I know like I know…2011

If I had to use one word to sum up 2011 it would be epiphany.  An epiphany, according to Webster, is a sudden manifestation of the meaning or essence of something; A perception of reality that is usually initiated by some simple, commonplace occurrence.

My family and I entered 2011 on the heels of the loss of my brother-in-law, Honey.  This would begin the “year of firsts” for us and it would be painful.  But it would also be accompanied by little moments of light, little hints of survival, little songs from the heavens and little feet scampering down the stairs to knock on Miss Terri’s door.  Those little feet belong to Isabel.  She is the ray of sunshine that lives upstairs from my sister.  She is the sweetest most unassuming (as most children her age are) little one to ever touch the heart of a grieving woman.  She, along with her parents and new born brother Ethan, have scooped up my sister and made her believe that there are angels living upstairs.  With every kindness of theirs, my sister took another step toward rejoining the world. My sister, in turn, has honed her favorite Aunt skills to a fair the well, culminating in the tutu that Isabel would wear 24/7 if permitted.

And then there are our friends.  Friend is such a common and overused word.  I only call certain people friend and I tell them I love them, out loud, every chance I get.  Such is the magnitude of my love for them.  Terri too would see the manifestation of love and caring from the women she calls friends.  They are crazy, they are bigger than life, they know how to poke and prod a person until they take their first venture away from home. They know how to catch you when you begin to fall never letting you hit the ground.  They know when to barge in and clean out your pantry, they know how to take your keys away so you can’t run home to the emptiness that you perceive your life to be and they know how to make you understand that you are a necessary part of their world.  I am indebted to these women because my epiphany was letting go, not fixing, not, not, not.  That is, after I snuck in cleaned the house and hung pictures and made a birthday surprise…yes I still have my key.

Early in 2011 I lost my dear friend Cookie.  Yet another of those phone calls that leave you with that know like you know feeling. Then there is that look that passes between friends that confirms your worst fears.  I believe that only Muriel and I could  exchange that look, we have become that close.  So many things for the family to do, I knew that I could only do what I do best, feed them. I will never forget the moment when there were ten people sitting shoulder to shoulder at my table finally realizing they were hungry.  My sister and I providing food to sustain them for the days ahead; she holding her own sorrow at bay.  There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of my friend or utter some Cookism.  The gratitude I have for his generosity will surely stand the test of time.  Now at the end of this other year of firsts I am amazed at the growth of his wife, Kathy, and the friendship we have forged.  When friendship passes from one person to another it is wonderful.

The one silver lining to come out of losing Cookie is the fortification of the Cookie Club.  There is no butter or sugar involved only four friends who made it their business to continually show their love of the man by visiting regularly, albeit it not as often as we would have liked.  We four were bonded by the love of our friend and now that he’s gone we continue to get together to reminisce, support and enjoy one another.  When one of us is in trouble it has become natural for the others to encourage simply by showing up.  There was no need for J.C. to thank us for coming to the mass for his sister; of course we would be there.  There is no need for S.O. to thank us for the prayers and good wishes for his speedy recovery from foot surgery, of course we would pray for him and offer to drive him or bring food.  These people are the ones I would call if ever I was in trouble, there is no doubt that they would be at my side in moments.

I had the honor of chronicling the last days of my dear friend Jay Fretz.  I always refer to him as that anomaly, a gentleman in the car business.  At a reunion of sorts we talked about his terminal prognosis and how he could get everyone to understand.  His trusting me with that task was one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received from another human being. I believe he was
pleased, I believe he is at peace and I will continue to lurk in the life of his family to see if there is anything I can do for them.

My summer sister was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I have never cried so much or been so eager to turn back time.  To what?  What could I possible hope to erase?  Kyle is one of my favorite people, she is the smartest woman I know and l love her with all my heart. In the thirty something years that she and I have shared our highest highs and lowest lows I could not imagine her not kicking the crap out of this disease.  Of course she researched the hell out of this thing, of course she found the best of the best, and of course she would come through.  Still in all the praying and all the updates sometimes you just need to see your friend, face to face, bald head and all.  We spent the most wonderful few days at our new getaway in middle New York.  I know like I know that all will be well with her, I know like I know that there is a silver lining to this that we will discover as we continue to go through our lives together.

I’ve learned the “Art of Lurking” (a term my dear summer sister coined for a completely different reason) and it is serving me well. To me the Art of Lurking is hanging back just the tiniest bit so that those around you can find their footing on their own. It’s watching ever so vigilantly that when they begin to falter you can intervene in a way that leaves them with dignity
and self-reliance and leaves you free from the burden of co-dependence.   I’ve suffered terribly in the past from trying to fix everything and be everything to everyone; I finally learned that others can have as much influence on my people as me.  Falling down isn’t the worst thing that can happen to a person, imagine…?

Reading this one might think that 2011 was a terrible year but it really wasn’t.  Life on Stowe Lane continues to prove the best thing I’ve ever done.  The enchanted forest continues to bring me joy and in keeping with the new universe, my upstairs neighbors have replaced the noisy old air conditioner that sits right outside my deck.  Of course they did…

My home becomes more beautiful every year I’m here, without a bit of renovation.  I’ve been blessed with original art from my best friend’s Mom.  MJ your art is amazing and I am struck breathless every time I look at it in my home.  I’ve rearranged the
furniture and moved all the other art to make way for the warmth that now pervades my home.

I’m blessed with my extended family coming through the door at any time and making themselves at home.  The Aunt Ms are a breath of fresh air every time I see them and frankly I’d be lost without them.  Sandra breezes in and out in her fun and fancy way.  I’m blessed to have been in the company of my sister more and more and more and I can’t get enough.  She has grace that I could never have imagined and I can’t wait to watch her grow. And even my mother is evolving into quite the dame, who knew?

I have had the honor of having dinner with friends on several different occasions that left me feeling fulfilled, loved and
amused.  I’ve enjoyed these dinners so much that I intend on chronicling them monthly in 2012.

I’ve had epiphanies big and small. Take my dining room table…who knew that turning the table length wise and leaving the leaf in would make the room feel bigger.

Who knew that you didn’t really have to put up your tree for the place to feel festive?

And who knew that you could finally let go of certain people and old habits and the earth would not open up and swallow you.

I know.

I also know that someone else’s epiphany can lead you to a wonderful upcoming adventure.  I know like I know that when Terri and I (and whoever else we can talk into going) wind up in Italy it will be the thrill of a lifetime.  I’m learning Italian and looking forward to all that life and 2012 have to offer.

Amore a tutti…