Life, It’s All About Loss, Isn’t It?

Every day, we go through hundreds, thousands of small loses, I’m about ready to burst into tears so I know it’s true. It’s one of those instinctual, hit me in the gut feelings. My grown-up children left to go back to college today and even though I will see them in three weeks, it doesn’t matter. Children always leave you. People you love always leave you. Why is that not written in any manual so we can anticipate it?

From their first highly anticipated step, to their first day of nursery school

and first grade your child will always be leaving you. Yes, it is good and you have done a great job in raising them. You should be proud of their independence and pat yourself on the back. You have done a great job building their self-esteem and their confidence, but it still hurts like a knife twisting into your belly cutting bloody veins with a torture only known to parents.

We experience that hurt from the moment that they are born until the moment we die. Our children will never understand it until they, themselves have babies of their own. Don’t bother explaining it to them, my kids are used to my tears, they think I’m just the mushiest person in the world, and I am. But, in no way do they think that every time they leave I feel like I’m being stabbed or that my heart breaks a thousand different times, every time they leave, nor should they ever know.

You would think I would get used to it but it’s something I can never get used to. I remember my parents used to travel a lot when I was in high school, maybe even junior high and I would weep, standing at the kitchen table, looking down six flights as they stood waving until their taxi arrived.

I was inconsolable until they left. Then, magically, I was quite happy and calm and independent. Why the shift of pain so rapidly? I’m not really sure, I hated being left, abandoned. But, once they left, I was independent and had a great time. Freud anyone?

Once someone actually leaves, I’m fine. It’s the build up and the anticipation that always gets to me, always has. At my old age I don’t think my patterns will change but I always give it a shot. “I’m not good at good-byes” I say honestly to my children, they expect it, they know and understand. But, they will only truly understand when/if they have children of their own.

Maybe we will be lucky to be grandparents, to see our children have children. To see our grown-up kids do the precise things they chastised us for, that would be funny. Life is a circle, how we got so far in the game, I have no idea. I feel young, time escapes us, but as I watch my children grow into adults, I know too, we have aged accordingly.

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6 Weeks

We were told by his adult children that he was supposed to die from an inoperable, aggressive brain tumor within six weeks, that was at least three months ago. I thought, for sure, he would die when he was told his wife had passed away but, again, he was so relieved, so grateful she was out of her pain that he actually felt and looked a bit better. Nobody could change or help his diagnosis, he had an inoperable brain tumor but his spirit was so relieved that the love of his life was free of pain and free of suffering, he felt just a little better. They knew his wife was going to die in one or two days and they were correct. You could see relief sketched on his face yet he was not allowed to go to her funeral, he was in hospice care.

Many years ago, when my father laid, by himself, in a hospital room, in another state I called at the exact time when a freshly minted unsettled female voice said:”something has just happened and that the doctors are working on him now.” I didn’t understand, I had no idea what she was talking about but I remember calling my mother. I never thought about it like this but I guess I was there at his death as well. We were together and I still left him that sacred message, so did my mom. “It was okay to go, it was okay, we would take care of each other…”

The cardiologist called me and I asked him if I should come? His voice was gentle, I remember that, and he said “Sweetie, you won’t make it in time, don’t come.” ” Do you promise?” I asked through wracking sobs? “Yes”, he promised. Moments later, my father was dead. I didn’t know until a few days ago my mom had made the same call and was told the same thing. She was ready to drive there alone, in the dark, even though she was terrified to drive.

He had crashed in the hospital while under observation with a fatal heart attack. He had suffered heart attacks before. I still see that digital clock in my mind, the one my dad had given me so many years ago, well, “sold” to me even after all these years. My own children were across the hall, mere babies. I see their sweet, innocent faces, me in my bed, a moment, frozen in time. It was 10:20 pm.

I thought I would never be able to feel happiness again but I did though it was different. I was different as well. Before and After Different. That’s how I now measured my life, in a lot of things.

There are always new phases in our lives, new beginnings, new endings, new chapters, the closures, doors slammed and opened. Right now we are in the middle of a chapter and can’t seem to go forward or back, we are stuck, like dead birds smashed against a windowpane.

Eventually, we will move on. It may take some more time but life does not have to be stagnant forever although sometimes it feels that way. Turn that attitude around and enjoy what you have instead of what you don’t know. Nestle in comfort for the time being. Luxuriate in proximity, memories, familiarity and family.

Change will come, whether you are ready for it or not, it will sneak in like a softly padded black cat stealthily coming in the darkened bedroom, with only green cat eyes following every step you take.

.

FWF: Kellie Elmore

English: Broken Heart symbol

English: Broken Heart symbol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The What ifs and The Should Haves Will Eat Your Brain by John O’ Callaghan

Learn from me.  I allowed your flesh-eating amoebas steal pieces from my soul and heart as if I was no longer a person with feelings, but a mass of rusty, mechanical parts. You won the round for a number of years but not the fight, no definitely not the fight.

You played unfairly, with aggression, the intent to severely wound with a fake smile plastered on your pale face.  I meekly, crept under a colorful fall red leaf, my sense of self, like a worm stepped on in pieces, buried deep down in the tough, brown unyielding ground.

How could you be my best friend one night yet not the next? No one could help me understand, no one understood either. Pain can either kill you or make you stronger. It’s a toss-up. I won in the end. I pitied you and you loathed pity.

There was not a single thing I could have done more than I had done already. Letters and phone calls, messages. I just wanted to talk to you but your holier-than-thou attitude refused my attempts. You ignored me, forgetting about the closeness we had for years. You were mean, hateful. I started, very slowly, noticing your flaws, the discrepancies in your behavior. My conscience was clear, like a clean pane of glass that smelled like freshly cut lemons. You were self-destructing in front of everybody’s eyes.

But I did not forgive you for destroying what should have been one of the happiest days of my life, you stole that from me, like a big, bold bully snatches and stomps on a little boy’s new toy. The night I invited you to your favorite restaurant, nervous and excited; you stole my special joy from me when I told you I was pregnant and you put your head in your hands and wept. I was flabbergasted, shocked, hurt, confused. I imagined joy, “congratulations” squeals of delight. I got nothing.  No, you sat in your seat, head down, tears falling into your soup. I stopped asking what was wrong when all you would do was shake your head from side to side signalling “no.” Our friendship was over. Your cover, blown.

I used to always defend your insecurities and phobias: driving, flying, going on a boat, or a train, going in elevators, the list got longer every year. You made your husband fly on vacation, alone. You didn’t have the decency to show up at your in-laws funerals. Everybody gasped in shock and horror; there was no turning back from that. You crossed the line there, there were no excuses for that type of behavior.

Everyone knew that you were a psychologically impaired person but there are some things people do for those that they love. There were medications and therapy but you refused to go, to try to get help,  therapy was fine for “other people” but not you. You refused to try, you were too scared to go. After awhile even your husband threw up his hands and gave in. Ice water ran through your veins.

Your husband, our friend, had the grace to tell us the truth, he confessed and told us everything, You continued to lie. You changed your mind about a deal you made with your husband, yet when we tried to talk to you, you lied to our faces.There was a cruel side to you, one you tried so desperately to hide, but it would escape when you let your guard down, didn’t it?

I could see the hatred that you harbored deep inside. It came out in whiffs like a puff of smoke or perfume, I couldn’t grab hold of it but I knew, for sure, it was there. I knew something was wrong with you since the first time we met as you handled my laundry, inappropriately, crossing boundaries.You hated that I knew all your secrets. I thought I knew you, and I did, on that very first day when my instincts whispered in my ear and I told them to go away.

I should have followed my instincts on the first day we met, I knew there was something off, something strange about you but I didn’t listen. That lesson, I have learned forever. For this, I thank you.

Talking To Myself Upside Down

Im upside down

Im upside down (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tonight there is no one to talk to, no one who cares enough, who knows me well enough and understands my past pain.  Sure, there are people I could call but it’s not the same. I want someone to sit next to me on the couch like my old best friend, because she understands and knows the real me. She knows all the family dynamics as I know hers. Why does she insist on disappearing like she does? Why can’t I just forget her altogether? I’ve teetered on the edge for years now.

Today, I think back to when we were younger. Back in the old days when we were both single and desperately wanted to get married but independent, happy, working together. Going to the Village after work, seeing movies, drinking strong coffee, eating good street food. Coming home and talking for hours more. I remember talking to you while the mice ran over my feet in that scary store front apartment.

I was mugged one night, after being out late with you and the next night I asked if you would walk me home; you walked me home, my friend, without hesitation.You said you would do it every night, forever, until I was comfortable and I know you would have. I had asked my sister before you, she automatically said “no.”You were always there for me and I was there for you. I know your secrets, Denise, some your husband don’t know and you know mine. We had a special friendship. Remember when we were pregnant with our first kids in the swimming pool at my mom and dad’s? That has to be one of the happiest memories of my life.

Many, many years ago when you had your impacted wisdom teeth out, you actually let ME go with you and come back and you let me tuck you into bed and make you a milk shake. This for you, was utter trust and love. I’m sure you didn’t like having anyone help you. You let me and I felt honored and proud.

We are both mothers now, we each have two children, both not far apart in age. I thought for sure your second child would be a girl, how could it not be? I know a part of you is  probably emotionally damaged but I know I am your best friend and down deep you are mine. You make no effort and since its been so long I don’t expect it and I don’t even want to start another time to make an effort. It is too painful. I’ve told you this before, when we are together we sync so well back into best friends that it makes me miss you more when we part and I cry.

So, instead, I am talking to myself, upside down. I’ve tried so many times to connect with you, I’d probably see you more if you lived in France. You live an hour and a half away and your relatives live about 25 minutes from me. You will always be my best friend in my heart but it doesn’t mean I don’t miss what we had, when we were young. In spite of it all, I miss you, I love you, that will never change but even after all these years, it truly hurts. I wish it didn’t.

For Denise F.

 

Haiku Heights: Rescue

Accident on an Icy Road

Accident on an Icy Road (Photo credit: born1945)

Frozen breath, standing

ice, painful, purple digits

Drill me from the car.

*

Crying, storms, blackness

hidden away, my heart bleeds

Waiting for your soul.

*

Tumble, tenderly

Alone, huddled with children

Until you found me.

Bloody, Foolish, Me

English: Women with Broken Heart

English: Women with Broken Heart (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am not just a sad woman, I am a bereft child who is sobbing in the shower,

clinging to the metallic shower handle so I don’t collapse.

I  thought I knew myself,

I’m surprised, ashamed, disappointed

pompous me,  I was fine,  I said.

I had received “messages” from my dad from the other side and they did comfort me.

That was then, this is now. It’s the night of THE DAY. He died, eleven years ago at 10:20pm.

It surprises me every year when I think I have everything under control,

Ugh, Rubbish.

These raw emotions find me, sneak up on me, reopening bloody, sore wounds

as if I was being stabbed right through the heart, anew.

The hairy monsters that used to hide in my closets when I was young

don’t have a daddy to tell me all is well. Never again, is hard to take.

I want to curl up in the fetal position and cover myself with soft, blue blankets and blankets reaching to the sky.

I want to see no one

but I have my own family now and I want them to have their own happiness.

We will go together for an early dinner, the kids will move on to their parties,

and I will come back home, begging for tomorrow to come.

An Empty Chair: Father’s Day and Graduation, 2012

English: Chair

English: Chair (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tomorrow is Father’s Day, it’s also the day that my daughter, my baby, graduates from high school. My father, her grandfather will not be sitting near me, holding my hand, smelling of after shave cologne. His arm won’t be around my mother’s arm, excited to see their granddaughter walk across the stage, beaming, to get her diploma. He died almost died ten years ago, not seeing any of his four grandchildren graduate.

He will be with me, inside, a huge hole in my  heavy heart and in the tears that I will most assuredly shed. I will wipe them up with a “Vienna hanky” the soft, cotton handkerchiefs that my father always had, that my sister and my mother and I shared upon his death. They are thin now, like transparent paper but some have his initials on them and they are very important to us.

My daughter’s graduation should be a joyous occasion but it too brings mixed emotions, as most everything does. An “empty nest” a sign of us aging, her new life just beginning. I try to be as festive as possible for my husband, father of our two children but he is not that caught up with the Father’s Day holiday as much as I am and frankly he has lower expectations. I don’t blame him at all. Mother’s and Father’s Day were adorable when the children were young but at almost 18 and almost 20, something is lacking, like true sentiment. The kids go through the motion with plenty of reminders but that’s about it and that’s all we can expect at this time in their lives. Hopefully, if they have children of their own one day, they may appreciate us more; they will be able to relate.

I am looking forward to tomorrow with a mixture of excitement and dread; I will try to hide the dread as best I can. My daughter and my “second daughter,” our friend Christina, will be graduating from high school and going off to college in August. I have watched these two special girls grow up. Christina and her family have lived across the street from us since the girls were about three or four years old. They played together every day; they went through the monkey phase together, the gymnastic phase, horses phase and plenty of others together. While they both have other friends, I think their friendship will last in the future.

Christina reminds me of a young me, she is innocent and kind and wears her heart openly. I know what she is thinking and feeling by just looking at her face or hearing her voice. I want to protect her and prepare her for life but of course  I know I can’t do either of those things. My own daughter is more street smart, independent and fearless. She hides her feelings, she is very private, harder to read and fiercely independent.  Tomorrow, when their names are called to go up on stage and receive their diplomas, I will clap and scream, for both of these beautiful, strong and smart young women.

Congratulations to Jillian and to Christina!

Carry On Tuesday – Time To Say Good-Bye

Broken Heart symbol

Broken Heart symbol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Those of you who subscribe to Carry On Tuesday know we don’t pick the prompt, but I would be personally devastated if this WAS the last prompt. The prompt also comes at a very appropriate and hard time for me which makes me feel like my heart is breaking, smashing into little crystal shards that can’t be put back together.  My flesh is being torn apart yet my soul is comfortable and relaxed, knowing I can’t take any more. This break has been coming for a very long time, I know it has, and my feeble attempts before were useless, flimsy, like the shreds that are left on my overused red, silk robe. “I’m sorry” I whisper to my sister silently but I can’t live this way a moment longer. I know you don’t understand me, I know you feel like I act like the victim all the time but, in my heart, I have been the victim. The fact that you can’t see that shows how far apart we really are.

I know I have hurt you too and I am sorry but I feel that my abusive barbs are reactions to your lack of emotions and actions. Can’t you see that? Actually, you probably can’t. I never, in a million years, thought I could be part of a family that was broken, broken with glass shards that gouge and make us both bleed. It can’t go on like this; I know it’s time to say good-bye.

I needed you so many times, when we were teenagers and adults and you adamantly just said “no.” Why? Because you didn’t feel like it or you didn’t want to, it didn’t fit in your schedule, it was always just about you. It was cute when you were little, our parents joking about your mirror that said “It’s all about ME!” but growing up it grew less funny and more hurtful.

I know you hate it when I write about you in my blog so trust me to say this will be the last blog post. I won’t mention you again in a negative way at all. There is a tiny part of me that prays for a miraculous reconciliation but deep down I know that people don’t change. I need to accept my status as an “only child” and again use my friends as my family. I do apologize for telling you out loud that “I wouldn’t pick you as a friend” although it was true, it was hurtful. I need nurturing people in my life, people I can trust to be there for me when I need them; people I can depend on: this was never your strong suit. Not when the window washer abused me when I was a child and I tried to wake you up or when I was mugged and asked you to walk me home, both times you didn’t want to be bothered. That is not okay with me, how could it be?

When I had a lump removed from my breast in my early twenties you did come up to help me with the bandages but only after Mom and Dad forced you to come, they told me. While you came to my college graduation you didn’t ride in the car with Mom or Dad, you insisted on flying so that when they called my name up to the podium, cum laude, you were on your way back to the airport to leave.

When I was in the Emergency Room countless times with Mom or Dad, alone, I called you ONCE because I was very worried. I asked you to come FOR ME, you only lived half an hour away and it was early evening. You said “no” because you didn’t want to: that’s not a good enough reason for me. You question if I hate you? Yes, part of me does.

I still love you as my sister, but it’s not love that is strong enough to keep us together to have a relationship. It’s an obligatory love because you are part of a family we used to have. Just because it is time for me to say good-bye does not make it any easier at all. If there was a way to work on this relationship, I would but you won’t. You are too filled with your own hatred and anger and defense mechanisms you can’t see yourself as others do. I have always loved you, I probably always will. This love hurts way too much for us to be connected. I wish you love, good health and peace; I just can’t be part of it anymore; not the way it has existed for me for all these years. No. That’s not to say that I don’t think this is incredibly, horrifically, sad. I do.

Fighting Seems Like Death Sometimes

Death Valley Sunrise: DSC_02851

Image by krakovsky via Flickr

I wear no make-up, my hair is dirty and uncombed, no pink lipstick to brighten my face or the empty feeling in my soul. The clothes I wear today are shapeless, I am invisible, but you can still see me.  There are no smiles or light flirtations slipping from my lips, no gurgling sounds of interest and empathy. There are no words, not one single syllable. I am inside myself.

There are no idioms to soothe me, there are no thoughts to brighten me, I am falling slowly from the top of a cliff. I am not skydiving with dazzling energy and lightness, seeking thrills. It’s a slow death, seeing the images that have haunted me as if I was watching a silent movie. There is no black and there is no white, only dark gray. Those who thought I had it all, I have nothing today. Am I loved for who I am unconditionally? That is how I love you.

You and I are so much alike that when it is good it feels like bursting happiness and beaming sunshine and when we fight, it is the bottom of a dark and painful hell. If I could have it any other way, I would. We are forever bound with love and we share a heart. I feel myself falling into murky waters of unknown depths and destiny. What would you say at my funeral if it was today?  Would you say a prayer, read a poem, talk from your heart? Would you try to be stoic and fight back the tears or would you openly weep as I would for you? I would throw myself into the musky dirt to lie beside you if something happened to you; I would not want to live.

You have no idea how much you hurt me and yet even if I try to explain it to you, you deny it vehemently. Like two fighters in a ring, no one listening, both talking, fighting, an emotional blow to you, to me. There is no winner, everybody loses when they fight, all you get from fighting is pain. Will you learn later on that staying and talking through things are better than running away? Time will have to teach you that because I have tried and failed.

At the same time, do you not know that I love you with a special love reserved for no one else? You have always occupied that place in my heart, I love you more than I love my own life;  I would leave the world and disappear if you could guarantee me that I would never again see that sad, woeful expression on your face again. I would do that for you; I would do that for me too. In my heart and soul, I know that before I saved myself, I would save you first.

“(S)He’s Leaving Home, Bye, Bye”*

Kleinkind beim Laufen

Image via Wikipedia

(April, 2011)

My son, my first-born made his final decision for college in September. He’s excited, thrilled and after celebrating with him, I slipped away and am now holed up in my bedroom, sobbing. It’s not like I haven’t been prepared for this, it’s not like he’s still six it just feels like he was six a moment ago. He’s my boy and as much as I know how happy he is with his choice, the deposit put me over the edge. I fell apart; it was now official.

I know I am being ridiculous, this is not sudden bad news but it feels like a total shock to me. I am weeping and I can’t explain it except to say that while I am so happy for him, I feel vastly sorry for myself. This is my son, my first child, the kid I called “buddy” so many times my husband was worried people would think that was his name. This boy is a delight, a warm, compassionate, smart young man. At the age of 2 1/2 he stunned a grown-up friend when he used the word “compromise.” When the friend doubted him and asked him if he knew what that meant, he explained it beautifully: “If I want to go to bed at 9 and my daddy says 7 then we compromise in the middle.” You can’t argue with facts.

(June, 2011)

I lost it today, in the supermarket between the pizza rolls and the pizza bagels, two past favorite foods of my son. The tears welled up in my eyes and I started crying, quietly, discreetly but that was just strength of will on my part. I could have sobbed but I held myself together. My son is graduating High School in a week and a half. The day after, he leaves to go to his old camp to be a counselor. I never liked being left, that’s for sure. My parents left me alone a lot when I was younger so they could travel together in Europe. I would cry hysterically but once the yellow taxi disappeared from the view from my sixth floor kitchen window, I was alright.

I feel, like many other mothers and fathers feel that he is leaving me and us, the family. I know I am overreacting but this is how I feel. It’s a great thing, a joyful thing but the good feeling hasn’t caught up to my heart yet. In time, I’m sure it will. I just have to get used to it but it is a drawn out process.  I like to think that when he actually leaves FOR college I will be better, but who am I trying to kid?  I’ve never been great at change and this is a big one.

It doesn’t help that my daughter, only one grade year apart from her brother, will be a Senior in High School come September. This little girl of mine is smart, independent and always knew what she wanted from the minute she was born. She planned her birthday party themes four years in advance and stuck to each one of them. She is a fierce animal lover, and vegetarian, she is very smart, extraordinarily beautiful and has an incredible quick wit. This girl, wrapped her arms around my neck for years and wouldn’t let go. No one else could soothe her except me. Soon, she too, will be running out the door, this independent free spirit that I fervently admire.

In our hearts, our secret fear is that our sons and daughters will forget us. So, I am saying this now. Please remember we love you so much. Please don’t forget us or stop loving us. Keep in touch and the hug you give when you visit, try to make it last a second or two longer so that we can remember just how good it feels.

*Courtesy of The Beatles song