Saturday, September 14, 2013



            I'm constantly intrigued looking back at my life at all the places I thought I would have been by now.  Most of my subconscious list is still untouched, and yet, internally, oh the places I have been, the things I have seen.  Maybe my journey was never meant to be one of distant miles, but a journey of internal proportions.  For that is the journey I seem never to stray from its path.  I'm constantly thinking about things.  Everything.  I look up in the sky every single day and think 'God, it is so beautiful.'  I literally lose my breath at the sight of the ocean and I am taken by the people I interact with.  I find myself lingering on them hours after they've left, years after they've passed.  My thoughts wrapped up so much in people that can't give me anything at all sometimes.  I'm closer to my sister in her death, than I think I ever was when she was alive.   I rely on her more today then I ever let her know when I could.  My mind spins at what I'm supposed to take away from the notion that I could be closer to someone in their death than I could be when they were standing right in front of me for twenty-three years of life before that.  Does that say something about the person that I was, or the person that I've become?  And in either case, am I pointing out flaws in my character or strengths?  A small testament to the walk I take daily through the twists and turns of grief and the stumbles and falls of personality building.  I change every single day.  The way I look at things, the way I react to people and what I take away from each of them.  I'm harder on myself than anyone I meet could ever try to be.  I rip myself apart for the way I wish things would happen, and the grace I wish I walked with more often.  These things I latch onto my sister for.  She had them all.  A beauty I really think so many saw, and something she rarely lacked, if at all.  If I could be just a trace of the person I think she was, God, the person I would be.  Sometimes I even beat myself up for longing for those parts of her as well.  I think 'Why are you so weak?'  She struggled.  We all do.  We all do.  I couldn’t even explicitly list off to you what I think her struggles were.  I think if I tried I'd be pretty close to right, things I silently noticed about a girl I spent all of my life with.  But is it something we sat and talked about, no.  Just as she could totally do the same for me.  She's in heaven laughing at the struggle I still try and deny daily in my quest for a life content, in one where I throw my hands up to the mercies of an over-analytical minded girl fighting with the 'but maybe's', and the 'is that what they REALLY meant' struggles I'm constantly arguing with inside, in moments I should relish in all that I don't know, but want to.  The uplifting part of me tries to remind that I am vulnerable, not weak.  I hold onto things that I should let go, because part of me wants to wait for the moment that those people turn to me and want to hold on as well.  It may never come.  The strong parts of me knows that.  I'll still hold on.  I love my life.  I love every minute of my life.  The difficult moments are hard.  So damn hard.  And still, smiling or crying, I'll walk or crawl away with something to roll about in my mind for a few days, a million days.
Truth be told, there are so so many things I lack as a person, so many things I'm desperately trying to learn.  I can't explain why I hold onto the things that I do.  Why I cherish moments with certain people,that they may not note in their lives at all… I do know, that it is those moments that have brought something to my life.  Sometimes I think we hold onto things because whilst the lesson is hard and usually painful, the knowledge is still needed.
    That’s what I think life is all about.  Exploring who we think we are, what we think should be, and in reality what we lack and latch onto just to get through…
            Your struggle is your own, and probably mine, but we are special and lovely for taking the time to recognize that it's building something in us, for something, one day, we may just figure out. 


Monday, August 8, 2011

Song Sparrow, Sing Me A Song...

For Ash
     My sister loved birds. I teased her about it a lot. What an odd thing for a twenty four year old to start loving and collecting. Girls our age collect stories of late nights downtown with friends, shot glasses from cities they’ve visited, shoes. Sixty year old women collect birds. Since she’s passed away, I’ve found a love for all things feathered. It’s made me feel close to her in a way A chance to build on the collection that she isn’t able to finish. We split her quaint collection of birds between my mother and sister. I moved into my apartment, with two bird figurines, and a tiny tattoo of a bird with ‘Ash’ floating above it. In the months since my sister’s death, I’ve waited to see her again. I don’t explicitly know how the next life works, and I’m definitely navigating my new life without her, completely lost most days. I’ve been praying and waiting for some time with her. In the weeks after her death, I waited for beautiful dreams of her in heaven. Even beautiful dreams of things we had once done together, but those dreams haven’t come. Any dreams really. I’ve felt spiritual disconnect unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I look for her in everything that I do. Sometimes I even wonder if I think about her too much. Eight months since she left us, and coming up on what was supposed to be our twenty fifth birthday together, I’ve been feeling a sense of hopelessness in my quest to be closer to her. I’ve said it over and over again, but I’m an analyzer of all things, and for what might be the first time in my life; and what will probably be the most significant , my analyzing (and Ash I’m quite certain) brought me to tears in a beautiful way this past week.
     I’ve been living by myself since April, and have been glittering this apartment with memories of her. My room has been my last project, and the walls have been bare for the four months I’ve lived here. Do I put pictures of her up? Will that just make me sad? I haven’t known what to do with the space at all, and in all the years I lived with Ash, she was the decorator of our lives. And even now, I am learning she still is. Last week I went to California with my family. We visited the Redwoods of Northern California. I was overwhelmed with tears as I walked down trails, and climbed on trees. Ash and I once ran through those trails together. Summer after summer, hiding from each other; we’d climb and explore the fallen trees. I have amazing memories of time spent there with her. As I walked and listened, all I could focus on were birds. The sky was a pretty blue that day, and despite my crying, it was just a beautiful and bright day. This really isn’t that significant, given my obsession with them since her death, but there on the trails I decided I should somehow incorporate this into something for my walls that would make me happy, while still incorporating her love of birds We left and drove to Monterrey, California and stumbled on an amazing antique store. I felt a fire inside of me to find something in this store for Ash. Two problems, huge store…closing in fifteen minutes. I managed to grab two ‘Bird and Nature Magazines’ from 1906 and a beautifully famed piece of wall paper with a bird on it. I actually loved the framed picture, and it had some blue in it. The magazines, if anything, were old and might make for some interesting faded wall hangings. When I finally made it home to Texas, I began to thumb through the magazines. Instantly, I was disappointed. I was expecting lots of cool bird pictures, and what I got was scientific looking fold out diagrams for the most part. Until page 23. A story titled ‘The Song Sparrow’, opened with this,

     ‘While men are speculating on the truth of the statement, that “wealth lessens, rather than increases, human happiness,” the ecstatic notes of the song sparrow are offering ample proof that , in the bird-world at least, happiness is not dependent upon fine feathers or luxurious quarters. During the cheerless winter days, although his dusky little form is indistinct among the dead leaves of the frozen thicket, this brave bird sends a thrill of joy through every heart, as his song, clear and rapturous, rises above the hoarse moan of the wintry wind, and mingles with the snowflakes.’

You can imagine the tears streaming down my face. The only thing in my mind as I was reading this, was Ash. These words were floating off of the page at me. Everything, I’ve ever thought about her was here on this page, in a magazine about what she loved…and someone else wrote it in 1906. I kept reading, only to find more proof that Ash wanted me to see her. Not in a dream as I had imagined, but in her own free spirited, not so blatant way.

     A poem by Henry Van Dyke,

‘With darker patches at his throat, And yet of all the well dressed throng, Not one can sing so brave a song. It makes the pride of looks appear, a vain and foolish thing, to hear his sweet, sweet, sweet, very merry cheer. A lofty place he does not love, but sits by choice, and well at ease, in hedges and the little trees. That stretch their slender arms above. The meadow brook; and there he sings, till all the field with pleasure rings; And so he tells in ever ear, that lowly homes to heaven are near, in sweet, sweet, sweet, very merry cheer.’

Still balling, and still thumbing, Ash ended our evening with this,

Here Be My Loves

By John Vance Cheney

Here by my loves among the feathered things

The angels lend their tunes to, and their wings.

The lowly sparrows, cradled on the ground,

To hear earth’s heart, and sing that happy sound;

The thrushes, they of melody so pure

Whether ‘tis earth’s or heaven’s I am not sure;

Why I thought it would all come so easy, I’m not sure. Nothing about this journey has been easy, and I don’t think it will be. I’ll be dealing with her death for the rest of my life. Little moments like this one are what make me believe that though it feels impossible at times to acknowledge, there is most definitely a God far greater than anything I can completely comprehend. I understand Ash’s love for birds now more than I ever did when she was still alive. And now I know in fact, these things really aren’t that random at all, but probably exactly as they were supposed to be. In reading these words, I can only imagine what her new life must be like, but I think her love and connect with the bird-world as this passage describes, go hand in hand…or feather in feather if you will. I love you sister, Happy Birthday to the most beautiful girl I know, and the one I miss and love so much!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Chronicles With Coping...Or Something Like It. Chapter Two.

Okay Mind, I Don't Know What You Want Me To Do With All Of These Feelings...
     Coming up on three months, and I don't know that I've found my way to a good place yet.  I'm somewhere in between functioning and acknowledging. At this point, I kind of feel like I'm just getting through the days and hanging on to routine.  There is a growing stack of self help books next to my bed, and yet I can't even venture to open them.  The sight of one, honestly brings tears to my eyes.  Part of me thinks, 'No, you're not ready for this', but I think the more accurate statement is 'No, you don't want to deal with this, and reading this book is sort of dealing with this.'  Maybe it's not, I don't even know anymore.  As always, I'm finding comfort in music, some days it is the only place I find comfort.  My life is one big contradiction right now.   Somedays, I wake up thinking, I'm okay.  I understand and I have so much to remember about Ash, so much to be thankful for.  I mean God, I'm sitting here writing this, how can I even utter a complaint, or feel anything but grace for all that I still get to have?  However on most days, my whole being says, 'Are You Kidding?!  Get back in bed, and stay there, you are allowed, and no one will mind. The idea that someone is going to be able to tell me how I am supposed to be feeling and what I can do to cope, is lost on me.  I realize I'm not the only girl whose ever lost a twin sister, and yet all of me feels like, yes I am.  No one will ever know or understand this loss. This feeling.  A huge part of me has just shut down.  My life is a really awkward exchange of completely carefree times with my friends, to a complete lack of understanding of myself and what this situation has brought into all of our lives.  At times I feel like I have no connect.  My friends are having these beautiful dreams about Ash.  I am not.  I think I'm struggling with that a lot.  Honestly, I couldn't tell you the last time I had a dream that I remembered, but to not be dreaming about her, when I feel she is all that is on my mind at any given moment.  It's sad for me.  I want that to be a way I can cope,  to be laughing in my sleep with her.  I've never understood less about how my mind works and the motions I'm going through, than this moment now.
     My mom wishes I were dating more, to get my mind off of things, and all  I can think is that I am a girl with some serious emotional baggage right now...and who wants that?  Its a lot to ask someone to take on.  I don't even want to deal with it, but I don't get a choice.  I don't even know how to answer simple questions like 'How many brothers and sisters do you have?'  I go from juggling how to answer  little things like that to wondering how I will incorporate her into my wedding as the 'Maid of Honor' she was supposed to be.  I don't want to even think about how our birthday will be.  I'm not ready for it to just be my birthday.     I'm reading my journals a ton right now, and entries like this are keeping me going.
     'Ash is still amazing as always, and is coping well.  The girl is so so strong.  I really can't put it into any other words.  I love my days with her, even if we are just sitting in her hospital room...usually I'm watching her make jewelry or paint.  Mainly because she is simply amazing at it, and I can't compete.  I've tried, but while she's whipping out some fantastic, beautiful, necklace...I'm staring at an open box of beads wondering how I'm going to use every color in the box and still make it look cute.  And those stupid little tools you have to use to clamp together a tiny piece of chain...yeah, I'm not good at that either.  So I just sit and watch her, we talk about food a lot...haha.  Mostly about things we wish we could cook...and if the hospital allowed, I bet she'd be able to whip it up in her room.  I'd probably watch that too, and be the official taste tester of course.  We talk a lot about our plans for when she gets out of the hospital, and most days I force her to listen to stories about my class.  Most days she ends with a ' Thanks for sitting with me, I had fun with you.'  We are best friends, and we've honestly spent the last twenty four years of our lives together, day to day.  And yet, I don't know that we've ever been closer, or enjoyed each other more than we are right now.'
    I wrote this three weeks before Ash passed away.   'Ash' dangles around my neck daily, it is tattooed on my ribs forever, I have this unbelievable need to keep her spirit current, and reminders of her with me constantly. Testament to the place I know I am trying to get in my grieving.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Chronicles With Coping...Or Something Like It.

The Superficial Blur Of Things. Chapter One.

I've been feeling the need to write for weeks now.  Only I haven't known where to begin, what to say, or even what it is that I am feeling.  Part of me is scared of what will come out, if I really allow myself to sit down and admit to all that I know is lingering, all that I havent allowed myself to answer inside.  'Did she know I loved her', 'Was she scared?'.  It's a weird internal struggle with myself daily.  If I let my mind wander, there is no limit to where it will go.  That is a scary notion knowing that for every question I have to rely on everything but Ash as a source for the answer.  I find myself getting mad for even thinking about what her last moments could have been like, because truthfully speaking, the phrase alone is still troubling.  As we were getting ready to move down to ICU, I couldnt help but be angry.  A nurse came in and hugged me, which made me mad too.  One, because perhaps I should have known, but her name was lost to me.  And two, why are you hugging me?  What does that mean?  I read into everything.  Perhaps she was just trying to comfort someone way too young to be going through all of this, and in hindsight, I am sure this was probably the case, but as a nurse, what do you know that I don't?  By the time we got down to ICU, I was in silent tears.  Ash was already in her special place, she was really good at this.  When things on any given day would hurt, or get scary, she would close her eyes, and let her  mind take her somewhere while the nurses did what they needed to do.  Still, even with her eyes closed, and her form of meditation happening, I didnt want to let her see me crying.  I didnt want her to know that I was scared, and really I dont know if I was scared or overwhelmed.  I needed her to think that this was just like everyother trip we'd made down to ICU, becuause at this point ICU had become regular for us.  Only, this was not the same.  I waited in the waiting room for almost an hour, alone.  As a nurse walked me in to see Ash, she asked that I not talk to her, because she needed to concentrate on breathing.  There were tears in her eyes, all I could do was wipe them away.  I wanted to pick her up and run out of there.  I held her hand as she began to mime all that she wanted to tell me.All I can remember thinking, is 'this is not what twenty four year olds should be dealing with.'  I souldnt be gathering up my twin sisters few neccesities for yet another few days in ICU.  I should be helping her find her shoes, her car keys, as we head out the door on our way to Trudy's for a martini and probably a stuffed avocado.  And yet leaving the hospital early that morning, there was no doubt in my mind that after a few hours of rest, I'd be back in ICU, joking with her about her attractive nurse.  Even my mother's unexpected call to come back to the hospital didnt really cross my mind as that odd.  I knew Ash was having a hard time, but with all that we've been through, for this to be the end, didnt even cross my mind.  Ash passed away on Sunday December 12, 2010, with Leukemia.  Of all the most frustrating things, its not even the Leukemia that brought her life to an end.  Pneumonia and a lung infection, that doctors could not get a grasp on.  Seriously?
I havent stopped in three weeks, on the go all the time.  Mostly because when it is quiet, there is time to think, and for now I'm not quite ready to think about it all.  I wasnt ready for Ash to go, not that its something I could have ever been ready for...but utterly and completely unprepared doesnt even begin to explain it.  Emotionally, I've never felt more alone.  It's weird to be completely surrounded by loving people and feel like you can't put into words anything beyond the superficial 'thank you', and 'i'll let you know if i need anything.'  Who am I kidding?  There is a lot that I need right now, but I wouldnt even know what to ask for, nor that its even something you could give.  I can barely process what I am feeling, assuming that I'm even allowing myself to scratch the surface of all that is to come.  I don't know that I ever completely let people into my life.  Not the way you are supposed to anyway.  At one time I'd venture to say I was an open person, but in reality, I'm extremely guarded in all that directly relates to how I'm feeling.  I don't know why, and I don't know where it comes from, but for me, to open up to an extent, is to turn over control.  Control of what I'm feeling, and control of how those feelings are used.  If I hold onto it all, deal with it somehow, there are no unknowns.  The only person I've never had to let in to get everything about the person I am has been Ash.  I turn to her when things are hard, and I don't know what to do.  So to now be faced with this, and she's not there to turn to... I am at a loss.  Something that's been there my whole life, I will never have again.  Its not even a relationship I can begin to mimic with someone else.  The permanence of it all is setting in, and at night is when I feel it the most.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Who Knew Playing Teacher Would Lead To This!

     Welp, student teaching is off to a fantastic start.  I LOVE IT.  I mean, I didnt have any question that I would.  For once, I am sure of something in my life...and for me there is no other place than with these kids.  I'm loving the unlimited access to butcher paper and dye cutters.  The laminating machine is like a shrine to all the wonderful file folder games I'm creating, most likely to be un-usable after one year of teaching...and still, These kids are falling at my feet for hugs and finding gold in a freshly sharpened pencil from my desk.  I asked one little boy to at least stay in line if he was going to dance on the way to class pictures.  His response?  

Student:  "Oh you fancy huh?  Oh you fancy huh?"  

Me:  I mean I'm kind of dressed up I guess?  It's picture day!  You're supposed to be fancy.  Right? 

Student: "Nail done, hair done, everything did..."

     He just kept saying it over and over again, and finally when he started popping the collar of his shirt, it all clicked.  He was singing Drake's new song Fancy.  My nails and hair were done, so you can understand why I was confused...oh and he's six!  Ahh the little things.
    On Friday we had a school wide assembly to kick of a fundraiser we're starting next week, and there was a surprise performance from the 5th grade girls talent group...appropriately named 'The Superstars'. They sang Ke$ha's Tik Tok, only they brush their teeth with a bottle of water, not Jack.  And they arent trying to get tipsy, just a little crazy.  As for the dudes?  They are still lining up because these girls have swagger, but they kick them to the curb unless they look like Justin Bieber.  A song after my own heart.  They had neon hair extensions and Kanye West stunner shades to complete their performance.  Awesome Friday.  That's about all I have for now.  But if you're needing a little pick me

Much Love, 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


That's what it honestly feels like. Stripped of sleep.  A relaxing weekend with my family.  All peace of mind.
 Vulnerable and oddly sensitive I've gone through every emotion imaginable this week.  Truth be told, I'm having a really hard time.  I can't help but wonder why God thinks we are strong enough to go through all of this a second time.  I can't help but feel defeated, and frustrated.  I can't help but feel this second diagnosis takes away from 'the perfect match' that my stem cells were supposed to be.  I'm weakly questioning everything I know and believe.  I know this is a test of my faith, but I'll tell you, going through this so blindly is a test of every ounce of my being.  I know the relationship I have with God, (a strong one I feel), but even that isnt answering all that I have questions for right now.  And what does that say?!  A whole different can of worms.
     There are no definitive answers, which means there is no comfort.  Just a need to lean on all that I believe is right in my heart.  I pray that I've made known what Ashley does for my life and everyone she comes into contact with.  I'm not worried about her ability to beat this cancer, because she's done that, and that she will do again.  I pray that I can be some version of strength for her,when it gets hard. She is far stronger than this cancer could ever be, and she proved that within the first hour of her diagnosis the first time.  She is stronger than my whole family combined.  Stronger than I'll ever be, in every sense of the word. 
  So here is what I have so far:
  Someone out there hasnt heard Ashley's story, someone that really needs it.  Although to most she is beautifully shy, she is infact the funniest person you will ever meet, and not so shy!  She often laughs at her own jokes...much before anyone else.  And I love her for it.  She can laugh at life, and find pleasure in the little things.  (Probably the only person who after a month of being sick in the hospital post stem cell transplant, and a virtual inability to eat could say: " I'm so skinny!  Ehh, this month hasnt been sooo bad!").  Perhaps God is needing to give us fresh perspective for something we've missed, and if that is the case, I'm ready and open to learn.  A new perspective for the amazing nurse and mentor she is going to become. 
     If not perspective, then this will just round 2010 out as the worst year of my life...and for those of you that know all the circumstances aside from cancer that have surrounded my family this year, you can understand.  This is fine...BECAUSE STARTING 2011 AND BASICALLY THE REST OF OUR LIVES OUT WITH A HEALTHY SISTER, WHO IS LEUKEMIA FREE...IS BLESSING ENOUGH FOR ME!  I LOVE YOU ASH, AND YOU'VE GOT THIS!

Much Love,

Monday, August 16, 2010

I'll Be A Cool Kid One Day...Just Not Today.

     And so it seems, I can fly alone.  I had my doubts... but I maneuvered the airport like a champ.  Aside from my developing ADD, I somehow made my connecting flight in Dallas, despite having to stop at four different arrival/departure screens to check my connecting gate... and two rounds on the tram.  Minor complications.  You know what's funny about flying alone?  I find that I am way more interested in what other people are doing, than I normally would be.  I finished all three of my magazines waiting for my delayed flight to arrive, which meant I had no game plan for entertainment once the flight actually arrived.  So I did what I do best, and I opted for some people watching. (I know that sounds creepy... ehh, I'm not bothered).
     Ahhh to be in love and flying together.  The couple next to me cuddled like they were curling up on their living room couch, with a fresh copy of The Notebook from Red Box.  Never mind the awkward smallness of our plane, of the stationary arm rest in between them... nope, they were right at home.  I wanted to take a picture, but I quickly decided this was probably inappropriate and not proper people watching etiquette.  Entertaining, nonetheless.
     Two seats in front of me... cutest family ever... and they had a baby.  I smiled when they sat down, but they had no clue of the internal struggle that was ensuing as their precious baby began to get restless mid flight.  'Smile and stare?'  'ask to hold baby?'  'don't ask to hold baby?'  'just make funny faces at baby when Dad isn't looking?'...
I opted for smiling and staring... and then when baby and I were seemingly having a staring contest amongst his giggles, the Dad caught on.  I awkwardly muttered 'he's happy!'... haha ... duh.
  Flight number two I was delightfully stuck between an eight and six year old.  Seriously...could you have better seat partners?!  I think not, by the end of that flight...they might not have agreed.  My friend Pace built a 3D Lego pirate ship that he was far too proud to disassemble for our flight.  Instead he boxed it up and covered  every inch of the box with duct tape for safe keeping.  You can imagine his dismay when I tried to help him safely store said ship under the seat in front of him, and managed to break the mast.  Who would've guessed all that duct tape wouldn't serve its purpose?!  Amber: Strike One.  Strike Two came when I told him he could use my arm rest to take a nap.  I guess leaning on a total stranger to sleep is a little weird, even if you are only eight.  His brother refused to share his...and he was really tired!  I'm really a pretty accommodating seat partner... if you allow.  He wasn't quite sure:)  Strike Three:  I threw away his empty plastic cup when the stewardess came around.  He was probably planning on using that as a new mast for the pirate ship I already broke...
Either way, I made it home.  I finished the night with the big kids at Happy Hour at Eddie V's.
Savannah was absolutely beautiful,  but most definitely happy to be home.

Much Love,