Monday, December 29, 2014

consulting the oracle (poem)

someday I'll be ready
to lend out my smile
so that it will be deeper
than what I have now

but now
for now
I will keep trying to face the tiger
till I can smile at him
till I can get him
to roll over
and let me pet
his forbidden belly

my ache is in part for
the lost thing
in part for a sense of safety
stability

I walk in lines of life
filtered through sharp stick stones
a lack of words lined with
judgement
confusion
fear

places unsafe
unsavory
necessary
disorienting

a misaligned compass
whose magnet might be
warped

my directions follow feelings
and need alternate connections
a myriad of myopic microscopic
accidental miscreants
view me from somewhere concealed
and continue
over and over
to judge who I am
what I do
calculate scores
of calculated mistakes
that are nothing more
than moments

thus I'm borne again
forging my own iron mail
made of what I
can
believe

love
hope
fallibility
honesty
connection

will that be enough?

the Oracle
is silent
but she gestures

my gaze may be
cross eyed
no matter.
I will forge ahead
and listen to the song
of my own making

what else is there
to do?

Sunday, December 28, 2014

dance lessons (poem)

Take it.
The empty feeling. Take it in and
absorb it.
Let the emptiness fill you,
inflate you.

Wear it like a gown
of glittering gold...
a ball gown for a royal dance.
Fill up with the pain and the loss...
the hurt and the fear.

How else do you immunize? Inoculation
is the process of taking
into your blood stream
that which would otherwise
Easily
kill you.
So take it.

Decorate yourself with it, my dear.
You know
you will not wear
the same thing forever...
not even a beautiful gown, adorned
with jewels of crystal tears...
step into it...
zip it up...
admire yourself in it...
for it is worthy of admiration, this pain.

It is the inside lining of love.
Feel the silkiness
against your naked skin.
You will be ready to take it off
soon enough.
Try not to rush.

Like the infancy of your progeny
it will not last.
It's brevity is a gift.
It's existence an honor. Be the queen
of grief, for his love elevated you...
beyond princess, 
the daughter of the king of all gods. 

His Love made you real...
an ephemeral version of the blue fairy. 

And you've been lying. 

Lying that healing has begun... Progressed. 
That hope was on the horizon, 
dancing on the binary code 
of a computer screen. 

Hope is here...inside the silken lining. 
Hope is what touches your bare flesh. 
Hope is what sears and cuts and falls 
like gossamer across gooseflesh. 

Hope will not grow, if you hold back 
the tears or 
disguise the pain. 

So dance. 

Let the dress swirl around you, 
flaring up for all to see...
be here and now, adorned in majesty, 
bleeding 
and crying,
laughing 
and dancing. 

Because you were blessed beyond 
so many. 
You 
had 
him. 

You tasted the fruit...
bruised and dented and still 
sweet inside it's imperfection. 
So dance, my darling. 
Do not attempt to still the beating heart, 
do not fear 
this emptiness, 
let the tears dry tracks 
upon your face. 
No make up will make you 
more beautiful.

So dance.

small confession

Here it is: I have been searching for a replacement. Not that I think John can be replaced. But I sincerely loved the way he filled me up...my life, my heart, the space around me and within me.

But I haven't been searching for something new. I've been hoping to find him again, some version of him.  An immediate replacement...someone to slip into my life in the place where he was. But that isn't dating. That isn't hoping. That isn't moving forward. That is clinging to what was...what has died. Perhaps to grow, to move on, I must accept my desire to go back. Admit that I don't even know how to hope for anything other than him.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

mess

"Yer a handsome devil.  What's your name?"  So says Martin's mom in Grosse Pointe Blank

I have felt that in annoying ways and places since John died.  I feel like someone cut a string I was attached to, and my job is to gather the unraveling insanity by looking at every moment, every man, every chance that comes as an opportunity.

I know the rules.  The rules are, you don't look.  And when you turn away, there are chances.  And if you are lucky, they are good ones.

I know two people who lost their spouses.  One before me, about a year, and one around the same time as me...from where I sit, they seem to have found someone.  First Christmas together, for one.  I am ashamed to say that I did not feel gratitude or happiness for them...I felt jealous.

Before John died, when it became obvious he was dying, I tried to tell him that I was terrified as to how I would respond to the loss of him.  I recognized that I would lose my mind.  I knew it would have something to do with my desire for connection.  I didn't know how to explain it.

It didn't matter.  He died.  And there I was.  There I am.  Once upon a time, I stopped believing in love.  I didn't believe in hope and I didn't believe in my ability to find anything real.  And so I gave up...in a big way.  I decided to turn away from it all, to try and figure things out...and then there was him.

I didn't do any work on myself.  He just made it easy to make healthier choices.  He was my path to the places I didn't believe in.  He was what I needed, what I wanted, what made me whole.  He was my parachute key for a sky diver.  But it wasn't long enough.  It was enough to make a family, but not to give me myself.

So now, now...I look around and feel angry.  I feel lost.

I'm 41.  I'm a widow.  I have three little kids.  I have a deeply broken heart.  I have no compass.  I have a bizarre amalgamation of self confidence, self deprecation, courage, confusion, and desperation...





Looking for lyrics
and moments of magic
when there is no one to blame
and the giants have fallen
leaving you alone
broken
lost
with one hand inside mysticism
one hand in wrapped around needles
I'm a super star
nursing the man I love
to his dying moment
blood thinner shots
wishing there was someone
whose call I could wait for
there's nothing left to say

trying to fall awake, but my heart
still sleeps
and I cry
upon your aura...imagining images of what
should have been
what will never be
grasping at straws
not meant for drinking

I fall
and am awake
I dream
and scream inside nightmares
I crumble
and grow strong
and wear glasses
on blind eyes
knowing no direction
as the music sparkles in a star shine twinkle
and yesterday's news
lives inside a living noose
breathing softly
around my neck


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

when is it enough?

I'm not posting much, as my computers keep getting broken. The problem is, my heart is also broken. And this season brings more awareness of that shatter. I met a couple the other night...or met them again. And I found myself NOT mentioning my widow status. But it was a force of will. I wanted to...

What is a heart but a beating organ
That we infuse with magical powers
A walking broom
In an empty castle searching
For the sorcerer who awoke it.

What is failure when the heart
Strives for success
Is there
An appropriate punishment
Discipline
For a soul striving to heal and grow and
Teach

There are blurry moments of
Everyone trying
And so few connecting

Fingertips swollen
With knitting wounds
Eyes swollen with the knowledge
That nothing connects

I'm older and I have no answers
Just more generalized questions
Greater perspective
No less deprecation

I'm tired
Of sitting in the dark
Trying to define my failure
My pain
My emptiness
And tired
Of being judged unworthy
When does it stop?
Effort
Is nothing
Only outcome
Matters
And what comes out
Is clearly
Not
Enough.

how

I find myself wondering
over and over
how do I do this? 
how did I get here?
how could this happen?
how can I heal enough
to find a way forward?
how do I find a way
out of the hole grief dug me into at work?

To be the best teacher
mother
woman
human
I can be, I search for
self knowledge
empathy
kindness
patience
I try not to sweat the small stuff

And life hands you situations
that are all about the small stuff
The individual, specific, accountability moments
And people who see you as not their problem
scenarios that generate fear
self doubt

I do remember
that the small moments matter
I try to own my mistakes
to learn and grow

and there is fear
and there is loneliness
and there is pain
and there is loss

these things, though
are only
my
problem
except
I don't believe that
except
I can't make anyone else believe
the things I believe.

which leaves me
with an addition problem
and no answer. 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I want there to be a poem, but I'm not sure there is one...I have conversations in my head.  I have these things that rattle around.  Last week, before we were sick, I went to a Christmas party.  There was a family there...two kids walked past as I was talking with the dad.  They were 8 and 6, and I  said "Add one more, 4, and you've got my set." I told him.  He said he didn't think he could handle another...they couldn't do three, as his wife walked over to him.  He told me that he didn't make it to the party last year, but they did the year before.  In my head, I thought, "Well, you might have met my husband then...before he died.  Try handling all three of those kids without a spouse...I'm a widow."

I remember reading so many different things about widows and how, for a while, they want to tell everyone, the mail carrier, the clerk at the grocery store, strangers on the street, that they are widows.  I feel like after over a year and a half, I should be beyond that.  I wonder when that will end.  I don't want it to ever end.  I feel like, if I stop telling people about him, about my loss, I lose the stories and the connection.  How do I talk about him, without talking about how he died?  That he died?  There is that loving phrase..."my late husband"

I don't live in a safe place anymore.  I wonder if I ever did.  I wonder how this works.  I don't understand how to protect myself at work.  How do I handle the fact that I miss to my core the way we touched each other?  I want to hold hands, to kiss, to have a place to rest my head...a shoulder.  And another part of me doesn't even care...that part just wants a naked connection, body and soul. 

The way I love my kids...it is so large.  I look at them and try hard to see them, to honor them, to pause each moment in our lives so that I can appreciate them in this particular here and now.  And it hurts.  And it makes me mad.  And I want to find a way to be grateful.  At least in some small way.  I hurt inside and want desperately to show my hurt on the outside.  I bite my lips.  I do not punch myself in the head. 

Find me.  How do I say that to?  I feel like I am failing.  I feel like I am not as good as others...as I should be...yet I'm doing my best.  What is my destiny?  I don't believe in destiny.  Destiny is a fabrication.  Who am I?  Who am I meant to be?  Who can I become?  How do I get there?

How
can I get through this
and be the person I want
to
be?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

quotes and songs and careening creatures

It's like this:  I have to turn off the voice in my head that you might choose to call my "inner goddess".  When I met John, I'd gotten so frustrated with my idiotic behavior in regards to men that I decided I needed to just let the whole dating thing go for a while.  He was just so different than anyone I'd ever dated that, when he showed up a week later, it just made sense to go with the flow.

I assume like most people, all I ever wanted was to find a good relationship.  I wanted love.  A friend in high school dubbed my song "Somebody to Love" by Jefferson Airplane.  For whatever reason(s), I seemed to always be the one guys, uh, well, lusted after...but never the one that anyone really fell for...I was not commitment material, I guess you could say.  And I hated that.  And I played into it far more than I like to admit.

When it became apparent that I was going to lose John, something inside me broke.  It's like there was this small creature, living finally sated inside me.  When we would fight, I'd take a moment to check around inside myself, inside my heart.  And the creature was still sated.  My love for him never faltered.  It was the most amazing feeling I have ever had the blessing to experience.  But when the Grade IV diagnosis came back, that little creature went bat shit insane and broke every tether that could or had held it.  It screamed and cried and threw things.  It banged against every part of my heart and soul and mind.  It sent things flying, broke things, and would just not shut up.  And that hurt so badly.  And it was scary.  And this part of me, this "inner goddess" part panicked fiercely.  She wanted it back the way that it was...she wanted the beast sated again.  So too soon, I thought about a physical comfort.  I wanted touch, tenderness, kisses...I thought of the movie High Fidelity when Robin Wright's character finds out her father dies.  She goes to the funeral with John Cusak's character, who had been trying to get back together with her after she left him.  They have this conversation: 

Laura: Listen, Rob, would you have sex with me? Because I want to feel something else... It's either that, or I go home and put my hand in the fire. Unless you want to stub cigarettes out on my arm.
Rob: No. I only have a few left, I've been saving them for later.
Laura: Right. It'll have to be sex, then.
Rob: Right. Right.

 All I wanted was to feel. Something. Else.  But that's not quite right, because that creature was careening around inside me, screaming to have its peace back, John back, love back.  And that was not something I could offer.  So I reached around for a hundred different things to try and help me, like a blindfolded kid trying to pin the tail on a donkey that didn't exist inside a shop full of hand blown glass figurines, flailing hands just crashing around and breaking everything, hands getting cut, feeling confused, knowing there should be a way to connect and succeed, but not knowing how or why it was turning out to be so damned hard.

Today is the 18 month mark.  Last night, I lost my mind for a little while.  I was using the passion and support of someone from my past to try and quiet my crazy creature.  It worked amazingly well in moments.  But the moments have been getting fewer and fewer.  And then I asked for something small, something loving, something that crossed the line.  And the fact that it crossed the line was like a knife in the kidneys.  It was a sucker punch.  But it was sort of like a Fight Club version, because I basically did it to myself.  I knew I was asking for too much.  I did it anyway.

So now, I have to face the fact that I am terrified to be alone.  I don't want to raise three kids by myself.  I also remember seeing an ad for one of the Nanny shows I used to like to watch.  I saw it when John was about half way through the fight with cancer.  The mother was sitting there crying while the kids went bonkers.  She was telling the nanny that she never signed up for this, raising three kids alone...her husband had died.  She was not handling it well, not at all.  I stopped watching that show then.  But I kept her in my mind and vowed to not let my kids get out of control like that.  But I have to admit, I feel a lot like her.  And I have no clue what to do about this.

I am imagining I need to let the fear of being alone wash over me and run down the drain.  I need to accept the panic that comes when I think of how I work in a field where there are rarely any single men to interact with.  I need to face the fact that online dating may just not be the right thing for me.  I need to breathe deep, love my kids, and just let myself be lonely and scared and angry and lost.  Because I am those things no matter who I try to reach out to, no matter what I say.

When the truth is
found
To be lies
And all the joy
Within you dies

...

When the garden flowers
Baby, are dead, yes
And your mind, your mind
Is so full of red
...
 Tears are running
They're all running down your dress...
Don't you want somebody to love?
Yes, in fact.  I would.  And I have no control over that.  And perhaps I just need to accept that, too.  Accept that I want it, can't control it, and let those things was over me, too.  It sounds so easy.  The screaming creature inside me tells a different story.

"I must get my soul back from you; I am killing my flesh without it."  
--Sylvia Plath

Friday, November 21, 2014

hardening

sometimes things boil
and there are spatters
that make you scream

sometimes the heat
simply simmers
and your jaw seems
to never
unclench

your face floats before me
and muscles tighten freeze fire up
fight

awards for internal
stupidity
fear and loneliness
are not on any list

if my fingers could feel it right
I'd shoot sparks from them

If my words could feel it right
you'd cringe

if my heart could feel it right
I'd never have walked that way

I miss the idea
that something as strong
as a bear
could guard me
I have no guards

I feel my face react
and freeze in its frame
nose-breathing through moments
of lonely lost confusion

and it makes it hard to breathe, that 
expression

can you feel it?
the fire?
I want you to feel it, too...
I want a weapon
I want repreive
I want
too many things
that are not there

lithification
is a long, hot, deep pressure
process

perhaps it's not a high school hallway
with headphones on and a classic song
anymore

perhaps I am finally
becoming
rock like.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

the places it will warm

wasteland?
wonderland
peppered with wasted
worn and withered things
that once lived
and burned so brightly the eyes
wore halos

as the fire eviscerates
in order to reincarnate
and ashes, corpses, wilted wishes
become fertilizer
essential for new life
sprouts and sprigs
squeezing through the gray crumbled
piles

so there will never be
a part of me
untouched
by everything you are...
                                      ...were

each step taken
grinds in the disintegrated
unabated touch
sends it deep into the living soil veins
so that where there seems to be
nothing
seeds stream their roots
deep below the line
of site sending
a different kind of
fire

there is passion here yet
a spark that fights for
furious fire, full and
generous
in the places it will warm

a giant forest fire
a viscous lava flow
leaving behind
lush lands
potassium rich swirls
of iron
adding life to lifeless things
like the fire of hands
on skin on lips
on hips and the heat
of ursine
desire invisible
leaving a misty shadow beside
the one
rocking
alone so that
in silhouette
at least
there are still
two


Thursday, November 13, 2014

unclear understanding...vague shadow pictures

the shadows
of my prayer flags
fumble large against the
white picket fence
across the street

my babies rest soft
one hand upon another's head
while I stand guard amongst the cats

our home is made
strong
by the momentary mention
of temporary need.

Is "need" in the moment
made large
by the manifestation
of multiple small people
and a dream of a world
where we never need
a sign
ofanything?

perhaps it is weakness?
Perhaps need?
loss?
confusion?
misappropriation?
perhaps it is a vision of strength

there is wonder in shining
moments of sparkling magic
connection
and hope in the pretense
of

too much

I know who you are
watching over me
a shadow that follows me
that is with me forever
yet never touches

and illumination
makes you crumble
fall back and float
immutable moments
of lonely lack of communication

mocking
hiding
closing each opening,
sparkles falling
upon broken wings
full of cursed and crumbled love

fire light in midnight moments
magical
spattered in mud
curled bodies cuddling
with not one
single
word
and silent, magical tuck-ins
too full of moments
you cannot
go back to.

Like when my wings
were stolen, when you died
leaving me wishing
surrounded by nothing
but soft moment
silent snowflakes

that which is severed
cannot be secured
that which has been blessed
will never be torn
asunder.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

swimming potatoes, time, and peaceful protest

Sometimes, it seems the necessary lessons
come from small, seemingly inconsequential
things
Like playing spider solitaire

it's a game I find quite challenging
and tonight
I walked away
because dinner was ready

Baked potatoes and salad from the food bank
frozen turkey burgers
from the last shopping trip
bread, again, from the food bank

One of three finally ate
and liked!
potatoes!

We discussed Gandhi
peaceful protest
the energy content of potatoes
and their historical connection
to the Irish

and when I came back to my game
that seemed
unwinable

I won.

Perhaps it is distance
time
good food
gratitude
stimulating conversation
family and connection
that create understanding

of things unconnected

I still carry a conundrum:
how do I distance myself
from what I am neck deep in?

I fall back on the advice
from a cartoon fish
that has carried me through
from that day to this:

Just
Keep
Swimming.

Perhaps, if I do
there will be something
like a win
in my future


Friday, November 7, 2014

short and not so sweet

It feels like someone leveled me up when I wasn't looking.  To be honest, sometimes I stare at the t.v. without seeing anything, repeating silently "I hate everything.  I hate this.  I hate it all."  I am as ashamed of that as I am of almost anything.

Shame is an odd emotion.  I understand that I am doing my best.  I know, too, that I make mistakes and poor choices.  But I want to do my best.  I know I am trying.  I don't really feel like I am failing, I just feel numb?  burnt?  worn?  Perhaps scabbed is a better word.

If your wound is scabbing over, it is usually still sore, itchy, but getting stronger. 

I just wish I had a fast forward button because all of this...it's big...and it's damned hard.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

second and third

there was a baby
who wouldn't crawl
and when he moved
he rolled
eventually, he crawled,
but wouldn't walk.
Instead, on hands and knees
he bounced
his hair an electric crown
preventing hugs with zaps and sparks
full of giggles
with more air between knees and bed
than you would guess

His tiny forehead torn open
with a black round spring
strapped to a board for stitches
before he knew what "bored" without
video games was like
I held his head while the needle threaded him
His eyes shared only a tear or two

There were moments when I confused him
with my own limbs
feeling broken in foreign ways
when he was not close enough
to reach out and touch

the evil took his father
and I watch him grow
into a sensitive ball of effort
Effort to fix things
effort to help
effort for effort's sake
which does no good and only
twists him
into anxious balls
and teary trembling desire

This phantom we miss
he is part of everything
I will never be the same
because of him
this small person would not exist
if not for him

today
he didn't walk
he bounced
and not on knees

He stood and saluted
and counted out ten tricks, bouncing
focused, twisting and flipping
Then ran as fast as possible
to hit to surfaces
holding his core tight
pointing his toes
reaching
stretching
landing.

I missed it all
but helped to make it
possible.

We move and try
and bounce from one to the next
our hands often empty
our hearts with holes
but the blood in us
runs like the air through a woven
trampoline bed
whooshing and springing up
down
strong enough to send you to space
and leave waffle blood marks
on your chin

We are like those woven beds
whole and strong in our brokenness
full of holes and springs that can cut
but still call us
to bounce


Friday, October 24, 2014

Accepting isn't the same as giving up...or as ending.

I miss things so small
Saying how much I love my kids
Knowing someone is watching
Behind the curtains
Feeling it all just as much
I look right to see the complimentary smile
And find only an empty rocking chair.
The nights are so damn long
Quiet
Strange
Soft in all the wrong places
Missing moments of hard and
Times of touching a togetherness that
Only couples have

I watch you, who do not know what you have
And ache
Because no words will work
To explain the empty
That could be
Around every corner
That awaits us all
In every moment
Whether our not our eyes are open
We all come here...

I just miss your face splitting smile
Your almost squeaking laugh
Side splitting squeezing tears out
Because you always knew
The value of a laugh

But the train calls and the cars pass
We have an incredible amount of crickets
The deck is almost finished
My hand clasps on nothing
I have no shoulder to rest my head on

I have moved somehow beyond mad
And made a home near empty.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Message

The message
Isn't that the left side
Of my bed is cold

The message is that at one time
It was warm

What right have I to
Any moment of sorrow
That feels endless
Sorrow, yes
But ending in
A memory

A silent film moment of
Squinting eyes in a photograph
Looking deeper than the ocean depths
Seeing fears and fat and flawless imperfection

Yes
My eyes burn
As does my heart
But I have a message

I have the marks a mind makes
On you when you are loved
I am not who
I was
Nor will I ever be

And the holes left here
Are not the barren chasms
Of mine field battles

They are acid burns
From tears shed inside
Connection. Salt unkissed
Can burn as surely as sun rays
Licking uncovered arms and nose and cheeks

I will wear my holes and burns
Badges of battles won
Through loss
And dance down dirt pathways
On bare and filthy feet

Forget a hand to hold. I know these
Moves myself.

And will always reach out
For your ethereal invisible essential
Self that floats
Forever
Beside me.

My message is
I may sleep alone
But I will never dance
Without you.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

continuing saga??

So. It is October again. The month of diagnosis. Last year, people said not to dwell on the "minor" milestones...which I hear. I don't agree that any dates this month are minor.

Regardless, I suppose I am doing better. I am aware that I am healing because I am starting back into routines that used to be easy, or at least things I didn't even think about, like reading to the kiddos every night. The strength for some of that "standard" stuff just wasn't there. It wasn't any sort if discernible weakness. It was just a wall. It got to a certain point in the day, and I had no more "function buttons" to access.

I guess that, as this becomes clear, I am able to notice other places where I am becoming aware and able again, as well as the other walls that still remain. The odd thing, however, is the lack of definition. I sort of see the walls. I definitely feel them. Yet I have no idea what they surround...what they are blocking. I can make guesses and those guesses are likely pretty close to the truth. Except whatever truth might have begun in those spaces could have morphed into anything this past year and 5 months...

I used the word "bored" tonight. I hate that word. It is the nails on the chalkboard of my soul. But there it sat, grinning like the Mad Hatter, drooling and hopping on my chest. I have some book ideas and now that I got paid, I can download them to my kindle. I watched one of my shows. I noticed a buzzing empty where inside parts of me used to be. And I just sat and stared into space. I even cleaned a little...sort of...

I remember how things used to be before John and I feel confused. I worked, I read and saw movies and went to bars alone... I went out and searched for connections. I volunteered or just did stuff. I do stuff with my kids now...we go to festivals, the library, the park, the mall to hit the play area and get DQ...we are planning a hike or drive to Shenandoah and the pumpkin patch. But most of this is to give joy to them. I get joy vicariously, but it all still leaves me quite empty. A confused sort of empty. I am not sure I am explaining this well. I suppose I just feel like a long time underlying purpose to my life before was a longing to find this person to connect with...and now...now it's like I just search for momentary pathways to smiles, which enable one foot to land in front of the other because I just don't know what else to do.

I thought I wanted to date...to find connection again. In retrospect, that's kind of funny. I reached for any hand to hold, for any way to feel connected, not alone...the alone of being a widow, of being without him, was more terrifying than any bad choice I could ever make...that's how it felt. But my last date was such a foolish grasp at hope with my eyes closed that it felt as if the universe sucker punched me while drenching me with ice water and stabbing me with shallow daggers in the kidneys. Seriously. The risks I took in one day, with my body and my life and my kids...it was beyond dumb. We were lucky to the moon and back that nothing worse than an accidentally stepped on laptop resulted.

So here I am. Tired, but not sleepy. Bored. Numb. Trying to make some healthier choices, for my body and my heart and my family. Trying to move forward slowly while searching for a way to unstick the stuck feeling that pervades my heart. Trying to keep on trying.

And so it goes.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

realizations after 16 months

I have recently come to realize that my internal barometer for making healthy, safe, smart choices may have been significantly damaged after John's death. I am 40 years old. I'd be a liar if I said i have lived a sheltered life. Some of my issues were born of things beyond my control,  but I will be damned if I will relinquish all of the power that comes with owning my multitude of asinine choices. Seriously. I did some ragingly unsafe, stupid, selfish things in my day. You are going to have to trust me on this. I won't elaborate now.  Because my point in reliving and rehashing my idiocy is to remember that if you laid it all end to end, there is no way the path should have led me here: relatively stable, mostly healthy, elementary school teacher, mother of 3, and regular church goer. But it did.

I somehow found the mental and emotional fortitude to live the OPPOSITE of the moderately  Machiavellian ethical teachings I grew up with, to not hide from my mistakes no matter how ugly, ratty, or familiar they were...because when you hide, all growth stops.

To be honest, a significant portion of this last year of blind misjudgment has likely been an active choice on my part, on some level. With John gone, no matter how much I love my kids, myself, life, my job...nothing was real and nothing truly mattered. I was living in a flattened out world, with thinly sliced wood fiber able to burn and blow away as the foundation and partner in crime for every choice. Once again, it seems there is an energy around me that I am able to touch or tap into. Because I made it through still wanting to love and learn and fight and grow.

But I guess I finally realized that as lonely as I am, I am not ready for someone new. Not because I'm not open to love. Not because I'm afraid I will be trying to replace John. But because the crushing pain of losing your chosen family, your life partner, leaves you a paper doll wandering in a cutout world. A razor thin slice of working brain. Able to be leveled by the slightest need. Confused and unclear, vulnerable and clueless, desperate to be filled out, fleshed in, touched by the Blue Fairy's wand, a wish repeated: I want to be real...make me a real woman. My heart would beg this, of anyone close enough to hear. I wanted to be seen, because I was invisible. He was not there to see me. Could I even BE seen without him?

So no, I am not ready. But not for the reasons you might think. I am not ready because losing him was like an internal explosion of epic proportions. My soul shattered. My heart liquefied. A disaster that huge causes a rapid changs to the surface of anywhere it touches. There is no quick rebuild. There's no switch to flip. Redefining who I am, what I believe, how I feel, what to dream about, hope and wish for, how to find my stride and rhythm in a dance excluding him...each of these will take time. There is no way to know how much. It has already been a year and 4 months and I am only just now beginning to accept that I must keep breathing without him beside me.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Sometimes it is the little things that are huge

Tonight, I am experiencing a strange phenomenon.  I see that I am 40 years old.  That is neither old nor young, in the scheme of things.  Yet I know that I have fought a battle since I was about 18 years old.  Literally.  I moved out of my mother's house at that age.  My grandmother laughed at me, saying I'd be back my Thanksgiving.  I wasn't.  I knew I wasn't ready to be on my own, but I also knew I wasn't willing to stay where I was.  So I broke ties and got an apartment.  I remember thinking how damn expensive milk was!  So I stopped putting it in my coffee, and for years drank it black with sugar.  I made some very responsible choices at that point in my life, but not very many.  Really, I'm lucky I survived.  Mostly, I was a totally irresponsible little ass.  I even contemplated putting myself in an institution.  However, I had a roommate who actually institutionalized herself, and as far as I could tell, she was way more screwed up than I was.  So I figured I'd try my back up plan.

That worked out well, and I made a lot more responsible choices, but I still am surprised I survived.  My idiocy exceeded my common sense and good choices by a significant number still.

My point here, is to note that TRULY learning to take care of myself, without pulling any punches, took YEARS.  It took good influences, a crap load of mistakes, smart choices, chances, adventures, pain, more pain, confusion, being an asshat, dealing with asshats, longing for asshats, battles and reading and tears and, did I mention, a boat load of idiocy?

And then I decided that I really had been an idiot.  And I tried to lay off the dumb things I was doing and try and figure out a better recourse...perhaps even try to PLAN something.  And then I met John.  And he invaded my life in ways I never dreamed possible.  Such a perfect combination of gentility and passion was what we had, that I didn't even know what was occurring.  I remember my roommate at the time worrying that she was going to lose me to "the M word"...I was so befuddled, I actually stood in her doorway, trying to figure out this word puzzle...and came out with "I M-ove him?" (pronounce love with an "m")  She was talking "marriage" and I was just hoping it was some version of love, not even dreaming there was a future with me married!

And so it was.  And making healthy choices, if not always believing in myself, was so much easier than I ever dreamed!  I had stopped smoking, stopped drinking, started bouncing trampoline, exercising more, and was reveling in the whole "not being alone" thing to a level deeper than I ever dreamed.  The drinking and smoking wasn't even a thing...he didn't ask me to stop.  I just didn't WANT to anymore.  I wanted to play!  His way...even though I couldn't keep up.

And.  Now here I am.  I admit to falling back into old habits that are hurtful.  But what I realized tonight is that it isn't about individual choices.  It is that he helped to take care of me.  I was on a journey, decades long, trying to figure out how to take care of myself.  And I was blessed to find a man who helped close gaps that would have taken years to fill and solidify and decorate on my own.  And now that he is gone, the flooring burnt with him.  So I have these odd and random holes in my foundation.  And I have to do the work I started years ago.

Yes, it is likely true that if he had never died, I would have still had to do this work.  But he supported that.  We were working on it.  It just was never urgent when he was with me...because if I found I couldn't get over a pothole, he'd hold my hand.  He would back flip over the sucker, take me on his back, and find a way across.  He's set himself on fire to burn a hole to the place I needed to get through.  Messy and sooty and sometimes painful, but effective.  My damn Green Lantern...no powers of his own but chosen, simply because inside, he was a good guy and willing to try.

And now, I have to do this all on my own.  I didn't realize how much work I have still to do, just on me...the foundation of who I am, who I want to be, how to do what I want and have to do...

I'm 40, and I have to learn lessons I started at 28.  Shoot, lessons I started at 18...who am I kidding?  Good lord, all I have to say is that I am so glad I had him!  I forgot how hard it was to be me without him.  Sigh.  I may not know a path, or have answers, or a plan...but I least I know I am so much stronger now.

At least there is that.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

blurred perspective: loneliness or beauty?

I  know.
I know some things.
I know I am incomplete
unfinished
in motion.

I know I have felt the way the world works
when there is a home base
that does not waver
and arms
that will always hold you.

I know I have felt the way the world works
when there is
nothing
but long nights
lips laying on each other and not
another's
locking language inside
instead of locking together

I know the quiet moments
of silent screams and tears that stream
volcanic liquid searing not one single mark
on faces that deserve rivulets

I don't know where I am
I am sure I don't know where
I am going
I'm not even sure where I have been

I know that there are moments that
have stuck to me
like glitter on your leg
that you never meant
to hold onto
and instead of letting
these oddly formed annoyances
made of magic meaningless sparkles
flake off one spot
to stick
to another
you flick at them and they
persist
like lifting up lost but
tangible memories
from a life no longer yours, yet still stuck
to you, where you are now
with no visible connection
just
there, statically electric

so I leave the sparkle,
reach for a place where things matter
and connect
and still, the focus is off enough
to make me wonder

perhaps I have become
the lens of a camera
with the focus broken
and unbalanced

I'm sure there is still beauty
in those furry, fuzzy moments
but how can you decide any forward motion
when things are so balefully blurred?

you just might know what you
are seeing.  Unless
you don't

and either way
it
is
frightening


In which case
the path remains the same
as the choices are so few

and you walk
with a backpack full
of questions and fears
a woman alone across a river, empty hands
a sultry sunset scene surrounded by fertile lands
and untwined fingers
bare feet
skirt swaying in the breeze mysterious
and silent

I she searching?  Running?  ending or starting?

So much is about perspective...

Friday, September 5, 2014

what it all is: powerless

where are you?  where am I?
When I open my eyes
the skies
remain black
an incandescent crescent of
https://theiddm.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/grief.jpg
something missing
burns my broken retinas

something deep inside me
rumbles with what seems like
emptiness
and emptiness no food
will calm

testing facial muscles
to see if they work
since my lips
remain dormant
linear

too often saying "I don't know"
and meaning
love
pain
weakness
longing
hope
dreams
all of it...so foreign
to every step in my dance

it's a tango
with no hand to hold me
as I dip deeply
landing on my head

a novel unwritten
save for the ending
while the author begs
for a plot to apply
more characters
some relevant action
anything
to flesh out the all too often
empty moments

ethics without an application
theology without god
love stories without heroes
hands unheld and fingers untwined
pillows too fluffed beside me
and too many leftovers

it is the correct application
of
"it is what it is"
which just happens to be
a phrase
that makes my skin crawl.


Thursday, September 4, 2014

life swimming is so much harder than water

wow, anger is an interesting emotion.  isn't it?  I mean, I have carried a lot of it since John died, but I will tell you this:  when I was writing poetry as an undergrad, one of our assignments was to write about our greatest fear.  I wrote a poem about being alone in an empty room.  rocking myself.  full of fear.
http://wallpoper.com/images/00/29/94/69/grief_00299469.jpg
That does not even begin to compare to the loneliness I feel here, a solo mom of three kids trying to do all this shit with no regular help or relief of ANY kind.  seriously.  Not.  one. person. here. regularly.  to help.  And when i see that, I sit down in the shower with my head in the corner and cry harder than the stream hitting my head...and ask questions there are no answers to...why the FUCK am I here?  why can't I be stronger?

I am so fucking scared of so many things and not a single fear matters.  I don't know how to do this.  I am scared that people will read this.  do not take teaching away from me.  it is hard and I love it and it helps me.  but in my personal life I am so far beyond anything I ever understood as broken all I want to do is scream.  fuck this shit.  three kids??  good lord I love them to piece and they are SOOOOOO damn hard!  How can i do them justice???

Momastery.com give me some love, some hope, some ideas.  I read your real shit.  I love it.  I get it.  I'm still alone.  So alone.  I want to carve out parts of me and leave them to die.  But I don't know how that works.  Yet I don't know how any of this works.  I mean, really.  How did John have brain cancer and stay so fucking positive??? I am so much less than him.  How the hell did he love such a weak and broken person?

I find stop gaps that help for moments.  My eyes twitch.  I get random, obsessive rashes.  I thought I was done drinking too much and I still pour glasses of wine down the drain, thinking "why the hell am I drinking this??"  I don't exercise.  I don't cook.  I don't read.  I don't have a baby sitter to have time off.  I am drowning in understandable but idiotic pain and fear.  I don't like drowning,  I really am a good swimmer, but I can NOT find my stroke here...

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

forward with mixed priorities

Drink it down
like dulcet timbres
for drowning taste buds
purple half moon eyes
with swollen moments
invading sockets
full of saline memories

swallow silently
each lament in a voice
too high to be your own
wishing for powers
beyond the Power
and ways to bring
back
moments lost
in sterile rooms
with half body gowns
wires and tubes and napkin-like dividers
beeps and far
too much silence
except for the
unsubdued, wrenchingly confused screaming
behind Curtain Number 1

the movie behind eye lids
like a life love vampire
sucking out sections
you never thought removable

till all that's left
are long nights lost
with love bits broken
and a soul so whole
you find yourself searching
for a hammer

how can you fit shards
inside solitude?  Fractures
inside function?

Outside your box
the "how" is irrelevant
you do what you do
you lace up your boots
and leave the house each morning
with your shirt unbuttoned
or your pants
on backwards
Just so long
as the boots
don't move
and you keep
marching
                 forward.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

aw, John...baby...how did you do it?  How did you stay so damn positive??  I told you when things looked rough that I didn't know how I would make it through...you only thought about how you wouldn't be here.  I get that.  I see how in some ways your deal was far far worse...you are gone.  You don't get to see the babies grow.  I know you wanted nothing more than to be there to walk Cilly down the isle.  I swear on everything that if I could have traded places with you, I would have.  But I am here.  I have to handle every fight, as well as participate in every joy.  I have to wash every dish and plan every meal...quiet every tear and answer every question.  And I have to do it all alone.  I have no one to back me up or give me a break.  I miss you so damn much it is like a disease in my heart and mind and soul.  I don't know who I am or where I am going without you.  You always dreamed so well...wished and fantasized, reached for things and pushed yourself to add to your life resume.  I don't know how to live up to that...I don't know how to be that good or that strong.  I don't know what I am doing or how to get from one step to the next, and I hate that I even have to think about doing it all without you.

It's like I'm blind, in a way.  I stumble through, trying to understand how it should be...but I'm not only blind, I'm carrying so much weight...not just on my body.  I'm carrying the weight of three babies, the history I came to you with, and so much nothing beside me its as if I could name the pile of emptiness.

I'm not mad at you.  You would have lived to three hundred if you could have.  I am just so mad that the universe took you...left me alone to be the mommy...to be by myself again.  You promised me I would never be alone again, yet here I am...falling back into old stupid, hurtful routines.  Trying to be worthy of your love, of your legacy.  I'm not as good as you.  I don't know what I am doing.  I miss you.

The rub?  It doesn't matter.  None of it.  Because you are gone and I am here and I have to and will do everything possible to be the best person I can be...tonight, today is just a pity party.  I hate it.  But it's part of the journey.  Help me be strong, my dear...I need your help.

confessions and a poem

Gloves off for a bit.  Please do not report me to bosses or principals or anything like that.  I will be find with the kids, I will do my best at work.  But I'm sick of pretending.  I'm sick of acting like I'm okay or happy or anything other than lonelier than I ever believed possible and heart sore, sad and angry and deeply hopeless.  I'm so sorry to admit this to you, oh internet void with my few random loving readers.  I am though.  All those things.  Even when I laugh and feel full of love for my babies, or when I feel playful and goofy.

You see, it's not just lonely.  It's the loneliness of having had something so good ripped away from me.  And I do not believe it happened for a reason.  There is no plan.  It is what it is, and I have to deal with it now.  I have to raise three kids with no one to help soften my edges when I get hurt or pissed or frustrated.  All that oxytocin that gets released when you kiss and hug and touch and snuggle, yeah, I don't get that happy juice.  That sated, loved, cradled feeling you get when you make love to the person who means the most to you, that safe and wet and lovely place, that isn't mine anymore.  And I just don't see it happening.  Yeah yeah, I know you have to try...or you have to not look for it...either way, I lose.  Damned if you do and damned if you don't.  So why bother, when the inevitable includes meeting people who make you think of serial killers or who laugh at you for the whole 15 minutes.  It's a twisted and messed up game.  If it is going to happen, it'll happen.  Except I don't believe that bunk.  Increase your interactions and you increase your chances, a friend scientifically told me.  It's not that easy when you are 40 with three little kids and no one to babysit.

So I'm being honest today.  I will stuff it away again tomorrow and definitely Tuesday.  But I am miserable.  I did not WANT to ever be a mom by myself.  My mother and grandmother had that role, and one of the reasons I didn't get married till I was 31 is that I was not willing to go down a path that looked like theirs.  I want my man back.  I want THAT life.  But I don't get a say in any of that.  So, welcome the tears.


Things that are anomalous
thrown at you
from strangely invisible
corners
of rounded rooms
seem like signs, at times
or gifts from gods

like a moment waltzing with a
memory
a wisp of wavering history
spinning just past
the tip
of things tangible

Any time I try
to reach beyond my here and now
I feel settled
shoulders lowering
while the soft breaths
of helplessness
sorrow
and torn things
whispers to me
to stop being silly

My fingers
try to speak
my soul

My hips
try to grind out
some sweaty carnal connection

My heart lies dull
in my chest
sardonically sneering
at any effort
made by my mind
to write online dating improv scripts

Perhaps the anomalous
lesson
is that, while I believe love
is all that matters,
connection, compassion, passion, and community
of all of these
the one I want the most
is the one
completely beyond my control
buried in rubble and painted in the blood
of loss and tears
a love note lost in the rain
soft paper ripping, ink a ruin of
spider lines...

“Where there is ruin, there is hope for a treasure.” 

― Rumi


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

exhaustion emotional immunity

tenuous tingly moments
of clarity mixed evenly
with confusion
a wind chime
which may have been mine
or his
too far away to forget
too close to regret

tumbles of ill-timed emotional immunities
vaccinated against
dreams
knowing that the thing that
makes it
the connection
is believing

feeling ashamed
for doing well enough
without weaving my way
to a place where the sleeping lid image
matters
stands
supports

too tired to care
too tired to hope
too tired
just tired

and when I'm too tired,
I don't remember dreams
so even if he is there
as in real life

he isn't

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sideways smile broken heart pause

okay, I'm going to sleep.  I start back teaching fifth grade tomorrow.  I still can't get my head into the exact place I should be to prepare for the classroom, but that doesn't feel wrong, or even really bad.  I know fifth grade.  I taught it for ten years.  That's a long time, in my opinion.  So we will get through.

I cleaned the kitchen, washed and dried laundry, I got Aiden's lunch box out of the car.  I labeled it and Cilly's, I packed their school supplies in their backpacks.  I think I picked out clothes for me, and I know the kids know what they are wearing.

I took a shower.  I touched the tile on the shower walls.  I feel like I should be happy about this new place.  I think I am.  It just feels so crooked, so confusing and weird and scary and wrong.  All because John isn't here.  It's a fresh start that quite honestly, I don't really want.  Perhaps we need it, but that doesn't change my feelings right now.  Bit by bit, we will make it ours.  We will unpack and settle in, make memories both good and bad.  And I do not have enough words to explain how desperately I hate that John will not ever be a direct part of those memories.  Yesterday, while unpacking stuff in the littles' room, I found one of the two John shirts I have that used to be a bit stinky with his body odor.  Now, they just smell like him.  They still smell like him.  When I put them to my face and inhale, I get lost for a moment.  Anyway, I found one yesterday and draped it over the side of Cilly's upper bunk.  When I came back in the room, the whole small room smelled of him.  Sideways smile broken heart pause in my step.

  The other strange and messed up thing is that the dogs aren't here.  There used to be this underlying panic/rush mode constantly running below every choice I made to do things out of the house because I had to get back to walk them.  I don't have to do that now.  So many changes in the last year and three months.  It's too much to process.  It's too much to understand.  I imagine I might have to stop trying to understand everything and just do what I know, which is to roll with it all.  I just wish I had a happy place...something I could do, somewhere I could go where I could just dance and laugh and play.  I found that for a week this summer and it was amazing.  I look forward to going back next year, but that seems like too long to wait.  And I'm not sure what to do with my need for release and play and laughter in the meantime.

I find that when I'm on my own, I don't smile as much as I have, not even in the last year.  I remember 14 years ago, when I was starting my first teaching job, one of the custodians at that school commented on how I smiled a lot...his point was made quickly when he said I wouldn't be smiling that much by the end of the year.  It has only taken 14 years for his prediction to come true.  But who knows?  When I teach, I am the best parts of myself because, no matter what is going on at home or in my heart, the kids deserve nothing less than that.  Maybe they will help me find my smile.

I have to go to bed, or I won't be able to get out of the house on time.  Send me rest and hope and some secret smiles.  I dreamed of John for the tiniest of brief moments last night.  I saw him, really really saw him.  And it excited and startled me so much, I woke up.  Maybe tonight, I will see him again and stay asleep.

And so it goes.

what am I doing?

Last night, I went on my third adventure to meet someone from a dating site.  Why does it seem to be getting worse?  The first guy was nice, but not even remotely interested in committing to someone with difficulties, as it turns out.  We talked so long, I thought we would at least be friends. I had a moment where I freaked out at the way that he was different from John...I imagine that is to be expected, since it was the first date I have had as a widow.  He immediately cut ties and said he would never respond to me again.

The second was just a meeting, to see if we wanted to date.  We actually talked for hours, which was cool.  But the fit wasn't right.

Granted, with the third one, I had a really hard time getting a sitter.  I contacted him to let him know I finally had someone yesterday for a while, and if he was free, perhaps we could meet.  He said he had a small window of time.  My sitter was a bit later than anticipated, so I was about a half hour beyond when I thought I'd get there.  As I walked up to the door, I saw him at the bar and he was laughing.  He hugged me hello (a very nice hug, I might add...), and continued to laugh softly.  When I asked why he was laughing, I said something like "You have to tell me why you are laughing..." and his response was that he didn't have to tell me anything.  We talked for about 15 minutes- the time it took him to finish his beer.  He told me he was having a party for a team he used to coach at his house, so the time limit thing was a pretty hard stop, since people were coming to his place.  He got up to leave, hugged me again (another really nice hug, and I told him so) and left without actually saying "see ya" or anything remotely close to "good bye".

I have never been left so bewildered before.  Was he laughing because I was even prettier than he thought?  Or because he thought I looked ridiculous?  Perhaps he was laughing because I was late? I have no idea what happened.  I don't know if I should chalk him up to being an ass, or wait before making that decision.

It was a weird day to try to meet someone anyway.  It was a deep missing John day.  After he left, this guy came by and offered to buy me a drink.  He was very cute, but hard to understand.  As in, he had this weird, almost full mouth sort of mumble.

I have to go start my day.  I feel so numb right now.  I don't know what is going on.  I'm just continuing to put one foot in front of the other.  And school starts tomorrow.  At least I'm back with 5th grade, with a few special siblings, and behavior I understand and am 10 years familiar with.

Friday, August 22, 2014

different kinds of lonely, not enough paragraphs

Another day done.  I made it through our open house night at school and met several of my students.  I got to see some very special previous students and parents, which was lovely.  It was another day where we were gone and I was constantly doing one thing or another for over 11 hours.  I should have been asleep 2 hours ago.  I really do feel a bit like a ghost version of myself.  I’m discovering that there are even more types of loneliness than I ever would have guessed.  For much of the last year, I have felt the lonely that is a desire to be seen.  That encompasses several things…for example, when you have finally known what it is to be someone’s favorite person, and that someone dies so that you are no longer that special vision in a person’s day.  That is one layer of that kind of lonely.  That lonely where you can be read and understood three layers down with just a look.  The lonely of knowing your presence is no longer home to someone.  I remember when John and I were talking about living together.  He was still traveling with work.  We were in the hallway of my first townhouse, down the street from here.  I was crying.  He was confused.  He was saying that when he got back from traveling with his shows, he just wanted to have a place to come back to where he could relax and decompress and just not worry.  I just wanted that place to be with me beside him in the bed.  He was so reluctant to make that change!  He didn’t see how he could have that comfort, that place of his own, while living with me.  I remember how it hurt to have to fight him for that.  I did not have to fight him for the marriage proposal, or for any of the kids.  But those first few years, almost everything felt like a battle of wills with me pulling him to me and him standing still.  He wasn't ever pulling away.  He just wanted to stand still.  In the end, that was much of how our relationship worked.  I pulled and tugged and argued, then I took three large steps to him, and he took one toward me.  Of all his world and friends and life, there is very little I interact with anymore.  I am all on my own.  That is another layer of loneliness.  He was the friend in most of his relationships that did the calling and catching up with people.  Now that he is gone, most of those folks that were in and of his world have fallen to the far corners.  There is one in particular whom he had asked to share stories with the kids about him.  Because of my need for closeness and connection after John died, this friend cut all ties.  In the now and then random quiet moments, this makes me mad on a deep and burning level.  I want to throw every swear I know at this man, I want to take every ounce of my grandmother and every drop of Jew in me, and lay the guilt on him for abandoning this promise to his dying friend till he breaks.  Another kind of loneliness is the vast chasm of hollow echoes.  I see our things-our cups and dishes, pictures, his Japanese robes, all around this new house.  They are silent specters of him and of what our life might have been.  They are only things.  They are symbols of a life lost, of a touch I will never feel.

Perhaps the hardest loneliness right now is just not having his laugh.  He had a great laugh.  It feels heavy without it, this life I have now.  

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

sledding with voodoo dolls

It is interesting because the strategy that is working for me is to just take a moment and breathe.  You would think that breath was an automatic, all day, no matter the circumstance.  You’d be amazed at how fractured that idea is, if you could see the bizarre, intricate, circuitous patterns my brain takes when things get hard.  Seriously.  I’m proud of how well I took care of myself today.  My move at home has been hard on many levels.  I miss John so much it is like a silent strike of lightning burning behind my eyes in silent scarf dances.  I filled the shelf we made with books…more books than we ever had in our room since we moved in together.  I stacked them horizontal, to fit more.  It thrilled me to see my Dante, my Vonnegut, my Alice Walker novels, complete Shakespeare works, Tom Robbins, and The Satanic Verses all now living with me in my room again.  Yet each stack I made was a voodoo pin pricking my heart, reminding me John is not here.  So I spend the day working, aching from lifting and climbing and bending, bleeding invisible from a thousand fantasy punctures, saying nothing, moving on.  And today, I entered my classroom.  I had many people ask if I am happy to be back in 5th.  I finally realized, I don’t really care.  It’s okay.  I’m happy to be with kids.  I don’t care what age.  What bothers me is that I missed the chance to teach some special people.  In that way, my old principal wins.  She pulled me from families I love, kids I have watched grow up.  All I did, when she moved me to second grade, was jump in with both feet and try to be the best teacher I could be…which is what I will do again.  But today I felt the heaviest alone feeling I have ever had at work.  It was deep and wide.  It was a SCUBA diving weight belt around my heart and head.  I wanted to find someone, anyone, to talk to about how heavy it was.  I didn’t.  I just kept working.  Some people helped me bits and pieces.  I just kept working.  It’s always easier to move forward with heavy, tedious things when you have someone to talk to while plodding. 

I want to say I don’t really feel like a different person, but that would be a lie.  In fact, I even typed half of the sentence saying so, but had to go back and delete it…I am vastly different.  Which is odd, because I am still me.  I still panic and assume the worst.  I still laugh too loud.  I just understand pain and independence much more deeply.  I know what it means to deeply and almost tragically need help, and not have it be there.  I also know that sometimes, when you least expect it, you will find that it shows up.  Perhaps not for as long as you need it, but for a while.  Life is the ultimate team sport.  Some of us feel that.  For the rest, there is no way to teach them other than to live it yourself.  You give of yourself everything you have, and sometimes more than you thought you could find.  Because some day you will find that you are needing more than anyone is able to give.  And you will know that you have more inside you than you ever would have dreamed. 

So, it’s time to go to sleep.  I have anxiety buzzing low and soft under my rib cage.  I imagine it will be there for quite some time.  But I will learn to live with it and still fight to be the best person I can be, the best teacher I can be…because I deserve no less than that.  And of course, there is nothing else the kids deserve.  I hope people looking in from the outside see the way that I give.  I hope I have the strength to struggle alone when I need to, to remember that my job, for now, is still on the line…under scrutiny.  And I don’t know who I can trust.  So I will toe the line.  Ask for help and offer it…smile and keep going…find the strength to do however much I can do all on my own.  What I need to do is not allow the hurt of others allowing me to be alone to touch my already raw lonely spots.  Those invisibly bleeding pin pricks.  They need to reside on a different layer…an avatar. 


I don’t know who I am.  I don’t know how I am doing this.  I don’t know where I am headed or how I will get there.  But the sled has started down the hill and I’m holding on for dear life, screaming all the way.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

vows and moments and movement

so here I am.  Starting another school year.  I have a teacher friend far away who is so anxious.  I don't feel that.  I wonder if it is because it is my 14th year teaching.  Or perhaps it is because I have so many things to be stressed over...I don't know.  I do know that my wrist is sore from trying to start my damn lawn mower.  I had to borrow my neighbor's but I got the lawn done.  And I got half (ish) of my room taken care of, as well as the finding the final box of special framed items and the cloth cube drawers for the kids' stuff in the living room.  It's such a strange thing, to be here today.  I was putting up these final special things on the walls:  a gorgeous painting we got in Peru on our Honeymoon, my Lithuanian flag piece, the Notre Dam drawing my mother and father got years ago that used to hang in my living room when I was growing up...and then there is this neat, oriental type writing thing.  It is actually English words, done in an ornate, oriental style.  John got it for me for Valentine's day several years ago.  It says our names.  I wanted to put it above the t.v. and I really struggled with that. I am thinking about when/if I find someone else, and where things will go then...the same way I am thinking about pictures of the kids as they get older and where those will go...but I decided to be here now.  So I put it up above the t.v.

At church today, I tried to write a poem.  I don't know how good it is, but I thought I'd share anyway. Sharing is good.
~~~~~~~~

Imbued with a strength
so soft
it sways

a veil-thin
gauze cloak
draped loosely over
longing shoulders

the body beneath
naked
scarred and tattooed
arms filled with the feat
of lifting a dying man
back into bed

breasts heavy with
the memory of milk
for the sweet babes now too big
for the breast

a belly soft, sliced open
stitched back together
a powerful symbol
my manifestation of
the crucible I've crawled through
cried through
fallen in
crumbled in
climbed up
searched through
longing to find the guide
in the ongoing search
of my part of the vow
till MY death do we part.

Friday, August 15, 2014

confessions

Last night, when I lay down to sleep, I put my hand out beside me and imagined I held John's hand in mine for a while before I closed my eyes.

I get angry when I see people doing well.  I have a "friend" who is a young widow and she posts pictures of her with friends and doing runs.  I remember, because she did not have to worry about money and her mother is around, she took more than one trip with her kids to far away beaches her first year.  In small ways, I hate her for being able to do that.

When I see pictures of friends with kids, doing things with both parents, I get pissed off.  I go to the hardware store with my kids and after 3 minutes I am ready to tear their arms off and staple their butts to the floor.  Since the moving stuff started, the only "fun" time they get is when friends help out and take them to play.  I thought it might be nice to take them out for dinner last night...until I realized it's just me...no buffer, no help, no second set of hands.  And that would just have been asking for more of the same *see arms and butts comment above.

Seriously...it makes me so bleeping angry to see people who have someone to hold hands with, to sit beside, to help set the table.  John used to be able to help me relax, make me laugh, when we were out and I was getting frustrated.  Not always, but he always tried.

When I bought my first house, my mother gave me the down payment and was then able to deduct it from her taxes, like many parents do for their child's first home.  I never worried too much about owning my own place, because I bought it to be here in Frederick County, near John.  I knew he would help if I needed anything fixed or looked at, and I knew if he couldn't fix it or didn't know what was going on, his dad was right there to help.  The only other single family home I have owned, because that first one was a townhouse, was in Hagerstown when John and I were finally married.  Aiden was born when we lived in that house.  John put the fence in, he built shelves for the basement.  He built a gate for the fence on the porch so that Nikko and Aiden could be out there and we could relax and not worry they'd run into the street.  Here, I'm going to have to roll up my sleeves a hell of a lot more.  I am going to have to call for help, learn how to watch youtube videos to fix and do things...

All while raising my babies on my own.  While not knowing how in the world to date.  While desperately not wanting to shut myself off from the possibility of dating.  While mourning the loss of my puppies.  While trying to fit about 2100 sq feet of stuff into about 1300 sq feet of space.  While grieving the man of my dreams.  While teaching.  While trying to get my three and six year old kiddos to eat more than just mac and cheese, pizza, and hot dogs without shoving their adorable faces into plates of new and, apparently, "disgusting" entrees.

I just want to be seen.  I want to go from a place where I am cared for immensely and helped deeply, and easily forgotten about for days, to a place where I am someone's everything...or almost.  I want that look in a pair of eyes...that look that says "I'm home" when he sees me, regardless of where we actually find ourselves.  I want to allow myself to dream again, to find another man of my dreams.  Problem is, I don't know how I did it the first time.

http://fc02.deviantart.net/fs71/i/2012/234/f/a/what_dreams_may_come___commission_by_annmariebone-d591wkr.jpg



Tuesday, August 12, 2014

mixed up

perhaps there are those of you who read this, and are not direct friends with me.  In that case, I should tell you, I have been absent for a bit because I have moved.  Six years ago, when I was pregnant with my daughter, John and I moved out of the basement of his parents' place to a rental.  It was a good place.  It was a luxury townhouse.  It was not ours.  For that entire time, I would spend evenings looking at homes for sale, trying to find us a place with a yard, a porch...something that could be ours.  Two winters ago, we were working with a friend to find a place, and discovered the Interfaith Housing Coalition...the first time I noticed him dragging his leg was during our searches.  We were in their office going over paperwork and they needed his ID.  He went to the car and I watched him through the window behind the woman.  When I asked him if he felt anything, he brushed it off and said it was the winter boots. It wasn't.

We had hoped to find a home to call our own before he died.  I'm not sure if it is good or bad that this did not come to fruition.  I put the pictures of our kids up in the stairwell today.  There is one picture of our wedding I did not hesitate to put on the wall of my room.  It's not our room.  That hurts.  I wonder if it helps a tiny, messed up bit, too?  But there are wedding pictures that I contemplated, that I did not put up...I will never leave him out of our family pictures.  An old friend with a special connection told me how his wife's mother died when she was young.  Her father took down all her pictures.  I promised him I would not do that.  I wouldn't have anyway.  But that story helped.

I love and hate that this place is my own...mine and my kids.  What never ceases to amaze me is how many lovely people step up to the plate and help!!  It doesn't matter if it is time and sweat, or listening, or ideas, or money.  If you open your heart and are honest about your pain and fear and need, for me, anyway, people are there.  Not for everything.  But for so much.  And it makes me feel so honored.  So blessed.

I am feeling such a strange combination of afraid and strong right now that it boggles my mind.  Help me, hold me, love me...that is my mantra.  I am almost ashamed to admit that.

I want to type about the things I need, want, miss, wish for, feel will never be mine...I'm not sure there is strength in admitting those things.  I still strive for strength.

My world has not only been shattered, it has been shaken, moved, redefined, rattled, mixed up and turned on its head.

But I am still here. I still refuse to give up on love and hope and healing and connection.  Each connection you make matters...it can spread light in any direction at any time.  Hold fast to those touches.  Appreciate the energy you are given, that is shared with you...it is unlikely it will be perfect, but inside its tiny, amazing self, it is everything there is from that person.  Give and accept all you can.  That is all that matters.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

flood waters and forest fires

each one
is a tearing
ripping
rending
breaking
emptying
healing
lifting
lightening
renewing
revitalizing
soothing
searing

salt water wells
over flowing
in aqueous rivers

at times
the beating muscle in your chest
allows a breach in the dam

and they come

until they are done
no sooner

and like a forest fire
the evisceration of the path
clears away infertile things
allowing, in its almost perfect way
for propitious growth

beyond anything you dreamed
before the flood

circuitous journeys in confusing deep vastness

I try to be open hearted.  Open to love in its many forms.  But I don't always interpret it correctly.  I accept it without judgement.  But other people give with defining regulations, whether or not they admit it.  If I lived in my world, we would all have some weird version of a hippie commune.  We could touch and hold and comfort, kiss and cry and yell.  We would listen and work out to the best of our ability.  We'd learn when to push an issue and when to offer space.

All I have ever wanted, really, is to be loved in a comforting and safe place.  To FEEL the idea of not alone.  And I had that.  Perhaps people don't get that often.  Perhaps what happens is we all get it, but in sparing and strange dollops, like a cinnamon crumble topping on a blueberry dessert bread.  For a while, we have too much...perhaps we take it for granted.  And then all of a sudden there is none.

I don't think I ever took John for granted.  The depth and simplicity of his love amazed me.  I thought today, about something totally unrelated, what would John say about this?  And then I thought that it might help if I applied that to other parts of my life.  Specifically this big lonely that I carry.  But that didn't work, because he'd tell me to stop flirting with anyone I was flirting with and love on him. Which I would do gladly...

The Id doesn't learn.  It wants.  Regardless of social skills...we all fantasize and reach for whatever seems close, suggestive in its libidinousness, tender in its clarity, safe in the distance of it all...

Things don't work out how you plan, even when you don't plan.  I shunned planning.  John was the second best accident of my life, aside from our Neil.  And he was perfect in his imperfection, everything I needed not because he was everything, but because he knew that he wasn't, that I wasn't, and he wanted me anyway.

Because of my past I wonder more than I might...I know the power of being alone.  I know that only by loving yourself and being in a strong and confident place are you likely to find whole and healthy relationships.  I also know that, as a mother, if you duck your head and focus on your babies and getting through, you might look up and realize you missed most of your life and you are now almost dead.

I had an amazing chance.  I didn't blow it.  I took it and rode it till the end. Yet I am left with a responsibility that loves me back deeply, but that needs beyond my borders.  I am left with my smile, my community, my pets, my fear, my

Lonely

I want to wear it the right way.  I want to respect it, my Lonely.  I want to acknowledge it so that I can honor John and his love.  And I want to move on in order to do the same.  And, really, I don't know how to do any of it.

I just want a safe, made up place, full of love and tenderness, free of judgment and definition...so I look for places where my mind can spin and my fingers go numb.  A place where I can wonder and think and hope.  A place that isn't anywhere.

Monday, July 28, 2014

there is no answer

Learning new corners of
loneliness.  Sometimes, random people call and ask for different things...today it was someone with a quote for car insurance: So, it's just you and John, right?  awkward pause... and I get to say "He...is dead.  He died last summer."

I don't have anything to say.  Other than the things I feel I have been saying, in a variety of ways, for the last what seems like an eternity.  I want to be a better person.  I want to drink less.  I want to do, um, fewer things that hurt me.  I want to stop wishing I wasn't alone.  I want to NOT be alone.  I know I have far more than soooooooooo many people.  I also know that each of us have our own journey.  What we deal with is what he have.  We make of our "gifts" what we are able to make...whether or not they feel like actual gifts.

I remember when John was ill, I used to watch Super Nanny with my oldest sometimes.  We'd laugh and be shocked at some of the things the kids would do... he would say "Mom, I would NEVER do that!"  There was an ad for one of the episodes in which this woman had three kids who were just out of control.  She was hysterical, talking to the Nanny about how her husband had died and left her with three kids and she wasn't supposed to be doing all this alone.  I switched the channel and never watched it again.

I know that comparing yourself to others is not really ever helpful, which is fine because I don't even know who to compare myself to...if I look at that Super Nanny lady, I am KICKING ASS.  If I look at parts of my life and think about how my mother went down the drain, I am terrified.  If I think of some of the choices my mother-in-law made, I think I'm doing okay-ish...then, there is all my online friends who run.  I want to be that person!  I don't want to drink and wallow.  I want to do things that are active and healthy.  But this is what I do...pain makes you more of who you were anyway.  I am loving.  I am a great mom.  I am a sporadically okay house keeper.  I have a high mess tolerance.  I over think things.  I have a dorky sense of humor.  I love dancing and reading and being outside.  I have learned to accept help, mostly because I know how deeply I want to help other people, and because I remember how much time and heart I have spent doing just that.  And I write.  I love to write.  I write to understand what I am, who I am, what I want to do and how I want to be.

And now, I am going to bed.  Every day, I wonder so many times a day how I will continue to find my way.  I never have a f*cking answer.  I do what I do.  I just keep swimming.  And I know I have found my tribe.  My beliefs about myself, the universe, the people that matter and the things that matter...they are solidifying.  So at least there is that.