, but in an osmosis way. Without even realizing it, we still, as adults, draw from others, storing away their actions and behaviors. That is, until we need them, then they come to the forefront of our minds. None of us should underestimate the impact we can have on someone else. How we live our life may very well influence how another lives their own.

I may never know why I woke up blind without warning. And honestly I’d prefer to have my sight back. But if one person sees me getting out there when I can’t see and remembers that and keeps going themselves when life gets hard, that is not a bad legasee. What will yours be?


My Lamp Beside The Cherry Door

I never really loved my house. We moved in a month before we were married and it was what we could afford at the time. My husband technically lived with his parents after graduating from college the year before we met, although not long after our first date, ironically, blind, I was finding drawer and closet space for him in my apartment. It made sense to stop making someone else rich with our monthly payment and find a place to own.

The house is a twin; here on the East Coast that means we share a common wall with our neighbor. There are nine rooms, including a full basement and a full attic, and a detached garage out back. The backyard is postage stamp sized but there are enough flower beds, bushes and trees to consume several weekends each year. And there are fourteen steps and sidewalk out front to shovel when the snow comes, as well as a back patio and paths to the garage, trash cans and grill. In our naiveté we thought we were buying something small, probably because it was a twin and not a single building surrounded by a large lot. We had plans to have a place at the beach and thought we were purchasing the perfect home here to allow us to enjoy a place there, by the ocean.

The house was built in 1920 and I’ve always felt it was hard to keep clean, its age no match for cleaning products and elbow grease. Don’t get me wrong, we have beautiful wood doors in every room, stained a rich cherry, as is the trim around the doors and windows, the baseboards, and the banister of the fourteen steps to the second floor. There is a unique and Impressive light on the newel post that people see as soon as they come into the house and their first question is always, “Does it work?” It does.

We have learned some history of the house over the years, through town experts and census records. There are three others like ours on the street, none of them right next to another “twin”. I guess they’re really quadruplets, though, aren’t they? A large manufacturing company used to be across the street and these four twins were built for the Vice Presidents of the corporation back in the day. That’s what we had originally heard but then we came to find out that several of the twins were boarding houses for immigrants who came from Philadelphia to work “in the country” at the production facility. Ours was one of them. Visitors to our house always ask about its origins and we are always proud to share what we know. And yet I always felt that something modern and new was more my style.

The price of a home at the Jersey shore quickly became an abandoned dream; we are not millionaires nor will we inherit property there. There are no other options when it comes to obtaining your own sand castle. Even so, we stayed where we were. It was manageable for our lifestyle: no children and the desire to see and do as much as work and finances would allow. And still I felt deep inside that there is a “better” place for me, of newer construction, shiny and new. But had we moved to a higher-mortgage or found a way to afford a second home by the sea, when I lost my career after waking up without my sight, we would have lost our home. Our homes.

It has only been in the last few years that we learned that boarders once lived here. As I move from room to room in the course of a day I wonder where they slept and what spaces they shared. I wish these walls could talk. We have been painting these walls this year, decorating rooms with a fresh look for the first time since we moved in two and a half decades ago. Scraping, spackling and brushing on new color allows for intimacy, similar to when you dig in the dirt; you feel all the years that came before and you feel a different connection than you do walking the halls for twenty-five years.

My husband and I are planning a few visits to some historical places; I am a well-documented lover of this country’s origins. Doing research for one of these trips the other day, I put down the iPad and went into the kitchen to start making dinner. Switching gears from U.S. history to that of my house, I wondered how many meals had been created in this room, how many people had sat down to dinner here. And it hit me like the ton of bricks used to build what surrounded me: this house is the perfect home for me! I’m the woman who exclaims, “OH, MY!” in the basement crypt containing the remains of John, Abigail, John Quincy and Louisa Adams. I’m the woman who can recite the Gettysburg Address and what the plaque at the base of the Statue of Liberty reads. I am the woman who once begged a park ranger to please let me spend a night in one of the replica log huts in Valley Forge National Historical Park to experience the horrid conditions in winter. Granted, the woman who made the request was a girl, I was twelve, but you get the point.

It took me awhile to get here. House, I love you. Sometimes you’re exactly where you’re meant to be and you don’t even know it. I live in a house that is full of history, including my own.


At Least It’s The Season Of The Undead

Someone recently told me I couldn’t possibly be legally blind because my eyes don’t look dead.

I was appalled, offended and shocked. I could have used the opportunity to educate or fire back an angry retort. Instead, my undead eyes just stared at them. Even seeing the words come out from between their lips wouldn’t be believing.

I walked away and once the unsettling surprise wore off, and it took awhile, I wondered what goes on in a person’s head before something like that comes out of their mouth?

And then I hoped I’d never find out.

Fakebook Friends

We post the happiest pictures on Instagram: everyone smiling, at interesting places, having a great time. We publish wonderful sentiments about people, events and occasions on Facebook. We Tweet about rainbows and unicorns in 280 characters or less. We are all loving life . . . and each other. At least that’s what we want our followers to believe.

We collect “friends” like my nephew collected baseball cards when he was younger, fervently and haphazardly, people who barely know us in real life. For if they did they would know we really weren’t thrilled to be at that baby shower, even though we paparazzied and published every onesie and breast pump (one for every room, car and travel!), captioning them with words as sweet as the smell of baby powder. There are birthday wishes sent to and received from virtual visitors who only know it’s our special day because our sister posted a picture of us on our 12th birthday, all pimples, pigtails, braces and awkwardness. We could eradicate world hunger if these were pennies — salutations exchanged between two people, each not knowing how the other really feels about them or anything, except what we feed the world in our feeds. Comments are made in response to the picture posted of Kitty by people we think so little of in real life we wouldn’t let them change Kitty’s litter box. But in the screen world, Kitty gets a like or an “Awwww” and it fills an empty void inside, the need for numbers outweighing the fact that we’ve told the people outside the cyber world that this one has really packed on the pounds or that one is sneaky at work. But “So sorry to hear your grandmother died.”

We hear so much talk of trolls, cowards who hide behind their anonymous screen names, posting nasty things about others without fear of retribution. It is modern-day bullying and it is rampant and disgusting. But those who pose as friends online then disparage in real life are no better. If anything, they are worse. They are not our friends. They are the two-faced emoji, not found on our keyboards but walking amongst us everyday.


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