she is soft and hard

“Well she is your daughter,” said my friend Lisa as we talked yet again about my girl Hannah – a 35 year old woman trapped in a 17 year old body. It’s true, I knew it when she said it. I know it now. Hannah is an old soul, wise beyond her years, and has experienced pain and loss already – by age 15 – that some never experience in their whole life.

How do you protect and nurture a child who does not believe herself to be a child or need help? The answer is, you don’t. She must determine that she needs and wants the help. She must learn how to ask for help. She must suffer until she no longer wants to suffer. She must walk alone, on her own, feeling that no one can help her but herself. And then one day, once she realizes that no one actually does everything on their own. She will reappear. Ready for help. Wanting to walk together. Hoping someone is still there to show her the way. And I will be there. I will always be there. Waiting for her to come back to me.




How did you do it? I miss you so much.

Hey babe As I lay here in bed this morning hurting from my mastectomy it makes me think about you and that I have no idea how you endured the amount of pain that you had all these years. I don’t know if I can handle this kind of pain all day or even all week I’m Googling everything that there is to see what Pain killer combinations are allowed with each other and trying to think of different ways to get comfortable in the bed and the sofa and the chair – anywhere – and nothing’s helping. ack! If you were here I know you would have all the answers. 

It makes me think about you so often just the amount of years that you struggled with your pain how you persevered how you read and learned about drugs about your disease about ways to manage. Makes me remember all the changes you made in your life style. your exercising, no more drive-thrus, no more Fried Chicken, no more bourbon or cigars… things that you truly truly loveD as a human! You cut those out which tells me that the pain must have been so great to be able to cut things like that out of your life but you never gave up. I have no idea why… I like to Hope and think that it’s because you loved me and Hannah and wanted to be around as much as you could without feeling miserable. And that is probably somewhat true and I know you’ve even told me that at times and so have others… but I also think there was something else deep inside of you something that a lot of people don’t have. it’s maybe perseverance? Maybe it’s determination or some sort of will to live that not everyone in the world has.

 I do know this: your ability to fight the disease you had for the years that you did is nothing short of phenomenal and everyday I think about you I’m proud of you. I’m proud that I knew you, I’m grateful that I love you, I’m happy that you are part of my family and that Hannah has you for a dad. All of those things are real and still present in our lives. Those do not Exist only in the past tense. They will live forever in my heart and the hearts of everyone who knew you and is loved by you.

 I do selfishly wish that you were here with me now, physically, so that you could hold my hand and tell me bad jokes about my boobs or the lack thereof of them and bring me pills and make me ice packs and do all the things that I know you would do for me. 

I wish you were here to talk to Hannah and to help manage Laura and all their stresses because you always did such a good job  making sure those two were as cared and loved for as I was. You also would communicate with all my friends and all of our family and tell them everything was going to be ok. You would be making me soup and peanutbutter crackers and bringing me Hershey Kisses or mnm’s with peanut butter. You would be reading all of the directions online and in the packets and telling me all the things that we have to do for me to get better. You would be bathing me and wrapping me up in towels and putting lotion on my back and combing my hair… and I would let you willingly because I love you I’ve never felt more cared for buy a human and I did when I was with you.

  I loved taking care of you as well. Even on my hardest days of your care I was grateful to have you in my life.  when I looked at your face saw all the Gratitude in your eyes I knew that every second was worth it even the hard parts. That gratitude wasn’t always easy to see sometimes… often it was hidden behind Pain and guilt and frustration but it was there none the less and you loved me and told me that every day – multiple times a day. Often, you even thanked me for caring for you which would make me mad and I would tell you to stop saying things like that because why wouldn’t I take care of you of course I would take care of you and that you would take care of me the same way if I ever needed you! And you would nod your head in silence and hold back tears bc you hated to cry, yet cried all the time there towards the end…and then we would keep going about whatever it was that was happening in that moment – and those emotions would pass and maybe even go unacknowledged, but we bot knew they were there and felt the deep connection that only comes from two people loving each other through something as deeply sad and yet comforting as caring for eachother in a time of need.

 And now here I am and I need you to take care of me and you’re not here and the sadness is overwhelming. I do know that every word, thought and need I could conjure up would be getting met by you for sure. And while that brings me solace, I do wish that you could be here in real life. Just a word, a touch or a feeling of you in another room would be like winning every lottery, sport, election, sale or competition that existed on the planet, all at once. 

  I do know this so many times over the last few days and even the last few months. I have felt you near me. Thank you for being there in the pre-op room early Monday morning while I laid there waiting my turn. I was scared, but you were there. Thank you for reminding me to ask for the things I needed without guilt from the wonderful ppl in the hospital, I was nervous, but you said – just ask – because you were there. Thank you for helping me find the smiles, hugs and strength to see and talk to all our familiar faces from ICU who came to visit me yesterday, I felt like I would crumble, but you were there and gave me strength. Thank you for helping me talk to Hannah with the right words and at the right time, I feared i would make everything worse, but you gave me strength and you were there. Thank you for sending me new strength in the form of new faces and friends. They love you and I both, and are here for us. Which i feel, make you here in my life in a real way as well. Not a way that diminishes your presence in spirit, but instead, extends you beyond whatever reach you could of had without them. 

Thank you for all of it. Every second, moment, breath, and tear. I love you and will love you deeply, truly and wholly for as long as you allow me. Just please keep coming around for as long as you are able and in whatever manner you are willing to give. 

It Cannot Be. It Can Only Be.

It cannot be that I am struggling again. It cannot be real. This cannot be happening. My head cannot wrap itself around the reality of my world these days. So much stress, yet so much love and laughter. How is it that I always feel so much of both, so often, so close together- even in the same space.

Some people are extremists in their physical adventures, I am an extremist in emotional adventures. Why can’t things just calm down? I dont know, maybe I dont want them to. Maybe I love the chaos and the feelings of those extremes. Could things ever be normal though? I am guessing, the answer is yes, and no. 

Sometimes when it is the darkest I truly believe it can only ever be this way. Then I take a deep breath and remember all the good. All the happy. The people, the love, the success and I remember that there is a way through, but I just cannot see it right now. I am trying but sometimes you just have to stop trying and invite help and inspiration from outside yourself.

 Do you control your universe or does it control you? I think that is a great question and I also think the answer to it is: YES. Yes, you can control and impact your world in meaningful ways. And yes, the world sometimes impacts you in ways never imagined.

I am praying and meditating daily to our universe, God, our spiritual bodies that guide change throughout our lives and I am asking for them to guide me, too. I feel powerless these days. I feel I have given it a good fight and I just can’t keep managing everything coming my way on my own anymore. I guess I did not know I was trying to fight this path alone. I always felt I had help, and was asking for help when needed. But maybe I was asking in the wrong places, or for the wrong things. Asking for help about specific things is not the answer. Asking for help with your ability to see the answers and paths surrounding you might be the better way. 

So if powers greater than me are going to keep sending emotional adventures my way, then I will ask them to manage me through. This is what it is. This is the reality of where I am, in this moment in time…so my best bet is to invite help from greater powers than me to help see me through. 

I sometimes think of a challeng in life like a knot you can’t get out of a tiny chain…the more you force it the tighter and more complicated it gets….however, once you relax and breathe and allow space and the air around it to have an effect, the chain opens up and you can start seeing the path that will allow it to become untangled. 

So did you actually untangle that chain or was that the space and world around you that allowed that to happen? Again, I believe the answer to that is: YES. 

So I say YES to the space around me, and YES to the help from the universe, and YES to the path opening up before me until I find myself untangled and in the right place, even if just for a moment. 

Yes. Yes. Yes. 

Themes for my stories moving forward. 

#deathwarmedover – conversations related to dying and grieving loss.

#dreamingwhileawake – my crazy dreams and what I think they mean.

#boobalicious – thoughts about my boobs, body, and health in general.

#shespeaks – parenting a teenage daughter. No more words needed here.

#conversationswE – I talk to Erich a lot. Send him notes, posts etc…. These are them.

#MoMo’ed – work life balance is a bunch of BS. This covers work, friendships, family, and the daily grind of it all….

#greaterthanfiction – my fiction work, poems, short stories etc. Hopefully it spills over from some of the other tags.

Things I would do and Erich would laugh (sometimes on purpose)

Erich Laughing


Everyone loved to hear my husbands big ‘ole belly laugh. Including me.

It was pure joy and happiness caught up inside a baritone bark, complete with a head tilt and eyes to the sky dance move that would easily have given Elaine a run for her money on the dance floor.

The last few years, as his pain grew stronger, that laugh grew weaker. It did not disappear – but it did get smaller. More restrained. Controlled.

You see, unfortunately the less laughter, the less pain in his head. And his main job at the time was keeping the pain and pressure off his brain at all times…. so the laugh did not leave us but it did change.

I admit I missed it so much that every once in awhile I would go out of my way to try and elicit one of those old school belly laughs.

Fortunately it was not that hard – I knew all his buttons – the good ones (the bad ones are for another post)!

Here were a few fun things that I would do to get a chuckle from Chesnutt: (sometimes on purpose – sometimes to my delight – without even trying).

– Try and fake out the animals that I was still asleep – even though they could hear my “awake” breathing under the covers/pillows. (Erich’s subsequent laughing would then of course, completely give us away).

– Run for garbage and/or recycle guys with additional items to add to their pick up (usually in my pjs and hair all a mess).

– Cook anything. especially something that called for cream of chicken.

– Sing and dance to The Voice

– Yell at the TV when ANY sporting event or political show was on (regardless of having even the least bit of interest in the sport, team, topic etc)

– Occasionally refuse to get dressed or off the couch for 24-48 hours (and watch bad TV and read for hours) – But then run like a little girl to our room anytime the doorbell would ring and make him answer it.

– Make him pack the car for a trip and then repack the car while cussing… every. single. time.* *Note this may appear on a future list about how to push Erich’s “bad” buttons as well. The laughing and jokes only came about 30-45 minutes into our trip…

– Chase Steve (the cat) with the laser light and cause a dog/cat war on who was going to catch that damn light.

– Sing in the shower.

– Step on Albin (our dumb, and always under my feet, youngest schnauzer).

– Harass Hannah and tease her about something that we knew she would get crazy irrational about… but kept on telling her it was going to happen anyway until she slammed a door or yelled at us… 🙂 hehehe

– Trip, fall or bump into _________ (insert ANY inanimate object here). I am pretty sure there are meme’s showing me doing this from security footage at work, as well as multiple nicknames for me from people we know – one nickname that I am ok with is “Grace.” Regardless Erich always found my pain to be funny – so wrong.

– My ability to lose any tool that helped me recover from the above listing – aka crutches, bandages, ice packs etc that would immediately go missing inside our house the moment I needed them. Also, the infamous boot/shoe that he named “DAS BOOT” and decorated with a sharpie by adding that name and each reason I ended up wearing it (I’m pretty sure I wore that at least 4 times in the first 6 years we were married).

– The number of times I would have to run back inside in the mornings after I “left”.

– My imitations of the animals voices and the nicknames that the animals gave us (Albin’s were all sourced from the KFC menu).

– Me and Hannah fighting about anything…(these were moments where I would NOT be pleased he was laughing but secretly enjoy it).

– Get scared during ANY movie we went to and at some point jump and scream in my seat (this also applies to all the cartoon movies we took Hannah to).

– Insert the word “cry” for scared to the above statement; remove jumping and screaming, add snort laughing.

– Make a list of 27 things we were going to accomplish on a Saturday or Sunday and then sit on the porch reveling at its beauty while drinking coffee and reading paper for 4 hours; Then run around house like a crazy person for rest of day trying to get 5 of the 27 things done on the list.

– Try to thumb wrestle him – (it’s always ended differently than I imagined).

-Try to sneak off with a “one kiss goodbye” – He always caught me – and got his other two – He was a 3 kiss kinda man…

That third kiss was always given with a smile, an “I love you” and a laugh… I remember the third kiss the most – which is why he gave them. And probably why I loved his laugh so much.

13 months.

Excitement. Fear. Hope. Frustration. Terror. Relief. Guilt. Anger. Love. Concern. Pain. Anguish. Mercy. Peace. Misery. Resolution. Nothing.


Those are all feelings that have fought their way to the front line of my life over the last 13 months. Depending on the situation Love or Anguish could be the winner of the day. I guess the good news about my emotional state was, like they say about the weather in VA, if you don’t like it, just wait a moment and it will change.

The one thing I did not think would bother me was the latest emotional gift…or rather lack of emotion… the feeling of Nothing. It is strange and slightly jarring to feel Nothing at all. You think back to all those times when so many emotions were running all over your body like trains on train tracks and remember how much you wished for some of those emotions and feelings to go away. But the scary thing is that when you do actually get to a place where you feel nothing, you immediately want to go back and jump onto those tracks. Nothing is not good. Nothing is quiet. Nothing is disturbing to others. Nothing is a defensive tactic that surly is masking something else deeper inside. Or at least I hope that is the case. Nothing is an insult to the memory of the person you loved.

It is good and right to feel love, anguish, sadness and pain. It is bad to feel nothing.

I will sit and wait in my Nothingness until the pain returns and that will give me hope which will lead me to a new place. Where there is something not nothing.


I asked my friend-averse to send me some inspiration to help me get balance back into my health/life and this is what I got back….

I asked my friends to send me some inspiration to help me get balance back into my health/life and this is what one friend sent me back. It’s amazingly touching and simple and lovely and funny… just like the girl who sent it. I thought I would share with all my friends and loved ones because… well… I love ya 🙂 You may not agree with all of them but I thought the pretense was great. Live Simply, Laugh Daily, Love Wholly – isn’t that how the saying goes?

1. Pray every day (to what, “God”, or whomever u choose- the spirit of LoVe). be grateful/thankful and ask for help
w whatever u need.
2. Drink water. in the morning especially, but drink water (not out of plastic bottles) all day or at least several small glasses a day. spice it up w herbs/citrus/etc for added nutrients. Do not drink any form..ever. Try to limit juice, but when u do..go for 100%juices or as close. Drink
less coffee too. coconut water yummy and hydrating and great fr u!
3. Walk. Park further away, take th stairs, and walk th nearest long beach much as possible (couple times a wk?)
4. Swim when/if u can (once a wk?) or ride a bike.
5. Take a yoga or Pilates class at least once a week or make Breathing properly (belly breathing) a thought about, intentional habit u practice several times a day.
6. Do kiegals (sp?),squeeze ur buttocks, or have sex often;). Dancing in any form is great..and live concerts rock!
7. Smile. At ur strangers. And always hold the door for people.
8. Get some good ole vitamin D via the Sun..10 min a day or one whole day, preferable at the beach, per wk.
9. Buy local, organic, whole, raw or live foods whenever possible..and eat them..all day long. Never eat fast food. It’s just not worth it.
10. Drink less beer and less alcohol in general. No tobacco products! Smoke a doobie to relax, preferably through a bong or vaporizer.
11.*Bonus..Never text while driving. Put ur phone away and drive.

Found an old column from 2009 on Husband vs. Best Friend relationship…

I liked where I was going with this…. decided to share it as is… enjoy! 🙂

What do you think? Should your spouse/significant other be your Best Friend?


We All Need a Few Best Friends

By Mary McChesney



I have been pondering something a relative said to me the other day.


“Your husband should be your best friend,” She quipped through my cell phone.


I thought about this for a long time after we hung up.  And now, weeks later I am still considering that statement and its accurateness.
The person you choose to “spend the rest of your life with” should certainly be someone you like and someone you consider your friend.  At the same time does that person have to be your “best friend?”


If you only relied on your husband for everything it would put a lot of pressure on one person to fulfill so many different needs for you. They are already the person you are in love with and intimate with, the person you raise a family with, and the person you probably invest the most money and trust with. They are your business partner (co-CEO’s of your household), and yes your friend. However it is not fair to make them your only friend – you must have another well to pull from when it comes to your social life and so should they.


Katie Payne, reporter at the Artesian Herald, thinks every woman should have at least 5 best friends. She categorizes them into different needs you have at different times and that makes good sense to me. Her top 5 best friends are “The Uplifter, The Travel Buddy, The Truth Teller, The Girl Who Just Wants to Have Fun, and The Unlikely Friend.”


The explanations for these friends is probably self-explanatory, but just to be clear Payne details the descriptions and expectations of these friends in her Jan. 28, 2008 article titled: “The Five Best Friends a Woman Should Have.” 


Now maybe for other women their top 5 fall into different categories than Payne’s but I  am sure every woman you know could give you 5 other people who they felt were a “Best Friend” and the different role that person plays in their life!

I think relying on only one person to give you the emotional, mental and physical support a human being needs will only set you up for disappointment.


Others may disagree.


A quick perusal of a few chatting sites such as Yahoo, Answer Bag, My Lot, Redbook, and Buzzle showed me that most people when asked about this topic felt that your husband should indeed be your best friend.


One writer even said that if your husband was not your best friend then your marriage was doomed – ouch – quick call the attorney!


Most of the opinions I found claimed to cherish this singular and idealistic unity with their significant others.  Ironically in almost the same breath – every one of them went on to say that other friends were important and necessary for a well balanced life.


So I concede that of course your husband should be your friend and in some aspects of your relationship he will be closer to you than anyone else.  However just because you have a level of intimacy with him in some things does not mean you should then put all your other emotional eggs into his basket.


So relative who shall remain unnamed, lighten up, and give your poor over-extended hubby a break.  He already fulfills a lot of things for you in your life.  You don’t go to your girlfriends for foot rubs and romantic dinners so why go to your husband for retail therapy, work drama and gossip sessions?


If you think about it she has already proven my point anyway by simply making the phone call to me to talk about her issues in the first place!


At the end of the day husbands and can be your friends, but your best friends are  who help you keep your husband and your sanity.



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