Brooke Was Here . . .

In a few days, it will be June 12th. Fans of red roses, peanut butter cookies, and beef jerky may be looking forward to the day as they all share June 12th as National [fill in the blank] Day. I’m betting that even the most avid jerky fan is surprised to learn of the upcoming National Jerky Day. For the rest of you, it’s probably just another day on the calendar. For a handful of us, it marks another bittersweet reminder that Brooke was here.

How do we celebrate without the guest of honor? Who makes the wish when there is no one to blow out the candles? When our loved ones are no longer here, we long to celebrate their memory and we wish that more people had been given a chance to meet them in person. Read more

Here Comes the Rain Again . . .

Raise your hand if you played in the rain as a kid? We did – all the time. In fact, my parents encouraged it. Can’t say whether it was the allure of not having to bother with bath time at the end of the day or the fact that it was cheaper than a “slip-n-slide” that made kicking us out the door so appealing. Or, maybe, it’s just the way they did things back then.

The last time that I recall voluntarily heading out into the rain was the summer between my junior and senior year of high school. It was one of those soft, southern rains that sprout up on summer afternoons. No pomp and circumstance of thunder and lightning. No cold front to steal the warm air. I can’t recall what we talked about, but I can remember strolling around the neighborhood and splashing through puddles with my daddy.

Despite it’s questionable PR campaign, I love the sights, sounds, and smells of summer storms. The flash of lightning against an inky sky. A crack of thunder just a little louder than anticipated. Read more

Ohana – Means Family

Do you recall the first movie that you saw in the theater? When I was about four years-old, my grandmother was taking my aunts (who were nine and ten) to the movies. I don’t remember actually going to the movie, but I clearly recall getting ready for the movie. We went through my grandmother’s house collecting bedknobs and broomsticks. Can you guess the film? With a 63% on the “Tomatometer,” I present to you – Bedknobs and Broomsticks.I’m not one hundred percent certain why the collection was warranted except that going to the movies wasn’t common for us growing up and there was likely some sort of discount to be had for dismantling ones’ bedrooms and cleaning closets. Read more

We Belong Among the Wildflowers

Ah, Spring . . . that expectant time of year when everything comes to life – except when it doesn’t. I find myself living in Minnesota this spring, and winter somewhat overstayed her welcome, bleeding into that time earmarked for new life. And, it seems that Spring is melting into what Minnesotans call Summer. (If you are from the South, it’s not what you are thinking.)

Coming from Louisiana, I’ve really only met Spring in passing. She is more the fodder of poets and fantasy than reality in my own experience. The South has two seasons – hot and hotter. If you are lucky, you’ll find a piece of the South that experiences two extreme seasons – Winter and Summer. Both of which have the uncanny ability to show up the same calendar day.

Despite Spring’s marvelous PR campaign with baby bunnies and little lambs, Spring has lived up. In fact, we could skip May all together and most years that wouldn’t bother me too terribly much. May holds an awful lot of pain. Read more

Heal or Be Healed

In case I’ve given the impression that I’ve got this grief thing all under control – I want to set the record straight. Not every day is sunshine and roses. There are moments when the wind is literally sucked right out of me as my mind settles on the reality that Brooke is gone. But is it even real? Isn’t she just away at school? Did my phone really ring? I know it did but somehow the mind doesn’t always process it. Just the other day, as part of a litany of routine questions at the doctor’s office, I was asked, “How many living children do you have?” Two. No, wait. That’s not right. That’s NOT right. Read more

Have You Been Diverted to Gander?

The tale-tell ding of an incoming text message followed by these words: DL 1100/Apr 15 from EWR is cancelled. You’re rebooked: DL 2805/Apr 16 at 6:00 a.m. Login to Delta.com to make flight changes. Well, there you have it – an extra day in New York City. We had just enjoyed a wonderful weekend in NYC so another day was like a little gift. Life throws a curve ball and we are prepared to make the most of it.

Around 3:00 a.m. on April 16th as we were waking to prepare for an early flight home, another tell-tale ding – DL 2805/Apr 16 from EWR is cancelled. You’re rebooked: DL 2805/Apr 17 at 6:00 am. Log in to Delta.com to make flight changes. Hmmm . . . another day didn’t feel quite like a gift. Now, we were starting to feel a little anxious about when we’d make it home. There are schedules and obligations that must me kept.

Ironically, the cancellations and rebookings fit neatly within an unexpected theme that was starting to emerge for the weekend. Handling life’s disappointments – small and large. (I’m starting to see a pattern here.) Read more

Why are we hiding?

Most of you reading this will likely think of Halloween at the mention of masks, but where I’m from . . . “throw me something, Mistah.” (Or “Sistah,”) rules the day. For those unfamiliar with Mardi Gras, it is truly the greatest party on earth. From January 6th until Fat Tuesday (the day before Ash Wednesday) each year, the streets of New Orleans and the surrounding communities host parades and street parties. Families gather in the same spot along a parade route where they’ve gathered for years. Much fried chicken, po-boys, king cake, and beer is consumed.

The parades aren’t your typical ones where beauty queens wave from an open convertible. Yes, there will be a “royal court” on display, but there’s so much more. The bands are better. The floats come in elaborate (and often satirical) themes.

The riders are in costume. Masks are an essential part of their costumes often looking much like those cheap, plastic masks that are sold with children’s Halloween costumes. The masks add to the mystery of the parade so much so that most local ordinances require riders to be masked while on the floats. Parade-goers often join in the fun with their own extravagant costumes and masks.

Traditionally, masks were worn by during Mardi Gras to allow revelers to escape social judgment. No matter your social status – all are equal behind the mask. Our modern-day “masks” serve the same purpose. Not the masks worn by revelers; rather the ones that we don each morning. Those thin veneers that we never leave home without. Those facades that help us face the world. The smiles that say, “stay away.” Even when pain presses against our broken hearts, we create picture-perfect lives on social media. Snippets on Snapchat. Isolated updates on Instagram. Pithy posts on FaceBook. The perfect life tweeted in 142 characters or less. The lives we think we should have. The lives that we think will convince others of “nothing to see here.” Read more