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.

Mr. Snuggles’ Last Day

I sing of sweet loss and the pangs of love. I sing of missing my closest friend. I sing the longing song of wishing he were well and alive again, with me like he used to, here beside me while I’m at the computer, at my pant leg, poking me with his claw to remind me to go to bed. I sing of Mr. Snuggles, the Midnight Angel, Witch’s Familiar Extraordinaire, my little lover, my baby, my one and only boy, aged only 7 years a lifetime — you should have met him.

==================================

There is no death. Only a change of worlds.
 – Chief Seattle

Home is where my sweetheart once lay, no, now lies at this moment, his body wrapped tight in the softest blanket I gave him, my little funerary Egyptian feline mummy, preserved like ice cream in the freezer’s tummy. Even lifeless, his shell holds its beauty, the fur glossy-gleams, this house panther of my dreams… Oh, Mr. Snuggles, help bring me to sleep tonight like you always used to, crawl up to my pillow and breathe into my ear, sing me your heart song and I’ll answer yours with mine. Everything home I know here is all saturated with you. No corner, no piece of FURniture is not complete without some trace of your fur, or a torn claw, a displaced whisker, not even a pillow scarce be dented without some shape of your body. Everything ‘you’ is all over me, too, and, I don’t fear, shall always be. I carry you, my belly pregnant with you, my furry child, as you carry me, little in-love-with-me-ghost-who-walks-inside-me, and together now we travel as one, as fate has it now, no walking back, forward and around the world now, no need for cat carriers or tranquilizers…  “I can go with you anywhere now, Mama” I almost hear him cheerfully chirp.

I break from my sobs to write the sad report of the death of my beloved cat, who less than 24 hours ago, died within my arms. It happened, as the deaths of others I’ve known, as suddenly as life begins. I gripped him in his last violent spasms of a seizure, without complaint enduring kitty kicks to my face, and massaging his belly and chest into some semblance of calm — all the while keeping a very uneasy grip on my own.

I don’t know how many times I said “okay, it’s okay” perhaps it was in the hundreds, was it ever enough?

As his head began to slump to the side, I braced his spine with my leg and rubbed his sides, looking into him, keeping his attention as much as possible. These were the labor pains of death, “my death” Mr. Snuggles seemed to silently acknowledge, his eyes starting to lose their vibrance as he stared into me as if I were disappearing. And I felt as if I were the one dying, he leaving me behind, and I could not go with him. It was then I know how it felt like whenever I left him home alone. But he must had some knowing I’d be back, because he knew precisely when to jump up to the window and cry for me. As he kept slumping, I wailed for him, apologizing to him first for alarming him, because that wild cry that comes out of me is frightening, a keening so banshee-like it has sent neighbors calling 911 on me, and for good reason. I am not me when I give myself to mourning. I surrender to the passion of it, I sing in Menominee, not quite remembering all the words to the prayers I was taught long ago, yet they come back in an emergency. Then the Menominee words fever pitch into other languages then into animal noises quite barbaric.

My expression of grief is like world music, very non-ethnocentric, yet all me, my own creating, coming out from the deep woman I may have been once during an ancient time in a forgotten culture…  I lose track of my thoughts for a moment. My tear-strained temples pull at my brows and eyes and my sight goes all blurry. What am I trying to say?  I’ve seemed to lost myself in hyperbole.

Let me breathe.

Mr. Snuggles knew what was happening. I was in deep trance prayer and grief, part of my soul stretched and torn and reshaped to let him go, a death midwifery process, holding him, at the end, against my belly and breast as I would my own child (yet I do not know what that is like — I have no children — just a cat who is my child). As he lost all muscle control, somehow he shot up an arm to dig into me with his last ounce of strength and control, looking straight into my eyes from the pillow of my right breast, and I, looking into him, felt our connection all the keener, cutting into each other deeper than before. Over my heart he coughed up deep, black blood. His tongue had turned a dark blue and he couldn’t open his mouth enough to vomit out the blood in order to breathe. As the thunder of his heart dropped silent, I tried to clear his throat, prepared to give him CPR, but…

His eyes then indicated all was lost.

Everything was black inside him. His body was all poisoned. I felt crazy screams itching at the back of my throat, but I stayed silent now, calming my brother who was on the phone (I barely remembered him ringing) asking what was going on, and “are you alright?” “Can you feel a pulse?” “Check his breathing!” I worked my fingers into Mr. Snuggles’ mouth, prying open the jaw that fought to cage the slack black tongue, a black tongue growing grey. Gobs of old blood decorated my skin, gooey as honey, nothing to be done, my darling was gone.

His left paw seemed stapled into my shoulder, his grip lasted for a long while, it made me feel like he was still going to cough back to life. I waited fevered seconds for an answer from his empty eyes. Those eyes had the look I knew too well, except I’d seen them on human beings…

There is something far different about the death of an innocent animal.  There’s a wild yearning in them for release and they are filled with curiousity for the end, determined to live out every second til that end, sometimes willingly. Mr. Snuggles had ways of teaching me how to meet the end with dignity and a great deal of love. He wanted to die with me at home. I gave him what I promised him from the very start of our relationship:

“Baby,” I always told him, not caring whether or not he understood human talk, “I love you so much, I don’t care what it takes, I will be there for you til the very end.”

Our story is a long one, filled with many adventures, I took him to meet lots of interesting people and other animals, I brought him with me on walks and trips, neighbors envied the way he’d cling to my left shoulder in a near parrot fashion and perfectly behave as if he truly were my baby.  Yes.  He was my baby.  At this point, this is our “forever story”, the one where his spirit gets to glide around me, waiting for me to catch up to him when my time comes to pass.

I still feel him clinging to my left shoulder. I don’t want him to let go, so I won’t let go. We’re part of each other. He’s truly a “spirit” familiar now.

Or perhaps he was always a part of me just fused back into my body to make me whole again?  Spirit is full of strange lessons, and I am full of weird musings.

==================================

It is assumed that Mr. Snuggles died of liver cancer that spread quickly throughout his body.  Blood tests confirmed he was living on borrowed time.  He was given a “death sentence” on August 21 and I was given the choice to put him down in a vet’s office, but I listened to my cat’s wishes instead.  He wanted to die at home.  He knew more than I did what was going on, yet I was determined to keep him going.

At 2:30am (standard central time) August 30th, Mr. Snuggles exhibited strange behavior — I heard him scratching at the door and howling loudly.  I did not know he was in pain or not.  When I went to investigate, he hid under my bed and would not come out for some time.  Then, as I tried to get back to sleep, he creeped back out from under the bed to sit and stare at me.  I picked him up and he howled.  Something was really wrong.  I read it in his face.  After failing to help him go to the litter box, I took him to bed with me and we both settled down.

We spent one last night together cuddled cheek-to-cheek, but upon waking, Mr. Snuggles’ jaw was going slack and he wasn’t swallowing water.  Sadly, this reminded me of when my mother was dying.  The same happened with her.  She could not swallow when her time came.  All I could do for her, and now for Mr. Snuggles, was dribble a tiny bit of water into the mouth for comfort.

I cancelled all my appointments for the day, sought emergency vet care, but it was too late.  No way to see any vet in a timely fashion.  It was the way Mr. Snuggles wanted it.  He wanted home hospice.  He hated going to those offices where he got poked all the time.  He wanted to be with me.

And so we were together.  That’s the way it had to be.

I am now planning a funeral, looking for a burial site, and Pagan/Polytheistic clergy to lead the rite.  Mr. Snuggles was greatly loved by many!  Very popular darling of a cat.  Where ever he shall be buried, it should be a place where all my friends can pay their respects.  But, for now, please feel free to leave a nice word or two here, thank you.

Rest in Peace, Dearest Friend
Mr. Snuggles, the Midnight Angel
b. 2005 — d. 2013

Postcard #48: Is This How the World Will End?

Is this how the world ends… without you and me
in this space and time, empty and white, swiped
cut out, placed apart, singled, buried in silence
in years lost in between little deaths lined up
without funerals or celebration
no going-away parties
recognitions, torn in ribbons
covered in coats of snow, lumps of sorrow
unknown, gone without explanation, without story
if there is hint and talk, it is delusion-definition
signs of illness best ignored, abandoned
any stirring is disturbance, better left wounded
one person left hurt is best than others left disillusioned
‘we cannot let the world believe the world will not come to an end’
 
This is how the world ends, without belief in The End
without you and me participating
in this suffering-fighting-looking-forward
without you and me anticipating
damage and cracking-down, the fears
that separate us from
I and You loving

and will we ever love?
with all the stuff we throw down
people, too, between us, the tales
we tell to entertain at a truth, to serve
and sever-why’s we came apart, can’t be again
serving useless ways to burn the bridges over the rivers
waters that flow us into each other time over time anyway
where ever we leave we are part of each other, un-denying
the ends where roads lead to home and worlds begin.
 
Is this how the world will end… without us?
without enemy, envy, remorse-guilt-pitying me all the time
blaming and pointing out every flaw and searching for
means to make amends and ways to break things to fix
things all over again we collect to save, to feel, become the Hero
I want a world ending without need for Heroes
just you and I, friends, equals, playing, dancing
no picking or critiquing
longing for just the talk
the share of a drink
the joy of a walk
 
Let the world end
for all those who seek apocalypse
let those who feel lost save each other
my tears will end
when I’m out here
in the woods
with a friend.

August Kiss Farewell

She’s almost gone, August
           almost gone, never quite left
           I know she will be back
           I just have to wait
           because sometimes she
           peeks out of other seasons, times
          so bright, August, she feels she will
          out last all of September right through October
          breaking into November, coaxing out of December
          especially these days when the heat is stubborn
          clings too long to the body, August the lady-child
          pushing you outside, pulling you come play
 
Yet the frost is threatening her
every morning the closer we reach the 31st
a coat of responsibility falls over the aging green
harvest days chill with dew drops dangle slow to fall
the deeper, darker nights confirm 
the white moths and fairies chase after the fire
in a frenzy, disappearing, burning, no matter warmth of day
 
August has grown, is growing, cold
            She is drawing her curtain
            the crickets and hornets hum less often
            the thistles bow, the willows bend far too low
            stiff wind slap to the face announce the end of the show
            the time when all begins display a touch of dry yellow
 
August puts down her garland crown for one of honey-gold
            the spiders, her favorites, weave gossamer death-trap tapestries
            listen!  can you hear their jaws, those spinnerets?!
            everywhere in their millions click-roar the jaws
            eight-leg symphonies, chorus of industry
            every year spiders produce the gown of the Summer’s End Queen
           quiet now, be still, and bow as she leaves…
           all through the forest, in the fields, along the road
           graceful-slow she exits with her long silk train
            dying flowers, leaves, insects stick to her rustlng, buzzing
 
But, August, she does not really ever go away
           with a wink like a star twinkle
           she sighs out invisible kisses
           you can smell them on the breeze —
                                         ripe crisp juicy apples ready for your bite.

for  Drew Jacob

Postcard #31: Looking for Heart’s Ease

I’m writing in the dark, or more like from out of the darkness, tonight in a lonely place, where I feel like everything I love is disappearing…

For awhile I will forget about it, but the second a shadow falls, a flash of hope or memory caresses my cheek, and it begins again. It is a tired, worn out, annoying love story that clings to me like a coat of mud I can never quite wash completely off. Like the tea stain old age spot under my right eye. In the shape of a horse it is, a stain so strong my dermatologist couldn’t even burn it off with the laser. Stubborn symbol refuses to let go of me — so I accept it — a tattoo the Goddess gave me. Like the other new mark under my generous chin, yet another sign that the Crone is coming, youthful times are getting shorter just as my strands of silver hair are growing longer. I am liking the new hair color, however, but that will soon change, too. I plan on dying my locks a deep crimson soon.

Everyday I am more aware things and people are fading. My loves are leaving. My new neighbors are strangers. I’m not adjusting well to this next set of circumstances. I don’t mind change — if only it could come in small doses! It seems all the things that give me joy are doomed to sink away into places I cannot follow. I want to offer them my life to extend theirs. I’ve already lived forty-one years, that’s more than some people already have, and I need to be free of this constant pain. But, no. Nope. You can’t go walk deep back into the woods to die yet, Valentina. You still belong to this world. You are loved more than you know. But why, oh, WHY aren’t they here?!

I’m also reminded too well that my Aunt Sylette died at an early age, just a few years away now from my age. Although I’m told I have no signs of fatal illness, there are times when my heart hurts like a burning coal and my blood is like fire, everything boiling within me in a tearful rage that forces me to the ground and makes me think I’ll just die! It’s all normal, the doctors say. Just sit back, relax, breathe, accept what’s happening, let it go, it’s only natural…

I look for my heart’s-ease in simple things. The best things. My pillows, tea, poetry, art, reading the blogs of friends, and Mr. Snuggles. His nose pushes into my face a lot these days. He licks at my tears, head-butts me to get up and out of bed, and gives me a look of concern that no human can make, one of innocent longing, pure and sweet and of complete understanding. Unconditional devotion, the kind I give back to him. If it weren’t for him, I would not leave the apartment. I carry him on my shoulder like a baby and sing to him, sing to keep from crying, and laugh in the sunshine to hide my swollen eyes from my neighbors. I’m okay, I say, when I want to tell the entire world, help me out of these feelings!

There is no escape, you know.

So it is best to do what I can with my life and make some use of my time. Once again the summer brings things to do. The trees and wildlife call me to volunteer. Last night I saved a toad from a swift and sure death in the middle of the road…

It peed on me, but I paid it no mind, cupped it in my hand and hummed to it as I carried it back into a deeper, wetter part of the woods closer to my place.  But before I deposited it where the other toads like to hang out, I paused to snap a photo of us together. Every summer the toads and frogs are a common sight here. I get to see them grow bigger as the season grows long, and, yes, I weep when they are gone, too. I weep for every thing that comes and goes by. Why?

I’ve been like this for as long as I’ve been alive. I remember the day when I learned that not every creature likes it when I try to rescue it. When I was four years old, I tried to save a group of army ants from getting crushed on the sidewalk. I picked a handful of them up and a dozen of them all bit into my hand. For a moment I felt more shock than pain. I stood there staring at the ants digging into my skin. The first thought I had: So that’s what those shapes in front of their heads are for! and I ran screaming home because all those little jaws felt like pieces of glass slicing into me. Before an adult could get to me, I tried to pull off a few of the ants and, even in pain, I did not want to harm the creatures. Trying to pull them off made them bite into me deeper! Then when I could not bear the pain, I pulled too hard on some of their bodies, only to discover their heads and jaws still clamped on tightly to my skin.

Before I could get all the way home, a neighbor saw me fall into the grass. He and his wife took one look at me and a series of events happened afterward so fast, I don’t quite remember how it all ended, but the man knew what to do to get those stubborn army ants off me. He stuck my hand into steaming hot water, almost hotter than I could stand. In seconds my mother was there, and we took off to the hospital, yet I needed only a few stitches on my left ring finger. I still have a slight scar to remind me of my misadventure.

Sometimes I still feel that sense of sorrow and betrayal like I did with those army ants. I want to reach out and protect all living things, but some things are not supposed to be within my care.

I just pray that my simple act of caring from a distance is enough, that my tears will buy some future happiness, and my worries repaid by my friends keeping themselves safe. I do not want to imagine life without someone I love. It would be the death of me. Like a part of me dies again right now just thinking about it. I do not want to be all doom and gloom, but… for once I will be a little selfish and say that there are times I feel like my joy was stolen from me all because my emotions are too much, they scare people I love away from me, and I am afraid to see them for fear of breaking down in front of them.

So, from this distance, I breathe slowly and move on. I give my love freely and as much as I would to someone who cannot be here. Every creature, every plant, every person I come across I just give them that love that isn’t accepted by someone faraway. That’s what I have to do. That’s what I’ve been doing for years. It is what I plan on doing for the rest of my life, just so I can stay alive, and not spoil my life on something hopeless. The work — the art — what I’m meant to do and why I’m here — sometimes I feel it is worth more than my own personal happiness.

Like yesterday, after I could not stop myself from crying, I paused to sob underneath a linden tree. The flowers of the tree soon stopped me from weeping. The spirit of the tree itself had a healing power to it, and my instinct was to put my face into the flowers, rub my eyes with its heart-shaped leaves, and hug at the bark. Yes, I’m that kind of person, and I didn’t care who saw me. When I had sufficiently lost my sadness for some time, I thanked the tree and left an offering of strands of my hair.

A few feet away from me I saw another woman crying, no, sobbing loudly. She had just got off the phone talking to whomever, sighed, wiped at her eyes with her sleeve, and was about to put earplugs in to listen to some music. By her accent I could tell she was Thai. I felt the urge to ask her what was wrong, so I did. She immediately, and exaggeratedly, bobbed her head up and down to reassure me that everything was alright, but she was lying. So, boldly, I said, “I know you’re missing someone, just like I am, but I want to tell you it will get better.” I gave her a hug with my eyes, and smiled as I started to cry again. Oh, and the tears gushed out of her, too! I put a hand over my heart as if I were holding it back from bursting out as she squeaked out a meek thank you and I left her to her music.

I surprised myself I had said what I did. I told her what I had wanted to hear myself. I gave her heart ease and that made me feel better for a little while, good enough to weep with a joy in my heavy heart, reminding myself that, yes, it will be okay, somehow, more than okay, it will get better, and I won’t have to say good-bye anymore soon.