the only sound i
hear is the rhythmic breathing
of my two babies.
Monday evening, right after I posted my latest blog, I received the news that Cameron, a dear friend of mine whom I’ve known since childhood, passed away. After a long battle against Leukemia, a bone marrow transplant, then Graft-Versus-Host disease, she finally fell ill with a fungal infection in her lungs and then she was gone from our midst.
The news shot through my core like an ice-cold sword. I burst into tears and spent the rest of the night angrily crying out to God.
Why her? Why? Why, one of the sweetest, most talented, most precious souls to ever walk this earth? I know so many other terrible people who get to live. Why doesn’t she get to stay with us?
(I’m one of those terrible people, by the way, as is evidenced by the horrible prayers I’ve been praying since her passing.)
I felt especially bad for posting a blog link on my Facebook right around the time the rest of my hometown started posting about Cameron’s death. I felt so tacky, so self-serving. I felt like a total ass.
But there is something many people from our hometown didn’t know about Cameron.
They all knew she was sweet. And hilarious. And fiercely intelligent. And crazy talented. Anyone who’s spent five minutes with Cameron can tell you any of those things.
But one thing no one but me knew about her: Cameron loved this blog.
She did. She loved it so much. She loved my writing. And I can’t even tell you why someone so great, someone so smart, and someone so incredible, would even read my (sometimes nonsensical and always emotional) ramblings, let alone love them. But she did.
She would always message me the minute after I posted a blog and thank me for speaking to her heart. She, just like me and many other women out there, fought the same body image ideals of our twisted society. And my writing gave her hope and peace and encouraged her to love her body (even when, in the end, it didn’t seem to love her back).
And so today’s TILT is dedicated to Cameron. To the person she was, and the person she made me to be.
I first met Cameron Huster at our church when we were little. She played the harp and I burped on purpose. She was small and sweet and I was tall and loud and wild. She made friends with the other girls in our children’s ministry and I climbed kumquat trees and pouted. And that’s how we grew up.
When we got to high school and I went astray, she was the only person from my churched upbringing that remained my real friend. And never in a “man I hope I can rub off on Lindsay and be a good influence because OOOH BOY is she awful” way. But in a genuine, “I care about you because you are worth caring about” way.
When I learned that I was going to Florida State University for college, she reached out to me because she was dual enrolling at FSU our senior year (because I wasn’t kidding about her being a freaking genius) and made plans to meet up with me and show me around. She was the one who told me that I had to go to MoMo’s and try “pizza as big as your head”, a pizza place that ended up being integral to my quality of life during my nine years of living in Tallahassee.
When I got pregnant and then had Dax, she was one of the people who was SO excited and grateful for my new journey. She came by to snuggle him and brought him toys (a music instrument puzzle and an orchestra music box, complete with — of course — a harp) because she loved Dax so very much. She loved him so, not just because he was cute and tiny and a baby, but because he was mine. And she loved me. For some reason this smart, talented, sweet, incredible person loved me. My whole self. My opinionated, aggressive, stand-offish self. She loved me and she loved Dax because we were just the way we were.
Cameron Huster believed the best about everyone. And that included me. She believed that, even though I had my demons, I was worth a damn. She always treated me as such. Even when I was falling asleep in the pews during the church services in which she played that harp, she always loved me and made me feel worthy of love. And I never wanted to fight her on it, to tell her, “No, actually, you’re way too good for me.”
Because even more than all that, she made me actually believe that I was worth a damn.
This morning while I was eating my breakfast and trying to organize my thoughts for this blog post, I kept saying in my head that this world will be a much crappier place now that Cameron is gone. But you know what? That’s a lie.
Because of all the people she touched — like me — this world is going to be a better place because she was in it. She left a piece of herself in me, and in everyone around her. And while her body may not be with us, her spirit permeates the air in things like the words I write in this blog and in the conversations we have with those around us.
She may not be breathing anymore, but she is alive. And I am grateful that she is alive in me.
Love you, Cam.
My husband is sick and I’ve been going nonstop since 7AM so this is my limit.
Sorry blog but it’s crash time.
For me, writing has never been a hobby. It’s has always been the way I process my interactions with the world. It’s a compulsion. Like breathing, it is almost involuntary for me. I’m not entirely sure I have a grasp on my own thoughts until I can see them written down. It helps me make sense of things. It makes me feel alive. It makes me feel creative and like I can change this world for the better. Maybe. It makes me feel like I might even have the slightest bit of control over my life.
Ever since I was a little girl I’ve been a writer. I remember being in 4th grade and attending a Young Authors Banquet at my elementary school, clutching in my tiny hands a novel I’d written (and illustrated!) on computer paper and carefully stapled together. The very next year I remember a teaching assistant (who wasn’t exactly fond of me) snatching my journal away from me during class because I couldn’t seem to quit writing and focus on her lessons.
When the internet happened and, almost beyond my own consent, slithered its way into my daily life, I naturally began to write on the internet. (Shout out, LiveJournal!) Then, in 2009, this blog was born. Thanks to technology, candidly chronicling my interaction with this world through my own highly biased lens was easy, fun, and exciting! If you’ve been reading me for any length of time you know that I’ve always been as authentic as possible on here (because I know no other way) throwing all caution to the wind, pouring my heart and soul out to whomever may be reading/watching/listening/whatever to the words I have to say, not necessarily thinking of the implications of my very naturally occurring practices. And people liked it. And I liked that people liked it.
But then recently, I learned that some people DON’T like it. Maybe they don’t like me. And, furthermore, may even be hurt by it and/or me. The line between my blog and myself had become so blurred that I wasn’t able to see where I ended and the internet began. And so I was hurt by it. So I was hurting myself by writing on the internet, despite not really knowing any other way to interact with the internet.
In other words, I’ve recently found that writing on the internet can be really tricky.
Get away, Captain Obvious. No one asked you.
Needless to say, over the past few months, this has rattled me into a blogging silence. I’ve found myself staring at blank pages terrified to say the exact things I’m feeling because they may offend someone or, worse, actually hurt someone and then, by proxy, hurt me. So instead of writing, I’ve been… just… not.
Not even in my journal.
Because how do I know my journal isn’t gonna go squealing to its BFF my blog? I mean really, Self. Come on. You’re ridiculous.
That’s a pretty vague (again, the authenticity of this whole internet thing is a sudden terrible fear I have) explanation to my unexpected blog silence over the past few months.
But hey! I think it might be over!
My dear friend Beth posted on her blog that she’s gonna do this thing in October where she writes for 31 days. And she invited anyone else who might be up to the challenge.
And I thought, “Hey. I might could be.”
And then I opened up my blog to write this post and I got scared. So who knows.
Are any of you up to the awkward challenge of me trying to figure out how to blog again? *desperately searches for a fist bump somewhere* Come onnnn.
Last weekend, a good friend of mine let me know that there was a free writing workshop being offered by an author who was in town to speak at a church. As you can tell from my dusty blog (hello cobwebs) my spirit hasn’t exactly been… um… pleasant enough for blogging…
Oh well — if you can’t be honest on the Internet, where can you?
I’ve been in a major life funk lately.
There I said it.
And I hate blogging when I’m in a funk because it makes me re-feel all my funky feelings and, because I write on the Internet, it subjects all of you lovely people to my funk, too.
It must have been providential, then, that this workshop was titled, Open-heart Writing; like open-heart surgery, it is painful but life-saving.
The author gave us three prompts (one at a time) and gave us ten minutes to jot something down (on PAPER! with PENS!) And, despite the time crunch and my inability to edit, I kinda liked the things I wrote. So I’m gonna share them with you, the Internet, in lieu of a funky-feely blog post.
PROMPT 1: Describe the room.
The room is golden, both in color and in ambiance. It doesn’t sparkle though, fighting a looming tarnish. The windows pour in a summery stream of mid-February, south Florida morning, as I sit between a Diane and a woman whose name will always be to me, Also Talks WIth Her Hands.
Laura sits at the head of our mango-colored table, adorned with silver rings on her fingers and around her neck, and her crooked smile and quiet voice reminds me of Erica.
PROMPT 2: The most important room in my life.
Walking along the maroon, cracked tiles, the soles of my shoes always stuck a little bit, presumably because there was residual barbecue sauce forever festering in the pores of the tiles. The smell has gone, but the look of the interior of Mickey Andrews’ Barbecue Joint (was that its name?) would always linger in the church corporate gathering area.
It was in this dark, awkwardly arranged ex-restaurant where I was reintroduced to a guy named Jesus Christ who, contrary to everything I’d ever been taught as a small, loud-mouthed girl, loved me so very much just the way I am.
Being a converted barbecue restaurant, the dining tables exchanged for handmade wooden cafe tables and broken stadium seats, it doesn’t really look like a church. Maybe that’s why I loved it so much.
There were no stained glass windows, only dingy double panes dressed in cheap, plastic blinds. There weren’t any bad, last supper themed murals. Instead there was a thick coat of dark red matte and framed artwork by members of the community. Instead of a chancel with an organ and handbells, there was a rickety, slapped-together collapsible stage precariously cradling a drum set and a few acoustic and electric guitars, as well as a homemade stool for the pastor to teach from.
PROMPT 3: Tell the story in this photo.
The hot, sticky air disguised itself as that of mid to late May, but the calendar, turned to the twelfth month, called its bluff. Comforted by the shelter of a banyan canopy, sweating in long sleeves, you and I struggled to keep up with a smaller, more wild version of ourselves, who had just learned how to walk.
Stifled by both the south Florida winter’s heat and the reality that a toddler and a clock ticking seconds closer to nap time were a volatile combination, our appearance was remarkably pleasant. The perfect little trio, an enviable Christmas card, telling terrible lies to all its recipients.
“Things are beautiful and perfect here! We love our life! Cheese!” was what we said on the sandy path, our unruly boy trapped in the binding and protective embrace of a tired and frustrated father. Deep in our eyes, though, the truth was louder.
Sadness, loneliness, and betrayal leaked out of us onto the card as the cruel sun climbed higher behind the defenseless branches. But we are here, alive and robust in perspiration, together in a beautiful and clumsy dance of survival.
Like the Spanish moss to the stretching limbs, we are committed to growing and stretching upward, downward, and in spirals.
I. Am. Exhausted.
I’ve been staring at this computer screen for way too long trying to think of something to blog about but honestly, I’m bone dry. Between working, watching Dax, and starting a seminary class (hold back your LOLS people) I’m toast.
So here’s what you need to know about my life at present:
1. I can’t stay awake in meetings. Just can’t. But wouldn’t you know it, I can’t fall asleep at a reasonable hour at night, either.
2. Being a work-from-home mom is so wonderful but so very tough at the same time. It’s hard to draw hard boundaries between work time and mom time. Also, I usually do all my work during Dax’s naps which leaves zero time to actually clean the house which is also part of my “job” I guess. Oops. Sorry, Dan. Hope you like wrinkled clothes and dirty feet because HEYYYY.
3. I’ve mentioned this before but Dan goes out of town a lot now. Maybe it’s my own personal exhaustion (and undoubtedly a hint of jealousy since a tiny human doesn’t heavily depend on his body for food making it easy for him to leave for several days at a time and impossible for me to do the same) but I’m extra whiney about it lately. When the alarm clock goes off in the morning I all but throw a tantrum that even our baby would find embarrassing. But them’s the breaks, I s’pose.
4. My mom came to visit this weekend (since Dan was gone again) and we got to talking about what life was like when I was a baby. And I gotta admit, I’m kind of envious. Sure, life now is great because I can plaster my Facebook page with pictures of my baby (assuming everyone on my friend list gives a rip) but at the same time, 30 years ago, when MY mom was doing this, she kind of had an advantage. For instance, if she took me to my pediatrician, for example, and said pediatrician told HER that I wasn’t eating enough vegetables and was way too heavy for my age and should already be walking, she could just go home and say, “Okay, we’ll try lots of different things to force-feed Lindsay vegetables and get her to walk soon and if not, it’s okay!” But when that happened to me and Dax with our new pediatrician (oh yeah, that happened) I came home to a Facebook newsfeed and Instagram feed filled with babies Dax’s age who all seem to be walking, talking, and doing cartwheels all while wolfing down bowls of spinach. WELL OKAY THEN.
5. Sometimes, the way my hair is styled plus the ungodly heat and humidity of south Florida, makes me kind of look like Garth Algar. Soooo you’re welcome, Internet!
And now you’re caught up! Please excuse me while I faceplant.
This is filed under “ones that are hard to write”.
There are so many sad/bad/frustrating things about being several thousand miles away from all my closest friends:
1. Despite being outgoing and outwardly confident all of the time, deep inside I’m unreasonably insecure, so I believe that I’m “out of sight, out of mind.”
2. Like it or not, relationships change when people move away. When you’re not with someone, it’s hard to really engage with them. Even though…
3. Social media makes it a little bit better/mostly worse.
You may recall I underwent a social media fast earlier this year. I wrote about how it was great for my soul and how everyone who’s on social media should do it every now and again and blah blah blah.
But since moving to Naples, I’ve attached myself to social media out of fear of numbers 1 and 2 on that list. By trying to be fully engulfed in Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, I’ve tried so hard to fool myself into thinking that I’m not out of sight or mind and that my relationships aren’t different.
But the bitter pill I’ve had to swallow lately is that I am and they are.
And so social media has — yet again — done little to help me but, instead, all it can to harm me. On Facebook I’m invited to events that I can’t go to and my newsfeed is flooded with pictures of those events that are somehow still happening in my absence. On Instagram I’m seeing photo after photo after photo of people I love doing things with other people I love where I might be if I was still home.
And the green-eyed envy monster wins another one.
It is absolutely crucial to my job to be active on social media so a fast is out of the question. But I will say this — my heart isn’t in a good place right now and maybe if I’m open about it, that’ll allow for space for us to talk about the reality that is social media induced envy.
TELL ME, READERS:
Have you ever seen a picture on Instagram and thought, “Ugh, that person must have the perfect life.”?
Have you ever seen a status update that made you throw up in your mouth a little bit because it was so…just…perfect?
Please tell me I’m not the only one. Let’s be real, here. What do you do to combat these feelings?