A Valentine message to myself

I recently moved into an apartment in New Jersey.  While I still live in Easton, the apartment accommodates working from headquarters a few days each week.  A couple of weeks ago, I found myself in my new apartment having a minor melt down.  Thoughts were rapid firing in my brain and it evolved into an emotional boxing match with myself.  I was beating myself up pretty good too.  It was starting to look like a knock out.  The match continued for several more days and I just wanted to calm the noise in my head.  Silence the crazy thoughts swirling around me.  What if I never learn how to live on my own?  How will I keep up with the repairs needed in the house?  How will I ever fit all the things the apartment needs in my little car?  Who can I turn to if I have any problems when I’m in either of my abodes alone?  Why did I think I could manage this schedule of work, photography, helping out my son, keeping up with the EBay bookkeeping, cleaning and repairing things around the house . . . I was in my full blown Mad Hatter mode in all its twisted dark glory.

This Tuesday was the official first day of a sense of sanity returning.  Yesterday was forward progress. Today – this is the Cherish I like, the Cherish that sits at the head of the table for a splendid tea party, sporting a splendid hat donned with peacock feathers and smiling a welcome to all that pass my way.  Sure, I still feel drained driving from New Jersey to Easton, and I still feel a need to over indulge in late night comfort food in the form of Thin Mints from the freezer, and I’m sitting here blogging when I should be editing photos – but for now – I’m not beating myself up in the 8th round.

And for that I have you to thank – for the love I have felt from all of you.   For all the text messages and phone calls friends – old and new – have sent me, not even knowing how much I needed them.  For the family foundation that I could build a solid life upon.  For my son who called and chatted away to me about his busy young life until I forgot my own stresses.  For my mom leaving her little plastic cups with straws in every house we share as if to say “I’m here, you’ll be ok”.  For my dad who came home to a dismantled toilet that I thought I could fix but didn’t, so he finished it for me.  For my lost love Keith, who visits me still if for no other reason than to tell me to quit this silliness.  For Gary, who was the closest witness to my emotional boxing match and chose to stand outside the ropes, towel and water in hand, telling me to get back in there and win this.

My whole life, I have felt so much love and as I drove from apartment to house, I realized something.  I can think of no better Valentine than to embrace all the love we are given, no matter where it comes from, and send it back out.  And if we are really smart, we’ll selfishly hold on to a little of it so that we can love ourselves as much as others do.  So tonight – I send it back out – may you love yourselves as much as others do, every day.


Ghosts in the Machine

There are memories of people we have loved and lost all around us. Especially in cyberspace. Keith dots the digital landscape just beyond my keyboard. Just google him – Facebook, EBay, LinkedIn, even his obituaries sit like ghosts in the machine. Imagine how hard it is for me to close them down – all those bites and gigabytes echo off the walls of my little office, in the dark, filling me with memories. Words typed by his own hands and photos he took with his cell phone swirl around in the cloud and stopping them feels akin to watching him die all over again.

But to let them go on is a lie. To drag out his EBay business as sales fall just because I can’t bear to see it end isn’t fiscally responsible. Watching people send requests to connect on LinkedIn is bad business. The hardest of all is Facebook. This became painfully obvious tonight when I chose to log into his account to check on things. Once there, I stumbled on 4 friend requests all from people I had recently met at a party. I had friended them, they saw that I was married to Keith and they naturally wanted to friend him too, never knowing that he no longer was in a friending status.

Sometimes, it takes something like this for me to realize that I still am precariously tethered to the fear that if I erase, delete, reboot, that all I remember of Keith, all that I hold dear about him will slip away from me. I won’t remember the smirk, the way he’d place a hand on one hip and lean into it, the way he smelled like dial soap, wiggle his eyebrows in moments of mischief, and would fuss at me if I played with his few remaining hairs. But it isn’t fair to either of us to keep him on cyber life support so I have started to take action.

I’m starting to shut down EBay. I’m starting to sell our surplus – well – everything to friends, on Craigslist or just giving it away. Tonight, I’ve filed to have his Facebook profile memorialized. I’ve changed my status to widowed. It still feels like I’m standing there by his cyber bed, holding the cyber plug in my hand. He existed for so much of his life in front of computers that there will never come a time when all the ghosts in the machine will be exercised. I like that thought enough to let it stay my fear of hitting delete.