My Newest Angel

On Tuesday November 13th, my best friend Debbie came to our house to exercise with me. She had lost 30 lbs in about the last 6 months all on her own by eating right and wanted to keep going so I decided to help her and we’d been doing light weights and cardio for about a month or two. Soon after we started that morning, she got dizzy and I made her sit. She got sick and I asked her if I needed to call 911. Something inside me just told me it was serious. She nodded so I grabbed my phone and called. She fell back and was unresponsive. The EMS arrived within 5 to 7 minutes. I calmly called her husband. I didn’t want to scare him although I knew it was bad. I told him she had gotten sick and asked me to call an ambulance. He told me to take her to Brookwood Hospital and he asked if she was conscious. I had to tell him no. He asked me to please ride in the ambulance with her which I had planned to do anyway.

The ambulance driver told me I would have to ride in the front. Two of the EMS (fire department) went in the ambulance as well. Even before we left the house, they had her on the bag to breathe so I knew she wasn’t breathing on her own. It just wasn’t good. No need for all the details. When we got to the hospital, I asked to go in with her. The ambulance driver told me I needed to go in the main entrance and register. I waited until they brought her out of the ambulance and I kissed her forehead as I ran along side. I basically threw her insurance card and drivers license at the registration clerk and took off into the room where they had her. There was a doctor there already. They told me I would have to leave so they could get her stabilized and they put me alone in a small waiting/consultation room. I just felt like I was going to throw up.

Scott, her husband finally arrived at the hospital and wanted to know what happened. I told him everything. The doctor came in shortly and told us that she coded as they brought her in but they had revived her. They were sending her for a ct scan. He asked about what happened and I explained. He said we would be able to go in after they got her back from CT but that she was currently on a ventilator and not breathing on her own. By the time we went in, Debbie’s mother was there as well. The doctor told us that she had several vessels burst in her brain and the damage was extensive; the outlook for her was bleak and we should prepare for the worst. I then left so the family could be with her.

She spent two days in the SICU, never regained consciousness and two subsequent scans showed no brain function. Scott removed her from the ventilator on Nov 15th and she was gone. I know she was gone when it happened. Poor Scott just prayed and prayed for a miracle.

Please know, I have a great therapist (thank goodness) and I am doing ok. I have good days and bad days. But I am comfortable knowing I did all I could and all that could have been done. I’m thankful she was here with me and not alone, driving or with her husband or kids. All my pain and sorrow are of the selfish sort; me missing my best friend. We never had an argument and every memory I have of our times together involve laughter and hilarity. We ended every visit and phone call with an “I love you”.

Debbie leaves behind two boys ages 12 and 7 as well as a helpless husband. Scott’s (retired) parents have moved in with him for the next 3 months. He asked them to and they are wonderful people. Poor Scott keeps texting me and is worried about ME. My friend Betsy and I took him out last week on our scheduled girls night out that we had with Debbie. I think he felt awkward at first but truthfully, we didn’t talk about anything we wouldn’t have otherwise and it was good for all of us.

Like I said, I just wanted you to know and I wasn’t sure I could tell the story again. A friend of mine offered me this advice that I’m finding to be helpul: “Regardless of all the crap that happens today – tomorrow is a new day and the sun is going to keep coming up – so put on your ‘Fuck It’ shoes and take it one step at a time.” So that’s what I’m doing.

Debbie and Me

Notes I sent to friends after:

Nov 14, 2012:  She was with me when it happened. I did everything I knew to do and called 911 and rode in the ambulance, but I knew it was bad. Really bad. This couldn’t have happened to a more undeserving person. Bless her. She was my running buddy here. She was the ONE person I KNEW would be here if I needed anything. She helped me with so much when my mom was sick…kept my kids, brought food, walked my fucking dog. I always felt I could not possibly do enough to repay her for that. And she rarely asked me for a damn thing. I got no buddy. I got no go to girl. Her two boys have no mommy. My 11yr old son asked my husband last night, “What will Jake and Hudson do without a Mommy?” How can life be so cruel to such undeserving people?

Nov 18, 2012:  My friend Debbie was with me when this happened. And I fucking kicked it like a NINJA to get the EMS and ambulance here. It couldn’t have been done any better or faster. My house is right by the fire department. I was calm, and I loved on her like I would my own child. But I knew she was gone when it happened. Her husband just could not help but pray for a miracle, God bless him.

I am doing ok. I just feel like I want to vomit. I wish I could vomit and just “feel all better” but that’s not how it works with this type thing. I have a good therapist, thank God. And I will get through. But she was my ONE person. I’m a ONE person girl. And she is gone.

I keep talking to people and telling stories like I remember doing with my Mama like she’s still alive. I can’t stop doing that yet. I can’t believe it. But I am SO GLAD I was the one there and not her husband, or her kids, or her alone or her driving. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Every story I tell about her ends in laughter and hilarity. That’s how we rolled. But even just tonight with my sister here, I can’t tell a story without her being there or involved. And it makes me sad to think she’s gone.

So be it. It has done some wonderful things no matter how horrible it is for me. When I had to tell my kids, they knew she was in the hospital and very ill, I was honest from the beginning. But I happened to have a moment alone with my son on Thursday night and told him. My daughter wandered near shortly after. I went to tell her and started closing doors but Cole wanted to be in there, I could tell. I asked him if he wanted to be there with us and he did. So I let him. He stood with his back turned while I told him, tinkering with her toys. And after I told her and she was crying, he came over. I explained to them that they are brother and sister and they will have each other for times like these. I said, “Cole, you love your sister, don’t you?” And he said, “Yes, ma’am.” I said, “Will you give her a hug?” and he embraced her. He did, no questions asked. A big ole genuine hug. Then he walked out. Two seconds later, he came back with a Dum Dum out of his Halloween candy and said, “Here, Ila. I want you to have this.” And the two of them have been playing together peacefully and joyfully since. THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED!!!

It may not last but some good things may come from this. It just sucks for me, you know?


The Wedding

So the wedding…

Let me say up front, it was one of the most unique (in a good way) and detail oriented weddings I’ve ever been to. Traditional with a modern flair, if that exists. She is an event planner so she was able to pick and choose details she’s done for other people and make them her own.

Prior to the wedding, there were so many different things to attend! It started off with girls pedicure on Thursday (me, bride, step mother, brides grandmother, step brother’s new fiance, my daughter, and step brother’s 3yr old illegitimate daughter). We had champagne and cranberry juice with cheese and crackers. After my pedi was complete and I was about three glasses of champagne in, an old lady in there having her nails done went into a seizure. Two of her daughters (in their 50s mind you) were in there with her. She went white and was in and out of consciousness. The ambulance came to take her to the hospital. I had to explain to the kids what was going on in simple terms: that lady is very sick; she has to go to the hospital…but it’s ok…they are taking care of her. Once they got her in the ambulance, my step mother and I finished off the remaining champagne!!! Jesus! The whole time I’m thinking…this is a bad sign.

That night, bride’s family all went to dinner at Franco’s. We (me, Luke and the kids) opted out of that because they were going to have like 30 people in that little restaurant already and we figured it would be too long for the kids to wait. We were invited to Norma’s (step mother) house afterward for dessert with the family and planned to attend that instead.  At the house, people began to pour in; some of them we knew and some we didn’t. Most were nice and introduced themselves. Of course, my cousin Tina was there. She’s the one I have to thank for introducing my father to Norma. I try to keep her at arms length and not tell her anything I wouldn’t want the world to know.  And she grew up in NC and doesn’t know the Ken Hoots WE know…nor do any of the rest of these people. Tina immediately told me her dad (my uncle, my dad’s brother) hated the he couldn’t be there but he just couldn’t come back to Orange Beach anymore without Ken there. My thought? Ummm…yeah. Because who’s gonna buy his airline ticket??? So, this was the first night of , “I’m so sorry about your dad. He was such a sweet man. We all miss him soooo much.” to which I would respond, “Would you please excuse me….I need to go get another glass of wine.” This is also the first time my children met Norma’s new boyfriend, Mike. After, the kids wanted to know if Mike lives with Norma. My response, “No, NorMama lives with MIKE.” You could see the little wheels turning in Cole’s head.

On to Friday, rehearsal dinner night. I took the kids out to Caribe to swim in the indoor pool that day while the family was working on preparations for the wedding and such. That evening, the kids had to be at the church for rehearsal by 4:30p. Luke and I were to go back to Norma’s house to greet friends and family arriving for the pre-dinner cocktails. Again, more people we didn’t really know droning on about my dad and lots of the bride’s young girlfriends with babies….none of whom ever spoke to us. “Please excuse me. I need to go get another glass of wine.”

Rehearsal dinner at Ono Commons. The poor groom’s family. I’m not sure how most people do it because I haven’t been to many weddings or rehearsal dinners but Haley invited ALL her family and friends to this dinner. There had to be at least 60 people there. Maybe 90. But right on time, a waiter approached us coming in the door to find out what we wanted from the bar! YIPPEEE! I got into the red wine. So eventually we all sit down for dinner. I’m at the table with Tina and Mary (Tina’s girlfriend; did I mention she is lesbian?). Mary is great company and sat next to me with Luke on my other side. I felt rather well insulated. The rest of our table consisted of Haley’s cousins. When the time came for toasts, the groom’s father spoke first.  I can’t recall exactly what he said but  I recall it being about the hardships of marriage, tough times and good times and being there for one another. Suddenly, a million instances come to mind of hard times, good times, struggles, and how Luke has always been there; I began to tear up. When the father finishes speaking, Luke turns and looks at me. He too has a tear in his eye.  I touched his cheek and he kissed me. When we turned back to the table, the photographer came running up and said, “Awww! That was so sweet! Could you do that again???” So we did.  🙂

After everyone finished their meal, someone turned on some music and we all started dancing. Things get a little fuzzy after that.

Bridal luncheon – Saturday morning.  I was a no-show.  My damn check liver light was on and I didn’t want to be anywhere at 10:30a! But I was told the dress code was “kinda like the Kentucky Derby but without hats.”  It’s December.

As for the service, the ceremony was at 7pm on New Year’s Eve. Haley’s whole family sings so a large group of them sang. Her REAL father brought her down the aisle with her mom. The unique touch there was instead of playing the traditional bridal march, they played Stars Fell on Alabama. Then all traditional stuff for the Methodist church and at the end as they introduced the couple, through the side doors on each side of the front of the church enter the family singers dressed in choir robes singing “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” gospel style…hands clapping in the air, pulling the whole church into singing with them and clapping as the couple exits down the aisle. I’m not generally a crying person but I teared up about three different times during the ceremony.

They were married at Orange Beach United Methodist Church. Not a lot of accessories to the church; there was a flower wreath and swag over the outside door…very beautiful and simple. And each pew had a bouquet of baby’s breath with stalks of cotton in them. That part I didn’t think was so beautiful but she likes the baby’s breath and he’s from MS so they used cotton. I understand the sentiment.

On a side note, Cole and Ila were in the ceremony. Ila came in behind the brides maids dropping flower petals with Ginny Rose. She did a perfect job and behaved like a little lady. Ginny Rose on the other hand, couldn’t be still and was goofing off the entire time during the ceremony. Once, Ila reached over and gently touched Ginny’s arm and mouthed, “Ginny Rose! No! Stop!” That didn’t work. Cole ushered in Norma’s mother and also lit one of the candles at the front. He chose to stand up front with the groomsmen. He was very still and I only saw him yawn once…but it was very small and concealed.  I’m proud of them both.

Off to the reception! The reception was held outside at Orange Beach Arts Center.  Every detail was perfect! She had a large white tent strung with lights, two bars, a dance floor, a leather sectional sofa nearby for seating, and all the food you could ever want.  The first thing I noticed when entering the tent were the bartenders. On one side there were two male bartenders and on the other, two female bartenders. I’m not sure if she planned it that way. The two men were both Eastern European; one was wearing a nylon type flight suit that zipped in the front and had his sunglasses perched on his forehead. His hair was very close cut. He looked just like something out of an action movie! I had a plan. Later in the evening after the couple was introduced and cut the cake, I asked the photographer to take some photos of me with this bartender. I thought it would be funny for Haley to find these in the middle of her proofs. The photographer was more than willing. We went over and I explained it to the bartender. He stepped out from behind the bar and I had him pose with me using our hands as guns. We took several photos then I thanked him for his time. I asked him where he was from but I have no recall of that. When he was leaving, I leaned in to do the European cheek kiss (which I know NOTHING about) and kissed each of his cheeks. He said, “No! No! It is THREE times. Like this.” So we did it once more but three times.  🙂

It was the first New Year’s Eve my children have stayed up to see the change of the year. Actually, they were asleep on that sofa (Ila was tired from dancing all night with Ginny Rose) and we woke them up for the changing of the year. They were thrilled…mostly about the party horns and hats.

We took it home after that. All I remember is waking up on the sofa in the living room wearing my fancy dress and all my make-up. But it was over.

The Joining of Two Souls

So, when I was reaching my late twenties, I was very upset I had not found that special someone I could settle down and spend the rest of my life with. I began to think I would never find anyone or have any children. Knowing I might not find the right person, I had internal discussions with myself about the long term situation with having no spouse and no children.  I had to come to grips with facts; I had to learn how to be happy with the life that I had. And I did. I was a proud home owner and felt fully capable of taking care of myself and my house on my own. I developed a real sense of pride in what I had accomplished and felt assured in what I could do in the future.  Of course, that is when I met my soon to be husband.  That’s what they say, you know…when you least expect it…you find someone.

There are so many things about marriage that no one ever tells you though. You hear over and over that marriage is hard; it is work, but no one ever explains why. Well, I am here to tell you, it is harder than hard and it is one of the hardest tasks you will ever take on for so many reasons. And if you choose to bring children into the marriage, you can just quadruple the amount of work you have to do to maintain it.

I have to start first with the biggest issue I know of…the passion. You hear that the passion dies. But does it die on both sides? That part I am not sure of. In my particular case, it seems my husband still has the passion but for me it has fizzled. In talking with friends, I see it has fizzled for some and not for others. That leads me to wonder if one person is more deeply connected than the other. I also hear from friends that relationships are slightly more one sided…I have friends that one spouse is completely enamoured while the other is not so much. Are relationships meant to be that way? Ideally, I think not. But is there really such a thing as soul mates? And if there are, is it a rarity that only few experience?

As I said before, I am obviously the one on the down end of the spectrum while my husband is still experiencing the passion. What happens for the other person? Is it my destiny to continue to work at what I have with my best friend while lacking the  passion I once had?

Maybe I am different from everyone else; when I was in college, I met who I thought was my soul mate. Things happened, things changed, we were young; he’s gone now and he is not coming back. Does that mean I missed my opportunity? Does it ever happen again?

I long for someone who wants me as much as I want him. I long for someone who loves me with all his heart…as much as I love him. It is about the connection. It is about the mutual admiration. When all these things are present, it is so much more than flesh on flesh. It is about the joining of two souls. It is not dirty. It is not taboo.  It is peaceful; it is comforting; it is completely fulfilling. For me, when you embrace someone with all your heart and it is wholly reciprocated, the physical joining with this person is like connecting two puzzle pieces; it fits. The two fit together easily, comfortably, and are drawn together. And I am sad to say, I don’t have that.

It’s just like the song says…

You find out who your friends are. If you don’t know that song, go to and look it up. So true.

What has happened to common courtesy these days? You invite someone to do something with you and they agree then when the time comes, you don’t hear from them. Is it too much to ask for them to let you know they don’t plan to make it?  Come on! Don’t leave me hanging!

I have invited two friends to come visit me here in Orange Beach for a FREE weekend at the beach and neither had the common courtesy to call me, email me, text me, just whatever and let me know they never planned to come. Is that too much to ask? Or am I such an ass that no one wants to come see me? I cant quite figure it out.

My husband often gets on my ass about friends…telling me I don’t have many because my standards are too high but as this happens, he tells me,  “They aren’t your true friends.” So if they aren’t my true friends, am I supposed to keep then on board and take further hurtful actions from them? I just don’t know. Should I look deeper within myself to see why this is happening? These are people who beg me to find time for them but when I do, they don’t show.

I find that the true friends I keep are ones that will gladly tell me at the drop of a hat that I am at fault or I have done something stupid. I have no problem with that…they stick by my side regardless. Do I need friends that don’t?

It’s about to be my birthday. I wanted some of my friends to come and spend it with me. I am offering a free place to stay at the beach. The ones I knew would come are coming no matter their responsibilities. They marked their calendar and plan to be here. And I thank God for them.