A while back, I posted a happy little FaceBook status about meeting up with friends who had been “out of pocket” for a while and the lovely lunch I had with the couple.

That, coupled with the recent spate of posts and tweets I’ve seen recently concerning folks who’ve “unfriended” others solely because of their political persuasions led me to pen this blog.

These particular friends of mine are a rare breed of people who live “unfiltered” lives. If something is on their mind, or if they have strong feelings about a subject, political correctness be damned – they’re going to say what they think.

Some would find this honesty off-putting. I frankly find it refreshing. You always know where you stand with them. No sugar coating, no double-speak. Agree or disagree, they are an open book.

As you may well imagine in this day and age, their candor has managed to earn them a fair number of – if not enemies, certainly those who wouldn’t go out of their way to assist them, in both political and judicial circles. Indeed, those unfriendly folk, I’ve sadly discovered, are more than willing to sign on to any negative news without further investigation, to believe the worst and not seek to learn the truth.

For a little backstory, without rehashing and re-litigating the whole mess (and indeed, it was a mess), partly because of some missteps (some explainable, some not), and partly because of some nefarious dealings by a third party, an issue arose that, in my humble opinion, should have been adjudicated far differently. Unfortunately, and because of wholly ineffective legal counsel, evidence that, if not exculpatory should have at least been mitigating in this matter, never came to light.

Instead, not only was my friend branded as a modern day “Cruella DeVille” locally, nationally and internationally, she received death threats and essentially became a pariah. Finally, she was given the bum’s rush in what I perceived to be a sham trial and ended up behind bars. Through a cruel twist of fate, the judicial enemies they had collected years ago were ultimately the difference between freedom and incarceration. Again, in my humble opinion, needlessly.

Even as she was navigating her way through the gawdawful legal morass she’d been thrown into, every single time we communicated, her first thoughts were about my husband’s worsening health, and, after his passing, about my well-being.

Because the case was in litigation, I could not divulge the evidence I’d helped to uncover and watching the spectacle of holier-than-thou vultures circling her was heartbreaking for me. I know it must have been nightmarish for her. And yet, she kept her head high throughout – she never lost the grace and caring that I’d come to admire about her. If anything, seeing her handle all that was being thrown at her made me more certain than ever that I had indeed chosen well when I deemed her and her husband to be my friends.

Here’s my stance, for what it is worth, on friends. I don’t give a rat’s patooty who you voted for;

I could care less about your sexuality, your religious beliefs (or lack thereof);

or even your upbringing or background.

If you treat me with respect, if I find you to be a kind person, a gentle soul, if we have mutual interests, if we have shared experiences, if we like each other – you are a friend.

If you are my friend, I will fight for you, I will support your efforts, I will steadfastly not join in any internet lynch mobs being formed against you, and I will most certainly not walk away from you in your time of need.

And…if you are my friend, you remain my friend until such time as you intentionally set out to hurt me or someone I care about.


Upon my friend’s release, we met up for lunch and were able to enjoy a fabulous afternoon conversing about myriad topics – just as though nothing had happened.

That is what friends do.

It never ceases to delight me when I discover that I can reconnect with friends I haven’t seen for some time (for whatever reason), and we can pick up right where we left off – never missing a beat in that most treasured gift of friendship.

One of my favorite quotations is “A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words”.

I hope to always be able to sing the songs in the hearts of my friends back to them – for I know, I truly know that they will remember mine.


Buen Camino

walkA friend of mine is on the second leg of his Camino de Santiago.

The Camino de Santiago (the Way of St. James) is a large network of ancient pilgrim routes stretching hundreds and hundreds of miles across Europe and coming together at the tomb of St. James (Santiago in Spanish) in Santiago de Compostela in north-west Spain.

Pilgrims walking the Camino do so for many reasons. I’d wager that most of them are on a spiritual journey as much as a physical one. The intent of the “pilgrimage” is the goal of becoming your best self. To live your life by design instead of happenstance.

My friend began his Camino last fall, and ended it about halfway through due to medical issues. A few weeks ago, in his inimitable “press onward” style, he returned, determined to complete it. I’m honored and grateful to be one of the friends that he’s included in a closed group where he has been sharing photos and he recounts each day’s adventures. You might say I’m living vicariously through his pilgrimage. But, more than that, my friend has afforded me the wonderful opportunity to realize that, whether here or in Europe, we are all on our own journey, our own Camino.

A common phrase used by pilgrims greeting one another is “Buen Camino”, (literally “good path”). It is generally used as a shorthand wish of “good fortune and happy traveling”. It is also an acknowledgment that those you encounter are, like you, seeking perfection and attainment of their goals.

Each day presents us with obstacles and goals – gives us new challenges and adventures. Our determination to press onward in spite of the pain, the blisters, the boulders flung onto our path is really our own Camino. Whether we choose to forge our path and live a life that we desire or allow the happenings in life to shape our destiny – it is our unique journey.

But greeting fellow travelers with “Buen Camino” is also offered as a prayer that their day will be blessed with many wonders, that they will have an enjoyable walk and that they might arrive safely at their destination.

My wish for each of you today, my fellow travelers, is that you all come closer to your goals today. May you have an enjoyable walk and arrive at your destination safely.

“Buen Camino”.


Mamacita and Captain Cheaty Pants

As I’m continuing the long process of rearranging – my home, my future, my life, I’m coming across stacks of things that have been not buried as much as put out of sight. One of those stacks was dozens and dozens of 5 x 8 notepads. Those were our “score keeping pads” from our nightly bastardized version of gin rummy (mostly because we couldn’t totally remember the rules so, like so much else in life, we made up our own).

Those notepads unearthed another “out of sight” thing and I feel the need to deal with that as well. Every time I blog or post about my late husband, there are always a few comments on the order of “what a beautiful marriage you had”. And reading those, I feel a twinge of guilt. Yes, for the first 15 years, our marriage was what I’d consider pretty much picture perfect. We meshed. Never had an argument. Finished each others’ sentences. Agreed on damn near everything.

But in early 2009, things changed. My husband started spending more time online and less time with me. He and his friend had started a website, and he discovered online games. They consumed him. Looking back on it now, it makes perfect sense, he knew inside that his health was failing and his online time provided him the necessary escape from the pain, from the fear that I could not.

Because I didn’t know that then, I am sorry to say that I grew resentful. I felt shut out. In August, 2009, for the first time ever in our then 15 years together, we took separate vacations. He went out west to meet up with his brothers and his mom; I headed east to visit old friends. On day two of the vacation; I got a call that his stepmother (yes, I was blessed with two wonderful mothers in law) had a particularly vicious form of brain cancer and it was spreading at an exponential rate.

Instant vacation halt. He and I both raced back home and, within a few weeks time, she had passed away. The funeral and the whole situation we were suddenly pulled back into, really crystallized things for me. The vows I had spoken with him 15 years earlier said “Until death do you part”. They didn’t say “Until you get your feels hurt do you part” or “Until the grass on the other side looks greener do you part”.

We talked. We worked out our feelings, our fears. Most importantly, we recommitted to each other then and, I know in my heart that our marriage became stronger that summer.

Which brings me back to the notepads. One of our many good decisions resulting from our reunification and the rebirth of our union was that, at 8:00 pm every night, we would both shut off our computers, turn off the television, and meet at the kitchen table to play our personal private version of gin rummy. The first game he had three or four really good hands in a row. I looked at him and said “I don’t care if we’re up until 4:00 a.m., we are not going to bed until my score catches up with yours”. He threw the next few hands and, somehow, we ended up with a tie score. We both exchanged knowing glances and happily set off for bed.

Game one’s score sheet on the notepad had a line down the center and his initials on the left, mine on the right. Game two, I replaced the initials with “Sweet Little Old Me” and “Cheaty Pants”. I’d come up with another smarty pants version of names for each game for every night thereafter. We laughed at each appellation I came up with and each and every game until he became too sick to play ended up in a tie score – generally either because he or I threw hands and occasionally because I, as the scorekeeper, would fudge the math when the hour grew late or he grew too tired to play.

Over the next seven years, we amassed literally hundreds of notepads, but more important, we had quality “we time” as a sacrosanct part of each and every day.

The very last score sheet was titled “Mamacita and Captain Cheaty Pants” – and although it was only a few hands, the final score was a tie. Not through any sleight of hand or creative mathematics, just an honest to gosh tie.

Not a bad way to end.


June 4th

SDC10019For my husband, and for what should have been your birthday this year.

My first time remembering your birthday without you. Wow. There is so much that I miss.

To be sure, I don’t miss the fear in your eyes. I don’t miss the tears that I saw you try not to cry when the pain was too great or the ones you cried when now estranged family members did something so selfishly, hatefully cruel that you could do nothing but say “why?” as you wept.

And I was going to say that I don’t miss the kitchen table looking like a pharmacy with all the bottles of medicine that kept you alive, or the heavy wheelchair that I had to carry up and down the steps and maneuver into the back of the truck to transport you to doctors and dialysis, or the oxygen tube that I swear jumped out to trip me as I walked through the room – but in actuality I do. Those things had become as much a part of you, of us and our marriage the last many months of your life as anything, as everything else.

Slowly, gradually, I had already become accustomed to missing the strong arms that would hold me when I was afraid – those arms had grown weak and frail long ago; and I could no longer be afraid – at least outwardly, because, dammit, somebody had to be strong through all of that.

The booming voice that would greet me with “Hiya, doll, I love you” in the morning had become a faint whisper by the end. The strong hands that once held mine were, at the end of your life, so bruised, so gaunt and weak that I held them in mine as tightly as I tried to hold you… if only to remember your very touch, the feel of your skin and try desperately to etch it into my mind for the time I knew was coming far too soon.

The man who could fix anything had long ago ceded the repairs and the mundane household duties to me – and that was fine. I went from being “the girl” in the relationship who just sat helpless and let the man handle things to actually figuring out how to change that recalcitrant fluorescent light in the kitchen, and I became the runner of the lawn mower, the taker out of the trash. Part and parcel of the partnership we agreed to decades ago in August when we said “I do”.

The mischievous grin, the infectious laugh of yours when something struck you funny, the wink in your steely eyes – indeed the sparkle in your eyes – they were gone the last few weeks I had here on earth with you. And those, dammit, those I miss so much.

Your moustache – oh my, that leonine splendorous ‘stache of yours – the one that made women swoon and I’ve-lost-count-of-the-men-who-ran-up-to-ask-you how long it took you to grow it (no doubt calculating in their minds if they could grow one as well) – and you painstakingly coaxed it into full glory before we’d go anywhere. Honey, you spent as much time in the bathroom getting ready as I did – no small accomplishment to pull off in a one bathroom place. At the end, even that became too much for you to deal with and you shaved it off. That was the day I knew in my heart that you’d neared the end of your years long battle. The fighter in you was ebbing. The multitudes of diseases and conditions and treatments over the years had finally, cumulatively taken their toll. There would be no turning back, no coming back.

Every year, I’d plan a special surprise for your June the 4th birthday and, even though the last few years we couldn’t do much, I miss being able to plot and plan something that would make you smile.

In a conversation with a widowed friend, I mentioned that the “first” anything after you lose a spouse is supposed to be the hardest. She said “The first? More like the first, the second, the fifth….”

Grief, I’ve come to learn, is not like a broken arm that eventually heals. It’s something that is just “there”. There are days that dealing with it are not as gut wrenching as others. And then there are days like today….

As I look out into the cul de sac beyond our kitchen window, I remember that is where we danced our first dance as husband and wife almost 23 years ago. We had our wedding reception at my dad’s and it turned into a giant block party. He’d talked some friends of his who had a band into setting up right there outside his home and they played set after set as we danced.

Most of all, I especially miss the man I danced with, romanced with. My God, how you loved to dance. You masterfully floated me across any dance floor and I felt as graceful as Ginger Rogers when I was in your arms. If there is dancing in heaven, I’d wager that you’re dancing with the best of them – pain free, strong again, handsome as ever, smiling, happy.

We will meet again… and dance again someday.

Until then, dance on, my love.

Dance on.

Dammit, I miss you so much.

Happy Birthday, baby.

Dancing in the Sky