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    Wednesday, January 20, 2010

    9:11 - A Time To Remember

    It sounds weird. I get that. I'm not pretending that everyone will believe me or understand or even care. But it's been going on now for over a year, and it is what it is.

    The Friday night that we arrived in Iowa for Aimee's funeral, we went to Nik and Aimee's home after the wake. Wanting to change clothes, and in part wanting to, in some morbid way, to see where she had died in their bed, we asked where we could change. Nik led us down the hall, and into their room.

    The room where she died. The bed where she lay when she breathed her last breath. We talked briefly about where she had been, about how she slumped over the edge of the bed, and about where the paramedics had been when they came in and took her away, just before she was pronounced dead at the hospital.

    Nik left us to change and as we did, I knelt down by the bed, and laid my head where she had laid. Where she was last alive. Where she was last "Aimee". I could feel her all around me, and I struggled to breathe as the grief overtook me again, as it had so many times already that day. And yet strangely I was comforted by being there in her room, in her home, on her bed - where she had spent so many days gabbing with me on the phone; where she laid and sat while we talked about her future and talked about her baby, her career, and all that was to come for her in her life.

    And as all of those thoughts, and memories, and heart-pains washed over me, I looked at the clock.

    It said 9:11.

    That's not a big deal. Or rather it wasn't a big deal at the time - "911" kind of sticks in everyone's head after the Twin Towers disaster, and I do have that weird number thing...the thing where I remember weird numbers for no apparent reason. That's not new.

    But the next morning, as I readied myself for her funeral, and glanced at my clock on my phone, there it was.


    The next day, back at home, I saw it both times. Not 9:12, not 9:10, not 9:13.


    And I have seen it nearly every day since.

    It's not as though I sit around waiting for the clock to turn over to 11 after the 9th hour. It's not even as though I sit and think of Aimee all day long (although there are days I do just that, even now). I'm not trying to see 9:11, or glancing repeatedly until I see it - I just look at the clock like anyone looks at their clocks, and more often than not, when it's that time of day, whether I'm thinking of it or not when I glance, 9:11 is when I look.

    Nearly every day, and often twice a day, that time of day is when I glance at the clock. And I think of her. And I feel her close to me, like I did that night, and I feel her comforting me, and sending her love.

    Often when I look at my clock and see those digits, something is going on in my life (hell, when ISN'T something going on in my life?). It's often something that I feel she is missing out on, or something I would have wanted to tell her about, or to share with her, or to ask for her perspective on. And when I see them during those times, those numbers remind me that she's not missing it, whatever it is - she's watching and loving and knowing from where she is.

    I saw it last week as Jackson and I headed to his first day of preschool. She was so excited when Sam was starting in 2008 - she died the day before Sam's first day at the same preschool Jackson attended last week. In seeing it that day, I knew she was watching over him, as she watched over Samantha. I often see it at night, often when I've had a bad day, and I know she wishes she could be there, on the phone line, to listen to me bitch and moan...and I know if I want to, I can still bitch and moan to her, and though she can't answer with words, I believe that she hears me. And honestly, I know, usually, what she would have said, and those numbers remind me of that.

    I could list so many instances of seeing that time on my clock, and being stopped cold and sent to a moment of remembrance, of missing her, and of knowing that I'll never stop missing her. It used to unnerve me a little bit, but now that it's been going on for well over a year, it's a comfort. I even smile now when I see it, and I often find myself saying "hi" to her; I stop, and remember her, and I know she's with me. Those moments give me clarity in my day, in whatever is going on at that time, and I can feel her hand in that. She has always done what she could to support me, to love me, and to be there for me, no matter what. Some things never change.

    I love you, and I miss you, Aimee. More profoundly all the time, I miss you. Keep drawing me to that time of day, and keep giving me the reminder that while you're gone from our world, you'll always be here.

    Tuesday, January 12, 2010

    The Kids Are On A Roll Today

    {Lunch time, our house.}

    Me: Are you done eating?

    Jackson: Yep, I am done eedin'!

    Me: Ok! So, let's -- hey, take your foot off the table, please.

    Jackson: No.

    Me: {moving closer and making eye contact} Jackson, it's not OK to tell me no when I ask you to do something you need to do. Do you understand?

    Jackson: OK, Mommy. But I weewee DOOOOO want my foot up on 'da teebowl!

    Me: Tough crackers, get it off of there.

    Jackson: OK, Mommy. {removes foot} Mommy?

    Me: Yes?

    Jackson: What does 'no' mean?

    Me: Well, you know, it means, no... {Jackson looks on, waiting for a real answer}... uh, OK. If I have...uh, a cookie and you say "Can I have that cookie?", and I say "No", what does that mean: that you CAN have the cookie, or that you CAN'T have it?

    Jackson: Dat I CAN'T have dat cookie.

    Me: Right! So you do know what 'no' means, honey!

    Jackson: {after careful thought and now sporting a crinkled, lowered brow} But Mommy, I weewee DO want dat cookie!

    Looking To The Future

    On the way to school this morning, we drove through our downtown area, and Samantha was reading business signs and asking questions.

    Samantha: What's that one say, Mommy?

    Me: It says "The M------ Bar".

    Samantha: Mommy, could you take me to the M-------- Bar someday?"

    Me: No, honey, bars are not places for kids.

    Samantha: NO, Mommy, I mean SOMEDAY can you take me there!

    Me: Oh, well...yes, OK, when you turn 21, I'll take you there and buy you a drink, how's that sound?

    Samantha: OK...Mommy?

    Me: Yes?

    Samantha: Do they have lemonade there?

    Me: (smiling) Yes, baby, I'll bet they do.

    Samantha: Good!

    Tuesday, January 5, 2010

    If You Work In A Drive-Thru...

    ...then this one is for you. You who ride the sliding glass window, rain or shine. You who sling burgers and tacos and gyros out the window, and who fill drinks and shakes and take money and hand out napkins. I'm you.

    I've done your job. Greg and I have both done your job. For a good stretch of time during college, we worked drive-thru under the Golden Arches. And I get it. It's no sexy job. It's not what you aspire to do forever, and God bless your aspirations. (If you've already been doing it forever, sorry about that.) There are parts that suck. You go home smelling like your shoe soles are being melted by fry grease. And they are, so that makes sense. You wear a jacket that's been hanging in the drive-thru since who-knows-when. You talk to the right even at home because that's where your headset mic rests on your cheek. You put up with that guy in the kitchen who keeps hitting on you, and let's face it, he's not your type. You have to hear it from your manager when you forget your name tag. You clean up spills when the cup hits the edge of the window. You run outside for orders that get 'pulled'. And you, most importantly, wait on customers. You take their money. You give them their food. You hand them their drinks. And you're probably not entirely thrilled while you're there doing it, but by god you WILL get that car by summer, or you'll pay your own tuition so you can tell your dad to get bent, or you'll get enough money saved to backpack through Europe. Like I said, I get it. I really, really do.

    And so you are the drive-thru booth. Doing what drive-thru jockeys do. You run the drive-thru. I can appreciate and I understand the job you do. Really.

    Oh, hey, while I've got you here, I've been meaning to tell know what you don't do? You probably don't even know that you don't do it. Frankly, your generation is so full of entitlement and lack of courtesy (with exceptions, I'm certain, so chill out if this isn't you) that I'm really not surprised. But you don't do it. You don't.

    Know what it is? Can you guess? Can you?


    I'm not shocked, frankly. Here. Let me give you an example. You see if you can tell what's missing:

    Me (at the drive-thru, receiving my food): Okay, is that everything?

    You (in the drive-thru window): Yep, that's it.

    Me: Okay, then...thank you!

    You: Yep! {Window shuts.}

    Op! There it was. Did you catch it? Did you catch what you missed? NO? You can't surmise what I wanted you to do, what I'd guess your boss wanted you to do, that you didn't do? Let me clear it up for you. Listen closely. I know The Hills is probably on soon, or something, but bear with me.

    I WANT YOU...TO SAY..."THANK YOU". And I want you to smile and mean it while you say it.

    That's it. So simple. So easy. But you don't. And I want you to start.

    THANK ME for spending money where you work. Why? Well, here's why: if I don't come, if collectively all the people you fail to thank don't come, you don't work. No workey=no money. No trip to Europe, no car, no off-flipping of Dad as you move out and pay your own way.

    THANK ME for being polite and patient and for not being one of the assholes I know you encounter during your work day. I know those guys, I waited on them, and guess what - I thanked them too. Why? Once again, here's why: because it was my job. Just like it's yours. Which brings us to...

    THANK ME because it's your JOB to thank me. Is it really? you ask. It really is. Check with your supervisor. There is NO company whose training does NOT include specific directions to thank the customer for their business, and for choosing you over your countless competitors. I might bet money on it. "Be sure to thank the customer!" It's in your training manual - check it out.

    SERIOUSLY. Practice it. "THANK YOU." Go ahead, I'll wait.

    Did you do it? See? Not so hard, is it? Try it in the mirror at home if you like. Still didn't do it? Go on, give it a whirl. I promise, your head won't fall off and your tongue won't snap off its roller. It's not hard - my generation and every generation before us were required to learn to say it before kindergarten ever rolled around, and we say it ANY time someone does something even marginally 'thankable'. (And I know it's not ALWAYS the young folks - some of you older folks who are stopping with the thank-you-ing just because your younger not-yet-drive-thru-lifers don't do it should be ashamed of yourselves; you know better. Set an example for cripes' sake.)

    It's not just you burger folks, or you taco folks, or you sandwich folks. I've been not-thanked at every drive-thru type that I've visited in the last few months. I've been keeping track. Your track record is NOT GREAT, for any of you.

    It's so simple, really. Just say it. Please? Please say "thank you" when I frequent your place of business; when I put money in the till from whence cometh your salary, if you catch my drift. Or I'll start complaining. Every time. And let's face it, your managers don't have time for it, and neither do I.

    So just say "thank you".

    Thank you. Have a nice day! (That's nice to hear once in a while, too. I'm just sayin'.)

    Farewell 2009/Hello 2010

    That's really all there is to it, isn't there? Out with the old, in with the new. A year comes, then it goes, in what seems a blink. The lucky ones are still here at the end, and some leave along the course of its passing. This year was filled with ups and downs, and good and bad, and while I wouldn't say it's the best year ever, it certainly wasn't the worst. We rang in the new year about 9:30 our time, with kids and sparkling grape juice and a countdown on the microwave. Good times, good family...good life.

    We can't ask for more than that, can we?*

    Happy New Year, my sweet and faithful readers - 2010 has some amazing things in store, I am sure of that. Hope you'll stick around and see what it brings for me, and for all of us.

    *Of course I can. I can ALWAYS ask for more. Wait til you read my next post. You'll get a prime example. Stay tuned.