Friday, January 30, 2009

Chapter Five

My son stopped his mad house dash around the table and looked me right in the eyes. His little about to be 5 year old face got as serious as it could get. He looked at me like that for a long time. My smile slipped slowly from my face as thoughts of what could be wrong with him raced through my addled brain.

“No mommy, don’t stop smiling. I miss it when you don’t smile. You stopped smiling when Poppa Keith died.”

I couldn’t help it. I couldn’t hold it back anymore. The gates opened and the rain fell. I began to weep. The weeping wasn’t enough, I began to sob. The sobbing wasn’t enough and I began to wail. The torrent of tears streamed down my face and neck to soak the neck of my shirt. I couldn’t stop. There were no words, just a deep wracking pain that poured from my mouth in a single sound. It was the sound my ancestors, the sound of every woman who had lost before me, it was the wail of the Banshee. There is nothing else it could have been.

My son wrapped his little arms around me and held me while I wailed. He held on to me and wept his own tears and he wailed his own grief. In the last almost year this is the one thing we had never done, we had never shared our grief.

As adults we sometimes forget that children can mourn the loss of someone just as deeply as we can. We forget that they need the time to feel grief just as we do. This is what I had taken from my son. In all that time, when my mind refused to grieve openly, my son saw only the outer shell of me. He saw only the part of me that seemed to not feel the loss. Being a child and being so desperate to not lose anymore, he reflected me.

I burned dinner. We cried for so long and so deeply that it took the smoke detector’s shrill whistle to remind us that there was a world beyond our grief. Slowly we came back to ourselves. I took the meatloaf out of the oven and set it in the sink. I just stood there and stared at it. For the life of me I couldn’t tell what was wrong. Besides the obvious of the burned dinner and the newly discovered grief, there was still something wrong, something I couldn’t put my finger on.

“Mommy, can we just go eat pizza? My eyes are all dried up and I don’t want to cry anymore today.”

From behind me my son had spoken the answer to my problem. I didn’t want to cry today anymore. Some part of me, newly awakened, raged that I was putting off my grief again. But one look into my son’s eyes and I knew we had to get out of the house.

Not just out of the house, but out of the city, out of the state. We had to get away from everything that had hurt us so much for so long. We needed to start over where our loss wasn’t handed to us everyday. We were beyond repairing what was broken, it was time to build new.all works posted here are copyrighted

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Chapter Four


I had never experienced this before in my life. I had been blessed from the very beginning with a gift for sleeping. My mother used to tell me that I was the best baby ever. I would sleep through the night from the day she brought me home. She never had to fight me to go to sleep and I was always cheerful when I woke up.

But in those first months after my realization that I had been literally driffting through life since the death of my beloved, I didn't sleep very well. On a good night I got about 6 hours, but most nights it was closer to 2 or 3 hours. I went to bed at the same time every night, 9:30 pm, and I got out of bed at the same time every morning, 6:00 am. But I spent most of that time in bed starring at my ceiling, or out the window on the south wall. I couldn't tell what I thought about in those waking hours. There was no specific thing that prevaded my thoughts. My mind wandered everywhere it could; from the first memories I have of my childhood to the current war our country was engaged in. Everything got its fifteen minutes of fame in my brain.

I'm sure that the final descision I made about where to turn on the path of my life was made sometime around 3 am just as I was drifting off. It was probably about 3 months after I had that little talk with Jane. My brain was making its final attempt to stay active when a random thought crossed my mind. It was so random that it ended up keeping me awake for the rest of that night, and most of the next. My brain chewed on this thought like it was a piece of gum, but it was one of those amazing miraculous pieces of gum that never ever looses its flavor.

Like something right out of the Wonka factory; the longer I chewed on it, the more effort I put into the locking of my mental jaws around it, the more flavor and depth it gained.

It was so simple. It came to me from right out of my past. Something as a little girl I had always wanted to do and yet had never done. See the Kentucky Derby.

At 3 am on that night my brain grasped on to the thought that I had never seen the Kentucky Derby, and I had always wanted to.

It kept rolling around and around in my head that night. It started as "Shit I've never been to see the Kentuckt Derby, and I have always wanted to" and by the time I was getting ready for work it had turned into "I should take a week off this year and spend the whole time in Louisville absorbing the pre-and post-Derby environment."

Throughout the day my mind had to focus on the tasks that came before me, files and emails and letters and work orders. But always in the back of my mind the Derby sat silently waiting for me to get back to it.

After I got home that night I made dinner. My son was bouncing around, his birthday party was that weekend. It was his first ever "real" birthday party. With some of his friends from day-care and some from his Pre-K special Ed. Watching him simply enjoy the anticipation made me grin. I smiled from ear to ear.

I was sitting in my pristine public housing eat-in kitchen at my scarred fourth hand wooden dinning table, watching my son extoll the virtues of a birthday party, and I smiled.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

My inauguration piece

Hickory dickory dock
The president's name is Barack
He promised us change
Finances rearrange
And the republicans are still in shock

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Chapter Three

I sat down in the chair across from Jane.

If her eyes got any bigger they would swallow her face. Her mouth started working like a fish out of water, open and shut. No sound escaped from between her lips. Her face was contorted in such a fashion as to lead one to believe she had wet her pants.

"Jane, snap out of it! What the fuck is wrong with you?"
"uh, I, well..."

She looked down into the cup of coffee sitting before her, as if she could find the words she couldn't say floating in the amber liquid. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Then another. for several minutes she sat there just like that. Head bowed, taking deep even breaths. She looked like a woman praying for the soul of a sinner.

With her eyes still closed and her head still lowered she began to speak. What she said shocked and appalled me. It made me sick to my stomach. It changed my life.

"Sara, after Keith died, its like you shut down. You moved and acted like you were on auto-pilot. It was so strange to see you. There was never any emotion on your face. You could talk about Keith and his death as if it were a scientific theory. Some people tried to draw you out. Your mom said it was just you grieving. But it never changed. It was so upsetting for anyone to be around you that... well.... it just got easier to not be around you.

No one could explain it. When we asked you if there was anything wrong or anything you wanted to talk about you either ignored the question or always replied with 'I'm fine'."

Now she looked up at me. Looked me right in the eyes and said:

"And look at you! You must have lost 50 pounds! You never wear make-up anymore, your hair is always pulled back. You haven't worn any color except gray or black in months. Your like a walking talking corpse. People can't stand to be near you. its like there is no life in you! Sitting here talking to you... its... its like talking to the dead!"

It was my turn to sit and stare, mouth agape.

I reviewed everything she had said. I looked back at the last year of my life. I couldn't believe it. It couldn't be true.

But it was. I had been going through the motions of life, not really participating in it.

How could I have let that happen? How could I?

When I finally became aware again of my surroundings, Jane was gone. The numbness running through my legs told me I had been sitting there a while. My coffee was untouched and stone cold. All around me the scene had changed. The late morning crowd had changed into the early afternoon lunch-goers. The sun was higher in the sky and the shadows had shrunk to almost nothing beneath their physical counterparts.

I came to the realization that I had to do something, something drastic, something that would snap me out of this miasma of lifelessness I had plunged into. Something that would make such a big change in my life that I would have to learn to live again. How could I keep going through the world like this? I had a child who would soon be 5.

Oh My God! I almost missed his birthday! My son. What was he thinking of me. What had my melancholy done to him?

What was I supposed to do? What?

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Chapter Two

After a week of waiting for phone calls. I called Jane again. I wanted to know what the hell was going on. Afterall these people were supposed to be my support network. We were supposed to care about and love each other. What was wrong that no one wanted to talk to me?

"Hi Jane"
"oh hi Sara"
"Jane I need to talk to you, can you meet me for coffee on saturday?"

Saturday coffee used to be our ritual. We had a little cafe we went to. The first cup was like two dollars and refills were a quarter. Thats hard to find these days. Plus the staff was really awesome. A jumble of teenagers and adults trying to be teenagers. Sometimes we just went to listen to the barrista drama.

"Well Sara I don't know..."
"Cut the shit Jane. something is wrong and I need to talk to someone. Your my best friend"
"Ok I'll meet you there. Same time?"
"Yeah see ya there girl"

That Saturday I dropped my son off with the babysitter, Jennie. I didn't use her often but she was great with my son. He loved going over there. When I pulled into her driveway he started bouncing in his carseat signing

"I get to play, I get to play"

Four really is the perfect age.

Jennie was happy to see us. She asked how I was doing and ushered my little guy into her living room. She already had his favorite toys out and his favorite movie on the old boob tube. He kissed me good-by and proceeded to forget I even existed. I was smiling when I drove away.

Cafe Expression

What a great name for a coffee house. Every friday night they have an open mic. Jane and I went once. It was a mad house! Every angst ridden freak who could write two words on paper was there. There were a few people who were really good, but mostly it was quacks and teens and that new genre of goth kid... the emo kid.

Cafe Expression during the day was a laid back place. They only had very few of those wooden bistro sets you see so often. Mostly it was big comfy chairs with little tables. You could move things arround to make you seating area bigger or you could move a chair off to the corner and be by yourself. Every chair had a slip cover and everyone was different. It was like drinking coffe in a salvation army used furniture store. You never worried about spilling your coffee on the chairs or scratching the tables with your laptop. It was very rare on a Saturday to see drama unfold in the hallowed halls of Cafe Expression.

When I got there Jane was already inside sitting at one of the crappy wooden bistro sets. I hate sitting in them for any given period of time because they make my ass hurt. She does too, which is why its so weird to see her sitting at one. The little door chime as I entered made Jane raise her head and look at me. What I saw in her eyes made me very nervous. She looked like a little kid who had to tell the teacher who spilled the paint on the floor. She looked nervous and apprehensive. I just stood there looking at her. I had never seen her look at me like that. ever.

My instincts kicked in and my legs took me to the counter. The girl at the register must have been new. I didn't recognize her. I ordered my standard Decaf Mocha Late. I can't drink caffine it makes me twitchy. After I paid I turned around. Jane was still looking at me like I was going to gobble her up. What the hell was going on?

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Chapter One

Its cold. Well I didn't expect it to be warm. it's the middle of January in Kentucky. I have felt it grow colder every day. Tonight its not as cold as it has been. The snow from a few weeks ago has melted into a continuous slush that has a nasty way of soaking through the hems of my jeans. Every night, by the time I get home, my pants are soaked clear to the bottom of my knees. I've gotten used to it in the last three years. That first winter was the worst. I almost broke down and moved back.

Back. Once upon a time I thought I would never leave. I thought my whole world was there. I had great friends. My family was there. I found true love there. Everything was great. I didn't have a care in the world. Ok I had your standard cares. I was considered low income. I was on housing assistance and day care assistance. But I was working full time. It was one of those crazy spirals some people find themselves in. But it was ok because I had my friends and family and my true love.

I had it all. More than anyone could hope for. I wasn't wealthy but I was rich. I lived like that for three years. I was so sure things were going the right way. I knew he was going to ask me to marry him. After all we had been dating for seriously for close to two years. We had been friends for a year before that. We liked each other's friends. We had our own hobbies. We had a damn near perfect relationship. Oh we fought of course, but what healthy stable relationship doesn't involve the occasional argument. My son loved him, I loved him, my family loved him.

Then it was gone. all of it. How could life be that cruel?

There was an accident at his work. He did construction. He was a foreman on the Strip's biggest resort project to date. He oversaw everything. He was so involved in that building. I used to joke that it was the "other woman". They still aren't sure exactly what happened. Somehow a beam fell from the top of the building. It landed on him. It fell 35 stories to land directly on his head.

They had to use DNA to identify him. There wasn't even enough left of his body to get him a casket. His family decided to have him cremated. The memorial was beautiful. Everyone treated me as if I really was the widow. I cried. I cried so much those first few days. Then I stopped crying. just like that.

I thought I was ok. I thought I was moving on. I was still very sad, but I wasn't crying anymore. It was hard trying to explain death to my 4 year old. Everyday I had to sit down with him and talk him through why The man he thought of as a father would never be here anymore. I told him all the old tired cliches. I told him that if we hold on to the memory of the ones we lose then they never really go away. I told him that after death there was a beautiful place where people to go to rest and reflect on their lives. I told him that Keith would be watching us from this place for the rest of our lives.

I hadn't shed a single tear since that first week. About a year later I began to notice that people were not calling me as often. My friends and family weren't inviting me to outings anymore. I was curious. I called the woman who had been my best friend before all this.

"Hey Jane its me Sara"
"Oh wow, um, hi Sara"
"Hey how are you doing? I haven't heard from you in ages."
"ehhh, well, I'm doing ok. Hey look I've got to go I'm right in the middle of something. I'll call you later, ok?"
"uh sure. Hey don't be a stranger!"
"um yeah ok bye"

weird. We used to be able to talk for hours on the phone about everything. I tried more people. I called friends, and family. I even called the people from Keith's family that I was close to. Every conversation went almost the same way. It was like they couldn't get me off the phone fast enough.

Jane never called me back. None of them did.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

How Why When

How on this day
So cloudy and gray
The sun shines through to my soul

How in the night
Devoid of light
There is a sparkle before me

How in the face
Of this uncertain race
Can I still feel the hope of ages

Why do I cling
To that which stings
When I know I should pull away

Why am I still
Looking for my fill
When the pitchers around me are empty

Why does my heart
No longer fall apart
When devastation rains down upon it

When will I learn
To treat the burn
Before I look for fire again

When does the hurt
With which I flirt
Finally cause my nerves to tingle

When shall I
Cease to cry
When all I want to do is sing

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Monday, January 5, 2009

Love. Hope.

Love is one of the best feelings, it brings you joy and peace. It makes the world a better place. Life is easier with Love. Love makes you see the beauty that is hidden all around us. Love is grand. But Love is a strange beast.

She smiles and lures you in with poetic words. She strokes you with a tender touch. She purrs when you lay your hands on her. She shows you her depths and tells you her secrets. Then without warning and in the blink of an eye, she leaves you cold and wanting. You find your bed, once full of passion and vigor, frigid and lifeless. Your soul, once alive and holding to the glory of the future, is left like a motherless child alone in a cold room looking around for the arms that once cradled it.

Love is like a drug dealer. He gets you hooked on the free samples. Then, he slowly increases your prices. And just when it seems that you can’t afford your next fix he hooks you up with another free sample. His drug is the best there is. It gets you high and makes you feel good. It doesn’t affect you but to make you want to be a better person. Your family encourages you to take more; they even help you to get it. Your friends applaud when you find your dealer. He gets you so hooked that you can’t even pass through a single day without at least a small dose. Then your dealer disappears, he vanishes in the mists of morning. You start to detox. You get the shakes and you lose control of your emotions. Your family rallies with your friends to keep you afloat. They flood you with their version of your preferred drug but it just isn’t the same.

Love doesn’t hurt. Love is soft and gentle; it cushions you from the pain of the world. It is the loss of Love that causes debilitating pain to course from your heart to every cell in your body. It is the absence of Love that makes it difficult to rise every morning.

But Hope is not lost when Love is. It may seem so in those first dark days. It feels as if there is nothing that will break through the despair that settles over you. Then that indomitable little spark once again begins to glow. Hope. It reaches out from the bleak future and pulls you forward. It illuminates you with a soft blue healing light, and you begin to see the world once again.

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