Uta Hagen--

"We must overcome the notion that we must be regular...it robs you of the chance to be extraordinary and leads you to the mediocre."

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Writing. . . Maybe? We'll see what this turns out to be.

So as you probably guessed from the title, I have pretty much no idea what I'm actually going to write about.  I kind of forgot to plan a blog today because it kind of slipped my mind that today was Tuesday until just now.  So this could be interesting.

I've really been wanting to write lately.  Like REALLY bad, more than I've wanted to in a long time.  But every time I've sat down to write, I have been unable to do so.  I pulled up Chapter 11 of CATCH ME the other day to try to finish it (I've been working on it since about April, probably.  Maybe early May), but I couldn't write a single word.  And the sadder thing? (that doesn't sound right, but oh well.) The last time that draft had been altered was July 24th or something ridiculous like that. 

Writing is an escape for me, a lot of the time.  But right now?  It feels more like a prison.  I feel utterly confined to my story, and I shouldn't feel that way.  As I've stated before, I feel that if I do not finish this first draft before moving on to something else, I will be betraying Jimmy.  What I wouldn't give to just talk this out with him; pick his brain on the subject.

I remember how it felt to finish the first draft of Solace (at the time titled No Title).  It was such a feeling of accomplishment, even though I knew it was terrible crap that I would never let see the light of day again - well, at least, no one else's eyes but my own.  I thought for sure I'd be able to get this first draft of CM done within a few months.  It was such a personal story, one that I felt needed to be told both for Jimmy and for myself.  It was a sort of closure for me that I didn't get from my cousin.  But somehow life got complicated and now I find myself. . . uninspired.

I think I might need to just start it over, in order to write it better.  I think I didn't distance myself enough from it and made it too personal, too much of what I experienced, that it isn't a story anymore.  I need to distance myself, in a way, from Jimmy's character in the story.  But I'm confusing myself now.

So I think this is what I'm going to do:

November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  I think in November, I will start a new project, completely different from Catch Me, and see if I can finish it within the month.  If I can't, oh well.  If I can, great.  But the point is, I need to be writing.  I need to find my words, for they have failed me for far too long.  And, as Leanna Renee Hieber said, "The only writer who's not a writer is the one that's not writing."

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Starts with Goodbye

When I was younger, the first artist whose music touched me was Carrie Underwood.  To this day, she is one of my favorites and I still listen to everything from "Wasted" (the first track on her first album) to "Who Are You" (the last track on her latest album).  One of the songs that I've listened to repetitively is "Starts With Goodbye" off of her first album, Some Hearts.  I listened to this song when Jimmy died because it really hit home.  Here's a lyric video for it, if you haven't heard it.


I've never liked the idea of saying "goodbye" to anyone.  Even when someone passes away, I don't know that I've ever said "goodbye" because it's always just been "See you later" or maybe it's just because I don't believe they're truly GONE.  That's a loaded statement, to say that someone is gone from your life - forever.  I guess pretty much my whole life I've chosen not to think about it that way.  But my point is, I don't say goodbye to people, not even when they die.  I won't say it if I'm leaving someone's house; I won't say it if I'm on the phone; I won't say it under most circumstances.  Because goodbyes?  Those are final.

Last week, though, I did say goodbye to a friend.  I've kind of hinted at this situation before on a number of blog posts, but haven't been sure how to address it.  I'm still not sure.  I do not believe that full details should be disclosed, and I'm writing this in the hopes that people will not ask me for those full details.  I like some privacy, and I'm also afraid to talk about this because I'm afraid it will change my mind.

I've felt a little hypocritical to miss someone who is still alive and well when there are far too many people that I miss because they were taken from me.  I didn't have a choice in that matter, but in the case of missing a friend who lives five minutes from me?  I did have a choice in that.  That was a constant struggle for me; trying to stay strong and not go crawling back to a bad friendship (which, arguably, could have been a great friendship had it not been built on lies).  But these past few weeks (from about the 28th of August through the 9th of September) have been hard.  Like, seriously, someone should probably take my phone during those weeks from now on.  Last Saturday and Sunday were two of my worst days.  With a Fallen Heroes memorial that Saturday and then Sunday being the anniversary of Jimmy's funeral. . . I was pretty low those days.  Saturday I managed because I was with my family (most of the day, that night was a different story).  Sunday, though?  Sunday I felt completely alone.  As I was writing my reflection (see previous blog post), I got to thinking again about my friend and how much I missed being able to turn to him without fear of judgement.; how I missed being able to lean on him, knowing he'd be there to listen and be a net when I fell. I decided that maybe I needed to talk to him. 

I sat at the dark cemetery feeling my soul literally cave in on itself and my heart shatter into a million shards after having tried to repair themselves for two years.  My heart broke all over again that night as I thought about Jimmy and how desperately I missed him.  I decided that if my friend couldn't see how hurt I was and look past everything we had been through to just be there for me - which was always the most important thing to our friendship - then it wasn't worth fixing. 

I wasn't sure what I wanted.  But my friend wasn't there for me.  He replied but our conversation went south very, very quickly and somehow?  Somehow we ended up at the end.  Which hurt.  A lot more than I thought it would.  Even though our end had been suspended by a very thin, fragile thread for months (about 7, actually) - and even more so the past month - it still hurt to realize he didn't miss our friendship the way I did; that he didn't miss me the way I sometimes missed him.  It hurt to think that this was goodbye.

I don't think I've ever had to part ways with someone without having death be the reason.  It's very strange for me because it's so final.  My friend, whom I once shared everything with, will no longer be in my life.  I've known that was a possibility for a good while, but knowing for certain?  That hurt.  It did.  Neither of us actually said "goodbye", not in so many words, but it was still clear.

I woke up the next morning hurting.  Whether from Jimmy, still, or my friend, I can't say for certain.  Tuesday I woke up and still hurt - but it was also 9-11, so my heart hurt for a lot of reasons.  But Wednesday I woke up and felt okay.  Thursday I felt better (except for the fact that my friend deployed that morning).  Friday?  Friday I felt great (except for the fact that it would have been my mom's birthday).  And I still do. 

Maybe the reason I was in such pain over my friendship for those 7 months (which is astonishing now that I think about it) is because I didn't know what was going to happen.  Not knowing is terrible.  I think that I needed that closure - no matter how it went.  I needed that weight lifted off of me and now when I think of him, I don't feel bitter.  I don't feel angry.  I don't feel nostalgic or desperate or longing or anything.  I just feel. . . relieved.

Should my friend read this, I feel I should say some things:  I will always care about you.   I think that, in a way, I will always love you and miss you. I will always be grateful that you showed me that I could, indeed, be HAPPY again.  I will always owe it to you for helping me find another piece of myself - a person who doesn't care what others think of her and a person who's not afraid to go after what she wants; a person who is blunt and honest and doesn't play games.  You made me feel special and worthwhile, no matter how long that lasted.  You also gave me a gift that no one else has been able to and that. . . well, we both know what that was (and for the rest of you, it wasn't anything inappropriate!).  I hope that one day we'll run into each other and we can both smile and laugh about how hot fire is or how terrible movies are that include cowboys and aliens.

Monday I woke up feeling as though a new chapter in my life had been started.  And I believe that, indeed, it has been.  Scared?  Yeah.  Nervous?  Yeah.  But mostly?  I'm just ready.  I'm moving on with my life - I'm a junior in high school.  These are the days I'm supposed to be enjoying and living to the fullest.  And from now on?  I'm going to do that.  Because now?  I'm ABLE to do that.  I once said that moving on is not the same thing as letting go. When you decide to move forward, you can't let go; you have to move forward with your past experiences being a part of you.  Letting go, though, is not moving forward, but starting over; when you let go, you release something that was once a part of you and therefore must start over and become someone else - a completely new person.  And because of this, I will never let go.

My past does not define me.  It composes me.

My friend, you will always be a part of me.  Our time together will always be part of who I am because, however brief it was, it molded and shaped me the way anything else does.  I do not regret it; nor do I regret our ending.  I wish you nothing but happiness, success, and blessings.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Two Year Reflection

            I seriously have fallen behind this year with my reflections.  I couldn’t decide if I wanted to do a reflection of August 28th this year or not; if I wanted to reflect on Jimmy’s homecoming and services.  But I have decided that I really need to.

            On August 28th this year, my family and I gathered at the airport that Jimmy arrived at on September 6th, 2010 for the last time.  His mom, his wife, his brother-in-law, his aunt, and two others jumped out of a perfectly good airplane that day in honor of Jimmy.  We then went to the cemetery and held a candle light vigil for our Hero as we marked the two year anniversary of his death.  I read a poem that night and fought back tears.  It really hit me as we stood there:  It has been two years.  Two years that we’ve all tried to learn how to live without him.  I don’t quite understand how we’ve done that, but what matters is that we have.  The thing that we thought would kill us, the thing we thought we would never be able to overcome or move past. . . we survived that.  I don’t know that any other term could describe that because that’s exactly what we’ve done.  We’ve SURVIVED.  I wanted that day to last forever because I didn’t want us to move into the third year without him.  My heart hurt so excruciatingly much in that moment and I knew that the next day I wouldn’t have an excuse for it to.  I wanted to stay in that day so that I could let that pain run its course without having to worry how others would view it.  Because I know how I come across to people, I know that people probably think “She should really be getting over it by now.”  I know that I shouldn’t feel this broken over my cousin.  I loved him so much, but I know that I don’t suffer the most.  But that day did come to an end as I talked to a very special person who assured me I’d be alright because I was in their heart.  And that?  That’s the safest place to be because that’s the place that makes you the strongest.

            On the 6th of September I honored the day that my Hero made his final journey home.  We brought him home that Monday morning with many flags, many people, many tears, and much love.  I already reflected on this day, so I won’t write much here.  That day weighed heavily on my heart because I also had to think of my Uncle Drew who rode that day for a man he did not know – a man that he grew to love that he didn’t have to.  Having lost both of them was a sharp knife in my heart.

            Yesterday was September 8th.  My family and I again went to Sunbury, Ohio for the Fallen Heroes Memorial ceremony.  The ceremony is already heartbreaking and sobering as you cry for each person there because you know exactly how each one of them felt.  They called role for each of the 274 Fallen Heroes from the state of Ohio and I read each name with the speakers and whispered a silent “thank you” to each of them. My heart broke so much that I didn’t think it was possible for it to shatter any more when I heard the name “SGT James C. Robinson” called followed be a “Not present” and the tolling of the bell.  These flags were lined up on the side walk and the wind blew them like crazy.  Old Glory slapped me in the face and I knew that it had to be Jimmy saying “Hey, kid, snap out of it.  I’m still here, and I’m not going anywhere.”  That day, though, also happened to be the two year anniversary of Jimmy’s visitation.  I remember pieces of that day so vividly that it’s insane.  It was two years ago yesterday that Mr. Keith Maupin handed me the button with Jimmy’s picture.  I have worn that button every day for two years – a total of 731 days.  In those two years, each time I have said the Pledge of Allegiance, my hand has covered that button, which has covered my heart.  In those two years my Hero has helped protect my heart and has helped protect me.  In those two years I have been able to look down at any given moment and see his face. 

            But in those two years, that picture has faded.  I realized at Sunbury just how much it had faded.  And so today I have decided that it is time to stop wearing it.  It breaks my heart completely to do that.  It makes me feel as though I am forgetting him.  It makes me feel like I’m losing a piece of him or a piece of myself.  That button has been on my chest every day for two years and has become such a part of me.  I did not wear my button for the first time today, and it feels so strange.  Jimmy, I promise you, I am not forgetting you.  I wish I could talk to you about this.  I love you just as much as I did yesterday – and the day before that and the day before that and so on and so on.  It has taken me awhile to realize that.  It has taken me awhile to realize that by taking off this button, it does not mean that I’ll forget you, that I love you any less, or that I won’t think about you.  Because I will.  I still think about you all the time and I love you so much my heart could burst with pride and explode with sadness.  I hope that you understand.

            And today marks two years since I saw my Hero’s face for the last time.  Today marks two years since I spoke at your funeral; two years since we laid you to rest; two years since I stood at the cemetery as the director said “This marks the end of the funeral services for SGT James C. Robinson” and I wondered how in the H-E-double-hockey-sticks I was supposed to just go home now.  How I was supposed to keep on living now that things were over.  How I was supposed to not fall into that six feet hole with you.  Today marks two years since I kissed your cheek for the last time.  I wish that kiss would have woken you up.  My tears are forever with you – my kiss forever with you. 
            But the thing is, I still wonder how we’re supposed to go on.  Because it still feels like I could literally die from this pain.  I stopped by the cemetery after the sunset tonight and I stood at my Hero’s grave and thought about the two years that have lapsed.  It doesn’t seem possible, but at the same time it seems like we’ve lived without him forever.  Jimmy, I miss you so much.  But I know you’ll never leave us.  I just wish I could hug you one more time, kiss you on the cheek, and tell you I love you.

Love always,