The Life of Bon: 2020

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Hi dad.

 It is the eleven year anniversary of my dad's death.

That sentence is jarring to me.  How was it been eleven years?  Eleven years without my biggest fan, without the man who was convinced I could do it all, eleven years without the man who buried me in bear hugs when he saw me.  

My sister called me last week.  I was making quesadillas for the kids for lunch.  Melting the cheese in the middle, flipping the tortilla.  When I answered the phone my sister was already in tears.  "I just miss dad so much" she blurted out.  Tears instantly.  That big a grief, that big a loss is always ready close to the surface.  One little poke and it quickly emerges. All we could do is cry together.

Dad.  We miss you.  Your daughters.  We miss you.  This life, this adulthood, these problems.  We never wanted to do it without you.

My life has evolved and then evolved again in the years since my dad's death.  I built one life.  Burned that one down.  Am building a new one.  The children, the love, the faith remain.  Everything else is new.  Sometimes I wonder what he thinks of the construction,  the destruction,  the reconstruction.  He loved to build.  I think he is proud.

It's happened to me twice in the last few months that someone has said to me "my biggest fear is that my dad will die".  I don't know what to say to that.  How to respond.  Your biggest fear is my reality?  The thing that wakes you up in a panic induced sweat in the middle of the night is the life I have learned to live with?  My heart hurts when people say that.  Why does it get to be some people's fears and other people's realities?  (And why am I "other people").  Maybe I respond with the truth.  Maybe I say, "Your biggest fear is every bit as horrible and lonely and soul wrenching as that nightmare in the middle of the night makes you think it will be."

But I pivot.

I'm not here to bemoan.

Not tonight.  I've done that plenty in the last eleven years.  Plenty of grieving, plenty of acknowledging loss, plenty of missing, plenty of screaming to the nameless sky.  There is a lot of loss and I have met that loss.

Tonight I come with gratitude.  I read some of my dad's journal entries recently.  Whenever he mentioned me he was filled with awe.  "Bonnie called today, she got all As this semester" "Bonnie home for the weekend from BYU, she is full of joy and energy" "Bonnie broke up with her boyfriend and is feeling sad.  I didn't much like him."  In all the entries his love for me shined through.  It was wild to read it.  To see so clearly how absolutely crazy he was about me.  To be on the parenting side of it now, to relate to the intense love he had for his children and to realize, wow, that lucky child, that receiver of so much love, was me.  

Tomorrow I will take my kids, my thing 1 and thing 2.  We will go to his grave and drink cherry coke and listen to Credence Clearwater Revival and I will tell them about their Baba, the man they never got to meet, the grandpa who would have been as smitten with them as he was by me.  I will tell them how I totaled a car in high school and he made me work out in the garage with him on cold winter evenings repairing it.  I will tell them how after I went skydiving in Hawaii he bragged to all his patients about it.  (She jumped out of an airplane at 14,000 feet.  Can you believe that? 14,000 feet!). I will tell them how he would always nap in the living room after Sunday dinner while the kids cleaned the kitchen and how he would shush us for being too loud putting away the pans.  I will tell them how he used to make me eat my vegetables and I would hide them in my roll and so he would make me eat the roll and belly laugh as I tried to stomach down a roll stuffed with orange squash.  I will tell them how he smelled like Old Spice and how his work desk was always messy.  I will tell them how when Unchained Melody came on the radio he took my mom and danced with her and held her close and how he had so much love for her, for us, for them. 

And I will tell them what a gift it all is.  To be his children and grandchildren.  To have that much love, to give that much love, to receive that much love.

Yes.  What a gift it all is.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Break up

I broke up with the boy.

He was here for six months.  With all the patience and desire and love that any girl could hope for.  He  thought I was a queen and a badass and treated me as such, with a mixture of awe and admiration.  He was anxious to please, prioritized my happiness and needs, never considering his own wants, desires, feelings.  He kissed me with the urgency and hunger of a boy who has never kissed before, or will never kiss again.  

But still.  It wasn't quite the right fit.  Little areas where I couldn't get our pieces to connect.  My core knew it long before my head and heart and body did.  The core leads the way if I am strong and brave enough to listen.

It's been six days since I told him goodbye.  It was a long and painful conversation.  He was convinced he could change himself enough to be exactly what I wanted.  I would never ask that of him, never want a partner to have to change who he is to be the person I want.  Nah.  Let him be him.  There will be another.

The day after the breakup I took my kids to stay in a nearby hotel for a few days.  I deleted the social media accounts, bought a book and spent the three days going to playgrounds, visiting Halloween attractions, and going on hikes up the canyon.  We swam in the hotel pool 456 times.  The kids enthusiastically learned how to work the magnetic key, excitedly ran through the halls, slept in the hotel bed next to me, kicking me all night long through their happy dreams.  Each night when they fell asleep buried in the crisp white hotel down comforters I read until my eyes finally felt heavy- the distraction of a book my lifelong loyal friend when times are rough.

On one night we ate Cafe Rio on the hotel beds.  The kids quickly finished their quesadillas and immediately got to work jumping jumping jumping from queen bed to queen bed.  (But seriously, have you ever slept in a room with TWO queen beds?  What a thrill, what a rush!). June landed on me, her gangly limbs flailing every which way and out of nowhere grabbed my hand and squeezed it three times.  I. Love. You.  Our secret sign.

It stopped me in my tracks.  Threw my heart right into my throat.

Where do our kids come from?  How did she know I needed that?  How could she see her mama's pain- a pain, suffering, heartbreak that I hadn't bothered to tell my children about?  It wasn't their burden to carry, I reasoned with myself.  

But still.  She was carrying part of it.  She had seen it and picked it up.

June gave me a smile and a hug and then lunged back onto the other queen bed.  Hotel bed jumping waits for no one, you know.

I looked down at my steak salad, took a bite, watched my tears fall into the lettuce.  I wasn't ready for another relationship to end, wasn't ready to say goodbye, wasn't ready to be alone again.

Watching my tears drop into the salad reminded me of my first ever heartbreak.  At 18 I had fallen madly in love.  He was a law student and funny and smart and witty and totally crazy about me.  We dated a year before he could wait no longer to marry.  (Oh, Mormons.)  I wasn't ready.  He said we couldn't just keep dating indefinitely. (I said why not?) So I let him go, convinced he would do his thing in the world and then return to me when I was ready.  A year later he was married.  He did not return to me.

That break up was devastating and crushed me in a way I had never before experienced.  It was my first relationship, and firsts aside, he may have been the best match for me of any man I've ever dated.  (Or married.)  My young spirit knew nothing of the world, but it knew how to find what it liked.  I couldn't reconcile getting married so young, though, and he couldn't reconcile waiting the five or ten years it would take me to grow up.  So he moved on.  

When we broke up I cried every day for months.  One afternoon I tried to shave my legs in the 700 square foot apartment I shared with five other 19 year old girls.  I sat in the bathtub with the shower going, the warm water running down my back and legs, shaving the same spot over and over and over.  Crying, sobbing, body heaving in the shower.  I remember thinking "stop crying, Bonnie!  Stop crying!  You have to stop crying so you can get out of the shower!"  But I couldn't stop.  The floodgates had opened and the heart insisted on mourning.  Shave cry shave cry shave cry.

And here I was.  Sixteen years later.  Same eyes, different tears, new heartbreak.  Eat cry eat cry eat cry. Grieving not just this break up, but grieving almost two decades of meeting, falling, hoping, loving, breaking, ending, rinse, repeat. Break up after break up after break up. (And of course, giving space for The Break Up which was such a big break up that it gets a whole new name because Divorces are break ups multiplied by break ups.)

At what point do I no longer cry over boys, no longer mourn failed relationships, finally finally find a person to do this life with?  A person, a partner, someone who gets it, who sees it, who also thinks that joke is funny.  My heart craves a deep connection, someone with whom to share it all.   Someone brave enough, silly enough, strong enough, emotional enough, sexy enough to tackle life with me.  Someone who wants the corners of my heart, the inside of my mouth, the deepest tunnels of my soul. 

Have you seen him?  Have you seen that man?  Because if you see him, send him my way.  

Tell him I'm ready.

Friday, September 04, 2020

Sugar cookie

 Sometimes I feel so nostalgic for my marriage.  A marriage that was unhealthy and trying and often lonely.  But still.  I miss it sometimes.  

The pang of missing comes unexpectedly and at inopportune times.  I'm getting ready for a date.  Suddenly I remember.  Something lovely about our marriage.  I don't want to go on the date anymore. 

Anyone who has gotten divorced would tell you that the marriage was hard.  That there was suffering involved.  That there was pain.  But anyone who stayed in a marriage for seven years will also tell you that there was joy.  Connection.  Inside jokes.  Glances that communicate volumes.  I don't suspect people stay married if there isn't also immense love.  And even when the reasons to leave outweigh the reasons to stay, the reasons to stay are still there.  The reasons to stay are still there.

Everything we shared.  Where does all that sharing go?  Everything we loved together.  Where does that love go?  The experiences, the memories- only he understands.  Only he remembers.

Today I was working on my jewelry business.  Making projections for how much earring inventory I will need to see the business through 2020.  It was not especially fascinating work, but it required all my focus.  One hundred percent of my brain power.  Or so I thought.  I guess it required 99% of my brain power because out of nowhere I remembered.

One Friday afternoon he picked me up from my teaching gig at the high school.  The kids were in the backseat.  We were going to his parents' home for the weekend- a place that was always a total oasis for him.  I ran out to the car and got in the front seat.  Work is done for the week hallelujah lets gooooooooo!  Grabbed the hand of my husband.   Looked back at my two babies making noises in the back.  These were my people.  My family.  My ride or die.  He was smiling a sneaky smile.  June was also excited.  They were up to something.

"We got you a surprise!" finally he burst.  He pulled out from the middle console a huge, fluffy cookie.  My favorite sugar cookie from my favorite out of the way cookie place.  And a pint of milk.  He had left early to go get the cookie for me, he knew how much I loved it, knew how delighted I would be to receive a surprise treat after a long day of work.

"You don't have to share it with us" he said, "It's all for you."  He was so proud of the way he had surprised me with this treat.  I felt loved, adored, cherished.  Of course I shared the cookie.  Breaking off and feeding sugary frosting pieces to my husband and my children.  A unit.  A family.  The four of us.

Where did this memory go the past two years?  I haven't thought of it since.  It's been hiding in my brain waiting to reemerge.  No one else knows of this experience.  Only he would remember.  

Who do I share it with now?  

And when the marriage ends where does that sharing-a-sugar-cookie-in-the-car love go?

Sunday, August 30, 2020

I am dating a boy.

 A boy. I am dating a boy.

He's been here for a minute.  We're working on five months now.  I tried to ask him to leave a few times.  Broke up with him seven days in.  He said ok.  I said actually wait a minute.  I like you.  But my heart doesn't know how to feel safe.  He said that's ok.  I understand.  I'll be patient.  I said ok.  No wait.  You should go.  No please stay.

Somehow he's still here.

We move slow.  Little tortoises making our way along an uncertain path.  We can't see where the path goes, don't know how it ends.  He inches alongside next to me and when I need to retreat back into my shell he patiently waits.  You ok in there? he asks me.  I don't know I answer.  Take your time he tells me.  I'm still here I hear him say.

How does a heart heal?  Perform the gigantic work of repairing itself only to put its fragile, vulnerable, barely stitched back together self back out there again?  

I never knew this about divorce. About new relationships.  About remarriage.  When I used to hear of a woman finding love after heartbreak I would think oh good for her.  That's so great.  What happy news.

Now I think,

"Wow.  She is so brave."

Sunday, August 23, 2020


It’s been a minute since I’ve written anything. What does it take to start writing again? To find my way back to this blog?


A global pandemic. A polarizing president. A tense election year. So many many opinions, thoughts, voices screaming at me that suddenly my own voice is so small. So quiet. I can’t hear it. Do I like anything our president is doing? Should I go to the lake with my five best friends or is that selfish and reckless in the face of such a global disease? Is it ok for Black people to riot, to destroy property, to resort to violence after decades and centuries of being ignored? What do I think about people who won’t wear masks? Are children being sold and trafficked in safes on Wayfair? 

The global issues affect my ability to assess even my personal life. How much do I like the boy I’m dating? Am I running my business responsibly? Am I accepting accountability and doing my part for a healthy coparent relationship? And on a deeper level my spirit is looking for answers, for connection. Does my God see me? Is He listening? Does He care? 

So many voices telling me so many things. Where is my own?

So I turned off the voices. For a month at least. Maybe more. No more social media, very limited news sources. No more watching from my phone another person’s child playing when my own are playing right in front of me. No more divisive political Facebook posts, no more Instagram pictures of big clean homes I can neither afford nor maintain, no more 22 year olds in belly shirts dancing for me on tik tok. This month is just me and my children and my friends and my books and my running. The rest can be quiet.

17 days in to this fast- this fast from politics, from social media, from covid, from 800 anxieties being thrust upon me- anxieties that are not mine, problems I can not solve, worries that worrying can not fix- and what emerges? A stilllness in my mind. My brain coming up for air. It’s so quiet now it says. Is it safe to emerge?

Yes, I think so. I answer. You can come out now. No one will chase you back in.

And when the brain is out what quickly follows surprises me. A desire to write. A desire to process. A desire to understand. 

So here I am. 

Back on this blog. 

See you tomorrow ?


Sunday, May 03, 2020

Last night I was remembering

The boy I dated around Christmas.

This was Round Two for us.  We dated ten years ago.  I was 23 and full of life and energy and convinced I was invincible against the world.  He was goofy and smelled good and tried to kiss me on our first date.  I demanded we wait until the second date at which point we kissed all night.

And then here we were again.  Ten years later and worser for the wear.

A decade of pain and heartache for us both.  Him working through the trauma of unexpected job loss, crippling debt, his mother’s quick sickness and death, his father's death by suicide.  Me working through the trauma of my own dad's sudden death, years of a troubled marriage, a quick divorce, single motherhood, slow healing.

He looked like a Danish soccer player.  Stupid tall and with a slight gap in between his front teeth.  Handsome and fit and strong and with a full head of blonde hair.

On Christmas night we walked in a silent world, in quiet neighborhoods.  It wasn't cold for Christmas.  My kids were with their dad.  It was a lonely and sad day for us both, in our own unique ways.  He spent the day alone, reading 1984 in the small basement apartment his uncle let him live in while he looked for a new job.  I spent the afternoon at my ex's, trying to manage dinner with his family, pushing through discomfort and sorrow and grief to see my kids on a special day.

We walked slowly, looking at the lights and the big houses and daydreaming about our own somedays.  Somedays with pretty homes and trampolines in the backyard and heated driveways.  Somedays with jobs that are secure, that don't leave you while your back is turned, marriages that stay healthy, kids who you don't have to say goodbye to every other Christmas, parents who live long enough to see their children into adulthood.

He was so shy with me during Round Two.  Round One he was confident, goofy, assertive.  Round Two he hardly touched me.  Slow to take my hand, hours and nights would go by without him initiating any physical contact.  Years of suffering and loss took a toll on his confidence and we slipped into largely platonic habits.

We walked slowly around the neighborhood.  Finally, I shyly slipped my hand into his and he did not let go.  No one else in the world for us to see on Christmas night.  No one knew where we were.  Everyone with their own families.  I suppose we were each other's family that night, looking for comfort, looking for company, looking for someone to make us believe we had someone.  That we weren't so damn alone.

After our walk we drove through more twinkling  neighborhoods, listening to 24 hours of Beatles on the radio.  I hesitantly put my hand on his knee.  We made our way to IHOP, the only place open late on Christmas night.  Two girls talked loudly and excitedly at the booth next to us.  We ate mostly in silence and left a generous tip.

Three weeks later and Round Two was over.  He received the news that he didn't get a much hoped for job.  We quickly fizzled from there- him not able to show up for the relationship, me not willing to be in another relationship where I show up alone.

But Christmas Night remains a really beautiful memory to me.
Two very hurt people.
Wandering slowly.
Half lost.
Half found.
Paul McCartney soothing us softly in the background, nah nah nah nah life goes on.