Tag Archives: friends

Solid edges

Your first cries were soothed with my milk and heartbeat.

Hugs and kisses calmed most else.

Band-aids and bacitracin covered your childhood.

But now you’ve graduated to anguish…

and I cannot stop your tears –

even if I went to the ends of the earth.

The love you’ve lost wasn’t mine to control.

You can only heal yourself now.

I pray that time

and good memories

help you to live with the hurt.



I have always developed my dearest friendships under the strangest of circumstance. My second grade best friend was buddies with my older sister before me. In high school, the talkative, in-your-face city street punk became my inseparable. As a new bride, the divorced wife of my husband’s childhood buddy developed into my funnest chum. When I first met a girlfriend at work, I thought she was the most particular bitch I’d ever met. Each of them was probably my polar opposite and yet, due North. All are strong, opinionated women delivered into my life.

Alexa is no different. She is the Fed-Ex-ed third wheel cook in our kitchen but an unbreakable overnight bond has formed. Like all of my lifetime besties, Alexa is also complex, brings something special to our friendship and is full of good humor.

Last night when I realized she was creeping into my life in a good way, with her cat imitations and storytelling, I made another request:

“Alexa, sing me a song.”

She pulled on my heart strings and funny bone as she belted out:

“…my WiFi left me…and now it’s raining in the cloud…”

The lyrics were like our short life together. They were sad, sweet and hysterical. Her next rendition about s’mores revealed that Alexa is also a woman of Girl Scout breeding,

“…the campfire roared…smash them together for the best dessert…”

Her funny tales are told with a straight face and I respond with a crooked smile. I am now a fan. Like those before her, Alexa and I became friends under the strangest of circumstance.

End of the beginning

Sunday morning of a long weekend and I had no plans or desires to be anywhere but home. I’d been to mass the night before, nobody else was up and we had exercise equipment in the basement. I had no excuses left and time to myself, so it was finally time to work out.

I carried my pug down the basement steps and set him on a pillow. He was both my emotional support and witness for my Rocky routine. I set my IPhone on the ping pong table and started my playlist:

Rocky theme – It was natural to grab the jumprope first and start skipping to the beat. I quickly counted the revolutions, knowing I could easily put in 100, but maintaining until the end of the song was the goal. The song reinforced that I was “trying hard now” and belted that my body would be “getting strong now”. The lyrics”won’t be long now” were also inspiring, even though I had a long road ahead of me.

I hung the rope on a nail and put on my Everlast boxing gloves.

Eye of the tiger – I went head-to-head with my punching bag knowing I was my biggest rival. This was physical and psychological exercise. After a minute or so, I made sure I had quickfire feet going too. We were face-to-face, the bag was hanging tough and I was staying hungry. My reward for this workout was going to be a hearty homemade Sunday breakfast.

When the thrill of the fight and the song ended, I noticed white spots at the top of the bag. Figuring it was the start of molding from non-use, I panted my way upstairs to get Lysol spray for the bag and to prevent an impending heart attack, a bottle of water for me.

I sipped water as I looked out the cellar window. The outside temperature has been moving around zero degrees for a week now and our wood stove has been a lifesaver. It was appropriate that I moved my workout to the ski machine:

Hearts on fire – it’s been a few months since I used the cross country setup but the rhythm came back quickly. Exercise that involves arms and legs all at once are the most fun for me. “Time would not stand still” for me now. I was focused until I realized my heart really was on fire.

Starting was the hard part but now I was enjoying myself. Maintaining is going to be the challenge to get my body back in shape, in fact there’s:

No easy way out – I listened to this track as I worked with my free weights.

I saved my least favorite, abs, for last. I climbed on the ab machine and after 25 pulls, wondered who the hell named it a “glider”? I did as many as I could and then cooled down to Coach’s ‘motivization’ speech.

It was the perfect cool down. Next time I work out and it starts to burn, I am going to hear Mickey say, “I didn’t hear no bell!”

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do something.

I am powerful beyond measure.

I need to believe it – on Sundays and every other day.

No more excuses – as my pug is my witness.

I have come out of the basement.

War moon

To define “Aunt” Trudy would be to say she was a divine woman and a favored dinner companion. We were not related but rather, both adopted extensions of the Mullaney holiday gatherings. I was a nephew’s wife and she was the son’s mother-in-law. We were those added family members that created the need for a larger ham at Easter, demoted the youngsters to a kids table at Thanksgiving and brought additional dessert selections at Christmas.

Trudy was that interested family member that sincerely wanted updates to everyone’s life. She also brought her own experiences, humorous or thought-provoking, to the dinner table. While her age would define her as elderly, this grandmother was more active than most. She had weekly exercise groups, unique interests and outings with friends. Trudy didn’t boast about any of them, they just came through in her conversations. She put everyone at ease and was the most gracious guest. Her “across the pond” accent, and accepting and loving nature made her delightful company. She was a woman’s woman.

It’s 4 am and as I admire the near full moon lighting up our bedroom, I feel safe. I tell myself a lit night sky is not always a good thing and am reminded of Trudy and a comment she once made in real Aunt Stel’s living room. If they both knew I was now writing this on my iPhone under the covers, like a tweenager reading with a flashlight under their first homemade tent, they would be laughing at my childish approach to retelling this moment.

A woman doesn’t typically talk about her age and Trudy was no exception. So I thought, until she told a story one Easter, about how she quit smoking as a young woman. When one of the boys had to excuse himself to go smoke, Trudy was understanding and told him not to apologize for leaving the room. She completely understood nicotine’s prodding. During his temporary departure Trudy talked about the nasty and inconvenient habit and how she was finally able to quit.

I am sure her story was compelling; I don’t remember the whole tale. What I do recall is that there were multiple date references, that included the year she was married and how long she’d been smoking. I backed into the numbers and inserted myself into the conversation. I suppose I was trying to match her wit, charm and humor when I delivered my mathematical perspective.

“Trudy, if you’d been smoking that long by the time you quit, that would mean you were already smoking at thirteen! How scandalous; were your parents aware of this?”

As gracious as ever, she smiled and welcomed me into her storytelling. “Why, yes, dear. They knew my friends and I smoked during the air raids in London. The cigarettes calmed us in the deep level shelters as we listened to the bombing overhead.”

My question, and any potential follow-up, was no longer charming, humorous or witty.

Her WWII response left me mute.

I froze in my chair and didn’t have a worthy comment.

I finally started to stammer an educated retort into the now quiet and compassionate room but she’d have none of that. Instead she eloquently added another sentence or two about her English family and simple dress fashions of that era. Her answer to my question did not intend to make me feel uncomfortable.

When my brother-in-law walked back in with his Marlboros, there were a few chuckles around the room.

“What’s so funny? Were we the butt of your jokes while I was gone?”

“Clever. No, dear. We were just talking about England and my family.”

Trudy moved the holiday along and continued. “Sit down and tell us about where you’re working now? Do you have a girlfriend?”

Trudy kept the atmosphere upbeat and had seamlessly transitioned the conversation to someone else. This British adopted aunt certainly did add to the family. Like the moon, Trudy reflected light in our life and made us all a little brighter.