Monday, May 24, 2010

Filling in the Blanks

This weekend I was suppose to take a two day, overnight hike with my friend Ren. But since the weather report was for rain on Sunday we made it just a short day hike Saturday. The state of my achy foot and her bad knees had nothing to do with that decision. (That is our story and we are sticking to it)

I have known Ren for a lot of years. She knew me before I met Daphne, we were all friends together, and she helped keep me afloat for many a long time after. In all those intervening years, we have never talked about Daphne or what happened. I believe I had made it quite clear, early on, that I could not/would not talk about it.

But now, now I am beginning to feel ready. And so, out in the beauty of the Adirondack mountains, I asked her to fill in some blanks. Especially those gaps in time where I can’t remember anything. And we talked about some of the good times we all shared together. Hard to describe my feelings about that. Bittersweet.

After reading my post about the things that haunt me most, she suggested that I get in touch with my minister from that time. She remembered that he had gone to the hospital to talk to Daphne parents about me being able to see her. Really? And so when we got home I spent some time on the internet and phone tracking him down, which was a little difficult since he is no longer a minister. But find him I did. We chatted for a while. This week I am driving out to see him so we can catch up. I feel rather guilty that I let that relationship slide, especially in light of how much he took care of me, and gave me sanctuary in every sense of that word. I am looking forward to this on many levels.

Still, as much as I need to get healthy by revisiting my past, I also need to enjoy the here and now. So Sunday - which threatened rain in the early morning but turned out to be a beautiful, sunny day - I spent the day with my daughters, topless sunbathing in the backyard, listening to their teenage dramas, laughing, making summer plans, cooling off in the pool. Later, both their boyfriends came for a barbeque. Yeah, its a tough life . . .

An almost perfect weekend except for the Yankees losing the series to the Mets which put Martha in a foul mood, and found me losing yet another sports bet, this time to the always amazing Greg.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Foot

My left foot was broken during THAT fateful day. There are many things I do remember all too vividly. Then some things lurk just outside my consciousness which I am aware of but do not have the courage to look at directly (yet). And other things I don’t remember at all. Just big gaps of time I can’t account for. I didn’t remember what exactly happened that broke the foot and I have no memory of ever seeing a doctor, yet I did have a cast on it for many weeks - until I couldn’t stand it as a reminder and cut it off myself. (In hindsight, that might not have been a such a good idea)

Because of the break the foot is already a size bigger than my right foot, causing me to buy two pairs of every shoe. This used to be a major trigger for me, but I worked through that.

Then last year I apparently began to develop arthritis in the toe that was broken. Some heavy duty anti-inflammatories seemed to keep that under control.

But now the top of it swells up. I can barely walk on it when I first get up in the morning, and going down stairs has become downright painful. So I got a referral from my primary care doctor to see a foot specialist.

He took a bunch of xrays and then met me in an exam room.

Dr: How did you break your foot?

Me: I don’t remember.

Dr: It was broken in three places. You don’t remember that?

Me: No. (But I was feeling the anxiety rise)

Dr: (pointing to the xray) This top bone was crushed. . .

And I didn’t hear anything else. Just the rapid fire flashing of memories . . . struggling . . . and then the searing pain of someone standing over me, smashing his heel into my foot to hold me down.

I don’t know how much time passed but I was gradually aware of the doctor holding my hand, sweat pouring out of me.

Dr: are you being abused at home?

Me: No. No, it was an isolated traumatic event. I just can’t talk about it.

Dr: well then let’s see what we can do about relieving the pain.

And he very gently showed me some exercises and stretches to do restore some flexibility. Some ice for the swelling and meds for the arthritis which is now filling in every fracture . And then probably some orthodics to shift the pressure off the weak areas.

I don’t know if it was this doctor’s very, very kind demeanor or I’m experiencing the benefits of therapy, but I left the office feeling okay. A little shaky, but definitely okay. Where a flashback that strong would once have sent to my bed whimpering, I actually went back to work for awhile. The fact that I can even write about it so shortly afterward is a major step for me. I am seeing and feeling the progress. And I know I am getting stronger.

Although the irony has not escaped me that as I am finally getting a grip on the emotional consequences, the physical impacts are now coming back to bite me.

Monday, May 17, 2010

16 Again

Saturday was Peachie’s junior prom. She was in the home stretch - nail appointment, hair appointment, make-up. I was doing what I was told to do - pick up boutonniere, pick up food for after prom party, put up tent at friend’s house where why would all be sleeping after the party, charge all camera batteries.

We all arrived miraculously on time at her friend’s house for pre-prom pictures and hors d'oeuvres. Most of the girls she has been friends with since she was 3 so we knew all the other parents quite well. In many ways we have grown up together - having kids, sitting through elementary school plays, middle school band concerts, high school heartbreaks, pee wee leagues through varsity sports. Somewhere along the way we all became responsible adults.

The kids all packed into the stretch limo and we all followed to the downtown hotel to watch the “walk in” where the prom was held. Once that was over, one parent asked “what does the limo do now?” Apparently nothing. So since we had already paid for the 6 hours of limo time, we decided to put it to good use.

Fourteen of us piled into the SUV limo and started tooling around town, pretending to be rock stars. We stopped at a casual restaurant to get something to eat and enjoyed the looks of people wondering who these aging “celebrities” were. We played with every button inside - music on, music off, windows up/down, open bar/ close bar, intercom on, etc. We were going to take it through a Dunkin’ Donut drive thru for coffee but decided it was more fun to park and “be seen”. We all got out. We all climbed back in, collecting stares everywhere we went. And meanwhile we were all giggling like school kids.

Then someone said they needed to get home. One mom needed to get ready for the party, another had an early up for a commitment the next day. Yeah, 10 o’clock and we were all pretty much tired.

It was fun, but it takes a lot of energy to be 16 again.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


This week’s therapy ended with me talking about things that haunt me. Those things I will never have answers to, but plague me relentlessly.

- Attacked by five men. Did they follow us or did they just happen upon us by chance? Was it a premeditated attack or some gut reaction to what they saw? I don’t know why I obsess about this, but I do. Either way, it does not change the outcome. Yet I still have an overwhelming need to understand the ‘why’ of it.

- While Daphne was in the hospital, her parents would not let me see her. Did she know that they refused me access or did she think I had abandoned her? The thought that she lay there for weeks enduring unimaginable surgeries, not knowing where I was or thinking that I didn’t care, is still unbearable to me.

- I do not know if she was cremated or buried or where she might be buried. For me, she was here. And then gone. Forever. This often sneaks up on me and makes me quite sad. How nice it would be to have a place I could visit.

We talked a little about the feelings associated with each unknown, but time ran out. Left once again, open and raw. No solutions. *sigh*

Same time next week . . .

Monday, May 10, 2010

Taking off the rose colored glasses

This weekend I was talking to Martha about the lingering anger have for my former church. I was lamenting the loss of not only my sacred space but also of my “church family”. Then she replied “what did that family ever do for you?”

Good question. The truth is, as hard as I tried, I couldn’t think of a thing.

How many times, she continued, did they call us looking for donations for someone’s funeral banquet?

Quite often.

What did they do for you when your father died?

Hmmm. Nothing. I did get one card from one woman, but that was it.

How many times did they call you to volunteer for some need at the church?

Quite often.

You’ve had 5 surgeries when you were a member. How many time did someone offer a meal? Offer a ride?

Uh, none.

How many times did someone call you when you had breast cancer?


And when all these other church women developed cancer, how often did you contact them with prayers and support?

A lot.

And then she continued, “these people were never our “family”. They never reached out to be our friend or to even get to know us.”

But the Elder Lauri told me that you two had been friends, I replied

Lauri contacted me when I was still a cop and her son had drug problems and she wanted help and advice, and to keep him out of the legal system. Once that was resolved, she never spoke to me again.

And no one else ever spoke to you?

Only when they wanted a ticket fixed.

God, how depressing.

And then I remembered a conversation I had had with Lauri questioning why the Elders would not sit down and just talk with me. And she told me that one Elder said “I never spoke to her before, why would I now?”

I must have been f#cking blind.

I am still processing this sudden change in perspective. Having my nose rubbed in reality. I suppose after being a member of a church for 15 years, you think a relationship is there. But apparently I lived in the ‘how I wanted it to be’ rather than ‘the way is really was.’ In many ways it makes it easier to mourn that relationship since it didn’t really exist in the first place.

Still, not to worry. When I think of the people who have always been at my side, took care of me or my family whenever needed, and got me through the highs and lows of my life - they were all people who haven’t been inside a church in decades. So what does that tell you?

*cartoon by the Naked Pastor

Friday, May 7, 2010


Ten years ago today I had my final surgery for breast cancer.

Early detection saved me from aggressive and debilitating treatments.

Maybe saved my life.

Today I am now officially ten years cancer free.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Perfect Yesterday

This was my day yesterday -

Martha: I just had a very sexy dream

Me: Was I in it?

Martha: You were the star.

Me: Can I reprise the role?

And so my perfect day began.

After my family left for school, I had my coffee in the backyard where we had spent the weekend uncovering the pool, washing patio furniture and planting all the deck flowers. (We went from gray winter drab to sunny flowery springtime in one beautiful weekend) I spent a relaxing time, surrounded by the smell of lilacs and lily of the valley, still savoring the flush of early morning loving. I would not have been surprised if an animated bluebird had landed on my shoulder.

When I got to work someone had left a Peppermint Patty on my desk. Nice.

I opened my email to find that a project I had worked on for years just won a New York State Design award. A nice professional ego stroke.

And then another email from a resident thanking me for some information I had sent them. (Wow, who takes the time to say thank you to a government worker these days?)

A text from Beanie saying she had a free block, did I want to have lunch together? Really? My 18 year old daughter is inviting me to lunch? I began looking for the cameras. Am I on Candid Camera or something?

Had a wonderful lunch with her. It is a strange but wonderful thing when you realize your baby has become a woman and is about to start off on her own. Yes, I was getting a little teary.

Back to work to make some calls I had been procrastinating about and then on to therapy.

When asked how my week was, I went off about the church Elder ignoring my question about Beanie. And we spent the hour talking about anger. It is rare that I get angry. And I usually deal with it by going to the person and working out the problem. But the church folks have made that impossible so it was good to be able to vent that for awhile. Even better to get validation that I have every right to be angry. So instead of leaving therapy with my guts hanging out, I left feeling strong and empowered.

Everyone was home for dinner where the conversation centered around the last remaining issue for the upcoming proms - hair. Should they wear it up? Down? Messy curls? Okay, I was absolutely no help with that.

Took a sauna and then shared the couch to watch the rest of the Yankees game with Martha. They won which always puts Martha is a good mood.

Went to bed and slept peacefully. All. Night. Long.

I can’t wait to see what today brings . . .

Saturday, May 1, 2010

What Kind of Church Is This?

For those of you who have followed this blog for a while, you probably remember the problems that led to my separation from my church. For those who are new this is the short version:

My family and I attended a church (LRC) for 15 years, felt very welcome, gave time, money and service to the church, our daughters went to Sunday School, etc. No problems. Then an interim pastor, with whom I had a short lived friendship that fell apart over her insensitivity to gay issues, went to the Elders with a strange tale about me obsessing over her. The Elders bought it hook, line, and sinker - and threatened to revoke my membership and ban me from church property. They did this without ever telling me what the issue was or even speaking to me once. I spent a lot of time and energy just trying to find out what happened and when I finally got to speak with the supervising pastor, he admitted to me that they had really screwed up. When I spoke to one of the Elders, Lauri, and said they would have never done this to a straight woman, she agreed and admitted that they had seriously mishandled the situation. But when I repeatedly asked to be able to speak with the Board of Elders to try to heal and reconcile the situation so that I might feel comfortable returning to church, they flatly and repeatedly refused. Now they will not answer an email. Nothing. Total rejection.

And this I sort of understand. No one wants a mirror being held up to them and their mistakes. In fact, Lauri told me they just wanted to bury the pain and not revisit it. They forgave themselves for all their prejudices and incompetency and left me at the curb. I have not attended church at LRC since.

Fast forward to this week -

Part of the tradition at LRC is to give the graduating seniors a Bible from the church. Beanie is graduating and is a confirmed member of the church in her own right. And so I emailed Elder Lauri to ask if she would be receiving one, and when that would happen. (since Beanie works on Sunday mornings she would have to request that day off. ) But Lauri did not reply to my question.

I tried one more time, stating that I realized that they were not talking to me, but Beanie was still a member, and I couldn’t believe that they would shun her just because they had issues with me. Well, apparently I was wrong. Once again I did not get a reply.

Really? This is how you model Christian love to a young girl? I went back to Beanie and told her that the church would not answer the question. And she simply answered “well screw ‘em”. Yeah. Screw ‘em. But I could see how hurt she was. (This after they “mistakenly” left her off the church birthday list) I’m sure she doesn’t care about the bible, but rejection can really affect self esteem, especially when you’re a teenager. And when you’ve done nothing to deserve it, it is difficult to understand. I believe this will be her lasting impression of how churches treat people. How very sad.

Something very wrong has happened at this church. They were once open and friendly. But that was under the leadership of a much loved,long term pastor. Once he retired, it seems that some cold hearted, power hungry people have been left to fill the void. When I talk to others who have left in the last few years, they invariably mention something by the Elders (or interim pastor) that made them feel unwelcome or unwanted or small. Which I find so ironic since the Elders are now turning themselves inside out trying to attract new members since their numbers (and financial support) have dropped so dramatically.

Yet I am still shocked and hurt that they feel free to treat my daughter so cruelly. No, actually I’m angry. She’s just a kid. How can they possibly justify that? I have forgiven and forgiven these people every single time their incompetency and prejudices have hurt me. But hurting a kid . . . I don’t know if I’ll get past this. Some things are just unforgivable.