Three Years

Three years ago last night, I was driving back to Corona from the Kaiser Permanente medical center on Sunset Blvd. I’d left my mom there because she felt like staying with my dad. It was the one night during his 19 days in the hospital that she really felt the need to be there. 

The hospital sleep apnea machine was so loud and grating that he didn’t stand a chance of getting the good rest he needed, so I drove from LA to Corona to get his own machine and pack my mom an overnight bag, then back to LA, then back to Corona to get some sleep. We had been at the hospital early that morning, and the daily trek to and from was starting to catch up to us.

When I returned to the hospital, my dad — who had been in and out of alertness and sleep all day — attentively opened his eyes and asked me how the traffic had been. These moments were becoming further apart, but he would still amaze us with the way he’d go from dozing off to being completely present and in the moment. I told him the drive was fine, but I knew he was using energy he didn’t have to make conversation. I told him to rest — that he was in the right unit for recovery, and that he needed to get some good sleep. I said I’d see him the next morning. He nodded and his eyes began to shut.

They had moved him earlier that afternoon from the surgery prep and recovery wing to the cardiac intensive care unit where I delivered his CPAP machine. It wasn’t the move we’d been hoping for — he’d been waiting almost two weeks for the triple bypass that never came — but what better place to be than in an ICU? After all, there were doctors everywhere, miracle workers, life savers…right? But the reality of his move was less hopeful.

“You’re not a candidate for surgery,” the doctors told him. We were stunned. How could he not be a candidate? Not even a month earlier he was home, still going to work, still doing his routine, preparing for his retirement party that would never come. He was slowing down a bit, sure, but heart failure could be managed, and I know we all intended to manage the hell out of it. So how could these words be our news? Our world changed in that moment; the hope he’d always been so good at imparting was gone. And we all felt it.

After his doctors said there would be no triple bypass, we all sat quietly in the room. At one point my mom excused herself for a few moments, and I walked over to my dad.

“I’m so nervous for you,” I said. My eyes filled with tears immediately. 

“I know,” he said. “But I’m in God’s hands.”

“I know,” I replied, “but aren’t you nervous?”

“Not nervous, just sad,” he said.

“Why sad?” I asked.

“Because I’m expecting the worst.”

It was one of his last few “alert” moments, and I remember how hugging him felt as I leaned over his hospital bed. The next week, I was struck by how cold and heavy his hand felt when I touched it as he lay in the casket.


Three years ago last night I was driving back to Corona to sleep. 

Three years ago last night I saw him alive for the last time.

Three years ago last night I turned off my phone to get a good night’s rest, and three years ago my mom was getting none because my dad went into cardiac arrest. Twice.

They brought him back after the first, cautioning my mom that it would likely happen again. And it did. After the second time, he died. He passed around 1am on September 19th.

She made it home around three in the morning because she was able to reach my brother. He had just gotten home from a flight and was getting ready for bed when he saw his phone light up. He headed to LA to pick up my mom, then drove her to Corona.

First the overhead light in the bedroom came on, then I heard her softly saying my name. As she woke me, it reminded me of times from my childhood when she’d wake me with news that a sick pet hamster, bird, dog or cat had passed away during the night. At first I thought she was home because I’d left something out of her overnight bag, and I was immediately frustrated with myself that she had to come home to get it — and what was “it,” anyway? Did I leave her toothbrush out? Hairbrush? Did I forget a change of clothes? But then I realized that she’d left her husband’s side — my dad’s side — because he was gone.

Last night was a difficult night, today was an emotionally comatose day, and it will continue to be a difficult week. I’ve been bracing for this day for almost a month, and the fact that it’s behind me for another year doesn’t provide any relief. It simply keeps the raw emotions somewhat at bay, not that they’re ever far away. The clock gets reset, and the countdown starts all over.

I miss him every day, and I dislike a lot about this life without him here. I miss my solid, calm sounding board. I miss splitting a beer with him, I miss his raised eyebrows when I’d make an inappropriate joke — followed by a few of his silent chuckles and head shaking. I miss watching “the game” — any game — with him. I miss having a built-in giver of financial advice, and I miss the aura of peace that surrounded him. It’s fitting, really, the lack of that; I’ve been searching for a way to get it back, and while I know what they say is true — that you can never go home again — is it too much to ask for a little less change, and maybe a bit more predictability? Maybe just some quiet for a while? It seems so.

If there’s anything I’ve learned in the last three years, it’s that for as much as I wish he was still here — he really already is. He’s telling us to keep going, and he’s doing what he always did: he’s being the steady force in our lives that helps us put one foot in front of the other, day after day.

For my dad, for his way, and for his life that’s still a part of us, I am eternally grateful. 

My Father’s Day

It’s hard to believe he’s not here with us — but even so, it’s still very much his day.

Since 2015, June trips to the grocery store have become adventures in dodging the card aisle. TV viewing stings a little whenever a Father’s Day commercial makes an appearance. Meals out mean the possibility of spottting a prix fixe promotion for dad. And social media? Posts send me on a rollercoaster of highs and lows. Sentimental writing and sepia-toned photos fill my newsfeeds while tears fill my eyes. I want to tell people to hold on to the memories they’ve made and to make as many more as their days permit. The days stop so suddenly sometimes.

The other day I was remembering times when I’d call home with some big news; my mom would put me on speakerphone so my dad could also hear. Little known fact: I hate being on speakerphone. It’s bothersome to me. It hurts my ears, and boy, can my ears’ unhappiness make me cranky. Inevitably I’d ask her to take me off it, as my preference was to just speak with them both individually. But now, I’d give anything to be on speakerphone with them again and to complain about how hard it is to hear them, or how someone needs to get closer to the phone. Because it would mean that he’s still here.

I miss my dad’s patient, wise advice, and yet I still hear it whenever I’m in a tough or trying situation. I miss his kind smile, and yet I see it whenever I look at photos of him through the years. I miss giving him hugs, and yet I still feel them when I dream. I have a recurring one where I see him walking towards me and each time I think, “See? I knew you weren’t really gone. People think you’re gone but I knew you weren’t. I knew you were here the whole time.” And then I give him giant hug. It’s a hug I can always feel even after waking. It’s a hug that sees me through the next few days where the hurt of his passing is fresh all over again. Dreams are funny like that.

But the thing about my thoughts in that dream is that they’re true. He isn’t really gone. He is here. He’s with me in ways that are more apparent to me now since his passing than they were before. It’s strange how loss can bring someone that much closer to you.

Today I am grateful for my dad whose presence I miss each day, but whose impact on my life I feel each hour. My Father’s Day is every day because glimmers of him appear almost on an hourly basis. I couldn’t have had a more wonderful role model who still lives on in my life.

Happy Father’s Day, dad. I miss you.

Happy Birthday

Walter is his neighbor; he lives a few doors down. There are two others in between them and even more in the general vicinity, but Walter has always been my favorite because they share the same birthday. It certainly isn’t because they knew each other (they didn’t), nor because they passed away on the same day. Walter went the year before.

Today would have been my dad’s 70th birthday. It was early afternoon and the mercury was creeping toward 90 degrees. There wasn’t a speck of white in the sky, except for the remnants of an airplane’s vapor trails. Maybe it was the heat that kept me from crying, though my sweat unfortunately wasn’t as preoccupied with the temperature.

There’s a lot of concrete at cemeteries. Whether it’s a towering wall of niches or vast expanses of hardscape bowing down to religious mosaics upwards of three stories high, on a cooler day you’d pay no attention to it. Today, however, the concrete would not be ignored; it magnified each ray, and it was harsh. Every flower seemed to wilt in the pot I was carrying.

Dusk is my favorite time of day; my dad’s area of the cemetery is nothing short of heavenly when just the slightest bit of light remains and the stars are quickly ushered in to keep watch during the night. With Valentine’s Day in the not too distant past, a welcoming committee of red mylar heart-shaped balloons swayed in the breeze; they seemed almost patriotic against the blue sky. Red roses were laid at numerous graves, and I noticed a few new markers since the last time I visited. It’s not a short process to have one made and delivered, so I was happy that the recent ones came in time for the 14th; a celebration of life and love always deserves a name to go with the sentiment.

As mom and I rounded the corner to Ascension Gardens, there they were: members of Walter’s family. They sat in a narrow strip of shade; prayers were quietly spoken in Spanish. We wanted to tell them about the story we’d heard of Walter, although interrupting a prayer didn’t seem like the best time for storytelling.

So I will tell you.

My dad passed around 1am on September 19, 2014. Later that same day, we visited the cemetery and spent a few surreal hours looking for his final resting place. As we settled on Ascension Gardens and took a few moments to find the perfect plot – not too close to the sprinklers lest there be soggy ground, not too close to the sidewalk lest people carelessly stray from the path – we noticed Walter’s marker. He had the same birthday as my dad, so we took this as a good sign and figured my dad would have someone nearby to visit with when the mood struck.

According to the Memorial Counselor who’d been showing us the property, Walter had been a groundskeeper at the cemetery for nearly 20 years, admired and loved by family, friends, and coworkers alike. The story goes that an elderly lady was having trouble locating a particular grave one afternoon. As she wandered, she saw a uniformed employee nearby. He asked her if she needed help and she told him about the grave she couldn’t find. Within seconds he took her to where it was. She was grateful for his assistance, and he went on his way.

As the woman was leaving the cemetery, she thought she’d stop by the mortuary and give her thanks to the employees inside; she wanted them to know how helpful their groundskeeper had been.

“Do you remember his name?” they asked her.

“The name on his shirt said Walter,” she replied.

They thanked her for letting them know and she left.

What the woman didn’t know is that there was no employee named Walter – no current employee, that is. Walter had passed not long before that day she needed help at the cemetery. The staff’s beloved Walter was very much still around – still taking good care of things, still helping those in their moment of need and caring for their loved ones’ homes, and minding the property with a watchful eye.

I’ve said before that my dad and I are wired very similarly. I knew it all along, but I became even more aware of it after he passed; the calm soul I’d always gravitate to when the world became a bit too noisy was gone. There are times when I swear I hear his words and advice, as though he’s sitting next to me in the car or on the couch in my living room, and even during quiet times when I just want to sit and “be” – alone with my thoughts and memories of him. We generally celebrated his birthday as a family by either a small gathering at my parents’ home or out at dinner, and today I was struck by the sad reminder that I’ll never share a pre-dinner gin and tonic or glass of wine with him again, we’ll never clink glasses as we do a birthday “cheers,” and I’ll never hear his kind, gentle, “Well, thank you, hon,” as he opens a gift from me.

Then again, I did hear those words – they were loud and clear as we placed the flowers on his marker.

I like to think that Walter and my dad celebrated their birthdays together today, and I like to think that they were both so happy to have had visitors. For almost 30 years, my dad was without both parents on his birthday – so if he can’t be with us, I like to also think that this is the second year in a row where they’ve been together once again.

Happy birthday to my amazing, kind-hearted, gentle, and ever-present dad. I miss you.

Go on faith.

“Just keep at it,” I heard him say.

He’ll say things to me from time to time. Some are complete thoughts, other times they’re words that seem random but aren’t; they’re relevant to a situation or a problem, and they’re a beacon for my foggy brain.

I am my father’s daughter. Stoic and reserved, I skew quiet — but I’m not passive. I am strong sans aggression, confident sans ego. I also internalize stress the same way he did; if we could win medals for such a trait, we’d be highly decorated.

The beacon came around again.

“You’re doing fine. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other.”

The thing about my dad is that he passed away more than a year ago. But his words, advice, and encouragement are still very much alive and well.

The man with a mortgage, a family, his son’s flight school, daughter’s college, and the occasional [and always used] car payment had been a victim of “corporate downsizing” during times in his life when the cash was steadily leaving his pockets. He chased leads in Northern California while my mom held down the fort; he chased more leads in Arizona because it was dubbed “the future for insurance” while she continued to hold things down at home. But the leads dried up as quickly as wet ground in the desert.

Still, he always “went on faith.” He went on faith because his God — our God — was bigger than any problem.

In time, he found a company where he worked until the end, and went on faith even when he was in the hospital. He’d tell me he was “in God’s hands.” I knew he was right, and I know that I am now.

The thing about a layoff is that it can be for any reason, but it’s never a good one; the timing will never be good for a job to evaporate. As quickly as it manifested itself less than one year ago, it’s gone. It’s my turn to go through what he experienced multiple times, and while I don’t know where my next adventure will take me, I know one thing for sure:

“I’m doing fine.” I’ll chase any lead. And I’ll peacefully go on faith.

So grateful for my dad who’s still with me today.

One year later.

It’s been a year.

A year since our world changed forever, a year since he left.

In so many ways it feels like it was just yesterday, so the fact that it’s been 365 days frequently boggles my mind.

It was the 18th day of his hospital stay, and I think we all figured he’d come home eventually. How couldn’t he? There was a recliner waiting for him, and his favorite coffee mug — a Thomas Kinkade mug I gave him for Christmas a few years prior — was ready to be used again. My mom and I drove in my car up to Kaiser Sunset early that morning and received word around noon that he wasn’t the candidate for the triple bypass that we all thought he’d be; the bypass that he was there for in the first place.

Instead, he needed a new heart.

A transplant.

That afternoon, I left Los Angeles and drove home to Corona. He had just been transferred to the critical care unit, out of the cardiac ICU he’d been in while he waited for the surgery that never came.

The hospital CPAP machine was loud, jarring, abrasive. How would he possibly get any sleep with the incessant beeping?

I told my mom I was going home to get his own machine which was far more quiet. Being transferred to the critical care unit wasn’t a good sign, but it was the place where he stood the best chance of getting better.


A funny word, better is. Better implies that there’s a positive direction one can take. But when the day comes when you’re hit with the reality that there is no better, only the end, a hollowness sets in. It’s a hollowness that’s been with me for the last year.

I returned home, found my dad’s CPAP machine, and packed my mom an overnight bag. She was planning on sleeping in my dad’s hospital room that night, even thought she hadn’t stayed up in Los Angeles with him until that evening.

The hospital stay was catching up with us all. I left Kaiser Sunset once again to head home for a night of maximum sleep. Before I knew it, 4 or 5am would roll around and I’d be getting ready to go back to Los Angeles. Somewhere around the 60 and the 71, I vividly remember thinking, “What is the next step? How much longer can this go on?”

He went into cardiac arrest before midnight on September 18th, 2014. Doctors worked on him for almost 30 minutes, according to my mom. She found a moment to call once he’d been stabilized; I still have her voicemail. Her voice calmly and factually explains he’s had a medical emergency, and she thinks another one is beginning. She’s right.

Code blue. 7-3-2-3.

The words are automated, cold, robotic…but they’re clear on the voicemail. Yes, he was going into cardiac arrest a second time.

The final time.

Around 2am, my bedroom light came on. I was in the middle of a deep sleep — miles away from the hospital, and my phone had been turned off so that I could get decent shut-eye…shut-eye that would allow me to be worth something that morning when I went back to the hospital.

My mom was in the room. How was she here? I had the car, and I had packed an overnight bag for her.

I must’ve forgotten to pack something, I thought. How stupid could I have been? She came home to get something, and my dad was there by himself.

This wasn’t the case at all.

“We lost dad,” she said.


In my younger years, we had numerous pets. Everything from fish to hamsters, cats, dogs, and birds.

I was dumbfounded. I was transported to seven years of age when my mom came into my bedroom in the middle of the night to tell me that Rocky, my hamster, had passed away. But, no, now I’m an adult. And now those words were being spoken once again — only now they’re about my dad.

My brother had made it to the hospital to pick her up after she called him. We sat around the kitchen table and cried. We tried to sleep, but I don’t think anybody could. Around 5:30, I went into the backyard and began watering the flowers my dad had planted a few years prior. The sky was getting lighter, and eventually the sun began to break through some early morning clouds.

“Thank you for all that you do,” I heard him say.

These were the words of gratitude he spoke to every hospital employee who came into his room for any reason. He said them to me the day before he passed, as I was leaning over to hug him goodbye until I saw him the next morning.

“Thank you for all that you do.”

I kept watering.

We planned his funeral in a daze, and in the following weeks went about life in the same stupor. We heard his voice, felt his presence, had long-forgotten memories return in the quietest of moments, and tried to process this newfound definition of “loss” as best we could. I think we still are.

I don’t think my coworker realized the compliment he paid me earlier today.

“Since you’ve come on board, there’s been an element of calm you’ve brought to the team.”

My dad was the picture of calm, so I clung desperately to those words the moment they reached my ears. I always knew we were wired similarly, but when someone who never knew him sees my father’s trademark calm in me, I’m once again reminded that even though he’s physically gone, he’s still with me every day.

When a friend or colleague experiences loss, I feel like I’ve lost my dad all over again. One corner of the scab is lifted up and the blood is fresh once more, but it’s both grounding and cathartic to revisit his passing when I hear of another’s.

“I’m sorry for your loss” has new meaning to me — or rather, it has meaning period. I didn’t know the true value of those words until I lost my dad, and the meaning they now hold for me is on par with the meaning in each word he spoke, every time he spoke.

One year is only the beginning of many where I’ll miss him every day. Love you, dad.

The Beauty in Loss

One month ago, a relatively routine trip to the vet took a difficult turn. I dropped Tayo off for bloodwork and headed into the office.

That same evening, I said goodbye to him.

Exactly one year earlier, he’d gotten his tail kicked in what must’ve been the cat fight to end all cat fights. Ever the neighborhood badass, he likely defended his territory quite well, though came away with battle scars that landed him at the vet’s office. He donned the cone of shame for two weeks while an abscess drained and healed, and from that point forward, he was no longer an indoor/outdoor cat. While the grass and sky still called his name when the breeze drifted in and crossed his whiskers just right, he’d resigned himself to a life of leisure and developed a penchant for laying in patches of sunshine on the carpet and burrowing under bed comforters.

The bloodwork revealed some serious issues. I stopped by the vet on my way home to get the full scoop. It wasn’t good.

“He has Stage 4 kidney failure,” the doctor told me. “You could put him on a new diet and that may help, but it would only give him maybe a year or two if it was caught soon enough.”

“I’m guessing Stage 4 isn’t early enough, is it?” I asked.

“It isn’t,” he said.

Only recently did he exhibit any signs of sickness — hence the trip to the vet at the end of March. With him being 17, I knew it was probably time to say goodbye. Prolonging his life primarily for my benefit seemed inhumane and selfish, at best.

I sat in the exam room with the doctor for what seemed like a lifetime. Tayo purred in my lap, his characteristic low rumble sounding at peace because of the fluids he’d been on all day.

“I think it’s time,” I said. Tears came.

Then more tears.

“Do you want to take him home and have one more night with him?” the vet asked. Tears became sobbing. The IV was taped to one of his front legs, but it had been capped and he was able to walk relatively freely, more or less. I pictured sitting up with him all night, but for what purpose? Stressing him out by putting him in his carrier to get him home and doing it again the next morning — all while knowing the moments were ticking down until his last breath — wasn’t something that I could do.

I’d never been around when other pets in our family had passed. I was usually living out of state, but might have declined once or twice. Loss is hard, avoidance is comfortable. But this time there was no declining, not that I would have. To be there when a life that I’d cherished since 1997 passed from this world was heartbreakingly special. Holding him as his body relaxed in my arms was a moment seared into my heart forever.

Pet cremation hadn’t crossed my mind before, but it seemed like the right thing to do — at least then I could bring him home. His little box of ashes arrived earlier this month, along with a plaster imprint of his paw complete with little bits of his soft black fur stuck to it.

Shortly after he passed, I was in the garden one evening. A warm, gentle wind passed through the yard and the wrought iron gate rattled quietly, the same way it would have if Tayo slipped between its bars. Although the tears came once again, my memories of him are beautiful, and I’ll be forever thankful for our years together.

Bridge the Gap

Confession: Whenever the sheer number of people in this world starts to come into focus — even in the tiniest way — it freaks me out.

I would say that it causes heart palpitations, but that’s not entirely true…though it does seem to cause somewhat of the emotional equivalent.



I catch my breath when I picture the masses, the faces, the throngs of humanity that my well-designed bubble generally does a good job of blocking out. Oxygen gets stuck in in sort of limbo until I remind myself that I do, in fact, have control over what I’m feeling. And so I shake it off.

There’s a lot of damn people in this world.

I’ve thought that more times than I can count in the last few months: When I’m watching a TED Talk. When I see strangers’ comments or faces on news sites or Facebook. When I pass by them in airports. When I’m in a plane looking down on the landscape miles below.

There’s a lot of damn people in this world. And the world’s getting smaller every day.

I’ve not been one to embrace the hashtag until very recently, and it was a short, superficial embrace at best — the kind you give when you can’t wait to leave, nay, flee. A colleague suggested I try it when Instagramming a few travel photos earlier this week, and at first the appeal was clear. Having a few strangers appreciate my photographic offerings was a lovely thing, as was the idea of having more find their way to my pictures. But when I investigated a particular hashtag I’d just included, millions of others had also used it.




Exploring the other photos inspired a few migraine-like sensations: a twinkly aura, a dull throbbing. It was as though someone had located a cranium-sized vise and began quickly tightening its jaws around my skull.

I am not interested in millions. I am interested in my safe harbor, my nest, my cocoon. I’m interested in my Snuggified life of coziness, warmth and security. While I enjoy exploring, it’s clear that I do it best on my terms only, and that I need to approach it in the same way a controlled-release tablet approaches the body:

Baby steps. Tiny bites. A dash here and a sprinkle there.

In a word, moderation. Anything else tends to be a giant energy-suck for me.

Part of the joy in my daily writing was firmly rooted in the simple routine of it all. I’d created a little nook, neatly decorated with trinkets, treasures and just the right amount of sparkle, and I looked forward to coming home to it each day. I felt about it the same way others may look forward to their morning cup(s) of coffee, or the way others may cherish a long, soul-cleansing drive to nowhere in particular.

Getting away from it left me with a void almost instantly. Its absence created a strange combination of inferiority and frustration, emptiness and apathy. And while those are the words I put to it today, they hardly do justice to what I really felt inside.

When I decided to take a break from Thanky in the name of wanting it to be more, I thought I was doing the right thing. In reality, departing from my routine left me paralyzed. In the wake of not writing at all, it became nearly impossible to picture what I wanted my writing to become.


No, I don’t want to deal with the masses or the millions — I want a safe harbor of familiar protectors and compassionate souls. But somewhere in there is a happy medium I’ve yet to find — someplace where feeling overwhelmed isn’t on par with feeling suffocated and beating a hasty retreat.

I need to find a happy medium when it comes to writing, too. While it may not become a daily occurrence again, if it does, then so be it. I never tried to bridge the gap between doing it every day and stopping cold turkey. I simply shelved it, and it began to tarnish.

Just like me.

One in a million — or millions — is a daunting thing. One in a billion is impossible for me to want to wrap my head around. But finding a way to bridge the gap is imperative in order to move from mere thinking to doing, or from hemming and hawing to joining.

Today I am thankful for dusting off Thanky and for rejoining the community it became part of — not only to reduce its tarnish and restore its shine, but mine, as well.


Farewell for Now

The two-year-old is heading for an indefinite time-out, y’all. Go ahead, reach for your tissues now. I’ll wait.


OK then. Good to go?

Back to it: Thanky will be on a hiatus for the foreseeable future. It’s not that she’s been bad, she just needs time to sort through things.

I’ve likened Thanky to a kid before, and I’m about to do it again. Those of you with children who are scoffing, that’s fine. I don’t blame you. But I submit this to you:

I was reading an article about reasons to have a large family earlier today, and someone wrote a comment which said, “Kids are the most difficult/most rewarding gifts life has to offer.”

I take issue with this statement because, quite simply, it’s not true. Everyone has something that’s “the” most difficult/most rewarding in life. Someone working through childhood trauma, through a death, through a disability – maybe even the inability to have children – those are pretty big things which our friend the commenter is forgetting. For those of us without kids, the statement is to say that we’ll never know true difficulty, or the joy of being truly rewarded.


Neither side of the fence is right when it comes to having/not having kids, the same way in which one person who enjoys breakfast over dinner compared to another who enjoys dinner over breakfast is right. It is what it is what it is. Everyone has their druthers.

I had a very clear thought this morning about tabling Thanky, and this post was intended to be short. But then the day went on and I read a bit here, perused a bit there and, before you know it, my short post became multi-pronged. I have a habit of merging (shoe-horning?) things into the same box, and this is one of those times.

When you go on auto-pilot and do the bare minimum, things are neither truly difficult nor truly rewarding – not life, not love, not raising a kid, not writing. Auto-pilot implies a sort of distance: one-third avoidance, one-third selfishness and one-third extrication is what this equates to for me.

Thanky has unfortunately ended up on auto-pilot, so for it to become truly rewarding – and difficult – again, it needs time to sit in the corner with its dunce cap on, ponder the meaning of life and, eventually, continue on its way.

For your support of Thanky to-date, I am most grateful. Farewell for now, but never good-bye.

Make it Home

The lanes were backing up in a new place. I drive them each night, but I’d never seen a situation quite like the one this evening.

Five lanes merged into one, except for those drivers who peeled off or made illegal U-turns to get out of the mess. I thought about joining in, but the flashing lights a block ahead indicated I was almost past it.

Just beyond the intersection a large swath of shattered glass sparkled, trying hard to disown its past. It had been dutifully swept into a single lane instead of spanning many, though its tidiness was a terrible front; it was apparent the wreck had been a large one.

Drivers all around worked together, most probably just wanting to get home to their kids, for dinner, to a husband, wife or significant other. Nobody wanted a fight or, worse yet, another collision.

Adjacent to the accident site was a bus stop where a homeless man slept curled up on the bench. He and his belongings took up its full length, so others stood waiting, allowing his bed to remain. I wasn’t sure who could sleep in the middle of such chaos; I wondered if his slumber was pure or alcohol influenced.

Regardless, someone in at least one car likely wasn’t going home tonight. My fellow commuters and I were, however, while those as the bus stop would be on their way soon enough. Knowing the man on the bench would probably be there for hours longer, if not the full night, stung a bit.

Maybe he’d find a home yet, though. Or maybe he was there to somehow realize how lucky he was to not have been in it. Maybe being spared from the accident would be a turning point. Maybe tomorrow he’ll count his lucky stars under which he sleeps tonight.

Or maybe not. Maybe he’d make the bus stop home indefinitely, but I can hope that he’ll find a real one someday.

Home is something we take for granted until we can’t get back to it, or when we see someone who’s without one of their own. It may not be perfect and it may have its own issues, we may not keep it clean or we may try to run away from it, but it’s home. For making it back to that which I call my own home, I am thankful.

Find your water.

I microwaved some turkey sausage crumbles this evening and they immediately began to spark, the same way a coffee mug with a gold or silver design sparks. Dinner wasn’t off to the best start.

I wasn’t quite sure what was going on. It was…turkey. Frozen crumbles. Crumbles I’ve microwaved a thousand times before. As I saw my meat quickly descend into a fiery hell, I shrieked and opened the door to save them.

Some quick searching revealed that if I didn’t microwave a half-cup of crumbles in a very specific manner, sparking may occur. I didn’t need a half-cup of frozen meat bits, though. I only wanted, like, a tablespoon.

My solution? No, not more meat. I added some water to keep my scant amount from spontaneously combusting. Genius.

The sausage was a fitting reminder of the day. Sometimes we can take a bit of heat, while other times it seems that just a second of it can make sparks fly — and not the good kind.

Our head explodes without so much as a warning. Pupils dilate. Heart rate goes haywire.

Get some water on yourself. Splash it on your face, have someone throw a bucket of it on your person — do whatever it takes to snap out of it.

The heat and rage can singe, but water — both literal and those things or people in our lives which can refresh and protect — can soothe.

Find them.

Tonight I am thankful for the water in our lives that extinguishes the burn and renews our spirit, our order and our sense of calm.