Category Archives: writing

Egads, DMV. You’re a Wreck!

Day 5:

Omg. That was an adventure.

Things effected by Covid that are ok, but still not quite right: movie theaters, music concerts, some shopping experiences and the freaking DMV. It’s never been a walk in the park, it’s always usually a total PITA, but now it’s kind of a mess.

We had two reasons to go to one of the Illinois Department of Motor Vehicles.

1.) New Driver’s License

Number 2 sadly, because, genetics…lost his wallet last week with his license, debit card, and some special un-needed but sentimental keepsakes. Some of those things include his Great America pass since he was nine, an old school ID, his social security card….YOWZA. Ok, that one was needed. Insert super big face palm. I feel like we need to report that or something.

And he also lost $100 in cash; hard-earned tips from the restaurant where he works. The day he lost it, he spent three stressed and upsetting hours retracing his steps, talking to all the management he could at the three places he went, searched his car multiple times, left his phone number everywhere. It’s gone. A bummer of a life lesson.

Sidenote: I just can’t relate with a human who would find a wallet in a parking lot and not try to do the right thing. It makes me so sad. I hope they get a flat tire, they ruin their favorite shirt in the laundry and a bird poops on their head.

2.) Driver’s Permit

Number three needed her drivers permit. She finished the class part weeks ago and was scared she was going to forget everything. Which I get. But dammmnnnn it’s hard to get an appointment. You have to wait weeks. It’s such a clogged drain that they have given people who have an expired license a six month extension. The best option for us with a busy schedule was just to suck it up and go.

The first time we tried to get her permit was a disaster. It was about three weeks ago. I had to take a half day off of work, which was hard in itself, and I was not having a good tummy day. I was trying my best to smile and be excited for her, but inside, it felt like there was a tiny, little angry person living in my intestines, repeatedly stabbing them with big fork.

A lot of my stomach issues are stress-related, so this wasn’t helping. I raced home from work and grabbed all the essential documents needed: social security card, a bill with her name on it, her driver’s school paperwork, a copy of her birth certificate. Let me repeat that, a COPY of her birth certificate. That’s what the school told me. A CO-PY. Or maybe they didn’t say that. Maybe it’s just…me. We all know it’s most probably just me.

The facility wasn’t close. We make the trek out to Schaumburg and got there at about 1:30pm. We pull in:

That scenario, for me in particular, was like an irritable bowel horror movie.

We waited in line and soon we were not the last people; we were giddy. She was so excited to get this…I was a little teary that I was already at this milestone with my baby. I had also already quietly made a plan that if I needed leave the line to run inside to the bathroom, I would do it very stealthily and with conviction. But so far, so good.

There was an older gentleman busker playing mediocre violin, but I was feeling jovial and supportive, so I gave #3 twenty bucks to go toss it in his guitar case. I told her to do it dramatically so everyone could see. I thought we would start a tip trend when everyone saw us do that. Crickets. Come on, humanity!

Finally, an hour and a half in; we were about 30 feet from the front door. An employee was checking people’s documents to prep everyone who was about to enter. I handed him everything, while I made what I thought were witty, funny and adorable side comments about our line wait. Number 3 nudged me a little, rolled her eyes almost out of her head and pretended that she didn’t know me. Then the man said, “I‘m sorry but this is a copy of her birth certificate. We need the real thing.”

What?” I said?

This is a copy of her birth certificate. Do you have an original with the stamp on it?” When he said that, I started to get a little dizzy, I couldn’t seem to find any air and his voice was warped like Charlie Brown’s teacher. Number 3 was shocked and looked at me like a just ran over a baby bunny.

I was horrified, She was horrified. But…I…you see…I ….was digging in a dark closet, trying to grab things out of our file cabinet…it’s looked like a birth certificate, it felt like a birth certificate, it smelled like a birth certificate…I was going to throw up. My sweet daughter. I’m not sure what embarrassed her more, the fact that we had to leave in front of everyone or the very obvious crying of her very distraught mother. What a SHIT. SHOW.

Pivot, heal, relax, re-group, re-charge.

Three weeks later, we tried again. I grabbed number 2 to kill two birds….This time we got up at 6am, headed out to Waukegan, whipped through Dunkin’ and pulled in…

OK, ok, ok, OK. It wasn’t that bad. The weather wasn’t horrible and we actually kind of had fun. In true Moran fashion, we made lots of new besties around us, with people we will absolutely never see again. Number 3 was so nervous for her test, so we pulled up an online practice test and she was asking me for all the correct answers. Dear Lord…the wrong parent took her. Number 2 wasn’t much help either…who can remember these little things?

We made it to the hot spot; the entrance door (past the scene of that last crime), so I felt victorious. You can’t see it because of the glare, but right in the doorway behind the glass, the security guy had this huge Uzi megaphone thingie and it was right near me when I was waiting there and it took every little strength in my body not to pick it up and yell “BREAKER BREAKER ONE_NINE!”

Number 3 said, “MOM, NO.” She knows me.

Inside, the employees were wonderful. Kind, helpful and sweet, we went through both processes painlessly. It’s not their fault that China created Covid and now we have long DMV lines. #2 and I had to go outside and wait for #3 to take her test and when she came out smiling, we knew she passed. Easy peasy.-ish. We were home by 10:00am!

And…this is the best.

“Yes, Sir, That’s My Baby…No Sir, I Don’t Mean Maybe!!”
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Say It Ain’t So, Rizzo.

Day four.

Ernie Banks.

Billy Buck.

Ivan DeJesus.

Andre Dawson.

Rick Sutcliffe.

Sammy Sosa. (Pre-cork)

Ryno.

Javy.

Bryant.

ANTHONY RIZZO.

The Chicago cubs organization just ripped the heart out of the Cubbies.

I grew up sitting in the 11th row behind the visitor’s dugout. Seats 5, 6, 7 and 8. It used to be the 10th row, but they added another row and we moved with it. My dad first got the tickets in 1971. Near the end, I could hardly get to a game because of kids and life. The last few years, my dad’s health prevented him from being able to maneuver through the crowds to get to the seats.

I remember entering the park as a girl, running behind him, looking up at the back of his head, reaching out to grab his shirt, while he masterfully serpentined between the crowds of people. He would turn back and smile his golden smile to me to make sure I was keeping up. We’d stop just for a quick second to get a scorecard and he’d get a beer (Later on, one for me too). We loved our seats. We had all the chances to move aisles closer to the field, but we loved being able to just jump over and fall into ours. Easy in, easy out. Perfect for raising a hand to buy a Home Run Hot Dogs and Budweisers.

In my early 20’s, while I was attending my fourth and last college, I rented an apartment on Broadway one block south of Addison. It was kind of a dump and it was next to The Jewel and that SUCKED during Christmas season because those damn Salvation Army bells would ring all the freaking time. But I was so close to Wrigley. My dad was a commodities trader at the Board of Trade and he was off work at 1:30pm. On game days, he would sneak out a bit early and hop in a cab. I would ride my bike, walk or rollerblade over to the park and meet him at The Cubby Bear. We bought the peanuts outside because they tasted better. He’d hand me my ticket and we’d start the mad dash. Even going to the games as an adult, I still felt the rush…I still always wanted to reach out and grab his shirt. Sitting there watching the game was our catch-up time, it was relaxing and it just felt like home.

Twinning with Sutcliffe.

Sometimes I would take the train in with my mom and we would go Cubbie nuts. My mom is still a die-heart fan, too. She was raised a Sox fan, but we don’t hold that against her. (So was my husband and his family is not happy.) We really had the best of times through the years. Our favorite thing to do after the game was to go to the Wild Hare and get our reggae on…so many laughs. Those were the party party days. We were always meeting new people and chatting up our “seat neighbors.” Some we knew for over 30 years. They saw us grow up. They saw us bring all of our babies there for the first time. They saw the last days of dad being there.

My kids were raised in the red, white and blue. They didn’t know anything else. They all went to the the park as babies and they all had their personal Cubbie adventures. Being a Cubs fan has been a big part of who they are today.

Every opening day, my brother and I would trade off going with Dad. Some days were filled with freezing rain, some were sunny and beautiful, but they were always perfect. The timeline of the day, the routine, the songs, the stretch, it was all so comforting like a bug warm hug. I will cherish those days forever.

Of course, I fell in love all the time. My first boyfriend was Billy Buckner. He was a dashing hero to me. My dad is the kinda guy who knew everyone and somehow he finagled us having an official “Donaldson Day” at Wrigley. We were able to go on the field, lay against the Ivy, see the locker rooms. I sat in the dugout on Ivan Dejesus’ lap. Hell yes, I did. Oh, and this happened.

My dad did this Randy Huntley fantasy baseball camp and it was pretty darn cool. He was able to play alongside Ryno, Durham, Jody Davis, Fergie, Lee Smith…It was a total dream come true for him and it was cool to watch. Years later, my brother did the same….

Years later, my brother did a cool thing for my dad. Let’s the face it. THE.COOLEST. THING. Jim Donaldson day.

As we got older and started our families, it was harder to see my brother and his family. He and his wife lived a block away from the park on Sheffield and could hear the crack of the bats through his open windows. Wow. He was able to still go to the games all the time and I know that was another dream for him fulfilled. It was always fun to go to the games with him and catch up….always a beautiful bonding experience with him at the park.

I did marry a sox fan, as I mentioned before, but I would like to formally thank the Cubs for helping me woo him. Wrigley with my family was a great way to get him to marry me. We have flirted there many times at the park over the years.

And oh my word, THE FOOD. If you go old school, there is nothing like a Home Run hot dog from a park vendor…mustard only. Second place for me is a dog from inside with grilled onions. Great link HERE for the park food. We loved going to the Club before the games, during a rain storm or when it was just too damn HOT.

The Club

The Friendly Confines have changed. First it was cool things like the statues…Captain Morgan expansion was interesting…they fancied up the bleachers…Gallagher Park was a cool addition. Then they started to replace the premiere seating. Finally, they were ready to upgrade our box. And they changed the ticket prices to obviously separate the wheat from the chaff. They tripled them. Insert middle finger here.

So now, where I grew up, there are a bunch of corporate people who are in town to drink $20 IPAs and don’t give a shit about the Cubbies. Stay classy, Rickett’s.

And…because they Yankees could afford it and the Rickett’s clearly need more money, we just lost our Golden Child. I’m grateful for the years we had him. He was a bright shiny light with a giving soul. He was not only a phenomenal player, but a funny, charming, philanthropic Chicago lover. Rizzo is cancer survivor, a hero to so many of us, a complete inspiration. He helped make IT happen. I am so grateful we had him for so long. I wish him and Emily the best.

BREAKING NEWS:

I just heard Javy traded to the Mets and Kimbrel to the freaking Sox.

I’m out. (Kicks a can, stomps off.)

MORE BREAKING NEWS:

(Runs back in….)

BRYANT TO THE GIANTS?

(Light can on fire, punches wall, stomps off. )

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I Lose Everything. The End.

Day 3:

My husband gets me.

I try to think when my loseeverything-itis started to get really bad. I think it was after I began having babies. Maybe not, but I usually blame everything else on that. Even as a kid, I was always flighty. I was perpetually ditzy, often confused, very emotional, constantly disorganized. However, I was kind of adorable and that helped me get away with a lot. This very annoying problem I have has definitely gotten worse over the years. Also, I am also not so adorable anymore, so it’s harder to get away with it.

My incredible friends get the brunt of it. I am constantly leaving my shit everywhere. Boat days are the worst. Shelly has my flip flops, Hank has my towel, Evelyn has my sunglasses and we are all still looking for my phone. I think for awhile it was funny, but now it’s just annoying, sprinkled with a hint of sadness. This one time, I left my iPad on the top of my car. You heard me right. I was in between two back-to-back gigs and it was a very stressful day. I had to run home to get something (probably something I forgot) and I totally also forgot about the iPad. It fell off my hood and someone ran it over with their car.

My iPad is my life blood when it comes to my singing jobs. I was devastated, disappointed, ashamed. A week later, for Christmas, those same incredible friends all chipped in and bought me a new one, so I could keep on playing music. Yep. Incredible. My heart still overflows, because they love me so much, despite…me.

So it was cute my husband bought me the key ring. The truth is that I just recently lost my keys and it had all of our new car FOB’s on it. I think I threw them away by accident. I guess you can say this gift is more for him, than me. He can finally take a break from digging in the garbage.

It’s not the first time someone I love has bought me a lost and found tool. A dear friend of mine gave me a purse a couple of years ago and three Apple tiles. We hid the first one inside the very cute purse. We put one my wallet. Super helpful. Then we put one my keys. That was blissful and happy time in my life. I knew where my shit was. Eventually they lost their charge and chaos ensued. And here we are again.

I can kind of guess what you’re thinking. “Pull yourself together, Heather. Put everything away in your purse and put it in a safe and remember-able place everyday.” Now YOU’RE adorable, but nay, nay. Too easy.

Picture, if you will, a big tornado of chaos. That’s me. I am always in a hurry, always late for something, always in a perpetual frenzy of mayhem, bewilderment and perplexity. In short: it is very, very difficult to be me.

Recently, I bought a key hook to put right in the doorway when you walk in the house. Brilliant, the family said! Well thought out, the family said! You actually have to put your keys on it, the family said! They use it. It comes in really handy when you have four drivers and we play car Tetris every day. The only problem is just that I keep forgetting to put my keys on it. DAMMIT.

I feel like there is money to be made on my imperfections. I smell invention. I’ll see your tiles, Apple, and I will one up you with little chip stickers. Cheaper, more compact and you can stick them on anything. For instance, I really also lose my lip gloss about for times a day. It’s incredibly frustrating because I love a good moist lip. What I need is an affordable little itty bitty sticker on there, with a microchip, that I can program in my phone and when I can’t find it…push the button…beep beep beep….lip gloss found under my car seat. Lip crisis averted.

I could put one on the portable fan in my room because my freaking kids keep taking it. It’s really not that HARD to find it when it’s missing, because I just have to burst in yelling to one of their rooms. But If I had an annoying little alarm, I could really drive it home with them to stop taking my stuff. I could just incessantly beep it in their rooms until they can’t stand it anymore and they bring it back. I absolutely need one for my hair straightener. Number three is a double dog down thief. She’s definitely at her absolute worst when she steals my very posh shampoo and conditioner, brings it in her shower, leaves it there and I don’t discover it until I am naked, wet and super pissed off. Definitely need a little sticker for that. *Add waterproof to business plan.

Those are instances of criminal thievery by my children. But I also need help with things that I lose like…documents. Medication. Numerous articles of clothing. Clothing tags….I can sew them in like camp. Yes! *Add name tags to business plan.

While I am at it, “it” being creating new things to help me get through my day, I should also look into memory care. Things that help preserve the brain I still have left and try to stop it from rotting, or whatever it’s doing up there. Maybe I will start doing Sudoku with a clicky pencil. I can suddenly take up gardening and consume fish oil. In the end, I think I just need to slow my roll. Continue my quest to heal my sick body, gets some damn sleep and stop sweating the small stuff.

“People give the worst advice about lost things. Retrace your steps. Pray to Saint Anthony. Think about where you last saw it. But that doesn’t apply to the things that matter. Those are right in front of you, except they can’t be found by looking for them. Only by looking at everything else.”
― Kristen Lepionka, The Last Place You Look

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My Lovelies…So Sorry For the Moves.

Nomad Parents

Day 2.

Jesus weeps, I have a long way to go.

Inspired by a really cool friend, I have decided to commit to a 365 day blogapalooza. Read it, don’t read it…do your thing. Share with me if you want, no worries if you don’t. I’m up for the challenge. Writing is my therapy and I am always very interested in knowing if or not I am not alone in my chaos. As I sit and think about what the hell I want to write about for a year, I start with something that I have had so much guilt about as a parent. It’s THE thing. The one I wish I could take back. Deep breath…we were nomad parents. And there was damage done.

Our kids are all old souls. I’m still trying to figure that out, because growing up, I was super immature. Total idiot. Insanely social, I spend most of my time flirting with boys, dodging getting grounded and plotting underage drinking with my girls. All three of my children suffer from various degrees of “peer shy.” It’s like it was concentrated with the first one and trickled down. Number two is finally coming out of his shell. Number three is definitely the most social. It took me years to figure it out, but I think it’s because we moved 11 times in ten years. That’s…not an exaggeration. And that…comes with a ton of guilt.

Our Moving history in a nutshell:

  1. Hubby to Lincoln Square: Summer, 1999
  2. Heather to Lincoln Square: Fall, 1999
  3. Hubby, Heather and #1 to Lincoln Square North apartment: Summer 2000
  4. Hubby, Heather and #1 to New Buffalo, Michigan family home: Fall, 2000
  5. Hubby, Heather and #1 to the Mundelein teeny home. Winter 2001
  6. Hubby Heather, #1 and #2 to Chicago Lakeview, apartment one: Summer 2003
  7. Hubby, Heather, #1 and #2 to Chicago Lakeview, apartment two: Fall, 2003
  8. Hubby, Heather, #1 and #2 to Naperville: Don’t remember, 2004
  9. Hubby, Heather, #1, #2 and SURPRISE! #3 to Crystal Lake, home of the orange water: Summer, 2006
  10. Hubby, Heather, #1, #2 and #3 to dream house in Wauconda: Winter, 2007
  11. Hubby, Heather, #1, #2 and #3 to not-dream/current home in Wauconda: Fall, 2009

We were, the entire family, exhausted in every way. We needed to stop and plant.

The relocation motives were mostly job-related. Although one time we moved because the water was disgustingly orange and the kids were getting dyed in the bathtub. Grody to the max. After that, we rented my dream house, but had to move because we couldn’t afford to actually buy it. Probably a blessing in disguise, because there may have been a little problem with the fact that I was deathly allergic to the backyard horse farm. (Note to self: blog about how I almost died from an asthma attack at Medieval Times).

Then there were the city days. We were kicked out of an apartment because the man under us couldn’t stand toddlers running. We tried duct taping them to the couch, but eventually we were forced to make the move to the apartment across the hallway. Our savage running beasts were finally free to do horrible things like…just be children. There were quirky memories that we took away from every place, all adding to the Moran Clan tapestry of chaos.

Looking at the big picture, it was rough, but we loved them so much every step of the way, and I think they will be okay. I really really hope they will be ok.

My oldest son had the hardest time, not only because he was the one who moved around with us the most, but also because he already started out shy. Then every time he started to get close to a kid, we’ed freaking pack up and leave. By the time we really settled here…all the friends were kind of taken. Can I say that? Is that a thing? It seemed like it. We really tried to help him. Groups were established and it is sometimes really HARD to make new friends. Senior year of college, last year to play lacrosse, graduation in May. Next year he finishes up his 5-year Master’s in Criminal Justice. And he’s an RA. He may not be the cool life of the party, but we think he’s a very decent human. He’s kind, happy, has a service heart and he’s also quite charming. Some girl out there someday will be very lucky. We can’t wait to meet her.

My second son, our Irish fighter, is a whole other beautiful, layered story of survival. He is constantly beating adversity, questing to find inner peace and he possesses one of the sweetest hearts made by God. He’s a lovely novel; a book you don’t want to finish reading. I can’t wait to wax poetic about this gorgeous soul.

Our baby, our daughter, our empath: my darling, Dad and I promise you we won’t move. For the next three years… live your life. Make memories with your friends, learn how to drive a car, play your sports, nail your education, jam your guitar, sing like a bird and for Christ’s sake: be a kid. We are not going anywhere. Until you graduate. Then, we will see 🙂

As parents, we try to do our best and we count our blessings. We fail, we apologize, we learn, we hug them, we dust ourselves off and we keep on going. And sometimes, we pack boxes.

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Bowels on a Rager.

I’ve got diverticulitis. Gross.

It was so much funnier when it was a family joke as an idiotic 14 year old. My brother and I thought it was hilARious to run around the house, whining, “I’ve got diiiivvverticullliiitttiiisss!”

Laugh it up, chuckles.

Now, look. I’m a lady. I do not want to talk about my intestines as much as I am sure you don’t want to hear about them. They are all sorts of pissed off. It started June 30th. I know the exact date because it was the last time I sat down and had an actual meal. Since then, I have lost 15 pounds, orange Jello is my life blood, Desitin isn’t just for babies and I have had labor-like stomach cramps for three literal weeks. Many sleepless nights, crying in the fetal position, while my poor husband felt helpless. Gigs cancelled all over the damn place and way too much energy exuded pretending I was ok, when I was dying in the inside.

One urgent care, two hospital visits (MORPHINE, HOLLA!), one cat scan that also found a monster cyst on my ovaries (WTF. That’s next week’s drama.), one endoscopy, complete with my last words as I was getting the Twilight Saga drug, “I’m a singer; don’t screw it up“, and one incredibly disgusting, gross, intrusive and weird colonoscopy.

Diagnosis: Diverticulitis or Osis….I think it’s more osis, but not sure really yet. The doctor went on vacation hours after he did his photoshoot of my screaming bowels. And Oh my God, dude, this guy deserves that vacation. Why did he, on purpose, choose to be this kind of doctor? Why, why why.

I see him on Monday to talk about my issues. Find out what meds I need, learn what I can eat, reveal if my polyps were scary polyps, discuss how chia seeds almost killed me…until then, I am a Google research machine. I am hunting and gathering information and I am so damn confused. Currently, I choke down broth and hard boiled eggs, I take the weight loss as a big girl win and practice calm meditation. Very needed, because this was all brought on by massive stress, my bum immune system and…Chia.

Freakin’ Chia. I should have known better than to eat anything you spread on a ceramic plant statue of Bob Ross’ head.

Pivot, heal, relax, re-group, re-charge.

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Backstory.

Yesterday I did what I’m sure looked like an obligatory Facebook brag post. Especially to people who probably don’t have school-age children, or …any children. But the ones who had to hands-on watch their children navigate their education through a pandemic every day for the last year, I bet they got it.

I didn’t post that for myself. I already know how neat my kids are; I get to live with them every day. When I posted that, I posted that for her. Whether it helps her read it today or it helps her when she reads in 20 years, she needs a reminder that her mom loved her and what she overcame. She will see what I wrote, remember the lovely comments shared from people who are dear to us and see a picture of what she looked like at that moment.

Just because she did well and got straight A’s, doesn’t mean that she didn’t work. her. ass. off.

It’s not a scenario where things come easy to her, look at how perfect she is, blah, blah, blech. The real truth is that I watched her study and worry and plan and make goals and work really hard to finish them. That’s all on her.

And she did all of this basically sitting on a mattress, on her bedroom floor, surrounded by Cheetos’s, our loyal dog and a teenager amount of dirty laundry.

Please make no mistake, as a mother trying to help my children learn through a pandemic, I’m an idiot and can’t teach them anything, but I can online shop. I transformed the loft and I set up quite the beautiful school area. It had wonderful lighting and it was comfortable, with productive desks and chairs. I tried to give both her and her brother, who was enrolled in some CLC college courses, an environment where they could concentrate when they needed it, and then walk away when they were done.

I’m pretty sure they used it for about a week and a half. And I didn’t push them because this wasn’t about me doing all that work and me getting upset because they didn’t use it. (Truth: It gave me something else to do during the pandemic besides putting booze in my coffee and overeating. ) Nay, nay: It was about them being comfortable when everything around them made no sense.

Her freshman year in high school should’ve been filled with nervous giggles, experimenting with outfits every morning, walking to classes with new friends, sneaking out to get ice cream on her lunch break, walking in the halls and blushing when she passed somebody she had a crush on, laughing with her friends in the locker room about how much swimming class sucks with their period, going to a pep rally…going to a football game….going to Homecoming, going anywhere…with anyone…

Our walls are thin in our cookie cutter home. Her bedroom is next to mine. I know the sound of fear, frustration, angst, anxiety and sadness. Her teachers voices came out of her laptop sounding legit Charlie Brown. I heard late-night heated and passionate conversations, but couldn’t make out the words. Those emotion-filled moments made my tears run all the way down to my pillow.

But, there where lovely noises. She taught herself some pretty bitchin’ guitar playing. Her lovely voice, soft and lilting, wafted into the hallway. The strumming was comforting, the sounds of her trying to figure out the Bohemian Rhapsody solo, endless Fleetwood Mac. She had the lonely time to do that. l will cherish those sanguine sounds that seeped through my bedroom wall.

Another sound that didn’t make me feel sad to accidentally overhear: the laughter with her friends. They found a way to make the “pandemic sleepover” work; messy but still with laughter and love.

What one wouldn’t also post on social media is that she battled two significant and private medical issues that most don’t know about, and one very significant dental issue that meant literally 30 doctor and specialized dentist appointments in a year. In one year. In a pandemic.

Could she cry to her friends at the table in the lunch room, where she could get hugs and whispers of support? No. But she could talk to their faces on her small phone screen and at least feel some love, however she could get it. Funny…it’s the one time as a mother I have been grateful for my children’s social media.

Life has gotten slowly back to “normal”. She eventually went back to school, picked out cute outfits, walked the halls, snuck off to The Jewel with friends on her lunch break, met her teachers face-to-face for the first time, played an actual high school lacrosse game, even laughed on a bus with her teammates…normal things started happening again. I think the kid is finally able to realize that she is going to be okay.

My life purpose is to love and protect my family; keep them alive for a life that is worth living. I have two other great kids who are creating their own life journey tapestries, but I celebrate this moment for the little one who won an epic battle this year in her bedroom. Shine on, little diamond.

Moran #3

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Your Pain is My Pain, My Darling.

In the wee small hours of this morning, while my child sits alone in a mental hospital…I wonder if he can feel me thinking of him. Does he sleep? Does he finally sleep well? Sleep for him is an epic battle in the dark of every night. Is he cold? I hope he’s not cold.

In the wee small hours of this morning, while my child sits alone in a mental hospital…I wonder how many people in my life truly know what it’s like to live every day with someone who fights for the will to live? Is it….four friends? Twenty? Over a hundred? Or am I the only one? I’m sure I can’t be the only one. I wish it wasn’t anyone ever. When people ask me how I am doing, I say, “Fine. How are you?” But I want to SCREAM…

“MY CHILD IS NOT OK. I AM NOT OK.”

I’ll just keep on trying to hide so no one asks me how I’m doing.

In the wee small hours of this morning, while my child sits alone in a mental hospital…he is alone because he turned 18. The last time he was in the hospital, I could be there with him, at least for awhile. Now, apparently, he is old enough to vote, get a tattoo and to handle his grief and despair alone in isolation.

In the wee small hours of this morning, while my child sits alone in a mental hospital…I sit in the dark, wrapped in the fuzzy purple blanket that makes me feel better, but I think it’s broken. I have my phone next to me, waiting for news, any news; something that will help me with our grief and despair. I ask at no one in the dark, “Why can’t my child be ok?” No one answers. I have barely slept and grief is tiring and it also keeps you awake. Tomorrow, I will not have a good day, no matter how you look at it. I have to work, I have to smile, I have to pretend I’m fine. It’s exhausting for my child to get through a day and it’s exhausting for me to try to help him get through a day. He deserves to get through a day. At least tomorrow he will have another day. I wish I could suck up all his pain because I would wear it for him always.

In the wee small hours of this morning, while my child sits alone in a mental hospital…I wish he could see the one million bright and lovely things I see when I look at him. How much he is loved. How dark life would be without him.

To him I want to send a message in a bottle…As if life isn’t hard enough, as if our world isn’t fucked up enough, as if my tank isn’t on empty enough, I still will always fight…and I will always Coldplay you, my darling.

“Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you”

In the wee small hours of this morning, while my child sits alone in a mental hospital…I would give all of everything to go back and have him swaddled in my arms. Safe, happy and sleeping like a baby.

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Tack Your Map.

Yesterday, I woke up to a text whistle.

My eyes were still trying to focus, failing miserably to recall the details of the very weird dream I just had about going back to college…I was doing the groggy, obligatory reach-over for my glasses and my phone.

A very upset dear friend sent me a text. “…Did you hear about Sammy?…”

No. No no no no no no no. Not Sam. Samsamsamsamsamsam.

What is that thing? What is that thing our minds do at times like this when memories, clips, moments, feelings…they all attack our brains and our heads and our faces…flying at you like a colorful tornado…recollections of the past floating around. You close your eyes and you try to grab ahold of one to steady it for second, and it moves and then you open your eyes. Poof. There they go. You try really hard and they come back again and you struggle to remember them in a not-fuzzy way. For me: a laugh, a look, a rehearsal, a tipsy walk down the street, a striped shirt, a giggle-filled stage kiss, a hi and a hug, a deep talk in a dark bar…reminiscences all chaotic, all fighting, bumping into each other, these memories belligerent and clawing to be seen and competing to be remembered in my mind, just as they were in that memory Polaroid…those memory Polaroids…snapshots of those times, that small moment of many; many and not enough tiny moments that make up the time when I had Sam in my life.

He was just a friend. Not a past lover. Not someone I even truly knew anymore. But my heart aches just the same. Crying for his family, bawling for his loved ones. Then my inner dialogue goes Tasmanian Devil…we do this to ourselves….I’m yelling at me in my car yesterday morning, fists gripping my steering wheel, “Why in the hell didn’t I talk to him anymore?!”

Stop, breathe. Hug ourselves. It’s in this moment that we need to tell us that we are ok because life. simply. moves. It just keeps moving. That time I had with him was there and then life moves so fast…onto the next show, the new circle of pals, the new job, the new husband, the kids, the more kids, the more jobs, the more life. The journey takes us; the road winds and we drive farther on The Map of Life. But it is on that Map that you mark those special tack pins. You take them and stick them in all the locations that you really lived and loved, because you want to remember that time and that spot and those people. They meant so much to you that you saved them for later. You do that, so when you go back to The Map and look at all the beautiful places you have been, you remember what a great journey we are on so far…And Sam, my friends, was definitely a tack.

I love Facebook. I fucking hate Facebook. But most importantly, I NEED Facebook. Not just to promote my music career, but I need Facebook so I can look back on all my connected tacks. I go on my feed page so I can laugh at a ridiculous cow meme that was posted by an old theater professor, or admire a neighbor’s summer garden or feel happy for the old middle school friend who found great love, or I can even just send a virtual hug to a long-distant cousin who just needs a freaking hug. It’s not the same. It’s not in person, it’s virtual, but it’s the best I can do right now and I MEAN it. It’s me saying to everyone, “I am busy on my path, but I am still so glad that you were on one of mine.”

Sam was just this stunning human. Strikingly good-looking, yes, but that wasn’t even the best part. First and foremost, he was a deep and true listener for all. When you spoke to Sam, he concentrated on your words with his warm puddly eyes and his beautifully enormous heart. All of this greatness was surrounded by a unique and rare talent for performing. I have a funny Polaroid in my head that reminds me I had a little crush on Sam. I was playing Chris Hargensen and he was my Billy in a hilarious Chicago musical called “sCarrie the Musical”. We were the mean kids and made out a lot. Which wasn’t horrible. We had this rather rated-R musical number where I had to sing to him while I was performing….well…let’s just say, that the entire cast could barely get through it every time because we were all laughing so hard. Best of times.

I don’t know how we lost Sam. What I pray for is that he didn’t feel one ounce of pain. What I wish for is that his legacy will live on for all days, by the people who loved him. What I know is that all of it is a complete tragedy.

Pray for his family. Hug everyone you can. Love everyone you love. Go hang your Map.

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Too Sad To Title.

I really want to scream.

I wake up this morning, dragging myself out of bed. I’m yawny and blurry and dreading my 8:30am workout.  I roll over, grab my glasses and pick up my phone to see what I missed on social media. God forbid, I miss something important, since it’s been a whole four hours when I last tried to sleep. And then I see a text from one of my dear friends, to tell me that someone we love died last night.

Fuck.  Fucking fuck.  I can’t.  Shock is weird.  It’s like someone took out my brain and hung it on the ceiling right above my head and it’s throbbing.  I’m feeling so many things, but I don’t actually know one thing I’m feeling.  I can toss out the usual reactions: disbelief, shock, sadness.  I can’t think or type the right words to even describe what that feels like…I can only explain that it was more like I’m slouching on the side of my bed, with an elephant sitting on my chest and I just can’t find a breath to take.

First thoughts….first thoughts…it’s not real.  I think of his life partner. I think of his family.  I pray that he didn’t feel pain.  I angry-cry about him being too fucking YOUNG.  Warning: I’m going to spill the beans and share all the crazy shit that was going on in my head.  It’s embarrassing, but maybe something relatable. Or maybe it’s just thoughts that prove that I need professional help.  But it’s real, it’s raw and it’s the truth. And it all comes from me hoping that in our very last days, we know how much we are loved.

My mind is a Rolodex, flipping to the last time I talked to him. Flip, flip, flip…when was that? I just had an email exchange with him a week ago…two weeks ago…was it a month ago?  It could have been six.  It was business.  About a booking? Was I loving, responsive and kind?   Or was I curt, short and to the point?  Is that the last impression he got from me?  Did he know how much he meant to me?  Did I tell him how much he meant to me?  Fuck.  No, I didn’t. We, as humans, don’t do that all day, every day. It was business about a booking…it was…normal day stuff.

More thoughts are spewing: why didn’t I tell him how much he meant to me on one of the last times I saw him.  That time recently at a show.  When I saw him looking up at me,  smiling at me, watching me from off-stage. Why didn’t I scream out to him, “I love you and I am grateful for you in my life, my friend?”  He deserved to hear that every day.  We all do.   But we don’t think that every time we say goodbye to someone…that it might be the very last time.

I want time back.  I want the early days with my old pal, when we were jamming in his family room in the first band I was ever in, when I was in the best times of my life and I didn’t know it, and he was teaching me Chaka Khan tunes and we were drinking PBR; underage and unforgiving, I want to go back to that and take his face in my hands and say, thank you for being in my life.

And then when we re-connected through music in the last few years…he found out that, even though I’m an old Golden Girl now,  I’m still musically at it, kicking around on stages and still fighting the old gal fight.  He heard I was still singing, and he reached out to me with that beautifully gargantuan smile and said, “Hey.  Let’s do something with your music,” Then again, I should have taken his face in my hands and said thank you for again for still being in my life.

Recently, he hired me to sing in a place, and there was a random hole in the floor.  He quietly, yet deftly remembered that I am, and always will be, a ditz.  AKA: a girl who will always fall into holes.  He pointed down and said, “Heather, don’t fall in that hole.”  I walked past that hole in the floor without incident, turning back at him with a smirk on my face and simultaneously patting myself on my own back.  Then he pointed to a door in the back of the room and gave me a warning look. “Walk through here.  It’s cool behind there, but be careful.”  Obviously, I strutted through that door and I immediately fell way down into a much bigger hole.  But it was a fun fall, because I got to hear that old laugh.  It was lovely; ringing robust and true just like those good old days.

What now.  I feel too many things.  Mostly I feel so deeply sad for his amazing partner and his loved ones; all the people who will feel the loss every day.  I’m feeling again so much sadness for those who will now have to walk around everything and everyday without him.

Now it’s the wee small hours.  What to do now?  Gradually all day,  I was checking Facebook, watching how so many people were grasping to mourn such a tragedy.  Share how much they loved this man by posting pictures and stories and dedications.  I did the same, trying to to connect and grieve together. There were so many loved ones, yearning helplessly to write to him and tell this magnificent person one more time how much they loved him…hoping so hard that he can hear all of us from up above.  It’s so desperate and yet so very needed for many of those left behind.  All so overwhelming and heartbreaking and scary and final.

I once had this kind friend in high school and he asked me to be in a band. He taught me things about music that I still sing out of my mouth today.  Lately, he found me again and I got to see that wide, electric smile and share some laughs and a great love for music.  Then, we lost him too soon and I wish I had more. I wish I did more.

Ferris nailed it: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Life is, indeed, gorgeous. It’s work.  It’s tiring, yet so rewarding.  It’s filled will so many layers and it is enveloped with all the different kinds of love.  It fills your heart and it breaks your heart and then it’s over way too soon.  My old friend, thank you for your friendship.  Heaven is jamming to your serious super-funk tonight and for always. How lucky are they up there? How lucky were we down here. XO MT.

 

 

 

 

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“This is only a drill.”

Last year, I was helping out in my youngest daughter’s classroom. We had a surprise lockdown drill.
I.LOST.MY.SHIT.
First, this is embarrassing, but…yeah, I’ll share.  Because I know that I’m not the only one who has felt like this and it needs to be talked about because it’s actually ok for us to say out loud, “this is scary.”  I am scared for my children, for my friends’ children, for my teacher friends.  I’m scared for everyone.  Even everyone I don’t know.  The whole package.  And also, I wish I was braver and not so scared. 

Let’s all agree that if you know me well, I’m a little…let’s say…hyper-empathic, to a fault….badly coupled with an overactive imagination that is way too big for it’s britches.  
But here I am….excited to help out in class…the last year that I can before my youngest moves to middle school. Cry! Weep! Take a selfie with her…post! I adore the teacher and the kids and we are doing cool things with planets and rockets and cereal boxes and cotton and….

Surprise lockdown drill? 

That…was not on my volunteer agenda. But here I am.  I’ve got this.

The alarm goes off and the teacher locks the door, turns off the lights and starts to huddle the kids under the desks. I look at her quizzically and she smiles and tells everyone it’s a drill. Or did they announce it?? I don’t recall.  I do remember feeling my blood boiling and my face getting hot and I put my hands on my cheeks and my stomach starts to hurt.  I follow her lead and pretend like I’m even an 1/8 of the superhuman she; as all teachers are in situations like this.  I am trying to calm the kids, who’s levels of fright are somewhere probably ranging anywhere from a 1-3 out of ten….I was lingering at somewhere around 149 out of five. While I’m smiling, winking and making funny cool-mom faces, inside I’m dying. Kind of literally.  All replayed out in different scenarios in my over-active absurd mind. I’m legitimately scared and there is no valid reason for it.  It’s a practice drill.  But I’m not 100% sure.  They don’t tell you that before it starts because….it’s a DRILL

Some of my thoughts…that I can vividly remember…that were pounding in my head, flying and whipping around like lights at a Floyd laser show:

(1)WHERE IS MY DAUGHTER. She’s literally right next to you.  Where are my other kids? Safe at school.  Safe?  Safe. These kids are safe.  I’m mom to all of them right now.   Count the kids. one, two, three…I don’t even know how many kids there are but still count..four, five, six….smile.

(2) What is that look in the teacher’s face? She looks scared.  This isn’t real.  Could this be real?  This isn’t real.  I’m listening so hard with my ears for every.little.thing.

(3) Can the kids see me crying a little bit?  Stop.  Stop.  Breathe. Smile.  

(4) Wall of windows.  How do those windows open? How fast can I get there and open one to get the kids out before something happens and I can’t make it? Omg STOP.

(5) Can the kids even fit out the window? How far do they open? Stop.  

(6) Where is my cellphone?  Where is my purse? It’s across the room.  I don’t need it.  Why the FUCK is my cell phone not in my pocket?  Smile.

(7) Re-lax. This is a drill.

(8) Almost done.

(9) Is the teacher scared? Wait? Is that a scared look? No, she’s fine. No wait, she’s acting like she’s fine, but she’s losing her shit.  No, she’s annoyed that her parent helper keeps staring at her and is losing her shit.  I’m so sorry.
(10) This could NOT be a drill.

(11) Keep smiling.  Keep making silly faces.  Keep winking.  Hide fright.  

(12) Why doesn’t Mike ever volunteer?

(13) I want Mike.

(Smile at Lulu, wink, squeeze her hand…make funny face)

(Turn away so she doesn’t see me crying again)

I hear footsteps.  Then the door jiggles. They are checking the locked doors. The principal and the police officers.  I know this.

It’s just a cop.

It’s just a cop.

It’s just a cop.

Omg. Is this real? Staring at windows. Starting at teacher. Staring at windows.

The next 5 minutes felt like 5 hours.

*Announcement: Drill over.

As I non-challantly blow a kiss to my daughter, make a lackadaisical eye-roll laugh and wave at the teacher, after I sign out at the front desk, tossing out some witty repartee about how “I always pick the best days to volunteer” and as I saunter out of the building… I am choking…CHOKING back the tears and the sobs that I finally let out all the way home.  I should have just taken her home with me.  I want to take the entire school home with me.

There wasn’t enough bottles of Chardonnay for me when I got home that day.  Why yes, I did day drink that day.  Sue me.

That experience wasn’t the real thing.  The vile thing.  Nothing I felt or thought that day could ever even TOUCH what all these children and teachers have had to experience and are continuing to experience.  The HORROR.  The REALITY.  

NO ONE. No child, no teacher, no parent, no law enforcement, no rescue teams should EVER have to go through any of it. Those children were helpless in a war they didn’t ask to fight in, in an unmarked war zone they called school and without any way to defend themselves. This is the worst kind of war ever.

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