Tuesday, November 05, 2019

The Cardinal

Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are...
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
to strive, to seek, to find, and never yield.

                         --Alfred, Lord Tennyson

A friend posted this on Facebook and it hit me as beautiful. I'm not that much for poetry other than the coverdale poets...

It reminds me of my father, and secondly of myself. If we are lucky enough to do this thing called aging, this seems the way to go. We made a pact last week, my father and I. If he is able after he dies, he will come back as a cardinal. I know it's a commonly found bird in western Illinois, but we will know when it is him, I believe, because the timing and location will be unique.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

A Sister

There's a girl. Some call her Betsy, or Kate, Biddy-cent, or Bets-Nasty. I call her my best friend. We have our own song, Against All Odds. We have our own bedtime chant with gestures. We have a ton of memories and a ton of laughs.

She knows I always choose the picture where I look best. She gives me thoughtful gifts like this:

I got to see her two weekends in a row. She came to Springfield for the Walk and was my plus one at my college roomies' daughter's wedding in Louisville.

She is always there to support my boys, especially after losing one. She's even there when I'm not there. That's a devoted Aunt!

Monday, October 21, 2019

A Spiritual Experience

It feels almost too big to describe with words. This weekend was the Springfield Out of the Darkness Walk. It has become, thankfully, kind of a UIS reunion for Adam's posse, crew, village, whatever you want to call it. UIS being a small school, it sounds like everyone knew each other that lived on campus in the townhouses. This year, two of Adam's high school friends joined us, and that made it even more special. These two honeys, Tara and Ashley:

I have to say, Ashley gave me the biggest laugh of the day about how she and Adam discovered they were both living in Springfield, which involved a comedy club and Pauly Shore. I won't say anymore because you have to hear Ashley tell it. Tara has been my rock, outside my family, since reaching out to me shortly after Adam's death.

I'll just give a shout out to each special person starting with those who have attended every year, this being our fourth. Tim, a roommate, workmate and long time friend, Zach, a sports nut who was devastated when Adam died, Jonathon, the sweetest guy ever (brought me a magnet from Trieste, Italy during his travels last summer and wearing a shirt Adam gave him that day), Sam, a quiet but steady friend, Brent, a gregarious soul who knows the importance of telling stories about the person you lost, Kallie, Brent's wife and a sweetheart, Tae, in from Chicago and the last person to see Adam alive, Matt, from Arizona, somewhere Adam talked about moving to since he knew Matt was out there and Sarah, popped up this year and knew Adam through his first roommate, Rob. Michael (the one who hauntingly resembles Adam) and his son Eli are not pictured but Michael knew Adam briefly. Brittany and Chloe were first timers who came with Ashley and Tim and didn't know Adam.

I can't imagine how hard it is to lose a friend in this way at such a formative age. I hope this annual gathering is as healing for them as it is for me. We went to the pool hall again before dinner at Mario's Italian Kitchen. Everything went so perfect, it scares me more than a little to think about this tradition ending or losing it's magic. I have to believe that will be okay, too, and doesn't mean we don't remember Tut.

My take-away this year is this. I have felt Adam's presence, and he is loving that I found his people, and that I know he was loved in this way.

On the way home, I was confident I would hear "Africa" by Toto on the radio. About four songs in, on it came. I belted out the first and third chorus, but number two, I sobbed. Thinking about the story Kelsey told me, that she and Adam sang this together and he remembered it as his father's and my wedding song still hits me hard every time. It's these little stories and insights that make moving forward possible. My son was loved and although he couldn't win the battle inside his head, I know he knew this now.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Who Are You?

Warning: this post has nothing (?) to do with the song by The Who.

When we have children, those of us so privileged, we think our job is to raise them to be who we want/think they should be. At least this was my assumption. It wasn't until I had near adult children, and perhaps am still grasping this: our job, my job, is to raise them to be who they are meant to be. 
When this first dawned on me, what a game changer.

Today during gentle yoga, the song mix took me back to my young adulthood, and who I thought I was and was going to be. Four beautiful fall seasons I basked in the Colorado sunshine, the shimmering Aspens, and the crisp mountain air. My vision of myself was of a modern-esque hippie for the 80's smelling of a mix of patchouli and garlic, living in a funky eclectic house, wearing Birkenstocks, and cooking all my meals from The Enchanted Broccoli Forrest. Who remembers this iconic cookbook? Indeed I did live out this fantasy to some extent, once gleaning cabbage in the fields for the hungry, wearing a jean jacket all winter, making my own egg rolls, taking weekend hikes and jaunts to new places.

Somewhere along the way (divorce, 3 kids, remarriage, responsible jobs, moving a few times, depression), I lost my vision and lived a survival existence. Not a bad one, I'm not saying that. But post-empty nest and adult child loss survivor, I can re-visit and re-invent myself or maybe just re-tool a bit.

Sufjan Stevens and The Civil Wars are two groups that resonate with me. Did I just say resonate? I hate that word. Could I be any more middle class white privileged middle aged woman on a self-discovery journey? I guess I will have to take the hit on that.

I love how music can take you to a certain place and time. Stevens and The Civil Wars were not even musical artists in the 80's but their vibe brings me to that fresh and formative time of my life. Now is my time to live without the bounds of anyone's expectations, do things that involve risk, and make the life I haven't yet imagined. I am working towards these goals. Meditating then reflecting and writing are the means I use to sort this out. What I vision is sort of like This is Us, where I'm anchored in the present, pay homage to the past, and catch glimpses of the future, all while a really cool soundtrack is ubiquitously playing on cue.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Charred 51

I promised my mom a review of Charred 51, and now it's been a week, and I haven't produced. Charred 51 is the name of a restaurant in Galesburg housed in the original YMCA built in 1898. The menu graciously tells the history of building, including 3 fires, hence the current name, and features a black and white photo of the original gym and running track.

For a little history, this location was the former home of a restaurant called Figge's. My parents would describe Figge's as fine dining, which is to say, the kind of dining they are willing to drive 50 miles and pay exorbitant prices for. Charred was no such place.

I had the mistaken idea this restaurant was a Farm to Fork style place. A quick glance at the menu dashed that hope. There was a burger section, a flatbread section and a few miscellaneous entrees, including the salmon my mother ordered. When mom asked the waitress if the side vegetables were fresh, she said, "Yes, err, well frozen" to which mother replied, "Better than canned!" to which she agreed heartily.

I ordered a burger, which I occasionally enjoy when dining out, because they usually so scrumptious. This came with roasted red peppers (frozen?), Havarti cheese, rosemary mayo and spring mix (bagged!). Since I just checked their online menu for accuracy, I will now add, Charred 51 is billed as an Artisan Bistro. I ordered the side vegetables because Tots or Steak Fries are not my favorite or I was trying to be healthy, take your pick. Mom chose the same along with her citrus seared salmon mentioned above.

They served a big glass or Merlot for $5, and free water for me! I'll take a moment here to mention the surroundings, as we had plenty of time look around.  I would call it industrial chic. Learning that the upper balcony was formerly a jogging track just tickled me. When it was Figge's, the piano man was situated there, with cloth table cloths and full silverware on the tables below. I only mentioned this because I had to ask for a teaspoon for Mother, and the waitress looked a bit befuddled, and said "oh, a spoon" and handed me a tablespoon. Charred 51 had metal tables, which M later complained about not liking, and cheap diner style chairs. I'm not sure it takes fine dining to know the difference between a teaspoon and tablespoon, but I digress.


Pretty cool, eh?

Onto the food. The burger was "meh" despite it's elegant description. The meat itself tasted like greasy homemade pan burger. The vegetables were served in a little soup crock, which was cute. and were soggy but tasty. M was pretty enamored of the veggies sauce and sopped it all up at the end with her excess quinoa and the tablespoon. She raved about the salmon's succulent-ness, and she didn't choke once. 

I know I sound like a Debbie Downer because I'm so picky about restaurant food, but I was very pleased that M was so satisfied, as usually that is reversed. Considering the unique decor, such as the charred brick walls, M's delight with her meal, and my reservations, I will assign a grade of a solid B. 

Photo Op outside Charred 51 of "M"

Wednesday, October 02, 2019


I love one of our speaker's puzzle piece analogy. And our other speaker's reference to moments between birth and death.


Monday, September 30, 2019

Into the Light

I wanted to share a few pics and thoughts on this year's Out of the Darkness Walk in Macomb. Team Tut For Adam came through big time with $3205 in donations and this beautiful group of Walkers:

We had Uncle Kevin Tuttle from Nebraska, Macomb and Normal friends of Cal, Betsy and Ethan from Indiana and a few of Adam's homies from Macombie.

I started the day at 4:00 a.m. with zealous, nervous energy, and everything was smooth as milk honey. *I've never had milk honey if there even is such a thing* So many volunteers and community members showed up to support suicide prevention and loss survivors. It's such a beautiful thing every year, no matter the weather, which was just dandy I am happy to report. This is one of my favorite images- Sigma Pi fraternity has come through 100% for 4 years in a row. I made some signs and here they are at the busiest corner in Macomb:

Note to Dad: "Hal" (aka my computer) won't let me re-post Instagram pictures. Let me mess around with my phone a minute...

OK, Instagram no like play with friends...go to outofthedarknessmacomb to see some pretty cool pics. We even have a social media influencer who volunteers with us so we can be like the cool kids.

I just foiled the system. I took a picture with my phone of my Ipad on Instagram, saved it to Facebook, and downloaded it to my desktop and pasted it above. Ha!

I saw many old friends and acquaintances affected by suicide, some talking aloud and maybe some in silence, but when we all share, the pain is lessened. I am hopeful, thankful and inspired by this work. I'll leave you with this beauty from a special friend, Xochi:

Image result for the sun is a daily reminder quote