Gone but not forgotten

One of my favorite shows growing up was Jim Henson’s Fraggle Rock, and one of my favorite episodes in the series was an episode entitled Gone but Not Forgotten. In the episode, one of the Fraggles named Wembley meets a character named Mudwell, a Mudbunny. Mudbunnies are a solitary species which spend their entire lives preparing for their eventual end. They know their time has come when the mud is ready.

Being a Fraggle, a creature which lives entirely in the moment and the complete opposite of a Mudbunny, Wembley has a hard time at first accepting the reason why his new-found friend won’t join the other Fraggles and their fun community forever. Mudwell sings about the water cycle.

“One day it’s an ocean.
One day ice in motion.
One day it’s a tear drop in your eye.”

As he continues, it is clear he is singing about a completely different cycle –

“You’ve got to leave to stay.
We’ll meet again someday,
Just a dream away.”

It is a beautiful, moving episode about handling grief, how painful and awkward it is, and yet it is also an episode about connection, the cycle of life, and rebirth. Mudwell’s song stayed with me throughout the years and has only grown more poignant as I’ve gotten older.  I am especially reminded of it on weeks like this.

Our friend, Ashley passed away this week. Ashley was funny, caring, and nice, but never obnoxiously so. She enjoyed helping others and spending time with her family. In my mind’s eye, I still see her joining the group after a mud run, ridiculously filthy from head to toe, but always with a smile on her face and always looking like the definition of health.

I am conflicted.

I am angry. Cancer takes so many and took her too young. I am sick to my stomach thinking about those left behind. I am sad. I didn’t get to know her long enough. But I suspect if I asked her family, they would say there would never have been enough time. I am happy she is no longer suffering. I am working on accepting. We’ve known this time was coming.

I am grateful.

We are all here for only a moment but live on in the memories of others. Ashley, although we never spoke about it, you’ve inspired me to live each day fully and helped to keep my priorities in order. You had a bigger impact than you’ll ever know. You may be gone, but you are not forgotten. May you live long in memory.

Until we meet again.

Bottoms Up!

The hubby and I married in our early twenties. After announcing our engagement, I remember a handful of people, including my dad, ask if I was really ready. My mom and dad had married young and were divorced, so I understood their concern. After making assurances about my decision my dad offered a piece of sage advice:

Be very careful what chores you do. Whatever you do more than three times in a row will be your job for life.

I must not have been careful enough because as the years progressed I somehow found myself responsible for emptying all the trash cans upstairs. Downstairs? Those bins are different. Either of us will take their contents to the curb as needed. It stinks or overflows, and out it goes without further prompting. But bins upstairs? Those must be weighted like the hammer of Thor as only I appear to be worthy of lifting them.

Most of the bins upstairs are small and accessible, except for the one in the laundry closet. Instead, that room has a kitchen sized container wedged firmly in the narrow space between the dryer and the wall. The only way to empty it is to pull the entire thing up over the dryer, a difficult task when the can is full but not much better when empty. I am, as they say, vertically challenged, reaching above and around the dryer is no easy feat for me. When I realized I’d been tricked into dealing with the small bins, I asked the hubby if he would at least help with that one. I thought it was a pretty good offer; he wouldn’t have to empty it nearly as often as I did the others.

But I still expected it to be emptied sometime. As I pulled clothes out of the dryer this weekend, I noticed that the can was overflowing with rodent sized globs of dryer lint. Empty detergent bottles were stacked up like the Tower of Pisa. Exactly how long had it been between cleanings? (To be fair, the hubby does plenty of other chores around the house, he is just terrible remembering this one. I suspect is it on purpose.) The next trash day I found myself alone in the house with a few minutes before I was to start work. Fine, you win. I’ll do it myself.

I opened up the laundry closet and hopped atop the dryer. As I pulled the trash can up, empty plastic bags and more lint bunnies tumbled to the floor near, what was that, an empty raisin box?! How long has that been there? Visions of house fires and roach invasions filled my thoughts.

In retrospect, I should have simply grabbed my vacuum, but instead I lay on my stomach and tried reaching over the side to grab everything on the floor by hand. It was just out of reach. I inched forward. I learned my dryer’s surface is surprisingly frictionless.

death by dryerI began hurtling over the side like a penguin sliding on ice. Man, did I ever pick a bad day to wear a skirt. I was going to crack my head on the floor. My body wouldn’t be found until the evening with my hind quarters up in the air for all the world to see. My friends would toast my memory with a ‘bottoms up’ and wouldn’t even pretend not to giggle. It was just the way I always dreamed of going.

I thought fast as the ground rapidly came closer. I threw my head back so that it came in contact with the wall. It was enough to slow my downward momentum, but not completely stop it. I felt my body slip another fraction of an inch.

As I hung there with my rump in the air and blood pooling in my face, I found myself wondering, was I really content with the legacy I would be leaving behind? I mean sure, Elvis may be known for dying on a toilet (or at least within a few feet of it), but at least he also had revolutionized rock n’ roll and served his country with honor. I wanted to be known for more than just being the petite lady who met her end via a dumpster dive inside the house.

Continuing to use my head as a tripod support I slowly pushed myself back up. Returning to an upright position, I nearly lost my balance as my blood returned to its regular circulation, but I survived. This time.

Our eldest will bemoan that we “never buy him anything!” and has recently begun asking for an allowance. It may be time to make him earn it. In any event, I need to get this second book published before life kills me.

Before you ask – yes the book is actually nearly done (yes – done, done). I’ve edited and refined all but the final chapter. I’ll be asking for volunteers for a round of beta reads in June. Please stay tuned for additional details or contact me if you think you might be interested.