“Basically we are all looking for someone who knows who we are and will break it to us gently.” ~ Robert Brault

NOTE: For some reason, WordPress keeps deleting the images that I have put in this post. I will try to reupload later because this is driving me crazy………..Later: Seems to be a Ghostery problem…………

                   

Standing at the End
by Southern Heart (FCC)

                   

“After all these years, I am still involved in the process of self-discovery. It’s better to explore life and make mistakes than to play it safe. Mistakes are part of the dues one pays for a full life.” ~ Sophia Loren

Sunday afternoon. Cloudy and humid. Pending storms. High 70’s.

Very strange day emotionally. I have had an epiphany, a very unwanted epiphany: I have closed off my heart. I did not realize just how much until today. I mean, I knew that I was deliberately not allowing myself to feel things so as to not let myself become too wounded by Corey’s absence, but then I realized that in so doing, I have put up a wall. I can only hope that it is a wall that I can take down as easily as I erected it.

I have done this before, of course, put up walls so as not to get hurt. I know that before Corey and after the ex, in that in-between time, I deliberately did not let myself feel too much, which is why I was taken quite by surprise when I began to feel emotions towards Corey.

Night Thunderstorm
by OneEighteen (FCC)

Part of me thinks that my efforts not to feel too much have arisen in part because he is so emotional right now—an attempt at balance in the universe, I suppose. However, that rationale only goes so far.

I don’t like feeling like this, or rather, feeling little if anything too keenly. It’s a very hollow sort of state in which to find myself.

“Can you understand being alone so long
you would go out in the middle of the night
and put a bucket into the well
so you could feel something down there
tug at the other end of the rope?” ~ Jack Gilbert, “The Abandoned Valley”

Don’t misunderstand. This feeling nothing does not meal that I don’t feel anything. Rather, I am trying to feel only the minimal, as if my heart is rationing just how much it can hold in this interim between his going and coming. Did I send my heart with him when he left? Possibly. If only it were that simple or that obtuse.

If I revert to that state in which I placed my emotions in a kind of stasis, if I go back to that state in which I cloaked myself in a kind of thick emotional armor, will I be able to make it through, and more importantly, will I be able to discard this armor upon his return?

Lightning over Mexico
by Brujo+ (FCC)

After my ex and I separated, at first I was in a state of hyper emotions, fancying myself in love with anyone who paid me passing attention. It was a very manic phase, which I realize now. I wasn’t in love with anyone, but I was starved, completely starved for attention, so I made bad decisions in my attempts to sate that hunger. It was a short-lived, temporary state, and I was able to pull myself out of it mostly because I worked all of the time and had very little time for personal reflection. I was in survival mode: single parenting, working 60 hours a week, split in so many directions that looking for any kind of balm for my heart was only done wistfully and with little to no effort.

What was the point?

So I muddled along alone except for my children and my friends, and I was fine. I had no desire for personal complications, having made my life far too complicated once upon a time.

And then he came along, and everything changed, and I had to let go of my fear and let down my guard. A line from Sarah McLachlan’s “I Will Remember You” (my anthem) immediately comes to mind: “So afraid to love you, more afraid to lose, clinging to a past that doesn’t let me choose.” It might seem trite, but it is so accurate.

“And I should mention the light
which falls through the big windows this time of day
italicizing everything it touches . . .” ~ Billy Collins, from “Ballistics”

So today I came to the realization that my heart it cocooned? Asleep? Bereft? All of them?

The last time he was gone, I counted the days. This time, I have deliberately not paid attention to the calendar. I don’t know how many days he has been gone, and I only know that he will be back in port here some time at the end of the month. It’s September, and August is a complete blur. I honestly don’t remember the date on which he departed.

Tesla
by Irargerich (FCC)

But why does it have to be this way? Why must I be too keenly aware or unaware, one or the other? Stasis. Now that’s a concept with which I am totally unfamiliar.

Okay, let’s back up.

I have known for most of my life that I exist between two poles: high or low. I have never been able to coast comfortably in the middle. Never, and I mean never. Even as a child it was one or the other. But as a child, it was much simpler. If I was in a lull, I would simply stay inside and read. The headaches hadn’t appeared yet, and I could read and read and read and simply close out everything else.

I have a keen memory of being in high school psychology, and the teacher was talking about manic depression (the old term for bipolar), and I thought to myself, “Wow. That’s me. That’s completely me. Happy one minute, and crying the next.” Now I know that a lot of people hear about a disease or disorder and immediately have the symptoms. That’s not what I’m talking about here. When I heard about this psychological disorder, I felt such a sense of relief. Other people felt this way too. It wasn’t just me, and it wasn’t just growing pains. There was a name for what was wrong with me.

But of course, mine was not a home in which such things were discussed, at least not then, and I hid this knowledge from my mother and father. It wasn’t until I was an undergraduate that I actually approached the idea of counseling, and then it was at the free counseling center on campus. Real treatment did not come until years later. I lived with my extreme highs and lows, and I did it while married to a man who cannot abide any kind of illness, viewing it as a weakness.

“This is the moment in which we live. Alienated, unmoored, we seek our salvation, one by one, from the artist who brings us the comforting news: I see you. I weep when you weep. The mystery, and the miracle, is that you exist.” ~ Francine Prose

And I survived, but only just.

Then the long trial with medication began, and it took years to finally find one that actually helped, that allowed me to be more even, to sleep, to have my mind not racing all night long. But even with medication, then and now, the highs and lows still came, only more controlled, less acute, allowing me to have a life that was on a more even keel, even if I did list one way or the other at times.

Malta: Lightning Strike
by Owen Zammit (FCC)

Have I ever told you that I thought about dropping out of college when I was a sophomore? Yep, actually considered it as a real life choice. Stopped going to classes for a few weeks. Made all C’s one semester. I cannot remember why I thought this was the right things for me, just remember it happening. Why mention this?

Only because it is yet one more indicator of how my life has gone from one extreme to another.

How did I get here, in life, in this post? Hell if I know. It seems that I have been searching forever—searching for the right career, the right person, the right time, the right major, the right circumstances—to do what exactly? Go to graduate school? Apply for a job? Move? End my marriage? Date again? Remarry? Have another child? Get my doctorate? Write that book? Write that book? Write that book?

You get the point.

“Longing, we say, because desire is full
of endless distances . . .
There are moments when the body is as numinous
as words, days that are the good flesh continuing.
Such tenderness, those afternoons and evenings,
saying blackberry, blackberry, blackberry.” ~ Robert Hass, from “Meditation at Lagunitas

So many questions, so few answers.

I need . . . mountain air, a running stream, the smell of fallen leaves and loam. I need not to be here, not to feel this way, not to always be wondering.

Lightning in Brisbane, Australia
by Matthew Stewart (FCC)

Another moment of truth: I’ve been waiting for the right time to move, and now I don’t know if it will ever come. Now that Olivia is here, can I leave here? How can I not leave here and still be true to myself? Of course, the desire to move is purely selfish, but I just don’t want to spend the rest of my life in this house, in this city, in this state, even in this country. I still want to spend some time in Ireland, some time in Australia or New Zealand, some time in Oregon.

The means to travel, wouldn’t that be nice? The wherewithal to make a plan and stick with it, wouldn’t that be a change?

Waiting, still waiting, mostly for myself, for my soul to finally say, “Enough! Enough of this blathering. Do something, already.”

Veronica, I know what your mean about mojo. Mine has taken an extended holiday.

More later. Peace.

Music by Radiohead, “Street Spirit”

                   

for women who are difficult to love

you are a horse running alone
and he tries to tame you
compares you to an impossible highway
to a burning house
says you are blinding him
that he could never leave you
forget you
want anything but you
you dizzy him, you are unbearable
every woman before or after you
is doused in your name
you fill his mouth
his teeth ache with memory of taste
his body just a long shadow seeking yours
but you are always too intense
frightening in the way you want him
unashamed and sacrificial
he tells you that no man can live up to the one who
lives in your head
and you tried to change didn’t you?
closed your mouth more
tried to be softer
prettier
less volatile, less awake
but even when sleeping you could feel
him travelling away from you in his dreams
so what did you want to do love
split his head open?
you can’t make homes out of human beings
someone should have already told you that
and if he wants to leave
then let him leave
you are terrifying
and strange and beautiful
something not everyone knows how to love.

~ Warsan Shir

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“Memory is a way of holding on to the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose.” ~ Kevin Arnold

The Magpie Monet 1869 oil on canvas Musee d Orsay

“The Magpie,” by Monet (1869, oil on canvas), Musee d’Orsay

 

” . . . say it loud
panebreaking heartmadness” ~ From “Nightmare Begins Responsibility,” by Michael S. Harper

Do you know what it’s like to hold someone you love in your arms as she is dying? All of the white noise of the hospital room dissipates in those last few minutes. The only sounds that you hear are your own heartbeat in your ears and the sound of someone near you crying. Time becomes suspended, and a part of you hopes that it will remain that way forever, just so that you never have to move into that next moment, the moment when all possibilities cease to exist.

I still remember the weight of my daughter’s body in my arms, still remember the smell of her dark hair, or what was left of it. I can recall vividly the bright overhead lights of the small room, and the way that I stared at the machine that monitored her heartbeat, willing it to remain steady so that all that was left of Caitlin would not end.

I remember how it felt as if my own heart stopped in that moment when hers stopped, and how I wished that it were true so that I would never have to exist in a world in which Caitlin was no longer a part. And then how we all left the room while the nurses disconnected her from all of the machines and removed the tubes that had sustained her. How when we went back into the room, she was lying there in the middle of that big hospital bed, so small, so seemingly perfect, and how I knew that at last she was no longer in pain.

I removed the hospital gown and dressed her in soft white pajamas, and I tried to train my eyes away from the incisions on her chest and arms and legs. I felt the scar on the back of her head where the surgeons had cut into her only two months’ previous, and then I kissed her, caressed her still-warm cheeks, and left.

We walked out into the bright November afternoon, and I thought to myself that it was impossibly cruel that the world outside could still be moving on as if Caitlin had never been a life force among those moving about, completely mindless of her life and her death. After that, I don’t remember much. I don’t remember the car ride home. I don’t remember walking into the house that had been mostly empty for months. I don’t remember getting into bed that night or waking the next morning.

My next memories are of minutiae: picking out a headstone and deciding what to inscribe, taking a dress and bonnet to the funeral home, renting a carpet cleaner and cleaning the carpet and living room furniture, even though they did not need it. I remember my mother-in-law bringing Pizza Tuesday night so that we would eat, and I remember that it tasted of cardboard. I remember Ann going with me to find a dress for the funeral, and how I obsessed over finding finger-tip towels for the bathroom.

I remember the day of the funeral, passing out Valium like it was sweet tarts, standing in the tiny bathroom of the chapel with Kathleen and watching the people pulling into the parking lot, walking up to the podium and looking out at all of the faces of people who had been so much a part of our lives—nurses from the hospital, our friends from the medical school, people with whom I taught at the university, and I remember not being able to distinguish faces.

I remember the ride to the cemetery in Kathleen’s car, and looking behind us at the long line of cars that followed. I remember the late morning sun and the cool breeze. I don’t remember what was said, nor do I remember actually being there during the service, only the moments after the service concluded, when friends began to come up to me and hug me, how surprised I was. I remember looking up and seeing Johnny and collapsing into his arms, sobbing openly in my dear friend’s embrace.

Afterwards, I remember sitting in the Bentwood rocker in which I had held my daughter, drinking wine, and listening to people talk to me. I don’t remember what was said or everyone who was there. I remember that Sarah wore red. And then as people left, I remember pressing food into their hands because the idea of a house full of food made me physically ill.

Awakening Bessie Pease Butmann 1918

             “Awakening,” by Bessie Pease Gutmann (1918):            This is how Caitlin looked with her dark hair and chubby cheeks.

 

“I’ve never tried to block out the memories of the past, even though some are painful. I don’t undrestand people who hide from their past. Everything you live through helps to make you the person you are now.” ~ Sophia Loren

These are the things that I remember about those four days in November, remember still even though so much time has passed. And while I know that I have forgotten as much as I remember, it’s the memories that continue to cut so sharply, reopening wounds that have never healed completely.

I know that it is a cliché to say that a part of me died in that room that day, but that does not negate the statement’s truth. A part of my heart closed off completely the moment that Caitlin’s heart stopped beating. The part that had belonged to her grew cold and has never regained its living warmth. I can live with that. I have lived with that. I will continue to live with that.

Death is not a gentle journey for anyone, for those who die or for those who are left. Death is insidious in its ability to weave its way into the sinews of existence and memory. What those of us who remain must do is learn to take that loss and incorporate it into our daily lives. If not, it would be impossible to go on, to move through time with any kind of peace or hope.

The memories of the day that my daughter died and the hours that followed are stored away, and I dare not retrieve them too often lest they break me. But sometimes, it is necessary to open the box in which they reside, even if the doing feels like bloodletting. These memories are not the totality of my daughter, yet they are as much a part of me as the cells that give me life. I have incorporated these memories into my lifeblood, and there they will remain, along with the memories of my father and all of the other memories that make me who I am.

I have come to realize that the ability to recall such intense emotion helps to make me stronger, even if it feels like a little death each time that I do so. It may not seem to make much sense, but embracing every part of the tapestry of my life—the beauty and the pain—affords me my humanity, and given the opportunity, I would not choose to have traveled any other path.

One of my favorite songs from that time: “Cristofori’s Dream,” by David Lanz

More later. Peace.

                                                                                    

Remembrance of Monday Afternoon Past
     for Josh

How can I explain to you
what it is to hold someone you love
until she dies?
I cannot prepare you for that moment of separation—
     it is something so unspeakably personal
     that to watch it, to intrude upon it
     almost cannot be forgiven.
If I try to tell you about the silences
that enclose and isolate,
     you will not understand
     until you, too,
     have felt them.
I cannot describe for you
     the desperation
     with which you will try to pass
     life
    from your arms to hers,
    but you will come to know this as well
    as I once did.
When the moment comes,
     you will not be ready,
     but you will recognize it for what it is—
     that last instant
     in which possibilities still exist.

L. Liwag

Grace in Small Things #39

dragonsamuraiswordset1

Dragon Samurai Sword Set

Beauty in Words, Glass, and Blades

1. Reading sentences as beautiful as this: “The man can makes tears sparkle, hearts expand and the wisdom pour like wine” and wishing that I had written them, but feeling privileged to read them. (From the blog “My Sweetest Downfall” http://janeylynn.wordpress.com, which I highly recommend).

2. Finding a new author: Paulo Coelho and his book The Valkyries are next on my wish list. But take a look at this quote from Coelho’s blog:

If pain must come, may it come quickly. I have a life to live, and I need to live it in the best possible. If he has to make a choice, may he make it now. Then I will either wait for him or forget him. Waiting is painful. Forgetting is painful. But not knowing which to do is the worst kind of suffering.
(By the River Piedra I sat down and wept)

Would that I could write like that.

sword-guard
Decorative Tsuba

3. Tonight my son Brett and I wrapped his practice katana. The part that you hold is called the tsuka. The tsukamaki is what is tied around the tsuka for a good grip. Wisteria vine or leather can be used. We used black grograin ribbon. The tsuba is the disk between the tsuka and the blade, which protects the hand from the blade. The tsuba also adjusts the weight balance of the sword and has come to be a work of art on the Japanese katana or Samurai sword. I  enjoyed doing this with Brett. He has wanted a practice katana for a while. Now we just need a boxing bag for him to work out his frustration.

4. If you’ve read a lot of my blog posts, you’ve probably noticed that I use many different quotes, from Marcus Aurelius to Confucius to Sophia Loren. I like to collect quotes from all kinds of sources: from the Ancient Greeks through current political pundits. For our wedding I chose about 15 different quotes about love, typed them, and printed several copies of them on separate pieces of four by six cream-colored paper. Then we rolled them, and tied them with ribbons and put them at each place setting on the tables. My favorite quote was from Goethe:

“This is the true measure of love: When we believe that we alone can love, that no one could ever have loved so before us, and that no one will ever love in the same way after us.”

pilgrim-cranberry-glass

5. I have four Cranberry Glass wine glasses that I bought in Cape Cod a long time ago. I take very good care of them because they are irreplaceable. Cranberry glass (not the same as Ruby Glass) is a semi-transparent red glass, the color of cranberry juice, that is usually hand blown. It gets its color from the addition of a gold chloride. The height of cranberry glass was during the Victorian era in England, but real Cranberry Glass is still made today. I had about five pieces total, but they have all been broken over the years. All that I have left is this set of wine glasses that I bought at the Ocean Spray cranberry factory of all places. They are absolutely beautiful when natural sunlight is reflecting on them.

That’s all for now. More later. Peace.