Goodbye, Cobblestone Road

This is a very painful post for me to write; one that crept up over the years on occasion but willingly returned to its suppression box when I pushed it in.

My husband and I have been married for over 13 years. Before our marriage, we spent intense, life-altering years with a revolving group of friends who experienced traumatic moments with us, sharing our blood, sweat, and tears profoundly. Our life is full now; family, friends and evenings spent unwinding with content happiness fill the nooks and crannies of our once broken hearts. We worked hard for it, and we are proud of it. But then a tug – always suddenly – makes us yearn to dig up a long-buried life.

The week of my husband’s 35th birthday the door swung open and blew his oldest friend in with fragments almost forgotten. The initial joy of reconnecting overshadowed the caution we knew we should be holding out in front of us like a shield. We let our guard down. It burned.

As his birthday drew to a close, we sat together, just the two of us, and sewed up the hole ripped through our carefully reconstructed souls, reaffirming our place in time and letting the past settle in the dust behind us.

Still, it is grief that follows us into the present.

This is a eulogy.

To all the friends we’ve loved and lost, we remember you fondly while we walk on without you.

* * * * * * * * * *

The past blew into town, whirling around in a drunken stupor and a cloud of cannabis.

Drawn from a place of need, we reached towards it desperately.

But the past is dead.

Still, we tried.

We thought it would feel comfortable, like slipping into a pair of well-worn shoes.

It was familiar.

The chaos and uncertainty shot through our veins and almost had us hooked.


The noose hung slack against our necks, and we were transported to that moment when the floor fell out beneath our feet, and we plummeted to our living graves.

Breathlessly, desperately, we reached out for each other and unwound our throats from ropes as soft as cotton.

We had lost our footing for a moment. We had been deceived by the sounds and smells of what we thought was our worth. We had been drawn in the colors and spaces we no longer belonged.

We stepped away and held each other in arms more secure because they shook. We stepped away and breathed the air we chose to fill around us. We stepped away and came back to a place where we are always loved and sometimes lost and never tormented. We stepped away and left the past whirling around in chaotic memory where it belongs.

Burials are painful, but we cannot leave the rotting flesh exposed for all to see.

Somewhere behind us where we won’t look back, we buried familiar faces and loyal friends. We will always mourn them. We can never get them back.


The tears won’t stop.

They fall…without my permission…as I try to understand why my mind isn’t letting me process this.

It’s just a damn apology, I tell myself.  Accept it.  Just take it and let it all go.

But something is holding me back.

I call my husband…

I tell him through sobs…and he gets it.

I know, he says…I know exactly what you mean…

We talk a bit…about forgiveness…about apologies…about getting hurt.

And I acknowledge my pattern.

When someone apologizes to me, I freeze.

I don’t know what to say…

Because deep down…even though logic tells me I did nothing wrong to deserve the pain…I am still that little girl who thought it was all her fault…who thought she was to blame for everything that happened to her…

So I look for something to make it mine…to make this wrong something that was coming to me…and I usually find something little…a reaction…a retort…the way I handled the pain…something that makes me say – SEE!  You ARE in the wrong here…you SHOULD be punished!

I need to work on this…to be able to accept an apology given sincerely and forgive wholeheartedly…to put someone at ease and let them know that they are forgiven.

The truth is – I do forgive.  I just have a hard time saying it…because I’ve been holding forgiveness in for so long…since I was that guilt-ridden little girl…since I realized why I had to forgive…and I wish…so badly…that it would be asked of me…so that I can finally let go and say…with all my heart…

I forgive you.

If you see this…please know…I forgive you.

I forgive you.

A Tribute

She turned around at the door.  “Hey – did you know R?”

I shook my head, but then again, I barely remember anyone from back then.

My husband dug into his vast memory of names and faces and found her there, somewhere between rehab and that long year of sobriety.

“Of course I remember her.  She…didn’t look like she was doing well the last time I saw her.”

Our newly found old friend eagerly asked “Is she alive?  Do you know?  Have you heard anything?”

My husband shook his head sadly and we all stood in brooding silence.

She sighed and gathering up her children she said her goodbyes.

Earlier that afternoon, as we were walking home, our four-year old casually walked past a little boy and his mother.  Turning the corner, she cheerfully informed us that the little boy was her friend, the new kid in her kindergarten.  We immediately went back and I introduced myself to the mother.  After she told us her husband was in the States for a few days, we invited them to spend the rest of the afternoon with us.  She accepted our offer and we soon found ourselves in comfortable conversation sitting in our living room with her two children and our two children getting along beautifully.

And then, somehow, we got to talking about the past.  And somehow, we realized that we knew the same people.  And somehow we figured out that we sort of knew each other.  And then we finally understood that she was Harry’s sister and that our daughter’s new friend was named for our dear, dear friend who succumbed to the trials and tribulations of living the sort of life we lived.

Here we were, living our wonderful, happy lives…children running around us…talking with another survivor of a hell only those who have been through can understand.  We talked about them all…the dead…the missing…the lost…

That night, as I lay awake thinking…remembering…I saw words float across my brain.

…tribute…this is a tribute…a resounding proclamation…a shout of triumph!  A scream…a cheer…a tribute!  Not to those we laid to rest…not to those who we lost…but to those…who made it!  A tribute to the boys and girls who stood up and made a change!  Those who released the bonds of drugs, alcohol, fear, depression…and created hope!  Those who made a future out of the deepest, darkest caves and lit their hearts with extinguished flames and shattered dreams.  A Tribute!!!

I fell asleep to the beat of the marching letters, smiling as the names and faces of people who are alive and well joined the parade of success.

A Tribute!!!