HORIZONTAL MYSTERY SHIP when you leave at seventeen rarely home more than two weeks at a time months, years and decades can be surprisingly unreliable markers of adulthood only once in the summer of ‘88 a recent college grad wide-eyed and wanderlust-fueled my tonsils required more I stayed a whole month once healed, packed, and in possession of necessary visas off to the southern hemisphere a young pioneer in search adventure and different stars now, when visiting after a lifetime lived elsewhere grey hairs visible no matter my efforts I find myself sliding into a peculiar second adolescence of sorts driving Dad’s truck windows down, hair blowing mile after mile of expansive, wild beauty the prairie a determined cellular homesteader forever staking a claim in my blood and bones I want to sneak out to the bar play Space Invaders sadly, no longer a standard unlike 1982 drink beer, eat junk food and avoid the endless expectations of being a grown-up Looking back with midlife sensibilities I realize those late nights in high school tenth grade, I believe laser focused, playing Space Invaders provided a surprisingly valuable education initials entered, quarters stacked protect the bunkers, defeat the aliens monitor the horizontal mystery ship with vigilance my peripheral vision unknowingly trained to notice things beyond immediate scope bonus points pinged while friends waited impatiently twenty more minutes, please under a waning August moon only one lunar phase ago I was still my father’s daughter a middle-aged, South Dakota teenager pretending time actually plays tricks wanting desperately to disregard reality one more visit on the calendar one more phone call cheeseburger or ice cream cone one more evening watching Everybody Loves Raymond M.A.S.H. or Mayberry RFD twenty more minutes, please quarters stacked no longer Space Invaders the nearly forgotten teenage relic of a heartbroken fifty-something fatherless daughter once again, I am protecting my bunkers monitoring a new horizontal mystery ship paying very close attention to what's just beyond my immediate scope just twenty more minutes, please
I lost my Dad in the early morning hours of August 30th. He was a generous, loving, humorous and complex man. He also was in a great deal of pain. Thankfully he no longer is. But, damnit, he isn’t here anymore either. Now, I’m in pain and I would like to talk with him about what bullshit it is to lose someone I love. He knew this pain, he lost his baby brother, my Uncle Tom, almost exactly one year ago.
I flew home to South Dakota from Vermont the morning Dad died. I wept through both airports—Burlington, Vermont and Chicago’s O’Hare. I had a light blanket wrapped around my shoulders that dried my tears as needed. I walked to my gate in Chicago, blanket draped and carrying a garment bag. I caught the eye of a few people who offered nods of acknowledgement and held my gaze, maybe understanding that grief is messy.
Oddly, I kept hoping I could tell someone, anyone that I just lost my Dad. I now understand what to do if I see someone else in the shape I was in. To hell with privacy. I will offer a hug. Or I will buy them a coffee. Or I will ask them why they are crying and listen, even if I only have a minute before my flight.
I arrived mid-afternoon. Flowers, casseroles, baked goods, fruit baskets, cheese and meat trays had already begun arriving at the house. The doorbell was ringing. The landline was ringing. Our cell phones were ringing and pinging. Hugs and tears filled Mom’s back entryway and helped eased the weight of it all.
I knew the process of the “business” of death wasn’t going to be easy. However, writing the obituary, picking out Dad’s casket and clothes, making phone calls and so on—these things kept us busy. Busy is needed those first few days. Making arrangements gave us something to focus on with a deadline, providing a little scaffolding to a messy emotional process.
There were times before the prayer service and funeral, I wanted the whole world to just leave me alone in my sorrow, because I just lost my Dad.
Thankfully the world didn’t.
I’m now keenly aware of how I didn’t give nearly enough attention to the loss of other people’s parents. I’m sorry if I seemed cavalier. I just didn’t know how much even a small gesture could mean. I always thought of grief as a private process. I understand better now what’s necessary to get through it all.
I’m so sorry for your loss, no matter how many years it’s been for you.
The outpouring of love, time and culinary talents from the good folks in Burke, South Dakota made it the whole process a lot more bearable. No one would’ve loved having all of those goodies around more than John. Right, Dad? Although I think he would’ve hidden the bag of Dorothy’s famous peanut butter cookies in the freezer and pretended they were already gone.
I’m grateful to you all. Thank you so much.
PLEASE NOTE: Is there a metabolic trick that helps burn the calories (mostly from homemade baked goods) that are delivered to the family during a time of loss?
grief + baked goods + casseroles + visiting + crying + fatigue = COMFORT
John Lowell Lillibridge lived 79 years, 3 months & 21 days.
Rest, in peace, Big Guy.
You will be greatly missed.
In my dream, I wake up in a city of unknown origin, I think New York. However, it could’ve been any big American city. It was busy, loud and there were tons of people on the street. At first I was disoriented, then I keep saying to myself, Life is Kind. A mantra of sorts, to keep me from being afraid of anyone or anything.
I start walking, it’s midmorning and the first person I encounter is a homeless man. He seems quite drunk, but his eyes are kind and clear and a bright very unique shade between between blue and green. He looks at me, smiles and says, “For a beer, I’ll tell you a story”.
Well, there are few things I enjoy more than a cold beer and a good story.
In my dream, I even thought, “Well, it’s midday, there are lots of people around, it will be OK…Life is Kind”. He stood up, took my hand and led me around the corner and down just a few stairs. The outside looked pretty dirty, scary actually and I hesitated, pulling back from his hold. He calmly said, “It will be OK”.
He opened the door and it was surprisingly a cool, sun-filled space that looked more like a diner than a dingy bar. People were talking and laughing, kids playing and there was a lively piano player. The bartender welcomed us warmly. We sat at the end of the bar where it was a little quieter. The old man ordered us two beers, looked me in the eye and smiled.
With no transition, or any recollection of the old man’s story I’m now back out on the street. I’m suddenly surrounded by young, tall, black men. They are talking and laughing, goofing off, they notice that I’m uncomfortable, but I stay right in the middle of their group. I walk a few blocks with them and then to get out of the pod, I have to excuse myself and duck around them, awkwardly bumping into and nearly tripping a few of the guys. They’re all jumping up to touch things, like light fixtures and the tops of signs.
They start giving me crap about being afraid of them because they’re black. I turned to them, said, “I’m not afraid of you because you’re black. I’m afraid of you because of your youth and there’s so many of you and you’re all so big. It’s intimidating to me today.”
“Oh, Ok, yeah, I sort of get that, my grandma said something like that too”, one of the boys offered. He thumped his chest to me and smiled. They all said goodbye in mumbles and waves and off they went jumping down the street into the afternoon light.
I turn the corner and bump, literally bump into this a woman and knock a bunch of papers and books onto the ground. She’s dressed in a well-tailored grey, plaid suit with a skirt and jacket, high end, high heels and a pink, silky blouse with a bow at the neck. Her slightly grey hair was fixed in a stiff, old lady hairstyle like my grandmother had done every Friday morning. Teased, smoothed and fastened with pins, a satin pillowcase required to keep it all tidy until her next appointment.
I apologize for knocking things out of her hands. She’s rushed and while we’re gathering everything back together, she says, “We can have lunch at two. I have a very busy day. I’ll see you at (I don’t remember the name). I can’t wait to catch up.”
Well, we all know how dreams go. So, even though I have no idea who this person is, I can’t wait to catch up either…waiting until two o’clock seemed like an eternity.
I kept walking around until the appointed time. I was very excited about my lunch and all of the catching up we’re going to do. I arrived at the place and everything is odd, the scale of everything really strange and disorienting. The stairs have a very difficult to maneuver tall rise between steps. The tables were all different heights. The lights were bright on some tables and really dark on others.
I suddenly hear someone a little out of breath in my ear. I get a quick hug from behind and a peck on the cheek. Then I see my lunch date. Who appeared was an older gentleman in a pink shirt, a bow tie, a grey striped suit and beautiful shoes. “Huh” was all I thought to myself. He launched into news and notes about his day and his life. He talked about his children, his work and relayed a story about recently missing a flight. He asked me about my projects and if I had seen someone we allegedly had in common recently.
All of this was so very ordinary. I didn’t question that who I thought I was meeting for lunch was an older woman. I just went with along with it and enjoyed his company. Apparently that missed flight story was a hoot.
He paid for lunch and said that he needed to head back to the office. He asked if I minded heights. I said that I sort of did, but that it depended on the situation. “Ok, follow me”, he said and we headed toward the back of the restaurant. He was walking quickly. I kept up. We got to an unusual door, walked out into an alley and went about seven steps to what seemed like nowhere. It was strange, but he was confident and I went along.
“Can you climb?” he asked me. I said that I could. “Jump?” I told him that I could, but that I didn’t really want to. He climbed up the wall, got to the top, swing his legs around, sat a minute and jumped down, now out of my sight. I climbed up. Swung my legs around and looked down. It was about ten feet. I then said, “I don’t want to jump this far, I’m training for the senior olympics. I don’t want to hurt my ankles or knees.”
“It will be fine, dear. I’ll catch you.” I jumped. I landed in the arms of my lunch date. An older woman in a plaid, grey suit, wearing a pink blouse and high heels. She caught me, shifted me upright, gave me a hug and said, “Let’s do this again soon”.
Then, I woke up.
I love this dream so much.
I’m going to put this dream in the category of:
WATCH YOUR JUDGEMENT & ASSUMPTIONS, LISA.
I don’t excel at sleeping. I really never have, but now in middle age, my sleep is interrupted constantly. I’ve decided to not fight it, embrace my natural rhythms and see how the universe wants me to use my extra waking time. Last night was no exception.
I went to sleep around 10:30 and was wide awake at 2:50. Our cat, Karen was sleeping soundly next to me. My husband is gone and I don’t mind waking up Karen, so I felt free to roam. I got up to pee and I noticed that all of the windows were covered with the soft, haze of humidity.
The whole world seems to be trapped in heat and haze right now.
I wondered how I could photograph Cape Cod’s humidity in the middle of the night without leaving my bedroom. I took a few shots. The camera wasn’t capturing what I could see. I decided that wasn’t the inspiration I was searching for, not at all what the universe wanted me to do in the middle of the night on August 9th.
I decided to get back into bed and listen to a guided mediation on the INSIGHT app, which I highly recommend. I have a favorite voice, Sarah Blondin who guides me with her Live Awake series. I consider her a very close friend. Sarah’s voice and words have provided so much, well, insight and spark since I downloaded the app in January.
This morning at 3:10am I chose Life is Kind. Here is the start to her meditation.
“Though we are strangers, we are kindred in spirit. There’s no difference between us. We are the same.
We are here in the name of our hearts, in the name of opening, in the name of unstitching what has overtime grown closed within. We are each here in the name of reuniting with our soft centers. It is the place we are most alive, most accepted, most whole.
It is where we seek refuge from the from the weight of the world.”
I fell back asleep shortly after these lines and had a remarkable, beautiful and kind dream.
I’ll share that dream with you tomorrow.
The way our brain equates repetition for truth.
YOU ONLY USE 10 percent of your brain.
Eating carrots improves your eyesight.
Crime in the United States is at an all-time high.
NONE OF THESE STATEMENTS ARE TRUE.
They FEEL TRUE because of repetition.
“Slogans should be persistently repeated until the very last individual has come to grasp the idea that has been put forward.”
—Hitler in Mein Kampf
“But the facts don’t actually matter: People repeat them so often that you believe them. Welcome to the “illusory truth effect,” a glitch in the human psyche that equates repetition with truth. Marketers and politicians are masters of manipulating this particular cognitive bias—which perhaps you have become more familiar with lately.”
After I read this, I wondered…
What can I do if I notice my brain is on autopilot?
Pinch myself? Snap a rubber band on my wrist?
Seek more sources to confirm or dispel my TRUTHS?
Let me know if you come up with a trick.
SOURCE: WANT TO MAKE A LIE SEEM TRUE? SAY IT AGAIN. AND AGAIN. AND AGAIN.
by Emily Dreyfuss
Today I throw the discus at the Vermont Senior Games at 10:30 eastern time. I’m hoping to qualify for the Senior Olympics in Albuquerque, June of 2019. I’ve been practicing. I’ve watched many videos of remarkable Olympic Women throwing, studying their techniques. I’ve worked with a coach. Thanks Matt. I’m prepared to at least give it an honest effort.
Just over a week ago, my Dad sat in the pickup while I practiced throwing at the spot I learned to throw the discus as a seventh grader. My Dad, my coach gave me some pointers and we laughed about a fifty-one-year-old woman throwing the discus again after 34 years. Today he’s in the hospital in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, getting world-class care and struggling.
I want to qualify for Dad today.
“A standout thrower, Lillibridge placed third as a sophomore, finished second as a junior and won the North Central Conference discus title as a senior. Lillibridge, who placed second in the NCAA Division II national meet in the discus, earned All-American honors. A graduate of the USD School of Business in 1962, he has received the USD School of Business South Dakotan of the Year, the USD Alumni Award and the South Dakota Philanthropist of the Year honor. He has been a major supporter of Coyote Athletics for many years. He held State of South Dakota, Howard Wood Dakota Relays and USD records in the discus. A prep star at Burke, he was first-team all-state in basketball as a junior and senior, scoring a school record 1,631 points. Lillibridge was named to the fourth team of the Sport Magazine High School All-American squad. He also won a state title in the discus in high school.“
SOURCE: University of South Dakota Hall of Fame website
It’s hot and humid, good for throwing and keeping middle-aged muscles loose.
I’ll let you all know how things turn out today.
Wish me luck!
My twin girls are graduating from high school in a few weeks.
We noted when they were born that they would be the Class of 2018.
Lucy is on the left & Willa on the right—one hour old.
FLEDGE verb (Merriam Webster)
1: to rear until ready for flight or independent activity
This definition of fledge, makes the process sound so simple, so animal. I’m finding that this process is not so simple and requires some emotional skills far beyond natural animal instincts. A few questions keep coming up for me.
What do I need to let go of now?
What’s at stake by holding on to my girls too tightly? Too loosely?
What relationships do I desire moving forward?
Who am I when I no longer have kids at home?
I’m allowing myself to grieve the end of this stage of family life.
I know I won’t hang out in this emotional space forever.
If I stuff these feelings, they’ll leak out in remarkably weird ways.
Perhaps even weirder than usual lately.
Congratulations to fledglings throughout the land.
Happy Graduation 2018!
Since I’m not a twin, I can’t imagine what it’s going to feel like for my girls to split up and go to different colleges. I have a hunch they can’t quite imagine what it’s going to feel like either. Please note the title of the article in the first beach picture. I believe it’s about the Kardashians, however, with high school graduation looming, it’s a funny photo to unearth at this time. Oh, the irony of life, isn’t it grand?
- Cape Cod beach day.
- Coming from or going to Mirabelles bakery in Burlington, Vermont.
- New York City for their 9th birthday to see “Wicked”.
- Lucy’s hair flying on the shuttle to the Martha’s Vineyard ferry.
- Getting ready for the Justin Bieber concert, Quebec City.
I’ve wasted some time not understanding (or maybe believing) this simple concept. Every day we wake up with a choice to be made, even when it doesn’t feel like a choice.
Who wants to wake up in the morning highly attuned to the things that make them feel like crap? I honestly don’t, and yet, sometimes I do that to myself.
I want my anger and resentment some days. I really want to hang out in the house of pain and suffering on occasion. In the last few years though, I’ve increasingly become aware of the toll those days take on me and everyone in my orbit. My dark days will obviously never go away completely, but thankfully, by noticing where my attention is directed, those days are finally getting to be fewer and far between.
Once I noticed my habits and patterns I couldn’t possibly un-notice them.
Damnit, I tried pretty hard. Trust me, I gave it a really good shot.
I love that knowledge can be brilliantly sneaky that way.
Good luck noticing, folks.
A NOTE OF COMPASSION: Many people suffer with devastating, lasting sadness that requires way more than just noticing habits and patterns. I don’t mean to diminish anyone’s experience. I’m only sharing what’s been helpful to me. I struggle with the blues, not prolonged clinical depression.
My husband, daughters and I just returned from a trip to Belle Mont Farm on the island of St. Kitts. Now that we’re awaiting a blizzard in Vermont, our whole vacation feels like a dream. The beautiful & generous people, the warmth & color, monkeys, mongoose, birds, flora, farm to table food and the views of other islands were all so magnificent. Belle Mont Farm is a hotel up in the mountains on 400 acres of fertile, organic farmland and tropical forest. It was remarkably special and now etched in my memory. I’m so grateful for the experience.
I had a realization while staying at Belle Mont Farm that I often live with a strange sense of guilt when I enjoy nice things. Why in the world do I feel this way? After a little soul searching, here’s where I landed. I believe some ancient part of me feels that there’s only so much abundance in the world and I’ve already been granted my share. I’m not really deserving of more.
This thinking is more than a little absurd, right? Life is not a zero-sum game. I’m genuinely happy when other people get to experience cool things. I don’t think, damn, now the universe has less for me.
a situation in which one person or group can win something only by causing another person or group to lose it
Thank you Belle Mont Farm for the lesson learned I learned about abundance.