Suspicious Fish

fishI had a dream about parmesan fish
Floating in a tomato red dish
It all seems so very suspish
Someone tell me what this means

They were up above the world so high
Those cheesy fish could really fly
Still, this is no excuse to cry
Perhaps my brain is rebelling

It makes me feel all itchy
And wrong and mean and bitchy
I can be more than just a little witchy
I am not myself at all

I hate it when I get like this
My soul seems to be quite amiss
Perhaps I just need a little kiss
This is really messing with my head

I’m not the angel I was raised to be
And for that I am truly sorry
Someday I hope to be a better me
No, I don’t know what it means

Just let me close my eyes and sleep
Forget this day, forget this dream
Payback I’ve learned can be very steep
I’m just a woman so please forgive me

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Pondering Death’s Visit and Living Your Truth

I’m having surgery in 4 days. Last week I met with the 2 surgeons performing the surgery. They are kind and personable and explain 0handsmedical terms in a way that a non-medical person can understand. They are respected in their field and are very good at what they do.

The main surgeon who is doing the more tricky parts told me he’d be treating me as if I were his wife or sister on the operating table. He’s talked to numerous other doctors to get their input. He’s studied my case, my files, my test results. He is confident and meticulous and if ever during the surgery there is a question, there are many, many colleagues he can call on for advice or assistance.

“But,” he told me, “I am not God.”

That was refreshing to hear because some surgeons do believe they are God. This I knew was the lead-up to him telling me what could go wrong during surgery. He said he had to tell me these things; not to make me worry or make me think these things would definitely happen, but to make me aware, to be honest, and to see that medicine is not a perfect science and things can go wrong.

“Of course,” I said.

He decided to start off with the worst-case scenario. I suppose it is best to get that out of the way. I mean, once that one is out of the way, all the other things that could go wrong seem quite insignificant.

“I have to tell you this. There is a an infinitesimal chance that death could occur. I mean, a 1% chance.”

I noted how he said it, I suppose to soften the blow. He didn’t say, “You could die,” which is what he meant, but he said it in a more passive way, like Death could possibly float into the room, say hello and go along his way.

Hearing it was unsettling. However, I understand it’s not very likely that it will happen. And the truth is, we could die at anytime for a multitude of reasons. It’s just a bit more worrisome knowing you are putting yourself in that position by choice (although a choice that is necessary for my quality of life).

When one has a child the prospect of death becomes a million times more sobering. In our younger, carefree days, we feel immortal, we don’t worry about death. Even I, who grew up with a chronic illness, did not feel threatened by being mortal. Now, however, the warning that my doctor gave me has been stuck in the front of my brain.

I talked to friends and asked them if I was insane or overreacting for wanting to write my son a letter,  a sort of goodbye, telling him how much I love him and always will and what I wish for him. Everyone said that I should certainly do that, if only to purge those thoughts and to take that worry from my mind.

I’ve started the letter about ten different times and have already written the words in my head for what feels like a thousand times. Each time I do; however, my eyes start stinging from the tears. Of course I don’t want to leave my son behind. And I won’t be! I think about those poor mothers or fathers who have terminal cancer and know they are dying and are going to leave their children behind. That is heartbreaking. I am grateful that my condition is nowhere near as serious as that.

Illness changes a person. You have a different outlook on life. You figure out your truth and try your best to live by it. I realize the importance of living with passion and getting my feelings all out there. I can see the frailty of life. So, while I’m confident this letter will not be read by my son next week, it will surely be a great reminder of what I want to share with him, teach him and how to guide him. My hope is to raise him and to make him feel loved and cherished and teach him what I think is important and let him flourish in whatever ventures he chooses. It also reminds me what I need to share with all those I care about.

I tell my son every day that I love him. I hug him and kiss him. He’s little and loves it now, and I will continue to do that until the day I die. I won’t embarrass him in front of his friends, but I will not stop showing him how much he means to me, no matter how annoying it gets to him. Every child goes through those years of rebellion and breaking away from his parents. But once he grows out of that stage, my hope is that he’ll remember how I never gave up on him, no matter how shitty he could sometimes act (because all teenagers are a bit crazy…or a lot crazy). I’ll still love him, no matter what.

For me, the greatest trait a person can possess is kindness. I’m not talking about wimpiness or a walk-all-over-me attitude,  but I wish for my son to possess a light that shines in his heart which pushes him to help his fellow human beings (friend or not) and would never allow him to hurt someone else on purpose. I already see this in him, but I will continue to teach him through my own actions and through discussions about his life experiences on how important it is to keep that light burning. If we are to leave a mark on this world, shouldn’t it be to make it a better place?  I want my son to be known as a good guy – sensitive, generous and sincere. We’ve all been knocked down, whether by illness or abuse or bullying or poverty or  prejudice. Everyone carries around their own share of pain. Isn’t it time to be kinder, be the bigger person and not perpetuate the hate?

It’s not aways easy to be kind, and that is why it takes courage. My wish is for my son to have courage and strength. He should stand up for what he believes in. He should stand up for anyone who is getting bullied or harassed. And most important of all, he should have the courage to show his feelings. I understand the courage that it takes, because the fear of rejection is strong. Also, you don’t know how the other person will react; most crushing can be when someone doesn’t react at all. However, in this one life we are given, we should not squander our feelings, but instead share them boldly. Secrets can diminish us, but those that speak their truth can stand proud in knowing they are not holding anything back.

I want him to discover his passions and live them. He’s 6 now, so he wants to be everything from an opera singer, spy, magician, superhero, video game designer and an architect. As he grows, he will discover what really excites him and makes his pulse race. I would never dictate what that should be. I will certainly be unwavering in my desire for him to have a passion for learning, because that’s where it all begins. From there, he can see where his talents lie and what he wants to do with them. I hope he sees my tenacity and learns the importance of never giving up. With dreams, goals and hard work, one can accomplish whatever they desire.

I wish for him to have true-blue friends. Of course this means that he needs to be a true-blue friend. He doesn’t need a ton of them, but a special few that share his interests and values, friends that can make him laugh and friends that encourage him to think about things differently. He should be loyal and forgiving and love them like family. True friends help you when you fall, and in our lives there are plenty of times when we need a little help.

My little boy will grow up and fall in love. He will probably have his heart broken numerous times, but when the time is right I hope he finds “the one” partner for him. Whomever he dates and ultimately chooses, he needs to show that kindness in his heart, communicate well, love with everything he’s got, be a gentleman and cherish and protect the heart he holds. He needs to know when to say “I’m sorry,” and love passionately. He needs to have patience and gratitude and never give up on that person. And hopefully, by showing him all the love I have for him and what a great person he is, he will know what he deserves – someone that will cherish him as much as I do.

I don’t think it’s bad to ponder the frailty of life and let it guide you. Although your ideals may be much different than mine, I believe it’s important to know what those ideals are. What message are you giving to the world? Are you living and loving with passion? Are you sharing your truth, your soul? I don’t want Death to visit me for a long, long time. But when he does, I don’t want there to be anything in me left unspoken.

Soulmates?

Johnny & June - definitely soulmates.

Johnny & June – as depicted in film and in real life – were definitely soulmates.

My good friend E and I had a running discussion that lasted for several years about whether soulmates actually existed. I believe they do, she believes they do not.

When she and I met I was single and she was -and still is – married. We taught together at the same school. During one “ice-breaker” activity on the first inservice day, we had to share what our favorite book was. She and I both answered Catcher in the Rye. From that point on, I knew we were meant to be friends for life.

I don’t remember exactly how the subject of soulmates came up, but I would imagine that I was waxing poetically about how I desired to meet mine: The One, someone I couldn’t live without, someone who was connected to me by our souls. Not missing a beat she said, “There is no such thing as a soulmate.”

I was shocked. My friend ,who felt the same way as me about one of the most resounding and memorable characters in literature (Holden was innocent, kind, confused, cynical and ultimately romantic), actually didn’t believe in soulmates? How is that even possible?

She explained, after I forced my mouth closed, “that there is not one single person out there for everybody.” She continued to say you meet people by chance. If you find qualities you like in that person and find them attractive, then there you go. There was no mystical universe plotting and planning our love lives.

Yes, dear reader, I do agree, in a world with billions of people, there may be more than one person suited for us, one that we connect with on a higher level. And most likely we can have more than one soulmate. It could be a friend or a lover. Here’s one definition of soulmate from Merriam-Webster:

Definition of SOULMATE

1: a person who is perfectly suited to another in temperament

2: a person who strongly resembles another in attitudes or beliefs <ideological soul mates>

Now, a less academic definition from Urban Dictionary:

A soulmate is someone you have a very deep connection. It is not always easy explained. It is a meeting of mind, heart, body and soul on the highest of levels. Communication is at its easiest, as they understand you perfectly, and accept you completely with no judgments.

E’s husband is a lovely man – smart, funny, successful, athletic, has a great taste in music, is complimentary and kind – but he is not E’s soulmate. I would suspect this is why she doesn’t believe in them (nor does he, by the way). They have a normal, imperfect, functioning marriage with three beautiful children. Are they right for each other? They seem to be just fine. I don’t know if there was ever any fire or passion in their relationship, but they both have very “chill” temperaments, so I don’t know if they are those kind of people. Not that they aren’t intelligent and deep, because they are, but they don’t necessarily have that fire in their soul – at least not when it comes to love. I would say they are comfortable.

Soulmate love is not a comfortable kind of love. In fact, it can be quite difficult. Because soulmates are very alike in very many ways. So, if there is something you don’t like about yourself, that quality will probably annoy the hell out of you in the other person. He knows how to push your buttons, and you know how to push his. But of course it is also amazingly beautiful because you feel connected, you feel that someone finally gets you and you can talk and talk for hours. You’re best friends. There is passion. There is someone who believes in you and you believe in him right back. He or she is the missing puzzle piece in your life.

I included the picture from Walk the Line because, well, I love that movie, and because Johnny Cash and June Carter are a great example of soulmates. Both were musical, passionate, talented, stubborn and completely and whole-heartedly in love. Everything was bigger with them. So, there were years of difficulties, but they stayed together and understood one another and were deeply in love. They were best friends. They respected one another and wrote songs together and performed together. They were cut from the same cloth. They were partners in crime.

A passionate-best friend-amazing lover-intellectual equal-cheerleader-inspirer-muse-type relationship isn’t what everyone aspires for. And that’s okay. But I have experienced a soulmate relationship. Sadly, for a million different reasons, it ended. Happily, we’re still friends. Incidentally, I was a teenager when we dated and had no clue about a lot of things. Life is certainly a great teacher and I didn’t realize what I had until….well, you know the rest. So, I know what I want and I know what my soul craves. While I don’t agree with E’s stance on soulmates, I do hope she’s right about there being more than one person out there for everyone.