Death by Gremlin

I almost died this week.

It was one of those moments when my heart palpitated inside my chest, my ass cheeks clenched, and I held on for dear life as the eldest gremlin yanked on the steering wheel and the car began skittering across the asphalt. Gravel crunched beneath the tires, and I managed not to yell any obscenities as my life flashed before my eyes.

As he got control of the vehicle, I could only stare at him with a bewildered look on my face. And as I tried to gather my scrambled thoughts, thoughts that were scrambled due to my brain being jostled around inside my skull, the gremlin looked at me and he started giggling like a hyena.

“What? Were you scared, bro?” he asked, in-between laughter.

My genius response… “Why didn’t you go straight?”

In my mind, there was a gravel road that went straight, which was what he should have taken since he was going too fast to turn safely.

With a smile plastered across his face, he said, “I had control. We’re fine.”

He was fine. I was not fine. Muscles I’d forgotten I had were already screaming at me. I’m not twenty years old, y’all. I’m almost forty. Forty-year-old muscles are not as resilient as twenty-year-old muscles. When one is strained, kiss the next month or two goodbye.

“We’re not fine,” I said as I released my death grip from the ‘oh shit’ bar. “We almost died. If you don’t know the road, slow down.”

And do you know what this fool’s response was? Take a wild guess…

“I do know the road.”

me: 😑

If I make it out alive, I’m gonna need an extended vacation after I finish raising these gremlins.

Tiff

Frozen Memories

Time has slipped by, and no matter how hard I try to reach back and hold on to it, I can’t. Sleepless nights with crying infants… gone. Toys scattered across the floor… gone. Sticky fingerprints on the refrigerator door… gone.

And I don’t know where the time went.

My baby, my beautiful boy, is now a young man. And as he closes out his last year in middle school, I have mixed emotions. Pride. So much pride for the smart, kind young man he is. But it’s bittersweet because I know one day he will spread his wings and venture out into the world… without me.

There’s a fear that once he leaves, he won’t come back. That he’ll be gone forever. But I push that fear aside because I know no matter what path my son takes, he will always come home. He will come home because our house was built on a strong foundation. A foundation of acceptance, of love, of hope, of dreams.

So I take a deep breath and I blink back the tears as I stroll around my home, stopping at one frozen memory hanging on my wall for a moment before moving on to the next.

Painted faces.

Sunshine-filled laughter.

Chocolate-ringed mouths.

One tear slides down my cheek, then another. Because no matter what the future holds, the past was beautiful. It was ours. And the future? It’s his. And I have no doubt that greatness awaits him. He is going to take life in the palm of his hand and own it.

But his mama? She will be here on the sidelines, cheering and snapping new frozen memories.

Death’s Near

Death whispers.

Its voice wraps around my heart and squeezes. Soon, another loved one will pass, and a piece of my heart will leave with them. Because no one left behind loses someone and goes unscathed.

Death stays with them.

Forever.

As time slips away, wrinkles form, hair grays, joints creak. And with every wrinkle, with every gray hair, with every squeaky joint, I am reminded of how precious time is. Because as I get older, my loved ones get older—grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles. And hiding in the shadows, Death is waiting and watching.

Sometimes I can feel Death closing in, and the fear is debilitating.

A world without my mom… without my dad… is unimaginable. Even though I know one day, Death will come, and I will be without both. So I cherish today. I cherish every moment. And when the time comes for them to leave this world, I will not have any regrets. Because although I have failed many times throughout my life at many things, I have never failed to tell them I love them. That I appreciate them. That I am thankful for them. Because without them, I would not be the woman I am today.

A woman who is relentless in pursuing her dreams, no matter how unattainable they may seem. And most of all, a woman who loves her children and always puts her family first.

Death’s near, but so is life. So is love. And that’s what I hold on to. Today. Tomorrow. Always.

The Sidelines

Life is hard.

Beautiful, exciting, frustrating—but so damn hard.

In one moment, a person is on top of the world, then in the very next, they are at rock bottom, wondering how they got there. And as I walk the path of life, a path unique to me, I experience the highs and the lows. But now that I’m a little older, and maybe a little wiser, I see things through a different lens. A lens experience has given me, which doesn’t make my path any easier or any prettier, but I know that in the end, things work out the way they are meant to.

And yet, as I watch my father-in-law deteriorate from alcoholism, I try to find the meaning, try to find the purpose, and I fail.

Every.

Single.

Time.

Because I can’t understand how something can consume a person so much that they lose sight of what is important. That they say horrid things that destroy their kids’ hearts as it tramples on their souls. And for me, it’s personal, just in a different way. It isn’t my father drowning in addiction, but I see the impact it has on my husband, on my sister-in-law, and those are the arrows that pierce my heart.

And I find myself being angry.

No, not angry, furious. Furious at my father-in-law for the years of pain he has caused. Furious at him for getting drunk on a day of a family barbeque. Furious at him for not knowing his grandchildren. Furious at him for saying he has no regrets when he has been absent from his children’s and grandchildren’s lives.

Logically, I know alcohol changes people. I do. But right now, he’s sober. Not because he wants to be, but because the alcohol has stripped him to bare bones. And he’s not grateful for the months his children drove him to and from work in the middle of the night, for the time his daughter spent completing insurance paperwork and making appointments as he battled throat cancer, for them being there when his house burned down.

So here I am, still trying to find the meaning, the purpose.

But I don’t understand how he can say such villainous things when he doesn’t have a drop of alcohol in him. And I wonder if he was always selfish.

Then I remember a time when we sat on a riverbank for hours casting a line into the water, a time when we sat across from one another playing Rook, a time when he would tell a joke just to get someone to laugh. And I wonder if the alcohol has forever changed him… even when he’s sober.

Sadness dampens the anger, and I feel hollow.

Because no matter how much I wish I could give my husband and my sister-in-law a father who is present, a father who cheers them on, a father who encourages their dreams, a father who knows his children… I can’t. Instead, I’m on the sidelines watching the destruction alcoholism has created, and the only thing I can do is be here, be present. And maybe that’s enough.

Haunted

The chipped asphalt stretches for miles. Miles I’ve walked hundreds of times. Ghosts of my children stand in front of the old grocery store—five-years-old, seven-years-old, ten-years-old—and a pang of sadness wraps around my heart, squeezes. Toddlers turn into children, children turn into teenagers, teenagers turn into young men.

And I can feel them slipping away.

So I cling to the memories. Memories of little, chubby hands wrapping around mine. Of giggles serenading the sunlight. Of wet kisses smacking against my cheeks.

I closed my eyes one day, a mom to two small boys.

I opened them the next, a mom to two young men.

Time slipped away. And no matter how much I want to reach back, to hold onto them being babies, I can’t. Life happened. My babies grew up. And now I stare at empty seats, and I wonder where the time went.

Their heads now tower over me, their hands envelop mine. Men. My boys are young men. And they will take many paths in their lives. Some will even be the wrong paths, but they will learn something valuable from each. And I will be here, waiting and watching, with my arms held open wide to welcome them back home. To hold them when they fail, and I’ll whisper words of encouragement. And when they succeed, I will be here, waiting and watching, with my arms open wide to welcome them back home. To hug them and congratulate them.

As long as I’m alive, I will be the sunlight in their darkest moments. And I will be their biggest cheerleader in their greatest moments.

Because one day, I will be nothing more than a ghost. Nothing more than a memory. And I hope that what I do here on this Earth carries them through the rest of their lives. For there’s been no greater accomplishment in my life than my children.

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Carrying You With Me—Always❤️

Grams,

It feels like you’ve been gone for decades instead of a few years. There are so many times I want to pick up a phone to call you. To rant and rave. To gush about my plans, my hopes, my dreams. Instead, I take a walk and speak to the sky. The vehicles that whiz by probably assume I’m softly singing to myself. But I’m not. This is where I talk to you.

Sometimes, Grams, I feel like I’m on the edge of a cliff, teetering as I stretch out my fingers a little further—reaching for my dreams. And if I just stretch a bit further, I can grasp them and hold them close to my heart. But if I go too far, I will fall into the rocky valley below.

So I learn to balance. I learn to breathe. And, most of all, I learn to believe. Believe in myself. Believe in what my life’s purpose is. Believe in the woman you envisioned I’d be. Because you knew it would take strength and endurance to chase a dream. And I kept that two-sentence email from almost a decade ago to read when I needed to pick myself up off the ground after being defeated. I needed it as I brushed my knees off and dug back in. You gave that to me.

 

As I go into the Pitch Wars site and upload my submission, you will be right there with me. Just as you have been for every single word I’ve typed since you left this world for a better one. But no matter what happens, Grams, I won’t give up. Ever.

Love,

Your Tiffy

 

🍷Alcoholism’s Collateral Damage❤️‍🩹

One bottle after the next is knocked back. Roaring laughter, wide smiles, glazed eyes. Amber liquid sloshes onto the stained carpet, blending in with urine, vomit, and feces. Feet shuffle toward the kitchen. The room tilts, a shoulder slams into the wall. Fingers claw for something. Anything. But there’s nothing. 

Nothing but darkness as everything else fades away.

The next afternoon, the scrawny man with white stubble on his chin lays splayed out on the dirt-stained floor. Someone knocks on the door. No answer. Someone knocks again. Bottles rattle as they skitter across the floor. 

The door cracks open. 

A naked father, covered in nothing but his bodily fluids, shades his red-rimmed eyes with his hand. A son, with his wife and small children walking up behind him, blocks their view.

A planned barbeque destroyed. Family bonds strained. Disappointment clouds the once bright day.  

A decade passes. A decade filled with driving a father to and from work since he can’t drive himself thanks to a DUI. A decade filled with trying to cook for a father who’d only show up drunk. A decade filled with a father asking for money. A decade filled with a father trying to light up a cigarette in his daughter’s car with his grandchild in the backseat. A decade filled with reaching out, with trying to save him, with offering help. But no one can save someone who doesn’t want to be saved.

Time goes on. A grandfather can’t spell his grandson’s name. A grandfather who doesn’t know what his granddaughter likes or dislikes. The grandchildren don’t know him, either. They call him by his given name, because he’s nothing more than a stranger.

A father who calls his grown children – not to see how they’re doing. Not to tell them he loves them. Simply because he needs something.

Alcoholism isn’t victimless. Its dark web entangles its victim as it promises nothing more than a good time. Alcoholism is a jealous mistress who doesn’t like to share. She doesn’t just destroy the poor soul who lives and breathes for the next sip of her nectar. She destroys families.

It’s easy to judge from the outside. To judge the kids for not calling their parent. To judge the kids for not visiting their parent. But when you fight to save a parent who doesn’t want to be saved, there’s collateral damage. Good, kind hearts are hurt over and over again to the point they become numb.

This is what comes with alcoholism. It’s ugly, cold, hurtful. The family members caught in the path deserve compassion and kindness, not judgement and hate.

This is reality.

Ms. Write Life

To My Son on Graduation Day

It’s hard to believe it’s here already. Graduation. When I first held you, eighteen years seemed so far away. Then, I blinked and my baby boy turned into a full-bearded young man.

Parenting doesn’t mean perfect. I didn’t always get everything right. But one thing I did get right was you. Even at nineteen-years-old and scared out of my mind, I never regretted having you. I regretted my choices that would negatively impact you. My boy. My innocent child. I was young, dumb, and didn’t have a clue. Until you were placed into my arms.

I am the woman I am today because of you. One look into your eyes lit a fire inside my soul. I wanted more for you than I wanted for myself. I stopped walking down deadend streets. I reflected on my actions. On my life. And I changed. For you. Because of you.

 Love doesn’t mean perfect, baby. It’s a flawed, beautiful thing wrapped in emotional highs and lows. But family is everything. When it feels like everything you’ve worked for is crashing down around you, your family will be there to hold you up. They will be your rock. Your encouragement. Family first. Always.

Don’t be afraid to chase your dreams. Don’t be afraid to fail. But most of all, don’t be afraid to love. If I fail at everything else in life, I will take my last breath knowing that I never failed at loving you or your brother.

 I have so many hopes for you. But no matter what path you take, no matter how many times you stumble, I will be here to cheer you on or pick you up. Love you. Always and forever.

Baby Blues (J’s Song)

            ~❤️ Mama~

 

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