I remember when

I sit here tonight in the quiet of the house with a heavy heart and fire inside me.  I have a plethora of feelings this evening and so I turn to this trusty place.  I’m staring at the blinking cursor as it mocks me when I can’t think of the words, but I know I have to write.

Do you remember where you were 15 years ago today?  The day before the world changed as we know it?  More importantly, do you remember what kind of person you were then? Who were you, what were your worries?  Did you lose your temper that day over something silly and mundane?  Were you a little too short with a loved one?  Were you a little too impatient?  Did you thank that nice girl at the counter who served you coffee as you rushed off to work, late because of the traffic?  Did you pass judgement on that person sitting at the end of that exit ramp asking for spare change?

I bet we all did some of these things 15 years ago today because none of us knew that tomorrow we would wake up and become someone different – that we would wake up and our country would be changed.  I remember exactly where and who I was 15 years ago today.  I was one week away from bringing into the world my daughter, The Middle, and I was as miserable as I could be.  I was impatient with anyone near me, I was short tempered, I was tired, I was swollen, and I was not the person I am today.

Like thousands and thousands of people, I watched horrified that morning as the events unfolded and despite going into labor and my mid-wife instructing me to stay away from the news, I watched for days on end as the aftermath unfolded.  It was devastating; we all remember how devastating this day was.  It was a sight I will never forget, it was a feeling I will never forget, and it was change in our country I wish we all would never forget.

You see, we’ve forgotten that part.  Every year on September 11th we all put that photo of the towers or the eagle that’s shedding tears on our social media pages and we promise not to forget, but do we actually remember?  Do we remember, as a country, what we swore we would never forget?  I do and I’m sure I’m not the only one, but not nearly enough people truly remember.  Yes, we remember the attack on our country. We remember the horrifying collapse of both towers and we remember the excruciating number of innocent lives we lost on that day, but do we remember the days that came after?  Do we remember how we promised to never forget that we are the UNITED States of America?  That when you attack one of us or some of us, you attack ALL of us?  Do we remember that at that time there were no black Americans, no white Americans, no brown Americans, no yellow Americans – we were AMERICANS.  We were UNITED.  We were one and we rallied behind our flag, behind our country, behind our law enforcement, behind our first-responders, behind our military and behind each other.

I remember when we became brothers and sisters of this country and we promised those nearly 3 thousand innocent souls and their families that we would never forget.  We also promised the assholes who killed these innocent people for simply being American that we would unite and rally behind our our flag, behind our country, behind our law enforcement, behind our first-responders, behind our military and behind each other.

Today we are no longer brothers and sisters of this country as promised; we are jaded, separated, and self-proclaimed victims of a society that has done nothing but afford us every possible opportunity for success and freedom.  Today we can claim to be oppressed and show disrespect to a country we all promised to protect 15 years ago.  Today we fight each other to the death rather than the enemy who murdered us for being American.  Today we make excuses instead of change, we no longer hold the responsible parties accountable for the demise of their own lives but instead blame a country who has done nothing but house ideals, morals, and opportunities for centuries.

I remember when we were the UNITED States of America and I pray it doesn’t take another tomorrow to remind us of the promises we made.

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Normalcy or the lack thereof

Can I just say to all those mom’s out there that are outdoorsy and all ‘go team’, you are a better mom than I am.

Anywho, my husband thought it would be a great idea to enroll the youngest (The Little) in scouts.  I’m certainly not against this; boys need to know various things that are taught in scouts and it would give the two of them bonding time and all that jazz.  Male camaraderie, if you will.

The husband is an EMT (finally) so he works 24/48 shifts.  He signed The Little up last Thursday, and boy was he excited.  It was really sweet, actually.  Last night was their first meeting.  Naturally, Mr. EMT was working his 24 so I needed to take The Little to the meeting and do the introductions and whatnot.  Sounds harmless, right?  I had enough time after the office to go home, cook dinner (chicken with white wine mushroom sauce – does that sound like I am outdoorsy to you?), and forget to grab a pair of flip-flops to replace the 3-inch heels.  We arrive and there are tons of kids and dads with a few moms, but mostly dads.  Some kids in uniform with ribbons that match that of a soldier in his twentieth year of service and others in civilian clothes like my poor Little.

There were 3 or 4 grown men in these uniforms as well.  I looked for them to guide me as to what den(?) my son would be in.  None of them knew.  He was either a boar, bear, webble, fox, or a smattering of other animals.  I couldn’t quite follow as he lost me after something called a weeble-o.  What the hell kind of animal is that?  Clearly, I was not the right man for this job.  After a scout chant, a prayer, and some kind of hand gesture, we move to a circle.  Now, in my mind I think of campfires, smores, singing, rules, or something of the sort.  HA!  No, that’s not what these uniformed overgrown kids pretending to be adults had in mind at all!

Burly Man:  “Parents!  You are to follow your scout and their leaders down the trail behind us”

My mind: Wait, trail behind you?  You mean that overgrown forest with no wooden path?  And follow where exactly, to the end of my existence cause I’m in heels mister…

Squirrelly Man: (in a much smaller voice) “Ok scouts, grab the kid next to you, hold his hand and then raise your hands above your head!  That’s right, boys!  This is your buddy.  Where he goes, you go. Mmmmkkkkk? Alright, let’s go!”

My mind:  Where’s my buddy – don’t I need a buddy?  Does that kid attached to The Little look shady?  What if he heads off a cliff or something?  That seems a bit too vague of a statement, sir.

After hiking on the ‘trail’ and learning all about deer poop, scrubbing of antlers on trees, berries that would probably be the same ones that almost killed Katniss in Hunger Games, and white dots on trees that mark your way – we end up in this enormous field.  There’s an erect tent in the middle and several bags alongside of the tent.  My feeble, indoorsy, HGTV mind didn’t grasp what was happening.

Burly Man: “OK Parents, grab your scout and head to a bag, we’re learning the proper handling of tents, pitching them, and putting them away”

My mind: We’re what?  Are you seriously telling me this little bag holds that big ‘ol tent in it?  Orange is not a good color, btw, it will surely attract bears.

I look around and see one of those soldier-type kids and I’m all like, “Pssst, hey kid, you look like you’ve been here a while.”  The kid looks exasperated at me already, “Yeah, I’m a what-ever-animal-is best, do you need help with this?” and then he laughs.  He actually laughs at me.  Poor Little had already started to unpack the tent bag and was well on his way.  I’ve heard rumors that our family owned a tent, I suppose he and his father have worked on this before.

All ended well, our tent was set up and then put back and we hiked our way back to ‘base’.  I was sweating and panting profusely, pretty sure at least twelve blisters, and about four thousand mosquito bites, I was spent.  They offered a Gatorade, I declined as I was disappointed no one handed me an Absolute and soda for my efforts.

I had hoped for a quiet, normal school year when the children went back, but it looks like normalcy will involve sweating in places one ought not to sweat, bug spray, the purchase of hiking boots, and flasks canteens.  Go Team!

This is my writing prompt submission for Studio Thirty Plus 

Strength

Strength is one of those words whose meaning changes with each person and each situation.  I have overcome a lot in my lifetime; some would probably even consider that I have strength or gained strength because of the adversities.  Looking back, I cannot say the same.  I remember praying for strength at an early part of my adult life.  When I consider what events unfolded after, I chuckle.  I’ve always been told by the wise women in my life that God answers you in ways you wouldn’t foresee.  For instance, if you pray for patience, you don’t become patient – you are presented with an opportunity where patience is needed.  If you pray for love, you aren’t given a knight in shining armor but instead a situation in which you either give or receive love.

I prayed for strength when my oldest son was born.  I shortly thereafter became a single, twenty-year-old mother, working three jobs, and living on our own.  I found the need to be strong, not strength.  Strength, I later realized, was inside me all along.

After a conversation with someone who is quickly becoming a very, very dear friend to me and someone I value a great deal, I began to think about those times of prayer.  It’s something she said to me after a heartfelt conversation, ‘when it’s time you’ll know’.  She’s right.

I’ve come to the conclusion that God gives us the qualities we pray for on the day we take our first breath.  He has already gifted us with these abilities and rather than conjuring them at the opportune time, He teaches us by putting us in situations in which we need to use these gifts to our fullest advantage.

Today, I chuckled after beginning a prayer to receive answers and strength.   I laugh out of fear.  Fear that not only do I possess the answers I request, but also because I know I have already been given the strength needed when I hear these very same answers.  It’s what I decide to do with the answers that define where my strength is most powerful and as I’ve been told once today….when it’s time I will know.  I find a bit of comfort in that when I know, I’ll be strong enough to overcome and close another chapter in my life.

Life is chaos, love, chances, decisions, heartaches, and strength.  Life is also as short as a baby’s breath.  I intend to live it to the fullest while I can.