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29 06 2011

I have a small and dedicated group of followers who read what I write here on my little blog. (You guys never fail to make me feel awesome!) I love to write. It’s cathartic. I find that my fingers sometimes move with their own volition as I sit in front of my laptop. I had put away my dreams of writing while rearing my children. Now, though, I am at a point in my life where “Mother” doesn’t define my true essence. I love to sculpt with words, to evoke depth and capture moments in my life with succint and apt sentences. So. I have been working on a little story in my free time…. Can I be audacious enough to invite you to leave me feedback? Let me know if this is something YOU would read. I’m a big girl, I can take constructive criticism. Although I don’t write for the accolades, I do enjoy the delight of having people like what I do. This is where I need YOU….. Let me know via private message if you don’t want to post a comment. thewriteway101@gmail.com or just post a comment below. Thank you.

From far away, she looked like an old woman, trudging up the incline. She walked up the hill, on what was more of a wide path than a road. Dusk was lurking around her and when she raised her head to acknowledge it, one would be surprised to see she was barely twenty. The black overcoat she wore, ragged and trailing on the ground behind her, hid the large belly she bore.

The smoke from the fire she had stoked up before she left was rising visibly through the thicket and she sighed, grateful for the bed, as hard as it was, that was inside, ready to welcome her body in respite.

The horse was anxious and nickered to let her know that she too was ready for rest. The woman pressed her hand to the neck of the animal in silence, and calm settled over both of them.

Slowly, they came into the clearing and she led the horse into the small lean-to that hugged the small log cabin. Grimacing, she filled the trough for the horse and led her to drink. Every movement was slightly stretched for her, the fumbling of the lead, the removal of the bags draped across the animal. Eager as she was for sleep, it was still a few hours away. As the slight twinge of cramp crossed her sacrum, she paused, eyes widened: she placed both her hands there and let out a slow feather of breath. This too, she was at once fearful of and grateful for. No more waiting and wondering. No more fear of what may come. She settled the horse, removed the bag of goods from where she had dropped it and turned to face her future.

Inside, the darkness hovered around her, until she lit the lantern. As the gold light issued forth, she looked around the space. The bed, in the corner, was made up neat. The two feather pillows lie resting against each other, nestled together like whispering lovers. The soft quilt lovingly made, pulled up tight in anticipation of sleeping bodies, warm and compliant. His shoes, waiting, tucked under the foot of the bedstead. She looked upon these for a long moment, her face with no expression. The two chairs, sitting across from each other, pushed up tight to the tiny table by the cook stove. The bare kitchen, with one shelf holding precious preserves of pears, cherries, apple butter and peaches, a small tin of tea, and a half empty sack of flour. A small cupboard, storing precious bits of lard, some potatoes and carrots and dried peas, most of it achingly empty. There, she placed her new provisions, bought from the mercantile in the town, two miles down the mountain. A small amount of sugar, as this baby inside of her knew the pleasure of sweetness already. Some cloth and thread. A tin of baking powder and another of yeast. A few other assorted needed things. The unread letter she kept with her and placed in the pocket of her dress. She took the large kettle off the stove, and went out again to the pump and filled it with the icy water.

Once the stove was stoked up with wood and the fire radiating the good heat she needed, she allowed herself to sit on the chair. With a hairpin taken from her bun, she slipped it in along the envelope and opened up the contents and read there by the yellow light in the oncoming night. Her belly sat nestled in between her opened legs. She read with a deep frown on her face. Tears welled and poured over her cheeks, unnoticed.

The silence, other than the quiet movement of the horse in the lean-to became too much for her and she stood, folding the letter away. She rummaged in the pan left on the stove and put together a leftover biscuit with a pat of butter. As she swallowed the last bite, another cramp radiated down from her back into her thighs. “Well now,” she wondered, “is this the day of reckoning, little one?” to which a strong leg pushed upwards and caused her to smile through the pain. Again she looked about her, to take stock. Remembering the births of her sisters long ago, she gathered some old rags and cloths, a knife and a pair of scissors, placing them on the chair next to the bed. For a moment, she wondered if the trek back down the mountain side would be a better choice than the one she had seemed to have already made. But the thought of that long walk in the dusk alone frightened her more than the task at hand.

She brought out worn sheets, and spread them over the quilt. The water in the kettle was beginning to murmur its nearness to boiling, so she brought down her tea to ready herself a cup and to begin the lingering time of her travail.

Cinnamon sigh.

18 06 2011

8.15 a.m., March 11, 1997. I was ready for work, having a coffee and smoking a cigarette.

Dan walked in the living room and stood before me.

“You see this?” he asked, holding up a smoke. “This is my last cigarette EVER.”

I scoffed. Took a drag and laughed out loud.

“No. Really,” he insisted.

“Are you really quitting?”

He nodded. I thought about it. In an instant, I said to myself, well, it’s now or never.

“OK, then. I’ll quit too.”

I took my time with that last cigarette. I smoked that baby until it was nothing but filter. And then, I took my almost full pack of du Maurier 100s (don’t judge me) and chucked them in the woodstove. I stood there, watched through the glass as the $8 pack burned up.

The next few weeks were really REALLY REALLY hard. I warned all my co-workers and boss. I fought the urge to stab people in the eyeball with my pen. I had weird dreams about having sex with giant cigarettes. I bought the nicorette gum, which tasted like smoke-flavoured barf. I had an endless supply of lollipops, gum, straws and other assorted things to keep my fingers busy. I stopped going to places where I was used to having a smoke. Ironically, that was pretty much everywhere.

I joined the gym. Every day, I’d get on that Stairmaster and climb about 28347632 steps to burn off the frustration of beating an addiction. It also kept me from murdering random people in fits of nicotine-withdrawal rage, as well as keeping me from gaining the inevitable weight that haunts ex-smokers.

I heard people tell me that when I (inevitably) started smoking again to not be too harsh on myself. You know what? All that did was make me think “fuck YOU. I am NOT smoking ever again, just to PROVE YOU WRONG.”

I mourned the loss of that “dirty cinnamon sigh” (Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale). Coffee tasted different. Beer tasted different. I was sad. My body revolted. I experienced all the symptoms of withdrawal. So. Oddly enough, I promised myself that I could start smoking again at age 90.

That wasn’t that far away. In a very strange way, it was the one thing that got me through it.

Slowly I started to like being smoke-free. Not ever having to worry about grabbing a pack of cigs to make sure I had enough the next day. The slavery to nicotine was delightfully broken. And as I overcame my addiction, I became stronger, thanks to my gym membership. My biceps and thighs were looking pretty good. I was feeling good. I could smell stuff. I slept better.

My God, it was an uphill battle. But so worth it.

As I embarked on another major journey the following year, becoming pregnant and giving birth to my first child, my son, I knew in my heart that it was the best thing I have ever done in my life. I was so thankful that I didn’t need to go through withdrawals of the nicotine addiction as well as morning sickness.

To this day, though, I still crave the odd cigarette. I’ve had a couple here and there at parties, and enjoyed them immensely. But I will never pick up that habit again.

Until I’m 90, that is.

(Post script. Dan faltered with quitting then, but I, along with my two children, were ecstatic when he quit five years ago, for good.)

This is my Lily.

12 06 2011

She is on the cusp of becoming a young woman. Hints of disdain and subtle embarrassment at my behaviour flicker upon her face, at odds with her love for me. Her eyes, though, still light up in my presence, she still covets her hugs and snuggles from me, especially at night. I give them more freely than I ever have, because I know that these moments are now limited in availability.

She is my heart. She comes to me, only me, still, after all these years when she needs a compassionate ear. I used to joke that she wanted to crawl back into my uterus, exasperated by her constant physical need of my touch and embrace. That desperate two year old, all hands and kisses, smothering my being. But now, I take it all, all of the bestowed love with a guilty pleasure, knowing full well how fast time goes, how soon I will sadly remember and wish for it back.

My daughter, my light, my love. Before my eyes, she has become what I have always known she will be. Strong and empathetic, fierce and sweet. Tall. Utterly and dangerously beautiful. Cautious and shy with an ironic dab of attitude. Her heart gets hurt far too easily, yet I don’t want that to ever change since this is a part of her that is too huge and too important and too enmeshed in her own being to require fixing. I want her to embrace her Self, her depth and humour and pride and courage. To defeat the defeatist within her who nags and cajoles with “I can’t” and instead to recognize the iconic strength and hear that whisper of “I can”.

She is still my little girl. And even though the years will etch themselves upon her and me, these moments are coveted and treasured; these moments of mother and daughter bonding. We still hold hands while shopping for milk and eggs and while walking home from the school bus. Her face tilts up towards mine, her trust in me is beyond measure. I give in to this, I allow her epic adoration, I crave her necessity of me. In return, I receive beyond measure the joy of being her truth and guiding force. She trusts me. She listens to me. I tell her tales of my youth; she listens with such eagerness, my heart melts.

I am right now what holds her to this earth and molds her to be. I am not ready to let this go. I don’t think I ever will. It is complex, this mother-daughter love. It is a constant climb full of switch-backs, where she battles against me, fighting the similarities of her and I, begrudging our parallels of looks and personality. She resents how well I know her, and yet she is glad of it, because I know her so well. But as we curl up together and talk about such important things in her life, I know even if she cannot express it, she is glad that she can tell me anything.

When she was small, a teeny fuzzy bunny with white blonde hair, we would hold hands at night and I would whisper into her ear, “This is my Lily,” and she would whisper back, “This is my Mama.”

We are each other’s. Always.