Tuesday, October 25, 2016

This House Believes

For as long as I can remember, my mother had a sign that hung all year long, on our fireplace I think, that said, “This House Believes.”  The sign was for Christmas and Santa obviously, but it never got taken down…I do not really recall when my Mom started leaving “Christmas” decorations out all year but it eventually happened and they just became like all of the other decorations, old reliables…things that didn’t change with her mood…which could be loons, (yes the water fowl,) to country, to modern country, to penguins…you get the idea…there was a theme that changed with her whimsical moods…but one thing never did change…and that was the “This House Believes” sign.

The first Christmas my parents were separated was probably one of the worst ones of my life.  And I believed in nothing.  And I mean nothing.  My heart was breaking for both of them, all of us.  Faith Hill’s song, “Where are you Christmas,” (yes the one from The Grinch) played on an endless loop in my head.  Separate Christmas’ at our age?  This is nuts!  This house believes in crap.  And then, just when I thought it could not get worse, it got so much worse.  Our first Christmas without our father alive.  That Christmas took the cake.  I stopped believing in a lot of things.

There is something that you need to understand about a Cubs fan.  They never stop believing.  And they love the underdog.  And they fight for the little guy.  And they stand up to bullies, because Cub fans have been bullied their whole lives.  Lovable losers just like their team.  Sentimental favorites if for no other reason, they are so pathetic you have to feel sorry for them.  If you stand there and try to tell me differently, I will tell you to stop talking because all of the above is true.  I know of no other sports team in the world with such devoted fans.  Who in their right mind enjoys constantly losing and losing over and over and over and over?  Cubs fans do…because guess what, there was/is always next year.  WE BELIEVED.

First and foremost, whatever the outcome of the 2016 World Series, when the Chicago Cubs earned their right to play in this game, I witnessed something that has never happened as long as I have been alive, and almost that many years before that.  I am about to get candid here if you didn’t already expect that from me.  Here goes…

·        Shut up.  Honest to God shut the Hell up if you are not cheering for the Chicago Cubs tonight, or any night.  Honestly, no one who is cheering for them gives a shit if you are not.  And we do not need you to cheer for them, for us to enjoy the game.  If you don’t want to cheer for your division don’t, but no one cares and I mean no one.  Unless you are a Cleveland Indians fan, and honestly, I don’t know any, but then you should be cheering for them.

·        I don’t give a flying FRICK how many rings you have.  I think they are gaudy and ridiculous.  And I have never measured a man by how many diamonds he has.  Bragging rights, yes, you have earned them.  You did not earn the privilege of shoving them down my throat.

·        Cubs fans will not burn the city of Chicago down as so many of you are hoping for.  They should however make it a state holiday if they do win.  Just saying.

·        History was made by them getting here.  Again, if History is not your thing, I don’t need to hear about it.  Maybe you should direct your focus on math or science, but I am going to sit in this moment in time for as long as I can.  (Preferably only 4 games and preferably the outcome will be favorable.)
·        Making fun of those of us who shed genuine heartfelt tears over this speaks volumes about you, not me.  I enjoy having a heart and showing it.  I live out loud.  Go back to your rocks and crawl back under them.

·        There are a lot of people I love and have loved for my whole life, who are St. Louis Cardinals fans.  Kudos.  I love anyone who BELIEVES in anything.  I don’t care.  I am not.  Never will be.  I know you will never be a Cubs fan.  Doesn’t mean I stop loving you, nor does it mean you remind me that you are.  You BELIEVE what you want to BELIEVE.

·        The Chicago Cubs team that is playing in the World Series that starts tonight has given me something to BELIEVE in again.  Don’t take that away from me with your cocky, arrogant rendition of how many World Series’ you have won.  I don’t care.  I never have.  And I cheered for you when you went.  So you can’t cheer for them because your religion (the Church of Baseball) forbids you?  Great…I find it ironic that your religion doesn’t forbid you to remind us all of this fact.  But that is the thing about religion isn’t it?  We don’t all have to believe in the same things.

·        I am thanking God, Buddha, baby Jesus, the Dalai Lama, the earth shifting its access, global warming, the Pope, my father, Trumps hair, Harry Carey…whoever the hell is responsible for this happening, because it has made this joke of an election seem like yesterday’s news. 

·        Stop comparing this to that one team, or that one time.  It has never happened before in most of our lives, so we cannot compare it to anything, and I mean ANYTHING.

·        Lastly, if you cannot be happy for this team and you cannot be happy for me just being happy, then please just go away.  I mean that in the sweetest most sincerest of ways.  Find me after it is over and so help me God if we do lose, do not say to me that you knew they couldn’t do it, because so help me God, I will punch you in your face.  And I have never punched anyone.

I told Kristina the other day that other than marrying her, there is nothing on this earth I want more than this.  I meant it.  Nothing.  We get asked a lot, (Cubs fans, not Kristina and I,) how we can cheer for a losing team, year after year after year after year.  Because we are not like you that is why.  Nothing hurts us more than when we lose, trust that.  But we accept it and move on and BELIEVE that we will probably win the next game.  We lose a lot so we are genuinely excited and have no expectations; we are just insane with joy that it happened.  Why would someone want to take that away from us?  We got here.  We made it to the “ship!” Let us have this moment and all of these moments.  You don’t have to like it or go along with it or even care about it, but if you don’t, leave it at that.  Just leave it.

All season long my mother has text us and text us one word and one word only.  BELIEVE.  She and Terry watched every game pretty much from start to finish.  I cannot say the same, because when I did they would lose and that made me sad, so I just didn’t watch them.  I only have one thing to say before tonight’s game and one thing only.  I BELIEVE.  And really when it gets down to it, isn’t that what all Cubs fans feel like?  We just BELIEVE.  Believe with us or do not, it matters not to me.  But I can finally say, in regards to my own house…THIS HOUSE BELIEVES.

I wrote a letter to Santa when I was 8 I think, that went like this.  The significance of this letter is that nothing really has changed.  I am still just a girl who’s best team is the Cubs.

So here is my letter to Santa this year. 

Dear Santa,

It is almost Christmas and this year I want a new refrigerator, ours is too small for 2 adults and 3 teenage boys who eat like 6 more adults.

I work with paints and brushes, so I don’t need any of those this year.

I really like football and baseball still.  My two best teams are the Cubs and the Bears.   The Bears are awful this year.  However, you probably already know that the Cubs are in the World Series, so what I really want for Christmas is for them to win it.  But if they don’t that is ok too because they will still always be one of my best teams.

I never thought I would get to write a letter to you at my age.  I am 44 years old and am working full time, all my school is done.

I have a lot of friends.  Period.

Well, good bye.

Your friend, Tiffany Buckman

P.S. Santa?  I BELIEVE.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Carpe Diem

When my father passed away suddenly, unexpectedly, in his sleep one night, my whole entire world turned on its axis.  Tilted if you will.  The thing I remember most about that day, that moment, that section of my life, is that I had never driven my car as fast as it was going, only briefly thinking if I don’t slow down, I won’t make it there alive…but I remember thinking this isn’t real.  This isn’t happening.  I am going to pull into the driveway and they are going to tell me they gave him CPR and he was alive, it was ok.  I didn’t know he had died many hours before.  None of us did.  And very few people know that we did find out the time he had passed, thanks to the miracle of science and a CPap machine.  By the time we realized my father had left this earth, it was over a day too late to save him.  But I also remember thinking; it is way too beautiful of a day for this to be real.  This is a horrible dream, and why are all these people in it.  There was not a cloud in the sky, it was so beautiful blue and the air was perfect, like 75 degrees, and I remember checking the temperature for reasons I will never know. 

The point of this is the following:

The person who drove in to that driveway is not the person that is typing this blog.  She is gone.  And it was not instant…in fact it took several months, because even when you are grieving, you don’t know you are grieving.  I was in a literal fog.  If you have ever lost someone this close to you, you understand.

The girl who drove in to that driveway spent a lot of the days prior to this moment, not living in the moment.  Not doing things I wanted to do, for reasons like: I did not have enough time, I could not miss work, I did not have the money, I was too tired, whatever reason, I had one.  And I spent a lot of time alone.  Not really sure what I was looking for, but I couldn’t find it.  Even after he passed away, I shut myself in my tiny little home and distanced myself from a lot of people because grief is ugly.  It makes you feel ugly.  It makes you sick to your stomach ugly.  And I did not want anyone to see it or me.  A lot of things happened during this time that I wish I had done differently but I do not regret it, because everything teaches us a lesson of some sort, and I do not even wish to go back and re do those things or do them differently, they happened.  They taught me a lot about myself.

Eventually, the darkness cleared and something happened.  Something changed inside of me.  I was no longer putting things off that meant something to me or that I wanted to do.  Opportunities that had always been in front of me were right there again, blaring, TAKE ME, TAKE THIS, DO IT!  And so I did.

Since my father died I have crossed off several bucket list items.  And it is not like I hadn’t done bucket list stuff before, but this time it was different.  This time I felt these things to my core.  LET myself feel again, but good stuff.  Not sad stuff.  And a funny thing happened when I did this…the universe opened up and said, hello Tiffany, we have been waiting for you.  And I finally got the guts (that were 3 years in the making) to talk to Kristina…and I wouldn’t stop talking…I made her listen to me.  Made her SEE me.  I boldly screamed HERE I AM and you are going to love me.  And low and behold she did.  But this blog is not about Kristina and I. 

Some very dear friends of mine have lost their sons to war.  Whether it was in active duty or as a result of a war, they lost them.  And since I will never have my own children, (sorry if I mention that often,) I will never know that kind of loss.  My step father lost his son in an automobile accident.  I cannot conceive the loss a parent feels when their child dies, at any age, for any reason.  I also, have never understood war, in any capacity, I mean I get it, but I don’t.  I don’t understand why we have to send our troops over to fight other countries battles and I may never get that concept as long as I live, I just know that there are men and woman who know or feel like, their sole purpose in life is to defend our freedoms. I do not understand wanting to do that, but I respect and deeply appreciate it.  And I wonder, if when they do go “over there,” are they expecting to come home or do they go every single time scared to death never really knowing that answer?  I mean, I expect they expect they are going to be returned safely?  Or is it just like being here?  Every day, we go through our routines and we do this and we do that and we EXPECT that all will be right in the world and everything we will be status quo, until one day, it just isn’t.

A friend of mine lost his son yesterday in Afghanistan.  He was a fairly newly married young man with two little children.  He was simply doing his job, which per the CNN news article was assisting and training Afghan security services, when a gunman opened fire and took his life.  Just like that, his very short life was extinguished for reasons we will never understand.  And I know that anyone that goes over there understands the magnitude of being there.  It is not safe.  Hell it is not safe in very many places over here anymore either.  I am positive his wife and family EXPECTED he would come home safely.  I did not know him personally, but what I do know is that he was serving his country and proudly.  My heart goes out to his family, friends, children, and his company he was serving with over there, all of them.  Another loss I will never comprehend in my lifetime.

What I do understand is how I am connecting this with my own loss.  Not one single solitary second is promised to us.  Not one.  We are all on borrowed time.  And I have no earthly clue how long my time is but after my own personal loss, I realized I needed to make every single day count.  Am I perfect at this?  Not one bit, but I do try.  I do try to live for the moment, seize the day, wake up in a good place and leave a little piece of happiness in the places I do touch.  My job is following art supplies after they get ordered, from overseas to the warehouse.  And making sure they get out the door.  I do nothing fancy or noteworthy, and I certainly do not protect our country.  My hope though is that I can touch some lives here and there and hope I do so in a way that makes people remember me and do so in a good way.

I cannot comprehend what is happening right now for the this family and I cannot conceive of their loss, but it served as a reminder to myself that we have no idea what tomorrow brings.  Are we doing what we want to do?  Are we proud of it?  Did we tell everyone we love that we loved them today?  Did I see the places and things I wanted to see?  Taste the tastes, feel the feels, and smell the smells?  We get so caught up going through the motions that we forget to live.  Truly live.  And I don’t want to forget and become complacent, I want to lay my head down at the end of the day and know in my heart I am at a great place with my life. 

I hate that one person’s tragedy has to wake me up, and remind me to live.  We shouldn’t need tragedies to remind us, we should just do it.  Live each day like it’s your last.  It isn’t always feasible, but damnit I have to try.  And I have to try harder.  Carpe Diem.

Friday, September 23, 2016

That September Day...

Alan Jackson has a song called “Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning.”  He asks this in the first line of the song and he goes on to say… “That September day.”  Well, there is a day in September, which was not September 11th, where my world did stop turning.  It’s today, September 23.

You have been gone for 3 years today.  3 years.  It feels like it just happened yesterday.  I remember every single heart beat that day.  I had literally posted one of my Questions of the Day and asked the World Wide Web, what they would do if they had one extra hour in the day.  We had no idea you passed quietly in your sleep.  We had no idea that life as we knew it would change forever that most beautiful day in September, and my God, it was beautiful.  I cannot remember a more beautiful day.

How are you Dad?  Sometimes, there is an ache in my heart and it is not like the normal aches, it is like the kind of ache you get when you know someone, somewhere, is missing you, real bad.  And your heart aches back because you cannot fix it or get to them.  I FEEL you missing me.  I FEEL you missing all of us.  And although I know you are at peace where you are, I also know you are sad you had to go.  Actually, I have no idea if you are at peace where you are, I just hope to goodness you are.

So much has changed in the last 3 years Dad.  You would be so proud of your grandchildren, who are no longer children, but grown young adults.  Ethan FINALLY graduated college, I wish you could have seen it…it was such an emotional time for Sister.  Bella is on her last year of college, can you believe that?  The one who hated school?  She has to work so hard to get where she is going, I hope someday life gives her a break.  Dalton is a beast and I mean a beast.  He is probably going to be in strongman competition someday soon and he is so handsome, he is a senior this year Dad, graduating High School!  Kolbie, oh my goodness, you would not recognize how beautiful she is, and a different hair color almost every other week!  She still loves school as much as she always has, not, but she is going to the homecoming dance this year and I am positive you would have raked that young man that is taking her, over the coals before they went.  Brother is doing well, I am so proud of him, you already know why.  I see so much of you in him anymore, it is kind of scary.  Sister works like 4 jobs and I hardly ever see her anymore, but we stay in touch. 

The most important news I have for you is about me.  I don’t even remember the last time I was able to talk about something positive about myself with you, it always felt like I was just going to be faced with many adversities my whole life and I guess I was getting used to just living that way.

Anyway, I am getting married; her name is Kristina.  On a Beach in the Florida Keys.  And most importantly to my best friend.  I never fathomed this day to would come.  Someone I feel like I have already known for a lifetime.    You would love her.  She is originally from Up North, near Green Bay, BOO, but she is smart, she is funny, she is beautiful, she loves me unconditionally, she was a total surprise and by surprise I mean I had been trying for years to get her to pay attention to me, and for whatever reason she finally did.  We work together, I know I know, but it works for us.  She is my car pooler and we have a lot of fun.  She makes me laugh.  A lot. 

She has 3 teenage boys Dad.  THREE!  TEENAGE BOYS.  They eat a lot of food.  And we always never have enough in the house.  They are active and involved in a lot of things so sometimes its major chaos and if you remember me, I don’t do chaos well.  I am not very good at this parenting thing.  Not good at all.  And I am always reminded about the time I was told 3 years ago that I would not be able to have kids and you grabbed my foot and said “they aren’t all they are cracked up to be.”  They are a lot of work.  They are a full time job.  I don’t parent them, as they have parents, I just try to support her and be supportive and it is hard when they push her buttons, to keep my mouth shut and let what happens, happen.  Contrary to popular opinion, she is a damn good mother and its one of the reasons I fell in love with her.

I am saddened to my core that you are not alive to see one of the biggest events in my life.  I can hear you say “Florida, what’s in Florida?”  Well, we both love beaches and hope to someday end up living close to one.  I know you would have made the trip, as you had become quite the world traveler before you passed.  I also know you would have driven me nuts once we got there. 

I am sad you will never know these boys.  I have a feeling you and Brock would have hit it off quite well.  He’s a ladies man and has these huge dimples which usually win people over, but he is quite ornery.  You would have loved all the boys and I would have said good luck getting much out of Drew, he’s the quiet one.  But don’t let that fool you; there is so very much going on in his mind.  You would have loved coming to the basketball games and watching Quinn play, he is amazing and very fun to watch.

There are moments, I cannot breathe without tears rolling down my eyes…and sometimes I just look at Kristina and say, he should be here and she knows what I am talking about.  You see, her father passed suddenly too, it was something we had in common and she gets it, she really gets it.

My health has not been the best, but you know I have fought this since I was 7.  We take one day at a time and Kristina has been a blessing…for the first time in my life, I don’t have to go through things alone.  After you died I took on the motto of getting busy living instead of getting busy dying, but this has made this hard to do sometimes.

Most importantly, I wanted you to know that I am no longer alone.  43 years…was a long lonely time.  She fills and continues to fill, all of the empty spaces.  She lets me be me, and honors and respects who I am.

I finally published my book and I finally made it to see Adele.  Never mind who she is, it was a great concert.  This year alone, I have been to Mexico, California, Wisconsin and Minnesota.  Collecting memories not things.  We get a lot of grief about our travels, but if I die tomorrow, I sure as hell am not going to care about people who think I travel too much.

September is so hard for me.  On so many levels for so many reasons, but today, on the day we found out our father was gone, I try to take a moment and tell myself that I need to live life to the fullest.  To embrace all the good days and bad days because at least I still have the days.  I know we don’t tell the people we love that we love them enough.  I know we get caught up in the nonsense of life…
I am glad you are not here to see what the world is becoming, everyone hates everyone.  It is so sad.  Donald Trump could be our next President for the love of God, which you would absolutely love.  And you would love telling Crooked Hillary jokes…all day long; to whoever would listen to them.  God you would love it.  I don’t want either one of them running our country but I can assure you that if Donald wins, the world will never be the same.

I do not know where you are, or what you are doing today, I just hope you don’t have to relive what happened like we do.  I hope you are happy, laughing, fishing, and telling stupid jokes, whatever it is that makes that ache a little less today.  And wherever you are, I hope you know that I am finally, for the first time in my life, deeply loved.  And it feels amazing.

I love and miss you so very much.