The Samantha Years

Wah

I just got around to reading Time Magazine’s article on the ’00 decade, or what Time Magazine calls; The Decade from Hell.

It made me a little upset.

These last ten years were hard; no doubt about that. I know people who have lost a home, lost a job, lost a friend or loved one in Iraq or Afghanistan, a friend in the sunanmi.

I will never forget walking into Grand Central Station four days after the towers went down and seeing signs of missing people…moms, dads, sons, daughters. I will never forget the smell of burning oil in the financial district.

I will never forget watching in horror as people waited in the Louisiana Superdome for help. Surely, this could not be happening in my country.

It’s been a tough ten years. But to condemn us to hell…an eternity of suffering inflicted by small demons seems a little harsh.

Because you know what? Ten years is a long time! If your lucky you get 8? 9? decades in your life? Good things and bad things will happen during this time.

You can take any decade and stack up the bad things….1940: Pearl Harbor, the Holocaust, a World War…it’s estimated 50-70 million people died in WWII…talk about hell.

1950: The Korean War, McCarthism, Nuclear Testing, The Cold War

1960: Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy assassinated, MLK assassinated, Vietnam, riots

1970: Vietnam, Kent State, Watergate, Nixon, Leisure suits are all the rave

Should I continue?

And it wasn’t bad everywhere….

People who live in China thought this was a great decade. A young Chinese couple on NPR were beside themselves because they could afford a T.V.

A T.V.

Perhaps we need to rethink our Decade from Hell. Perhaps we need to look back on what past generations went through, pull ourselves up by our boot straps and refuse to be mired in what is wrong, what is bad. Otherwise we’re just like the big crying baby on the cover of Time…sad, immobile, waiting for someone to come and fix it.

I think that’s selling us a little short.

The Samantha Years

Our Christmas Letter

I am still feeling a bit lazy and lounging in a post-Christmas stupor. So, I’m not posting anything new but in case you missed it, here’s our Christmas poem!

Two weeks before Christmas and I sat there feeling crummy,
Samantha had a cough and her nose was bit runny.
I had shopping to do. I had to clean our castle
I was all done with this holiday hassle!

I sat there feeling sorry for my cheerless self
When I noticed sitting beside me was a small green elf.
No bigger than a latte’ and with ears that were pointed,
He looked at me and said “Oh, Heather, I am so disappointed!”

“Disappointed?” Said I, “You? You have no right!
You’re up at the North Pole eating cookies all night!
You have no idea of my hardship and woe.
I’m sorry dear elf but you’ll just have to go.”

With that, the elf kicked me, hard, in the shin.
“Good, now that I have your attention, I shall begin!
I’ve tallied your days…the good and the dire
If your good days were dollars, I could retire!”

Then he pulled out a list and he stated to check,
I thought I would listen. I figured what the heck.
“Samantha has been healthy, that itself is a reason
to be grateful and thankful…not grumpy this season.”

“She started preschool and is learning quite a lot
Her buddies and teachers love her…give that a little thought
She is smiley and growing, getting stronger day by day,
Goodness, do I see that grimace fading away?”

“Bart works hard everyday at a job he finds keen
And many times this winter, on the slopes he could be seen
You took a family vacation, Yellowstone was the place
Aren’t those all wonderful, joyous reasons to embrace?”

“And for you my friend, this year has been quite alrighty
You’re writing, you’ve been published, those things are dynomity!
You skied all winter, in the Courage Classic you rode
I’m so happy for you all, I’m about to explode!”

“Well don’t do that! It gives me more to clean!
But I hear what you say and I get what you mean.
So thank you dear elf, you’ve renewed my holiday cheer…
Happy Holidays to all and a lovely New Year!”
Love, Heather, Bart and Samantha

The Samantha Years

Holiday Zombies

I starting noticing them around Thanksgiving….

staring at the items in the aisle like they had never seen them before,

standing three carts deep next to the brown sugar and analyzing the difference between canned turkey gravy and dried turkey gravy.

The dazed and confused look in their eyes gave them away.

Holiday Zombies: a direct result from an overworked, stressed out induvidual. They will run over you for a dollar scarf at Old Navy. Don’t even think of fighting them for a Zhu Zhu pet at Toys R Us. You will loose…poorly.

Holiday Zombies have lost their minds; cognitive thinking and compassion is beyond them.

They are also very bad drivers.

On Wednesday I dropped Samantha off at preschool and then rushed off for two hours of uninterrupted Christmas shopping. Instead of being blissfully happy to have two hours to myself, I replayed a shopping list in my head, cursed traffic and felt my anxiety grow over my mounting Christmas duties.

I pulled into the mall and turned off the car engine but I still heard a low growl. I looked about…nothing…but the growl was getting louder….

And then I saw them. The Holiday Zombies…they were coming for me. I had been dazed enough, rushed enough, ‘crazed’ enough that they decided I would be a tasty member of their zombie club.

I locked the doors and started talking to myself (which by the way, I do quite often)

Heather, what’s up?

I don’t know, it’s the season. I feel so busy. Their is always something else to do. I feel like I can’t catch up, no time for myself…

What’s the most important thing?

Samantha’s healthy.

Say it again

Samantha’s healthy

Louder

Samantha’s Healthy!!!!

LOUDER!!!!

SAAAAMMMMAAANNNNTTTTHHHHAAAA’SSSS HEEEEEAAAALLLLLTTTHHHYYYYY!!!

I can’t hear yyyyyooooouuuuuu!!!!

So there I sat; in the Malibu station wagon…yelling my fool head off.

That’s right, I said to myself, when you put it like that the rest is just gravy.

Dried Turkey gravy?

Oh no, Sugar. The real stuff

With my priorities back in line, the Zombies left, disgruntled and without another team member. I sighed deeply and felt my anxiety wash away.

I got out of the car with a smile on my face and new sense of humanity. I walked into the mall and rocked those Power Hours.

Rocked them like a hurricane.

The Samantha Years

Froggies Galore

The world is a funny, funny place.

And Friday was no exception.

Friday afternoon was spent at Children’s, thankfully, thankfully, without Samantha.

I had a parent board meeting….

which is always good…because I get to connect with other parents and I get to see one of my favorite people; Miss Tracy.

And then Miss Tracy and I went to go see one of our favorite families who sadly are on week eight in the hospital. And we all talked…

We talked about things that seem forbidden to other families;

We talked about life

We talked about death

We talked of these things with an odd sense of normalacy because all of us have been a family in crisis. That is one reason why we all bonded so quickly.

I talked about Jack. How I think of him everyday but not in a bad sense, just in a sense that he is with me, everyday. I feel this with such certainty. It’s normal to me and amazingly comforting. It’s like the air I breathe, the water I drink. He is just there.

I left the hospital with a solid foundation of peace.

That night I went to an ornament exchange party hosting by another of my favorite people…Sweet Sue. The ornament exchange has rules…you pick a number and as your number is called, you can steal an ornament from a fellow party goer that has already been unwrapped or select a new, unknown, wrapped ornament from under the tree.

I had number 13 of 18…not a bad number. The higher your number the more choices to steal! I watched as people unwrapped and decided I would only ‘steal’ an ornament if someone had a frog or an angel…

Frogs for Jack, angels for Samantha (see November 30th post).

As lovely as the ornaments were, no one had a frog or an angel. So I picked a completely random package from under the tree and unwrapped it.

And I unwrapped a frog,

and another frog,

and another frog….

Three frogs for our tree. And I started to cry in the middle of Sue’s ornament exchange! I cried because the day had been so special to me; emotional but so very heartfelt. I cried because I had been talking and thinking of Jack throughout the day and here he was in this random Christmas ornament; giving me more frogs to hang on the tree. I cried because out of all 18 packages under the tree, I picked the frogs…..

Because I was supposed to.

I cried because life sends you little packages when you need them the most.

The ornament exchange party-goers all cried with me and then decided it would be poor form to steal my colony of frogs 🙂

They’re good ladies.

The Samantha Years

The Other Side of the Fence

It’s hard to worry about your friends. Tonight Samantha is doing well and I can make meals for others who are in hospital. I can send condolences to our dear friend who just lost his father. I can do this tonight because (knock, knock, knock on wood) Samantha is doing well.

I’m not used to being on the other side of the fence and frankly it’s a bit eye opening and a bit nerve wracking.

I worry. I read updates like a fiend. I wait for updates. I talk to others just to relieve my fear. I think I’m not doing enough. Am I doing too much? I don’t want to bother anyone.

I wonder if this is how people feel about us when Samantha is really sick and in the hospital.

It’s no fun.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s even less fun to be on the other side and I am grateful that I have time and energy to worry about others.

But I want to fix it.

And I can’t.

Crap.

So I thought today, What can I do for my friends who are hurting, who are tired, who are grieving?

Here are words from Winnie….that’s right the Pooh…silly, willy, nilly old bear…. Pooh was stuck in Rabbits’ hole. He was stuck so tight he couldn’t move, even sigh.

While he was waiting to get unstuck he asked “Is there anyone who can sit with me and read a story or offer a word of comfort to a bear wedged in great tightness?”

Don’t fix it, don’t change it because you can’t….just sit with me and keep me company.

That’s all we can do isn’t it?

To all my bears wedged in great tightness tonight, we are thinking of you…offering a story, words of comfort…we’ll sit beside you until you become unstuck….

Heck we’ll even sit beside you after that.

The Samantha Years

And Christmas may Commence

I got a call today from my mom…..

“I just wanted to let you know that she’s okay.”

At first I thought she was talking about my Granny. Granny went in for a couple tests and we’re waiting for the results.

But no, it wasn’t Granny…

It was my Gingerbread Lady….

Made lovingly by Chez Heather when I just a tyke

35 years old this year; pulled out of storage and ready for the tree. She looks pretty good. Happy Birthday Cookie!

Here’s her sultry profile….she’s quite a tart for a cookie…

Looking thoughtful in the tree branches….

I’m waiting for my close up, Mr. Deville…