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It Will (Never) Be Ok July 7, 2016

Filed under: Life — vousmeoui @ 2:07 am

This feeling is like a sliver plunged deep into my heart.  Just a needle thin point of wood jammed between my past and my present.  Thats where you lie, all of you.  To think I wasted away one year thinking that at last I had found a home and a refuge in your hearts.  But like a poorly made sweater, the truth of the quality of our relationships quickly unraveled until it was nothing more than a heap of cheap cotton on the floor of my apartment.

How quickly you all seemed to forget me, and how rapidly you erased my presence from your lives till I was nothing more than a distant memory, a faint whisper on the back step. Winter came fast, and with nothing more than a shove out the door I was left in the cold, wondering how I could have ever let you seduce me into trusting you with all of my soul.

You want to know what hurts the most, or what keeps me awake at night even years after our friendships ended?  Is the fact that I still think about you; all of you.  I still wonder how you’re doing.  I still want to know how you are, if you got that job, or to wish you a happy birthday.  But that bridge was burned long ago, and even the greatest craftsmen could not repair the damage.

So don’t text me expecting me to respond like nothing ever happened.  What did happen killed me and a small part of my heart.  I’m doing fine, dear friend.  Continue on your path to wherever it may lead.  Though you say you’re better, I can only hope you’re telling me the truth, even though your “truths” are what killed us in the end.

 

My Last Day As a Nanny May 5, 2016

Filed under: Life — vousmeoui @ 2:12 am

The alarm should have gone off by now.  Even though my mind was contentedly drifting away on clouds of pink marmalade, there was a tiny voice back stage whispering, “The alarm.  The alarm.  THE ALARM!”

Jumping out of bed, I woke up to the sound of a rapid knocking on my door.

“Shit!” was the first word that issued from my mouth.  I knew I had overslept, and with once glance at the clock my fears were confirmed.

“Shit!”  I said again.

The knocking on my door continued, and I rushed over to open it.  My host mom was standing there, her eyes frantic as she spoke in hurried French, “I was worried you weren’t up yet!  We have to leave here in 15 min.”

“I know,” I told her.  “I’ll be ready to leave in ten.”  Just hearing the words leave my lips, I knew it was a lie.  I had stayed up too late packing, but still had a number of things to squeeze into my already stuffed suitcases, which I would have had time to finish packing if I had remembered to set my alarm.  How am I ever going to survive this?  My last day in France, and it was going to end with me having a heart attack.

It was a 20 minute drive to the train station where the 6:00 train, my one and only hope of making it to my flight in Paris, was waiting for me.  Missing my train wasn’t an option.  I flew about my room snatching everything in sight, and creating a messy heap on top of both of my open suitcases.  If I had set my alarm I would have had time to take a shower, but with only enough time to brush my teeth I did what I could with my greasy hair and snatched up my toiletries to add to my “must pack” pile.  Personal hygiene was going to have to wait till I was back in the states.

The next ten minutes seemed to disintegrate into seconds, and before I kew it both my host parents were standing at my bedroom door asking me if I needed any help with my bags.  I handed over my two suitcases, and looked about the room that was strewn with random objects that I would have to leave behind.  My host mom seemed to understand my delay and said reassuringly, “Don’t worry about the room, we can clean it up for you.”

We were just about ready to leave when I remembered the small gifts I had wanted to give to the girls.  After a year of caring for them, I wanted to leave them both a little something to remember me by.  For Margaux I left her a journal to write and draw in.  At the age of seven she was already an aspiring artist, and spent a lot of her time giving me pictures she had drawn of the family or various animals.  For Charlotte I left a purse.  She was only five years old but as a stereotypical French girl she had more fashion sense than I did.  I snuck into their rooms, kissed them both on the cheek, and left the gifts next to each of their doors.  Along with the presents, I left a note telling them how much I loved and would miss them.

We were already running out of time, so I ran down the stairs and into the kitchen where Dorothee, my host mom, was waiting for me.  Suddenly I heard the patter of feet, and Margaux appeared in the kitchen doorway.  “Are you leaving?”  She asked, standing there in her pajamas.

“Oui,”  I replied.  “I have to go home.”

She stuck out her bottom lip and then asked in French, “Can I come with you?”

I looked at Dorothee, and with a nod Margaux grabbed her coat, and the three of us jumped into the car, and tore out of the driveway.  We had less than 20 minutes to make a 25 min drive, and that didn’t include parking or stamping my ticket.  Dorothee was up to the challenge, weaving in and out of cars, and thundering down the narrow streets of Nantes like she was in the French version of Fast and the Furious.

We made it to the train station with only 5 minutes till my train was meant to depart.  The three of us sprinted through the station; Dorothee dragging one of my suitcases, I pulling the other, and Margaux jogging behind us in her pajamas, hoodie and flip flops.  We ran up the ramp to the platform and there stood my train, patiently waiting for me with only 2 minutes to spare.  After running along the side of the large caravan, we finally found my assigned section and threw open the door onto the car.  I hopped on, lugging up my first suitcase, then Dorothee helped me with the second.  As soon as I was safely aboard, an announcement came on that the train was preparing to leave.  I jumped down from the car and gave both Dorothee and Margaux a final hug.  Getting back on the great vessel I closed the door, waving to both of them as the train started to slowly leave the station.  Margaux started to run alongside the train, waving to me as the great convoy gained speed.  There were tears in my eyes as she drew further and further away, until I could no longer see her or the Nantes station.

It was the last time I would see Nantes, and I was more than reluctant to say goodbye to the beautiful city I had called home for a year.  If I had to describe my year as an au pair, that final day would be the perfect analogy for it; it was exhilarating, unexpected, frustrating, beautiful, confusing, and left you breathless.

Would I do it again?  Probably not.

Would I change anything about it?  Not a chance.

Am I glad I did it?  Hell yes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Decisions and Doors January 18, 2016

Filed under: Life — vousmeoui @ 3:07 am

DOOR

Each decision you make is like a door.  When the opportunity presents itself to you, it is giving you the option to either close it,or open it.  Whichever way you decide to move the door will not give you the ability to see what the outcome could be, had you made the opposite choice.  All you can do is accept whatever your fate will be now that you have chosen to grow or extinguish the new opportunity.  It is not easy.  And most of the time with most great decisions, that are the size of castle wall gates, leave you dumbfounded as to which could be the better option.  You stand there in awe, thinking that it is near impossible to confidently say “yes” or “no.”  Those around us gather in great hoards, staring directly at these monumental, heavy portals, freely giving impertinent advice as to what they think will be the best conclusion.  But it is not them who are twisting your fate, or having to live with the potential regret of whatever it is you decide. 

It is only you. 

You, who have to live with the, “What could it have been like?”

“I wonder what could’ve been different.”

“If only I hadn’t closed that door.”

It is your life, not theirs.

You are not a slave to their wills, or their opinions.  These doors are yours to do with what you will.  How will you choose?

Take your power, and beautiful free will.  Look deep into your soul and ask, “Should I?  Or should I not?”

Poor is the man who finds himself wrinkled with time, who has only ever opened or closed a door based on the opinions of others.

If there are to be mistakes for opening a door too willingly, then bear those mistakes knowing that you at least had tried.

Doors were meant to be opened, for who knows what lies beyond it?

All I know is that I would rather live my life abounding in open doors, than to despair in a hallway laden with missed opportunities.

 

Wish I Was Here January 2, 2016

Filed under: Life — vousmeoui @ 5:20 am

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“One night,” he told me

“But that is not enough ti-”

“One night,” he repeated.

Then with the snap of his finger,

I began to tumble down to the earth,

Swirling, and twirling through space,

Back to the place I had called home those short fifty years.

Within an instant I felt solid ground again,

And I was standing outside that old familiar house,

The same sturdy oak tree standing guard in the front yard,

And our lovely round Christmas tree showing off its festive attire in the bay window.

I looked down at my hands and feet,

Yet I only saw the wispy silver outline of my being.

“One night,” I heard the words sail through my mind again.

I walked up the long, narrow driveway,

Which was now occupied by a number of cars of all shapes and sizes.

When I reached the front door of the house I peered inside,

And the image I saw took my breath away.

There they all were,

Laughing, and talking as they celebrated the coming holiday.

My, how they had all grown!

My children, all five of them, were now adults with children of their own.

How much time had passed?

As children, from toddlers to teenagers ran about the house,

I tried to soak in as much of the beautiful celebration as I could.

Then my eyes rested on her,

My beautiful wife, Helen.

She was sitting at the piano playing “Silent Night.”

She had not lost her touch with the grand instrument,

As the soothing melody danced around the room,

And some of the family members joined in as the Christmas choir.

I was taken back to our wedding day,

When after the ceremony she sat down at the piano,

Still in her wedding gown, and we sang “Elmer’s Tune.”

How many more songs we could have sung together,

If that damn bottle hadn’t destroyed me.

I glided through the doorway,

And found myself in the middle of my family.

How much I wanted to wrap my arms around each one of them,

And never let go.

But time proceeded to sail away,

As they all celebrated together, ignorant of my presence.

I continued to move about the room,

Watching my beautiful children,

Desperately longing to be able to say just three words to all of them,

“I love you.”

But I remained mute,

A fly on the wall.

The house had not changed,

As I wished it never would.

Thousands of pictures were placed around the rooms,

So many memories without me in them.

How different life would have been,

Could have been,

If only,

If only.

I continued to watch,

Like a child experiencing the circus for the first time,

Transfixed on every moment.

Watching my grandchildren open presents,

Singing along as some of the family continued to sing carols,

Listening intently as they ate dessert and talked about the past years events.

At one point I wandered through the house into the kitchen,

Searching for my princess, my Tinkerbell.

She was standing in front of the kitchen sink,

Washing some of the leftover dishes from the Christmas meal.

I stood in awe of how much she looked like her mother,

Same gentle face,

The same deep brown eyes that seemed to see the world and beyond.

At one point she stopped washing the dishes, and looked out the small kitchen window into the backyard,

As a multitude of snowflakes fell from the heavy clouds above.

I moved over next to her,

And put my arm around her.

Suddenly she turned her head,

And looked directly at me,

Though I knew it was impossible for her to see me.

But she held her gaze,

Her great eyes searching for something.

After a minute she rubbed her eyes,

And looked out again at the vast field of white behind the house.

I began to shout, “I’m here!  I’m here!”

But my darling daughter Karen,

Unable to hear my cries, just stood there in silence.

I frantically called out to her,

But I made no sound.

I tried to throw the newly polished dishes,

But they remained on the counter undisturbed.

I cried out to the Lord, “Why would you do this to me??”

When I heard my daughter whisper,

“I wish you were here dad.”

I stopped, stunned.

I saw a glistening tear fall from her soft cheek,

And I found I could not move.

The clock began to toll midnight,

And I could feel my body being pulled away.

With one final breath I said,

“I do too, honey.  I love you.”

In that moment she turned and looked right at me,

And I smiled as God pulled back away into the heavens,

Karen tried to reach out to me but I was gone.

That was my Christmas wish,

To be a part of my family one last time,

One last time.

 

The Disease July 15, 2015

Filed under: Life — vousmeoui @ 4:35 pm

My head aches, and my heart gasps. I hold my hand over my soul, taking deep breaths. One, breathe in. Two, breathe out. I know it will pass, it has to. Of all the waves that have overtaken me before, this one seems the greatest. An invisible storm of sorrow and despair encapsulates me, and suddenly I cannot see, I cannot hear. I scream out to the world around me but all that pass are ignorant of my attack. All I can do is wait.

Flashes of memories start to soar through my mind. “No,” I whisper helplessly. But it’s too late. I see his smile, hear his voice, feel his great hand in mine. “Stop,” I breathe out. More faded pictures of when we traveled to New York City together for the first time. Wispy images of snow, and Christmas trees, the warm symphonies of Christmas carols as he wrapped his strong arms about me and whispered, “Merry Christmas, my darling.”

Each portrait of him is like a pierce to my heart. One, when he proposed. Two, opening worn boxes of our belongings in our first very own shoebox apartment. Three, our first child as handsome as his father. Four, holidays together wondering how life could get any better than this. Five, Daddy is sick with a cold.

“I can’t see this again.” I shout in my head, but the wave is coming and I cannot prevent it.

Six, doctor’s telling me my husband has weeks to live.

“Please, no! I can’t live through this again!” I try to close my eyes but they are already shut tight. The pandora’s box has been released, and all I can do is lie helpless.

Seven, a phone call. Hollow ringings that reverberated through the house. I knew before I answered, but I prayed it was a mistake, a dream. I would wake up any minute, and life would be just as wonderful as it had been.

Eight, a crisp sunny fall day draped in black. I remember a preacher, and so many faces giving me their condolences when all I wanted was my husband back.

From then on I lost track of the numbers. Each day was a numb existence as I struggled to find any meaning after losing my best friend, my soul. Friends offered advice, but the words were meaningless blurs that floated through the air. They did not understand, how could they? I was dealing with the disease of loneliness, side effects: despair, depression. I watched as days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months, and months turned into years. How long ago had he died? The wrinkles on my face and hands told me it was long enough. A friend looked me straight in the eyes and said, “One day at a time Betts, just do the next thing. Pick up the pieces of your heart one by one, and you will find the strength you need.”

So here I am, picking up the pieces of my heart each step of the way, and fighting back against that disease. It won’t overtake me, I cannot let it. I’m doing this for you Jim, until I see you again.

 

Oceans Behind Brandy’s Eyes July 12, 2015

Filed under: Life — vousmeoui @ 6:07 pm

Here’s a story that I entered for a small writing contest, most likes on the How We Lost the Moon blog wins. Enjoy!

 

Do Not Enter April 12, 2015

Filed under: Life — vousmeoui @ 10:01 pm

Its ok, I didn’t care that much anyway. But if I was lying about that, how would you know? Oceans seem to now separate what once was good and beautiful, from the reality of the disaster we created. Those precious moments we shared are just a morning mist, so easily extinguished by the rising of the sun. The immovable threshold that I thought was forever mine, is now taken by her. Maybe it was always meant to be this way, but that does not mean it is easy to let go. Funny, it seems so easy for you.

Do you miss me?
Do you ever miss me?
Or am I just a ghost now?
A slight memory. You’ve hung my picture on the wall to collect dust with the others, just adding my portrait to the long line of deceived ones. Together we sit and discuss how good it all used to (seem to) be. How for a short period of time, we were like gods. But life is so cruel, my darling. How could we be so naive?

Instead the house I used to know so well, is now like meeting a stranger. Where I could once enter so freely, now I’m a lamb wandering into a hungry lion’s den. People change, grow up, move, and all I can do is sit and smile and act like I’m not hurt, because it wouldn’t matter if I was anyway. We’ve made our choices, and its funny how all of them were said without a word. So hang the “Do Not Enter” sign on the door, because maybe then I could finally see what you have been too afraid to say all along.