Have I thanked you lately? For bringing a certain kind of light to my life. For having that awesome kind of sense of humor that can always get me rolling. It’s always a great surprise in life to discover someone whose mind works the way my own does. Kindred souls of insanity, I suppose.
You’ve got that sincere, kindness as well. I appreciate every aspect of your soul. But man, when I need a good, hardcore, until-my-belly-hurts laugh…..you’re the guy.
The thing I have learned in life is that the ones who are best a making others laugh have usually walked through hell quite a bit in their life. To know the depth of darkness…..it makes you desire to seek out the light with a passion, and want to shine it for others. I see your scars. And I wonder often if they bother you. If the stigma of being a battered soul on the outside ever bothers you at all.
I really hope it doesn’t. For me personally, I think of scars in the same way I think of tattoos. Every single one holds a story, history, a part of who we are. At 18 you’ve had more experiences, carved yourself a storyline in flesh, created more stories than many people twice your age.There’s no shame in that. Those scars are you. They are what you come from, what you learned, where you are headed. I’m so very happy you don’t hurt yourself anymore. I cannot fathom the dark voice in yourself that had you convinced a light as bright as the one in your soul should be quenched. I am so honored to have met you. To be able to call you my brother. In case you ever wonder, let me be clear here. You matter. So much. To a lot of people. You are loved. You have a purpose. You are awesome. Seriously.
Just the simple act of making me laugh when what I may actually WANT to do is punch people in the throat….that’s a true gift. Life without you in it would be pretty lame and boring. Thanks for being you.
I love you, brother. 🙂
It’s so weird to me that you and I grew apart. If you had asked me back when we were teenagers in junior high school if I could ever imagine going a DAY without talking to you my answer would have been an adamant no. Our phone conversations were as regular and predictable as the sun rising and setting, weren’t they? Right down to the exact minute I dialed your number. (A number I STILL have dedicated to my memory, despite the fact it’s been ages and ages since I last dialed it.) You and I were polar opposites in so many ways it’s a wonder we got along at all. But maybe that is what made us best friends. We had respect for those differences, and learned to love each other for them.
I remember the first time I met you. At camp back when we were both 12 years old. I was a free spirit even back then, a bit hippie, a bit quirky. A small little 12 year old with a lot to say and a lot of energy for life. And there you were that first day I met you. All cool and reserved in your leather jacket. (You HAD to be cool, wearing a leather jacket in the middle of summer, right?) I was fascinated by you, wanted to get to know you and your life and what sort of drum you marched to. The probability of us becoming friends was slim to nill. but we were both so damn stubborn that we bucked the conceptions and became fast friends. BEST friends.
You were partly a brother to me, partly a confidant, partly my courage, and partly the guy I totally loved for many years. Neither of us ever dared muddle up our friendship by treading into dating territory.
When I was 15 my mother moved my brother and I from our small town in Connecticut to Rhode Island. Within a few months you were the only friend I had left from Connecticut who still called and wrote. I cherished those letters, saved them all in a memory box.we poured out our hearts in those letters, didn’t we? You shared with me the hurt of your parents divorce, the struggle of being caught between your mom and dad, the deep depression that came when a serious girlfriend cheated on you with a friend, your pride in yourself for graduating school, etc. I wrote and told you of new school and new friends, my battles with my mother as a teenager, my first apartment, heartaches from boys…. When I was 16 your dad brought you up for a visit. We spent the night at my Grams house, talking and talking and laughing for hours. When I was 18 you and a buddy drove up to see me. It was only a couple hours and it killed me to say goodbye. When I was 20 (every 2 years like clockwork) my fiance and myself and our infant son made the drive to Connecticut to visit and meet your new girlfriend. Every single time I saw you face to face it was like coming home. A few months later you made the drive back up to give me away at my wedding. It was the first time I had ever seen you dressed up like that. A pretty big change from your typical black and tattoos. You were always the badass to my zen hippie. It just worked for us.
Somehow life just got the best of us. I was 27 the very last time I spoke to you on the phone.
I see you on FaceBook once or twice a year now. I never really talk to you. What’s top say? I almost feel like that chapter of my life is meant to stay closed. I can’t even explain WHY. I just feel like it was such an amazing, wonderful portion of my journey that if I attempt to bring it back I’ll be throwing the rest of my destiny off-kilter. I did message your wife once, about a year ago. Just to introduce myself and say congratulations. You were so damn adament you would never fall in love and settle down and now here you are, married and looking so happy in the photos. I am so happy FOR you. And I’ll just say “I TOLD YOU SO.” 😉 Amy is such a lucky girl. I just hope she never stops realizing that.
I miss you sometimes. I love you always.
Dear Blaze Marley-Honor,
Your birth is the greatest triumph up to this point in my life.
Granted, each of you boys is technically my best memory. Every moment of each labor and delivery is grafted into my heart forever and I am amazed by how different each memory is. This isn’t in any way about playing favorites.
It’s just the fact that your birth was done on my own terms more than any of your siblings. I found my guts and glory in your birth and in the weeks leading up to that point.
I was amazed by the communication you and I shared while you were still living in me. I told people the exact date you planned to be born. No one took me seriously. But lo and behold my water broke that morning. Which is pretty cool considering my water never broke on it’s own with any of your brothers but I had after all requested a sign of labor impending and there it was.
I walked miles and miles around our backyard in the weeks before your birth. Walked barefoot in wet grass under stars and the moon as my only light. Patient loops in the darkness with a couple cats and dogs trailing behind. Walked and walked, feeling your head against my pelvic bones, walked and walked while talking to you. About my hopes for you, about the upcoming birth process, about who I was at that time. Sometimes you communicated back, sometimes you simply listened.
Then the birth. Some worship time at church, dancing and swaying to praise songs. Then the church family laid hands on me. I felt the vibrations of love and power in their hands, felt the love in their prayers.
I waddled around the rest of the day. Cleaned out the pool with a burst of energy that felt euphoric and awesome. Scrubbed it down. At some point I pulled off my panties because my water was leaking pretty regularly now and the pads couldn’t keep up. So, I remained out in the yard in just my sundress, the amniotic fluid leaking down my legs as I cleaned the pool, then simply wandered around awhile, soaking in the setting sun and watching the birds and mountains.
When contractions got stronger I hung out in the shower, the hot water pelting my hard belly as it contracted. Held onto the wall for support when my legs buckled. Moaned through the bigger ones. By the time the boys got to sleep I was on my knees, head on the recliner in my room. I guzzled Gatorade by the gallon. The room around me grew soft and hazy, out-of-focus, otherworldly. As if it was only just a dream. The tv was on and the volume was down low. The single light on above my head was dim. The windows were wide open all around the room. I squatted over towels on the floor, clung to the recliner like a raft out at sea. My voice got louder with each contraction, more animalistic, a primal groan-howl type of sound. Vocalizing the intensity helped me to flow with it.
My only regret is that I allowed other people to convince me the home birth idea was a bad one. I wanted it SO badly, believed in it….but when you are in the middle of a storm it’s really hard to stand on your own two feet and stand for what you believe in when others come against you to argue. Right at transition, when the blood began to drip lightly from me, I relented, gave in. Let an ambulance come and transfer me. I regret THAT one choice heavily now.
Because it was pretty damn useless. I pushed you out in under ten minutes after arriving at the hospital. No meds, no time for anything but to yank off that dress (now stained with fluid and blood and sweat) and roarroarROARRRRR out a hollor of release and pain and triumph as you came forth-out-through my body.
I have never felt more powerful, more zen all at once. I could have lifted houses, run marathons, flown above the mountains. I cried. Laughed. Kissed your face. Tasted me on your skin. Watched in awe as you suckled at my breast as if you were an old pro. Fell promptly in love.
Your name has great significance to me. Blaze is your first name because I hope you always have that fire and passion for living and experiencing life. Every day. Marley after Bob Marley, and all that he sand about and believed in as far as peace and love. Honor, because more than any other trait, I pray you grow to be a man of honor.
When you were 24 hours old I held you close to me and nursed you while I watched the documentary of Bob Marleys life on television. Coincidence that THAT was on tv right after you came into this world? I don’t believe so. I think it was the universe’s way of acknowledging your existence and reminding me what I had talked to you about on all those late-night circles around our backyard.
I love you, son. So much.
Thank you for sharing that day with me. For giving me my best memory. 🙂 ❤
Dear Reflection In The Mirror,
There are days I honestly don’t pay very much mind to you. I get caught up in the busyness of living and sort of forget that you matter. I like those days. Because too often I measure my worth as a person by you. So, when I have a day when my boyfriend says he finds me beautiful and my son brings my a bouqet of wildflowers and calls me a princess…..and THEN I look in the mirror and realize my hair is sticking up or there are dark circle under my eyes and it dawns on me that none of that really matters much anyway.
We are inundated every day as females with this idea that if we don’t LOOK a certain way, we will be less than acceptable to this world. And I wonder who set these ridiculous standards? I’m not supposed to have cellulite, wrinkles, acne, chin hairs, body fat, stretch marks,spider veins, split ends……Fact of the matter is, I have ALL of those things. Every single one. And sometimes its easy to look at you and see all of them, or even just ONE of those things, and be far far far too critical on myself as a person. As if all the OTHER stuff that makes me ME doesn’t count. As if weight or pimples or extra fat matters more than empathy or tenderness or patience or kindness.
I am 33 years old. This body has been home to 12 babies in the span of 13 years. Six of those children came through and out of me. Pregnancy changed my hip width, my rib cage, my breasts. Breastfeeding 6 babies into toddlerhood has caused my once-perky breasts to lay far differently than they did when I was 19. Genetics causes the skin issues I am constantly battling. The Portuegese in me is to blame for those pesky chin hairs I am always having to pluck. The last two pregnancies gave me tiny silver stretch marks just above my pelvic bone that remind me of how it felt when those babies “dropped” and lay low in me, causing me to waddle-walk and sway sweet angels with my movements. The fact I have had 6 kids means I am not yet at my ideal weight. Im pretty darn close, but not there yet. I work hard to get where I am. Kickboxing every day, eating healthy, no starches. I work HARD for the body I have right now. (Which is why it really perturbs me when someone says “You’re so lucky! Look how skinny you are after 6 kids!” It has ZERO to do with luck and far more to do with hard work and determination and focus.) I’m not always fully satisfied though. UI catch that in the mirror. My ass, my hips, that little pudge in the middle. It can get to me when I catch a glimpse of you in that way.
But frankly, I am learning, with age and wisdom and discernment that I have simply been giving you way too much power for way too long.
What are you, really? Medias portrayal of beauty? A misperception in my own brain dependent on how many compliments I get that week or what kind of mood I might be in? How REAL are you?
I think my beauty comes more from the children I am raising. The way I make my man smile. The way I laugh with my friends. The flow of words when I write. The way I nurse my baby to sleep. The way I cry when I hear of another mothers grief. The way I can grow and nurture a child within my body. The way I get lost in a song when I sing. This is me.
No offense, but you really don’t matter in comparison. Not at all.
So, sorry if I only glance at you in passing and don’t stare and obsess over you like I used to.
I’m too busy living my life and being happy these days.
I could write a whole rambling letter here about how wrong you did things and hwo many times you caused me grief or pain, both emotionally as well as physically. I could remind you of every scar.
But frankly, I quit letting you control me years ago.
I just wanted you to know that I forgive you. Not because your actions or words were okay. But simply because forgiveness is a gift to myself.
I’m over it. I’ve moved on. I’m happy. Living happy is the sweetest revenge.
Mom instilled in us a pretty solid stance on what family is supposed to mean. I have always been impressed by the fact that even though I’m 9 years older than you, and 18 years older than Tamar, we still all are pretty darn close as far as siblings go. I know folks who are only a couple of years age difference from their siblings and they have basically no contact at all with one another. It really means more to me than you realize when I message you on FaceBook or text you just to tell you I miss you and love you and you take the minute or so to reply back saying you miss me and love me to. I lock those bad boys into my phone as saved forever because I DO miss you like crazy and love you more than I ever realized I did when we were kids.
I was pretty selfish as a big sister, back when we were kids. I guess that’s partly to be expected. Seeing that big age difference. I was dealing with teenage angst while you were dealing with growing up and figuring out this huge world. But a part of me feels bad I was so focused on my own shit that I missed a lot of what you were going through.
I’m sorry about your friend drowning. Seven years old is pretty damn young to lose your best friend. I’m sorry for the uncertainties and sadness that came with that experience. I’m sorry it effected you in bigger ways than you even realized back then, resulting in you wandering the house at night, walking out your grief through sleepwalking journeys.
I’m sorry about our step dad. That you waited so long to have a Daddy and the one who finally came into our family loved you just until the new baby came and then you were forgotten. Forgotten until the day you stood up for our mom and stopped him from hurting her. Forgotten until he took out his anger on you, put fists to your flesh when you were just a kid still yourself. I know what it feels like now to have someone bigger and stronger pound on you simply because you stood up against injustice that you saw. I’m so sorry I wasn’t there. I would have hurt him more than you could imagine. I’m sorry it’s too late now.
I’m sorry I ran away from home that time for two weeks. It never crossed my mind to think of who I was making worry back when I was a teenager. But when mom told me you would sit in the doorway of my room, a sad little boy at only 8 years old, and just stared quietly into my empty bedroom…..that broke my heart. I’m sorry I made you miss me, made you worry, made you see and hear those stupid fights between mom and myself. You were such a good kid and you got lost in the shadows of your silence so often because while you were the calm in the storm I was the raging, whirling tornado.
I love you so much. I am so beyond proud of who you are. I am proud to be able to call you my brother. I love that as we have both gotten older we are discovering more and more how much we truly have in common. I guess it really shouldn’t surprise me. You and I are cut from the same fabric after all. But in case you didn’t know, I wanted to tell you. I brag about you all of the time. I adore you. I’m proud of all you have accomplished up til this point. A quote from one of my favorite movies says it best “There isn’t anyone else I’d want to walk through hell with.” That’s fact right there.
I hate that we live so far apart. You with your life in Rhode Island and me here with my own life in North Carolina. I wish we could talk more often. Especially face to face. I miss laughing with you. You could always crack me up. I miss our goofiness. I miss you like crazy. Love you with all of my heart. Always. xoxo
Your big sister,
Dear Beth Hart,
I first discovered you in 1999 when I was 19 years old. It was your song Mama, sung in that bluesy-rock voice of yours. I fell in love. Hard. Bought your tape (That’s right, TAPE, it was 1999 after all.) and played it over and over. I was pretty shy and timid back then and I was fascinated by your power and intensity when you sang. I wished I had the balls to sing like that.
I’ve watched every live performance you have ever done. For me personally, I have always equated dancing and singing to a sexual comparison. A truly GOOD song, one written from the depths of a soul, darkness and light combined, and sung from the core of a heart, is like good sex. It’s raw and vulnerable and powerful and exquisite. Its blood, sweat and tears. Watching you perform live is like that. Your heart and soul simply flow. I love that. I respect you so much as a musician because you are REAL. True. You don’t need to hide behind costumes or flair in order to sell albums. You simply do what you love. And do it WELL.
My favorite song by you has always been L.A. song. Always has been. There is a video of you doing it on stage, barefoot at a keyboard with a cigarette. I fall in love with you a bit more each time I see it.
I would love to someday be able to sit down with you and just chat. To pick your brain, to find out the stories behind a few of your songs. To tell you how your music has touched me. You rock, sister. Truly. 🙂
You rock. For real. It’s pretty rare that a person is their true self online. Its easier not to be. But you are a ballsy chick who just puts it all out there and basically says “Here I am, world. If you don’t like it, I don’t give a rip.”
I found you on your Hey Freddie page first. Wondered for two days why the heck your parents named you Freddie. Thought maybe it was short for Fredricka. But you cleared that up and I eventually found your personal page on FB and discovered your real name is Jesse. I might actually like Freddie better. 😉
I immediately like any person who can dish out sarcasm and snarkiness. You were already awesome as it was.
Then one day I read a blog you wrote about your journey and your daughter and what love meant to you and it moved me. Really moved me. I read it twice and cried both times. It stuck in my heart since then. It made me see a different side of you and you earned bucket fulls of respect from me that day.
I just was saying to my boyfriend yesterday that I wished I lived closer to you because I could totally see me hanging out with you and us being real life friends. You’re true, real, honest, sincere and funny as hell. I love all of those things. I love you. xo
I am pretty fairly convinced that my mother is a liar. That the story she has told me of my conception and birth is a façade to cover up for the fact you and I are actually long lost twin sisters. I call you my soul sister. How strange to feel such a familiar kinship to a person I have never actually met in real life. But there it is anyway. That connection that we share. In some ways we are so alike its as if we are one soul separated to fill two separate “meat suits” .(as you call them) And in other ways we are so vastly different and those differences simply make you fascinating to me.
You have been a support to me in so many ways. When I had a million questions about children on the autism spectrum. When I was going through my last pregnancy alone. Through my struggles on this journey. Your posts to my wall to inspire me or make me laugh. The chats in my inbox. I appreciate you so much. I am grateful for you.
And your own journey…..I hope I have been able to shine some light along your pathway as well. I cried when you miscarried. I knew how desperately you wanted to have another child. I read over every detail of all of those adoption websites you sent me, studied each of those childrens profile information as if it were my own life being impacted by uch a heavy choice. It moved my soul to see the huge amount of love you had for those children. And when you ended up getting pregnant and this one stuck…..man was I so happy I danced in my chair. I worried and prayed over you through the first trimester just as much as I worried and prayed through my own, knowing how it feels to carry a baby after losing one or two or more…..
I love you my beautiful soul sister. So much. You shine. Through all of the hell fires of your past you stand strong and all that the struggles have done is make you sparkle. Someday I will meet you face to face and hug you huge. 🙂 We can be wonderfully socially-awkward together. 😉