The Key With A Heart

I’m taking a break from my typical, albeit intermittent, “Monday Memes” post format today to talk about a key. A very specific key. A key that holds my heart…

As most of you know, my father passed away last October after a long illness. I still miss him a lot – and my mother, too – but I have come to accept “the natural order of things.” There is an emptiness now, with both my parents gone, that is hard to fill, hard to ignore. But I move forward and do my best to remember the good times, holding their love in my heart.

Most days, it’s just OK at best. Today it was a little rougher than normal.

See, today I attempted to remove the key to my parents’ house from my key ring. My family moved into that house in early December 1972, and my father passed away gently in that same house in October 2014. My Dad spent just under 43 years there, in a house he and my Mom both loved – our whole family loved it, actually. We all still do. Which is why today was kinda’ hard.

Today in one of my frequent grumble-y moments, I became frustrated trying to remove the fist-sized wad of keys and door openers that are MY keys from my back pocket. As I mumbled obscenities under my breath, I vowed to “fix that flippin’ key ring” when I got home. Sad thing is, when I tried, the only key I do NOT need on my key ring is the old key to my parents’ house. The very key I received as a “responsible fourteen-year-old man/boy” in December of 1972. A key that has been in my pocket virtually every single day of my life for now over forty-three years. I cannot let that key go, I just can’t…

keyThe key we are discussing looks NOTHING like the key above, of course. The key I cannot let go of is a nondescript, regular old house key with a triangular head. But – in my mind, and in my heart – that key is as magical and special as the heart-shaped key shown above. My key does hold my heart, and opens the door to a bahjillion memories, all created in that house…

My first “coming home drunk” (I passed out in the side flower bed and my Mom woke me up the next morning – not even kidding!) My first “sneak out and sneak back in” without my parents knowing (I’m sure they did). My first car accident (I ran over the mailbox at the top of our driveway as I was backing up and out). My first day on my first job (I was 15 – Mom dropped me off at work – so embarrassing!) My first cigarette “down by the creek.” Summer nights playing Jail Break (teenage hide-n-seek, a variation of Kick the Can). Late night “streaking” in my undies with the neighbor boys (it was the 70’s, after all, and we were too scared to get totally naked, LOL!)

Then there are forty-three Christmas gatherings and birthdays and Thanksgivings, all in the same house, all through the door opened by that key. When I close my eyes, I can still hear how the front door “opens” – there would be a small click as I turned the key. Then, when I opened the door, the weather stripping would creak a little. My Dad was always in the living room, in his recliner, and would always say, “Well, hello there, son” and – for whatever reason – it seems my Mom was ALWAYS at the kitchen sink, washing dishes (I think she was born wearing yellow Playtex rubber gloves). I would walk in, kiss my Dad then circle into the kitchen where my Mom would always say, “Well, here’s my big man” and then hug me really hard and kiss me.

I miss them, and I miss that house. And, weird as it sounds, I cannot give up that key.

Even though it no longer opens any physical door, it is an anchor for me. I look at that key and feel safe and loved and, well, home. I know I have shared before that keys hold a special meaning for me – this one certainly does. I suspect that if I am lucky enough to live to be one hundred, I will still be carrying that key and – if I am really lucky – I’ll also be carrying all the loving, beautiful memories it unlocks…

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breathe

Today was something of a turning point in my life – I finally reached a conclusion that should have been so obvious long ago. If I am being honest, I finally admitted/accepted a truth that I have been ignoring for – embarrassingly – probably more than three years. The actual details are not important at the moment; “all will be revealed” in time. I do, however, feel a great burden has been lifted from my life. While I have no doubt that the NEXT step/s in this journey will not be easy and might actually be unpleasant, I now know in my heart that I have made the right decision.

I’m not sure that everyone will be able to understand this but it is nice to finally be able to breathe in AND out again. I’ll keep you posted…  🙂

breathe

I hate saying goodbye…

Today I received news that a person that has been in my life for literally twenty-five years is very sick. Sick sick. He has cancer and, while he rallied back once, it is now pretty clear that he will not be able to do so again. And that makes me sad… Beyond sad, actually.

I mean, you know this friend?

“A friend is someone who knows all about you and loves you just the same.”

He is that friend. He is also this friend:

“A friend is someone that knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you… When you forget the words…”

And finally – and most importantly – he is this friend:

“A friend is someone who understands your past, believes in your future and accepts you just the way you are.”

empty chairWe’ve had a lot of good times, my friend and I. Ah, the stories, the embarrassing stories…  For years, we were “besties” and even now – although we are not as close as we once were – I could still call him, grab a drink and it would feel just like we spoke yesterday. Our friendship is comfortable and healing. It is special and amazing…

He is the devil. He is one of a kind. He is irreplaceable and I adore him…

I have never been very good with goodbyes – and, thankfully, it isn’t actually “goodbye time” yet (hopefully it never will be). But the sky is darkening, as they say. So, I ask each of you – as a way to honor the friendship my friend and I share – please let your friends know how much they mean to you. Let them know how important they are and that you love them. Today.

Don’t wait till you have a “window.” Do it now, so you can both enjoy the moment.

Letting Go…

Close friends know that I have been in therapy for years. YEARS. I’ve never really been ashamed about it; in fact, in an odd way, I feel kinda’ proud that I have spent the better part of a decade and a half confronting my “demons,” some of them given to me by others and some of them created on my own. Most of my demons have been banished now – I like to think I am a pretty dang good person, pretty whole. Sometimes, though, it is easy to fall back into old ways of thinking and/or old patterns of behavior, which is why I am writing this post…

For more than a week, I have been personally fermenting and fretting over some recent political actions in DC. I have walked around with a level of rage inside, mixed with feelings of disappointment, anger, betrayal (a LOT of betrayal) and hopelessness. It is NOT a place I like to be. Which brings me back to one of my therapy experiences…

Some time back in my journey, I had feelings I just could not “let go” of no matter how hard I tried. My awesome therapist asked me to “name them” and then asked if I would be willing to try a new way to get rid of them. She suggested I get a helium balloon for each negative memory, person or emotion I could not seem to shake. I was to transfer all that negative emotional energy into each one of those balloons, pick a calm, peaceful spot that I could revisit when necessary and then, with purpose, joy, a deep breath and conviction, let the balloons go…

Balloon release

I was lucky enough to have my beloved M with me and, as he held my hand and I squeezed his, we watched those balloons float away for as long as we could see them. It was such a release for me; I remember silently crying, tears streaming down my cheeks as all that darkness left me. I was so happy.

I feel I might need to take a swing by that place again very soon. (It is a very old, beautiful park not too far from where we live). The “ugly” I released that day has not come back – instead, in its place, I feel a sense of sadness and “doom and gloom” creeping in after last week’s events. I want to send those feelings away ASAP, too…

I won’t need the balloons this time – I think I have honed my focus and technique enough that I do not need the “props.” What I do need is that serene, green space and a few moments to reconnect with the all the good in The Universe and send away some of the bad.

I’m not sure where all my “balloons” are winding up, but I’d definitely like to thank that place for taking them off my hands. I hope you have room for a few more…