Tuesday, December 18, 2018

It's not about Puppies anymore.

When I was 14 or 15 or maybe both, I made a resolution for the New Year to write in a journal every single day. Midnight was my deadline. I once wrote on the back of a discarded envelope in the dark while riding in the back seat of a car, and finished just before midnight - that's how committed I was. Then, it wasn't about learning the process of how to write, or whether I was expressing myself accurately and eloquently enough. It was just about a moderately troubled and mostly lonely teenager with a fair amount of angst, channelling all those emotions into a healthy place. I never worried about anyone reading what I'd written, and occasionally I'd even carefully share a page or two with my cousins. For me, without a mother around to lament all my troubles to on a daily basis, I had my journal, which I lovingly named Knox. Now that I have a 14 year old daughter in my home, I see why she feels no need to journal (but very much enjoys writing). She has me to actively listen to her every thought, insecurity, or experience. We talk about all of it, and she only holds back when she doesn't want to admit that she ate too much sugar or still hasn't started a school project whose deadline is rapidly approaching.

No, the process of writing so long ago wasn't about sentence structure or whether or not anyone might ever wish to read any of it. Writing, for me back then, was about staying sane, examining my own coming-of-age feelings, and keeping a promise I'd made to myself to write each and every day.

So, when do we stop making and keeping promises to ourselves? Is it when life gives us lemons? Is it when we get too busy? Is it when we are happy and focus on a goal seems so far-fetched and perhaps silly? Is it when we attempt a goal and don't reach the mark we'd imagined, so we deem ourselves a failure and just call it quits? Or, is it when we feel like we are so confused in life that we can't even decide on what the goal should be?

Listen up. No one is perfect. Stop believing in the Facebook fantasy life of all your "friends." Trust me, they screw stuff up too, every day, and unless they're the woe-is-me-about-everything type, they don't put those mistakes out there. No, I didn't post that time I stupidly washed and dried a brand new hundred dollar Patagonia wool sweater,  and like the Grinchy color green that it was, shrank it three sizes too small. I didn't post the day I felt I needed to quit a job. And that time I lost my shit and yelled at everyone in the house and spanked the cat...no I didn't post that either. Stop assuming you're the only one with a slightly off-track life, or a messy house, or a kid who won't eat their vegetables, no matter how hard you try to convince them they'll die if they don't.

Just stop it.

Why is having a goal important? Because Silly Pants, it's something that's all yours. You get to decide what it is, what it looks like, how it fits into your daily schedule, and whether or not you even share it with anyone else, especially those perfect Facebookers. It can be your little secret; in fact, I think it should be. People want to decide their New Year's resolution and post that shit everywhere, like it's a new car or something. Um, nope. I tried that and it didn't work out. As soon as reality set in (or February as I like to call it), I realized just how difficult it was to not use plastic silverware for a whole entire year (especially since I eat out so much - Heather Homemaker I am not), and I felt a lot of shame for having failed. Then, I abandoned the goal altogether, which I wish I hadn't done. I created this whole mess of feelings even though I had perfectly good intentions when I started. (Save the Earth!)

And yet, I still believe in goals. When I was 13, and learning how to write a story in 6th grade English class, I wrote about the litter of puppies our rat terrier Jill had given birth to. I imagined what they might be when they grew up. The absolute delight I felt when my teacher's eyes grew big at my inventive little story made me commit right then.

I would write a book before my life was through.

And even though I just told you to keep your goal a secret, I shared one of mine with you. Stay with me, I have a point.

Because I had this goal, I kept writing. Even when I felt like I had nothing of real consequence to say. I didn't major in Journalism in college like I'd wanted to, so I dug my heels in a little deeper. I kept journaling, and though there was no audience to applaud or be proud of me, it still made me feel better. Even when my sentences were off, and even if my hands cramped up with pain for thoughts that couldn't stop streaming out of my head, I kept at it. When I was a poor student, my writing gave me a place to go, and when I thought there wasn't a sane thought in my head, those blank pages that awaited me became my friends.

Writing has always been for me. If you benefit from it, then awesome! I'm happy if it helps you too.

First, set your goal. Hopefully it won't be about weight loss or house cleaning - unless those are true serious problems in your life. (As I write, my room is most definitely a mess - and believe me, my standards are low. And yet here I sit cross-legged in my bed writing. What began as a journal entry for me turned into a surprise for you.)

Then, have compassion for yourself as you work on your goal. Cut it into bite-sized pieces that you can do one by one. Do not overwhelm yourself with so many goals that you cannot juggle them all so the balls get dropped - right onto your self-esteem.

Thirty one years after I set my first goal ever, I'm still working on it. I met a whole bunch of other goals along the way, but this original one, I hold close to my heart. I have grown so comfortable with it now, I hold it as tightly as a prized possession. I consider it a valuable gift I gave myself long ago, and it keeps on giving back to me, so much so that if I ever do publish a book, I'll have to do another one to fill the empty space in my head -- to give my thoughts someplace else to go. Not accomplishing this goal thus far doesn't make me a failure at all, it simply makes me more driven to focus and write first for me, then for you.

Do it. You have a couple of weeks left to decide what your New Year's resolution will be. Resolve to set a life goal for you. Resolve to hold it close, consider it daily, and allow it to both challenge and transform you. Before long, if you're like me, you won't be writing about puppies anymore!

Friday, December 7, 2018

Tweet-fest musings.

The world we live in can be better understood if we view through a different lens once in a while. Want a new lens? Pick up a true story and read it. Ask others to tell you their story, and give them your undivided attention. Pause, reflect, and repeat. Listen until nothing surprises you, until you have no more judgments. Until you know that your story isn't all that horrible or amazing.

Then, when you know you're just as good as the next fellow, when you are able to measure yourself against a fair litmus, when the rose-colored glasses are no longer appealing, you've arrived. There's a lot of confidence to be found in honoring, and telling, your own true story. Remember, everyone has a story.

Ask yourself, what are my god-given talents? What are the skills I brought into this world during this life? Then, take those skills and use them creatively for service to others. This is about using yourself as a vessel for good in this world, with a focus on helping others. You will build onto your story. And you'll see that you're on much more equal footing than you thought you were.

If you are struggling, the very best way to heal yourself, to help yourself, to nurture the center of YOU, is to turn outward and do something amazing for someone else. It's not necessarily about spending money on them, but spending the currency of the soul: time, concern, love, empathy, and compassion. Everyone both needs and deserves these things.

Finally, remember that you are not better than anyone else. We all struggle. We all begin as a couple of cells trying to survive. We all have different lessons to learn while we are here. Just because you have a different set of circumstances doesn't make you better. Stay humble.

Friday, November 30, 2018

White Lightening

Miriam never, ever liked the color red. Not even on flowers, and especially lipstick.

Red lipstick meant you were an unsavory woman - up to no good.

“Only whores and robbers are out after midnight,” she always said. This was the advice she gave me when she set my curfew at 11:59pm.

At five foot eight, she was taller than I would be all of my life. She came up from nothing, leading a hardscrabble life with her husband who turned alcoholic after dodging bullets in World War II and in a cruel twist of fate, getting struck by lightning after coming home. The bolt shot straight through him and came out his feet. He had to go to the Veteran’s hospital to recover, leaving Miriam by herself with six kids to look after. When he returned nearly a year later, he seemed a completely different person. The lightning had poisoned his psyche, and Miriam never saw the man she married, the one she loved, again.

They owned a car, but every day he took it early in the morning when he woke up so sober he shook. It was good to get the kids up and fed and dressed and ready for school in peace. Some days she got a ride to the sewing plant where she worked, but that still required a mile walk up the dirt road to the intersection. Her friend Ethel owned a two-story farm house whose living room store served the small community with a smattering of the essentials available for purchase. Miriam often walked the mile home carrying grocery sacks of flour and eggs and bologna and potted meat for sandwiches. Right up the street from Ethel lived Miriam’s go-to source for milk fresh from the cow. All she had to do was bring the empty jug back, and Verbe would trade her for a full one. These two friends understood Miriam’s plight, respected her fortitude, and gave her things on credit. She was always good for it.

The little girls got handmade dresses; Miriam herself had worn flour sack dresses as a child. Just as her mother had been, Miriam was a good seamstress, so when she wasn’t working, cooking, cleaning, or raking the sparsely grassed yards, she enjoyed making her children’s clothes. The boys were easier than the girls; a pack of white tee shirts went a long way with them.

Sometimes the children heard when their father hit their mother. She took as many of his licks as she could, knowing that eventually he’d run out of steam and pass out drunk. Sometimes too, he’d piss right on the floor and demand she clean it up. And back before the Earth got so hot, Georgia used to get regular dustings of snow. In a fit of rage, he once sent her out in the snow without so much as a blanket. Miriam hid in the woods until she knew he was asleep and then pecked softly on the children’s bedroom window. The boys raised it as quietly as mice, and she crept back in, shivering for another hour. Another time, while she was preparing dinner, he walked into the kitchen and tossed the onion peels all over the floor.  Just to prove his false bravado, he’d made her crawl around on her hands and knees and pick up each paper-thin peel with her teeth.

It was like the Devil traded places with God and sent that lightning bolt at him. Or maybe God was trying to kill him and it just didn’t work because he had too much of the Devil in him already.

The onion peel situation sent Miriam over the edge. Years later, as she recounted the story for me, she explained it all.

“We didn’t have no shelters for women and children back then Honey. You understand? And it was legal too. Now men can get arrested when they beat their wives.”

There was only the sound of the ticking of the clock and the wood creaks as she slowly rocked back and forth in her chair. She sat warm-as-toast by the fire in a plush house coat given to her by her girls several years before. To her right in a small closet by the front door, were at least 4 more plush gowns of varying colors and patterns, save red of course. No red anywhere. She only wore the one, and intended to save the others either to be buried in or for someone who might need them more than she did. She pointed her toes into the wooden floor and thought while she rocked. I didn’t say a word. I knew that this was big stuff she was telling me, big in the way that I needed to hear so I would know how to live my life in a better way than she’d had to.

“It was one or two weeks later and Dorsey came in staggerin’ but he wasn’t like he usually was, like maybe he’d gotten a weak batch of the white lightening and so I knew I could say what I wanted to and he’d be too drunk to fight back and sober enough to hear it.”

“What did you say?”

“Well, I told him I wasn’t gonna take it no more. I had me a pot of water in a rolling boil on the stove. When he laid down on the bed in yonder, I let him get settled in and warm, and I took me a dipperful of the water back there, splashing some as I went, and I held it over his face.”

“Oh no. Granny?”

“Then I said to him, Dorsey, the very next time you lay a hand on me I’m gonna put me a pot of water on the stove like I got right now, and I’m gonna let it get to a scalding rolling boil and when you open your mouth and start that snorin,’ I’m gonna pour it right down your throat.”

“What did he say!?”

“He just laid there and looked at me and I knew that he knew I was serious. And then I turned around with my dipper of hot water and went back into the kitchen.”

“He would've died if you’d done that Granny.”

“Well, God saw fit to take him another way.”

And God had. When my father was only 17, Dorsey took a handful of tranquilizers given to him by the Veteran’s hospital doctor. That combined with his usual pint of white lightening had taken him straight from this world into what I could only imagine then was a fiery burning hell. Frankly, I was glad I never met him. I might’ve killed him too.

In the 21 years that had passed between his death and our talk, Granny hadn’t even entertained the thought of letting another man into her life.

“Best thing you can do Honey is this: just stay away from boys. Don’t even let them know you’re interested in them.”

The last 35 years of Miriam’s life did go much better than the first 52. When she died, we buried her in a steel blue casket, a brighter steel than her eyes had been, and instead of choosing one of those old unworn gowns to bury her in, we found a brand new rosy pink gown and housecoat. The undertaker even put some pink lipstick on.

We gave him strict instructions – no red lipstick, no red flowers, nothing red at all.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Dear Lindsey Buckingham (A Story about a Letter)

I had an uncle who absolutely loved Fleetwood Mac, and on one very brisk March weekend in 1989, he coerced me into listening to their new Greatest Hits album even though I wanted very much to pop my New Kids on the Block cassette into my radio. I lost that battle, but because I fell asleep that night to the intense and brilliant guitar picking of Big Love, I awoke the next morning with a different perspective.
That Saturday morning, my Uncle and I cranked up the music again.  My small cassette player speaker was no match for his truck’s audio system, so it wasn’t long before we were outside washing his truck, the sun peeking through the trees to warm us up just enough to not shiver. We made our way through the album again, stopping to press the rewind button a few times, and singing loud enough that my grandmother popped her head out of the front door yelling, “Y’all are gonna wake the dead buried all the way over at Erastus Church!” As she scuffed back into the kitchen in her robe and house slippers, we laughed and kept singing. And because Keith had charge of the water hose, he didn’t forget to soak me to the bone once the truck was sparkling clean. I ran up the concrete steps to the front door screaming, water streaming in behind me, much to my grandmother’s chagrin. She spun around from the stove, mouth wide open, exclaiming “Keeeeiiithh! You’re gettin’ my floors all wet!” Granny was never one to cuss much, but I know she definitely thought about it in that moment. This made the whole thing even funnier, really. She had to turn back towards the stove to keep me from seeing her grin.
Six days later, Keith was gone, victim to an unrelenting epileptic seizure and a pre-911 ambulance staff who couldn’t find our house so deep in the woods. In the shock and horror of the days following his death, I held onto the green cassette tape we’d worn out the Saturday before, my last gift from my uncle. Eventually I gave it back to Granny, whose long slender fingers curled around it as she wept.  At the funeral, my aunts had to hold onto each of her arms to keep her from falling down, not because she was a weak woman, but because losing her youngest son took the breath right out of her lungs.
Keith was only 28 years old, the baby of six children, and he still lived at home. Since my mother had long ago left for Florida, I spent most every weekend there and Keith felt much more like a big brother to me than an uncle. It didn’t hurt that he was funny as hell. Once, on a Saturday, he shaved exactly one half of his thick brown beard off his face. He walked around all day like that. He watched television with his feet propped up on the ottoman, he helped make dinner, singing so loud, “Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies! Tell me tell me tell me liiiiieeees! Oh no no no you can’t disguise, you can’t disguiiiisssee!”  We barely heard the biscuit timer go off and later after dinner when he read the newspaper, he held it up but not so high as to cover his face. I giggled all day long that day and the thought of it all these years later still makes me smile.
When I was still small enough to fit in his lap, Keith and I had a game we played with feathers. Since the house was situated in a small clearing in the North Georgia woods, there was usually a loose feather, a fallen leaf, or worst case, a dried pine needle, that would work. The game went like this: we stared at each other as straight faced as possible and took turns barely touching the feather along the outline of each other’s lips. Whoever cracked up laughing or itching first lost. It was a game of mental toughness that ended in fits of laughter and shouts of “rematch!” again and again. I often laughed until my belly cramped. Looking back on those moments now, I feel a pure and unconditional love.
I also remember a time one hot summer when I was sunk in and side sleeping on the super soft brown plaid couch that I think probably every middle-class home had in their living rooms in the eighties. Keith decided that pouring ice water into my ear would be a great way to wake me from my afternoon slumber. I woke with a start, of course, and when I realized what happened, chased him out the back door and all the way down our long driveway, with him laughing so hard he could barely breathe let alone run fast.
Thank God happy memories don’t fade very well. Especially when they have a soundtrack.
Through the years, I turned to the music of Fleetwood Mac and the solo music of my favorite member, their guitarist Lindsey Buckingham, to help me in my life. When I felt scared for my future, their song “Don’t Stop” gave me comfort. When I felt lost in the headwinds of change, the music represented stability, because it always gave me exactly the words I needed to hear. When I was pregnant and searching for just the right name for my daughter to be, I heard Fleetwood Mac play “Sara” live in concert, and in a matter of a couple weeks, when I couldn’t stop referring to the baby as Sarah, that became her name. “Down on Rodeo,” one of Lindsey’s solo hits, reminds me of all the times I was too afraid to make the leap, or spent too much time hanging in limbo before making major decisions. That song is a sad call to action. “Shut Us Down” is a piercing look into the past fabric of a long-term relationship, and provided me with some valuable insight years later when I was going through my divorce. It takes pain to know pain, after all.  And every single time I found myself paralyzed with fear over anything, like passing my comprehensive exams as a graduate student, “I’m So Afraid” became my elixir, soothing me into an understanding that sometimes it’s okay to just sit with the fear rather than run from it.
On October 24th, I finally had the chance to meet Lindsey Buckingham, a true rock-n-roll god. As I held his hands and told him that I was grateful for the VIP opportunity since I’d been waiting so long to meet him, he quietly whispered “Awwwww” and leaned in to kiss me on the cheek. We took a photo together and I gave him a carefully written letter that I spent three days agonizing over.  He needs to know how much Keith loved his music, and I how much I loved my Uncle Keith. Some stories just must be told, and as the letter hit Lindsey’s hand, I had a split-second vision of Keith, beard half shaved, smiling down at me in excited approval. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Don’t Tell Me You’re Fine

Tonight I spent SIX hours straight having some real talk with my daughter who is 14.

We hit on some big, deep stuff. Life lessons and whys and hows and whats of life. There’s no way I could even list it all. We covered the gamut of the beautiful and devastating things a human soul encounters during an Earthly journey. She was engaged and listening and as usual I am amazed at all she already understands, even though she’s just beginning in this life.

At one point I asked her, “Sarah, what do you say when a stranger asks you ‘How are you doing today?’”

Her reply: “Fine.”

I then asked, “Who taught you that? Did I ever teach you to mask your feelings? To tell people that you’re fine all the time when maybe you’re not?”

“No mom, but that’s just what everyone expects.”


Why is this? Why have we all collectively decided as a society that it’s acceptable to put a false-always-happy portrayal of our lives out on social media and even when someone asks us directly, face to face, how we are, we fake it?

I know that everyone reading this has answered FINE when things were *not* fine. When you were stuck in the middle of a relationship crisis, or worried about money, or someone at work was making you miserable, or maybe your whole life had just been saturated with the gasoline fire that is grief-a close love had died and you were being swallowed up by the abyss.

I’ve done it. I’ve said I’m fine probably thousands of times when I definitely wasn’t.


Next question is for you (and me): Why do we secretly want the other person, whom we’ve just asked how they are, to tell us this insincere but oh-so-socially-acceptable lie?

Do we really want to believe that everything and everyone is fine all the time?

It’s always snowing in the snow globe! Look at the happy faces on the townsfolk!


And yet, we are now in the midst of a most critical time in our country. Our lives are all being affected by turmoil.

Enough us enough.

Tell me HOW YOU ARE. Really. The truth.

Say it:

I am worried.
I am afraid.
I miss my loved one.
My car broke down.
I might lose my home.
My kid won’t speak to me anymore.
My aunt was diagnosed with a terminal illness.
The divorce is unavoidable.

Whatever it is, just say it.

Healing begins when we are authentic. Empathy can happen if we understand each other fully. Compassion deserves a chance to show itself and make us all stronger for its efforts.

If I don’t know your struggle, how can I love you, as a fellow human being, through it?

We MUST do this on a micro-level before we can begin to connect all the dots and do it together on a macro-level. The human-kind level.

If I’ve never almost been homeless or never heard the story of a friend who’s been homeless then how can I empathize with the homeless person?

For every one of us struggling, and all of us do, there’s another one of us wishing we knew whether or not a single other person out there could understand what we’re going through.

Do it. Say your truth. I’ll say mine. We will hug and love can spread.

We are ALL in this together.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

I was still mostly Frozen.

This was taken about an hour after I finished the race last Sunday (1/24/16). And after I sat on my phone enough so that it warmed enough to turn on again. I must say I did not expect it to be so cold outside on race day that a device I was holding in my hand would literally freeze! Unfortunately I can only blame my obsession with getting better & faster, and the snazzy jacket I knew I'd get for racing - Anna & Elsa had nothing to do with it. I just wish the part of my rear end that I literally couldn't feel at the end of 9.3 miles would have fallen off and stayed in Atlanta rather than warming up and sticking with me! ;)

Thursday, September 24, 2015

It's not about the chicken - my tribute to nurses.

I have not written here in a while, because I've been very busy. Whenever a writer doesn't really write much for a while, it always takes something that urgently needs to be said to put 'em back in the saddle, so to speak.  That time is now.

Recently, hosts of the View made a mockery of Miss Colorado, who is a nurse. This of course prompted the #NursesUnite trend on Facebook and Twitter and other social media sites.  It also caused The View to lose a couple of it's financial sponsors and then the hosts of the show to issue a very bad apology.  Nurses everywhere were fired up, and rightly so.

I work with ER nurses, lots of them, and I have for nearly 8 years continuously. These women and men are among the hardest working people in America, and I'd bet nurses in the rest of the world would agree that they work very hard too.  Many of them are young when they enter the field, and I am sure they do not anticipate all that they will be confronted with throughout their careers.

How many of you go to work each day knowing that today you could experience something so haltingly awful that you'll never forget "the scene" for as long as you live? How many of you ever burst into tears weeks after an event has occurred because it took your brain that long to process the trauma and feel safe enough to really react to it?

Every single day that a nurse's feet hit the floor in her work place, she (or he) knows that there is no way to predict how that day will turn out.  What they'll see, who they'll meet, if anyone they're trying desperately to save will make it, or if the least sick patient will be the one who needs the most love and kindness.  Nurses see some of the most god-awful things and situations possible, and when they're in the midst of hurting or freaking out inside themselves, they still have to remain calm enough to soothe the family members, the patient, or each other.  Often times they go home to spouses, family or friends who don't get it either, so they must silently deal with what they've gone through as witness and care-giver mostly alone.  And even if they find someone who could possibly understand the story they need to tell, a federal law called HIPAA prevents them from discussing it.  They must lean on each other.  That's why it took mere hours for #NursesUnite to spread like wildfire.  They all have each others backs, and I do too.

I'd be willing to bet that any nurse who's worked in the field for long has something akin to a bit of PTSD for all she's seen and lived through.  Not all of the patients die, not all of them are critical, but all of them have a story, and nurses hear those stories, one by one, over and over. Sometimes patients are a real pleasure, but sometimes patients abuse nurses too.  Nurses experience the full range of human emotions, the highs and the lows, sometimes in just a 12 hour span. If you ever are in the care of a nurse, you can bet that you are not her only patient either.  Nurses work their tails off, day in and day out, not only to put food on their tables at home, but because of a higher calling that they felt obligated to perhaps from childhood on.  They care.  They love their fellow man.  They want the best for  you.

Most of the nurses I know are very intelligent people also and they have to be for what they do.  They must make split second decisions, and even perform instant calculations in their heads because their hands are full of medications, wires, tubing, supplies, or even the patient. Most of them also have legitimate hobbies which could also be alternative careers - they have to because they need an outlet to detract from the stress in their real jobs. Miss Colorado's monologue about being a nurse should never have been mocked.  Nursing in and of itself is a real talent.  Not everyone who tries can actually BE a nurse.  

What follows is a FICTIONAL story that I wrote last week as part of a basic fiction class I took through the  UCLA Writer's Program.  My instructor thought it was "amazing." It's my short nod to nurses, and I hope it gives you insight into what nurses do and who they are.  Maybe it'll even make it to someone at The View.


It's not about the chicken.

Clark could hear the sobs coming from the kitchen as soon as he approached the front door. He fumbled to get his keys right in his hands and dropped his work bag at the door. Loran was in the kitchen, sitting cross legged in the floor like a child, like she used to sit in the floor with their daughter who had moved out last year. There were pots and pans scattered, somewhere in between clean and dirty, along with sponges, the bar towels, a few forks, and there shining in her hands, a glimmering and silvery knife.
"Loran, honey what's the matter?"
When she looked up, he could see her blue eyes were swollen and red from an obvious fit of crying and hysterics. He'd only seen her this way a handful of times in their long years together. She was known for her even keel nature, and frankly, it had made her a good wife.
"Lucille Ball Featherpants is dead!" With that, she went right back to squalling.  Big heaving sobs that raked her body from her toes on up. Everything tense and tight and angry and full.
She'd had Lucille for three years, a good long time for a yard chicken, and Lucille had earned her name by having mostly black and white feathers.  Loran had loved watching the real Lucille Ball on her black and white television as a small child, and to this day replayed the shows on DVD whenever she needed to just relax and get into what she called her "blank stare" mode.
Then, with gritted teeth, "I told you to fix the damn hole!"
Clark felt his body recoil in a hot flash of surprise and defense.
"Loran what on Earth came through that hole! Where's Lucille? Where's the hen?"
Then sobs again, and "Who's going to have my coffee with me? Who's gonna chirp and talk to me in the mornings when I get home?"
She'd asked him to fix a tiny hole in their backyard fence a few weeks ago, but his back was still dreadfully sore and his doctor had told him to take it easy. "No unnecessary strain," he'd said with a grin, knowing he and Loran still had a very active sex life.
"Dammit why couldn't you fix the fence? Lucille never hurt anybody!"
Clark made himself sit on the floor with her and he straddled her from behind, wrapping his legs around her and curving himself around her to hold her, to let her feel him.
"I'm so sorry babe. How long have you been like this? How long have you been here on the floor?"
He knew she'd worked the night shift and gotten off somewhere around 7 if she was lucky.  But now it was nearly 1, and Loran wasn't asleep.  His plan to come home and crawl in bed with her for a quick lovemaking session had gone out the window now, but still, he was glad he'd come home.
As her body shook she just kept repeating over and over, "Lucille Ball Featherpants, I'm so sorry I love you."
Clark knew she was exhausted, and could only imagine how her shift must have gone the night before.  She had nearly 30 years in as an ER nurse and though she was tough as nails, everyone broke from it once and a while.
"Baby, what happened? You've been crying for hours! You need sleep, and water, and something to eat probably."
"I needed you to fix the damn fence Clark! Lucille needed you to fix the fence! It was a snake. A snake got her!"
Clark bear hugged her from behind. He grabbed her arms and her legs and he held her tight against him. "Loran this is not about the chicken!"
"This cannot possibly be about the chicken! What is it Loran? What is it that you've been holding inside for so long? What did you see? Who did you try to help? Did a child die in your arms? Did you see someone who was murdered or raped or abused? What Loran? What?"
She felt the urgency in his voice and whether he knew it or not he was yelling at her, right in her ear, yet suddenly she felt the sobbing stop, felt her mind return to present time and place. She felt the numbness in her behind from sitting on the hard floor. Her knees ached too, and her back was on fire from being hunched over for so long. She knew now that he was right. That it wasn't about the chicken. That it was about the skinny long legged 22 year old kid who'd been shot right in the heart only hours before, whom she couldn't save no matter how many bags of blood she'd poured into him. She knew too, that it was about the 4 year old little girl from last week who'd been raped since the age of 2 by her scumbag grandfather, now locked behind bars. But the little girl still couldn't get over bouts of severe constipation and urinary tract infections because she didn't want to pull her pants down even to use the bathroom. It probably too was about the homeless man who was so brilliant and confused that he was unable to function in life and came in the ER almost daily begging for food.
It was about all of these, and more.
Loran turned her body into his and whispered, "I know. I know."