i would tell you how
all the petals
look like pink butterflies
and i would despise myself
for stating something
so obviously trite,
but you would not despise me.
i would tell you how
all the petals
look like pink butterflies
and i would despise myself
for stating something
so obviously trite,
but you would not despise me.
if i make myself
a lowercase letter
curled tight, unassuming;
if i fold up parts
of me that are
long and large,
that flap and billow
hard and angry in the wind;
if i make my footprint
that of a sparrow;
if i suck in my gut
and allow the ocean to dry
into a teaspoon of salt, maybe
in my vanishing act,
love will atone
as i become inconspicuous,
pedestrian as a blink,
eyelash brushing cheek
but for a moment.
i’ll tuck chin to neck
and knees to chest,
furl fingers to fists,
become tiny, scarce.
if i make myself
i will fit
written as part of the wordpress daily prompt, “Vanish”
This isn’t great for me because I’m really susceptible to sleep deprivation. Like, remember that time I tried to sell my newborn on the internet?
But I digress (probably another function of sleep deprivation).
I was saying to a friend that grief has changed my biological responses to things. Like sleep. And eating. I wake with this perpetually queasy and anxious tummy. My head hurts. Food tastes different, like it’s wrong or spoiled. It turns my stomach.
Even my heartbeat feels erratic, rushed, wild.
I’m not particularly worried about this. I know I’ll sleep eventually, and I have 30 extra pounds I could stand to lose, so it’s not like I’m going to damage my health.
I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel. But until I get to it, it’s pretty freaking uncomfortable, messy, and frustrating.
I’m a person who likes order and control, afterall. So to be throwing myself head first into the ugly business of death is different and difficult, to say the least.
It reminds me of a perpetual hangover, although I’ve consumed no alcohol. And do you know what that reminds me of? Morning sickness.
When I was pregnant with both of my babies, I had vicious morning sickness for the entire first trimester, more so with my daughter than with my son.
It was like my body staged a revolution and revolted against the way it had always been.
But I had faith, even on the worst days when I could barely stand up, that it would eventually go away and something beautiful and miraculous would happen as a result of that hardship.
I went to E.’s grave this week on a really bad day. I’d been crying all day for a variety of reasons, mainly because I had news and I wanted to share with E., and I couldn’t pick up the phone and call her.
I knelt at her grave and fell forward sobbing with my head in the grass. I wept until I could barely breathe, curled in a ball at the head of her plot, where I’d placed a purple, potted mum.
When I finally came up for air, a dragonfly alighted on one of the flowers.
I gasped and startled it away, but all of a sudden there was peace in my heart, a sense of my heartbeat slowing and returning to a normal rate.
E. wore a dragonfly pin on her wedding day, and was buried in her wedding dress with the pin in place.
How could it not be her, tenderly reaching out to set my heart at ease, a shred of order and connection amongst the maelstrom of pain and loss?
Some of you might be rolling your eyes and saying, “There she goes writing about grief again.”
I get it. I’m starting to bore even myself.
But that’s how I process. I’m going to obsess and cry and mourn and wail until it feels right to stop and return to my regularly scheduled program.
I’m going to continue loving, and looking among the wreckage for those little signs, with every beat of my broken heart.
Posted as part of the WordPress daily prompt challenge.
Chaos | The Daily Post
I don’t believe you’re here,
you’re down there,
nestled like a hibernating animal
under mounds of dirt,
snug in your cavern,
fingers curled stiff in the dark.
It scares and thrills me,
at once, how we still sit together,
although our conversation
is rather one-sided these days,
so I spend most of the time
companionable, silent with you.
I don’t believe in ghosts or haunting,
although it is strange how you whispered
words long forgotten
in my ear, and how I laughed
(with you?) as the “murder” of crows
flew over my head.
Can you feel the heat of my hands
pressing down on the earth over you,
as though trying to pat you
through thin covers
of a hospital bed?
Can you hear my voice tremble
with grief and embarassment as I
tell you about my day, about
squirrels chattering in the tree
that shades you, about
your neighbor’s wind chimes, about
the bizarre parade and
all the shades of grief and loss?
What a conversation we would have had,
thee and me, about all this.
There was a poem I meant to share,
a missed chance almost too great to bear.
The breeze stirs up in the trees,
I kneel with my hands on the ground,
and even though you cannot feel or hear
me, I do it anyway.
Written for my dear E., who I continue to love and miss with every breath. . .
Part of the WordPress daily prompt challenge. https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/eerie/
Over the past week, I have been walking down a shadowy hall. It is dark and tight. The walls press on me. It makes me want to scream in claustrophobic panic. I believe it is called grief and loss.
Every once in a while lights flash, startle me, and make me nauseous. My heart races. I think that’s trauma.
There are doors that open into little waiting rooms with chairs. Films of memory play on vast, white walls. But it hurts to go in and watch, so I keep walking down the narrow corridor.
I walk at a really slow pace. My husband might call it moving at the speed of cheese.
How I’d love to call her up and talk about cheese. She loved food.
See how that works? I start to have a thought and then circle back around to her. My head is so full. Overloaded. People are left staring and waiting around me, because my brain can’t move any faster. It’s a slow computer. God, that woman could not use a computer to save herself. . . There. I did it again.
As a clinical social worker (which by the way my friend also was), I know all about the stages of grief: Denial, bargaining, anger, depression, acceptance. It sounds so tidy, laid out like that, and yet it is more of a mangled wreck than anyone could imagine. On one level, I understand that the so-called stages are more circuitous than linear.
I know it was normal after I kissed her cold forehead to feel a surge of anger well up inside me as I left the funeral parlor.
Anger at her. Anger at myself. Anger at the universe.
Why couldn’t she have taken better care of herself? Why did she have to go and deprive the world of herself? Why did I not know sooner how truly ill and tired she was?
In addition to knowing it is normal, friends have assured me it is normal. So a part of me can accept this anger for what it is.
But there is another part of me that is just her friend, a mere mortal who is still alive, and doesn’t know what to do with the thread of anger in this tapestry of pain I clutch at my throat as I walk down this hall.
Her head was so hard under my lips. Like marble.
I know it is totally understandable to feel rational and accepting one moment, and then to circle back to denial and depression the next.
Bargaining is another “stage,” but it doesn’t seem necessary to bargain. Dead is dead. But oh god (who by the way I don’t believe in), if I could just get one more minute. . .
And what would I do with that minute?
I’d ask her what to think. I’d ask her what she would say to me upon learning of her death. I’d ask her if she loved me as much as I loved her.
I’d ask her if she had given up, if the taste of death she’d had a month ago had made her want the real thing. I would ask her why she didn’t call me back when I called her a week before she died. Was it because I had been so adamant about her following the doctor’s instructions, and she didn’t want to? Did she not want me to harp? Had she accepted a fate that she knew would be too difficult for me to support?
Was I a bad friend for nagging her, for not being ready to be in the world without her?
At some point, I recognize, my heart will probably tell me the answers to these questions. That after I get through the dark passageway and back to the land of the living, I’ll be able to see more clearly.
I’d spent so many hours sitting and chatting with that woman. She listened endlessly to the minutia of my existence. Birds in my yard. The fox. My children.
She looked at my pictures.
She kept my secrets.
She always took my side. Always.
Her patience and wisdom were never ending. I’m sure at some point during those many times, she gave me all I needed to know, but until it is clear, I am left waiting, scowling, tapping my toe impatiently, for answers.
One more minute couldn’t scratch the surface. . . but I’d give some teeth for it anyway. One more minute to thank her for championing me when I felt like I had no one else. One more minute to tell her I love her. One more minute to ask her if she is ready, if she feels okay about this transition, if there is anything she wants me to do for her widow.
My friend had dozens of friends to whom she was close. She was amazing that way. She didn’t have casual acquaintances. If you made it into her circle, you were under her wing of family.
I am sure they would all wish for another minute or three, not to mention her beloved of over 30 years, or her BFF of 54 years. . . what makes me so special that I should feel hypothetically entitled to be granted one more imaginary minute?
Was I special?
What is it about death that makes me doubt my special-ness. Does it die with the one who was loved? Does it disappear behind the veil with their persistence and laughter?
Or is it, perhaps, if I believe I wasn’t special, then it won’t hurt as much because it didn’t mean so much?
I believe in love, and I think I believe that love is a bond that cannot die. I think I have to believe this about love, because if it is not portable to the great beyond, then I don’t think I could really get out of bed again.
Enduring love is the only “afterlife” in which I believe.
My friend was elderly, and yet, there must have been a rather foolish part of me that thought she would live forever, that believed I’d never have to face a world without her zany humor.
Somehow, her voice continues to fill my head. I hear her make those noises she’d make when she was amazed or delighted by something, the oooohhhs, and gasps of wonder. Despite seeing over 75 years of the world, she never ceased to be amazed by the smallest gestures of tenderness, by the beauty of nature, by the majesty of animals.
I did the stuff you’re supposed to do.
I cried. I brought food to her wife. I went to the services. I cried more. I got piss drunk and fell down. I collected all the cards and little treasures she had ever given me and looked at her sloppy handwriting and laughed.
I walked in the woods. I sat at her grave and talked to her. I patted the freshly rolled out sod, crumpled into a ball, and cried again.
I started to feel better, as though the hallway were lit with skylights.
Then I felt like shit again, and it was dark and I was bumping into stuff.
At the burial, one of the funereal directors plucked roses off of the arrangement on the casket and passed them around. She said we could place the rose with a prayer on the top of the casket to go down with my friend, or we could keep it in memory of her. I clutched at mine while everyone else kissed theirs and placed them on the casket.
I thought of the red rose corsage I wore a year ago at her wedding, how I’ve kept it tucked into my mirror in my bedroom.
How could it be? How could all of this be real?
It’s confusing how my brain is trying to fold around this information and digest it like a carnivorous plant. I suppose the good news is that I don’t have to completely get over my grief for her today. It’ll take time. One minute at a time; one breath at a time.
I’ve never cried such fat, wet tears.
If I were sitting with her, she wouldn’t hug me. I know that sounds weird and kind of cold, but it isn’t at all. It’s perfect.
She listens to me with her hands on her thighs, fingers curled in towards her thumbs. She breathes and nods slightly while I cry. She gives my space and lets me have my feeling, my dignity, my rage.
Then she pushes a box of tissues toward me. She tells me with a wry grin that she has examined the woman before her, and she does not find her lacking. She hands me a candle.
I dry my face, and plod forward.
I’m not your average soccer mom, mainly because my kids don’t do soccer. My nine year old does karate, and he recently brought home a trumpet which I have vowed will not make me crazy at all.
Is there such a thing as a karate and trumpet mom?
Emily is almost five (oh man how it hurts to say that, as opposed to saying she is four and a half) and she thinks she would like to do dance. But being the crunchy and neurotic freak that I am, I am too scared to sign her up for any old dance class, because I am fairly certain it will give her the same self-loathing and body issues that I had as a dancer for about 20 years before succumbing to a pudgy middle age of motherhood and sedentary work.
So I haven’t signed her up for anything yet because I can’t bear to think that the joy she feels for moving her body will ever be squashed or warped into something it shouldn’t be.
And I can’t lie to you. The trumpet is in fact driving me crazy.
It’s a slip shod style of motherhood I try to embrace, and for which I cannot find a label. It also bears zero resemblance to the perfect mother I thought I was before squeezing these two critters out of my now unrecognizable lady bits.
Meanwhile, I can’t decide if we should spend a third night eating leftovers so they don’t go to waste, or if I should cook up the tortellini Trader Joe made for me. . . It’s humid here and I really do not feel like cooking, so I’m thinking it will be leftovers for me and the hubs and Lunchables or English Muffin pizzas for the kids.
Yes. I feed my kids Lunchables.
And also yes, I make them separate dinners than what I make for me and the hubs. I know, I know. I’m breaking all kinds of “rules” here, but as a working mom, I would rather we all sit down and enjoy each other’s company than endure tantrums at dinner time.
Also, we don’t always eat dinner together, even when we are all home together. But usually we are all eating at a vaguely similar time, just in different rooms. We call it parallel eating. I like to think of it as an ingenious parenting hack as opposed to a ginormous parenting fail.
Although it still makes me nervous.
But it doesn’t take much to make me nervous. I’ve been prone to anxiety and depression for as long as I can remember. Add to my already neurotic disposition that I am a social worker, and you can pretty much guarantee that I’ve diagnosed everyone in my family with just about anything possible.
A lot of people don’t get it.
Like my perfect Coworker who grew up in an intact family and has probably never worried about the sky falling in her life. She made a crack that she had never met someone as anxious as me. I think she meant it in a tender and friendly way, but do you know what it did?
If you guessed that the comment made me more anxious about being anxious in front of people, then you win the cookie. But it is a keebler elf cookie. I do not have time to make cookies from scratch.
One of the biggest compliments I ever got in my life was when a colleague said, “I always forget that you are actually anxious, because you always seem to have it all together.”
I try to channel this compliment on my darker days, and it makes me feel quite ravishing, but in a photoshopped kind of way, because if one thing is for certain it is this: I do not have it all together. Not by a long shot. And it makes me crazy.
It makes me cringe when I hear mommy labels passed around. . . Tiger Mom. Helicopter Mom. Bad Mom. Attachment Mom. Drill Sergeant Mom.
I mean, is anyone really just one label?
Sometimes I wish I could be just one label. It would be so much easier.
I suppose that the label “Good Enough Mom” comes close enough to describing me, but like Dorothy said to the Wizzard, “I’m afraid there isn’t a label for me in that bag of yours.” I’m paraphrasing. We actually have not watched the Wizzard of Oz in recent years because it terrifies my daughter and then none of us sleep for weeks.
Oh, and apparently “Wizard” only has one “Z”. Who knew?
Probably that Drill Sergeant Mom. She knows everything. (Cue exaggerated eye roll.)
How about “Mixed Bag of Contradictions Intense Love and Inconsistent Energy”? Is that a title worthy of me?
I love my kids. Hopefully that counts for something, if not everything. And hopefully we will all laugh about all the times I’ve yelled and stomped off because I am so frigging overwhelmed by how much I love them and by how much pressure I am under from all conceivable angles to get it all right. Motherhood. Marriage. Work. Laundry.
And no I don’t sort my laundry.
And I think I’ve decided to do the leftovers. I don’t feel like cooking and we have karate tonight after all.
Still with me? Congratulations. You have just taken a hike through the meandering mind of an overwhelmed working mom whose life feels almost perpetually in a state of careening chaos, if not lurking danger.
In short, I don’t really know who I am, other than to say I’m not your average soccer mom.
Or rather, that I’m not a soccer mom at all.
Posted as part of the WordPress Daily Prompt
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Hike | The Daily Post