My Real Life

October 4, 2009

Real Loss

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 7:34 am
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I had a dream last night about a good friend of mine.

Anita 001

When I got my first full-time, public school teaching job, I met a woman.  Her name was Anita.  She was a special education teacher and she reached those kids like no one else.  She was no-nonsense and tough, but those kids knew she loved them, and they worked for her.

Anita was like a second mother to me.  She was more than helpful as I worked my way through my first year of teaching.  She mentored me in so many different ways.  Much of the teacher that I became was because of Anita.  Much of the adult that I became was because of Anita.

Anita was all about others.  She cared deeply for her friends and loved her husband and two children more fiercely than you could imagine.  She would do anything for anyone.  The phrase, “She’d give you the shirt off her back” certainly applied to Anita.

Anita came to the hospital when Monkey Girl was born.  She was one of my first friends to hold my baby.  She actually gave us the baby name book from which we chose Monkey Girl’s name.  I still have that book with her inscription on the inside cover.

Anita’s biggest fear was that she would develop cancer someday.  And one day, she did.

She fought bravely for a very, very long time.

With her chemo pack on, she came to the hospital to see Monkey in the Middle when he was born.  She held him and reveled in our joy.  It was the last time I saw Anita.

She passed away two months later.  I have never seen calling hours or a funeral more packed.  The line went on forever and the grief was real.

I still miss Anita all the time.  I miss her smile, her laugh.  I miss her no-nonsense approach to life.  She was warm and wonderful and everything that we should all strive to be.

So, today, I’m thinking about Anita and thanking my lucky stars that I had her in my life, for as brief a time as I did.  My life was definitely better for having known her. 

If you have someone you are missing today, think about what their best qualities were.  Try to embody those qualities yourself today.  What better way to honor those we have loved and lost than to let them live on through you.

September 22, 2009

Real Travels

Okay, indulge me one more day in my trip down memory lane.  Tomorrow, back to business as usual here at My Real Life.

So, as I said in an earlier post, I was looking through my photo boxes the other day.  You may also remember me talking about my bestest friends, Kim, Erin and Michaela.



Now we’re all grown up (well, sorta) but it wasn’t always that way.  Once upon a time, we were teenagers.

High School 001

Well, as I looked through the gajillion pictures in my picture box, I couldn’t help but be struck by how many were of the girls and I.  I also was struck by how many of the shots of the girls and I were of us in different states or islands.

We were in the youth group at our church, as well as in our handbell choir.  Our youth group would travel every summer to Appalachia and build homes or fix up homes for the extremely poor families that were living there.  I remember one year, we built a bathroom for a woman who had never had one attached to her house before.  Another year, we peeled our way through 13 layers of wallpaper in someone’s kitchen.  We always had a great time, and we met some really cool people along the way.

In our handbell choir, we traveled around in the summer, playing concerts and entertaining the masses.

Here are Erin, Michaela and I in Bermuda with Sara, another ringer.  I loved Bermuda and have always hoped to get back there someday.  It was so beautiful there.  Clear water, hidden coves.  Just a beautiful, beautiful island.

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Here we all are in Michigan, watching the fireworks on the Fourth of July.  (We were always on tour for the Fourth.)  To this day, I cannot be at a firework display without thinking of this firework display in Michigan.

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This one is of us in Michigan, outside of our hotel.  That tour was our senior year and was definitely the most special.

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I could literally overload WordPress with all of the photos I have of the girls and I over the years.  However, I just thought I’d share a nice little trip down memory lane.  I know exactly how lucky I am to have these women in my life, and I like to celebrate it whenever I can.

September 21, 2009

Real Brother

I’m the only child of two only children.  So, family reunions were breakfast every morning.

However, although I was technically alone, I believe I’ve already made clear the relationship I had with my sisters-not-by-blood, Kim, Erin and Michaela.

Yet, I’ve neglected, thus far, to mention my brother-not-by-blood, Mark.

Mark and I were Frick and Frack.  Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum.  Salt and Pepper.  Peas and Carrots.  We were kinda like Jenny and Forrest, however, I’d like to think we were both more Jenny than Forrest.

Here’s Mark on the bus in eighth grade.

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Look at those teeth.  I’ve always been jealous of those perfect teeth.

That pose is inherently Mark.  He’s the most full of life person that I know.  His enthusiasm for life is contagious and being around Mark always makes me happy.

Mark and I went to the eighth grade dance together.


Weren’t my friend, Sari, and I lucky to go with the Miami Vice guys?

However, we went to high school and Mark moved to Texas and left me.  It was a very sad time for me. 

Until, that is, I realized that now I had an excuse to fly to Texas every Spring Break!

And so I did.

The first year, Michaela and I went.  The second year, Erin, Michaela and I went.  The third year, Kim and I went. 

I don’t have a lot of photos of these trips, but what I do have are videos.  Michaela is working on transferring them to dvd as we speak, and when she does, you can be sure I’ll try to figure out a way to get it on the blog.  Oh, and trust me, these tapes are more embarrassing to me than they are to anyone else on them.

During our high school years, recording studios were also the new, big thing.  So, we have many, many songs that we all recorded together.  I’m not so sure I’ll be sharing those, although Michaela has already transferred those to CD for us.

Anyway, remember how I said Mark’s enthusiasm for life was contagious?

Let me share a little bit of my wedding reception with you.  Disclaimer beforehand…lest you think that this was the result of drinking at the wedding, it wasn’t.  This is what happens to us when we are with Mark.  It happened when we were eight and if we could ever all get together again, it would happen again now that we are in our late 30’s…um, I mean late 20’s.

Here are Michaela and Kim with Mark.

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Here is just Kim and Mark, trying to get every last bit of fun out of those bouquets.

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As always, Mark rubbed off and Michaela got in on the action.  Princess Leia, eat your heart out!

milkwed 001

Finally, she almost crossed the line that would have resulted in my mother kicking her butt all over that reception hall.

milkcake 001

Mark…get your butt up here to NJ!

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