Regaining control, I point over to a balloon, and his body calms.
Pretending to look down at my own feet I glance her way again, only to discover tight designer jeans, with perhaps the hottest black platform heels known to mankind. Her slim waist and narrow thighs show no measure of stretch from a previous baby, while mine has been to the moon and back multiple times. Just like making the last minute decision to come to this store, this was also a bad idea. She had dark feline-like eyes with high cheekbones and a cute round nose that made her look far too young for him.
Sultry full lips caressed with lip gloss and long wavy dark hair fell beautifully against her trim, tan back. My blonde hair seems dull now, with the clear ivory tones of my skin only showing a strict resistance to sun, nothing near the striking exotic beauty she bares. This is as bare-bones as it could get.
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His sultry siren seems to be talking incisively, but he remains quiet, causing the little hairs on the back of my neck to rise, considering he is most likely staring at them. Finally, my moment to check- out has come, and to make matters worse I have coupons. For a split second I consider not using them, ashamed to pull them out. In my peripheral vision I can see that he is staring at me dead on, taking in all the children one by one, realizing what closely could have been his.
Suddenly, a loud shrill of laughter crackles next to us, breaking all barriers of sound that man has ever known. The cashier, along with all my lovely children turn their heads to stare; except for me.
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I know exactly what has happened. The persistent laughing has now abruptly ended with a sort of in-official nasally bird call, causing something within me to shift. My sleeping giant; my true self has come out of hiding, replacing negative thoughts, amidst straightening my once curved spine. The cashier hands over the receipt, yet before leaving I make sure to turn and look him dead in the eye. His hyena of course, is unaware of any changed surroundings. Taken aback, he is now the upright corpse.
Capitalizing on the moment, I flash him a great big beautiful smile. The same one that had him hooked from the first time he set eyes on me. Looking hard at his new bombshell and then back to him slowly, I bat my eyelashes, playing with him in unforgiving silence. Why would he want to be with her? I have greater things to tend to. June when she catches the Holy Ghost on Sunday morning.
In poetry you find yourself in another place looking for questions to answers that are as far out of reach as a shadow until you realize why.
Having the chance to work with great artists both musically and poetically, Nicholas hopes that one day he can pass on that creative passion for words and life to others. I had a deep feeling of dread and my stomach felt as if it was dropping to the cold ceramic floor. I knew what I was hearing was devastating, not just to my dad and me, but it would be for many. We were sitting in a drab painted emergency room for what seemed like an eternity when a hip looking doctor with an earring came in and began telling us that my dad had stage 4 lung cancer. After hearing this, in my mind I made the commitment to fully care for him the remaining time he had on this earth.
Anything you lose comes around in another form.
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He was initially told he would have anywhere from six months to a year with treatments. That night with tears in my eyes, I sat down with my husband and we discussed what we were going to do. My husband has a gruff exterior, but the one thing that matters most to him is family. He is a selfless man and only wants what is good for his loved ones.
He was on board with me taking a leave of absence from my job so that I could care for my dying dad and make sure he made it to all his copious appointments.
As most people do, we started the treatment process after being released from the hospital. In that first week, I learned more about cancer, pain management and hopelessness than I ever thought possible. I felt like I was in a kayak and the rapids were stronger than me. I cannot imagine what my dad was feeling. He started seeing a rather gangly no nonsense radiation oncologist.
He spoke in a way that perplexed me but yet I understood what he was saying. It was as if I was listening to someone speaking another language, but their body movements and the inflection of their voice displayed all I needed to know. My dad tolerated the first couple of treatments until his lung collapsed. After that, his health started to deteriorate. I knew that the six months to a year projected life expectancy was wildly incorrect.
I knew he needed more than just me around him; he needed his older brother. My uncle was a man I did not know well. I had visited him maybe a half a dozen times. My mom had always painted him as a low life man who only cared for himself. In reality, he is a white bearded pot-smoking Vietnam vet who cares deeply for his family but has a hard time showing it. He came out as soon as I called. My dad needed him; I needed him.
He became my rock; he was the man I leaned on. He never undermined my decisions, he backed me in everything I did, and most importantly, he was there for my dad. They had a relationship I cannot describe but I think a man with a brother could.
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They spent a lot of time talking and it was nice seeing my dad belly laugh. His stomach would jiggle like jelly does on a spoon and his face would light up like a child does when they find an object lost. Seeing the two of them together was an uplifting experience. In the short amount of time, I realized that having my uncle in my life was monumental. It showed me the importance of family and I realized I had been missing out on so much.
My loving uncle eventually had to go back home and my dad would inquire of his return often.
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I know it saddened my dad as much as it did me. It was a sense of sadness that I had never felt before. I had grown to love him more than I ever imagined I could and it is not something I will ever let go of. My dad was beginning to fade and his personality was becoming adolescent like. He was becoming obstinate in his responses even though he knew the care I was trying to provide him would help. I was starting to feel more like his parent and less like his loving daughter. With the changes my dad was going through it required more of me. I never once doubted my decision to take care of him and in fact, I would not have done it differently.
I felt and still do that caring and nursing him was not a choice but a requisite. The importance of family after almost forty years was evident to me. I knelt before him massaging his incalculably swollen feet I felt love and compassion. As I thought of all the missed opportunities. Why he was not a part of my upbringing will forever remain a mystery. My heart ached of sadness for all our missed opportunities but yet I forgave him.
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I loved him for the man he was, my father. Neither missed years nor illness would ever take that away. Within weeks of diagnosis, we knew he did not have but a few more. His appetite ceased and his body started to look haunted. He finally made the decision to quit treatments and accepted in-home Hospice care. He quit walking, talking and eating. I had set up a grey hospital-style bed in the living room and begun sleeping next to him. In a way, I was trying to spend all the time I could with him.
I knew death was coming any day. I was told to play music that he loved. I knew the inevitable had come; he passed forty-six days after being diagnosed. I had experienced grief when my mom passed. I took her passing years earlier as if I was dying myself and I knew that the way I grieved for her was not healthy.