on the hook

I don’t expect to get profound life advice from How I Met Your Mother reruns, but life advice can come from anywhere I suppose.

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Me. Totally On The Hook.

The Urban Dictionary has the following listed under “On The Hook”

A person who is “on the hook” will be overly infatuated with another person. The person who is the desired generally takes little notice (and often complete advantage) of the person who is on the hook.

Often times the person who is on the hook is a back-up.

Signs that you are on the hook:
1) giving foot rubs
2) making mixed tapes/cds/play lists
3) making chocolate cake
4) dropping everything at a moments notice to be with the other person.

Ted: “Lisa came over last night and I gave her a foot rub as we watched a move.”
Marshall: “Are you guys dating now?”
Ted: “No, she is still with her boyfriend, she is just looking for the right time to break the news.”
Marshall: “Dude, you are so on the hook.”
My own signs:
1) being overly infatuated with him
2) he took little notice (and often complete advantage)
3) was his backup / strung along /rebound person
4) giving foot rubs
2) trying to learn Spanish
3) obsessive checking of WhatsApp
4) dropping everything at a moment’s notice to accommodate his whims
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Well damn.
Dammit.
Dammit.
And Dammit All.
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275 days

wp-1468187743004.jpg275 days of saying goodbye. 275 days so far.

We’ve made it through the first month, first Christmas, first Easter, first birthday, the first 9 months.

275 days since they found you lying on your floor. 275 days of imagining you lying there alone.

It started with a phone call, an email and a long drive home to police tape and a stain on your carpet. Days of cleaning and loading parts of you I wanted into my trunk, an obituary and another long drive back. Later a eulogy, a service with your family, your daughters, my daughters, poems, songs, readings, prayers, food, friends family and a goodbye. Another drive.

20160130_122314-01.jpegThen a flight, a Sedona hike with your nephew, a candle and a prayer in The Chapel of the Holy Cross. Another hike, an offering with the same prayer, “I love you Johnny”. I left part of you in Arizona in one of the most sacred places I know. I left your ring, our father’s ring in The 20160130_143710-01.jpegAmitabha Stupa and Peace Park, a place full of love and peace. I left it there wearing your shirt, the sleeves rolled up in the heat.

And this week a drive, a sacred fire, prayers and songs, an offering to the creator in the tradition of the Lakȟóta people. And last night a bamboo leaf, the same prayer, and a candle floating away into the sunset.

 

 

 

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I love you Johnny

game face

images-4“There will be bad days, Times when the world weighs on you for so long it leaves you looking for an easy way out. There will be moments when the drought of joy seems unending. Instances spent pretending that everything is alright when it clearly is not….” Shane Koyczan, excerpt from “Instructions for a Bad Day

21451861There will be days where your best is not crying, at least in front of everyone, at least not for extended periods, at least not to the point of boogers running down your face (save that for the car where you have tissues), that your best is not crying, and not curling into a ball wishing the world away. Some days that’s all you’ve got.

When I quit drinking 10 years ago someone said to me that I would feel better, that I would feel everything better, pain, joy, happiness, anger, sadness, you know everything. She also told me not to believe everything you think. Solid advice that still applies.

houseToday I am feeling all of the things, emotionally, mentally, physically, metaphorically…. (note: I feel most things metaphorically, writer thing… maybe, not sure… actually I have no bloody idea and am freestyling this bit). Medically, things have been a bit rough. So much so that I have four new prescriptions and more doctor appointments than I would prefer (I would prefer zero appointments, but still). Everything hurts, well not everything, just the things I’m focusing my attention on. I feel a bit like a House episode, minus the curmudgeonly doctor. My doctor is very nice, and quite firm, which is why I’m sitting here looking a gaggle* of pill bottles. *a herd? a cluster?  a bevy? what do you call a collection of medication bottles? I even googled it, apparently it’s not a thing.

And then, because I’m me, and I swear this stuff just finds me  when I’m sitting innocently being responsible (you know, and not crying, and not assuming the fetal position, and doing all the grown-up things that I don’t feel like doing) I find this little bit of music, this tiny lyric.

Vair me o, ro van o
Vair me o ro ven ee,
Vair me o ru o ho
Sad am I without thee

1008012I find this little bit of music, and there are no oatmeal raisin cookies in my house, no lightly frosted lemon scones, no dark chocolate truffles with caramel and sea salt, none of these things, so I have to sit here and feel all the feelings, which is still not my favourite. I’m even out of lemons for my tea.

Shane also says in his poem “There will be bad days. Be calm. Loosen your grip, opening each palm slowly now. Let go….”

Okay. Okay. I’m on it. Letting go. (for extended thoughts on letting go, with lots of pictures and convoluted thinking click here ), putting on my game face (the one that says “I ain’t bovvered”), and making tea without lemons, but with lots of honey.

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want

Burning-Man-2015I want you
to miss me
I want you
to think of me
before you sleep
and when you wake up,
when you’re driving
and when you’re doing
nothing at all,
miss me
when you’re flying,
and when your garden blooms
this spring.

I want you
to pick up your phone
10 times, 20 times a day
to send me a funny story
and then stop.

I want you
to be moody and sad
when that movie
we were going to see comes out
and for you to go alone
and miss holding my hand.

I want you
to read every poem that
I gave you for your birthday.

I want you
to miss my wild hair
my ass
my smile
my skin on your skin.

I want you
to get
the job
the life
the love you want

I want you
to miss me
for a while, and then
I want you
to be happy.

year of the monkey

buddha-grief-quoteDear Johnny,

It’s funny the things that make me think of you, like today, on a Year of Monkey card someone gave me, your year.

This was suppose to be your year, and then again tonight, while I was bowling for the first time since we took our kids years ago, I thought of you and how we scored our game, the jokes we told, and how you won. I’m pretty sure you won, I’ve never been much good at bowling, and you could always pick up anything you put your mind to. That used to  make me crazy you know. I had to work hard to be good at anything, and all you had to do was incline your mind in whatever direction you wanted and then master whatever it was.

It was a staff party, tonight, with bowling, arcade games,  bocce ball and all sorts of great food. I even wore a dress, a short one, with my tall boots. I put a bit of effort into the whole outfit, hair and makeup thing, Lizz gave it a resounding ‘meh’ when asked what she thought, still, I thought I looked nice, maybe even slightly better than my average (which is no makeup, no boots, no dress, and yoga clothes).  And then I got stood up, dress, boots, makeup, hair and all. Stood up, without even an insincere “sorry, I’m not going to make it” text, an ‘all my messages completely ignored’ kind of stood up. Party full of people who have someone to share  their nachos with, someone to ask them what they wanted to drink, someone to sit with, but hey, I manage. I even put away my phone so I wouldn’t make a pathetic show of constantly checking it (not that there were any messages). I managed, put on my party face, and mingled. You were always better at that sort of thing than me, and you would have made fun of my little pity party tonight. You were the life of the party kind of guy. We would all bask in your wit, charm and banter and laugh and be thoroughly entertained. It’s been awhile since you made anyone laugh, and now I just have a recording of your voice.

I’ve been left enough, been left, or told I wasn’t wanted enough, that I think I should be better at it, but it still stings. Maybe this is good? I don’t know. I do maintain an intact game face throughout, one must keep up appearances after all. I don’t feel surprise, or anger, or much more than resignation anymore. It’s relief really, the other shoe finally falling kind of feeling. So, tonight, being stood up, not a surprise, no anger, just resignation.

Even so, I remain ill equipped to cope with your leaving. It took so long, and was so awful for so long before, you’d think I would have been better prepared, that all that pain for all those years would have counted as credit against the pain of finally completely losing you. Maybe it is, or was.

I don’t mean this to sound morose  Johnny, but I do miss you. I miss us. I miss what we once were, at our best, the times that we could have ruled the world. I miss those times.

I still wear your pj bottoms, and your blue vest when it’s cold. Graham wears your work boots every day. And I still talk to you most days, especially today.

And I miss you Johnny.

Goodnight.

las brisas

11215053_10207206328013482_6570683600541414150_non the last day
I spent in tu cielo,
the last day
in your sky,
I want to tell you how
the gauzy clouds failed to
shade its heavy blueness.
how on that day
el sol drew the beads of sweat
down my skin, and
how las brisas
held me aloof. I want to tell you
of their distain, spent
within cigar puffs.

I would tell you how
each sun pulled bead
rolled between my breasts,
paused inside my navel, and
lazily saturated the fabric of my shirt;
how beads trailed between my shoulders
to the curve of my back
and then continued slowly down.
how on that day my skin
would taste of salt,
had las brisas touched it
with mouths
or words.
instead they pulled deeply in
the taste of cigar,
formed their lips around its shape
their tongue and teeth
caressing its textured surface.

on that last day
I spent in tu cielo,
I want to tell you
I already knew.
I knew I had
no place, that the
air had always,
and would ever be
yours,
to bend around the spoon.

leaving

“It is so hard to leave—until you leave. And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world.” – John Green

The leaving, the letting go, that part is easy.

Approaching letting go, entertaining thoughts of leaving, that part is excruciating. When faced with loss, the loss of a person, of a lifestyle, a job, a preconceived idea of ourselves, when faced with letting go, we cling. Forget the platitude – I cling. Somewhere deep inside I know, I know that nothing is permanent. I know that I will age, that I will suffer illness, that people I love deeply will leave, may die before me, that material wealth can be lost, that my love may not be reciprocated. I know all of this,  and I cling even more.

“If she is to love life and freedom and be brave then she must learn to let go. To see beauty without clinging to it, to feel pain without holding it hostage, and to feel love without worry of losing it.”
― G.G. Renee Hill, The Beautiful Disruption

tumblr_n5i9nvFFkC1qbhueno2_r1_250-2Right. That part. It does make a lovely quote, but to quote Ron Weasley, Bloody hell!

The times in my life that have been the most painful, the times I thought I could not possibly survive, these were the times right before I left, before I finally let go. These were the rock bottom times, the times where I dug my fingernails in and clung desperately to the idea, the person, the thing that I thought was essential for me to survive. None of them have turned out to be essential for my survival, so far.

The Journey  by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.

I love this poem. It also make me a little angry. I want to say journeys like these don’t happen all at once. That you make this journey, that you make your own way in degrees. That, unlike the movies where the leap of faith gets made – generally to a profoundly moving musical score – and then life gets tied up in a neat bow, becomes perfect, and the credits roll as a glint of a tear forms in your eye and you wonder why can’t you just figure your shit out. Unlike that, in life you have to keep making the terrifying next step, you have to continue to make your journey. It gets easier, but it never gets easy. I have started on this journey many times, and to varying degrees, got pulled part way back by the cries of “mend my life!”, or turned back myself when the storm seem too much to endure.

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Trainwreck – Loved this movie – and look, everything is wonderful at the end, with great music and even cheerleaders. Bloody hell…

20151218_184853-01.jpegIt seems odd to be writing about this as I sit in front of our Christmas tree, surrounded in over 20 years worth of decorations, of traditions, of stories, of memories. The ornaments my friend Cathy and I made the last Christmas before she died more than 15years ago, the baby’s first Christmas ornaments for each of my children, beautiful things my mother made, the gifts from my favourite Aunt, the handmade gifts and ornaments from my children. All of these carry their own special weight, and this is the last year they will all be together in one place. This is the letting go, the leaving. This is the final Christmas in this house, in this town even. All our beautiful things will be divided, things I will keep, things that will go to each of my children, things that belong with their father, and things I can give away to add meaning to other family’s lives.

Twenty years ago, when my first daughter was 2 1/2 years old, my son, a 6 month old baby, and my youngest not yet born, we received a beautiful hand carved horse named Hilde. Tonight, after years of sitting quietly, Hilde went to live with another family with three young children who will love and play with her. Letting go of that stage of my life. I’ll keep the pictures, many of the books, but it is time to move on.

Burning-Man-2015

Alexander Milov’s sculpture “Love” from this year’s Burning Man

Milov’s  sculpture silhouettes rigid, back to back  wire adult figures, within their frames stand children reaching towards each other.  At night the contrast between illumination within the wire frames “…demonstrates a conflict between a man and a woman as well as the outer and inner expression of human nature … Their inner selves … in the form of transparent children,  holding out their hands through the grating … This shining is a symbol of purity and sincerity that brings people together and gives a chance of making up.” – Alexander Milov.

I don’t feel the optimism the artist does when I look at this piece. What I see is a stunning representation of how we separate ourselves, in spite of what our hearts, our most inner self loves. There is no turning of the wire frames, they will forever remain separate, despite the inner reaching.

“And the moon rose over an open field

Cathy, I’m lost, I said though I knew she was sleeping
And I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why
Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike
They’ve all come to look for America”

Simon and Garfunkel

Pete Fornatale said this lyric was a “metaphor to remind us all of the lost souls wandering . . .struggling to navigate the rapids of despair and hope, optimism and disillusionment.” Stephen Holden wrote it “simultaneously illuminates a drama of shared loneliness”. David Nichols called it “a splendid vignette of a road trip by young lovers; both intimate and epic in scale, it traces an inner journey from naive optimism to more mature understanding.”  I can’t explain as eloquently why the lines resonate deeply with me – “Cathy, I’m lost, I said though I knew she was sleeping, And I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why” – but they do.

‘Man and Woman’ by Georgian sculptor Tamara Kvesitadze

The towering statues are two humans made out of metallic discs, who move toward each other, seem to kiss, to embrace, to combine together, and then to pass through each other, parting and end facing in opposite directions, much like Milov’s work. They represent a Muslim boy, Ali, and a Christian princess, Nino and their tragic love story, but again, to me it represents how we separate ourselves from love.

This last year has been a series of journey’s, many, but not all of them, painful.  This fall had some profoundly painful leavings. Letting go of my brother will not, and should not, come easily, if at all.  Letting him leave in small increments, or starting to let go of the idea of his place in my life is like pushing through metal. Finding out who I am separate from the things that I had been clinging to for various lengths of time, separate from being somebody’s mother, somebody’s daughter, sister, somebody’s love, finding who I am separately will be my journey.

 

solid rock

Alex Colville, 1954 Horse and Train

Alex Colville, Horse and Train,

Whatever I thought it would be like, it wasn’t this. And I did think about it, we all did. We thought about it a lot in our own ways. Of course there were, increasingly faint, bits of hope that we would cling to, even against all logic, we would hope. Just the same, we knew this day would come, and when it did it was all the things we feared it would be, but also nothing we expected.

“Love is so short, forgetting is so long.” – Pablo Neruda

It was a good service, as these things go, nice music, a moving slideshow of photos of you, appropriate and moving readings and memories, a traditional hymn, and a choir rendition of All You Need is Love, complete with kazoos. It was very John like, right down to the fabulous food we shared afterwards. Everyone seemed pleased. It was closure, it was a send off, it was people holding each other up, it was all you could hope for really.

scribble face 3It was all you could hope for, and yet, I still find myself walking through mud, through fog, through solid rock. I forget things. I lose hours doing nothing. I stare at nothing. I stare at your things that now are in my home, but are still your things. I sleep longer, and am still tired. I stay up too late.

It’s possible I am pushing through solid rock
in flintlike layers, as the ore lies, alone;
I am such a long way in I see no way through,

and no space: everything is close to my face,
and everything close to my face is stone.

I don’t have much knowledge yet in grief
so this massive darkness makes me small.
You be the master: make yourself fierce, break in:
then your great transforming will happen to me,
and my great grief cry will happen to you.
~ Rainer Maria Rilke (Translated by Robert Bly)

This is the grief work they talk about. Pushing through solid rock, an apt enough description. I dream about you sometimes, not the comforting dream where you tell me all is well with you now and you are in a better place, just confusing dreams. Someone said that to me, a couple of people did actually, said that you ‘were in a better place’. I so wanted to punch them in the throat, to wipe the smug, sympathetic, head tilted ever so slightly to the side expression on their faces. I think that would be the anger stage of Loss.

According to Elisabeth Kübler-Ross the 5 Stages of Loss are:

  1. Denial and Isolation – buffering
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining – the ‘if onlys’, the ‘what ifs’
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

I honestly believe I did everything I could. Wait, that’s not true. What if I had shown up on your doorstep, dumped out all your alcohol and physically dragged you to the hospital? Would that have worked? I don’t think so, but I still take out these thoughts and hold them awhile, feel their weight in my hands, build a fantasy around them where, in the end, I save you. After a while I put them down, but I still feel their weight. More than anyone I should have been able to save you. It was everyone else’s first experience with this disease, I was a seasoned veteran. I had done this dance before, I knew all it’s steps. I saw you leaving well before anyone else.

buddha-grief-quoteI saw you leaving, and I let you go.

I let you go. I talked to you, wrote to you, I wrote about you. I wrote about our disease. The one that killed our father, has a hold of my son, the disease that I only get a daily reprieve from.

But I didn’t save you. I know, in my head, that I didn’t cause, couldn’t control or cure you. I know this in my head. Sometimes it helps, but not always. A year ago we almost lost you, but you came back. I thought you might stay. Maybe that was the time to save you that I missed. Maybe.

I still don’t know what to do with your clothes. I don’t know what to do with our stories, the ones only you and I understood. Where do I put the parts of myself that were yours too? I don’t know. I don’t know what to do with a lot of things, things I should be doing, raking the leaves, clearing out the house so it will sell, making appointments, the business of living.

So I sit, pen scratching across paper, drinking coffee, and staring at the still green willow leaves, who will only fall after all the other leaves have been dutifully raked. Mostly I sit staring and nothing. Four of my orchids are re-blooming, did I tell you? No, of course not, what was I thinking. They’ve spent a year deciding to bloom, a year of somewhat attractive foliage, but now, now they are spectacular.

There is a metaphor in that somewhere, but I can’t quite grasp it. Anyhow, you get my meaning.

 

 

dear me

wpid-20150911_164055.jpg

Dear me,

Get up.
Place your feet on the floor,
one after the other.
Breath.
Stand. Walk. Wash your face.
Get up.
Rise and Shine.

Get up.
This is not over.
You are not over,
you are only just beginning.
There are no fat ladies singing,
the credits have not rolled
your movie has only just started.
You have words to write.
There are breezes lifting kites, blowing leaves
that need to be noticed;
there are songs
that need to be heard.

Get up.
Drag your pen across paper.
Write (dammit). Write despite of your broken hand,
in spite of the lifeless fingers.
Write (dammit)
with your teeth if you have to.
Get the words out.
Write about fire, stars, water,
Just write (dammit).

Stand.
Defy gravity.
Do not give them your power.
Do not give
One. More. Moment to those
who called your hopes and fears drama that they didn’t have time for.
Do not.
Do not make yourself small for other’s comfort.
Stand. Defy gravity, even as it pulls you to the earth.
Stand. Inhale. Exhale. Shine.
Be yourself,
your messy, dramatic, beautifully flawed, your lovable self.
Just be.

Stand.
You are who you love,
You are not who loves you.
Define yourself.
On a cool night walk to the beach and make a fire
burn the letters. Take
the card you have clung to and
burn it.
Give them to the fire.
Burn them all
Get up. Look up. Walk away.
Look at the stars, borrow as much light as you need.
Listen to the waves.
Walk into the arms of your friends.
Let go. Let go.
Let the rest go.

Shine.
Walk into your garden and
plant a new seed.
Stand. Shine. Watch it grow,
watch it defy gravity.
Pull the weeds.
Burn them. Burn every last weed
(like the card, like the words, let go, let go, let go)
every weed
that would choke your seed, steal its light,
hinder its growth.
The world will tell you to stop,
to dim your light.
Do not.
There are people that need more light.
Make extra.

Shine.
Feast
on chocolate, on love, on every moment of your life.
Breath.
Deeper than you’ve ever dared.
Stand.
Place your feet on the floor,
one after the other.
Walk.
Walk into darkness, into nothing and
trust each step you take.
Save your own life. One breath,
one step, one word, one seed
at a time.

Dear me,
There is no other moment.
There is only right now.
Live.
Right now.
Get up. Stand. Walk. Shine.
Be that which is you, and only you.
You are enough.
You are what you love.
You are.
Start there.
Breath.

dear john

dear john,

today I wanted to carve the words
carve them into my skin, so
all could see
what I am

when we spoke, had you asked, I might have told of the holes – I carve – inside, maybe you could have seen the ardent slice ripped out, to quietly lay at your deeply restless feet. but all it touched was your breath, passing backwards in your constant cool drifting words.

had you understood my voice –
could you have heard?
known my songs are all written for you?

before I left
did I tell you
of bloodstained views on wood grain hall floors – knee in my back, fists gripping long hair, of the stripes of our walls getting closer just before they turned black.
or was it you who told me
of the view from mum’s hand standing in doorways –
watching,

blocking escape.

dear john,

should I have warned you? of trusting too young, and of pain, and fear, and of blood, sometimes first – and of tears locked in rooms, could this have saved you?

I would have saved you – you know, taken your blows, swallowed your bitter bruises, your raw pain, and sent you away whole – if only I’d found you.

dear john,

even now that you’re here,
I’ve lost parts of you.
and no longer can I wrap you in blankets.
I can’t find your song or your bruises. so I keep carving these slices off me to make us both whole, but your restless feet walk by them with your words always drifting backward at me.

dear john,

today I wanted to carve the words
into my skin
so all could see
what I am.