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Bag of Bones

I carry you with me wherever I go.  You’re my penance, my burden, my cross to bear.  There are times you are so close, I swear I feel your breath upon the back of my neck, but when I turn to look, you’re still gone.   You’ve passed into a mist that I can’t penetrate.  You’ve become romanticized; ideal.  Those things which I despised have faded, erased with your passing.  There are times I wish so hard that I was your passenger on the journey you took, the journey that took you far from me.

You didn’t. You couldn’t.  You went alone.

I’m still here — looking to the heavens hoping to catch a glimpse of you.  Hoping that just one more time – just this once please, one more time – my eyes will gaze upon your face yet again.

I miss you.

My dream within a dream

“Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?”

My dreams at night have always been vivid, surreal creations of my subconscious.  Just the other week, I dreamt Leonardo Dicaprio took my husband and I on a ride in his spaceship.  Yes, Leo built a spaceship in my dream.  And yes, it did fly.  Before you get jealous, however, let me assure you the spacecraft was a piece of crap, held together with masking tape and a prayer.   The door – did not shut.  Someway, somehow, through the magic of a dream, we survived the vacuum of space in a rusty tin can built by the man who died in Titanic.  Hey, it was just a dream.  Reality need not factor.

When I’m awake, I’m taken by imagination, as I stand and stare out the window of my house.  Thoughts and ideas surface and float like feathers for me to grasp, to follow, to give consideration.  Why am I here?  What purpose do I serve, other than to putter around a house, far away from everything I know, everyone I know? Why do those I’ve loved and lost fade… their faces erased by time, when they’re not in front of my eyes to see?  The lines, the freckles, the careworn expressions… all gone like vapor chased away by a lazy summer breeze. The people I’ve known, passed through my fingers like sand headed for the deep, gone from my life, the same as Poe despaired.

And yet, everyday I stand at the window, still and quiet,  looking out upon the world, watching it go by as I stand idle.   I’ve followed the path the one who went before me wanted, living in a world I never dreamt.  I’m a stranger in a foreign land, taken far from what I’ve known and loved.  Is this life I now lead, strange and surreal, soon to be ended by the sound of an alarm clock, waking me up in my old bed, to shake this imagining off as yet another strange celestial journey?

Is the life I now know, only just a dream?

The Storm

I used to fear the storm.  I hid from the lightning, the thunder, the hail.  I looked for shelter but found none – no relief from the relentless downpour.  At times the rain would cease and the sun would break through the cloud barrier, and yet I knew it would return.  I knew I would be drenched once again.

The storm is a strange beast, sometimes tame, mists of rain and gentle winds, and yet-at times the monster would rage, wreak havoc on you, the umbrella you wield useless against it’s fury.  High winds buffet you, playing a game trying to knock you off your feet. Hail rips at you, clawing at your skin, waging war against your presence.

In the distant past, I despaired the storm.  I curled in a ball,  wondering when my relief would come,  crying out for shelter, for quiet, crying in despair for when the torrent would stop.
Through the heaviest storms, I learned this – The place inside me, the place where I go for comfort… that place is never touched by the storm.  That place is sacred for me.  That place is my shelter.

I now stand in the rain, upright and unyielding.  I stare into the eye of the storm, drenched from the rain, the water running down me, my feet planted firmly on the earth.  I let the torrent bruise me, batter me around.  I stand. It cannot break me.

The deluge won’t last long.  The sun will shine again.

I am not afraid anymore.

Emma’s New Life

Emma Davenport was 12, with long, unkempt hair that she wore hanging in her face, strings of brown covering her eyes, a sort of haphazard shield to protect her from the world.  Emma lived 12 long years of misery, born to parents too young and too selfish to care about the daughter they had produced.  Emma spent most of her time locked in her room in a constant state of imagination, living the life of the story-tale heroes her English teacher preached about.  Emma’s school life was just as horrible as her home life, she never wore the right clothes, her hair was never done in the latest style, and she spent most her days being taunted or sitting in the swings at play time by herself in a dull state of acceptance… the acceptance that comes with with the knowledge that nothing she could do would ever change her circumstances,  the acceptance that every tick of the clock brought the school day a fraction closer to ending, which meant Emma could go home to lock herself in her room to become one of her favorite characters… characters that belonged only to her, adventures that twisted and turned, challenges faced and won, colors bright and dazzling all set in her minds eye.

Emma’s new life began on a dismal October Friday.  Her school day passed much like the day before, and the day before that, and the day before that.  Her over-sized, hand me down shirt and jeans donated from a neighbor of her parents had certainly seen better days, her shoes worn and scuffed from years of abuse.  The taunts came, taunts which Emma had grown accustomed to.  They buzzed in the background like white noise that seemed to be a part of her very existence, a constant reminder of her position in the scheme of things.

Emma went home after a long day and locked herself in her room as was her ritual.  It being a Friday, Emma prepared herself for a long evening ahead. Friday brought money, which brought the bottle, which brought more yelling and fists that flew in Emmas direction, always finding their target.

After a wonderous few hours of being a pirate on the south seas, the azure blue lapping at the boat in which Emma had saved the captives, rewarded with fortune and loved by all – Emma heard her name being yelled in the distance.  Knowing it was worse to ignore the siren call of violence, Emma slowly got up from her bed and walked the stairs to face the intruder to her fantasy, her own father.  The flurry of accusations flung when she reached the bottom of the stairs buzzed around her, like the buzzing of the schoolyard taunts, never really affecting her as she learned to shut that out years ago.  She stood there in her dull state of acceptance, all the while knowing her room lay in wait for her to come back up and withdrawl in her mind, into her world.

The violence that awaited her that day, however, was unlike any other she had encountered.  Her father, already buzzed on two bottles of whiskey, had learned Emma’s mother spent a few hours in the company of one of his friends, two hours in which he had suddenly become single, two hours in which he became the sole provider of a child he never understood and never wanted.  After his rage had passed – rage so heavy, so brutal- that fists connected, blood splattered the peeling wallpaper, bones cracked and words flung carelessly hit their mark –  Emma had not the strength to rise back to her room.  Emma lay at the foot of the stairs and drifted off.  And what a world she drifted of to.

Emma found herself in the midst of the most stunning pink coral beach, the likes of which she’d never seen – even in her fantasies.  The vast ocean rolled and swayed like the gentlest of beasts, tamed by the slightest breeze that tickled and teased Emma’s hair like the gentle caress of fingers she barely remembered when her grandmother was alive, her grandmother who held her with care and told her she was beautiful.   Emma looked down at her body, her bruises receding before her very eyes, her blood vanishing into thin air.  Her clothes were mended and made new. Emma turned and saw a man approaching, a man of such extraordinary appearance that she could hardly believe the sight.  He was tall, like the figures you see  on the paintings done years ago, a statue from days long passed, when things like tv and movies didn’t cloud the perception of humanity.  His face was lined, yet soft, filled with years of wisdom of someone who had seen many things and accepted that many terrible things must come to pass.  Soft white feathers floated behind him, dropping from his back to gently float in the breeze, taking their flight, their journey of this magnificent world.

” Hello, Emma” he said, “I’ve been waiting for you.” Emma could scarcely believe her ears.  She had never felt wanted, much less waited for.   “You have a choice to make”, he said.   “You can stay here, and go on to all the beauty you dreamt in your mind, or you can go back there”, he pointed.  Emma turned to look to where he pointed, and saw the dismal gray in the distance, her body laying on floor, with flashing red lights and medics around her, busy doing what medics do.  Policemen stood background, off to the side, shaking their heads.  Neighbors mingled around the old battered house in which she lived, hands on mouth, hardly believing what had happened in their midst.

The choice wasn’t really much of a choice, Emma thought.  “I’d much rather stay here.”  He waved his hand and the distant vision, her past, her old life,  faded into the ether, never to be seen by her again.  “Welcome home, Emma.”

Emma smiled for the first time in a very long time.

Emma, you see,  had a new life.

The road I live on

I went out driving today.

I turned down a road I hadn’t visited in awhile.

The beginning of the road is quite simply, stunning.  The scenery – full of lush green grass gracing rolling hills as far as the eye can see. Trees stand at attention, full of bloom and juicy fruit – with moss traveling up the bark to make it’s acquintance with the leaves waving in the slight breeze.  All manners of flowers, full of their riotous summertime color are in bloom, being plundered by fat, lazy bees swarming around in the summer sunshine.   Birds float in the air, diving down for my enjoyment.  The sky is the deepest blue of the rainbow filled with fluffy white clouds of spun marshmallow,  turning into animal shapes – only for those who look for such things to see.

But just as I sat in wonderment, the road changed.  A smooth ride turned into a bumpy, unpaved hell.  Dark and dead trees stood listlessly along the way waving their malevolent branches at me, the unsuspecting passerby. Dark clouds, with their relentless, misty rain greeted my arrival, drenching the car and chilling my bones.  Broken-down, ruined houses empty and devoid of life sat forgotten… like litter crumpled alongside the road.   Fat tears fell down my cheeks leaving trails of sorrow in their wake.  Forgotten fears pressed down on me, shrinking me in my seat.  I gritted my teeth and drove on,  feeling every bump jar my soul.

That nightmarish interlude didn’t last long.    I came upon an unexpected fork in the road and found the same peace the beginning of the road held.

This road, you see… to the end of it- I haven’t yet traveled.  My house is set upon the road, a sanctuary where serenity has been found… and as I look down the road, I see both scenes unfold.  Heaven and hell both wait ahead for me to travel.

When I think of the end of this road,  I hope with the mightiest hope one can have that the end is as the beginning.

I hope it’s serene.  I hope it’s peaceful.

I hope.

For Steve

Hear my soul speak: The very instant that I saw you, did my heart fly to your service”

William Shakespeare “The Tempest”

Steven David

12/26/1966 to 10/15/2007

The very first moment I saw you, I felt drawn to you. You walked up to the desk where I worked and leaned over, wearing that tie that had flying pigs on it. I looked at you and knew there was something there. I had never felt that before. I know you remember how I harassed you in those first few months. I would have followed you to the ends of the earth.

I was so selfish then. I don’t even recognize that girl anymore. She left long ago, thanks to you. A lot of the things I said and did then I am completely ashamed about. You were such a good man and I took advantage of that. But I could never leave you. I couldn’t do it, and you know I tried. I was yours.

I remember all the good times. The silly things you used to do. Remember when you’d drive around with that face, the one where it looked like you were trying to eat a huge, invisible hamburger? The looks you’d get, we’d laugh so hard. Or the time you drove around on Cinco de Mayo in that huge sombrero and yelled out “Ole!” at all the passing cars. How you imitated my laugh, that never failed to make me giggle. Or our private joke when we were watching a show or movie and something would happen, I’d say “THE PLOT THICKENS!” and you’d pretend you were stirring a large pot. The strange dance you used to do. How I could tell everytime you went in the kitchen, every cabinet door would be open after you left. How you used to coo like a dove. Your monkey sounds. Your monkey dance. Your totally geeky hand gesture when you’d say “You’re IN!”. Driving back from Arizona with no radio, you made up songs and sang to me all the way back. Birka time with the cats. Your silly walk. How you could recite scenes from any Monty Python movie. Your pretend dive into the bathtub. Those things keep coming back to me, stopping me in my tracks. I’m sure more will surface, things I’d forgotten and have now lost forever.

Your alcoholism tore me apart. I still remember the feeling I got when I woke up or came home from work and found you drinking. My stomach would drop to my feet. Occasionally when you stopped drinking, I saw what a real relationship between the two of us would be like. I wished there were more of that.

When I first learned you had cirrhosis, I read everything I could find out about it. I saw the life expectancy. I knew my time with you was drawing to a close. I hoped it would be painless and peaceful for you. It wasn’t. I had no problems taking care of you. The only thing that bothered me was you could not do anything for yourself at the end. I had no problem lifting you up, moving you around, or bringing you anything.

The day you died, you weren’t there. Your eyes wouldn’t focus on anything, they were far away. You moaned a lot, and I hope with all my heart that was a reaction and not pain you were in. I heard the rattle in your chest early that day and I knew you were going soon. That night, I laid down beside you and slept for awhile. When I woke up, the rattle was loud. I lit candles in the room and put on music I knew would soothe you. I left the room for a bit and when I came back, you were gasping for breath. I sat beside you on the bed and held your hand. You looked over at me and you saw me. It looked like maybe you were trying to say something. You couldn’t. Then you died.

I couldn’t be in the house when they took you away a few hours later. I didn’t want to see you covered in a sheet. I didn’t want that memory. The memories I have of the last year of your life, watching you suffer are hard enough.

It was hard making your funeral arrangements. I wish I’d looked into it sooner. I hope you approve of the white lilies. I hope you like the music I picked. I will never be able to smell a white lily anymore. I will never be able to listen to “Adagio for Strings” either.

You looked good at the viewing, everyone said so and I agree. I thought that would be the hardest since you were cremated before the funeral. I would see you again at the viewing. But it wasn’t. I could hardly stand to be at the funeral. I wanted to leave. You know me and my fear of showing any emotion.

I want to see you again, I want to talk to you. I feel your presence at times. I wish you could speak to me. I wish I could see you again. I hope you’re at peace now. I hope you approve of the choices I’m making. I’m trying to pick myself up. I can’t wait for the day we meet again. I love you.

Addiction

Just reposting something I wrote from another site –   I wrote this in July of 2007.

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I read today Lindsay Lohan was arrested again. I now officially, for the record, feel sorry for her. Addiction is a terrible thing. I should know. I lived with it for 10 years.

The hardest thing I’ve had to deal with in my life is whether I continued in a relationship with an addict. I chose to stay. I almost left but backed out at the last moment. I knew the heartache that would follow. I knew there’d be many times I’d question why I chose to stay. I knew people would think I’m a fool. I knew.

Right now, I’m watching my addict waste away due to cirrhosis of the liver complicated by crohns disease. He is 6 feet tall and now weighs 85 pounds.

We had many fights. The hardest thing about fighting with someone under the influence is this: you’ll remember every word. They won’t. They won’t remember the argument while everything said is ringing in your ears. I’ve been chased down by him holding a knife. I hid in the bedroom that night until he passed out. Those memories I will always have. He doesn’t remember and I don’t remind him. I made my choice.

I’m a stronger person now. I know I’m loyal. I like that about myself. I’ve been to the hospital and emergency room and doctors office with him so many times I could just vomit when I see M.D. anywhere. (And sadly for me, those are my initials… ) I can hook up TPN, handle all the household issues, comfort him when he’s scared about dying, work all day, push him around in a wheelchair while pretending he’s in a racecar to make him laugh and still look at him and remember what it was that made me stay. I don’t know how long he is for this world. Looking at him now, I don’t think it’s long. All I know is I’m glad we met. I’m a better person with him.

Watching someone die is horrific, especially if death comes slowly in bits and pieces. I hear him moan in pain. I watch him cry. Helplessness is the worst feeling in the world. There’s nothing I can do. I can’t make it go away. I can only watch. I wake up in the middle of the night and check to see if he’s still breathing, check to see if he’s still alive. I don’t know what I’ll do when it’s over. I know I’ll be relieved for him, his suffering is done. Mine will continue.

I want this to be as easy for him as I can make it. I smile and pretend everything’s alright. I don’t let him know how emaciated he looks. I don’t share the heartache I have when I look at him. I smile. That smile eats at me. I want his days to be as pleasant as I can make them. If these are his last, I want him to be as carefree as possible. Most of the time I feel as if I’m going to break apart in a thousand pieces. I want to hide. I want it to be over. Then I hear him laugh at something and I pick myself up. I put one foot in front of the other. And smile. It’s all for him. My time is later. It’s his time now.

I’ve read where people don’t understand why Lindsay Lohan didn’t quit drinking and using drugs having gone to rehab twice this year. The answer is simple. Lindsay didn’t want to quit. You can’t force someone to drop an addiction. It doesn’t work that way. That person is under the grips of something that takes their sanity, their sense away. All the threats, promises, taunts and bullying you can dish out won’t matter. All you can do is to decide this: Do you love them enough to stand by them and watch them hurt themselves, hurt you, waste their potential, waste away, and still be there to pick up the pieces? I know I can. I’ve learned love is not always wonderful with flowers and candy and jewelry and kisses. Love is hard. Love can be dark. Love is seeing them break apart while you stand by waiting for the crash to happen. And knowing the whole time it will hurt you and cost you everything to watch and there’s nothing you can do but wait for the moment you’re needed. I did. I love him. I always will.

I hope Lindsay has someone in her life like that. I hope everyone does.