Hiding and Guilt

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hiding-from-customers

 

Almost a year ago, I met a man.  I was looking for an architect who would do some pro bono work for small, local businesses.  These small businesses were willing to make a financial commitment to their businesses and make physical improvements to buildings in a blighted area.  I wanted to make sure that the end results were beneficial to the district and the business owners.  I wanted to get the most bang for our buck, as my organization was giving out grants to encourage these improvements.  A name of a local architect was recommended to me, and I gave him a call.  From our first phone conversation, we hit it off.  I explained what I needed and what my organization was hoping to accomplish.  He generously offered to meet with building and business owners.  We made an appointment for an initial meeting the following week. Continue Reading »

What I Choose To Remember

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Recently, a fellow blogger requested access to my previous blog.  Of course, I had no qualms about allowing this person to continue to read my story.  We have walked this same path together, and she has become someone special to me.  I love and admire her strength, a strength I have often drawn on as an example for myself.  Today I finally got around to logging into the old blog.  I hadn’t read a word of that blog since May.  Many, many times, I have considered logging in and writing.  The story in that blog was a major part of my life.  It is a story without a satisfactory ending and a story with thousands of unanswered questions.  Many stones have been left unturned, many angles are left to explore.  Flipping those stones, searching for the answers, and exploring those angles could easily become an obsession.  I know that all too well.  I could spend the rest of my life seeking answers to WHY?  HOW?  WHAT HAPPENED?  I know now that I will never, ever find those answers.  Some things are inexplicable.  There are no answers to some questions.  Sometimes certain situations simply defy all logic. Continue Reading »

Snakes and Other Dangerous Creatures

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This blog post has been brewing for a few days.  It wasn’t until very early this morning as I sat drinking coffee with T that I even began to attempt to put the words together.

T and I had fallen asleep on the couch as we often do on the weekends.  We watched a movie all snuggled up and warm on the couch.  When the movie was over, we turned on an episode of The Office.  It was the one where Michael proposes to Holly.  I had watched it the other night with Em.  It was so sweet that I wanted T to see it, too.  I loved watching it again, and I loved seeing T smile at all the right parts.  Even after the show was over, we stayed in our spots on the couch.  We halfheartedly talked about getting ready for bed, but it was so warm and cozy.  We were so sleepy and so comfortable.

The next thing I knew, it was morning and T was in the kitchen brewing a pot of coffee.  I wandered in with a smile on my face and told him that I was kind of enjoying our weird pack mentality when it came to sleeping.  There is something so delicious about drifting off to sleep right where you sit compared to the formality and routine of getting ready for bed.  He agreed.  Falling to sleep like that is wonderful, but damn, are we ever sore in the mornings from sleeping all night in awkward positions.  We laughed a little more as we both stood there trying to stretch out the kinks.

These odd sleeping arrangements have become our habit as of late on Friday and Saturday nights.  We skip the bed and the bedroom.  We nest and nestle in for sleep wherever we are comfortable at the time.  The best thing of all are the mornings.  It is just the two of us wandering around downstairs.  We haven’t had the luxury of lingering over coffee and conversation in the kitchen for many years.  Strangely, I am reminded of my grandparents.  As a child, I can remember waking up at their house and coming into the kitchen as they both sat at the table sipping their coffee.  It was a warm, peaceful feeling of contentment to see them there.  Now that is T and I.  It makes me feel old, yet content, all at the same time.

As we finished up in the kitchen this morning, I told T that I was going to go upstairs and write before the girls woke up.  He stopped and looked at me.  “What are you going to write about?”  He had never, ever asked me that question before.  I have been blogging for two years, but he has never asked me one question about it.    I don’t hide the fact that I’m writing.  Many times I have come to him to talk about a particular blog post or a comment that I have received.  Until this morning, though, he has never asked me what I was going to write about.  Today he asked, so I poured another cup of coffee and asked him to join me at the table. Continue Reading »

Boy, You Complete Me!

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“Perfect Two” is a song that plays often in my household.  I have a love/hate relationship with the song.  Musically, it’s a cute song.  It’s sweet.  I love the simplicity of an acoustic song.

My daughters are as funny as can be singing this song together, and usually quite loudly.  The BEST thing about this song is that T sings it!  He learned it word for word as a joke on the girls.  One day, it came on, and he started belting it out.  VERY out of character for T, and he got the results he wanted.  The girls stopped whatever they were doing and looked on in amazement.  “Dad!!!  How do you know this song???”  That’s a sweet memory for me, and I think of it each time I hear the song.

Now the hate part of the song.  I cringe at the lyrics.  You might ask why.  They are sweet and loving.  “You can be the peanut butter to my jelly…”  Yep, that’s pretty sweet.  It’s this line that chills me each time I hear it:  “Don’t know if I could ever be without you, cuz boy you complete me.”  Uh oh…  COMPLETE ME.  Is she missing a piece of herself without him?  An arm, a leg?  Her heart?  Would an internal organ stop functioning if “Boy” were to go away?

It’s the classic Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White/Prince Charming song.  She is not COMPLETE without her man (or boy.)  As little girls, at least in my generation, we were spoon fed this concept.  Someone will one day come along, and our lives will be complete.  I am trying so hard to make sure that my daughters understand this concept is a fairy tale.  They are already complete, capable, competent human beings all on their own.  Someday, they will fall in love, but that love will enhance their lives, not complete them.

So when “Perfect Two” comes on in our household, the first thing the girls do is wait for is their father to start singing.  The next thing, for their mother to once again launch into a discussion about Being Complete.  “Yeah, Mom.  We know…”

 

 

 

 

Change, Letting Go, Transitions

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Changes.

I am back from Chicago.  I made it through alive, a lot less sane, but still breathing.  This isn’t a travelogue.  This trip was much less about where we traveled, but much more about our experiences while we were away from the safety and routine of home.  This trip was about change, opening new chapters, and continuing to work on silencing the lingering strains of old memories.

Once again, Andrew and I stayed at the Palmer House.  If ever there was one thing that helped ease us through our fears of the city, it was the staff at the Palmer House.  They were ever helpful in answering my endless questions about navigating the city.  The weather was beautiful as we set out for our first solo trip on the L.

We didn’t even know how to pass through the gates.  The only transportation I have ever had to pay for was a cab.  That’s easy.  Just look out the window, watch the meter, and let someone who knows his way around drop you off at the door.  We stood in front of the ticket kiosks as hundreds of people passed by around us.  I watched a few people put in money and take their cards.  I watched for a few minutes, but I still had no clue what they were doing.  I read the posted instructions.  It might as well have been written in a foreign language.  I looked for a brochure!  🙂  Of course, there was no brochure,  “Mass Transit For Dummies.”

Finally, I went over to the ticket booth where a CTA employee sat behind glass.  I knocked on the window and asked her to help me out.  With obvious impatience, she helped us put in our money and take our cards.  She asked us, “What line?  How long will you be gone?  Is this round trip?”  I suppose all of those things mattered, but I’m not really sure how they affected the amount of money we put in the machine.  There was no ATM nearby.  They don’t take credit cards.  If you put in a $50, then by God, you would not get change back, but you could ride and ride!!

The confusion didn’t end even once we had our cards in hand   The poor over-worked woman had to come back out of her glass cage and show us how to pop the cards down into the machine that activated the turnstile gates.  I must say, Andrew and I were both impressed with the spunky pop up of the cards.  That was most satisfying!

Once we were through the gates, we descended down to the platform.  Andrew’s eyes were huge as he saw the subway for the first time.  Everyone around us looked preoccupied.  Everyone looked like they knew what they were doing and where they were heading.  There were tracks on both sides.  We knew that we wanted the red line, but which side was right?  I knew the address of our apartment finder, but I still wasn’t sure which train to take.  Once again, I wished for a brochure with maps.  Instead, I found a man who looked trustworthy (and I am NOT a good judge of character!!!)  and I asked him which train would get us to Belmont.  I was pretty happy to discover that my hunch had been right.  We were in the right spot, and within moments a train whizzed up to the platform.

There was no place to sit when we boarded, so we stood holding onto poles.  Andrew’s eyes were huge.  He looked pale, almost sick.  At the first stop, people got off of our car, and I grabbed a couple of seats for us.  I was scared to death that I wouldn’t know when it was time to get off the train.  Thankfully, I found the map of the red line on the wall above Andrew’s head.  I was happy when the next stop was announced, and I could see that we were indeed headed in the right direction.

We made it to Belmont and from there it was an easy walk to our apartment finder’s office.  He turned out to be a very nice man.   He asked us questions and made a few phone calls.  Soon, we were on our way to the first apartment.  It was located in a fantastic old building in a beautiful tree-lined neighborhood.  I loved the feeling and history of the place.  I was excited as we climbed up six flights of stairs.  He unlocked the door, and I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw was on the other side of the door.  This was a studio apartment?  My God!  This “apartment” was smaller than my bedroom!  I could not stop laughing and saying, “$895 a month for THIS?”  I had never seen anything like this in my life.  Luke’s dorm room was bigger than this apartment.  I mentally cut the list of furniture I had planned to send with Andy in half.   Still, there was something so cozy, cute, urban, and exciting about seeing this tiny little place tucked under the eaves of this beautiful building.  By the time we went to the next listing, I was prepared for the shocking lack of space in a city apartment.    I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to look inside each of the buildings that we visited.  The vestibules, tiny courtyards, iron gates, and ancient elevators charmed me.  I envy Andrew the chance to get to experience this new way of life.

We knew that we would have to act quickly or we would stand a chance of losing any one of these listings.  The list of available apartments near his school with a September 1 move in date was tiny.  Andy made the final decision.  I should say, he decided the moment he walked into the third apartment.  I could see it.  He felt at home in this one, and it was the one he finally decided upon.

We had done it.  We rode on the L.  We figured out where we needed to go.  We looked at apartments IN THE CITY! Andy filled out the paperwork, and signed his name in a hundred places.  We even found our way back to the Palmer House.  By the return trip, we knew what we were doing.  We bought our tickets, popped them into the jaunty machine, and found our seats.  By the return ride, Andrew had lost his look of panic.  I could see it in his face.  He was imagining himself as a part of this hustle and bustle.  We had a great night of celebration.  We had a fantastic dinner sitting outside along the river.  As I talked with my son, the lovely Tribune building decorated the front of the skyline over his shoulder.

Letting Go.

I had looked forward to my morning Chicago walk.  Before bed, I told Andrew not to be alarmed if I was gone when he woke up.  I planned on heading out for a walk as soon as I woke up.  He could go explore on his own for a while, and we could catch up with each other later.  I knew he wouldn’t mind the time alone, and I knew that I needed some time for myself as well.

I said that I looked forward to the morning walk?  I looked forward to it  in a way, but I knew that it would not be easy, carefree moments.  Once again, I would retrace steps from my past. Bit by bit, I would release a few more pieces of that past. I wandered.  I remembered.  I touched the handle of the door at Miller’s Pub.  I touched the lions at the Art Museum.  I touched The Bean once again.  I found my favorite little park tucked in next to the museum and sat on a bench for my “Chicago cry.”

I am beginning to understand now that some things in life follow no reason.  People don’t always act in good conscience or in good faith.  Life is not fair.  Oh, I have known that all along.  After all, I have buried two children.  I almost lost Andrew.  I have suffered the unfairness of life many times.  Those thing were random, though.  Bad luck, horrible luck.  Never before, though, had I ever encountered the cruelty of human nature.  Sure, I knew it existed, but for some reason I had thought that I was safe from human cruelty.  After all, I had already suffered way too much unfairness in my life. Why would any person knowingly add to that pain?   I had trusted.  Misplaced trust is truly the worst pain of all, and I think that I am a pretty good judge of pain.  Perhaps I am an expert.

I sat there in that peaceful place in the big city thinking about my Chicago Morning Walk, the revisiting, the remembering, the loss, and the pain.  Why do I do this to myself?  Of course, it makes little sense to set out on this path knowing the painful memories that will hold my hand, my head, and my heart as I make my way down memory lane.  Why?  As I sat there and thought about it, I realized that it is little different than visiting a cemetery.  We revisit the memories so that eventually, we are able to let go.

We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the life that is waiting for us. ~ Joseph Campbell

 

Transitions.

The sadness couldn’t last long.  I wasn’t in Chicago to be sad.  This was a time of planning and moving on to the  next stage.  Andrew and I still had a lot to accomplish while we were in the city.  Our next step was a visit to the school, which actually meant I had to write a giant check.  It was exciting to see him entering the doors as an accepted student.  What a program this will be for him!  He will have the opportunity to experience his dreams.  We finished up our business and headed to Millennium Park for a late lunch.  With The Bean in the background, we enjoyed the BIGGEST hot dogs I have ever seen.

We had a great evening with friends.  A dear friend (and co-worker) was also visiting the city with her sister.  Her daughter and daughter’s boyfriend had recently moved to a great apartment on Lake Shore Drive.  We all met for cocktails before a fantastic night out on the town.

This friend of mine “knows all.”  We have no secrets between us.  When we met, almost four years ago now, we knew there was a connection.  We recognized something in each other.   It wasn’t long before we both knew why.  We were both survivors.  Years ago, my friend had lost her young son to cancer on Christmas Day.  Even though many of the people around us don’t know of either of our losses, we recognized the survivor in each other.  It is a deeply, deeply hidden knowledge.  There is something in our eyes that never truly clears away no matter how much time passes.

Last night, as we sat sharing beer and ribs with each other and the children we are so very proud to claim as our own, she leaned over and whispered to me, “This is good, isn’t it?  Are you doing OK?”  I hugged her.  I hugged her, because I love her and because she truly does know me.  Change is not easy.  Letting go is not easy.  Good people are out there, and she is one of them.  Sad memories can be replaced (or at least minimized) by other good memories.  Time and new experiences are the stepping stones to healing.

It was very late when they threw Andrew and I into a cab back to the Palmer House.  It had been a long day, and Andy was asleep within minutes.  My mind was still racing from the events of the day, and I ran a hot bubble bath.  I grabbed my phone and called T while I soaked.  We had so much to talk about in these quiet moments without kids observing our discussion.

So many changes were happening all at once.  So many changes.  My emotions were all mixed up.  It was now official.  Within the next two weeks, both boys would be gone.  I felt exhilaration and loss all at once.  I saw the big blue eyes and soft cheeks of my baby sons all mixed up with the huge shoes and whiskers of my adult sons.  How did this part of my life end so quickly?  I am not ready.  I want to push Luke in the swing again.  I want to watch hours of Thomas the Tank.  I wanted to make roads with bulldozers in the sandbox.  On the other hand, I am tired of waiting up for them to come home at night.  I am tired of laundry, cooking for so many, and girlfriends over all the time.  I needed to talk to T to sort out all of these conflicting emotions.

He listened to me.  It was 1:30 in the morning, and he patiently listened to his weepy wife on the phone.  In his calm way, he asked me if I remembered the times when I felt overwhelmed when the three oldest were little.  We had multiple kids in diapers.  We couldn’t catch our breath some days.  Yes, I told him that I remembered.  He reminded me that we got through those times just fine, then we had a number of years when things had settled down.  Now, here we are again.  Our lives are so crazy that we can’t catch our breath again.  He said this, and I think he is wise.  He hit the nail on the head.   He said, “This is the infancy of our boys adulthood.  It’s like they are back in diapers again, and it’s overwhelming.  It will be over soon, though, and we’ll catch our breath once again.”

I asked him what that would mean, though.  Where will we be once the dust settles?  Will we have enough of ourselves left after all of this?  He said, “God, yes!  We will have each other once again.”

Resisting Closure

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For the past year and a half, I have fought closure; kicking and screaming, heals dug in, eyes squinched shut.  I have seen closure, and I have looked at what lies on the other side.  I could see it as if I were looking through a big picture window.  I wasn’t sure I liked what I saw on the other side.

Closure:  1.  bringing to an end; a conclusion.  2.  A feeling of finality or resolution, especially after a traumatic experience.

Finality after a traumatic experience.  Yes.  But why wouldn’t I want that?  Why wouldn’t I want “finality after a traumatic experience?”  That seems like something I should want and desire; to finally bring a traumatic experience to an end.  So what was stopping me?

To be able to walk away from a situation, whether that means to physically walk away, or to simply disallow a situation to take up real estate in your head, you have to be able to have acceptance.

Acceptance – the mental attitude that something is believable and should be accepted as true.

I resisted acceptance, too.  Actively and blindly, I resisted seeing the things right in front of me that were “believable and true.”  I clung to a fantasy that was my perception of reality.  I now know why.  If I let go of that illusion, delusion, fantasy, I was going to be forever changed.

Closure has been right in front of me for a very long time now.  Closure was a gate, and all I had to do was enter.  Instead, I circled around and around.  I pretended to ignore it.  I refused to look in that direction.  I shuffled my feet and whistled a tune, all in an attempt to avoid acceptance.  Acceptance meant letting go.  Letting go meant that I had been WRONG.  Letting go meant that I would be forever changed.

Letting go meant that my illusions turned into disillusionment.  Letting go meant that my optimism and belief had been unfounded.  My trust turned to distrust.  My happiness turned to anger and resentment.  The truth had been turned into lies.  What once sparkled and glowed was now a crappy blob of dryer lint.  Of course, I didn’t want to accept all of these things!  I knew what acceptance meant for me, too.  Acceptance meant that something essential about myself was going to be forever changed and not in any good way.

I’m not sure if I am making myself clear.  I liked who I was “before.”  I imagined who I would become on the other side of all of this, and it scared me.  I liked trusting people.  I liked believing in the good side of life.  I wanted to be an optimist.  I didn’t want to be wary.  I didn’t want to distrust.  I didn’t want to be cautious.  I wanted GOOD to prevail over EVIL.  I wanted a fairy tale.  Mostly, I didn’t want to be forever changed.

I have taken that step, and walked through the gates of acceptance and closure.  Yes, I have changed.  No, it doesn’t feel good.  It feels empty and sad.  I do distrust in the simplest moments of happiness or kindness, but there is something else.  This is important.  Who I was inside has not changed.  The essential ME has not changed.  I do still want to believe in good.  I still see good all around me, but there is a new dimension beginning to emerge.  Maybe it is a new depth of empathy, but I’m not really sure.  I am recently equipped with something, as of yet undefinable, that feels gentle and sympathetic.   I look at the people around me and I wonder.  We all have a story inside.  We all need kindness and love.  Some of us deserve it.

This past weekend, I took steps back into my life.  I reconnected with old friends.  I listened to great music.  I spent time with people I love and who love me in return.  No, acceptance and closure are not easy things, but they are so very much better than the gray, stark landscape of denial.

Chicago, The City That Haunts

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Cloud Gate ~ The Bean ~ Chicago

I am taking a rather unexpected trip to Chicago tomorrow.  My oldest son is checking out a school, and we have an admissions appointment.   I’m really excited for him to have finally found something, some course of action for his future, that excites him.  I haven’t seen this level of enthusiasm in him in a very long time.

This will be our first mother/son trip.  I realized that today.  Isn’t that strange?  The girls and I have often taken trips, both long and short, near and far.  Our “Chick Trips” have become commonplace.  We often discuss where and when our next trip will be.  Likewise, T has taken the boys places, mostly camping and hiking.  Tomorrow will be a first for Andrew and I.  We are taking an official trip together – mother and son.

I have a love/hate relationship with Chicago.  As a “downstater,” we often feel short-changed by the amount of tax dollars that are shifted to the city.  On the other hand, I do appreciate the economic benefits we all reap from Chicago.  Then there is the perception that if you tell anyone that you’re from Illinois, they assume you mean Chicago.  That’s a far cry from my rural community of 1800 people.  I’m proud to live in the country.  I’m proud of my heritage and where I come from – farm country.  I don’t want anybody to mistake me for a city slicker!

I have my own personal history with the city of Chicago.  I had a fear of the “big city” not so very long ago.  My travels brought me to the city often enough, and I made memories that were at among the very best in my life.  That changed, though.  Life has a way of peeling away the layers.  Truths are revealed, and often (sadly) you come to realize that all the glitter and glitz, fun times, and excitement have an edge of ugliness.  All is not as it once seemed.  Those good memories became tainted.

The past is the past, though.  Chicago has not been a place that I have been able to avoid.  Several times each year, I must travel to the city for work.  (I will be there again next month for four days.)  Other times, I have traveled there with the girls.  My innocence is gone.   I once opened my heart to Chicago and loved her, but she proved to be a fickle friend.  My trust of the city is no longer intact.  Chicago has become something else to me now.  I think of her as a beautiful, yet cold place.  Part of her is callous, indifferent, and artificial, but there is another part of Chicago, too.  There is history, beauty, art, and music.  There are sights, smells, and tastes.  There is dancing and romance.  All of this is Chicago.  It is all swirled together.  Maybe some people can pick it out.  They are able to take the good parts and discard the rest.  I can’t.  It all swirls around and around me when I am in the city.  Layers of memory as fine as mist cling to me in Chicago.   I can’t breathe deeply until I am on the train and heading back out into the open land.  I trust the fields and the sky.  Chicago,  I can’t trust.  Chicago is quicksand, and I must step quickly and carefully to avoid being sucked under.

Tomorrow, I will explore the places where old memories were once a reality.  I will see sights that were once seen through different, more innocent and trusting eyes.  This time, my grown up, yet young and tender son, will be by my side.  Chicago, please be kind to my son.  Treat him with respect.  Keep on your good face.  Educate him, enlighten him, but please don’t let him see what hides behind your shadows.

Hey, You! Over Here!

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Something strange happened to me  one day last week, and it got me to thinking.  Strange things are always happening to me.  I am a magnet for the world’s oddities.  I happen to believe that it’s because I am open to new experiences.  I am always waiting for meaning in my life.  I keep the lines of communication open to the world beyond.  I have a lot of friends there.  They might want to get in touch with me!

I started, what has now become a tradition, a few years ago.  Souper Sundays.  I love to make big batches of soup in the winter.  I love to have people over for Sunday dinner.  And thus, Souper Sundays were born.  If you like soup, and it’s Sunday, then c’mon over!  The kids always knew that friends could be invited for Sunday dinner.  My parents often came, too.  Through the years, we have had regulars Sunday guests.  Some still come for dinner on Sundays.  Others, not as frequently, but always they know that they’re welcome.  Out of Souper Sundays, another tradition has grown, too.  In the summertime, Cheeseburger Sundays have replaced Souper Sundays.  We don’t just serve cheeseburgers.  Last Sunday, we had hot dogs and brats, too, but you get the drift.

When I told my (former) therapist about Souper Sundays, she claimed that I “collect strays.”  I had never thought of it in such terms, but she was right.  I hate for people to be alone or lonely.  I want those around me to feel welcome and cared for.  I want to trust that people are basically good.  Oh, and have I mentioned that trusting and welcoming people into my life has bit me in the butt a time or two? 😦   For the most part, collecting strays, as my therapist called it, has been one of the most rewarding things in my life.  I have an eclectic group of friends.  I cherish the hell out of them.  I’ve met some of the best people in the world, because I have been willing to take that chance and reach out to them.

Tonight as I drove home from work, my phone rang.  It was one of my best friends, a 70-year-old man.  He frequently comes over for Souper Sundays.  Yes, he was a person that I brought home and made a part of our lives.  He also became one of the most influential people in my life.  He became my mentor and my shoulder to cry on.  He became a friend to T, who loves to fish with him, and he became like a grandpa to the kids.  I was so thankful to hear his voice tonight, to talk and laugh with him, and to hear the smile in his voice as we caught up on each other’s lives.  I felt so thankful as I drove along talking to him that I had to burst out and tell him how much I loved him.  He laughed so genuinely and said, “I love you, too.”  Good friendships are priceless!

Back to the incident last week.  After meeting T for a quick lunch, I stopped by Target to pick up a few household items.  I was browsing around in the women’s clothing department, when a woman stopped me.  She said, “Can I ask you a question?”  I said she could, but instead of asking me anything,  she stood there scrolling through pictures on her phone.  I waited, but was a little freaked out.  What kind of picture was she going to show me?  Did I look like someone she knew?  Once she found the picture she had been looking for, she flipped her phone around for me to see.  “Do you think this dress is appropriate to wear to a funeral?”

Oh, my.  No.  It most certainly was NOT something that I would wear to a funeral.  It was the kind of dress that I would see someone else wearing in such a situation and wonder what in the hell they were thinking!  It had spaghetti straps and was a maxi dress.  I LOVE the new maxi dresses that are out this year.  Too bad I will never get a chance to wear one!  I’m so short that it would look like I was playing dress up in my mother’s clothes.  Even if I hemmed a maxi dress, it would still never look right on me.  Maxi dresses are for beautiful, tall, stately women.  To pull of a maxi dress, you must be lanky and elegant.  That is NOT me!   Hey, accept what you have.  I love the dresses, just not for ME.

This poor woman asking for my advice obviously owned the maxi dress that she had pictured.  Uh oh…  I didn’t know what to do.  First of all, it was definitely NOT appropriate to wear to a funeral.  I felt bad, though, when I looked up at her.  She looked so hopeful!  She said,  “What if I wear a white shawl with it?”  (Oh, boy…..yuck!)  Also, she didn’t look like she had a great deal of money to spend.  I don’t mean to be judgmental here.  Been there, done that, recognize the look.  So, I went against my fantastic fashion sense, and gave her some practical advice.  I suggested that a white shawl may look a little too perky for a funeral.  Yeah, I think I used the word perky.  I suggested that maybe she could use a lightweight, short-sleeved flyaway cardigan.  I told her that it was such a versatile piece of clothing to own.  You could pair it with so many things, and it just so happened that I had seen one a few moments ago that would be just perfect.  (Perfect if you HAD to wear a maxi dress to a funeral.)  This woman and I took off across the department to check out the cardigans.  When she saw it, her eyes lit up.  YES!

We were both so happy about this fashion find, that I forgot that she was outfitting herself for a funeral.  Heck, I think we almost hugged.  I quickly apologized for her loss.  She reassured me that it was no big deal.  Very old person, more like a family reunion.  Well, OK…

You would think the story would end there, just a tale to tell, but no.  Yesterday, I was in kind of a cruddy, sad mood.  I was driving down a busy street on my way to lunch.  I was feeling kind of (no, VERY) lonely.  As I drove along, I glanced up.  There she was.  Wow.  I was shocked.  There was the maxi dress woman walking along on the sidewalk.  It looked like she was just out taking a walk on a beautiful summer day.  She looked up just as I looked over at her.  In the moment that I recognized her, she also recognized me.  Her face lit up, and she waved like we were old friends.  There.  That is why I keep on trusting and believing in the goodness of people.   Most people…just not all of them.