“A line defining the boundary of a buffer zone or area of limitation. A line of demarcation may also be used to define the forward limits of disputing or belligerent forces after each phase of disengagement or withdrawal has been completed.”


Have you ever put yourself out there, in someone else’s shoes, for a moment?

Do you think anyone does that for you?

Do you feel appreciated, loved, cared for, understood?

Do you enjoy the rewards of two-way communication, a life lived with support?

Maybe the questions all get a YES before the day that changed your life.  Maybe they all receive a resounding NO today. 

I felt as though April 5, 2010 was my line of demarcation, but actually it is only one line that has been drawn in a long list of boundaries and limits. 

I believe that we should never underestimate the impact we have on people. When you think no one is listening or understanding, you will find that the people you think should listen are NOT but there are thousands standing behind them with open ears and open hearts. Listening and waiting for you to speak again.

I have said and done some stupid shit in my 46 years.  Beyond belief in some situations, in my eyes.  But, it is what we do.  We react according to our experiences.  We carry with us scrolls of wisdom, bags of pride, volumes of past itineraries, and bold permanent sharpies – to mark our lines of demarcation.  Over and over and over.

My boundaries are set by a life lived and experienced by me.  The people in my life play a role, the hurt, the joy, the successes and failures, they all work together to make the package called “Leslie”.  I have people who have undying love for me and I have those that do not have time for me.  We all do.  We have to accept it and move on from it.  We cannot make people understand our entire collection of scrolls, bags, itineraries, and books.  We cannot let others use our markers. 

I try to put myself in other people’s shoes almost daily.  My husband, my girls, my grandkids, my Mom, my brother, and my friends.  The shoes that I spend the most time in lately are those of my Mother.  As I grow in age, I understand more and more what it is like to be her – and I have many of the same scrolls and lines that she does. 

Around the time that my children all grew old enough to move out on their own, go to school, work, and be adults – she was going through a time where she was retiring and slowing down the responsibility in her life.  My Mom was excited to do all of the things she was unable to do because of a work schedule and we were excited for her too.  I was going through empty nest while she was finding new wings.  I looked and watched, admiring her strength and determination to fit everything into her life that was fulfilling to her heart.  I went on some of the adventures with her, laughing, talking….trying to fit into my own work schedule time with my Mom – the single most important woman in my life.  I had days that I felt out-of-place, not worthy to take part, not having done my time yet.  I felt torn between responsibility, feeling left out by my children, and the realization that I was a representation of “the middle”.  My Mom on one side, my kids on the other, me in-between.  My Mom’s mother, my Grandmother, passed away when I was 20 years old.  My Mom was in the middle for a while, looking to her Mom and realizing and understanding….and I know my Mom was admiring the strength from her own mother. 

My Grandmother was strong but she was also loving, caring, smart, beautiful, and carried her own scrolls of wisdom, experience, and pain.  I spent a lot of time with her growing up, she was a huge part of my life.  But, as many teenagers do – I became selfish, distracted, wrapped up in my own world of what was cool and what was not.  I have breaks in my memory where my Grandma was not there.  And that was no one’s fault but my own.  I think she could have helped me along the way, helped me understand at an earlier age, where my head needed to be.  She was patient with me, and I know this because I know I was a handful of a child.  She would tell me stories about her life and life in general, even when I was older, and I would stay at her house and feel safe.  She would play cards and Yahtzee with me, she taught me about growing tomatoes and zinnias, she let me bake with her in the kitchen and even gave me her secret recipe for Caramel rolls.  She loved me and I can only hope that she knew that I loved her back.    When my parents got divorced she sat and talked to me for a long time about how it was a good thing and how my Mom needed to be her own person.  In my mind, my Grandmother was the one that truly taught me, or at least gave the foundations, of what a woman is in this world.  She explained that my Mom was doing everything she could do to hold things together but couldn’t do it anymore.  I remember the conversation like it was yesterday.  Her face, her hair, the smoke of her Pall Malls, the admiration in my heart for this woman.  She worked hard, had little, and was one of the happiest people I knew.  She was complete because she had her kids, her family, and what she needed.  She could talk to you about anything.  She told me how important it was to write and pay attention in English class.  She also told me to be nice to my brother and not to worry, he would be my friend someday. 

My Grandmother died from ALS.  Watching her suffer for what seemed like an eternity before she died was almost more than my heart could take.  I felt inside, while standing over her bed at the hospital, I was not good enough to her.  I wanted more time with her, I wanted her to hug me and tell me things would all be ok.  I wanted to scream and cry and have a fit.  I wanted to tell everyone how unfair it was.  I was scared and I was horrified. 

Over the years I have written about my grandmother and even told my husband that I wanted to be like her, the statuesque woman that she was, loved, admired, and listened to.  I am a Grandma now, I want to be impactful to my own grandkids, I want to help them understand things. 

I have really started to reconnect with life in some ways again since Fred died, allowing myself to be a part of social situations more.  April 5, 2010 will always be the line that marks the death of our son by suicide but I try harder now.  I try harder today than I did this time two years ago.  Not just working and sleeping, but truly trying to laugh and enjoy things.  Moving the lines of limits, and celebrating the lines of demarcation that represent learning to live again.  Small steps and small doses most of the time, but never forgetting those that made a difference.  Those that care.  Those that call, write, support, and just plain ask – “Are you ok, Leslie”, and mean it.

My Mom needs me,

and so does yours.

Leslie Beery

The Surviving Project