Kiss Me, I’m Horny!

When my youngest son was very little, he was not the easiest little guy to manage. Wiggly, curious, wiggly, hyper, wiggly, prone to temper-tantrums, and by the time I was able to get him to sleep at night, my own blood pressure was so high I couldn’t calm myself down enough to go to bed. Also, there was the wiggly nature I may have alluded to earlier. With the wiggles.

He had a constant need to be on the move, and to have something in his hands at all times.

This was around the ages of 3-4 years old, and he had a habit of naming EVERY. SINGLE. THING. Ever. In the Universe.

And he named them according to physical attributes.

There was Blackie, and Spotty, and Brownie, and Stripey, and Squishy, and Softy. And so very, very many others, the names of which I can no longer recall, although at the time, I had quite a knack for it, as it was required that I call each toy or item by name in order to play any of the bazillion-ty-million imaginary games he made up.

Early on, Brennan had a speech issue that required some speech therapy, as well as occupational therapy for some sensory and fine motor skill delays. We were encouraged to repeat and repeat words he could say properly and go along with any conversation he initiated, in an effort to build his vocabulary.

That was right around the time he was given a little Beanie Baby as a gift from his grandmother. Small and squishy enough to fit right into his hand, he developed a deep and abiding love for this Beanie Baby.

It was a rhinoceros.

He named it Horny.

Falling asleep each night, Horny would be clutched tightly into his small fist, curled up to his slightly-sleep-sweaty baby cheek.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner had to be eaten with whatever hand wasn’t clutching Horny, and the little rhino went everywhere, and I mean everywhere, with us.

As it was his most favorite thing in all the world, we were kind of forced into developing conversations and games around Horny and his activities. Horny the Rhino became such an intricate part of each day, we sort of forgot how funny it sounded.

Of course, Horny had to go with us to occupational therapy, and I still remember the look – and it’s been about 7 years now – on the therapist’s face when Brennan ran up to her, waving the rhino in his hand, screaming, “Kiss me, I’m Horny!” and shoving the stuffed toy up to her face.

(Stumbling, stuttering explanations hurriedly ensued.)

Three of my children have a medical disorder that requires a monthly infusion. When they were little, each poke was rewarded with a treat from a prize box.

On one such day, Brennan’s veins weren’t cooperating, and he had to get two needle sticks in a row, so he went in search of TWO new toys from the prize box.

Digging to the bottom of the big box, he came up victorious. Brennan had found not one, but TWO (what are the odds?) rhinoceros Beanie Babies!! One was very tiny, and the other one was extra large.

Turning joyously to his nurse, he shouted at the top of his lungs, “Now I have a Horny baby, and a Horny daddy, and at my home I have a Horny mamma!”

I’m not positive what that peculiar shade of purplish-red is called, but both the nurse and I had simultaneously turned the same color. Our eyes locked over his head, her mouth opened and shut, opened and shut, the look on her face clearly communicating, “I know there must be a valid explanation for what this little boy has just said, but I can’t come up with anything.”

I tried to explain, but I was choking and hiccupping and trying valiantly to swallow the horrified laughter rising from my throat, my hands fluttering somewhere around my face like butterflies on speed.

And Brennan? He was oblivious, sitting happily on the floor and introducing the new members of the Horny family to one another.

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Alpha and Omega

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The beginning and the end.

The first and the last.

These last several months have been so strange. I feel at the mercy of overwhelming emotions, tugging me this way and that. I’m up, I’m down, I’m muddled, I’m scatter-brained.

So many lasts.

My oldest child is a Senior in high school this year. Every event that was once a matter-of-fact occurrence is now heavily weighted with significance.

Her last first day of high school.

Her last Homecoming parade and dance.

Her last Friday night football game, cheering from the stands as a student.

So many firsts.

My sister passed away this last July.

This fall marked the first family birthdays she wasn’t here to celebrate.

The first time I couldn’t mark her down as an emergency contact on any of my kids’ forms.

The first Halloween she wasn’t here to either walk with us, or for me to send her pictures of my kids in their costumes.

Thoughts of upcoming holidays aren’t helping.

Thanksgiving without my sister. What will we do?

Who will make the mashed potatoes? It’s always been her job. Always.

There have been years when my sister was running late, and the rest of the dinner was ready, but we waited however long it took for her to whip her car into the drive. Nobody else does the potatoes.

Maybe we just won’t have any.

Who will sit in her seat? Will we move the chair away from the table, pretend there is no empty space?

Will we move one of the younger kids up from the Children’s Table, pretending they’ve graduated up to sit with us?

How can there even be a holiday with this great, gaping void?

Why can’t the holidays just be put on hold this year?

I cannot even imagine Christmas.

This may be the last year I have my oldest girl home for Thanksgiving and Christmas. She could get accepted to a college far away, meet some new guy, decide to spend next year with someone else’s family, sitting at their Grown-Up’s Table, eating their mashed potatoes.

This may be the last year my oldest girl is home on Christmas morning, sleepily wandering out in her pajamas with her long, tousled hair and wiping the sleep from her eyes, excited for the wrapped boxes under our little tree.

I know it’s just the way it goes. I know this is just life. People die. Kids move away. Life goes on.

Somehow.

My thoughts, my emotions are so jumbled, like an uneven load of laundry in an over-stuffed washing machine.

Up.

Down.

Muddled.

Scatter-brained.

The beginning and the end.

The first and the last.

Alpha and Omega.

These Hands

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These hands.

They first held mine on January 2, 1993. We were in a darkened movie theater, watching “Forever Young”. It was about halfway through the show that his left hand – hesitant, shaky – snaked across the shared arm of the theater seats, lacing his fingers through my right hand.

They fit perfectly.

These hands.

Soft. Young. Not yet roughened by hard work, but scarred a bit from childhood accidents.

They held mine on March 11, and slipped an engagement diamond on the ring finger of my left hand.

Fast. I know.

But our hands fit so perfectly together.

November 6, 1993.

It was the first snow of the season. Christmas decorations were just beginning to be set out in yards and shops. It was chilly as we hustled into the foyer of the church, arms laden with dresses and shoes and every little extra thing we thought we might need, and white flakes dropped onto our hair and noses and coats.

Inside the church was warmer, and we huddled in the nursery to change into our gowns.

Candles were lit, the music began, and I walked to him.

We stood before a crowded church: we were young, hopeful and filled with plans.

His hands held mine and promised a lifetime.

These hands.

They’ve worked hard to make certain we always had a roof over our heads, food on the table and a decent vehicle.

These hands held my hair back when morning sickness morphed into hyperemesis, and the vomiting was so violent I was in and out of the hospital, weak and barely able to walk.

These hands.

They helped me remove my home IV when my father fell extremely ill in a town hours away, because he knew if he didn’t help me, I would rip it out myself and go.

They held my own as I was wheeled off for an emergency C-section during the birth of our first child, and they held our little 6 pound girl the first time I laid eyes on her.

She looked so tiny, engulfed in his big hands.

These hands have helped me box up our lives, and move.

Repeatedly.

They’ve been the strength that held my back during difficult labors, and wiped dampened hair out of my eyes so I could see our newborn babies.

These hands held me up when our youngest son nearly died during a surgery at the age of two, and I collapsed in panic.

Over the years, these hands have become roughened by work, scarred and sometimes so grimy from hard labor they could not be washed clean.

These hands.

They held mine as we sat in the school parking lot, nervous as all get out over our oldest child’s first parent-teacher conference.

They clutched my own hands as, together, we watched his father pass from this world.

These hands have driven me to emergency rooms during times of crises, when I was too shaken to take the wheel myself.

They have held mine as we have prayed over difficult life decisions, looking for the right way to turn. They have held mine after horrifying phone calls, bearing news that left us trembling inside.

They have fixed our cars, and our furnace, and leaky sinks and dishwashers when they were broken.

These hands.

They lifted me up off my parents’ cold, cement garage floor the morning my father died, where I was curled up into a ball and screaming for my Daddy.

These were the first hands to hold the small, white, wriggling bit of fluff that became our first family dog.

They were the hands that sat shaking in the passenger side, when our daughters had their first driving lessons.

They were the hands that have helped carve Pinewood derby cars for our children, year after year after year. (After year.)

These hands.

They help me wrap Christmas presents every year on Christmas Eve, because we are always running behind and can’t seem to get it done ahead of time.
And these are the hands that get up early each Christmas morning to make sure all the lights on the tree are lit, and the presents arranged prettily for pictures before we wake the children up.

These hands held my sister’s hands, as cancer overtook her and she lay weakly, first in the hospital, and then at my mother’s home on Hospice.

These hands held me as I held the hand of my sister, the night she slipped away from us.

These hands.

They’ve held me in the worst times, and the best times, and the times in between.

Twenty years.

Twenty years I’ve spent holding these beautiful hands.