and just like that: strangers

“From strangers to acquaintances to friends to lovers to trying to be friends to the in-between to strangers once more,” she said.

Her voice hollow, short, lost.

It didn’t seem fair that upon seeing him her body would shake, her mind would lose its focus, and her heart would hang there heavy. Reminded of the cruel reality this world sometimes offers as moving on.

It’s a haphazard – this thing they call a relationship.

Once she jumped in the only escape was falling and drowning. Whether it be from having to jump out or stay in. No option kept her from losing part of herself. Forever reminded of the feel of his hands upon her skin. Forever marked by his lips on hers.

Forever touched.

“Strangers,” she repeated. Hoping that if she said it one more time the truth wouldn’t hurt so much anymore, “Strangers.”

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writing letters to the ones i miss

Processed with VSCO with t1 presetYou’d sit cross-legged and keep your foot up like a hook. Each of us took turns sitting on your hook-held foot as you swung us back and forth, holding our hands in yours. All the while singing…

Κούνια, μπέλα, έπεσ’ η κοπέλα. Έσπασαν τα πίατα, τα ‘καναν κομάτια… (and then slowly:) ένα, δύο, τρία — 

ΌΠΑ! you’d say a little louder, as you popped your foot up and pulled us into your lap. You must’ve done this a thousand times in your lifetime. I must’ve watched you do it to my sisters and cousins too many times to count. It was a sad day when I was too big to let you rock me and then pull me up to your embrace.

Oh Pappou, it’s been a year. And somehow, I thought goodbye would be easier. Somehow I thought, that surely in a year, I would somehow not feel you still lost. I think you were this stronghold in my life that I felt would never change. You would always be home when I came to visit. Always sitting on your couch and waiting for a kiss on your cheek.

You were the only person who ever called me Christina (as a nickname) and I was okay with it because that’s how it was. I mean, I knew without a fault that when mom put you on the phone for me to say hi to, you’d ask me two things: 1) how are you, and 2) βρήκες σκορδόσπιτο? With me always answering good, then with a roll of my eyes and laugh, not yet.

Or what about that time last summer when you weren’t doing too well and I was with you? I was literally sitting in the chair right beside you and then, OUT OF NOWHERE, you stood up and rushed over to the table across from us. Apparently looking for your watch! You scared the life out of me because I was sure I wasn’t going to get you back in your chair without falling. Yet, we managed and then later, when you asked for your shaving machine… You told me in humor, “I promise I won’t get up and scare you again.”

Despite your quiet self, you knew how to get in a good tease. Oh gosh, you loved to tell your Greek jokes to visiting Americas! Bless their hearts because the jokes were never funny in English but they tried. And we all loved hearing you share them.

It doesn’t seem possible that it’s been a whole year since I’ve been able to give you a hug, kiss your cheek, sit in your living room with you.

So many things have changed.

I want to go back to December 31, 2015 when we all sat in our dark (the power was out in our neighborhood in Thessaloniki, on New Years Eve!) living room together. I think we had the fire going, maybe. As darkness filled the house and the new year approached, with many challenges in store… I don’t know, there was a peace in my heart that night. With no interruption from any sort of technology we sat in darkness and sang old hymns with you in the lead.

I can still picture your brows knitting together as you would sing. Always so concentrated. Always so faithful. Always so loving.

It may be a year and almost two days since you passed away, but… you are not forgotten. I think about you so very often. Though, I am thankful that you are no longer in pain – nor missing yiayia either. Gosh, this missing I feel for you really puts into perspective how much you must have missed her after you lost her. Thank you for being such a good pappou to your kids and grandkids.

We all miss you dearly.

you can’t keep chasing what doesn’t want to be caught

The sound of her heart pounding rang through her ears. She halted, sweaty palms resting against her knees, as she took in a few deep breaths. She’d been chasing after it for months now. An endless game of tug-a-war. If she were lucky, she’d catch the end of its heel long enough to hold it for a little while. But alas, it grew clever and slick, and slipping out of her grasp was easy. She squinted her eyes, its shadow too far to see, and she realized then: “You can’t keep chasing what doesn’t want to be caught.”

to spring, change, life: a thing can only produce something beautiful if it dies first

So, maybe 2017 hasn’t been your year.

Maybe these past three months have been hard and dark and lonely, and cold. Maybe you’ve waited for spring, anticipated spring because it’s meant warmer, lighter, dare I say, happier days?

That’s the promise, right?

As the flowers bloom, so will your heart. As the rays of sun kiss your skin, you will feel alive again. You’ll want to smile more. Live more. Be yourself more.

Just remember to be patient.

Sometimes the prettiest things come from the darkest nights and coldest places, as we learn to let the old die and the new take life.

you are good

in every season

when my heart breaks
when i can’t breathe because my chest feels tight
when the stars in the sky shine so bright
when the wind blows hard
when the rain pours down
when the storm is strong and i’m afraid i’ll get lost in the night
when the whispers of a man’s promise are broken
when i’m drowning in my own sorrow
when tomorrow seems so far away
when i say goodbye
when i won’t ever say hello to you again
when life doesn’t go as planned
when people steal, cheat, and lie
when people die
when people leave
when people break my heart
when people love me
when people hug me
when people remind me you are good
when the wait seems too long and too hard and too far away
when tears fill my eyes
when i lay awake at night and my thoughts flood my mind
when i’m happy
when i’m sad
when the sun shines through my window blinds
when the morning birds sing
when the train shares its loud deep try
when i lose what i want to keep
when i don’t get what i want
when he looks at me but nothing changes
when i feel alone and lost
when hopelessness pinches at my heart
when my mind can’t figure out how to let go
when my heart doesn’t want to let go of him
when i write and try to find my voice
when i find my voice
when i lose my voice
when the past haunts my mind and scares my future
when i don’t know who i am
when i don’t know what i want
when i don’t know how to move on
when i don’t love you well
when i’m mean, hurtful, hateful to those i love
when i don’t love well
when others don’t love me well
when i’m judgemental
when my insecurities take over
when the darkness falls around me and i decide i want to stay in its shadow
when you pull me out
when tomorrow’s promise is everything begins again but it all still feels the same
when i wake up and decide to be good, kind, loving to myself
when i learn how to love well
when i find the peace that passes all understanding
when i realize life may not be about being happy

but about your goodness.

growing up

She wasn’t ready for time to pass by so quickly.

It leaves a wake trailing behind even as the dust settles underneath her toes. Glancing down she notices new scabs and bruises coloring her pale skin.

Hadn’t she just cleaned them yesterday?

Or was that the day before yesterday…

She blocks the sun from her eyes and takes one step forward. Sometimes, growing up means walking even when it hurts.

music: i’m learning, so i think you should too

I have a song for you:

Though you slay me by Shane & Shane. (Thanks to my sis for pointing me in its direction tonight!)

Lately, I’ve been dealing with not feeling content. It’s a daily problem and some days, it’s worst than others.

Mornings and evenings are the hardest… I guess, I’m too distracted during the day.

But I want to tell you, this song, this video hits the head on the nail. Watch it. Listen to it. Pause. Let the words seep in, let the weight fall. You see, it’s a day by day process. Not a weekly or monthly or yearly thing – but a daily thing. Loving Him is daily.

i’ll fall on you

For the past week, I’ve had a specific song stuck in my head.  It’s not surprising because I tend to get stuck on songs often.  I’ll listen to them until I wear them out or discover a new one I need to listen over and over again.

Of course, my love for each specific song remains always.

My song this week has been Lord, I Need You by Matt Maher.

I’ve gone to bed each night listening to it as I fall asleep and I’ve played it at least 20 times on the piano.  (Okay, small exaggeration there….)

But right now it’s my jam.

With one line hitting my heart each time:

When I cannot stand, I’ll fall on You

Now note how it doesn’t say: when I cannot stand, I’ll stand on You.  Out of the bazillion times I’ve listened or sung this song, I’ve only sung that line correctly about 6 six.  I almost always say stand on you instead of fall on you.

Obviously, there’s a reason I keep saying stand and not fall.  Falling is an image of defeat.  I keep thinking Matt Maher should have written that when I cannot stand, I’ll stand on You – because it feels strange that God would let us fall.

But as I keep spending time with this song and singing it, I’m realizing that we do fall.  When I can’t stand anymore, I fall.  I don’t keep standing even if God’s right there with me.  He lets me fall, but He doesn’t just let me fall – He lets me fall on Him.  (If I choose to fall on Him.)

The point is – when those rough nights hit – we can lean on Him.  Fall on You means to lean on You when that weariness hits in.  When no person’s words or touch is enough, but the rest we find in Christ’s arms.

And actually, I suspect that sometimes it’s refreshing to fall on God because we don’t have to worry about landing – He’ll always catch us.

it doesn’t always have to make sense

It’s easy sometimes, to think I know the world, but get lost in the details.  To think life is easy and plain but knowing it’s not and struggling to find a balance between what I think and what I know.  I’m scared of the quiet pain that lingers, eventually goring through my veins and running out dry.  Will the pliers come to rip me apart or will I stand strong?

I hear you talk about an old soul, at first fearful of its meaning and what it entails.  I don’t want to be one, but I find myself rooted there.  Unable to stager away and put on a face.  What you see it what you get, there’s truth in that pretty wide-eyed face.  You won’t be deceived but loved, just receive it she says.  I want to laugh because it’s overwhelming knowing but not showing.  Can I keep it up but there’s nothing to keep, there’s no game going on.  I’m just worried life has a way of killing the heart but causing the bones to continue on living.

Struck with endless nights and unending days.  Is that what the old people folk think?  Do they see themselves as living, but have lived and tired of living?  Do they want to leave the world and find Him and rest in His arms.  But are they afraid of the change?  Of maybe saying goodbye…  All I know is that thoughts betray us and people worry, when truth hits the mouth and comes out running.  Instead of acknowledging that sometimes, thoughts neglected are harmful enough to drive us all mad.

this one feeling i have

Ιωάννα ( Joanna ) and I.

She has the biggest eyes I have ever seen.  They are round and they are dark brown.  Her eyelashes compliment the majesty of their bright presence.  Those beautiful eyes either emulate joyousness or sorrow.  Regardless, if they are being truthful or not.  I cannot help but be sucked into a lie – knowingly.

Alas, as if she’s the only one.

I have a weakness.  A weakness I often neglect and don’t acknowledge or allow myself to forget.

I wouldn’t call it a downfall.  In more ways than one, it’s a blessing.  One I wouldn’t give up for the world.  You see, my heart explodes the moment I receive the attention of a child or children.  They leave me bruised and ruin by the simplicity of their hearts, minds and souls.

On many occasions, I’ve found myself furious and in pain.  Sometimes, I think I pull myself away from working with children because their parents aggravate me.

Dear parents – your children can feel loneliness, the weight of disappointment, hurt.  They too have feelings.  Although, young and seemingly ignorant, they are not.  Do you know, all their actions reflect you?  Their first observance and studying of another person (other than themselves) is you, mom and dad.  They watch and then take action.  If they yell, it’s because they saw you raise your ignorant voice.

And so, when she heard the words, “Christiana, ready to go?”

“Yeah,” she came running back into the room with tears.

She might have been driving me to craziness, but her tears weighed down my heart.  I’d go crazy just to unburden this little five-year old.

“Don’t go, don’t go, don’t go,” she said, her eyes shined from her tears.

I pulled her near.  Brushed her long hair behind her shoulders and squeezed her.

“I don’t want to play on my own again,” she muffled out.

“Shhh,” I soothed her.  “I have to, but we’ll play again.  When you come back, okay?”

She didn’t want to listen.  She continued to disagree and cry.  I learned (as I should remember) tonight, you can’t really reason with five-year olds.  They don’t really care for logic.

“What’s going on?”  Her grandma came in the room and I knew this wasn’t going to be good.  I didn’t want to say anything, but of course I did.

“She just doesn’t want me to go…” I spoke, quietly – still holding her close.

“Look,” her voice raised immediately and I wanted to close the young one’s ears.  There was no reason for her to be yelled at for nothing she had done or said was wrong.  She just didn’t want to be alone – to play alone.  “Christiana’s mom wants her too.  You can’t be the only one who has her.  What are those tears for?  Stop.”  Pause.  The grandma turned to get pajamas out of the shelf.  “Now, let’s get you changed.”

Meanwhile, as her grandma spoke, the little one rubbed her eyes dry.  Sucking up her upset feelings.  Refusing to let another tear flow.  Keeping herself from showing her true emotions.  I secretly wondered how many times she’d been scolded for reasonable tears.  For tears, any human being would shed.

The older woman left.

She moved to the bed and got her pajamas.

“Hey, it’s okay to cry,” I told her.

Before I left that house, I gave her a kiss and told her I love her.  If a hug could solve all problems, I wish mine had.

I realized a truth – children are capable of the same emotion as I am.  She could feel the deep root of loneliness and crave the present of another person.  Each human needs attention, needs love.

I’m so terrified of one day having the blessing of bearing and/or raising my own children.  For, I am driven by emotions of distress and love for children who I may only see once.  And thinking of having my own, I’m not sure how my heart will bear.