Ham and Sam

I last posted a blog about our Sam, a dog who saw me through twelve years, an entry written two years before this, his journey through life and death, his last remaining gift, a gift you can’t buy or ever hope to receive, wrapped always as the one lesson you refuse to do, so inevitably, you must.
The art of confronting death in a conscious manner was his gift to me, and I knew this as I held him to my heart as he went to the place puppies dance and roll and play, my weeping into his breathless body, grieving for his shadow, especially the mornings of forgetting, out of daze calling him as I would reach for the sliding glass door, the reflection no longer Sam and I, but just me. No matter how I rubbed my tired eyes, or called him from the bedroom, he never came. Sometimes I would rub the cold frosted glass with my hand in disbelief at first, looking for him knowing he hated wet grass, or I would call him on the bed, my feet cold, and just like waves, the grief rolled in. I couldn’t believe how many times I had forgotten. That is when I would lay my head on the glass, or the pillow, or the fence, or my steering wheel, and I would remember.
I hated remembering and felt guilty for forgetting.
I don’t want to be a Debby Downer, so lets get on with the real person this blog is about, my LP, Sam’s other mom, the soul sister, so not only was Sam a black dog with a white albino foot, but had two moms, and was constantly teased by friends for having too small a head for his body. I argued it was fur but LP was more a realist and I do think she called him gay a few times. Maybe because he was being regularly humped by only boy dogs. She said it to him with acceptance and love, that I am sure of.
Anyways, for a dog, he lived with a lot of stereotypes.
I went to high school with LP, and I always remember her as likable and friendly, surrounded by such a tight group of girls, cool girls, but I never had the opportunity to talk to her alone. Nor was there ever really a reason.
Her loyalty is fierce and authentic, and she loves like the tall beautiful Oak she is, arms open with greatness,
strong grounded roots that go so deep, she moves not, nor should she, when all she has to nourish her is already available.
I on the other hand, am like a vapor cloud, a poof of smoke, vanishing and appearing, whirling and experimenting, committed to never being caught in a jar, a web, a hand, or a cage. I am more like air, breathing in life with determined energetic flight, landing on friendly open hands, wriggling myself in and out of half opened cans, hopeful for strangers, on my own adventure.
Who knew a poof of smoke could only mix with an Oak?
I had moved myself into the College Lodge just when I saw her, coming out of room 604, hundreds of miles away from the same home town, yet not really friends, just to land ultimately right next to my room, 606.
We were both stunned, amazed, ecstatic at the obvious.
There are no coincidences.
She was shy and I talked too much and she found me extremely hilarious, something so pure and rare and effortless, that I decided she belonged to me, and I doubt I even gave her much choice. I just loved her so.
I think I lived and did horrendous things just to hear her laugh, her hand over her mouth, shaking her head, and somehow her embarrassed laughter brought out the outrageous in me. It was a daily joy to experience it to the point of pushing poor strangers with abrupt force unknowingly out of elevator doors just to make her cry in laughter, her cursing and hating my guts, pushing the buttons in panic while I rolled in pain watching her shut the door hysterically on my confused victims.
We looked absolutely awkward the two of us, but even more so when I wasn’t with her, people would always look at me odd, as if it were impossible one of us were doing this life thing without the other. I couldn’t argue with them, fully aware I was just a half without her, but I did remain hopeful she thought it were the other way around.
Of course, she knew better.
She is a relationship girl, and I only had few glimpses of her without one, times I knew to hold on to for dear life, loving being the center of her attention, single, flirting and dancing with boys in bars, but certain to be on her arm at closing time. She is too irresistible and I was never surprised at the appearance of some stupid boyfriend who would come in and steal her for awhile. Her relationship process came with jealousy at first, but then I would instantly fall too, gaining a new brother and friend, just to be devastated when the endings came, my heart broken, always forgetting I had hated them for stealing my thunder to begin with.
Our similarities being blond with blue eyes meant everywhere people were looking for both of us, the question was always, without question, “Hey, where is the tall girl and her friend with the big boobs?”
This is the way we were, for so long, picking out Sam together, separated by short summers only to be reunited by her red jeep, hundreds of cds, countless road trips, a serene ability to be silent with one another but present, Phish lots, our tight group of unbelievable people, beach trips, skipping class, leaving even our own parties, always pretending to go out with our girls, only to leave the bars to find solitude in music, late night food, and of course, fiercely competitive rounds of Spades.
Things began to change when she fell in love with her soul mate, her husband and my dear friend now, and while she seemed to become alive, I knew something terrible was happening to me. I started to hide away, all of my girls deep in school, but I had this horrible lie that had taken over me, my addictions demanding my full attention. I knew she was aware but I hid and lied, often carrying books as if I were walking to class along beside her, and when she went into the building, I would find my secret hiding places.
I didn’t tell any of them I had been pretending to do all the same papers and projects while all along making choices that were making me into someone I didn’t know. That girl was dying.
Anyone that has been in a real relationship with an addict knows how unbelievably selfish and destructive they are, how their intentions don’t mean shit. The only thing that mattered were the very things killing me, and I couldn’t get back, and I hated myself so much that I wanted her to just let me drown, drown in my hate, in my fear, in my despair. When you give your life to hate, you can’t let the light of people you love in. I had to push, and push, and push them all away.
We were supposed to leave for Australia, and I was in my addicted victim selfish coma, a planned trip we had made together completely abandoned, leaving her to go alone. I knew this was the hardest thing she could ever go do by herself, for so long, so far away, and I gave her no choice. I hated myself for doing it to her so her letters would come for me and for Sam, and I couldn’t open them. I would stuff them under my mattress, praying each day just to die. It would just be easier.
I got clean, met my divorcee and began an entire new way of being by the time she came home, something I had been longing for at my very core, for her to come back home, to us, to the very place I had so deeply wounded her. I wanted to show her how I had healed, introduce myself all over again, tell her how I had finally read every letter, and I was ready to make her laugh again.
I was either naive, hopeful, or a narcissist. Probably all the above.
She was done putting up with my selfish bullshit. She looked at me and talked politely, her wounds of her own experiences having never been a thought in my head, and I knew that something had broke I could not fix, that she did not think I was funny, or real, her silence calling out my bullshit friendship, wounds I wanted to take band aids to cover bullet wounds with, and she wouldn’t pretend for me. I knew I could only have what she offered and I accepted whatever that meant, and it hurt like a deep pulsing ache in my soul.
Over time, it was like she and I learned to know each other as friends who pass at events, weddings, congratulating each other, our love unconditional, and yet, fate had taken its course.
Life just is what it is, and yet, I hated it, wishing to be the one on the other end of the phone, a part of me always knowing I had a part in breaking a tie I had lost hope would ever be what I had dreamed, us pregnant and growing old together, in rocking chairs, and laughing.
Throughout my marriage and into divorce land, I searched and tried on new friends like hand gloves, and I found some to be toxic and suffocating, others to be fun, some to be spiritual and seekers like myself, and yet, the glove never really fit, not the way I felt satisfied. I always had a beautiful group of men friends and still do, and have made some life altering friendships but it wasn’t until one day a few months ago, I had a major epiphany.
I had the original art all along, and in my search to duplicate some equal counterpart, I was finding cheap imitation pieces that pissed me off, because if art imitates life, then the real artist had to be me, and what I had been painting had to lie within me. I had to forgive myself. I had to release LP to her story as well, and trust.
In my car, sobbing, I began painting love in my heart for a lost addicted girl in hate, believing she had lost something so priceless, a timeless devastation, and that it had been all her fault. But in reality, I hadn’t lost LP.
I had lost myself. I wondered if this forgiveness connection with LP would show up as a different painting, something I had not foreseen, prompting me to write a blog for a new BFF.
I wondered if it would not change anything at all. Perhaps I am destined to be every guy’s best friend. I can live with that art as well.
Then something extraordinary happened.
I got a face book message from her saying I wasn’t going to believe this but that by total coincidence, she had been given a black border collie dog named Ham, a rescue dog, afraid and rather skiddish. She saw the symbol of such an incredible full circle, and she said something about she felt as if she were being given back a chance to be there for Sam, when she thought she had not, and I couldn’t believe she really felt that way.
Maybe after forgiveness came in, none of this shit even mattered. Maybe it wasn’t even real. Maybe Ham was just being tossed the baton Sam hadn’t been able to finish. Maybe the two of them would bring us back. I still wasn’t so sure.
That is, until I got tickets to see Phish, and found she and her husband were going as well, with the baby I so longed to meet, and while she was in town, crazy coincidences led me to her mother, and my children to her, all on the same day, when I didn’t even know she had come into town. I got to soak in that baby, and I was different, that needy fearful energy gone, and so was she, and her husband blew my mind, bringing me back to the best parts of who we used to be and are, but just different.
Just a little older and wiser but still crazy about a band called Phish.
And wouldn’t you know it, but in that night, not only did I hear the second song they played LP and I had claimed as our own from the beginning, one of many, but this one had significance. “Heavy Things” we played all the time, Big Cypress a perfect example of being with her, while one of “our” songs played.
The music led me back to her, to me, and it was within minutes, no seconds, that she started to laugh, so hysterically at my ridiculous antics and jokes. Phish playing along with her laugh returned was like a beautiful beat lifting me out of my body, a love so pure and fun and given freely, that I danced in a way that your soul moves out of your skin, impatient for your body to follow. Through the laughter, we agreed, with me in a coconut bra and hula skirt by pinkie swear, to be who we are together in the present moment, to seize it, and I don’t know if she has a clue what that means to me, but somewhere out there is someone who does.
His name is Sam and he sent a friend named Ham.
They want us to laugh and not give a damn.
Drop the pain, the story, the hurt.
Put on Coconut bras and hula skirts.
Dance together, apart, or alone.
Let Sam and Ham bring us home.

LP, this is for you…..


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