We Have Changed But We Have Not Changed

A poem for Karen

Karen and me, three years ago. Photo Credit: Karen, herself; used with permission.

After high school, you
knew where your heart was — 
far away from me and everyone
else who loved you
but for a greater cause . . .

The Air Force claimed you
for twenty years and with
each one that passed, I
further admired my friend
who desired to do something
that scared the shit out of me.

You have always been a tackler
of the difficult, shifting out
of comfort zones and pulling
me away from things I clung
to for safety.
Risks were your forte,
they still are.

As a dreamer, basking in
the glow of others’ 
spontaneous events,
I looked into your world
but could not keep my
feet in it.

I am proud of you; you are
the epitome of superhuman,
Mom de jure, and peace
when this chaotic world
rages forth.

Which birthday was it of mine
when you told the workers
at the Japanese restaurant
I was to be celebrated and
for fun and to play along,
I had to do the funky chicken
while they sang?

I nearly fainted but you
powered me on and my
reservation about publicly
embarrassing myself ended
up being the fun I needed
at that moment.

I wonder if you knew that.
I’m sure you knew that.

You were the person
who appeared out of nowhere;
on leave, ready for whatever
came our way.
You made dreams come true
without much effort.
Now that we are aging,
we still remain; young at heart
and full of life.

We have changed but
we have not changed and
for the love of everything
good and true, this is a
testament that will outlast
us.

Our story is one that
makes me smile.
We should keep 
turning the pages.


Originally published via Medium.

The Lingering Effects of Parental Divorce

It Changes Everything

Big sky. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

He used to call me baby, that was his way, until . . . Until he had to leave. I was twelve. Twelve years old, wondering what I did wrong. No one could tell me. I wasn’t old enough to be in the middle of the conversations birthed between adults. And as a Southerner, you listen to your elders. You heed their advice.

So, I thought my light had faded — if Daddy wasn’t calling me baby anymore . . . Who else would? Who else should? Was I even still deserving of that term of endearment?

My mom had been piecing together our puzzled lives. We had become the church feature — the company billboard for broken homes. They wanted me to tell the boys. To let my brothers know our family had collapsed. But how could I? I was still trying to figure out who was going to call me baby — still trying to find the reason why he had to leave.

I had an inquisitive mind so naturally, I wanted to know what went wrong and if I was it—the wrong that suddenly swarmed our home . . . was I it?!

I turned to my mom as I so often did during times of distress to perhaps pull the truth out of her . . . “Mom, what did I do?”

In the funk of a lead-ridden home, my words were useless. They did not exist.

I did . . . I did.

I still lived amongst the shadows of decrees and halves—“You’ll get them on this weekend, I’ll get them on that weekend . . .” And so on and furthermore. We were split in two. Halves of a whole. Soon to be halves of a half. Quartered. We had been made into pieces — cracked instantly on direct impact. No one would put us back together again.

I wasn’t old enough to be in the middle of the conversations birthed between adults.


Time shifted — we all grew up and out of our old selves. When I was nineteen years old, another girl was born. This one, you know very well. When she was sixteen, I realized, you had more years with her. You don’t forget her age. She doesn’t have to remind you. You’ve been to every recital, every honors night school function, and every church-affiliated soirée. I’ve often thought, it is better this way. She gives you purpose. She doesn’t question why you left — she doesn’t have to.

She could turn a corner and find you right there — waiting . . . waiting to hug her. Waiting to hold her. You had been the pillar in her dreams — strong enough for her to lean on — safe enough for her to discard her fears. I wish I had that. That . . . security and assurance. I dream of it to this day but it is not within my reach. That ship has long since sailed — I stand at the dock battered by the untimely waves.

I wandered far away, lost myself in the clouds above my head, searching for the years before the when that stultified my efforts in loving you and scattered all of us away from what was concrete. Nothing has been what I hoped it would be. Growing up without you—salty taste lingers in my mouth, a hint of envy . . . A bit of jealousy.

She had the traditional family unit— nuclear . . . Functional.

I’ve often thought, it is better this way. She gives you purpose. She doesn’t question why you left — she doesn’t have to.


The funny thing is, I say I am grown — I am mature. But truth be known, I still can’t talk about this without breaking down into a tear-consumed toddler who isn’t getting what she wants. And this, I am told, is normal or expected. Divorce. Divorce. Divorce squirms all up in my bones. I twirl the words on my tongue and the tears fall. They fall . . . I wonder if it does the same thing to you—it does not. It cannot.

And maybe, that’s why we’re estranged. That’s why we’re still holding on. No . . . That’s why I’m still holding on to pain and the moment you’ll once again call me baby.


©2016 & 2021 Tremaine L. Loadholt

This essay originally began as a narrative poem that had been published in In Two Minds on April 24, 2016. Its revision is now hosted at Age of Empathy via Medium. Thank you for reading.

Why I Write and Why I Need To

It Is Air

Writing Tools. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

When you step outside and breathe in the
world around you, do you not feel alive?
Living and breathing and embracing a new
day is a tangible gift we often fail to unwrap.
I love this present. I love its presence.


It would be easy for me to simply say, “Writing is the air I breathe” or “I can’t not write,” both would be true, their cliched existence notwithstanding, but there are other reasons why. I am a person who believes in expressing herself in the most honest way possible. Oftentimes, writing is the preferable method for me.

I have been in the deepest, darkest holes and have written my way out of them.

I have found, over the years, that words when harnessed tactfully and with the proper intention, can persuade, uplift, entice, coerce, engage, hurt, destroy, and magnify. We have to choose how we use them — why we’re using them.

Writing moves me toward positive outcomes. It pulls me out of dark spaces and shows me the way to those where the light shines. I have been in the deepest, darkest holes and have written my way out of them. This isn’t to say that everyone can do this, it is my testimony to you about what I have done.

A pad is my canvas. A pen is my brush. Words are the masterpiece I paint. The outcome is art. I can choose to be intense, shy, witty, actionable, lifeless, desirable, and so many other things in my writing. I design the beginning, middle, and ending. This is a freeing reality and I hope I never lose the ability to do this.

I need to write . . . My mind is a busy place. There are characters roaring loud enough to move me toward sharing their stories. There is no way of silencing them — they demand to be heard. My own voice stomps its feet occasionally, reminding me that if I think it, I should probably write it. After devoting time to the characters in my head and my own voice, I am often relieved.

And what a great release it is.

A pad is my canvas. A pen is my brush. Words are the masterpiece I paint. The outcome is art.

I find solace in writing — in making my thoughts known in a more public arena — unleashing them only when I deem the timing to be right. Just as one can escape within stories or a plot found in their favorite book, I can escape via writing.

I wave my writer’s wand and I can be a shift-shaper, a bodybuilder, a princess, The Vice President of the United States, or a violent wave landing ashore. I choose the setting. I set the tone. I maintain the props. This is my favorite world in which to live.

When I am writing, everything seems peaceful. Nothing is amiss. There is a divine pull that creeps in and within its grip is where I can be found. What better place is there for a creative who dabbles in literary pièces de résistance?

I choose the setting. I set the tone. I maintain the props.

At age forty-one, I still have it in me to share what words can do and have done and have done so since I was nine years old. At this point, I believe it is safe to say writing is definitely my air and I am grateful for every breath I take.


When you step outside and breathe in the
world around you, do you not feel alive?
Living and breathing and embracing a new
day is a tangible gift we often fail to unwrap.
I love this present. I love its presence.


This essay is in response to the C.R.Y. prompt, What’s Your Relationship With Writing? hosted by the one and only, Kern Carter via Medium.

I Am Afraid of the New Dating World and Think I’ll Pass for Now

Even if summer’s on the way, I’m still not ready

Photo by cottonbro via Unsplash

Nowadays if you’re not on one of the following dating apps; Tinder, eHarmony, Match, or Hinge (just to name a few), chances are, you’re still clinging to the traditional way of dating just as I am or I’d like to be. I did not have many miles behind me regarding the traditional way of dating prior to the Coronavirus, COVID-19 — it was the method with which I was most familiar.

If I wanted to, I could go to my local coffee shop, set up my mini workstation, order my favorite blend, and subtly eye God’s gifts that walked through the doors of the venue.

If I made eye contact with a woman or a man who sparked my interest, a small conversation would start and the two of us would simply enjoy one another’s company as we sipped our brews and meshed with our surrounding environment. If the connection was intense enough, we would exchange numbers. If not, of course, we parted ways. No harm. No foul. We were adults and acted accordingly (thankfully).

Today, I feel the stress and overwhelming disdain within me that comes with the idea of even signing on to a dating app to get back out into the not-yet-virus-free world. I could do it that way but I’d still have to meet up with the person after getting to know them online, shoot the shit, and hope the connection is as decent a connection in person as it potentially was online, eventually.

I’m a cut out the middleman kind of person, so . . .


I’d like to trust you, but I don’t.

With summer right around the corner, I would rather visit the various places I used to frequent during the pre-COVID-19 days, however, I don’t trust the people out and about mask-less since the CDC’s most recent update to their guidelines for fully vaccinated individuals.

If I have to go to the store (Instacart has become my best friend), I wear my mask, rush in, get what I need, keep my distance from others, and get out. And I’m a fully vaccinated healthcare worker who now works from home.

There is still a substantial amount of fear dwelling inside me as it pertains to this virus. When one has faced what I have dealt with (prior to my transfer to my current position) — fear is probably not going to subside soon.

Screening patients for COVID-19 symptoms and frequently coming in contact with patients who were positive was enough to keep me aware of the severity of thousands of cases and the seriousness of this pandemic.

Eager to start but afraid to begin.

I would like to get back to the life I had, but I also don’t want to rush into anything stupidly or hurriedly without weighing all safety options. What scares me the most is befriending a person who is not honest about his or her practices and precautions. Are they really fully vaccinated if they say so? Do they keep their visitations to and with others to a minimum? Are they cautious about who they allow in their home? How are their cleanliness and hygiene?

I don’t want to become that person who asks you to show me your COVID-19 vaccination card as proof . . . but . . .

I am not jaded. I would not find it fair for me to hit up my favorite spots or find new ones with this fear still lingering as deeply as it is. I would not want to subject anyone to the possibility of an early dismissal without a proper chance at developing something from nothing.

Kicking digital game isn’t my thing.

The horror stories I’ve heard from many of my friends about this new dating world via the world wide web are enough to keep me single and celibate forever — summer, be damned . . . Constant ghosting. Swiping left or right. Matching only to be swiftly unmatched. Breadcrumbing. Stonewalling. And the list goes on.

Is this what we’re now facing if we somewhat wish to give dating a try again? Impatience and the ever-changing world of I want what I want and if you aren’t it, I won’t stick around to grow with you? “Lies you tell.” — Tamar Braxton

When I was in my mid-twenties, I had signed up for one of the dating sites that had been popular around that time. I want to say it was Match, but I can’t be certain.

Met a guy. We hit it off. Things were good for about four months and then . . . things started taking a more serious turn, and he did not want that. I’m sure it doesn’t need stating that we moved on from one another. It was for the best. I’ve had a few summer and autumn flings here and there — with a few of those individuals scooped up from a couple online platforms I frequented. That’s as close as I have gotten to “online dating” since the previously mentioned guy.

It isn’t my comfort zone.

Summer is right around the corner. Should I come out of my shell?

I have a burning feeling welled up in me to stick my big toe in the water (so to speak), but I also know I’ll probably tip-toe to the water, overanalyze it, hesitate, and cringe instead of attempting to become one with what used to be familiar to me. I’ve seen so many people crowded together poolside, hosting barbecues and family functions, and jet setting without a care in the world, and although it is rather appealing, I can’t move . . .

I want to, I just can’t.

And this tells me I still have much work to do within myself and about this pandemic before I am ready to see what the new dating world has to offer. People can be more work than I am cut out to put in and well . . . I’ve been single for a long time, I’m in no rush.

But what will the dating world be like when I’ve finally given fear a run for its money?

I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.


Originally published in Prism & Pen via Medium.

I Mother No One

Part VI: Realizing my mothering days will never be over

Jernee aka The Boss, aka The Little Monster, resting after a mid-afternoon walk. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

My mother came to stay with me from April 20, 2021, until April 24, 2021. The intent? To be here with me after my consultation and workup for keratoconus on April 22, 2021. I had been informed prior to the appointment by the nurse that I could have blurry vision for a few hours. My mother thought it best to be here so she could help with Jernee. I will preface this by saying, I am not used to having someone in my space for more than three days (or needing assistance or reaching out for it) and each time my mom stays with us past that mark (it’s not often — it’s quite rare), I am further reminded of why I left home at such a young age.

To say that we are vastly different would not cut it. I am daytime and my mother is nightfall. We are at two different ends of a spectrum yet — the love we have for each other knows no bounds. As I age, I thank God for lending me another year so I can continue to try to understand the woman who gave birth to me.

Will I ever succeed in this? Or, will I die trying?

I want to be optimistic about who we are and the fact that we still have growing to do and we will accomplish that together but an aching nag in the back of my mind tries to subdue me and cause me to believe it is impossible.

I can see a picture of us with growth behind us that leads to a positive outcome years from now, but I can also see a picture of the opposite. Which one will prevail?


Those days spent with my mother a couple weeks ago, ushering in earlier dinner times and trying to be patient with her long, drawn-out stories and rehashing of things said earlier in the day could not end soon enough. My mother will be sixty years old this year and there are already signs of her mental faculties closing in on her. When I was in my teens, she spent most of her money and time depositing various drugs into her system including copious amounts of alcohol.

She had been running away from who she was for several years and now it seems as if she is circling back to that past person sans drugs, of course. Her temperament is easily disrupted. A word that is spoken out of turn or in reference to something she may have said that was incorrect will send harmful epithets flying in the very direction of those she loves.

We have many conversations about her failing memory and how if I truly needed someone to take care of me should an extreme turn of events occur, she may in fact not be that person. I do not feel confident lending my life to her — not in that way and it pains me to say so — to even see the words typed on-screen, causes me to tear up.


What do you do when you’ve mothered a mother who was a mother before her time and you may have to keep mothering her well before you think it’s time?

At the age of eighteen, motherhood was thrust upon her and although she used to tell me she was ready, she truly wasn’t. Neither of my parents was. The two of them have my great-grandmothers, grandmother, godmother, and older aunts to thank for helping them raise me. And with this, what did they get? A little girl who was mature enough to handle certain situations they could have never thought of handling while they were growing up. I also had the label “grown” thrown at me more times than I care to remember.

To grow alongside one’s parents is an odd thing. My mother was my mother but felt more like a friend. My father was my father but felt more like the homeboy up the block I played basketball with to sharpen my skills. We were all growing up together but I was being groomed, it seemed, to be more of an adult than them.

And when their divorce happened, so did the crash into drugs for my mother and my taking over her mothering role, and it kind of stuck. So, instead of being an actual sister to my siblings, I am more of a godmother or a mother or a being they show far more respect to than they do their own parents. It doesn’t feel good — it isn’t something for which I applaud them. I am rather upfront about how I feel they should treat our parents.

I don’t like the angered human being who spews out never-ending wrath because of trapped pain or perhaps the fear of aging or perhaps the fear of losing a handle on her children even more? I believe my mother felt useful being here with me during those few days but swiftly noticed that I was still as independent as I have always been.

So, where did that place her? How could she try to insert her mother role if there were no more opportunities?


The Boss, posing at the perfect moment. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

In walks Jernee . . . the nine-pounder who has truly stolen my mother’s heart. I enjoyed every moment (as I always do) watching my mother and my dog interact. Jernee has a favorite spot whenever my mother visits or when we visit my mother and that’s as close to her nana as she can get. My mother is calm with her, undeniably sweet, and rubs or pats her tummy or back until Jernee falls asleep.

She is cautious in how she prepares her food and is rather vocal to anyone who thinks Jernee can have every treat there is under the sun (she can’t, she has various allergies and I am serious about not having her hospitalized again for hemorrhagic gastroenteritis). She will let you know in a way in which you will not forget that Jernee “cannot have that. Thank you, but no thank you.”

She loves on her with genuine sincerity and this touches me at the very center of who I am and I cannot help but appreciate the love she pours into this pet who means so much to me.

Not a grandmother (my nieces and nephews are my dad’s grandchildren), my mom shows me the mothering qualities she has stored up over the years in hopes of using once again, are carefully being issued to her “granddog.”

It is in her voice — in the way she lures Jernee to her. It is in the way she takes her time with Jernee who now, sometimes struggles to see late at night. It is also in the way she disciplines me for attempting to demand something of Jernee.

I look at the two of them together and there is no doubt in my mind that my mom is mothering the way she has always wanted to. And all it took was a connection to my dog who has really become “our family’s dog” since I introduced them to one another thirteen years ago.


We may not be the best mother-daughter team but we know our flaws and we’re willing to continue to work on them and get better at being open to the changes occurring. We will forever be works in progress but we have come so far and the war still rages.

Both of us are warriors, ready for battle — ready to keep each other first, no matter the cost. I realize now — I’ll always mother someone for it is deeply ingrained in who I am. And perhaps my mother will no doubt use her newfound mothering skills to press forward into the coming years sharpening those skills.

Maybe with her human grandchildren, if two of my brothers decide to actually make that dream a reality. I can almost smell the love in the air.

I think we’re ready.


To those of you mothering mothers who have lost their way, mothers who cannot remember their roles, or mothers who look up to you more than you can fathom, this is for you. Mothers and mothering people giving your all to your children or someone else’s, thank you. Happy Mother’s Day.


Previous parts to I Mother No One

Originally published in P. S. I Love You via Medium.