Tag Archives: grief

you don’t yell at a sleepwalker. he may fall and break his neck – from sunset boulevard

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i think in dramatic words sometimes. above the din of my sarcastic humor and chastising taskmaster is the voice of my internal norma desmond, her tongue lingering on the L’s in romantic, tragic words like languish and lament, and on her lips making O’s in gentle words like repose and opiate. 

languish is a favorite word of mine lately (opiate might be if i could do something other than lament the absence). even as my life blooms with possibilities and positivities, i wake most days to a wilted spirit. many mornings i lay with a single eye open, attempting to motivate myself for a work day. first i navigate my regular monday-through-friday desire to pierce my jugular with a nearby ballpoint. i imagine the gentle return to sleep as blood loss saps the energy already en route to my list-maker and worry wheels. (ok, norma, your toddler would not appreciate the leave-behind of life without mommy….though i suspect she’d be delighted at the opportunity to use an entire box of dora bandaids with no lecture on how many bleeding children in the world can’t afford them.) after wistfully ruling out a dramatic, unexpected suicide after which all my words would be published and celebrated posthumously, i imagine my life without corporate responsibility and the need for 8 billable hours a day. i laugh at the anticipated death of the word deliverables in my life and lexicon. lastly, i drift through a few fanciful ideas, words, projects, plots and characters that i’d rather play with today.

that last part leaves me relatively certain i’m not just a sad sack of lazy. i’ve convinced myself that if i had a different focus, my jugular wouldn’t look so inviting to sharp-ish objects, and my natural spark would keep my smiles and insides warm. i picture a life where i write, read, cook and love my family full-time. in it i get to paint and decorate our new house without so much as a nod to anything but my daughter, my man, my aspirations and a sunny sky. i sort through all of these imaginings before i change my sleepy breathing. finally, i reluctantly rise and pry my mind open enough to make coffee. problem salved.

truth is, i’m not the kind to embrace i’ll-be-happy-when’s, but i’m not thinking so clearly lately. i turn 40 in two months. i’ve been divorced a year this weekend. (this, at least, is offset by cinco de mayo and my new love’s birthday…plus the fact that the word “weekend” applies.) then there is the part where my mom passed away less than six weeks ago, followed closely by my beloved old kitty. maybe someday i’ll blog about what it’s like in the maelstrom of a catholic-military family reunion-funeral. picture way too much alcohol, more proximity than any of us can stand experience regularly, and you get a lot of bittersweet nostalgia plus a giant bag of tempers and tears. i got predictably ill upon my return home and just haven’t felt my Self much since.

but i am working out. sometimes i eat well. i’m here writing words. i’m loving my loving and lovable friends. and i’m trying hard to crawl from languishing to largess in my spirit of accountability and professional pride. i’m using what i know, and i am happy much of the time, despite the morose tone today.

grief is a funny thing. it doesn’t stay separated into nice neat piles based on cause, and it doesn’t respond all that much to logic or efforts to “express it all” so as not to stumble across its remnants later. it also isn’t clear about itself, hiding in clumsiness, self-doubt, old hurts, and sudden loud noises. you can drink all the water you want, eat a field of whole foods, run around the world once a day, journal, pray, numb out…none of it can fill the gaping wound of loss any faster than it could fill the gaping wound of surgery.

i’m sort of dreading mothers’ day this year. i’m excited for the celebration with my tiny daughter, but there is a blurry spot where my focus has been all these years. this year my spirit will celebrate with my mom’s, and that has to be enough…beautifully enough.

that’s one thing i know about this life…that it is enough, beautifully enough, whether we like it or not. when it’s grey inside you, the sun still shines waiting for the return of your toothy smile and easy laughter. when grief is a stifling syrup of breaths and blur, the relief that one day comes is accompanied by new vision and a deeper soul. it’s always enough. many times too much.

i grew up next to sunset boulevard. the tiny one in melbourne beach, florida. perhaps that’s where my norma was born, bound for luxury, luster, lazing and a laugh lines. i’ve already got the last part in place. that’s the best one anyway.

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gratitude for a stateside attitude

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i have a lot of disparate thoughts this morning, hard to gather and sort in time for an early post. i awoke from a decent night’s sleep for a change…though still chock full of imagery and dream decisions…to a monday of pets gone wild, ants on the warpath and a procrastinator’s army of tasks to accomplish. my thoughts remind me of these ants, marching single file, breaking apart in a chaotic looking mission meant to culminate in wiggly piles of hunger on every trace of sugar or tiny food bit. it occurs to me now that the bounce in my step this morning may just be ants in my pants.

some of my disparate thoughts land uncomfortably on news items from the weekend. we’ve been at war, a real war with guns and helicopters in place of my metaphorical war on ants and racing thoughts. this morning i’m remembering 30 troops we lost to a combination of guns and helicopters, and the news that i now know another young widow. for all my losses and heartaches, the empathy i feel toward the widows i know….acquaintances, all of them…makes me ever more grateful that i’m here to complain about ants and dog poop, and that my little daughter has her father still, even if the family tree has grown a bit crooked.

i have a heart full of prayers this morning, both for our troops in the sand and all of the family members left behind to worry and fret, and sometimes, to grieve. it’s hard to understand all of this death and destruction and glean real purpose from the battles and mistakes of the last decade. our own terror has faded, if only slightly, since 2001 when all of our hearts began beating wildly on a crisp and beautiful september morning. it was horrific. and almost ten years ago. the loss this weekend reminds me that many of the people we fight with and for have lived whole lives with that kind of terror in their hearts every day…so much that they grow numb and hard, confused and angry. in many hot spots in the middle east, widows and childless parents are more common than long marriages and intact families, mortars more common than flowers.

we have it so good we’ve forgotten how hard some have to work just to stay alive. we complain about cell phone service in air-conditioned office buildings, crowded mass transit parking lots and platforms, wait times or language barriers on customer service calls, drivers who don’t use blinkers (ahem), and all of those inconsiderate people who wreck their cars during rush hour. i wake up mortified at the idea of using stop-gap neurotoxins on my ant invasion, while people halfway around the world keep masks on hand in fear of the neurotoxins of war. it’s so easy to feel small on this planet, for troubles to feel small, especially for those of us stateside, especially for those exposed at one time or another to the third world or real revolution. for the rest of us, with couches and cable, it’s easy to get lost in our daily struggles. it’s easy to forget to be grateful. it’s easy to spew vitriol about unfairness and entitlements. the truth is, we are entitled to keep breathing, as long as we meet our needs for survival and that’s about it.

for the rest of the gifts i take for granted most days, i feel my gratitude today. for the love and support of friends, for a monday full of mundane responsibilities and for the healthy, happy child whom i can hear breathing softly through the baby monitor thanks to dependable power lines and a cheap transmitter. i’m grateful for the opportunity to be my outrageous self, in a country of outrageous selves, some who leave you outraged, some who leave you inspired, and some who have absorbed unimaginable grief with a sense of duty and a lot of faith.

do you feel grateful today? for having 10 minutes to read someone’s blog as a latte slips down your throat? for having a life to live? for the love of your friends and family? for getting stuck in traffic on a smooth, 4-lane highway? for the opportunity to accumulate bills and struggle to pay them? if you’ve forgotten for a moment, take a deep breath and thank your higher power for the comforts you enjoy and even the challenges you face. it will make the comforts more comforting and the challenges less challenging.  it’s certainly working for me this morning.