Wednesday, May 16, 2018

ONLY ONE MORE DAY

     It's only one more day. One more day without him. One more day without his smile, his laughter, his dirty socks in the couch cushions, empty Dorito bags in the bathroom (yes, the bathroom).

     Eight years ago my world was changed for all eternity. My sweet son, Robbie, gone.

     I remember the moment I knew something was wrong. It was in the air as I walked up the steps. It was goosebumps on my skin as I stood in the doorway. There are so many things I remember but don't want to, and so many things I don't that I wish I could have back.

     So now I have a new normal. Dreams sometimes bless me with his presence, younger or 16 year old versions, but never older. Last night I cried while watching a show, flashing ahead to future views of the characters' lives, children, laughter, playing, together. I will never know what he could have become. I will never hold his babies in my arms, snuggle them, kiss away their boo-boos.
   
     In the week leading up to this day each year, there are always nightmares. Always. This year's were particularly, painfully detailed and real. I'd spent the days beforehand congratulating myself on how well I was dealing with the upcoming death-versary. Translation: 'Tamp it down, tamp it down, waayyyyyy down!'

     I know better. I do. Yet...it was the only way I could manage things.

     That is part of this new normal. The knowing of ways, of options, to manage the grief that never goes away. It ebbs. It hovers. It is always, always here, ready to descend when most and least expected.

     I never make plans for this, the 16th of May. I've learned to try to change things up, do something not done before. Today it was an early workout at Greater Lansing Crossfit. Though I give myself permission to change/cancel/add to the agenda as necessary, this morning I did more than I thought possible. One hundred pounds for floor presses, six rounds, followed by as many push ups as possible in one minute. I'd planned on eighty-five. My partner pushed me, and I did more than I thought possible.

     That makes me chuckle. Every day I do more than I think possible, because, well, living with my beautiful boy no longer walking this earth? More than a Mother can imagine. Every. Single. Day.

     The lesson I learned years ago in this journey is simple. This is only one more day. One more day without my Robbie. Today I will watch for signs. I know he is around, watching me, checking in when he feels my need growing.

     Only one more day, followed by one more tomorrow, and then another, and another, and another.

     Yet, it is also one more day to love my daughter, to be loved by my husband, to sit on the porch and drink my coffee watching my equines in the pasture, to read another book, to write another story, to listen to someone else share their needs.

     So, I will embrace this day, and the next, and as many as I have in my future, until I leave this earth and wrap my arms around my boy again. He would expect nothing less from his Mother. He will accept no other options.

     If I can, so can you.

     Embrace this day, and treat yourself to a decadent ice cream treat in honor of my boy, my sweet son, my smirking, messy room, kind, handsome, beautiful, beautiful Robbie.

Monday, April 16, 2018

The Struggle is Real

Struggling tonight. I was looking forward to today's workout at my Cross Fit, aptly named 'The Undead.' 5 RFT. 15 DLs, 25 Abmat SUs. I went rx. Seems like lately, my body requires more time to recoup, but I'm trying to do mobility, focus on my gains, etc...

Round 1 and I was already behind, but moving at a steady pace as my coach had advised. 25 sit ups take me awhile, and I tried to keep reminding myself that a year ago I would have been home on the couch, not even working out.

By Round 3 I was struggling, breathing during the ab mats got more difficult. Half the others were already finished. FINISHED. I DL'd forward...my mind swirling with 'leave your ego at the door' and other positives I've reinforced from this site and CF since last May. I'm 52. Oldest by a lot in the class.

Yet...as I completed the entire 5th round alone, my fellow GLC mates cheering, I fought the mental struggle more than the nausea and shortness of breath.

I didn't quit. I finished. I broke down my equipment. I completed the 10 minutes of double under practice, even managing to get some done. I chatted with some folks before I drove home...

and it hit me. Hard. I was last. Again. My mental game was down. Lost. I was near tears. Despite my best efforts, my knowing that for 11:56 I worked hard, held my own, completed 75 #110 Deadlifts & 125 sit ups...I felt rotten.

Made dinner. Stretched. Went outside and did chores (horses, dogs). Nothing.

I know this will pass. I know I should keep thinking about my gains. I know, yet...man. Days like this...

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

SORRY MR. TRUMP, THIS IS NO SOLUTION!

*A Heads Up before reading...This piece contains my emotional response to the Conference at the White House with people from the recent Florida shootings. This is my personal reaction. I am not starting a debate. If you want to argue, please don't bother. At least not now. I am too broken right now to play with those people. I needed to write this in order to breathe. There will be more later, but I will not be drawn into arguments on this piece. Sincerely, KEB* 

Earlier this evening, I sat and listened to the round circle discussion of parents, teachers, and students, all survivors of school shootings. My heart was heavy as one after another student shared their fears, the idea that their entire life has included this fear; that they've never known a world that didn't include mass killings in schools. Tears flowed as parents shared their tales of receiving texts and calls from sons and daughters as their children hid, gunfire in the background. 
     
However hard I anticipated this event to be, I was completely unprepared for my reaction when the leader of our country stated his solution to school shootings:

    The solution is called concealed carry. We need to arm the teachers. They'll get special training. 

My heart stopped. My stomach clenched. F*CK YOU, TRUMP! came from my lips, out loud, spewed in a gut wrenching moment of realization that this is what he may be working towards. 

Now, my job is to KILL A STUDENT? 

I left the room, stormed into my bedroom, and then the crying, the frantic gasping for air, the hysteria took over. I couldn't breathe, sat on the edge of my bed, hunched over, arms wrapped around my waist, rocking, trying to gain control. 

Thirty years in classrooms, guiding and encouraging youngsters and teens, and now the leader of our great nation wants to train me to kill. There is no way to wrap my mind around this insanity. There is no way I could aim a gun at a teenager and shoot. A former student? Someone I have worked to help in the past, his life now off track, and now it will be my job to pull out my concealed weapon and kill him? 

No. No. NO!

More guns is NOT the answer to this country's gun problem.

More violence is NOT the answer to this country's violent nature.

It is past time for people to try and defend their RIGHT to own weapons designed for the sole purpose of killing other people. Get over it. Nobody needs them. You may like them, but that isn't the same thing. Don't try to argue that law abiding citizens are the ones being punished; that criminals will still find a way; that our 2nd Amendment protects any and all things surrounding gun paraphernalia ownership. 

Enough is enough. 

Don't arm me. 

Don't train me to kill. 

Fix the root of the problem. Stricter regulations to purchase, keep, and have access to guns is simply common sense. Nobody should be able to walk into a store and leave shortly after with weapons. 

Nobody. 

Please, America, we need to look around the world and own the problem we have created. We need to be strong enough to fix it, using other country's methods that have been proven to be effective in managing gun violence. We need to lose the mindset that in order to be big and bad we need guns. 

My heart is broken. 

My mind is struggling. 

My words are fighting a battle that no gun ever will.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

'First Touch' Reading

I am so proud that my piece, written in New Orleans during the Writing Marathon of 2017, is the kick off to this amazing radio presentation.

This is the link, so please enjoy, and let me know what you think of it at some point.

I love New Orleans and the writing that I do while inspired by all that is 'The Big Easy.'

Decisions at a Deli, by Kristine E. Brickey (jiggle, brouhaha, woozy)


            Sassy was going to kill her friend Cindy for getting involved in her love life, forcing her into this ridiculous predicament. Was it considered a doubly blind date if she hadn’t actually met this Matthew before, NOR was aware he was going to show up here, expecting she knew she was on a date?
Just because he’d seen her article and sent flowers, what, she was obligated to date him? She’d sold the flowers to her coworker, but then Cindy had nabbed the card and made herself matchmaker. Imagining Cindy’s head jiggling as she shook her silly later this afternoon helped a little, Sassy thought with an evil grin. At least rejection in this public place should prevent any brouhaha.
         All this information floated around Sassy’s brain as Matthew sat waiting. Grimacing, Sassy tried to decide how to best explain; but just then, the waitress arrived with lunch.
         Postponing the inevitable, Sassy took a bite from her sandwich, woozy with hunger and anger. Rather than digging into his own, Matthew began sharing. Despite her initial indifference, she was drawn into his stories, laughing as he talked about how many notes he’d written before settling on the one he’d finally sent with the roses to her office.
         “My friend, Cindy, stole that note,” Sassy admitted as she finished her fries. Matthew’s confused expression sent a twinge of guilt her way. Knowing the truth needed speaking, she forged ahead. “The flowers were a lovely gesture, but…I don’t do flowers…or blind dates,” she added.
         “But, we’re here, having lunch now,” Matthew clung to his confusion.
         “Yeah, about this…” Sassy was actually starting to feel bad. “Cindy stole the card and set this up.”
         “You didn’t know this was a date, did you?” Matthew finally understood, waving over the waitress for the check.
         Indecision washed over her. She’d not had a horrible time, but was that basis enough to date Matthew?
         He was standing to leave. “It was nice meeting you, Sassafras Jones.”
         “I’m sorry you wasted your money,” she said.
         “Flowers for a beautiful woman? Never a waste,” Matthew offered his hand to help her from the booth.
         His grip was firm, but gentle. He has manners, she thought, that much was clear. He wasn’t being a jerk because she’d refused him. Hmmm…
         “Ladies first,” Matthew gestured toward the door.
         She was going to kill Cindy.
         He reached past her and opened the door before she could react.
         Dammit, Cindy!
         “Again, nice meeting you,” Matthew smiled and began to turn away.
         “Wait!” Sassy yelled louder.         
         And there, on the busy sidewalk, she made a choice that would change her life forever.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

HAPPY 52nd BIRTHDAY SURPRISE

This morning I woke up to find my husband already awake and ready for work. He greeted me with 'Happy Birthday!' and a hug as I sleepily made my way into the living room. On the kitchen counter, beside a lit lilac candle, sat a beautifully wrapped gift. He'd already had water and electric put into our horse barn for me as a 'not very romantic' (his words) present, though the most romantic in mine!

Taking care, I unwrapped the flowered paper, careful of the multiple layers of tape to get to the box inside. Nestled in pink tissue was a magenta polka dot bag. As I opened the silk ribbon, my heart raced.

"You didn't...oh my gosh, Chad...you didn't!" It was a book. Just a book, but so much more. I'm going to have to be careful what I share out loud with this amazing, wonderful man who will go to such means to light up my life.

He's never kept a secret (worst poker face ever). He doesn't wrap, at least never like this beauty. His expression at my reaction tells me so much.

I am the luckiest woman alive, not because of the book that now awaits me, but because of the person God has blessed me with to spend the rest of my days with in love and true partnership.

To fully explain my awe, here's the piece I wrote about one of my experiences in New Orleans.

I Almost Became a Felon
            I almost became a felon yesterday. It was close. I can’t say it would have been accidental, but it would’ve been unintentional.
            My group had entered The Backspace Bar & Kitchen. Framed photographs of famous writers, deliciously old antique typewriters, and stuffed wildlife covered the walls. All intriguing, but I was drawn to the haphazardly piled books upon the wooden mantle above the fireplace.
“The Rueful Mating,” by G.B. Stern called to me. Reverently, I lifted it from the stack, brought it to my little round table. The obnoxious conversation of bartendress and horny patrons disappeared as I opened the worn cover. On an inside page I read a review of G.B. Stern by someone named Rebecca West. I don’t know who this woman is either, but she clearly appreciates the author whose book I hold in my hands as she’s written:
“She can make flesh and bones, and the hair on the head, and the phrase in the mouth…into a perfect living character.”
I am intrigued. I want more. Skimming downward, I find a long list of other works by G.B. at the time of publication. None of them ring up a memory, but the list makes me want more, so I turn the page. The dedication is written to another woman, Gladys Calthrop:
“Wishing I had not wasted so many years before seeking her company with as much appreciation as I do now.”
Were they a couple? Did G.B. love her from afar? Is she, or perhaps Rebecca, the focus of a rueful mating? Again, I am intrigued, needing more, wanting to dig deeper.
I feel myself wanting this book more with each word I read. I set it down on the table. I will only be here a short time, and I fight the urgency to put aside pen and simply lose myself in Stern’s story. Maybe just the first page, I think, and pick the book up again.
Halycon Day, the romping poet protagonist, the young daughter of the Captain, leaps into my mind as I read. I can imagine her, skipping through the pages of the book. I see her surprising her father with her sass and writing. She is begging me to put her into my Wild Horses bag.
I place it on the bench beside me in the dimness of The Backspace instead. Pondering. My hand caresses the cover once more. It would be so easy, I think. “I want this book,” I say out loud to my companions. Neither of them urges me to do it. My daughter would probably do it, I think.
I open the cover again. First edition, 1932, is written in pencil, small, on the inside page. Hmm…but still-The fireplace mantle was stacked with unread tomes! Decoration. Unused. Neglected.
Take me! Halycon cried.
I’ve never understood taking things that don’t belong to you, the random thievery in the world. But this…
Purposefully, I place the book back on the tabletop. I am too tempted. I stride to the blue haired barmaid, novel in hand. “Do you loan out these books by any chance?” The longing in my voice should have made her acquiesce.
“Oh, no. Sorry. But you can read it here.”
WTF! I thought. “I can’t stay here that long.” I said.
Reluctantly, I replaced Halycon Day on the mantle. Ignored her cries. Thought of her all night. Saw her sad round face in my dreams.
Amazon.com. Used. Starting at $500, I Googled this morning.
I almost became a felon. A part of me thinks, if I could keep the book it might still be worth it.
-Kristine E. Brickey


Kristine still dreams of Halycon Day and may be plotting her next visit upon her return to NOWM.


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

First Touch (Revised!)

Two pounds, 10.1 ounces, angry dark red skin, my fourteen weeks premature girl lay on her back, arms and legs open at her sides-no muscle tone to hold them close, no fat legs or chubby cheeks.
She was only hours old, and the nurse in charge of me had done her best to dissuade me from seeing her yet. ‘Get some sleep first,’ she tried, looking to my Mom for support. My mother looked at me, and recognized and understood my resolve. ‘You can put her in bed, but I can tell you she’ll only get up as soon as you leave to find her daughter.’  So, here I was, scrubbed from fingernail to elbow, iv tubes beneath my white robe, all my nerves exposed, and needing to see my first child.
She was still in the very first room, where I learned later babies go to make sure they will make it to the first of the most intensive care rooms. I stood in the doorway, white walls, white table. My eyes locked on the tiny creature upon the warming table. My heart felt the wariness of the staff. They feared my reaction.
I saw my daughter, and the fear and shock on the three nurses' faces.
I moved to stand beside her, looked her over. My baby, already too headstrong to follow the rules, wait her turn. My first child. All the times my Father had told me, “You’ll understand when you have children of your own,” came back to me as I stood over this tiny being who was my girl.
"Can I touch her?" my voice cracked, tentative, breaking the pained silence. All three nurses nodded.
She was so red, so small, and I had so many questions.
Her little hand lay open beside her head. Covered in soft, dark hair, her head could have fit so easily in my palm. I was terrified of hurting her, this little being who was now my responsibility.
Gently, I placed my left index finger onto her tiny open hand, a feather light touch, and my daughter clenched tightly to me. Her grip was fierce.
All five of her fingers clung to me, and I remember still how much room was left over on my finger-she didn't take up even the space on the tip of my pointer.

Yet, she filled my heart entirely.       
From that first touch, we were united.        
She was mine; I was hers; from the first touch.