Ten Years

It is difficult to comprehend “never.”  And for most of us, it is inconceivable to think “never” will ever come.

But it does.

Ten years ago today.  A Tuesday, just like today.  An uncharacteristically warm day, just like today.  A work day I remember enjoying.  Just like today.

A routine day.

And then…  A new reality.

Ten years ago today, my mother passed away.

Thousands of days have passed.  Millions of moments.  Billions of Sentimental Synapses Coalescing in an Altered Certainty.

I do not write for sympathy or compassion because (to be perfectly honest) I am not sad.  How could I be?  She may have left, but she is not gone.  She is in my heart and a part of my very existence.  She comes to me in dreams, in memories, and in moments.  I feel her when I cry and I feel her when I laugh.  She sits with me and together we watch my children grow and succeed.  I may not have the ability to physically see her or hear her voice, but I am not alone.

They say a mother’s love is eternal.

And so, on the ten year anniversary of my mother’s death, I do not mourn.  I celebrate.  She has left, but she is not gone.  She is love.

The Most Overused Word in the English Langauge

I have been thinking a lot about the word “love”.  It is the most overused word in the English language (and probably in most of the almost 6900 languages in the world).

Why do we find the need to describe every feeling with the word “love”?

I love that show!   I love my shampoo.  I love Bradley Cooper.

Really?  Is it really love I feel for television, products, and actors?

Seemingly, I find some programming to be well-written, comical, or thoughtful, and so some shows outweigh others.  But does that mean love?  No, it would probably be more accurate to say I am partial to certain programs because I feel a sense of pleasure and enjoyment while I am watching them.

As for my shampoo, I mean it really does make my hair feel soft.  Because of its quality, I think I feel an allegiance to my brand.

And, most women would agree that Bradley Cooper is a hottie, and most men would agree that he is a good actor.  However, I do not know Bradley Cooper personally, I know the characters he plays in films, and the way he portrays himself in interviews.  Yet, I do not know him know him, and so I think what I feel is fond of his abilities.

Love.  I feel it is important to use this word sparingly, and only in a context when I mean it.  If I say “love” it should come from my heart and be real.

love

Case in point: When we were younger, my brother and I were ridiculously close.  He is five years older than I am, but we were best friends, and the love we felt for each other was clear to anyone who knew us.  However, we ran into a hiccup in our twenties.  We began experiencing life differently.  We used to seem to have everything in common, and then suddenly we didn’t.  One day I realized that my focus in life was vastly different from my brothers, and instead of accepting each other and our individual outlooks on life, we developed a clear resentment for each other.  For no apparent reason, we didn’t really like each other as much as we did in the past, and I found that as siblings do, we worked hard to push each other’s buttons.

After my parents passed away seven years ago, we both realized that we needed to reconcile or our immediate family would be gone.  We were all that we had left.  For the first time in years, we made efforts to see each other and talk on the phone.  I found that we were both trying and when two people make an effort, what evolves is a ripening relationship.  Nonetheless, in all of those years, I still found it difficult to say “I love you,” although the love I felt for my brother had definitely began to return.

This past Christmas Eve, leaving his house, we engaged in the same awkward embrace that we always seem to share.  This time, it was different.  As I hugged my brother, for the first time in years, I said, “I love you.” I felt a sudden flush of emotion.  I blinked hard so as not to cry because what I said I meant and what I meant made me emotional.

You see, I think that is what should happen whenever I say “love”.  I think love should make me feel something deep in my core, and if it doesn’t, it’s probably a liking, amity, fidelity, or affection.    All of these words are important to emotional well-roundedness, but they are not love.  Love is a powerful word that should not be abused.  When I say it, I want it to mean something.

Happy Sweetest Day!

Happy Sweetest Day!

Wait, you have never heard of Sweetest Day?  That’s okay, no one else really has either.  It’s a Hallmark Holiday, although Hallmark didn’t invent it.

Here’s the back story: In the early 1900s, a bunch of confectioners got together and thought it would boost sales if they introduced a new holiday, which they termed “Sweetest Day.”  The original premise was to give sweets to someone who was a little down and out– an orphan, an elderly person, or someone convalescing– to boost morale.  A great idea that never took off and never went farther than the Cleveland area, from what I have come to understand.

When I started dating Tom in 1996, I thought everyone celebrated Sweetest Day.  My father would go to the Malley’s store on Brookpark and wait for hours to buy my mother chocolate covered strawberries.  Of course, he would stop at the florist as well.  To me, Sweetest Day was the second half of Valentine’s Day, and to share something special with the one you loved seemed like a wonderful sentiment.

Tom was in Wisconsin on our first Sweetest Day.  I baked homemade chocolate chip cookies and mailed them to his hotel.  When he received them, he called me.  “Umm, thanks for the cookies, but I don’t know what Sweetest Day is,” he said to me.

What?  How is that possible?  Did he live under a rock?

“It’s the third Saturday in October,” I said.  “Everyone celebrates.”

“Sugar (He likes to call me Sugar when he is being condescending), no one I am working with knows what it is either.  But thank you.”

I was a tiny bit miffed, until I talked to a few other people who did not grow up in the area, and I realized that unless you are from Cleveland, you don’t really celebrate this holiday.  Huh.  I was flabbergasted.  How could such a lovely holiday be a local phenomena?

Fast forward seventeen years, and I still like Sweetest Day.  Since that first holiday, Tom has never missed.  Each year, I have gotten flowers or candies or some little treat because I am his Sweetie.

006This year, however, Tom is in Green Bay.  He took a little road trip with “the guys” for a Browns game.  Yes, it will be exactly what you are thinking– a whole heck of a lot of drunken middle-aged men pretending they are twenty-somethings.  Before he left yesterday morning, he ran to the grocery store to pick up supplies.  He got snacks, beer, and a special treat of donuts for our girls.  For me?  Nothing!  He forgot.  And even though I received two carnations from a Secret Admirer at school that were strategically left in a vase on the kitchen counter, he didn’t think about what he was missing– so excited about his weekend, he forgot about me.

“You forgot,” I said.

“Seriously?” he said.  “I promise I will make it up to you next week.”  He left, and I felt a little sad.  I secretly hoped he was running back to the grocery store to buy me an overpriced bouquet.  Nope.  When he left the house, he left for good.

In the scheme of things, I knew it didn’t matter.  We have been together for seventeen wonderful years, and Tom surprises me with flowers every-so-often, and I know the random flowers “just because” mean more than the made-up-Cleveland-only-holiday flowers do.

But, I cannot say that I wasn’t a little bit giddy when the delivery truck pulled into our driveway late yesterday afternoon and delivered this beautiful bouquet.

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