National Thank You Day

Heads up! My dear friend Kelly who had a serious car accident a couple of years ago (you may remember her from this post) has started a movement called National Thank You Day.  The day is meant to honor first responders and to say thank you in whatever way you would like to those individuals who serve the public by responding to often dire situations – firefighters, paramedics, police officers, emergency room nurses and doctors, etc.  And it seems to be really catching on and on.

So get on over to BigTimeThanks and check it out.  You may find there is someone you want to give some big time thanks to yourself.

And this is just for you Kelly:

I put on purple socks today
which made me think of you
I walked them out into the day
and wished the sky to blue

I bought a box of chocolates
and ate them in your stead
I called up God and placed my bets
then uttered prayers in bed

I forced myself to belly laugh
and make it very loud
and gathered lillies along the path
to chase away your clouds

I tried to do the many things
that inform the world of you
in deepest hope that angel’s wings
will fly us back to true

Teapot – Theme Friday

I’m a little teapot, short and stout – here is my handle, here is my spout…” Before I ever knew what those words meant, I sung them to amuse grown ups. Mommy…Daddy…aunties and uncles.  The words gave me a fleeting power to command the eyes, ears and attention of adults. For those few moments, I ruled, cavorted, made them laugh and praise me — using my blond ringlets and fetching dimples to their maximum power.

It wasn’t long though before I connected the words to the vessel that made tea. A wonderous liquid with healing capabilities far beyond touted claims. The power to comfort. The power to reassure. The power to warm. The power to make a sick little girl feel not so sick, not so lonely.

And tea had its greatest power when I was ill. Mama always made me tea and toast whenever I was sick. Oddly, when I was sick and Mama went through the tea and toast ritual it was the only time I felt unconditional love emanating from her. Bringing a tray into my darkened sick room, Mama spoke softly – felt my forehead and smiled at me as though I were the center of the universe. Truth be told, there were times when I wasn’t as sick as I pretended to be. I craved her love so—to be the owner of all her attention and care. To remove my siblings from the equation…

Granny’s teapot, a relic we inherited, was once grand and lovely. All the way from County Cork Ireland it traveled to find its new home in America. I don’t much remember Granny because she left us when I was very small.  Eyes the color of jade, clear and unmutuable—hands white as milk with fine blue veins pulsing beneath the skin.

That teapot became Granny in my mind – fine structure, but ancient in its wage against time.  Pale and edged in faded gold and a spray of faded pink roses front and back. And from it came comfort, strength, love and reassurance. And I cried the day it finally died by suicide from a high pantry shelf. Tea never tasted the same after that and I spend my weekends looking for another Granny teapot and the curative powers it imparted.

copyright 2010

What powers does Christine’s teapot have?

The Miracles…


I’ve come to realize that my world in the last several months has been a sort of protected secret. A restricted area where few were allowed passage. And I’ve had to ask myself why. I may be right or I may be wrong but I believe the following sheds some light – at least for me.

About a year ago something unthinkable happened – a friend almost died.

“Dear Friends” the email began – and those words, changed my life forever.

The day was beautiful – perfect- and as I sat at my computer in my sun-filled room I saw nothing but darkness. The flowers in the vase on my table died as I stared at them, unseeing – grasping for the ordinary – the normal – knowing I would never again have it back in my possession. Not really.

The azure sky and the aubergine mountains closed in on me and were like a noose squeezing the joy out of everything I held dear. My possessions, once the source of comfort and stability, became dangerous and threatened to hurt me because everything reminded me of the pain I felt of losing an irreplacable friend.

My blue walls became an ocean that drowned me as I fought for air for lungs already filled with tears. The guilt of my weakness and grief robbed the little oxygen I had left and I’ve not felt the easy action of breathing in and out since. I must tell myself to ‘breathe.’ Often, I don’t succeed. Because in that moment a door shut. No. Slammed. And something in me died – the death throes of that moment still rattle in distant brain cells that refuse to go quietly.

Moments, days, weeks, months have blurred one into the next. So much so that I couldn’t tell you what’s happened in my life, except in the most general terms, in the last year. I can say that I’ve felt like a woman submerged in a deprivation tank of perception and senses. Things once light became dark, things once clear became dull. No matter where I go, what I do or see, everything reminds me. How can that be? And yet it is.

Speaking of it and attempting to express it has only added nails to the coffin because it was my job to be strong. For her. For her children. For her family and friends. It was my job to fix this terrible mistake that life had perpetrated on us. My job to find the answers to why. Why? Why? Why? Why did this happen at all? Why did this happen to her?

No amount of comfort, sympathy or soul searching has answered that question, leaving me with the conclusion that we aren’t meant to know some things before their proper revelation. Which makes me wonder if the ‘truth’ is a wholly subjective animal that changes on a moment to moment basis rather than something carved in universal stone. A creature which will remain illusive as long as I chase after it. As long as I must find it.

But the truth cares not to show its face to anyone and rather prefers to taunt and torture all of us into submission and fetal positions of the soul. Running from it and the reality of what has happened has brought no relief either. Instead it brings more pain and confusion to my doorstep and camps there now like a squatter claiming real estate that belongs to another.

Yet also, I see that in this nightmare there have been miracles. True miracles. For which I am grateful beyond description. Her irrespressible spirit denied death its prize and she survived – and reclaims her life one small piece at a time. She is not satisfied – ever – and is relentless in her pursuit. But I see each small victory as a blessing and a gift from God or the angels or the universe. And pray for more every day.

And now I choose to focus on the miracles and maybe that is what God intended from the beginning?


Miracles Do Happen!

Some of you may know that this past May, a very close friend of mine was in a really bad car accident. So bad in fact, that I wasn’t sure she was going to live. To say this turned my world upside down puts it mildly, the last time I was this grief stricken was the day my father died, if that puts it in perspective. Kelly is one of those really special people who lights up a room whenever she enters. She is kind, caring, funny and will do anything for anybody.

Not long after the accident, I flew to Seattle to help in whatever way I could and to join the literally hundreds of other people who knew and loved Kelly in a massive prayer chain to bring her through this catastrophe and give her back to us. It was a very rough week for me and I was in no way prepared to see what had happened to her and to realize how very little I could do for her. Much of the time I spent just trying not to cry and to keep her gorgeous girls occupied. Really, it was in God’s hands and all we could do was pray and send her our love and hope for the best. There wasn’t much sleeping or laughing going on but there was a lot of love and a sort of instant kindredness among all us. Lots of hugs and tears and smiles and hand squeezes. We all wanted the same thing – for our Kelly to get well and weather the storm.

The day I returned to L.A. from Seattle I discovered Kelly said her first words. And fittingly they were to her mother, Charlene. She said, ‘thank you’ when she saw Charlene straightening up her hospital room. Somewhat startled Charlene went to Kelly’s bedside and and looked closely at her daughter and said, “Do you know who I am?”

Kelly said, “yes.”

Charlene asked. “Who am I?”

Kelly said, “Mom.”

And that was the beginning of the miracle. Not only had she lived through a 60 mph impact into her standing still car, she spoke and she remembered her mother. Over the ensuing weeks, I read her brother’s email updates on her progress and it was amazing, lesser men would have died. But Kelly with the spirit of a team of Clydesdales pushed through to each next level with flying colors. Still, I have to admit, I was worried and wondered how much of her memory she had lost. If she had sustained any serious or long term brain damage. If she would be Kelly again. I knew while I was there she didn’t know me. In fact, I’m not sure she has any memory of that week at all. I worried (selfishly) that maybe she would never remember me and we would have to find our way to friendship in a new chapter.

I worried too about her young daughters, her brothers, her parents, her husband – if they too would get their Kelly back.

Today, my prayers were answered. I called her mother to get an update and to see where I could send cards and such to Kelly (since she’s been constantly been transferring to new facilities) and Charlene told me that Kelly now has a cell phone that she is talking to friends on. Charlene gave me the number and of course I called it immediately. Unfortunately, I got the voice mail and left a message.

For hours afterwards, every time the phone rang, I jumped and grabbed it, hoping to hear her voice. When I finally gave up the hope that I’d hear from her, she called. When she said my name I started to cry from pure joy. It was my Kelly. It was really her. The relief and gratitude I felt I simply can’t describe. We talked on the phone for nearly an hour and it was just as though nothing had happened. I have my friend back. I didn’t lose her after all. And I’m so glad because I just couldn’t have imagined life without her.

So thank you, a million times to all of you who prayed for her, hoped for her and her family. Who sent out your love to a stranger, only because I asked you to. Your prayers have worked and have helped to create this wonderful miracle.