We Carry Them With Us, Always

I don’t know where to begin, except to start at the trail of my tears, and trace back to a place of calm, somewhere where I can recount a time when maybe there was a time when I sincerely felt solace in this space.  I cannot find it now except in this inner temple where I carry you.

The Island in October, photo by Valentina Kaquatosh, 2015

“The Island” photograph by Valentina Kaquatosh, October 2015

And when I speak of you, I do not talk of one single person whom passed beyond this life, but of the several I last spoke to, or seen, if only in a dream, and now remember as if still awake in that dream.  I try to think of poetry, to form my words into something divine so my memories of you can float up into a heaven we can all recognize you in, someday, yes, that dreadful word someday I speak it like it will be tomorrow.  When I type it a bit of thunder rumbled outside my window.  Imagine that, thunder on Samhain!  What solace can be had this midnight with a thunderstorm?  You know how I am with storms.  My heart trembles and my skin goose pimples as the rain falls as if it were made of pure electricity.

Outside tonight the Halloween revelers are all a scream, running for shelter, their individual bonfires flooded out with the down pour as one more thunder strike silences everyone indoors.  A peace falls again, darkness swells as the rain tumbles with the thunder, thunder growing more gentle now even as it swells in intensity all along the clouds.  The rush of the wind makes me feel like I can hear your voice better now, telling me to call it a night, “go to bed, find a pillow, cry into it, or watch a scary movie, maybe take a shower, wash it all away like old make-up” and the rush becomes a fever.  There is heat all over my face.

I can’t help it.  I carry you with me everywhere I go.  I always will.  But you are not a burden.  You weigh nothing, yet only the sorrow is heavy, that is why I have to cry it out in doses, dump all these tears as much as I can and pray, at this moment especially, the Thunderers take it as my offering tonight.  May my salt leave my eyes, stop stinging my sight so I can finish writing these words, release my sorrow-burden and go on pretending everything has not left a mark, and all will be as if you did not die.

I know some of us say we do not die but we change from one life to the next and in this, yes, we must acknowledge death!  Accept death for what it is!  Do not hide sweet death and shy not from darkness…  but why, why take you so suddenly?!  What cause has your death sweetened for this life?  Those who say there is a plan for everything and that this is the work of God are mistaken.  No master plan is behind this.  Nature is random.  Only people put a riddle, rhyme, and reason to it all.  Poetry.  Yes, forever the poetry.  If only life were poetry!

We’d live forever if you and I had wrote our days long-hand poetry.  What epics we’d be now.

In this end, the poetry still leaks, strays away from me, repeats, even when I am at my loss for words I am poem-ing — perhaps that is how I carry you all — I poem you with me, always.  Like starting from a trail of tears to leaving a tiny, dry, dusty trail of glitter behind me as I reach the end of my lines, reaching for my solace.  On Samhain, forty minutes before midnight, my only strength in lighting candles, petting cats, about to watch an old scary movie, a black-and-white one I never got to watch with you, but one of you would appreciate the most.  I feel a smile somewhere in the darkness like an embrace.  It lifts me up a little at my waist.  Blood rushes back to my feet.  My finger tips tingle back to life after a numbing-stabbing of pain when I was at my bursting of tears.

I am not alone.

I’m not alone in carrying you with me.  You can be with so many different people now.  You need for no cell phone or internet.  Travel isn’t a bitch anymore.  Your body is only emotion, imagination, perfectly mobile in every meaning of invisible, impossible, and beyond understanding.  You can fit into anything, can take the shape of everything, and be the talk of everyone like you never were as a person.  No one need measure you by scientific means, or record you on video, or track you with any devices.  You’re gone in the sense that no one need touch or see you if they don’t need to, or want to, and even if they do, you’re there in the sense you never could be when you were.  As a story, more than fiction, but in this I can back that up with my poetry reference.

But in my times of solitude, where I am in my place of believing experiencing you out of your old body, it is another burden to sleep in the closet.  Sometimes, however, it is nice in the darkness.  It can protect me from the garish light, stop a migraine cold in its tracks, and heal me during times when a crowd is an assault to my senses.  When all I want to do is curl up with you, it would be nice to share what you have to say, yet the worry of the words…

perhaps only poetry is the way?

— in memory of Dylan, Joyce, and Shawnus

I’m Not Laughing, But I Will Smile for Robin

When I heard about his death, I knew it wasn’t a joke. Yet, like the song, it seemed like he “started a joke that sent the whole world crying…” Oh, Robin, sweet Mr. Williams, I wish that one smile of my own could have kept you alive. But no matter now that I’m not laughing, I will smile for you.

There is always hope. Eighty percent of us who seek treatment for our depression don’t kill ourselves, yet the strongest risk factor of depression is suicide. Yet we can’t ignore that fifteen percent of the clinically depressed end their lives. Many of those also suffer from substance abuse problems. I’m not writing this as if this were some book report. Feel I need to provide some bright facts. *grumbles*

I know too many people who have died at their own hands. The first death I ever witnessed was a suicide. He promised me and other friends that he’d be everyone’s worst nightmare.

And promptly aimed a gun to his head and pulled the trigger.

In
front
of
me
.

He was only 17 years old, and since the age of 14 he battled addiction. He wouldn’t be the first person I knew who committed suicide, but he was the first and most violent.

Robin Williams disappeared just as violently as that boy I used to know. Those blue eyes of his sparkled with tears as much as laughter. Robin always reminded me of the kind of guy that’s the life of the party, but parties end, and he, like so many who suffer from depression, I can see turned to drink to keep that feeling of euphoria flowing… self medication they call it. I think all addicts are mentally ill.

I’m no addict, yet I can understand the despair that drags someone to the bottom of existence. I suffer from manic depression. In fact it is something that keeps me from writing, but sometimes it really gets me obsessively writing! I have not updated my blog since I was critiqued harshly for writing too many posts that were my purest expressions of grief. I felt obligated to be of great cheer to write, yet as William S. Burroughs wrote, “A writer lives the sad truth like anyone else. The only difference is, he files a report on it” and that is very much like me. Like many, many other people.

We’re all lonely and sad together on this one planet, aren’t we?

Oh, I’m not unhappy all the time. At other times I’m a pure joy jumping with glee and I can barely contain it! Over the last few years I’ve written a lot about my emotional pain, the scars of my personal grieving process over the loss of my mother and friends I boldly display whether or not anyone is reading, and not all poetry I produce is about one person or that thing that made me sad. However…

What I’ve learned all my life dealing with mental illness (in my family and my own experience): people judge you for everything you do and say once you’re under that label, you will lose friends constantly due to behavior you can curb and can’t control, and there are times when the pain is so intense no one else can possibly gauge how you feel or help you with just words.

All one can do is keep going, which makes things all the more difficult because even though everyone likes to say “help is available” or even we like to tell someone glum the bland statement “You need help” and the ever so useless “things will get better”, they don’t have a clue how to go about helping anyone, or themselves. Not unless you open up. AND even then not unless someone is there to listen. To just be there to listen! I’ve often been asked, “How can I help you?” whenever I’ve felt so down I might as well be crawling.

The answer is fairly simple: “Don’t do anything but be there.”

Playing a supportive role takes doing nothing and comes with a lot of “don’t do this” rules. Like don’t judge. As well as one very important “be” and that is: be gentle.

You thought I was about to say “be understanding” didn’t you?

Being gentle to someone in pain takes a special kindness, far better even than attempting to understand. When someone is in physical pain, or suffering from a bleeding wound, would you be tough with them? Soothing the illness helps ease. We want to transform “disease” to “ease” — the depression can’t go away, no one can make it disappear, but we can make the ways we endure it easier by simply helping each other reach peace.

But.

What happens when “being there” is not enough? I don’t think I can answer that for anyone else, yet even I find myself trying to come up with answers for and why and because.

So I write like I do when I think out loud to myself.

The path to emotional wellness is also a physical health issue fraught with so many ups and downs, I’m surprised anyone survives it. Few folks truly feel inclined to believe a person who eventually turns to suicide to end their constant suffering (not that I’m condoning it, mind you!) justifiably did it to truly end their true suffering.  What many don’t realize is that depression is long term suffering, especially since any kind of depression isn’t just simply explained away as a case of the blues.

I believe when suicides happen, individuals are in deep pain as serious as with any disease. Robin Williams was an actor whose struggles to keep sober and to combat his constant manic ups and downs wore him out. Even though he loved his family and friends, I am thinking that most likely he just wanted that constant pain to end. I’m sad that he died and lost the fight, just like I am broken-hearted over anyone who finally succumbs to any other fatal disease.

Because, believe it or not, depression kills. Depression, more so than experimenting with recreational drugs or what-not, leads people to numb their pain with alcohol and other substances. Whether or not you stay alive, it kills you, eats you up. You can have every luxury in the world and still have that unreasonable, unexplained black emptiness erasing you inside.

I don’t need to list suicide statistics to tell you how much of a problem this violent way to end life is in this country, especially among men, impacts so many families and friends. It’s a kind of death that continues to cause far more pain than any other passing, mainly because it is unnatural for a living being to turn against one’s own need for self-preservation. A person may decide to act on their need to end their pain, but the body itself will still fight on instinct to survive everything you put it through.

I’m no stranger to suicide attempts myself, but it’s never the longing to die, only to end pain that was at the heart of every attempt I ever made. Just so we’re clear, I am not telling you I’m suicidal now! But Robin’s death brings up all those dark memories, and makes me think of people who are suffering as I write these words, and I weep many nights just thinking how helpless I am to fight against my own depression, let alone help anyone else with theirs. Yet it is because I’ve suffered, I know there is a need to lend a shoulder to cry on for someone else, even if they may not actually be crying out loud.

It’s not an easy thing to witness someone in pain as you stand by, but if you knew how good it does to help that other person stand on their own, you’d do it time and time again.

I think it’s the basis of strength.

There are times I wish I could turn back time… or be there for just one more person before they shut off the clock.

So what keeps me ‘ticking’?

Most times I am outside of myself, aware that there are lives all around me not in pain who are simply alive, and it is that life I am grateful for being there. Animals especially surround me everywhere I go. This summer’s filled with life in my neck of the woods.

And I have many, many beautiful pictures to show you… coming soon.

I’m coming in out of the darkness.

Should Old Acquaintance be Forgot…

Much has changed since last New Year’s Eve.  I’ve been unable to bring myself to write much.  Perhaps because I’ve been more active outside than on the inside these past months since the death of my closest companion.  2013 seemed to be a year of many transformations, actual death being just one of them.  The numerology for the year equals 13, the number of Death in the Tarot (and all kinds of bad luck if you believe in that sort of thing).

Death has crossed my path before, yet this last time was my most intense experience so far because my cat was so emotionally close to me.  He wrapped his body around my face every night.  That kind of intimacy…  the loss of it…  it changes you.  And yet I could not have a home without a cat.  2013 will mark the year I lost and found cats.  On October 11th, I invited a new kitten into my life, Velvet, so full of fierceness, spirit, and glee, it’s impossible to be depressed around her. She keeps me on my toes, yet she doesn’t sleep with me like my boy did.  He was the lover.  She’s the fighter.  Both of them teach me how to champion on.

But Death visited me in other ways as well. I changed the way I behave online, mostly. I had to give up so many ways I used to operate for fear and sorrow at causing others distress and my own, sort of. I gave up on a lot of anger, grew obsessed with everything I said, drew myself up in knots. My body took a toll. I’m still healing myself.  The loss of old relationships still smarts, always will, the heart never forgets.  I re-thought about the way I communicate, realized that much of the way I am is really who I am, and that problems some people have with me is really their problem!  My mistake is apologizing for myself for being myself.  I learned that if you go on doing that too often, it gives people the impression that if I don’t believe in myself, how can I be authentic if I’m unbelievable?  Well…  I am unusual, but I think you know what I mean.  I still blame myself for old friends cutting contact with me, and it took a great deal of trial and error to avoid the temptation to write publicly about it, but I managed to slow down talking about my personal life too much.  No amount of anyone shunning me will ever shame me.

The Sun was my Tarot card for 2013 and it shined through me in the way that I was successful creatively. I completed the playing card project, yet my agent and I are not on speaking terms. Even though I cannot sell my work outside the reservation, I learned a valuable lesson professionally. The sun’s light reveals everything, and it also sent many new friends my way.

To make up for the loss of the old, I experienced renewal with people all around me. I continue to experience a spiritual and psychic resurgence in friends.  My circle is wider, and thicker and I am thankful.  Every year I write down a wish that is more like a goal: an intention.  2013’s intention was to secure true and better friendships. Putting that intention out there and meditating upon it attracted to me all types of new and exciting personalities, including spirit guides.

I have yet to write about it at length, but this year marked a new venture: I have started to incorporate my art with my spirit medium abilities.  It all started with a dream I had on October 2011 of a woman I had not met and felt compelled to draw her portrait, when I later saw her face online and learned she was the friend of a friend, it was such an exciting revelation, I had to expand on the portrait and paint it. When I decided to paint her and the spirits all around her, the more of them appeared to me. So after the portrait, I bought I new sketchbook and decided to keep a visual diary of visions I would have. The practice of this “paranormal portraiture” grew and grew…

I now participate in paranormal investigations where I can sketch what I “see” within my mind’s eye. The results have been exciting, with me often capturing personalities from the previous centuries, leading me (no matter what) to study local history and discover our ancestors, leading also to a renewed respect and awe at how they survived. Mostly I’ve been investigating at The Cottage Cafe in Plover, WI, a historical landmark known as one of the most haunted places, but also a quite most wonderful place to be. I’ve made a lot of friends there!

I am truly grateful for getting through the old year. Thankful for the old friends who have come and gone.

My Tarot card for 2014 is The Chariot:  I am moving forward with a better sense of direction and utilization of  my abilities.  I feel more balanced, ready to get going.  There is so much more for me to do.  Much love from me to you!  I promise to catch up with all the subjects I left unfinished.  There is so much I haven’t yet said.  So many words I’ve only thought.  In one half hour the new year’s here.

Drink one for me as I kiss our past good-bye!

Magic and Loss

This midnight is better than last year’s
This midnight is better than when you last appeared
This midnight’s better when that old friend disappeared
This midnight’s better because the spirits’ near and cuddling

And Lou sang:

*Magician, Magician take me upon your wings
and … gently roll the clouds away
I’m sorry so sorry I have no incantations
only words to help sweep me away
I want some magic to sweep me away
I want some magic to sweep me away”

Then Lugh says:
“You knew the two you loved most had to go”

And with the new dawn, I learn
grasping at the old fur, I awake
setting aside my brushes, I wash
and with one last cry, I know

The Midnight Angel taught me I can survive even the death of someone I feel I cannot live without, and so he showed me, moving out of the cat’s skin, leaving me behind with all my sobs and wails, to grow silent again.

When I stand, I hear Lou sing:

“I want to count to five
turn around and find myself gone
Fly through the storm
and wake up in the calm”

Before Isis can tell me: “It has been done, They have flown”

My dream unfolds, words have no meaning
two months flow away into nothing
a year and five days and he’s as if no one
but I exist and the story is mine telling, worth knowing
I have meaning and so has my love, I hold on to everything
let go of the ghost of it, hang on to the preciousness

Oshun told me once: “It doesn’t matter if we didn’t mean as much to those we loved, what matters is that we loved, and what mattered is your love had meaning for you.  You have to really love with everything you are, don’t let that be forsaken, especially by your self, because if somebody else didn’t think you meant anything, and you now think you don’t mean anything because what they think matters more — that’s two people’s worth of power overcoming the love you could have helping you survive.  You gotta live on your love.”

And so it came to pass, the cat’s spirit onward his mission
my best friend, grown too big for the body that housed him
and far too powerful for me to hold back, gone to bliss
the cat became part of the Great Mystery, I melt to wonder

When the cat body died I thought I heard a whisper of Lou’s song come out of him:

“Magician take my spirit
inside I’m young and vital
Inside I’m alive please take me away…”

Because the body, once dead, gave birth to the brave spirit
the death was the rejuvenation of the Angel, a welcoming
the receiving of Who He really was inside, but I felt lost
there was no joyful release for me, only the cold shell
what was I to do but bury the thing, now empty, that I held?

But when They — the Goddesses Bastet, Hathor, & even slithering Wadjet — reached for my friend, it was I who began to echo Lou’s lyrics:

“I want some magic to keep me alive
I want a miracle … I don’t want to die
I’m afraid that if I go to sleep I’ll never wake
I’ll no longer exist
I’ll close my eyes and disappear
and float into the mist”

Awake for days, the funeral complete
felt the wind answer “yes”
and heard the paws in the leaves
and the echoes of many voices in the woods
announce my friend’s acceptance into Beyond
and worries ceased
and prayers increased
and many strange eyes peeked

Asleep for days, one month since death
the wind still carries his cry
the silence continues to say my name
and the memories of our life built a blanket fort
home is where I am surrounded by You, little friend
and I no longer think about that guy
and I can finally rest
and only worry is ‘have I really let go?
or will I obsess all over again?’
sometimes I think it someone else’s fear
at times all I think about is the lonely things

Wadjet-Bastet hisses-whispers all the same to me:

“When will you be done with all this blubbering? We’ve given you a new day, time has come to wash away, a new skin has grown, can you not feel the underneath, the twitchering-feeling-slickery-flickering? Lick at it. Roll on it. Dance with it.  Take your beauty back. Heal.”

I do. I do!  I will.

And Lou sang:

“I need more than faith can give me now
I want to believe in miracles – not just belief in numbers
I need some magic to take me away
I want some magic to sweep me away
Visit on this starlit night
replace the stars the moon the light – the sun’s gone
Fly me through this storm
and wake up in the calm …
I fly right through this storm
and … I … Wake … Up … In … The … Calm”

And I know what he was meaning in the singing
but I know all the magic all the more for the loss
it’s been the story of the year
it’s been what I was given

all the wonder
all the pain

Lugh said:
“It’s also in your painting. Look closer at what you do. You don’t do anything without a reason. And you were never nothing.”

I see the spirits inside the cat who was my friend
I see him now in many different ways
again, I tell you, he taught me how to live
taught me I can live, survive, live through loss

the loss of someone I cannot live without has not killed me
it is the magic that has swept me back up into Me
I am still who I am without giving in to the
ostracization that made me think me lost
I did not need some role to fit in and
don’t need work for a man’s
approval when all along
all I need is just
home and cat
and love
my God
life
be
me

*———————*

*My favorite Lou Reed song is ‘Magician’ from the album ‘Magic and Loss’*
Lou Reed died on October 27th, 2013, same day as a friend of mine was found dead from apparent suicide. Lou’s music is now married to memories of this friend, especially echoing the last conversation I had with him.

This song especially speaks to me of the losses of life and friendship I’ve endured this year. I understand the pain and the death, but don’t know why we have to lose people we love in this world. I wonder at the magic of the other world… at what may be waiting beyond my wondering.*

*———————*

Coming up soon: So much to talk about! So much has happened! Exciting news, strange paranormal happenings, new friends, renewed vigor, and finally getting my act together as pieces of my puzzle come together. Wish I had all the time in the world to write it all down. Samhain 2013 marks a little milestone for me as I finish a playing card deck and start a new venture as a spirit medium and paranormal illustrator. Yes, you heard that right.

Plus, something adorable has brought joy into my life. I have a baby girl! Um, kitten. Her name is Miss Velvet Rose the Lady Monster. That story I have to save for next time.

Expect some changes around here as I celebrate my second year here at WordPress. Yay!

Love with an Expiration Date?

I cannot wrap my head, or heart, around it, and so perhaps that is why it stings my consciousness — how can anyone stand the pain of a love not meant to last, or dare go into a relationship only meant to last for a short while? Some say ‘better to have loved or not at all’ and all the better for the loss of it, because at least there was a love to it, eh? But isn’t that all bullshit when there really is no reason for the loss to begin with?!

Why plan to put an expiration date on love at all when there is no reason for forcing an end, especially right as love is going well, especially when love is already leading to so many other shared experiences between lovers who are still alive, young, happy, and so well off together? No death is wedging an eternal distance between them. Nor illness severing their bodies apart. There no need to cease sexual concourse for lack of interest and energy. The blessings of the Gods be upon those whom togetherness has been bestowed, for there are those of us who suffer day upon night for years in the Kingdom of Severance. What know They — the ones who cheer frequent one night lays — of true romance, the kind that brings comfort to the heart and soul after the long day’s hurt spent in heaviest loneliness? Who more deserves love — the rake on the move seeking a woman in every town, or the woman lost in the woods seeking family and home?

The answer: They All.

And there shall not be an expiration date on any love. No excuses.

I do not care for men with their petty excuses for romance when offered to women they seem to respect for a short while, or for only as long as they give of their bodies. Friendship with those men only seems to last as long as the sexual interest, too. The moment ends when love’s erection is nothing but that — the erection — and the expiration date on that is only as good as a woman’s looks, worth as much as she gives, and revived as often as she can please him. Am I bitter? No, angry. Because men lie. Some tell you they love you only as long as you keep giving them blow jobs (only for one example), and then they stop when you want friendship in return, turning any once joyful sexual encounter into ‘turning you into their whore encounter’ and that writes a coupon for ten times the disrespect for one ounce of love.  And before you can say “why did you go there in the first place if you didn’t want to be considered a ‘ho?” I’ll tell you I was promised quite often in many a relationship a much more respectful relationship (not to mention reciprocation).  Not all men commit such crimes, and many more who do try to make up for their sins against women, and yet foul up when it comes to friendship when they suspect we love them, not for who they want us to think they are, but for when we care about them despite their flaws and know them for who they really are.

Suddenly, the closeness ends. A guy friend turns me away.  Oh, no, she no longer worships me… or, no, she does worship me!  Don’t love me!  No one love me!  Only *do* me!  Don’t discover the man behind the penis!  Runaway or I’ll run you through!  Or at least that’s what I’d imagine him screaming as he does flee.  It has happened several times in my friendships with men, especially ones who like to keep their friends at a distance and their ex-girlfriends closest.  Why do I get the break-up the ex-girlfriends should get, not the other way around?  I suppose there is no room for other kinds of love in one man’s life.  Cop outs like there’s not enough time really mean he’s not interested because I’m not fuckable.  I’m not stupid.  Men lie in many different ways, especially the ones who vow the hardest not to.  And if this lady doth protest, cry, panic, and get depressed?  His other women pals protect him and call me enemy, but all of us come to the same delusion, all of us fall at the edge of the hero’s blade, the one we blindly believed in and still wish I could.

With a clean cut the man deems quick enough to deal a healthy blow sure to end my love that will end his suffering — the death-dealing blow to sever his heart from mine on the date he has written with the tip of his sword — the expiration date only he knew, and never was I prepared for, each time the 27th of every month comes, I bleed again, and it never yet kills,  even when he’s the one who walks, wins, lives…?

He was my hero.  But what they don’t tell you in the epic stories is that heroes are certain death for those who love them and stay true.  Eventually they will be as short-lived as their love, yet who’s to stay that is the way it is meant to be?  Who are you or I to write the rules?  It feels a whole lot unfair.

Heroes are Terrorists.  Idealists with bombs that go off in whispers and kisses.  Don’t believe in Them.

Don’t trust Those whose love comes with expiration dates.

Am I bumming you out?  Think I’m too harsh?  You bet I am.  But you know what?  The fire of it heals.  It’s like Kali.  It has me picking up my own sword.  Got me cutting the air, cutting off what hurts, dancing with swords.  Feeling like my own woman again.  Proving to myself my love matters.  That no man will ever again try to destroy me like this, oh, no, not without a fight.

My love has no expiration.  I’ll duel you for it.  And win.

Blood Under the Ice

Blood_Under_the_Ice

It is an almost dying
this mourning I do
a storm-rage pushing
come here and go away
It is an unfair living
this voluntary curse
a floating banshee keening
wanting be here and seeking away
diamond-like in its hardness how it grows inside
dark coal in the meat of my heart breathing out dust
 
My ghost produced a spark
in me once               there
                   where once       you stood with me
      held me            like the way         I learned to hold     a sword
                                                                            a God hollowed a world out
from deep inside     my blanket belly       rolled and rolled
     not once covered           the way you walked                 away…
 
It is almost killing
the watching of the way
everyone on the road before
shoving and moving and exiting, crying
It is an unfair dying
this involuntary blessing
born a baby light as air
seeking heaven away but stuck here
petal-like softness in its wanting attention
                                 and, oh, how it leaks the filth outside
                                 little pale worm in the mother’s flesh a-wash in tears
 
I am almost dying
reading you in words
you used to write so long to me
the lines grow longer to someone else now
spelling out the nine years of my absence as
the long over-due appointment I have with my coffin
I should have fell into it long ago the day you dropped me
in the lake, in the trees, dry tears, dry heaves, black lace in the leaves
 
I would’ve made a better corpse then
yet I am still caught in the dying
almost living, hanging,
waiting
for my
turn
to
see
what
I will become
when you come next
back into the widow’s garden
where the gossamer never fades
here the music listens to you and dance
is in the eye-lashes, sex in the halls and whispers
you would love to have me there and keep the secret tame
 
This ghost produces clouds
try and walk              on one        here’s one    and there     two
                   I’ll promise       nothing         no   not      a      thing
                                         will                come              come between us
                                                all only              but air
                                                         the wind that
                                               breathes along my sword
                                   the razor tip                   crossing out
                                                       the very mark
                                                           you once
                                                               made
                                                                    I
                                                                   …
 
It is almost dead
this shadow cast
over the streaming red
come here now and hush
It is only fair now
I say my falling prayer
for the blood under the ice
the streaks of rage spent
shining now like rubies under a sheet of turquoise
the snow white jasper, a warm, not cold, melting
dripping all along the tree branch…
 
                                               and in the deepest part of my forest
                                                your ghost finally appears, forgives
                                                no more time for slivers, shivers, cries
 
The prayer is said, the bell is rung, no sweetness on the lip
come the spring the blood pumps, the legs move, we begin to run
will you visit me?    will I visit you?    a mocking bird dare sings
feathers spasm with a gasp for breath and the request repeated
I look down at my empty hands, once again echoing from finger-tip
my frost-bitten bitter-assed sore-throated lament:
 
It is an almost dying, I am
It is an almost killing, you do
It is almost dead, this we are
                                     when it is decided separate we go beyond instead
                                     …and I head into death’s direction, facing dusk
                                     I walk into the sting of the last setting sun and
                                     that’s when I seek it, an end to the light at the end
                                     walking into the tunnel, never to come back
                                     because you never have.
 
 

~Just a touch of winter chill for the second day of August, because I am already anticipating fall. Already there is a chance for snow in my heart. Today I am feeling angry. I did not get the chance to “pal around” online like I hoped with someone tonight. So, off the top of my head, I wrote this poem about two dueling swordsmen who are two former friends — like in a classic story — forced to face each other, a fight to the death, but instead of pleasing their masters, they kill each other instead. The last one alive is not nearly as dead as the other. He has used his own heart as scabbard for his sword and walks into the western sunset. His companion is beginning his death rattle. Both are angry that all came to this. Metaphorically, nothing really to do with any of my friends, just over my love for swords and sorcery fantasy.

And simply wishing I could have talked with my friend tonight about adventure and heroism like I so long to all the time, rarely getting that chance to. Heart-broken, but only for the moment, I end this blog post to go back to my studio to draw, weep, draw some more, get to bed early… It won’t always be like this, I hope.~

The Last Time I Saw Her Face

Dear Mom, I do not remember what you looked like the first day of my life, but I will always remember what you looked like on the last day of your life. It still bothers me that you left on that sunny day, March 23rd 2010 (a day that would have been your favorite kind of day) without me being there to hold your hand one last time. I am so sorry that the last night you were alive proved too overwhelming for me. I did, however, kept stepping back into and out of the room, taking breaks like deep breaths, and stretching out on the gaudy floral print couch in the waiting area. I wanted to spend the entire night, stay all day, be as vigilant as a knight on a mission beside you… I do not like that I was weak while you were there struggling to be so strong.  My body just could not keep up with my sense of duty.  Or was I just lazy?  Was I selfish?  These questions come up after years of me working on forgiving myself.

I hope you can forgive me.  I’m writing about you on my blog.  Some people who know you, and strangers, too, will read this.  While you were in a home, you never got to explore what being on the internet was like and blogging was a complete unknown thing for you, but you loved writing prayers, hymns, and children’s stories.  If you had the control of your hands, and your eyesight revived, I believe you would have loved blog writing because it is so instantly accessible to readers and other writers.  You had a lot of stories, Mom, and I never got to tell you how grateful I was to learn the value and healing power of storytelling from you. You always taught me to write out my feelings and thoughts. You were a writer yourself and you loved to sing. I’ve been carrying on your tradition of singing everyday at home, making up impromptu love songs about friends and my cat, and writing an essay each week to record my reflections. By your example, I learned how to properly leave evidence of my existence behind so I won’t disappear and that I would never have lived for nothing. Yes, Mom, you were always right. I have a life purpose. I won’t give up. You didn’t give birth to a loser. You gave birth to a daughter of God.

And that is the other thing I want to address. I never again want any member of our family to be rejected over what they believe. I’m sorry you and I didn’t always see spirit to spirit, yet, wasn’t it interesting how strong we were/I am when it comes to our love of the Divine? It is never about religion. It was about our personal relationship with the Gods. Even though you never saw them as multiple, I respected, and still respect, the many ways in which humanity sees God. I promise that when I pass that I will not disallow any member of our family, and none of my friends, the opportunity to publicly turn and relate to the Gods via the religion of their choice. I want my funeral interfaith. I want my life to be interfaith. I will still be a stalwart Witch, but I will refuse to be anyone’s enemy based on differences of faith and spirituality. We had our differences, Mom, and many misunderstandings, yet I feel your spirit is at peace, that you know, now, that all is love.

After you left your body, and the last of your breath escaped your lips, where did you go next? Do you remember how angry I was at your church pastor? I was, in two words, jealous and paranoid.  He got to be there when you died.  I didn’t.  Sure, I was happy you had clergy with you, but I needed to be there at that moment.  I could have been there, if only… !

That day my brother met with your pastor to work out the best way to honor your memory.  I was told to stay in the car or hang out in the church while these men had their meeting.  You know that my brother was only trying to spare me the gory details and emotional pain, but he was wrong to leave me out of the memorial planning. When they locked themselves in that office down the hall, I felt shunned.  I sat in what felt like a place miles away, isolated in a chilly office with glass walls that went all the way up to the ceiling, alone on a sticky, plastic, green chair, waiting too long alone. Alone, surrounded by strangers alone, alone and made uncomfortable by people who were using the event of your death as a means to convince me to join your church. Torture. So I stomped into that hallway and pounded on the door. Foolish me! I almost screamed murder.

I needed to know every detail of your death.  Like I needed to know all the details I didn’t know about your life, all the things you never shared with me. I realized after you died that there was a lot you left out in the stories you told me.  So many moments, traces of you to uncover…  What happened to you?!  It hurt me to desire to know!

“It was a beautiful, peaceful passing,” the pastor said in a tone that made me wince. He mentioned the Biblical scripture DVD that had been playing for your comfort non-stop in your room had come to a pause when you took your last exhale. It was at the tail end of a passage from the book of Romans that went: “It is Done” and the pastor gushed about how moving, godly, amazing it was. It was as if he had scripted it for a movie. It stung my last nerve. You know I’ve got a poison tongue, Mom, and I let it lash.

“I want to know EVERYTHING! Don’t give me some story to comfort me. I NEED to know what happened to my mother, mister. Don’t spare me because, for all I know, you put a pillow over her face and took her out of her misery!” I could not hold back. I may have said more than a few rude words. My voice may have carried beyond the office. When my brother spoke calmly to me, I talked over him, told him to back off, told him how unfair it was to leave me waiting for so long in the office lobby. I accused him and the pastor of talking about me, how are we going to handle Coreene’s pagan daughter? Will the Witch disrupt the church service? Shame on her for being a Witch and causing her mother so much heartbreak! but worse yet I was paranoid about everyone at that church thinking that’s the woman who broke her mother’s heart so bad that she weakened and died and maybe, did you, Mom, did you spend many days and nights crying over me? As brother half-hugged me, apologizing for not including me in the meeting with your pastor, I sank into the leather couch… Why am I remembering all the couches I sat on while you were dying? Strange. Anyway, where was I?

The pastor fulfilled my request and told me the uglier details about your death. Every morbid detail was a relief. I think it strange how people thought hiding the details would make me better. I find it fascinating, Mom, how being told the details of what happened to your body helped me to relax.

It was the same numbing comfort I felt when I last touched your body and kissed your cooled cheek. Brother and I requested, and I hope you didn’t mind, that we got to spend some time with you in the hour after you died before they would take you away. You were still in your little cotton nightgown with that green shamrock pillow you made under your right wrist. The night and days before, brother and I took turns holding your hands, sometimes he took the left, me the right, and so on, so forth. I enjoyed swabbing your lips with water and touching your baby soft hair. In those final times, you seemed like you were becoming a baby again. Your face was a little bloated, but smooth and silky. In death, with all the blood drained, you seemed carved out of alabaster. You weren’t yet like ice. My lips carefully kissed your left forehead and noticed it was clammy — how it feels when someone has a cold sweat due to a fever. As I looked at your face, there was no question you were gone. Even with eyes still open, the spark that was there was gone.

I sometimes go to bed afraid of waking up in your dead body. My body is so much like yours was. The last time I saw your face was a preview of how I will look like when I die. They call it shock, the zombie-like-numbing-comfort-daze where you understand that someone is really dead yet not really gone and you walk around feeling like a lost child or orphan, but more like a senile elder who completely forgets how to get back home. I wanted to stay with your body, hold your hand some more. Did you see that, the time I attempted to entwine my fingers around yours, but then, as if shocked by static electricity at the stiff-clay sensation of your joints when I tried to open your hand, I jumped. Then I really felt bad for noticing how your blood, a deep blue-almost-purple, pooled underneath you. I looked back at your face. Your mouth was the open part of an empty seashell. Your chest was still slightly moving as air continued to escape from you. It was a whisper-gurgle that nearly gave me hope, but, no…

“Tina!” You’d scold me and make that tsk! noise that, to this day, can drive my brother crazy, “Why dwell on something like that? Tell your friends better stories about me. I wasn’t just this corpse. I was your mother, so make me nice.” I can imagine us like we were back in the mid-80’s drinking a diet Pepsi, nibbling on chips and dip. “But, Mom, that was a seriously strange moment, one that is deeply dented in my memory and worth reporting because it really happened. Some people will never see the bodies of their loved ones moments after they die. They may just see the made-up, dressed-up body after the morticians display them nicely in a coffin. Others still will never get to see them at all because the body has badly decomposed, horribly damaged, or just immediately cremated which is often requested by some patients who refuse to let their dead bodies be seen.” I’d then pause to drink my Pepsi and Mom would make her mouth go all crooked like my mine does while thinking of what next to say.

Oh, Momma, I know how much you loved keeping things proper, respectful, and pretty. I must have been embarrassing at times. You wore bright yellows and pinks, while I wore blacks and deep plum and wines. Your lipstick was bright orange rose, mine was cranberry red. My eye liner was thick when I was a teen. As an adult I would, and still do, streak my hair with colors you’d rather see me wear on a blouse than coming out of my head. Your hair was always slightly retro. I still fondly remember your carefully sculpted beehive structured hair-dos from the early 70’s graduate into the puffy perms you sported in the 80’s and 90’s. I so loved it when your hair went completely white, not grey, just this baby seal white so fine, it was like the angel dust we used as Christmas decoration.

How’s that, Mom? Did I paint you prettier with my description now? I sometimes forget to stray away from the morbid and hold back and use the softer, more pastel and Easter-sweet tones you love. Do you know now that Spring reminds me of you forever? When I celebrate the Vernal Equinox, I start to mourn like I do at Samhain. Mother, you are my Kore, my Persephone, and my Demeter. The two weeks after you died, visions of you as a girl dressed in Greco-Roman attire singing all sorts of songs, ones you wrote, Hymns you sang in church, and ones more ancient I did not recognize, interrupted my sleep each night around 4 in the morning. Most people would be freaked out by this and think, OH. M. GEE. MY HOUSE IS HAUNTED. But your daughter is a Witch, spirits aren’t always giving me a scare, and there is no way I am going to be frightened by the after-death presence of my mother who is cheerfully sharing with me the joy of being freed from a body that broke down.

“You still have to let go,” You firmly say and, indicating with a sigh, you add, “Don’t let what happened between us keep you from getting together with new friends and starting new things. I want you to promise me something…”

I am immediately anxious now. Now, Mom, you know how I hate it when anyone puts any kind of pressure on me like that, and you know how I like to take on challenges I really cannot meet. So, come on, hurry up and get it over with!

“Promise me that, no matter what, do not let anyone get away with making you feel sorry for yourself. Remember I love you. You have to take care of yourself. I did not raise a bad person. So, come on, Tina, stop crying and give yourself a break. Keep singing. Don’t stop dancing. Because within you the beauty of all our mothers shines out of you! You’ll see.”

That’s when I imagine my Aunt Sandy, Aunt Madge, and Aunt Viv are in the house. They’ve been in the kitchen all this time, and now they are shewing me out the door, ordering me to go play outside with the other kids while they get things ready…

I’m back to myself alright. I never feel like I’ve “lost” you, Mom. But it gets lonely sometimes. I still have dreams of the days we gathered at Aunt Madge’s. I often visit Aunt Sandy’s apartment as if it were 1986 again, but she’s not sick, no one is, all bad memories fade away. Everything’s forgiven. It is the fantasy that motivates me — the candle I hold even in the wind and carry in the rain — a love that despite any dispute is too stubborn to burn out.

Mom, tell our family, show them all, how much I love everyone. This is no lie. It flows out of me like a prayer. May it be carried to heaven, answered and dropped down to earth with the rain that fell today, and soak into the ground, bringing peace, popping out the green and flowers. Blessings be and wishes true, I have to say it one more time for good measure: I LOVE YOU!