Tag Archives: heartache

this is what the living do

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Johnny,

I have become a person who people send sympathy cards to, someone people want to nurture with food, chocolate, flowers and kind messages. People hug me when they see me, and ask how I am. Most of the time I have no idea.

I’m wearing your pj bottoms as I write, and drinking tea from one of your cups. The pile of your newly washed, and neatly folded clothes sits on my bed and asks me what are you going to do with us now? I don’t know, that’s why I tried on the pj bottoms. I had to roll the waist because you were taller than I am. Were, I have to get used to speaking of you in the past tense.

We’ve been speaking of you in the past tense for two weeks, two weeks tomorrow, Saturday at 4pm. I’m still getting used to that.

I also wear your wedding ring, the one that dad left you after he died. It’s on my thumb. I play with it constantly, twisting it, rubbing it. I think about you and dad, and how I ended up older than either of you, and wonder if wearing this ring is a good idea or not.

I think you would like your service, it’s in two weeks, and I have spent a lot of time working on it. It has readings, poems, and we’re playing Leonard Cohen and The Beatles, actually the choir, the one you used to sing with, will be performing Hallelujah and All You Need is Love. They said they would be honoured to sing for you. Honoured, I wonder what you would think about that. We’re doing two of my favourite prayers. To be honest I don’t know what you would think of the whole thing. I finished the first draft of your eulogy, I’ve never written one of those, but I’d never written an obituary either, and I think your’s turned out alright.

When I went through your clothes that first week, the week we went through and cleaned and organized your apartment, I mainly thought of ones for Graham, so he could have something of yours. I thought about taking a box of your books for him too, but then didn’t. You two had so much in common, but he walked out of his treatment centre 3 days ago and we don’t know where he is now, so I’m back to looking at the pile of clothes, and I’m still don’t know what I will do with them.

I sit here, healthy, safe and warm, and you’re gone, you’re not even a body anymore, you’re ashes siting in a container somewhere, I don’t even know where. They gave mom your glasses and your watch. That’s what she has, your glasses and your watch. I can’t begin to know how that feels. Did they put them in a special box with gold lettering? A velvet bag? Or did they just shove them in a brown envelope? Does that help? I don’t think it would. I think it would equally excruciating to receive the items from your child’s body no matter how they were presented to you.

You broke my heart, Johnny, you broke all of our hearts, and I let you die. I let you die alone. I let my son become homeless, and I sit in my house and feel sorry. I feel sorry, and sad, and tired, really, really tired. Somehow that seems wholly inadequate. It seems there should be larger consequence for not saving you, or Graham, or even dad.

There is more, obviously. You can’t tell by looking at me, or by talking to me, most of the time anyhow. On the outside I look and sound pretty much the same. I’m not. I’m unmoored, I am no longer somebody’s sister, I no longer have a brother, and you were it, my only sibling. It’s just me now, and that feels unnatural. All our private jokes, our code words, things that only we talked about and knew, all those things are gone, and what’s left is just space.

This was not how all of this was suppose to turn out. We were going to be great. We had grand plans. Happy lives mapped out. Lives with spouses, and happy children, successful careers, and somehow bits of that got lost.

I have to stop now. I have to find a place to put your clothes, and I have to go back to the actions that make up my life now.

I found this poem for you. I think maybe you would have made fun of it, but you don’t get to speak for yourself anymore, so here it is.

What the Living Do
Marie Howe

Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil probably fell down there.

And the Drano won’t work but smells dangerous, and the crusty dishes have piled up

waiting for the plumber I still haven’t called. This is the everyday we spoke of.
It’s winter again: the sky’s a deep, headstrong blue, and the sunlight pours through

the open living-room windows because the heat’s on too high in here and I can’t turn it off.
For weeks now, driving, or dropping a bag of groceries in the street, the bag breaking,

I’ve been thinking: This is what the living do. And yesterday, hurrying along those
wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee down my wrist and sleeve,

I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush: This is it.
Parking. Slamming the car door shut in the cold. What you called that yearning.

What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want
whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss—we want more and more and then more of it.

But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass,
say, the window of the corner video store, and I’m gripped by a cherishing so deep

for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I’m speechless:
I am living. I remember you.

Goodnight Johnny. I love you.

“I just sit by and let you fight your secret war”

flawed, but indisputable

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He tries to feel
for promises
he wants to,
but knows he’ll never keep

He goes alone
in clever words
and tells himself this
is enough,
even as his own words’ hollow ringings
must be drowned inside
his own false laughter.

His beating heart for frozen smiles,
long since traded in;
and if he’s fast enough,
he will not notice
the odd old beat
from within
his hidden chest.

His mirthful eyes, intelligent
and sadly beautiful to watch
see all that need compassion,
but who in turn
will show him none,
and will forsake those who would show him any.

and sometimes
very briefly,
in those eyes
there is the boy
who never did grow up
who, when he looks at you
the frozen mirth is gone,
and standing there
is just the man,
flawed,
but indisputable.

For less lofty poems click here or here or here. I also have a woman poem, but that’s for another day.

my life in bullet points and pictures

All images by Allie Brosh from Hyperbole and a Half, because she gets me, ya know? http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com

So many things. So many feels. ALL of the feels. That would be my life right now.

Menopause + Mercury Retrograde

 The Highlights, The Lowlights, The ‘No Lights at the End of the Tunnel’ Lights

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Mood Swings: MORE moods, MORE often, ALL the moods in ONE day, ALL the moods in ONE moment, Ten moods for the price of One!, BUY ONE and get 3 Bazillion FREE moods, ‘Happy Roller coaster moods’, ‘Sad Roller coaster moods’, ‘Happy/Sad/Mad Roller coaster moods’, ‘Roller coaster without a seatbelt moods’, ‘Roller coaster without a seatbelt and a broken rail moods’, ‘Completely overworked roller coaster metaphor because you couldn’t come up with anything else, so just sod off will ya’ kind of mood.

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Tears: Sad tears, Happy tears, Mad tears,  ‘Happy/Sad/Mad at the same time’ tears WITH boogers, ‘Stupid love song comes on the radio’ tears, ‘Drive by that restaurant you had that date in’ tears, ‘Friends being nice to you’ tears, ‘Nobody will ever love me’ tears, ‘Rejection’ tears, ‘Why I am watching this stupid fecking movie’ tears, ‘somebody ate the last slice of pesto pizza’ tears, ‘why didn’t I buy the stupid waterproof mascara’ tears, ‘we were suppose to do that together’ tears, ‘we were suppose to ride the roller coasters together, dammit’ tears.

allieirl
Communication:
Stupid texts, ‘Happy/Sad/Mad’ texts, ‘completely overworked roller coaster mood metaphor’ texts, ‘Foot-In-Mouth’ texts and emails and words coming out of my mouth (around my toes), cell phone glitches, computer glitches, music glitches, ‘omg, ALL the fecking spreadsheets’ glitches.

images-8images-10Appearance: Hair: Lord. In all the wrong places, in “honey, you should really get that waxed’ places, in the ‘feck it, I’m just going going to grow the hair on my legs and wear long pants because no one will ever looks at my legs again’ places. And Very poorly behaved hair in the proper places. Skin: ‘buying ALL the kinds of cream in the Beauty aisle’ skin, skin doing all the wrong things on all the wrong places.

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Indignities: People having ‘banal conversations below your waist whilst your (unwaxed) legs dangling in the stirrups’ indignities, ‘little cough now dear’ indignities, ‘this will only hurt for a moment dear’ indignities (also not true), ‘the whole fecking reason for all the indignities evaporating in one phone conversation about too much drama’ indignity.

images-9 images-2 ecf34cd99c872d993abbcdc6c8636db5Food: Doughnuts for breakfast, cereal for dinner, ice cream for dinner, pizza every damn meal because I just feel like it, okay?! Cake, because Cake. Chocolate, dark chocolate, dark chocolate truffles with fancy expensive tastes added stuffed in my mouth three at time, dark chocolate with pizza and ice cream by the fist full while watching television that makes me cry, chocolate on the fecking tissues because apparently I can’t stuff chocolate in my mouth and cry at the same time without making a mess and wasting chocolate.

Allie’s images are brilliant, she manages to convey a wide range of emotions with a few lines and still manages a sense of humour. I’m working on the sense of humour part.

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this one’s mine, computer generated

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So yeah. It’s been a ride. An overused roller coster metaphoric kind of ride. It will pass. Retrograde will end, I’ll figure out the menopause thing. All of this will pass.

dear me

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Dear me,

Get up.
Place your feet on the floor,
one after the other.
Breath.
Stand. Walk. Wash your face.
Get up.
Rise and Shine.

Get up.
This is not over.
You are not over,
you are only just beginning.
There are no fat ladies singing,
the credits have not rolled
your movie has only just started.
You have words to write.
There are breezes lifting kites, blowing leaves
that need to be noticed;
there are songs
that need to be heard.

Get up.
Drag your pen across paper.
Write (dammit). Write despite of your broken hand,
in spite of the lifeless fingers.
Write (dammit)
with your teeth if you have to.
Get the words out.
Write about fire, stars, water,
Just write (dammit).

Stand.
Defy gravity.
Do not give them your power.
Do not give
One. More. Moment to those
who called your hopes and fears drama that they didn’t have time for.
Do not.
Do not make yourself small for other’s comfort.
Stand. Defy gravity, even as it pulls you to the earth.
Stand. Inhale. Exhale. Shine.
Be yourself,
your messy, dramatic, beautifully flawed, your lovable self.
Just be.

Stand.
You are who you love,
You are not who loves you.
Define yourself.
On a cool night walk to the beach and make a fire
burn the letters. Take
the card you have clung to and
burn it.
Give them to the fire.
Burn them all
Get up. Look up. Walk away.
Look at the stars, borrow as much light as you need.
Listen to the waves.
Walk into the arms of your friends.
Let go. Let go.
Let the rest go.

Shine.
Walk into your garden and
plant a new seed.
Stand. Shine. Watch it grow,
watch it defy gravity.
Pull the weeds.
Burn them. Burn every last weed
(like the card, like the words, let go, let go, let go)
every weed
that would choke your seed, steal its light,
hinder its growth.
The world will tell you to stop,
to dim your light.
Do not.
There are people that need more light.
Make extra.

Shine.
Feast
on chocolate, on love, on every moment of your life.
Breath.
Deeper than you’ve ever dared.
Stand.
Place your feet on the floor,
one after the other.
Walk.
Walk into darkness, into nothing and
trust each step you take.
Save your own life. One breath,
one step, one word, one seed
at a time.

Dear me,
There is no other moment.
There is only right now.
Live.
Right now.
Get up. Stand. Walk. Shine.
Be that which is you, and only you.
You are enough.
You are what you love.
You are.
Start there.
Breath.

Unconditional Fulfillment, by Missi Rasmussen

original found here

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Equipment you will need:
A peeler that fits into your hand snugly
so you have complete control
as you enter the time-consuming task
of peeling away all the outer layers
of the fruit he left behind. Nevermind
it’s been sitting there among the gnat traps.
It will be perfect without the bruises.
Preferably a dedicated saucepot. You
cannot work well with a coating that sticks
or something you cannot handle
well. It must have a good,
strong handle. As must you.
A strainer that fits your vessel.
Nothing is more frustrating
than trying to fit two pieces
together and making a mess
because they never went together
in the first place. Tea is watery
and runs quickly in all directions.
No one likes cleaning it up, and there’s
almost always some of it left behind.
You don’t want to be soaking
on your hands and knees due to
an incompatible strainer/cup relationship.
Ingredients:
3 tablespoons fresh ginger.
Preferably chopped up and mashed
yourself. You can use that stone statue he gave you
that’s always stayed intact no matter how many
times you’ve “accidentally” dropped it on another
surface just as hard.
2 cloves.
Depends on their freshness. Also
depends on the time you are willing to put into
raising them. The children,
not the cloves.

1 cinnamon stick.
Very important, but it depends
on the size. Use the largest stick
you can find. There’s no such thing as too much
cinnamon, and it will help you
stay warm with all that spice.
1-2 peppercorns.
Some people like adding these for an extra bite.
But if you’ve been through enough pain
already, feel free to omit.
2 cups milk.
You could have made this yourself five
years ago if he hadn’t been so jealous.
What a waste! You may find you need more of this later,
so save a reserve. You may need it to ease
the strength or lower the temperature,
as you were expecting lukewarm.
2 cups water.
Perfect ingredient, and you can find it anywhere. Cooling
and cleansing; it’s just what you need.
But do not use bath water; residue
always remains.
Sweetner:
Don’t be crazy! This is the best part. Honey
works well, but I always hated it when he called me sweetie.
Honey takes time. Sugar is my favorite, but it’s unhealthy.
Never accept anything artificial. Your own wits will do.
Method:
You must boil first to remove impurities.
Think of it as a ritual. And as the steam rises,
breathe in the moment of one thing changing
into another.
Add a few other things, but keep boiling. You
have everything you need, so the order doesn’t
matter anymore. Just make sure
you never turn up the heat. You certainly
want to avoid open flames and the irreparable
damage they can cause.
Stew.
Just long enough for things to saturate.

With your compatible cup and strainer, separate the tea
from the shit that’s accumulated at the bottom.
It looks good, and it smells wonderful,
but don’t be fooled. It can
only be used once.
Finally, serve it up the way it deserves.
With lots of froth in an artistic ceramic mug,
Nothing with your college logo or anything with a chip in it.
Avoid anything you acquired while on vacation.
Avoid anything given to you by someone whose
identity is starting to fade away.
The tea deserves a better vessel in which
to reside before it is sure to
be enjoyed by your unconditional fulfillment.

there goes my hero

Graham 2

“There goes my hero, … Foo Fighters

“The mind of an addict is cunning enough to convince the body that it is not dying” – Michael Lee

The mind of the addict.

Sometimes I miss him so much it is physically painful. It comes when I am thinking of other things, and then it hits, and I can’t imagine how I could ever not be thinking about him. Like tonight when I was shopping at Walgreen’s and I remember the time I took him shopping for basics while he was living at the homeless shelter. I wrote about that here.

He is on Step 4. Three and a half years into this hell, and he made it to Step 4. I talked to him last week and I actually heard my son, not the addict, not the mental illness, but my son, my beautiful, funny, loving boy, I talked to him. He is working so hard, so very hard. He is clean and he is sober (four months now), but the psychosis is hanging on with a tenacity that has not let up, not even for a moment. Until now he could not cope with it without drugs.Without finding someway to escape the voices in his head, voices caused by biochemical imbalances in his brain. He is coping with the chemical imbalances in his brain chemistry clean and sober, that alone is heroic. But it is not enough yet.

If the biochemical imbalances manifested themselves as cancer, or organ malfunction in his body this would be an entirely different story I’d be writing. People would see the battles he’s faced. As heartbreaking as Robin William’s death was, it put a real face to how deadly mental illness can be, and he (Robin Williams) did everything he was suppose to, he was clean and sober, he took his medication, he saw a psychiatrist, and it still killed him. People don’t want to believe that mental illness is as debilitating as physical illness. It’s so much easier to stigmatize someone with a mental illness, so much safer, so you can find reasons why it could never happen to you, or people you love.  In a Mental Health First Aid class I recently took I learned that severe depression is as debilitating as quadriplegia – as quadriplegia. No one told Christopher Reeves to suck it up, and just get over being paralysed. He was seen as a hero for coping with such an overwhelming disability with grace and courage.  Robin Williams was no less a hero. People who overcome addictions and other mental illnesses are as deserving of the praise, love and support we give to cancer survivors. People in recovery need as much love and support as those undergoing major medical treatments. All are heros.

When we talked I told him how proud I was of him, and encouraged him to keep moving forward. He still has so much to overcome, so much work to do, and there are no guarantees that he will ever be well.

A friend of mine sent me this article. I am that quiet mom who doesn’t say much when people brag about the accomplishments of their teenage and young adult children. My son is never going to Princeton, he will not go to graduate school, he is likely not going to do most of the things I hear other parents bragging about, he may never be able to live independently. But he IS clean, and he IS sober, and he is working as hard as any honour roll student, as hard has any top athlete, and I am just as proud as other parents whose kids are in Princeton, on Varsity teams, whose kids are doing wonderful, exciting and accomplished things. I just don’t talk to many people about it.

He is using the support network he has to deal with the terrifying psychotic episodes directly. He is taking his meds. He is doing everything he is suppose to do. He is trying so hard, and it still holds him by the throat. He is on his umptenth medication combination to help his mind become more balanced, and stable enough so he can continue to recover. It may not be enough. He had to leave the wonderful place he had been staying in for the last 2 months and  in to go back into a “higher level of care” to get his medications and episodes stabilized.  I haven’t heard from him, or anyone since the transfer last week.

I look at the sky, and try to decide if this is colour it turns in the moments before it falls. (modified from Shane Koyczan’s To This Day Poem).

I don’t know how this turns out. I don’t know if he will get well. I don’t know if I will ever see my beautiful boy again, or if this disease will take him from me completely.

So sometimes when I am doing other things all this comes rushing back to me. The last few years that when I look back on them, I cannot imagine how we lived through them.

Michael Lee is a performance poet and a recovering addict and alcoholic. I listen to this poem a lot.

I miss my son. I pray that this is not the colour the sky turns in the moments before it falls.

But then begins a journey in my head

me with quote

The Irreconcilable Differences between Mind and Body had become so profound
they were heard in the Court of Judicium. The usual reserved Attendants
were appalled at the excess of emotion and were given to making small ‘tsk
tsk’ sounds behind handkerchiefs and fans whilst disapproving eyes squinted
down at the proceedings.

Mens Mentis represented Mind, Corpus represented Body.

Mens Mentis presented an extensive past history of failures to illustrate
the likelihood of the present endeavor ending in heartbreak and
humiliation. An impressive parade of witnesses came forward to give
evidence to support the case. One spoke of stretch marks, belly fat, and
sagging breasts, another of age and foolishness, and yet another spoke with
passion about the need for caution and restraint in all affairs..

klimt danaeCorpus, not to be out done presented extensive physical evidence, stomach
sitting too high in chest, heart becoming larger, beating more quickly and
thus increasing blood flow, of the increased occurrence of deep breaths
with extended exhales, the memory of skin on skin, and the presence of a
hopeful smile. All these events occurred despite the extensive evidence
presented by Mens Mentis, argued Corpus, and therefore must be given more
weight.

Mens Mentis moved to strike from the record any memories because they
occurred within the Mind and not the Body.

Corpus then moved to strike all memories of past failures because they did
not occur in the Body.

Both motions were overruled by the Most Honourable Judge Iudex, stating
that both motions included events that could not be solely related to
either Mind or Body, and thus where considered Joint Property.

The proceedings have been going on for weeks, at times it appeared the Mind
would prevail, but then events would occur and body of Body’s evidence
became increasingly stronger. Each time this happened, Mens Mentis would
argue that Body was incompetent to stand trail and should be removed and
placed in protective custody. The Most Honourable Judge Iudex has, so far,
overruled each of these objections, but the talk among the Attendants is
that with the passage of time and without fresh physical evidence
(memories, everyone knows, after a time become increasingly unreliable)
that the Judge will rule in favour of the Mind.

Meanwhile the jury continues to absorb the proceedings with passionless
expressions.