A Birthday Wish (A 500 Word Story)

“This is the last bottle I have of our usual drink. It’s near impossible to find.” I pulled a bottle of liquor from my canvas bag. The midday sun made it shine like amber. “You never told me where you got your stash. Although, knowing you, you probably had a special contact in the Old Country.”

I smiled, laughing to myself. Then, one hand holding the bottle’s neck and the other stuffed in the bag, I paused. If I stopped to think about it, it would’ve been just like Grandpa to have a contact shipping him crates of the stuff, specially ordered and stashed away for holidays, birthdays, and special occasions. I laughed again, taking two shot glasses from my bag.

The warmth of July hung stiff in the air. It enveloped me like a heated blanket, making me sweat in places I didn’t even know I could sweat. Or, better yet, it encircled me like one of his giant, heartfelt bear hugs.

“Okay,” I said, filling the two shot glasses. “What would you like to toast to this year?”

I sat in the grass, staring down at the headstone. His name stared back like two unblinking eyes.

“Well, don’t hurt yourself by thinking too hard. Let’s toast to you, for all the times we’ve shared together. Even the ones we’ve spent here.”

I picked up one of the glasses and placed it directly in front of the headstone. With my other hand, I grabbed the second glass.

“Cheers,” I said. “Or better yet, į sveikatą.” I tossed back the liquor. It burned my lips, my mouth, my throat – with the sweet taste of honey – until it sat warmly in my stomach.

I took the other glass and poured the golden liquid into the grass.

“You know, one day you’re going to get me in trouble. I don’t think people are allowed to drink in a cemetery.” I laughed, nestling the glass in a patch of grass. “Even in the afterlife you still have the potential to get me into trouble.” I shook my head, smiling. “But Grandma just had to take one look at your face and knew you were the guilty one.”

I opened the bottled, filling the shot glasses. “I know we usually only do one of these, but this year’s a special birthday.”

A light breeze blew like a breath blowing out candles.

“What would you wish for if you were here?”

Another breeze rustled the leaves of trees like a whisper, gently bent the blades of grass like footsteps. It tossed my bangs and brushed along my cheeks. And, I swear, it felt more like the soft touch of a hand, reminding me of how he loved me in this life.

“It’s okay, if you don’t want to tell me. What could you even want after 100 years?”

I downed the liquor, poured his into the grass.

“Aš tave myliu,” I said with a smile. “If it was my birthday, I’d wish for you.”

An Unlikely Sanctuary

Of all the places in this would I could call sanctuary, I never thought a cemetery would be on the list.

But here I am – not only going back, but wanting to go back.

When I was a child, I didn’t like cemeteries (for all the obvious reasons). We also called them by a different name – graveyards – which for some reason sounds a lot more eerie. So, basically, I never set foot in these graveyards, scared of all the obvious things that are heard of in stories and seen in horror films and for the simply fact I didn’t like that they were filled with dead people. (Mom and Grandma always told me it wasn’t the dead ones I had to worry about and, now that I’m older, I know exactly what they meant. But back then, as a child, I didn’t understand. The only thing I really understood was that the ground in a graveyard was filled with dead people.)

All that’s different now – my thoughts and feelings toward cemeteries.

I’m not sure at what point things changed, but I see things differently now that I’m older.

Maybe I simply grew up. Maybe at some point we all just grow up and our thoughts and feelings toward certain things change.

I now find a certain tranquility to cemeteries. There’s a quietness that comes over them, but not an eerie quiet, a peaceful quiet.

I was there in the spring – the cemetery where my grandparents now rest. There passing is so recent, though it’s been months, that they still have no headstone. But I was able to find them. Maybe it’s because I remembered exactly where they are now. Maybe it’s because the grass has yet to blanket the earth that covers them. Or, maybe, even in death, we’re still that close and that connected.

My grandparents are buried up on a little hill. (Grandma always said she didn’t want to be buried at the bottom of the hill because she didn’t want the rain runoff to flood her plot and drown her. Yes, she had an interesting sense of humor when it came to her passing. Some might call it dark. I don’t. I think she knew one day she’d leave this world and go to Heaven and be with her Savoir and, therefore, wasn’t afraid of it. Yes, she had a faith I admired…that I still admire.)

But I digress.

So…my grandparents are buried up on a little hill.

When I visited them in the spring I brought some flowers – yellow because Grandma was always so bright and cheery and red because that was Grandpa’s favorite color. I put the flowers in holders and stuck them into the ground. Then I collected some small rocks from the dirt that covers them and built a crucifix. Afterwards, I just stood there, talking to them as if they were still alive. And as strange as it might sounds…I know they heard me.

I never in my life thought I’d find myself wanting to spend time in a cemetery, but I find it’s a strange sort of sanctuary when life gets tough. It’s like visiting them at their home…only this is a much different sort of home. Some people might find it ridiculous, but I believe this is a place I’ll always want to go back to no matter where life takes me. (My grandparents and I were freakishly close.) And it’s now the only true, physical, place where I can, in a sense, be physically alone with my grandparents.

Dear Military Wives… (Part II)

Dear Military Wives,

How do you do it?

Again, here I am, asking you – how do you do it?

Please don’t say it’s something you get used to…because I’m fairly certain it’s not.

In the time my fiancé and I have been together we’ve spent more time apart than we have together. At first, it was difficult, obviously, but I learned to be okay and to survive on my own. (And I wasn’t completely alone because I had my family.) I learned that time passes, life goes on, and, eventually, we’d be together again. (And we were…for about a month.) But now…now it’s just wearing. Not that it wasn’t before. But I feel it more than ever now. And it’s wearing on me in so many ways.

So, how do you do it?

How do you spend all this time apart?

How do you spend all this time apart and keep your relationship going?

And please don’t say it’s just something you do because you have to, because you have no choice.

The truth is…I suddenly understand why the divorce rate among military couples seems to be so high. I suddenly understand why some of our men and woman have been married multiple times.

It’s clear to me that this life isn’t for everyone. I truly believe it takes a special kind of person to be a military wife (or, you know, a military spouse.)

And I truly believe it takes a special type of bond to keep those two people together.

There was a time, when I was younger, I believed that love could conquer all things. And I still do. I mean, there’s a reason I haven’t walked away. (Even though there’s so many reasons why I easily could…if I really wanted to.) There’s a reason I’m still here – supporting him, loving him, living this crazy life with him – even though, honestly, I’ve grown tired of this military life a long time ago.

Still…

I love him.

And…

Somedays are good. Somedays are bad. Somedays I’m happy where I am. Somedays I want to go running down the street screaming.

Somedays, no matter how I’m feeling, I just feel alone. I’ve uprooted my life, left my family, changed almost everything, put the things I love to do on-hold – all for him, all so we can be together. But, somedays, I just feel alone. And even though we have each other we’ve still spent more time apart than together, so, somedays, I just feel alone.

And I could so easily walk away.

Anyone in any relationship can easily walk away at any point in time.

But…

Still…

I love him.

I think there’s a balance to things. Somewhere, out there, in this life or in the universe, there’s a balance to things. Maybe that’s just life – taking the bad with the good, weighing each situation and their possible outcomes, sticking with it if it seems worth it, having faith it will all work out in the end.

So, how do you do it? How do you spend significant time apart and keep a relationship going?

I have absolutely no idea. I don’t even know if there’s a real answer to this or if all these questions are simply rhetorical. But, somehow, we’ve managed to do it so far. I think we’ve done a good job so far too.

And…I suppose…I know…it all comes down to having faith everything will work out in the end and…love.

Sincerely,

A Future Military Wife

Please click here to read Part I of Dear Military Wives…

Moonlit Nights

breathe you in
be my oxygen
as we share breath under the moonlight
trace my skin
all my hills and valleys
all my imperfections
perfect in your eyes
feel your warmth
on my skin
flesh pressed against mine
soft as silk
we move together
once again the world falling away

Happy Birthday My Dear Angel

It’s only been a few months, but it feels like forever.

The void she left when she passed is undeniable. (The void left when anyone has a loved one pass is undeniable.) Although, to me, it feels more like a fisher or an abyss than a void. Or maybe they’re really all the same thing…a meaning for a dark, seemingly endless space. Whatever it’s called, she left such an impact in my life that, now, I can feel the space she left behind.

And it’s strange to think how she’s dead, when she was so full of life.

My sweet grandma…

She was beautiful – inside and out…

I see and feel her in so many parts of my life…

And I often think of her…

Today would’ve been her 92nd birthday.

I tried so hard to write a poem or a short story or something to honor her, but the words wouldn’t come. Maybe it was because I was trying too hard. Maybe it was because there’s too many things I could say, too many things I want to say. Or maybe it’s because the proper words can rarely be found to honor our loved ones once they pass. Whatever the reason, the words wouldn’t come.

Then again, maybe this, these words, are what I was meant to write.

I don’t know.

There’s so much I don’t know.

But I miss her so much. For so many reasons, I miss her.

And for all the things I don’t know there is one thing I do know and it is this…Grandma is up in Heaven. And if there was ever a woman who deserved wings once she passed on, my grandma is that woman. So, I’m absolutely certain that Grandma has received her angel wings and, is not only an angle, but my Guardian Angel.

Happy Birthday, Grandma.

I will always love you.

Lovebugs (A Continuation)

Several years ago, my grandpa told me a story.

He told me lots of stories, my whole life.

He was always sharing stories.

But the story I’m referring to is a specific one. It’s the story about lovebugs.

I remember that day. He was staying at a rehab/physical therapy center after suffering a horrible fall. Despite his situation, he didn’t seem deterred – his spirits were up. So, he was helped out of bed and into his wheelchair and then it was just the two of us.

I’m not sure how we landed on the topic of lovebugs, but there was never any true reasoning for how or why we jumped from one topic to the other. We were always simply swept up in the tides of conversation, going wherever they took us.

And that’s when he told me the story of lovebugs.

Lovebugs – attach to each other for life.

Even now it still reminds me of my grandparents – 71 years together – and all the other long-lived, lovebug type of relationships of the people in my life.

At the time, I was still searching for my lovebug.

Now, I’m about three months away from getting married.

I’ve definitely found my lovebug in life.

I know there are many people still searching for that special connection and, I just want to say, it’s out there. I think we all deserve that love, that special person who wants to share our life with us. We all deserve to find our lovebug.

The Idea of Wishes

Several weeks ago, I finished reading a collection of short stories by Ray Bradbury entitled Long After Midnight.

I greatly enjoyed each story, but there was one that has stuck with me. Maybe it’s because of where I am in my life at the moment. Maybe it’s because of the heartache I’ve been dealing with lately. Maybe it’s because, in a way, I can relate to it. Or maybe it’s a combination of all of the above mentioned. Whatever the reasoning, that magical story that has stayed with me is called The Wish.

The story takes place in the middle of a snowstorm. During this time one of the characters makes a wish. He wishes to have his father alive again just for one hour.

Now, I’ve always believed there to be something magical about snow, and that if we wish for something hard enough it might come true (some people call those types of wishes prayer), but what really caught me was the wish itself.

What a wonderful thing it would be.

What a wonderful thing it would be if those kinds of wishes actually came true.

Honestly, this story made me cry. (Writing this post is making me a little teary-eyed too.)

In the story, the man’s wish is granted. Of course, he seemed to have wished his wish so he and his father could have one last chance to say the things left unsaid.

My reasoning for making the same wish would be different.

But, in the end, when you lose a loved one, does the reasoning for such a wish really matter?

My wish…I’d wish for my grandparents to be alive again. Even if it was just for one hour.

To be able to see them, to be able to hug them, to be able to feel them embrace me, to be able to tell them how much I love them and to hear them say those words back – those are things I’ll never have again.

For two years I missed all those things. By the time it was even close to being safe enough to consider seeing them, it was too late. The last time I ever saw them was the day I buried them.

I know I’m not the only person dealing with the pain that comes along with the loss of a loved one. I know I’m not the only one who has thoughts or dreams or wishes of having that person, or persons, back, even if it’s just for a little while.

And that brings me back to Bradbury’s story. That brings me back to the beautiful, haunting, and bittersweet idea of such a wish.

But…what a wonderful thing it would be if those kinds of wishes actually came true.

We Are…

we are the fire
of deep-rooted passion
burning
in the fight for equality
waiting to be seen
waiting to be heard
waiting on men
to decide our fate

we are the oncoming storm
the lightening in the dark
the thunder on the ground
the rain over desert hearts
that won’t let up
in our fight
a fight no man truly understands
until walking in a woman’s shoes

we are the frothy sea
rushing toward the shore
rushing to save what our ancestors won
rushing to save ourselves in this life
rushing to save the future for our daughters
so they will have a chance
at living how we couldn’t
and proving we can all do better

we are the impending war
defending our rights
defending our bodies
defending our futures
while the ignorant, fearful, and uninformed fight
to keep us in cages
while also preaching equality
and breeding hypocrites

we are women
bearing pains men will never know
bearing voices meant to be heard
bearing a worth this world has yet to see
while others think they know best
our voices go ignored
and our value faces attempts of degradation

we are warriors
some of the strongest to set foot on Earth’s soil
some of the bravest to keep living
some of the loudest to speak
in a world not allowing us to truly live
and wishing to keep us silent
we will not – cannot –
be silenced

Time Moves So Quickly

Turns out Grandma was right.

And Grandpa.

And Mom.

And Dad.

Turns out they were all right – times does seem to go faster as you get older.

As a child, I never thought about it. (My brain wasn’t hardwired that way. Besides, I was busy being a kid.)

As a teen, I suspected. (But, seriously, the teenage years are difficult enough.)

As a woman in her 20s, I understood they were right, but didn’t want to admit it. (No one ever seems to want to admit their elders are right, even if they have years of wisdom and might know a thing or two. Maybe it’s a pride thing or, maybe, when we’re younger we just think we know best and have all the answers.)

And now, I am the age I am and I’m not only fully aware they were right, but also fully willing to admit it.

I can’t be the only one. Right?

Maybe I figured it out earlier then most. Or maybe I figured it out later. Or maybe it doesn’t really matter when any of us figure these things out as long as, at some point, we do.

And when we suddenly find ourselves in that state of awareness where time seems to move faster as we get older, then, we should probably try to live each day fully. (Actually, there’s no ‘probably’ about it.) We should try to appreciate the things we have, instead of focusing on the things we don’t. We should tell our loved ones we love them while we have the chance. We should try to see the things we want to see, visit the places we want to visit, do the things we want to do, and spend time with the people we love.

Especially if time flies. And especially if time is the one thing we can never get back.

When Sorry Doesn’t Seem Enough

I’m sorry for the things I never said,
for all the words still swirling around my head.

I’m sorry for all the times I didn’t call,
but know I always thought of you, my shining stars.

I’m sorry for all the times I might have disappointed you,
just know I always did the best I could do.

I’m sorry for the all the hugs I couldn’t give,
just know there’s no place like in your arms, where safety lived.

I’m sorry for all the times we were apart,
but know there was always a yearning in my heart.

I’m sorry now all the words I speak
sprout like flowers in the grass at your feet.

I’m sorry now the stars have died out
though The Heavens will still, always, hear my shouts.

I’m sorry now you’re no longer here
like two strong pillars to hold me up, my dears.

I’m sorry now there’s no one to hold
except those memories and ghosts of old.

I’m sorry now all the time we share
will be where you’ll forever sleep.