Additional work to be done…

Bedtime

The material over my face only lets in brief glimpses of light.  Sometimes the warmth of the sun radiates through the material but that only lets me know that the sun is up and that my kidnapper has let me out for some fresh air.  There aren’t many details to be seen but the memories of certain days flood back to bring me to a different place and time.

Days can go by without the veil being lifted off of my face.  Food slips through at various points but I don’t recall the smell or even what it might have been.  The blandness replacing any sensation of flavor or enjoyment.  From the moment I get up until the time comes for me to crawl back under the covers life continues without me noticing anything.

Getting up the next day just means repeating the same pattern of dull, colorless life.  Sometimes not even remembering who I have spoken with or needing to look at my phone to see if I spoke to anyone at all.

Welcome to the world I’m trying to escape.

The combination of drugs they keep adjusting takes more than it gives.  Time is the only thing they care about.  How much more can we give you without thinking about if it is quality time.  Getting through a day isn’t enough, the notion of feeling like an automaton is not a life worth living.

I want to feel again…or maybe I don’t.

Having joined a group to help deal with grief, even they are sometimes at a loss how to direct me.  Details get in the way of progress and when you don’t have details they can set you back.  So many questions about my daughter that I still don’t know.  But then those have been hidden from me for some reason.

In such a short period of time I had to deal with a world of devastating changes that I still don’t know which to address on any given day.  The longer those things are left unfocused and silent means going another sunset without making progress.

Picture rowing a boat towards shore and then falling asleep.  You wake up and realize you have been carried by the tide even further out into the vast body standing between you and terra firma.  Frustration, pain and unfortunately anger all come rushing in before you notice the amazing sunrise.  Even worse, just turning around might bring the realization that another island is directly behind you.

I’m going to go lay back down now.  It’s been a rough couple of days and people are relying on me to get some work done.  Hopefully when that’s finished I can do the other type, some on myself.  Maybe just a few minutes and when bedtime approaches tonight I can dream about a place people keep telling me about.

If not, well I can go the other route of overthinking life until I just shut my eyes.

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Missed Connection

Karma Chameleon

After being hopefully surrounded by that brilliant, white light; what’s next?

For the longest time I didn’t believe in Heaven, although I did fervently understand the existence of Hell.  All those questions about why some people and not others was too much for my brain to wrap itself around.  So I went with the easy explanation, there was nothing to see, just move along.

But as life gave me a challenge I wasn’t prepared for, couldn’t have even if I thought ahead, I found myself surrounded by more and more people who made me take a hard look at my theories.  A little different light shining on a subject and maybe a little bit of their words started to shift my thinking.

The fear of missing that person had me hoping that their was a chance that in the future we would get to spend future together.  Lots of science in my argument but it left out the obvious, a mix of faith.  I wanted when my time ended to have the most important people in my life who had left before me to be waiting.  I still feel that way, but I could be wrong.

Science says that there is a limited amount of material in the universe.  It can’t be destroyed or created, just moved around into something different.  Could we be adopting a similar view when it comes to people’s souls?  Only so many to go around and we need to at some point come back.

When I think of dying, I have to consider my experiences surrounding my daughter.  It’s a requirement in my own healing process.  And the first question is “Will she recognize me?”  The obvious answer is yes, but you can’t help wondering.  Now the idea of reincarnation has to come into play.

What happens if someone sent her soul back sooner to make up for ending her time with me much quicker?

Like driving past someone at a street corner and by the time you circle back to flag them down they’ve already moved onto the next place.  A different path than the one you are on.

Lots of existential questions go with that.  Are we always meant to have brief moments followed by absences?  Even if we got back somehow are we going to be part of each other’s new lives or complete strangers with dreams and glimpses of each other?

A long time ago I believed in the presence of ghosts.  The good kind as well as the nasty ones.  It’s hard to describe the feeling of someone grabbing you by the foot and shaking you awake during a particularly annoying case of the flu.  (I can’t explain it and don’t care to anymore.  It shook my rather rigid foundation and I only hope that I was wrong.)  Anyone who laughs at that night just hasn’t had that deep desire for it to be true.  (great, one of the defining components of a delusional state!)

Can we work out a deal where I get to spend a little time with my daughter before she gets sent back?  The good father I want to be needs her to have lived a long life having experienced more than her short time allowed.  If it means missing that connection so that it has even the smallest chance of happening, than the good man I need to be has to wish that.

I guess having dreams for your children never go away, they just need to adapt to the changing circumstances.

Full Moon

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/ballerina-fireman-astronaut-movie-star/”>Ballerina Fireman Astronaut Movie Star</a>

Last week’s full moon had me recalling years ago when a group of friends was crashing at my parent’s house.  It was New Year’s Eve either in 1992 or 1993, I’d need to look at some historical data to figure out which.  But it was one of those lovely Blue Moons that just lit up the sky.

We’d grabbed some blankets and made out way up to the front yard where we could get a clear view of the night sky.  There were probably 15 of us total, dressed in sweats or something similar.  [We were playing board games and just enjoying the company, no formal wear required!]  Some were couples, others just a date for the evening, maybe one or two single people who hadn’t found that person yet?

One of the neighbor’s thought we got locked out of the house and offered their copy of the spare, only to learn we were sitting there with our coffee cups just talking in the cold night air.

My godson was about 3 months away from making his debut and that was a topic we all were concerned about.  Those friends being the first to marry and start their way to true adulthood.  If this really was 1993, I had just graduated from college that month and was looking forward to something different.  One guy was in a five year engineering program, so he still had some time to go.  Others were preparing for their own graduation that spring.

Our breath was floating in front of us as we spoke about the future.  All of us worried about things that we couldn’t control or just weren’t sure we could handle.  That false bravado of conquering the world was gone and we knew that each of us would be trying to make our own way and in some cases in places far from where we currently sat.

A couple of education majors, two engineers, an economist, various science fields and one who went on to finish college but decided that raising a family was going to be her goal.  [not a thing wrong with that, running a family requires all of those skills in short bursts for extended periods of time.]  We held onto one another tightly that evening.

I honestly don’t recall what the goal was when I was younger.  My parents had dragged me to so many engineering classes of their own while in Grad School that I knew that wasn’t what I wanted.  It was about the only thing I knew I didn’t ever want to become.  While I can argue Physics with my father as well as any of his classmates, I wanted something different.

Fortunately they understood since my grandfather never let my father forget that he disapproved of his becoming a Ph.D. [don’t ask, they weren’t the nicest of people to either of my parents or even one of their other daughters.  Strange when parents are supposed to want better only to resent the children who actually achieve that.]

The next New Year’s Eve wasn’t the same.  The couples had rearranged or just gone away and there was some resentment within the group on how to deal with those mixed emotions.  For all that we had spoken the previous year, we had resorted back to being 10 years old.  I had dinner with the godson and his parents then went to visit a friend where we just watched the ball drop on Time’s Square.  It wasn’t the same ever again…

There are few perfect moments in life.  Birth of a child, learning to ride a bike without the training wheels, that first kiss while standing in the rain, all great memories.  While last week’s full moon was referred to as the “Mourning Moon” and I have no interest in learning why, I don’t need to worry about the person I wanted to become.

I don’t think we ever truly become that person, no matter what path our life takes.  Bumps in the road, life-altering forks, and dead ends all change who will were from just yesterday.  The best that I think any of us can do is hold onto each other and do everything we can to make those changes easier.

So sorry no fireman or teacher, lawyer or doctor story to tell.  When I think about deciding the future, I tend to rely on that memory of a New Year’s Eve from long ago.

 

Receipt in a Box

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/the-outsiders/”>The Outsiders</a>

During my brief visit to Maryland, I took the time to walk up and down my street.  Just to see if anything had really changed in the months since I had been back.  The houses looked the same, the people as well.  I don’t know how the timing worked, but the woman who is always seeming to be running when I’m out came up from behind me and gave me a big hug.  It was enough to make my 15 year old guardian look cross-eyed at me.

The entire time I was waiting for something bad to happen.  I had made a point of sitting in the car when people ran into the store to grab some food.  No way was I going to expose myself to rumors and speculation about how I was or even that I was in the state.  My biggest fear was that I’d end up in the hospital while here and not able to leave for some time.  That would have been difficult for me to accept.

But as I sat there I kept staring at this coffee shop.  It changed ownership last Fall and is no longer the place I remember with such fondness.  The decor is basically the same, just new faces.  But I kept remembering this time when it was such a focal point that I got lost in the memory.

One day I had been going to dinner with my mother.  She had an hairdresser’s appointment beforehand, so I just drove over and was going to wait.  But as we rounded the corner, I saw the figure of someone I needed to chase after.  I dropped my mom off and told her to just call my cell when she was done and I would come back.

I raced over in order to make sure I didn’t miss her.  Of all the places to run into her, this coffee shop was not even on the radar.  But there, standing in line was the woman who would eventually mean everything, or at least until the point where things went in separate directions.  It was just one of those bright, sunny days and the conversation was nice.  It was still that feeling out process in a relationship, so there was always lots of questions followed by carefully constructed answers.

Anyway, Sunday as I sat there waiting for Kathy and Susie to finish picking up breakfast, my mind kept watching each person walk in.  Trying to capture if they were just customers for a minute or whether they were going to relax with a cup and a book.

A couple of kids walking in with backpacks, an elderly couple who looked like they had just come from church, and a guy in sweats that were still soaked from whatever the exercise routine of the day had been.  I envied each of them.  Looking out on a world I recall so vividly, with such emotional attachment, I felt like everything was just pages in a story.

Susie ran back and wanted to know if I wanted anything else while we were here.  The house was pretty bare of food staples and there was no point in replenishing when we were outbound Monday morning.  But she kept looking at me and eventually asked, “Hey, is that the place you were telling me about.  Where it all really began?”

“Yes.  It’s not the same, but the feelings are there still attached to it.  Let’s just finish and get back.  There’s something I want to show you before we leave for the birthday party.”

In a box at home is the receipt from that chai tea latte.  The ex had her drink by the time I even got to the door.  Susie just put it back in the box and place it back on a shelf.  She understood.  All those teenage books she reads, all those silly television shows, everything she knew about her own expanding world was brought home in that moment.  What she had read in a diary of another was now more a reality than before.  She understood a little better why I find it so hard to come home.

 

 

 

 

Trick of the Lens

The piece I wrote last year about kids terrorizing me hasn’t changed, nothing new to report on that front.  So let’s talk about the walk I took yesterday.  Actually I can show you the area I was walking in since I take my phone with me on these travels, just in case I need a lift back.

2015-10-30 17.01.44

Usually I just throw on a pair headphones if I’m by myself.  It doesn’t mean I’m listening to anything, sometimes I just want to be trapped in my head but outside rather than on the couch.  But most of the time I’m listening to some podcast from NPR or WEEI (it’s sports radio!)  The glasses are on and my hat is pulled down to shield my face from view.  One of those instances where ghostly white, pale reflections of my skin just don’t need to be recognized.

I’m coming down this small hill and look up at the sunset.  The leaves turn from red to brown, and fall to the ground. To be trodden down.  Lyrics from a song called “Beautiful” that talks about the absolute beauty in being different.  If they had been talking about snowflakes I guess they would have used the word “unique”?  The best line in that song, at least for me is, Are you wild enough to be Beautiful?  Captures everything you want to say to someone you love, friends count in this!

Living all but 3 years of my life in the Northeastern part of the United States, I’ve taken little notice on an emotional level how scenes like this can effect you.  I have always wondered why the leaves can’t be that color all year long?  Why at the end of their time they go out with such an amazing show?  Those years of teaching in Boca Raton, Florida I don’t remember a leaf falling.  But they had people in the neighborhood who would have written up the trees for littering.  The joys of retired executives with nothing better to do.

Not getting the road in the picture cost me the sun that was just settling in the upper right portion of the shot.  Trade-off I had to make.

This other shot just is for fun.  I promise I did nothing with any software to adjust it.  When my phone wirelessly synced with “The Cloud” it just showed up in the folder that way.  There was no breeze blowing, no car going by to disturb the quiet.swirling leaves

When I stare at it for any length of time I see several images.  An Eagle, oddly enough I see Dr, Teeth from The Muppets, but best of all I hear a little kid just running around in circles creating their own little vortex of joy.

I originally was going to title this blog entry “Beauty of the Lens”, but that doesn’t work for Halloween clickbait.  Plenty of times I’m writing about the negative side of my emotions.  Anger and loss being two constant companions.  But while I was on that walk, for some reason I felt compelled to take those pictures.  That the little voice I hear, that little girl whispering about the deer in the yard eating from a tree or how pretty the colors of a rainbow are and can we go chase it; yesterday I felt the joy of it, not any other emotion.

Yesterday I felt not alone on my walk, but some hand was helping me see differently.  I’m glad I went for that walk…

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Trick or Trick.”

Dusty Pages

And now you know the rest of the story…

Every Sunday we would hear those very words coming from the radio on the way to church.  Or maybe it was on the way home from church, it’s been a long time!  Paul Harvey would spin the tail of some person who had done something ordinary but had an impact on many more people than they thought.

Last week, during my down time from that lovely head surgery, I was feeling not so great.  The brain is a horrible thing to experiment on and it can leave a shadow for much longer than the light shines on it.  When my landlady/ other mother slide the packet of paper across the table and asked me to look them over, I assumed it was just another collection of puzzles or equations to continue monitoring how much of me was still here.  But the handwritten pages weren’t her’s, they were one of those ghosts that pop up from time to time.

January 1, 1988 was the date on the first page.  My mind instantly wanted to go for a run, just check out and pretend that the words were jumbled up and I couldn’t piece together the puzzle.  Kathy would have known right away, the joys of her being my friend for 30 years!  The missing pages of a diary I was given 6 moths ago when I first showed up on her doorstep asking if I could stay while dealing with the medical stuff.  A date that meant these were the last things her daughter wrote before entering the hospital later that day, never to write again.

I’m not going to share most of Patre’s thoughts, but there is one that has been bothering me and I need to let it out.  She had been given a chance to attend a specialized program for talented people.  She was nervous about talking to me about it and had hoped that New Year’s Eve would just be the two of us so she could share her concerns with me.  She knew if I applied I’d have a good chance of getting in, but she wasn’t sure.  Lot’s of words about potential and how she wanted to continue helping me get back to being me after the horrible summer I had experienced (broken knee and my first round of cancer treatments.)

Patre didn’t know if I could handle it.  She was willing to wait until the next school year started to go, giving us both a chance to see where life would be.  I didn’t know at the time how much she truly loved me.  It was always great to have her support, to know she would sit in a corner and watch me do something just so I knew I wasn’t alone in my chase for whatever.  How did she know at 16 that I was going to need that kind of help?

New Year’s had been tough since she was already not feeling well.  The night spent on the couch, under a blanket while some of my friends ran around my parent’s house like nutcases.  All she wanted was to sit a talk.  Nothing crazy, nothing subversive that might worry both sets of parents.  That was the thing that always amazed me about her, ideas.  Some were pure fantasy, others dreams of a future that could be both real or illusionary.

She was going to hit the pause button on her future to see if we had one?  The one other thing that my mother loved about her was her willingness to push me to care about school.  My grades were excellent, but my attitude was less so.  I was an emotional mess when she met me.  Young, stupid about girls and life, finished Chemo and just was grumpy and over-cocky about my ability to handle it all.  Women like confidence, but not stupidity!

Kathy wanted me to read these pages because she said it was always about how far you are willing to go to help someone else out.  Knowing that you might have to give up something in order for someone else to see what their path was going to be.  They had talked about it as a family, supported her idea to wait.  (her parents got married right after high school and worked their collective butts off to get through college together!  Their attitude and perspective is different from some other people.)

Sacrifice is a big theme in a relationship.  How far beyond your limit can you go?  Kathy picked up many times where her daughter left off over these decades.  First in high school when I needed a place to think.  The same in college when the stresses of everything got to me.  Plenty of times it was just a hug and cup of tea with her nodding in unison to my talking.  Other times it was a place to sleep when going back to the Frat house meant not getting any work done.

Eventually Kathy told me that the happiest her daughter had been was when she was trying to figure out the puzzle I was, or maybe still am?  That she sleep easier having given Patre a chance to explore every direction without judgement or fear.  It’s something Kathy wants for me, to not be able to understand fear as well as I do.

I now know the rest of Patre’s story.  You know some more of it too.  Those pages tell me lots of things.  While I was dead tired and laying in bed, she was writing about a future she never saw except in her own mind.  Maybe that is why I’m still hung up on the girl, she wanted to see the possibilities of me.  You feel good about yourself under those circumstances.  That same lesson was one I tried with my ex, but I guess I wasn’t as good at it as Patre was.

I’ve said this before and I will continue to hold out some hope for it, maybe there is a chance that somewhere on some level of existence Patre and my little girl are learning from each other about everything!

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Express Yourself!.”

Dearest Abby,

Dear Bug,

People keep telling me that it is time to let go, to find a way to move on. But they forget that with everything else swirling around me I want to hold on to a portion of the past, even a painful one. That positive thing they are wanting me to search out has always been you. The room might be empty and silent, but there are times when I need you to be sitting in the chair next to me.

I wish it was different, but life rarely follows the path we choose for it. All the careful planning, avoiding the holes in the ground that can swallow us up; life moves them in front of us at times. The plan hadn’t been for me to get sick, or for your mother to leave, or for you to die. The plan had been Sundays sitting on the couch watching a movie, you between us until the time came when you sat a little further down the couch and eventually just went out with your friends instead. Growing up and growing old!

For those times when I think you’re in the chair next to me, I know what you hear and see is confusing. People with all sorts of odd titles coming and going. Physical Therapists, Speech Therapists, Hospice Advocates; lots of very nice people who want to do the best they can while I’m trying to do the same.

They worry because I was almost disappointed that I woke up from the last round of poking through my head. We always talk about feeling with the heart, but it’s our brain doing the heavy lifting. You may be half of me, but when I think about it you are everything I had to offer and pass forward. A miracle combination that still lives in my heart.

I wanted you to know that I’m tired and don’t know how much more I can put myself through. The fight you used to see has gone and I’m exhausted. That makes me sad to admit, maybe a little ashamed that you’re the one I’m admitting it to. No child should feel the weight of their parent’s problems, not when they are young. The whispers behind closed doors are one thing, but to be confronted by them, that must scare you. It scares me.

It brings forward that entire feeling bad, depressed world that you should be protected from. Even if it is your spirit in the chair and not really you. So where does that leave us? You knowing it all while watching over me? People told me there was a “plan” for you, but is there one for me and could you give me a hint?

Scary things like monsters under the bed or teenage boys picking you up, eventually. Those were supposed to be the nightmares, not this. Not after all that has gone before. And right now I need you to do me a favor. Just sit in that chair and smile for me, giggle a little at my stupid jokes, just be who you were always meant to be? That one thing I always needed from you and another, walk through the door and give me a hug?

The weight of this is crushing me. Just let me know you’re there…

Love you always and forever,

Dad

We all handle stress in different ways, I tend to write letters to someone hoping to gain some insight into my own journey while dealing with the ending of hers. If my daughter were around, I’d have to be explaining all of this anyway, my brain still tried to keep her memory alive and that means at times having to treat her like she’s still in the room. Healthy, I don’t know. Sanity is a relative term and in this case those conversations help me process my world as it is, at times ugly with flashes of beauty that I try to recognize.

This journey is more difficult than I expected. Still feeling so protective of people that I don’t let them in anymore. My wall has been carefully constructed, each layer placed carefully. This is where I feel less human than before. I guess I still have some work to do.

Lary

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Our House.”