Who is not there.
She gasps his name.
That is not there
As real as if it
Had actually happened;
No ethereal mist
Swirling around us
Or out of the ordinary,
Just simple, comfortable
A feeling of true belonging,
Of unencumbered being
A break in conversation,
A collective sigh…
He slowly leans into me
Tentatively, softly, sweetly
Touching my lips with his…
Two whole and beautiful moments
Burned forever in my mind.
My hand now cradles his face,
His arms bracketing around me…
He pulls back,
Touches his forehead to mine,
And breathes the words
Occurring to us both…
“should we even be doing this…? ”
Hours later as dawn light
Invades sweet slumber,
I awake with a blissful smile,
Reveling in the after…
Until I get my bearings…
” Dream… ” I murmur
As it steals my breath away
Without warning, a rush of emotion, and before realizing it, the tears spill
A waterfall filled with regret, sorrow and terror
Terrified that this is that very last chance
Terrified the chance will slip through her fingers once again
Fearful of losing something as beautiful as what she let pass by in youth
Terrified of being wrong, that the chances she squandered
Were all she was allotted to find happiness, to find that One Love
Afraid to put her faith in a man
Who may not look at her the way she looks at him
She pleads with the Love she lost for guidance
For a sign that she has found someone
With a heart like his
Asking that he guard her heart from herself,
For help from the heavens
As if he could reach down and guide her
Right where she should be looking
She wants another gem such as he
And she wonders if she has found it
Whether or not she has, she is terrified
Because she knows
She knows how quickly it could all be torn away
She barely survived losing him
She can’t imagine living with that pain again
Surely, it would destroy her
Last night, I spent my hour with Eric; it’s something I make time for twice a year, on his birthday and on the anniversary of his death. This year the anniversary came and went in a haze of ‘I can barely move’ sickness. I didn’t realize what the date was, let alone the significance. Once the haze began to recede, I remembered, and vowed to make time this week to honor him. After sobbing during random TV episodes, it was clear, I HAD to have my hour with him right then.
I re-read “Say My Name,” a beautiful novella by the incredibly talented Rebecca T. Dickson. (http://www.amazon.com/Say-Name-Rebecca-Tsaros-Dickson-ebook/dp/B0091GZ8VA/ref=sr_1_11?ie=UTF8&qid=1429567094&sr=8-11&keywords=Say+my+name ) I re-read it on at least one of those days every year, if not both. I have such a hard time putting my relationship with Eric into words, and while circumstances are not the same, Becky is able to so accurately capture nearly that exact dynamic with her John. I envy her for that. I cannot fathom being able to do so any better. I envy her character too. No, I hate her character in the novella…she was able to say goodbye. I didn’t get that chance. I wasn’t there as my best friend, my first love was dying; and I hate myself for it every day. But that story, it takes me back to Eric, and for that, I am grateful.
Then, I spent some time talking to him. I try to pretend he is sitting next to me, and that we are catching up from not seeing each other in a while. That’s what happened with him often. He was in and out of school, and sometimes I didn’t see him for months, but when I did, man, we just caught up, and settled back into our familiar camaraderie as if those months apart never existed. Usually, this ends with me begging him to visit me in my dreams; one of those vivid dreams where the lines of reality and dream are so blurred that you can barely tell the difference. I would ask him to hold me again, his hand on my hip, snuggled close, with no intention of ever letting go. I would tell him I loved him; because no matter how much I rack my brain, I still don’t remember if I ever actually said it. I would kill for just an hour with him in my dreams…but he never comes.
This time, I couldn’t go into detail about my life since June, it was too painful, too difficult, too much to rehash, and if I’m honest, I haven’t truly emotionally dealt with it yet. There has not been enough time or energy to dwell. I’m afraid I will start crying and never be able to stop. But, it’s my imagination that put Eric by my side last night, so he already knew. He asked me how I was handling it; I gave him a teary smile and shrug. He nodded, understanding in his eyes, and reached out, pulling me into his arms. I sighed, I was home. “I could really use your strength right now,” I mumbled into his chest. “You always have it,” he responded. “I know, but…”He nodded. “Will you just hold me for a while?” I asked tearfully as I laid my head on his chest, my arms tightening around his chest. “Yup.”
We spent the last of our time just being, and I fell asleep in his arms.
You may have noticed, I haven’t been very actively posting in the last 8+ months. I wish I could tell you that I had been struck by incredible inspiration, and have been feverishly writing a novel in all of my “spare” time. Or, that I had been caught up in a whirlwind romance (yeah, right). Or, at the very least, that I have been busy chasing down leads for a new, better, closer to home, maybe even somewhat exciting job. That was part of the plan, but anything I had that even resembled personal plans have had to take a backseat for the time being.
You see, my sister, a brilliant, bright, snarky young woman in her twenties suffered a massive stroke as well as a carotid dissection. We nearly lost her. The stroke took her voice, as well as movement in her right side. Thankfully, she survived. It was a harrowing 2 weeks in the Neuro ICU, a month in the inpatient rehab facility, and intensive outpatient rehab and therapy homework in the time since. Luckily, as a result of constant dedication and hard work from both her and my mother, Sis is responding very well to therapy, and is consistently beating the monthly goals her speech, occupational and physical therapists have set for her. We were also very lucky that the stroke did not affect her personality. She’s still there, and despite the communication difficulties, she still finds a way to make her thoughts known! That being said, recovery has been incredibly SLOW, and she has a long way to go before she is functional enough to endure a simple outing alone, let alone return to work or live alone.
The entire experience has been an emotional roller coaster ride for all of us, to say the least. We have been through the ringer, so to speak, with the end seemingly nowhere in sight. We’ve all broken down a time or two, and now that the situation is no longer dire, I have begun looking for avenues of support. I do not have the time or inclination to find a new therapist since mine moved away a couple years ago, and have chosen to go the route of online support. Unfortunately, I have found very little in the way of online support groups for family of stroke survivors who are not the primary caregivers. While stroke survivors and their primary caregivers do need TONS of support, so do the rest of us who are closely affected by stroke. Because there isn’t much out there in the way of online support, I have embarked on a new project, to try to network, support, and share with folks like me, who are going through this incredible journey of stroke recovery.
If you or a loved one has been affected by stroke, please join me:
The remnants of salty tears
Still evident on my cheeks
I have wept for you again
Not as often, not as wrenching,
But my heart still bleeds
All these years later
The tiniest fragment
Of a reminder, of a memory
And I am swept back in…
Memories swirling around me
Like errant fall leaves
Amidst a wild storm
An eager child,
I chase, I reach, I grasp
But in the end, I have far too few
Clutched to my breast
I am left alone in the rain,
A pain throbbing in my chest
Greater than any child’s fathom
A grieving woman
Housing a heart that just may be
Beyond full repair
Just a little something I came up with this week. Not sure if it’s finished or not…it’s been a rough week. Anxiety has been steadily increasing, and add into it a big dose of loneliness, helplessness, and despair, and well, it’s not been pretty….-ML
A heart so broken
It no longer functions properly
It finds distraction and obsession
Of the unattainable more enticing
Because it can no longer find
The qualities it desires in reality,
Spiraling downward in a sea of despair,
She is drowning, she cannot breathe
Her lungs about to burst.
Perhaps it’s because I do not have a good relationship (hell, a relationship period) with any of my actual aunts, or maybe whoever coined the term “Great Aunt” just knew what they were talking about. I truly have been blessed with some pretty amazing women in my life that are my Great Aunts. Unfortunately, the best of the best live in a different state, and we did not have an opportunity to see them as often as we would have wanted. Now, with being several states away, the visits have become even fewer. Add in an uncooperative winter, and despite my best attempts, it does not appear that I will be able to visit one such Aunt prior to her passing.
My heart is more than heavy. The latest report is less than encouraging; it likely will be just a matter of days before she leaves this world. I am glad she will not suffer much longer, but the world, and my family, is losing one heck of a woman.
Aunt Betty has always been one of the most positive, most vibrant women I’ve ever known. Her laugh is adorable and infectious, not to mention quick to bubble to the surface. She is always smiling, always sweet and kind, yet not afraid to tell you how it is. Even knowing that she was dying, she has been a beacon of positivity these past months, at least in the emails we would get from her. It was utterly amazing to me. I’m not sure I would handle a diagnosis such as hers with even a fraction of such grace.
As a kid, visits to or from Aunt Betty were the absolute BEST. She was probably the original extreme couponer, except that it was not as much coupons as it was the refunders club. I think she had an “inside man” at the recycling center, and got many of her UPC labels that way. She always got the coolest free stuff, and would pass some of it along to us. I remember a slinky, and some other toys, Trix t-shirts, sunglasses, nail polish, and one time, enough shampoo to last our family a year. During the year, she would set up shop at one of the flea markets, and sell her wares too. It was so funny; it always seemed she knew exactly how she got each item too.
Another one of the quirky passions that made Aunt Betty herself was her love of, and ability to fix all kinds of baby dolls. She had at one point, and maybe still does, a room full of dolls that needed fixed, or she had fixed. She would show us her latest projects when we visited, would tell us the story behind the doll, tell us what she did to fix it, and show us the little outfits she made for them. My siblings and I, all being of the tomboy sort, did not really get into dolls, but Aunt Betty had such an almost child-like love for her dolls, it was hard not to get caught up in her stories.
She has always been so full of spunk and of life, that even though she and her husband are several years older than my grandparents, they have always seemed 10 years younger. It makes it so much harder to handle. I am not yet willing to accept the fact that my grandparents are not immortal, and if Aunt Betty is not either, well, it’s bringing a haunting fear I cannot even begin to explain, nor do I want to explore. I am told that Aunt Betty is now sleeping all the time, only getting up for meals, and that she can no longer climb the stairs. It is difficult to reconcile these reports with the feisty woman I have known and loved for all these years. While I do wish I had an opportunity to visit and say goodbye, I do know that I would not want to see her so far removed from her usual self.
Since she has been so very much in my thoughts, I wanted to take just a few minutes to share my memories, to honor her in some way, to ultimately say goodbye to my beloved Aunt. She has asked us not to mourn her, but I will. I wanted to share and celebrate her life before the grief has the opportunity to overshadow everything that she is.
I would like to say that I am FINALLY over my stupid school girl crush on one of the security guards at the mall in which I work my second job. I wish I could. I will say I am much closer, despite the several breath-stealing “he’s so pretty” moments, to my utter dismay, I experienced over the weekend. If I could get past that, and could somehow turn the Rickdar , as I call it, off, I would be done. And I mean DONE. It’s not as if anything could have happened anyway, and to be honest, he’s been simply a distraction. I’m GOOD at distraction. This way, I’ve been focusing on him rather than doing anything about finding someone worth dating.
But, that is not something I need to delve into today. My point today is not even really about Rick…ok, the theme revolves around him, but the deeper message does not. I have a situation at the second job. There is a giant of a man, whom I know from rec center volleyball, who frequents the mall where I work on a regular basis. Since volleyball years ago, he has had a bit of a thing for me, and has asked me out on numerous occasions. He is mentally challenged, and until recently, seemed a decent enough fellow that I did not want to hurt his feelings, so I would use the whole “we’re friends, I don’t want to mess that up” line on him. He has asked me out numerous times while working at the mall as well, but a couple months ago, it took a turn. I completely understand that his refusal to let this go, and accept no for an answer has to do with whatever challenges he has. I get that. I try to be patient, but am the first to admit that patience is not a virtue that I have an abundance of.
A few months ago, this man (we’ll call him D from now on) decided to ask me out again. However, this time it was different. In a span of 10 minutes, he probably asked me out 15-20 times, with pleading in between when I would try to tell him no. Needless to say, my patience was wearing thin, and I know it showed. When he didn’t get the answer he desired, he huffily called me a jerk, and angrily stomped off. I have seen this behavior from D several times in the past. While playing volleyball, if he made a mistake, he would get angry with himself and have similar, somewhat scary outbursts. I asked to be escorted to my vehicle by security that night, and I have asked for that escort every evening that I know D has been around.
Luckily, even though D has been in the mall lately, he has not approached me or the store in the last several weeks. However, after this outburst, he was continually coming around the store. There was one day in which he was at the store on 4 separate occasions, only making a purchase once. And then, he moved to the other side, only to stare at me as I worked. At this point, Rick did at least tell him he needed to sit down, as he was holding back the laughter. See, Rick does not believe D to be a threat. Will he or would he do something violent towards me? I don’t know. All I know is that he is a close to 7ft tall, nearly 5ft wide man who could do some serious damage if he was prone to violence. I am being cautious and careful, and looking out for my safety.
I only ask for a security escort when/if D is around. I keep my pepper spray handy anytime I go in and out of that mall now, just in case, but unless he’s there, I will not take up the guards’ time. I do, however, try to get one of the taller/bigger guys to escort me out, which usually means its Rick or one other guard. A few weeks ago, that other guard was off, which led me to wait for Rick to ask for an escort.
Yes, as security guard, he refused to escort a mall employee to their vehicle.
He told me that he would radio one of the other guys to do it (the 60+year old who is small, and while not exactly frail, I would be the one protecting him, not the other way around). Not only did Rick refuse to walk me out, but he also did not call the other guard. So, I stood in the store, after shift for more than 20 minutes waiting to be walked out, until I finally had the old man walk me out.
I was…hell, I am LIVID. He is Security. It is his job to provide an escort to any mall employee who wants it. It is not his job to decide whether the threat is real or not. And I really have a huge problem with people who will not do their jobs…there is almost nothing more aggravating than someone who does not do what they are supposed to do. It is my job, as a single woman, living far enough from my hometown that few would notice if I went missing, to decide what is or could be a threat. I am a capable woman, do not get me wrong, I can shoot a gun, have worked on the farm, have bench pressed more than my body weight, and know I have a gruff, tough, “I am woman, hear me roar,” I can handle everyone and everything attitude. But, I have limits. I know that there is no possible way I could survive an attack from someone so large. I might have some speed advantage, but for as large a man as he is, he is almost stealthy. I try to be on alert on the days that D usually visits the mall, and I still miss seeing him. I am lucky in the fact that all of security is aware of the situation. They all know that I have this near-stalker problem. They, my boss, and housekeeping all keep me informed if they see D in the mall. I appreciate that.
Rick’s attitude, and especially his refusal to escort me out of the building, has me up in arms, however. He may “know some crazy dudes,” and think “he aint crazy,” but I do not know that, I cannot know that for sure. Honestly, we cannot know that about anyone anymore. I have seen the scary behavior in this person before; I do not know what he is capable of. He may think he can predict how someone will behave, but that is sometimes difficult for even trained professionals to do. He has no way of knowing what will or will not happen. I have been a victim at the hands of a much smaller man before; I will do whatever is in my power not to allow that to happen again. He cannot decide for me, no man can decide for me, nor for any other woman, who or what should be considered a threat, or the potential to be a threat. What right does he have to act with such utter superiority, and disregard for the concern of others??!! Oh, and you know what? I have decided, if he refuses again, I will be reporting him to his superiors. His behavior is unacceptable. Now, if only he would stop being so damn pretty! Grrrr…..
Writing is not the only creative aspect in which I dabble. I very much enjoy taking photographs…sunsets, wildlife, and the siblings’ furbabies among my favorite subjects. While I won’t say I’m good, I will say I get lucky and get some amazing shots. While I haven’t written in the last week or so, I have gotten lucky photo-wise, and wanted to share. Enjoy! -ML
While I have my issues with God, and I don’t understand why my wonderful friend was taken way before his time…and then an ordinary sunset becomes utterly spectacular during my time to relax and reflect upon him, I almost HAVE to believe there is a heaven and E sent that sunset just for me.