Monday, December 23, 2013

my eyes are swollen
with tears
my heart is swollen
with pain

loss is what there is
there is nothing that is fair
it is all about love
and love is nothing without loss

if you do not love
you do not hurt
and how can you live that way?

How can you not?

I want too many things
that just can not be.

there is no reset button
there is no redo
as much as we would like there to be

there are no happy endings
there are endings
there is the hope
for magic to come
and help things be easier

I suppose if there is belief
in magic
there is belief in love

help me, please
whoever can
help me believe
in love.

something out of a thing broken

rolling along and things are strange
mostly fine
but the dark of the car
on a surprisingly cold evening
smacks the tears out of my heart again

I want things

I want beauty for no reason that lasts
for making the moment
more lovely
adding beauty to emptiness
to pain
to confusion and fear

Because those things are always there.

I have these magic moments
not so lovely
where the past
pushes its way into my eyes

the world tilting in Washington Hospital Center
clawing at dirty, windows that do not open
spattered with raindrops

and things I thought
were torn apart
before my eyes

what I am
what I hoped to be
were ironed out  and flattened and ripped...
then carved into
crooked, ugly,
wrong, but somehow whole

My job hereafter
is to fight to make the ugly
find it's way to lovely
even if only for a moment.

We do that, though.
We take simple sparkles
that don't mean anything
we take globs of color
we take simple broken things
and make

So, I guess
I can do this.

I admit, it won't be clean
it won't be easy

But what act of beauty ever is?

Friday, December 20, 2013


Son of a bitch.  I was talking with a very sweet co-worker this was this time last year that it started to become apparent that there were issues with John...that he was starting to have deficits.  We were looking at houses, and I sent him outside while talking with these people who were going to try to help us finance homes, and I watched him walk to the car.  I saw him drag his foot and asked him about it.  He was adamant that it was just the boots.  It did NOT look like just the boots.  Then, it turned out he forgot about Christmas gifts, and then lost the two he got me.  We did find the pink Chucks eventually, but not the other, whatever it was...and then it was January and things started to really go downhill.

Christmas is an anniversary, typically colored with love and fun and excess.  My job is to make it that for my kids, still.  Even though I have some sort of blow torch scorching every part of me that believed in anything good.  I keep putting my faith in various friends in different moments.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't...and then sometimes amazing strangers appear and, with names or without, offer us love and care.  I know that I am part of something bigger, that I must be doing some things right. I know that it helps.  And I also know it can only help in snippets.

Today, at least, I seem to be in a place where food is not so attractive.  Pretzels, a luna bar...a piece of pizza.  I'm not sure how to do any of this...and what hurts the most is that they eyes I want on me are not.  The eyes I REALLY want on me, never can be again.

NO ONE will ever replace him.  The strange thing is that, while I know this, it seems I didn't.  It seems that I wished that someone smart, interesting, anyone with that, would be there to hold me now that he is gone.  It wasn't that I wanted to replace him with someone.  It was that I wanted the void to be filled.  He was strange and unusual and talented, patient and loving and willing to try enough that I know and have always known that he can never be replaced...but I still wanted someone there in the void...that isn't how it works.  The ones who get that, they are the exception to the rule.

I realized tonight because of a very special interaction, that I would rather have kind and caring, honest and hard working people in my life than anyone else.  I thought, perhaps, I wanted smart people who were caring...and that would be ideal...but if it came down to the wire, my favorite people are those who have been through the fire...those who have retained an open mind and heart, or at least tried to...a great heart without a great mind is still a massive comfort.  A great mind without a great heart is like a challenging, functioning void.

There is enough in my life that counts as a void.  I don't need any more.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

discussion of days

my eyelids are tired today.  It has been a strange week.
I turned 40 Monday.
Talked with an old friend Tuesday and swore more than my fair share.
Wednesday, from almost the moment I woke up,
I had a knot in my chest- I spent the day,
the entire day,
rolling around the edge of an anxiety attack...
a human basketball dancing
the spiral edge of the hoop ready to tumble into the abyss.
I would not
allow myself to fall.
I sat quietly and took deep breaths.
I sang directions and statements and nothing at all.
I didn't smile very much, but I did
a few times.
I started to cry in the car in the dark.

People went out of their way to put a hand on me, to ask how I was doing.
Sweet gifts came in the mail from random folks, some known, some
anonymous.  Who does that?
I felt awed
at the love I noticed flowing around me, invisible swirls of color I could feel
like varied temperatures rumbling across your skin
on a midnight motorcycle ride in the heart of summer

Finally, the knot melted.

Today was smooth.  I got a few things straightened out.
I left my classroom a mess, bought silly shirts for me and my kids.
I sang my ass off at choir, made
lewd little side jokes and kept dropping my pencil. 
I smiled often

I walk a line of contradictions
of cognitive dissonance
on a daily basis.
I need to hold his memory close
and cannot look at it every day
I miss his voice
and leave the room when the recording starts...
To find my smile and hear my laugh
I have to close part of my mind and heart and send my soul
out for snacks

I wonder when the easy
won't be incomplete
and when the love won't always
like a hurricane.

Monday, December 16, 2013

because that happens

I walk around with eyes that are closed
With a body that is broken.
Looking for an old boyfriend
Looking for something, someone that makes sense
Dreaming for magic
Hoping for strength and hope and something
Something the same
Isn’t anything possible, if you only never stop?

Running through the woods and searching for notes from a different time
there is nothing

But air pushing around more air
Pulling people together with wind and the shine of life and light on water
It’s always on water
And when the time is right, you walk to him and all else falls away.

Hope and belief
Until you are willing, excited, to walk the plank back onto the boat
But I have no boat.

It doesn’t matter.

Someone somewhere will go back for me
Update their mission.
Let crying also
Be laughing.
Listen to this:  Big Machine

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Let me...

today, I am ill.  Tummy troubles.  It makes me remember in yet another way how blessed I was to have John. I keep thinking of things in terms of MOMENTS today.  If I interact with an old flame, and in a single moment, he makes me feel alive and lovely and full of hope, even if it is only a moment, then those things are still within my reach.  Each little annoyance from my days with John, each of them gave me insight into how to love someone in a real true way- a way where frustration and annoyance did nothing to change the love that surrounded everything.  I'd do internal checks now and then...the love never faltered.

A friend of his sent a message to me today, saying that I seem to have some ups and downs, but mostly ups.  He said that he believes John would like that. 

And I keep reading and seeing these things that encourage you to CHOOSE to be happy...what if I could do that?  What if I could find a way to embrace the fact that John is gone, but to cover it all in a cloth of gratitude that I had him at all?  What if I could find a way to feel the emptiness of grief and loss, but simultaneously revel in the openness that these things create in my heart and soul?  At times, I feel like being strong, looking for love, feeling times I feel like these things are an affront to the love I had for John, to the loss the world should feel, that I feel, now that he is gone.  But really, finding a way to believe in moving forward, to finding someone who could help me feel loved and not so alone...that is completely what John would want.  He hated the idea.  But he accepted it.

I don't think this means I won't cry.  You can't fully embrace the joy and reject the pain...laughter and tears are cousins, the curve and the stick on the candy cane...without the one, the other is only half...incomplete...pretend.  I don't like pretend.  I like real.  And messy.  And overwhelming and strong and crazy and loud...

You absorb the strength of the things you over come...not just the things that happen to you...because things can happen and you can pretend to skate past them like they never can suck in the pain and ignore the happiness and both lose their power.  I believe that is what happened to my mother and grandmother, to some degree.  And their perceptions of love and family and life became destructive and broken, muddied.

So...bring me tears.  Bring me hope, and let it crumble in my hands.  Let me laugh loudly and scream like a maniac.  Let me try and be rejected.  Let me be afraid, because I am trying and will never stop. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Noticing it.

I kind of try to hide.  Honest I do.  But life keeps finding me...with cudgels and snowflakes, with pain and stupidity and death, with laughter and purring kitties and too many cookies baked on cold days.  I know the story of the mustard seed.  It is a Buddhist tale...where a mother loses her beloved son.  She hears that Buddha is amazing and she goes to him, asking that he bring back her dead child.  He tells her all he needs is a special ingredient:  a mustard seed taken from the home of someone who has not also suffered loss and pain and death.  So she sets out on her journey, in search of the one who can offer such a simple gift.  And no one can.  Because we have all been touched.  We have all been broken and empty and imperfect.

I like to believe I have lived my life fighting to be a good person.  Yet I must be honest and admit:  I have done dangerous, stupid, irresponsible things.  I have done things that could have killed me as well as others.  I have often laughed at those things.  I was lucky.  I have been unlucky in places that had little or nothing to do with my own actions.

Just that idea of being a bridge for someone...a passage through things so wild and uncontrollable that they can't even see the other side.  I feel like that is all I want to do.  I want to grab the world by its shoulders and shake the shit out of it.  Tell everyone to stop being such morons!  We all suffer and hurt and die.  And we can pile stuff around us like sand bags against a storm.  But no matter how heavy they feel as we pile them up, they are nothing but fluff.  Bags stuffed with cotton balls hold nothing at bay.  The only protection we have are those people around us who have learned how to see.  But like with alcoholics, you can't take the blinders off someone needs to happen when they are ready, when they choose sight themselves.

I feel the pain of losing John to my toes, through my veins, piercing my core and seeping through everything I breathe.  I see that my pain exists in and of the world, not in a vacuum.  My loss lives beside the struggle of my neighbors, the accidents and losses of every life I have ever touched.  These are not lessons you can hear, or see, or touch.  They are lessons that mold you, that break you to pieces and rebuild you, if you let them.  So all I ask, truly and deeply and with everything that I have ever believed and dreamed of, is to be able to learn.  I want to allow the pain I have lived, the pain of those around me, to fill my soul and guide me to ways and paths where I can be a better person.

That sounds so righteous.  I still want someone to hold me, touch me, kiss me... I still want to eat too many cookies and drink too much wine sometimes.  I want to laugh my ass off at stupid movies and try to find ways to not scream at my kids quite so much.  I am still a mess.  I will still screw up.  Probably a lot.   And I'm okay with that.  I just want to learn too.  I want to help.  I want to let others know that they are not alone, and I want to be more helpful than I am hurtful.  We are all everything, wrapped up in a mess of living and trying.  I guess I just want to be more aware of it, as I go.  Like fish, noticing the water.

Monday, December 9, 2013

odd things for a Christmas list...

A friend got in touch with me today, concerned about my state of mind.  It's funny, because I know I hurt and miss him and feel incredibly broken.  But I feel like I am doing many many right things.  I feel like I am doing very well, all things considered.  I mean, really, money is incredibly tight, both cars just died and I had to get a new one, I needed to ask for help with holiday gifts for the kids, daycare money, AND groceries.  But the answer was "yes", so now I am just waiting to have the money to make my first car payment.  I sit on the couch, messing around with the computer and look at the ceramic snowmen ornaments on my tiny little tree: 2003 for our engagement, 2005 for our wedding, 2006 with a baby Aiden snowman, 2008 adding Cilly, and 2010 with all three small humans.  I don't cry.  Not always.  I get tears in my eyes sometimes.  Usually when I look, my eyes feel like they are hooked with heat to the small smiling faces with our names in the hearts below them.  It is hard to look away. 

I got the kids out in the snow twice yesterday and once today.  We made "white trash" snacks, Snickerdoodles, and ginger cookies.  I did some yoga stretches on the kitchen floor while making tea- my throat hurts.  My bathroom is a mess, but I did two loads of laundry today, shoveled the walk, and made it to hospice to get the special memory tear drop ornament.  I don't want people to worry about me; I want them to think about me, to love me, to get in touch with me, to reach out.  So it was odd to me that she was concerned, but I was very glad she called.

I think, mostly, I am doing okay with the fact that John is gone.  I have been preparing myself for that inevitability since the day the diagnosis was confirmed.  What I am not doing so great with is the idea that this leaves me alone.  I was never very smart about dating and guys and relationships.  Some people now tell me they think I am beautiful.  I still really struggle with that idea.  And even when I do feel it may be true, it solves nothing because, as a good friend says, I am broader than that.  I carry in my backpack, a verbally abused and misused teen, a grunge-tinged hippie, a romantic, an adventurer, a moderate literary geek, a poet, a flirt, a floozy, a thief, an idealist, a warrior...and about a dozen or two things in-between.  Ani DiFranco sings a line "I can't be the only, whatever I am in the room...", but oh boy do I feel that way sometimes.  Seriously. 

And I get sincerely stuck between a couple truths that immobilize and confuse the hell out of me.  First, I know from experience and everyone tells me (as if I don't already know) that in order to find love, you must stop looking for it.  Okay, fine.  But I know a few close friends who have found lovely relationships BY LOOKING ON DATING SITES.  How do you do that, without trying?  And then, I am constantly aware of and fighting the possibility of becoming my mother.  And my grandmother.  They both divorced, and NEVER DATED AGAIN.  So, if I don't look and don't try, whose to say that I won't fall into forever with no one, because I am one of those that falls between the cracks?

What do I mean by that, you ask?  Well, historically, the type of guy I attract with my looks does not get my brain, sense of humor, depth...and then there is all the lovely layers of crazy they get to wade, not crazy, sorry "mentally hilarious"ness I think is the term I found online.  So I don't know that I'm ready to date, but I want to kind of try a's going to take me a while to get into the whole thing and I might as well get started. 

Unless, of course, I shouldn't.  Because that isn't how you find it.  So never mind.  But then, what if I don't try, and then 12 years have passed and my kids have grown up so damned far without a dad around and I am 52 and my parts have revirgined themselves??  Yeah, okay, that is a bunch of poppycock, but my mother used to talk about this to me when I was a kid.  She was all excited about "being a virgin again"!  Yes, just one of many inappropriate, twisted things my mother shared with me as I was growing up.  Yippee!

So I can daydream, anyway...I don't care too much what he would look like.  They guys I have really loved, John included, I was not initially physically attracted to.  In fact, one of the big guns in my past I thought was quite unattractive at first.  And I ended up in a place where I would have done ANYTHING for this man.  So looks, eh, whatever.  I'd like a guy in shape to some degree- who likes to hike and camp and be outside and do stuff.  Someone smart, who reads.  Someone who can tell me I am beautiful and mean it, deeply.  Someone who makes me feel special, unique, pampered...someone annoying with how clean he wants the house- a little.  Someone who wants to snuggle and knows how to flirt with me, make me feel sexy even when I look like crap.  I'd like someone who loved the idea of traveling, even if we couldn't afford to do it.  I'd like a guy who smiles when he sees my kids...who likes coffee and Indian food, veggies and fruits.  Someone who knows life is messy and we are all deeply flawed and who isn't afraid to embrace his crazy and introduce it to mine, and maybe even let them duke it out now and then.  And someone who understands that no matter how much I may grow to love them, John will always be the father of my children, my first deep true trustworthy love and I will always try to include him in ways- some big and some small- if for no other reason than my kids need to know him as best as I can make that happen.

So...Santa, whaddya think?  Hahaha...yeah. I said, a girl can dream a little, right?

breathing in the storm winds

sneaky sneaky.... these tears.  I feel the pain just below the surface
it rumbles my foundation
almost all the time
but like an adventurous
wounded warrior, I'm learning to surf the rippling swells

Until the crash comes
the sandbags move
and I am in the undertoe

one man, invisible and unreachable, recognizes the lack of empathy that exists
another too soon, too familiar
yet another a misleading guide to a summit of excitement
that crumbles beneath my feet.

and the clouds paint pictures
of families in pain
poor choices
crumpled crushed vehicles
that end up taking you

Not the only one on this soulless
sovereign sea
each frothy droplet
a memory shining, a spear, cutting
thorn-bush adventures
arguments on New York freeways
tiny trees for Christmas
remote control cars and strep throat honeymoons

Memories dust and photographs
when all I want
is a hand
to hold.  A shoulder to lean on
lips to kiss and whisper
"you will never be alone" and
"I love you"

One foot.  Another.  Place them carefully
tighten your abdomen in order to balance
as the concrete coils into solid stone waves
Remember, when you fall, and you will,
tuck your shoulder and roll

You get hurt more
when you try to stop it
so let them sneak up on you
learn to plan for leaks
to roll when the tide comes
let the soul expansion take you
make you, carry you to a place where you build
in ways that know how to bend
no matter the strength
of the storm

Friday, December 6, 2013

Eyes that see me- fighting the right fight

and so it goes.

the things that end, keep ending in a variety of ways.  It isn't about being beautiful or not.  I have spent an inordinate amount of time believing that it might be just that.  But I suppose that is what women are lead to believe, taught it is about.  For the first time in my life, because of a ghost from my past, I believe I finally see my beauty.  I can see myself through the eyes of someone else.  Oh what an addictive and lovely gift.  I need to hold onto that- tightly.  I need to not let it fall from my frozen fingers.  Because I need now to believe in my heart and soul in ways strong enough to believe that I can move forward in some sort of real way.  I just never thought that, once I found him, I would ever have to be without him. 

New eyes on old love
shadows torn and rewoven
into princess capes
mistakes can be reborn
they can be reborn into a life
of beauty and accidental moments
of forced feeling too much

there is hope, then
that emptiness can be reinvented
into something shattered
glued back together
a broken Christmas ball
made into a mosaic

I have been searching for a guide
afraid to let go
and I have hoped that searching
might bring me what I sought.

green eyes
blue eyes
eyes that see me
whole and unbroken
or prysmatic
AND powerful

I am a warrior

I try to understand what that means
no matter what anyone says
no matter the choices I make
no matter the overlap that might occur

I am stronger than that
better than that
more beautiful more full to the brim
of strength and hope and love and learning

find me

send your breathless soul to the depths
of everything that ever could be

send me a message in the form
of external hope
not just the kind
that resides
because only a portion of me lives in there
and in my caverns
the light too easily goes out

I need to wear it, bright and strong and flowing
I need that princess cape
I need to believe in things
beyond the pain

I want to send wisps of smoke
to the four corners
and hope and love to those
who have helped me believe

I want to stand tall enough
to reach the stars
I want to hold
bleeding fingers be damned

put the top down
let me laugh deep belly to my toes
and scream and fight
let my hair fall down my back
while everything opens inside and out

I don't want to break more things
than are already broken
even when there are no eyes to see me
old or new
I want
to believe

Sunday, December 1, 2013


okay.  I cried.  I know I wrote already, but this is where I vent, right?  my readers in Russia and China and here in Maryland and hear me and you care and your caring and hearing help me feel so not alone...

I feel like to get through this incredibly huge thing, I have to channel the strength of every pain I have survived.  But what a screwed up thing to need...I have to call to the pain of growing up without my dad, of feeling so left out, of believing I was worth nothing but what love my body brought me...of hearing hurtful, searing words over and over from the women who raised me...of losing friends I thought would be there forever, of being in love only to be used as a way to get back at others.   I try so hard to understand, channel, and heal the pain of my mother and her life, my grandmother, my other grandmother and my grandfathers...

when I pray, I pray not to god but to all of you who make up bits of me...

I need strength to do this.  I feel like calling to the ghosts of my past and the past of those who made me is the only way to find the foundation to do this...yet doing that opens way too many cans of I don't sleep with fishes, I try to find my way with burrowing invertebrates...

I wish I had the strength, or perhaps the weakness, to cut or draw blood somehow.  Because to hurt this large without some visible manifestation seems quite wrong to me.  

Instead, I will make tea.  I will take a shower.  I will try very very hard to channel John's love for me.  I will try very hard to let the love of those of you who have known and cared about me for years, and those of you who have only just begun to know me flow through everything I am....I will try to be open...I will try to let the power of John's smile fill me...I will fight because I loved him, because I love him...because our babies need me...and because I still need to find a way to do better with pain than those who came before me....

Please, help me not feel so broken and alone...please send me strength and love and hope...Hope is a virtue...a practice...something you need to work at, that is worth working for.  I wish so badly I had someone to hold me through this pain.  I will try very very hard to pretend that someone is.


I haven't cried.  A family member was hurt and surprised and disappointed that I even entertained the thought of not putting up the tree.  I think many people forget that each journey, be it one of loss or love, is different for each person.  Her desire was to encourage me.  I guess it worked.  I never said I wouldn't put up a tree, I just said that I didn't know what I was going to do this season.  Anyway, she was shocked and upset at the possibility.  So I was mad that she implied, even accidentally, that I am taking my kids on a painful journey full of self centered pity.  I am not doing that.  I worry about that.  But everyone tells me these crazy things they think I am doing "wrong".  Anyway, anger is a good way to motivate me.  So when we got home, I decided we would put up the small three that John got me the year I bought my townhouse in Brunswick.  I wasn't going to do a tree then, either...the place was small, I didn't have a lot of money only having a part time teaching job and being a Nanny to some super spoiled kids on the side.  He would NOT hear that, so we went to Michaels, I think, and he bought me a small tree.  And he bought me a little house ornament, because I was now a home owner.  So awesome.

Our first Christmas together was so fun!  He told a story about how his favorite gift from his dad when he was a kid was this little remote controlled car.  It died the first day and his dad went to exchange it, but never got I went to Radio Shack and asked the guys there to get me the coolest car they had.  I bought that for him and was so stupidly excited that I didn't know how I wasn't going to give it away.  Watching South Park, Cartman's mom ordered an Antonio Banderas blow up doll that was the focus of the a lot of the episode, so I hitched a ride on that idea....till Christmas came, he would ask or talk about the holiday and I would just giggle like a dipshit and tell him I got him an Antonio Banderas blow up doll!  I remember a couple days before the actual holiday, when I was laughing and saying it AGAIN, he looked at me out of the corner of his eye and told me that he would NOT be very happy if that was true.  I just laughed and laughed....Needless to say, he was totally blown away!

He got me super cute Winnie the Pooh footie pajamas (the old old farmhouse where I lived had no heat and the wood stove sucked so bad, sometimes the toilet water was frozen!), and a purple lava lamp!  I loved it...way better than the Burger Kind Lord of the Rings glasses he got me for my birthday.

Here is my secret, restated...some part of me wishes I could be with him, even though that would mean dying...dissolving my consciousness into the void of all that ever was or will be...mixing with everyone and everything and nothing.  I won't, for many many reasons....but I miss him till I'm hollow.