The Unexpected

The quadruple bypass had been a total success. The family began to let their shoulders down and breath a little easier, until…that first meal! Those infamous cornflakes – tasty clusters of flakes, yet deadly to a paralyzed, empty stomach. The first spoonful hit the stomach producing nausea, stomach cramps and pain, making the stomach bloat with extreme speed. The symptoms had now become agonizing with no sign of relief. Rushed to the OR! Doctors in desperate search of what had caused this drastic turn of events, and trying to figure out how and why this was happening while he was slowly making a positive recovery from his heart surgery.

The family lingers in the room waiting for an update. The nurse comes in and says, “He’s losing a lot of blood. Are any of you able to give blood for him?” We are willing. After some tests, it turns out only two of his kids are a match. One has been using so he’s out. The youngest of them all is taken to the room where she’ll sit as the precious life giving liquid flows out of her veins.

Waiting and more waiting. Finally, a doctor approaches. “We did all we could…” Words that you hope would only be said in movies, but no, this is real. Before any emotion can be shown, the doctor whispers to the widow, “If you want to take him now without waiting, we are going to have to wheel him out as if he is still alive. Otherwise, you might not get him for days, or even months due to all the red tape.” She, “strong-as-nails”, her norm, says, “I’m taking him now!”

The family is then asked to “stuff all their feelings and emotions” and act as if nothing has happened.

The gurney in front, the family behind…as if…all is good.

The body is delivered to the family home, and is customary in that culture, they will dress and prepare him for the all night wake.

Two of his five sons and his two daughters enter “that room”. He is wrapped in sheets. They approach and start unwrapping…GASP!!! UGH!!! The sight, the smells, the liquids! “How? why? Could they have closed him up? Can someone else do this? This can’t be happening!”

One white shirt after another, stained…useless. “We” aren’t equipped for this?” “This should be done by a funeral home.” Nope, this is us and this is how we roll…yeah…swallow that!

Somehow, he is prepped and ready for the all night wake and viewing of the tons of mourners that will come and pay their respects. Rosaries, prayers, coffee, chatter. Tomorrow, he will be carried through the streets of his village, ending at the cemetery with the proper burial. Then the people will scatter, life will continue as usual…

BUT those four “kids” will live with those images of their Dad. Neither will talk to each other about it; neither will talk about it to anyone…because that just how this family rolls.

Brain Explosion

It’s grocery shopping day. Gym√ Breathing and Meditation√ Driving with soothing music, and more purposeful breathing√

Grocery list in hand, let’s get this done without an “episode”…breathe…breathe!

Woman next to me drops a steel container…HUGE THUD followed by smaller ones, not because they are quieter but because my “brain exploded“…

the ringing in my ears is deafening…headache…trembling…shaking hands and legs, the whole body…do I hide, I can’t…I need to run and get out of here, I’m paralyzed…let’s get this done, how do I continue?…stupid woman, doesn’t she know? she doesn’t; she didn’t do it on purpose…scream, you can’t, it’s a public place…can they see me shaking? who cares!…more noise, really?!…my skin is crawling with ants, no it’s not…God, help me!…I can’t breath, yes you can…I’m going to vomit, seriously, here?! stop it!

I’m out, safe in my car. Now I need to drive home…how did I get home? Curl up in my comfy (safe) rocker, all blinds closed…sleep…sleep…sleep. Wake up exhausted, detached from reality…what day is it? what time? did I eat? do I eat? I hate this! what happened? how did I get home? Do I care? I’m going crazy! Who am I?

The brain is quiet, for now. The body is calm, for now. But, I wonder…when will it happen again???

The Unforgettable Crate

It was a crisp December day. The beehive buzz around the village was thick. One of their own would be arriving today. Not with the usual fanfare, however, this arrival was one robed with the blackness of grief and sorrow. The house had been readied for the owners arrival. This time, however, the bedding was not washed and pressed because it’s owner would not be sleeping in her bed. The front room was set up with the customary stands and candles to hold the all night wake.

The unmarked van turns the corner.  Could that be? People straighten up and stand, a sign of honor and respect. The youngest daughter waiting to sign the paperwork indicating she had received the “cargo”.

The van parks to the side of the road. Back door opens. What?! A wooden crate?!?!?!

The youngest daughter paralyzed at the sight. Nausea threatened to make her loose whatever she had managed to eat. “Nobody told me…! I just can’t…!” her thoughts shattered by the pounding of a hammer…P-O-P! P-O-P! P-O-P!

AND so it went…FOREVER…and ever! Each “pop” releasing a nail. Nail after nail that held this crate together, pounded…releasing each nail, and with each pound her heart sank deeper and deeper in pain and unbelief.

She stood paralyzed by feelings of sadness and anger. A slow rage boiling inside. “This is a human body, for God’s sake! She might be lifeless, but she still deserves honor and respect!”, thoughts screaming within.

Fulfilling her mother’s last dying wish came at a great price, both emotionally and financially. But here they were. It was what it was…no turning back!

Images that stay; that haunt; that you wish you could erase. And, so life continues…but you can never see a “crate” the same again.

Death by Spanx

The special day was fast approaching. Ms. Thang was a buzz getting herself ready for the big day. Perfect dress, shoes to match. Let’s not forget the jewelry to bling up the attire. Hair and nail appointment inked on the day runner.

Sitting with a friend, much talk about the many things that still needed her attention, a suggestion, “Hey, spanx would make your dress fit “perfectly”. Don’t get me wrong, it already looks really good, but that extra touch, well it would just be fiu-fiu!” AND, hey, who doesn’t want to look “photoshopped” (at least one day)?

Ms. Thang set out to find the “infamous spanx”. Having no clue, knowing nothing about this piece of garment that would put her outfit over the top. Asked at a few places, but still unable to find this perfect garment. Finally, she arrives where the gal behind the counter doesn’t look at her like, “are you from Mars, lady?” This nice gal shows her a few pieces(literally) and gives her some pointers. Ms. Thang heads into the dressing room with two pieces in hand.

Queue the “OMG, I CAN’T BELIEVE IT’S NOT BUTTER” song…wait, different commercial…anywho…IT WASN’T PRETTY  =8-0

Ms. Thang was resolved to at least get one of these pieces of perfection past her thighs. So she tried the one that went over her head. Good move, don’t you think?

She pulled, yanked…breath…pull, yank…ouch…more pulling, more yanking…OMG, it’s stuck!!! Paralyzed by this “rubber band” around her. Out of breath! In a position of a football umpire announcing a goal (the images are scandalous).  Many thoughts went through her head. One was, “I’m going to be found naked, strangled by a piece of cloth, a vicious cloth at that!” My husband is going to get the call, “Mr. Thang, your wife was found dead. Killed by spanx!”

How she managed to “get away” is still a very dark mystery. The good news is that she lived to tell about it. By the way, the dress fit just fine without this precious garment, thank you very much.

And, so the “rolls” ran free! Yes, “photoshopped” is not the only way to fly 😉

Blissfully Lost

Las dos amigas out for a time of pampering. The plan was set, the guys would eat and watch the soccer game while the girls get a day of rest, relaxation and pampering. Kiss, kiss and off they went.

The taxi driver didn’t seem to be “in service”, but then again everything moves slowly in La Paz. I guess that’s why one gets away. He finally agreed to shuttle them to their destination. Girls talk and talk, and giggle ready for their pampering. The driver, on the other hand, seems lost. He asked, one too many times, “What does your phone say?” to which the reply was always, “we have no WiFi”. Finally, at their destination!

The “look” of said oasis promised much. As they walked in they were greeted with sour looks. So much for “walk ins welcomed”. Icily turned away, “no room in the in”. A ray of hope rose in the horizon as one of the clients showed the discouraged amigas another location, AND it happened to be “right around the corner” (hold that thought). Off they went, with their plan “still” in place…pampering!

Blocks, and blocks, and blocks they walked…umm, “are we there yet?” There it is! Yes! The sign on the door shattered their plans, once again, “we’ve moved to a new location…” Taking this as a “sign from above”, they decided to head back to meet back with the guys.

Lost, yup, they were so lost. Walking, walking…hey, so I guess they did get a massage – of their feet…haha!

A wonderful little boy showed them the way. Yes, they are finally at the malecon (walk way by the beach). From here they can find their way “home”.

~~Blissfully lost, not a care in the world. The company of a caring and loving friend made all the difference. The talk was deep and fun. There were tears and much laughter. Somehow, I wish we were still lost…blissfully lost!~~

Behind the Frown

Have you ever wondered what’s behind someone’s frown?

~The two guys in the sauna that seem “angry” at the world. One is going through an all out war with his two brothers after their mother passed away from an aggressive form of cancer that gave them no time to “prepare”. The older brother is now holding their mother’s ashes hostage and refuses to give any of them closure. The other guy in the sauna, is getting out all his emotions here so that he can be “there” for his wife as they bury her beloved father.

~The woman sitting pensive in the Jacuzzi, is trying to regroup; to get some “rest” so that she can go back home to continue caring for her 26 year old, special needs, son who just had emergency open heart surgery.

~The young guy stocking shelves at the local grocery story. His 32 year old wife died of alcohol poisoning after many attempts at getting sober, leaving him a young widow and their five kids motherless.

Most of the time I have a “mad-dog” face, or as the saying goes, “cara de pocos amigos” (a face of not many friends/not a friendly face). Behind my frown is someone trying to keep it together. Someone who is trying not to scream or cry or lash out. Someone who just wants to get the task at hand done. Someone trying to keep the little sanity that she has intact.

What’s behind “your frown”?

Smell

Our senses, amazing God given gifts. For example, take the sense of smell. Certain smells can transport us to a time of pure joy and bliss while others can bring us to places of pain and agony. Some smells can make your mouth salivate at the pure thought of taking a bite of that feast set before you, other times it can make you nauseated and gag at the very whiff, remember the Putrid Smell?

Two houses are etched in my mind. On my way to the bus stop, I’d stop to “pick up” a couple of friends. We were in Junior High (eek, ok that brought back tons of other memories. I sense another post…).  Debbie’s house was bright and had the “smell” of “home”. Warm and cozy, her Mom always preparing something hot for her to eat before heading to school. Always sending her on her way with a hug and a kiss.  Linda’s house was dark, she almost had to sneak out so as to not disturb the coldness. That house felt empty and void.

Certain flower fragrances transport me to the first funeral home I ever attended. Just one smell and I’m sitting in those horrible hard benches, with that open casket which held the shell of the body of my 26 year old brother. Every fiber in my being feels exactly what I felt at that moment.

The stench of alcohol assaults me with thoughts of that man taking my innocence; of that man who beat me to a pulp; of that time I almost didn’t survive.

Interesting how the senses work. Where do “smells” take you?