*This is a post that has been sitting in my draft box for some reason…oh, now I remember. Anyway, it’s from March 20th, 2011 so fits in with some post(s) from that time. Probably ready to revisit this in terms of losing my uncle.*
Funny how you unexpectedly find things (or they find you) when you need them the most.
“Where the Ocean Meets the Sky” a documentary about the Lantern Floating ceremony that takes place every Memorial Day in Hawaii.
A lot was brought up in that piece that has me thinking. For example the concept of legacy, I have some idea of what that means to me personally but I don’t know if I have an idea of what it means in terms of those I’ve lost.
At 22:36 minutes into the film I just perked up my ears even more. These were things I have been recently talking about. How a lot of the emotions I feel now about people who have died in my lifetime are now more about how much I loved them than true pain of losing them.
The first part reminded me that I’ve been wanting to post up my final paper I wrote for my Positive Psychology class. What the man says in this segment is a lot like my sort of life philosophy I guess. Another good film that ends with a similar idea is “The Edge of Dreaming”. With both of these points in the films I had to rewind or re-watch those parts. I wasn’t sure I heard them right because I feel like I hear a very different set of ideas from everyone else and I feel like no one else gets “it”.
Anyway, check the film out. I will try to dig up my final paper. It will be password protected when I do post it, that much I know. Shouldn’t be too difficult to figure out.
My uncle passed away this past June. I’d been wanting to write about that and about him, it’s been too difficult. Probably me not venting some of those feelings is contributing to my out of the blue irritability. The fact I haven’t taken any time out for me (well this week was supposed to be that but…) Like everyone my uncle wasn’t without flaw, he held tight to a lot of beliefs that clashed with most people. Even so, or maybe even because of that he left an impression on just about everyone. He and my dad’s sister are two of the few people I can say give/gave me an understanding into what a real family is all about.
There are so many stories my uncle told that stick out. There is one that I think always really stuck with me and sort of pops up now.
I don’t remember the exact details but my uncle was working for a gas company at the time I believe and I want to say that they were going through a whole bunch of layoffs maybe. Anyway, there was an incident with a disgruntled employee. This guy had just lost it for whatever reason and came into my uncle’s office brandishing a gun. If you’ve never been put in the situation of having someone pull a loaded weapon it’s hard to say how you would react. But, go a head try to think. I think even if you’ve been trained you’re still going to be fighting strong natural instincts to fight, flee, or freeze.
No doubt this was a scary situation for my uncle but somehow he managed to put his feelings aside as much as possible. He took on the role of playing his own hostage negotiator. He managed to see the situation from this guys perspective and he managed to see what was probably important to this man. My uncle calmly talked to this man and get him to see that by harming someone else (my uncle & who knows who else he was planning on shooting) that he was ultimately going to end up hurting people he cared vary much about. My uncle explained that this mans family would end up suffering. This man was either going to end up in prison for a very long time or if he was contemplating suicide…this mans family was going to suffer consequences of his actions. My uncle explained that he didn’t think this is what the man intended when he burst in with the gun.
By showing concern for another person when every fiber in his body was probably more concerned with his own neck, my uncle saved two lives. I don’t recall what happened to that employee in the long run, though. “Think about your family the people you care about…”, my uncle reminded the man. No doubt, my uncle was thinking of his own as well but he didn’t express it.
I miss him, but his words & lessons…I’ll carry forever. And I’m sure at some point I’ll write more about my time with my aunt & uncle. I’m hoping for many more years with my aunt, too and I hope to make the most of it.
It’s all a blur now.
I said this is not the time and I meant that. The last thing I remember is saying “I’m getting really fucking pissed, right now!” I remember the other person saying “I’m really mad too.”
No, you don’t get it I think. This is the tail shaking on the rattlesnake. This is all the warning you’re going to get.
The words of the other person are barely filtering through my head.
All of a sudden the only thing I’m 100% aware of is my body. It feels like it’s shaking. Like there is too much electricity going through it. Then my focus falls on my left hand. It won’t stop clenching and un-clenching. All this energy is building up and I’m slowly realizing I can’t hold it back…it’s looking for some place to go.
The other person clearly isn’t aware how bad this situation is or how bad it’s going to get. There’s various scenarios of the near future running through my head, none of them leave this person uninjured.
I’m staring at my lunch but my stomach refuses to digest what I put down just moments before all this started. It’s sitting like lead. I feel sick.
I throw it all together to go throw it away. I get up, the other person is blocking my way. It pisses me off even more. All I can think is this person better get out of my way or I will hurt them very badly if not kill them.
The person barely moves out of my way in time.
Sometimes I think it would be good if every person in the world was required to take a class in reading body language.
I don’t know entirely why I was so pissed I just know that, clearly I was. I haven’t been that angry in a long, long time. I know it’s most likely a sign of something deeper. I’m just unsure what exactly and how far it goes.
Eleven years later (3/12/2000) and it seems like we are struggling less with March. That doesn’t mean I miss “her” any less. It doesn’t mean I don’t think about it at all. Some days, like today (3/13), I still obsess over it. Maybe obsess isn’t the right word…I’m not sure how to describe it but I just need to feel what ever it is I’m still feeling. Last year I don’t remember actively thinking about the fact it was March really. The month just flew by I think and now that I look a back at it… I don’t know, it’s a little surprising and I want to be happy that it flew by like that. I hope that after typing and publishing this maybe this March will go by like any other too. In the back of my head there is a slight twinge of guilt but then again there is a bigger twinge of guilt when I spend too much time obsessing. I feel like obsessing is just a waste, I guess. I should be living.
My brother came home a last week for a minute. I guess that’s sort of when I started thinking about all this. I mean, there has been a lot of death and death related stuff going on around me and in my life lately too. Just seeing my brother really smile and genuinely happy reminded me how many months of March we went through where he was just ultra grumpy or reclusive. The only indication of those old times was when he commented “People die.” It wasn’t so much the comment itself but rather the tone.
It reminded me of that first day back to school. I called him up because I had to step out of class. I was already tired of talking about what had happened, I had gone to school hoping to escape with no such luck. He tried to be helpful, he tried to be strong for me. “She’s in a better place” he said. I remember feeling really confused as to why he said that. A) I wasn’t sure he believed that (he’s atheist) 2)how was being dead better than living? I mean just what the f*** does that mean. Even now I haven’t figured that out for myself. I’m just not sure it fits in my life.
Maybe all this is coming up stronger again because he is happy. He’s found someone he seems to be very serious about, she has a daughter. Last year he hit a big milestone birthday. Things “she” won’t ever get to do/experience.
Even though its a horrible gray day out, I can still vividly remember back to that March 24th. It was really starting to get spring like outside and everyone in school was buzzing about. It’s that weird energy that starts up as the weather turns nice and everyone starts to realize June, graduation, is just around the corner. I was running a little late because people kept stopping to chat with me. I thought I saw my brother’s car waiting out front for me but I wasn’t sure, someone distracted me and when I turned around the car was gone. I had to call home. I remember sitting in the pew between my brother and his friend as they played “Happy Birthday”. I remember how massively uncomfortable it was, no one knew what to do. My brother’s friend started singing…then so did I. I remember the girl who ran out from the church afterward as we were all standing around not quite ready to leave, still trying to catch our bearings, her face was so red as she was crying and half screaming. She ran straight in to my brother’s arms. I remember my brother’s friend saying that he wished he could climb up the rock face of church to shout up and ask if God was really listening. I remember the guy stopped at the red light just at the corner of church blasting his music. I remember how sorry he looked when the cop went up told what was going on and asked him to turn it off.
In writing this, I think I’ve realized that it isn’t so much the actual loss, & the missing (missing “her”, missing “her” car parked out front, missing picking up the phone when “she’d” call, etc). Mostly, I think I’m still upset over how much pain there was and how helpless everyone felt. There was no making sense of it, there still isn’t really. I think over the years, for me at least, I’ve had to cobble together a meaning. Especially being in the position that I am, where this is my brother’s friend and this is someone I was just starting to get to know, it’s been difficult to figure out all the pieces and where they go.
I realize now some years March may fly by like any other month and other times March may remain a highly “charged” time whether I’m conscious of it or not. It’s not called the grieving process without reason. For whatever reason (or the reasons above) maybe this is just a time I need to revisit parts of that process and fit in my latest life lessons, development stages & perspectives. I think I would like to just be able to make it disappear but I don’t think that’s going to happen, like everything else. I keep a self-care plan for September (another highly emotionally charged month) and maybe I need to make one for March.
It’s now March 14th, and today seems harder. I keep wondering if it’s just going to get harder and harder until the end of the month or whether my self-care tool box will kick in. I wasn’t thinking at all and I really should have scheduled somethings for myself but…it is what it is. Today I guess I just needed a break and I’m trying to just let that happen. I’m trying not to stress about every little thing, there’s so much going on…
“What can you do for yourself today?”
I think it would help me if I spent sometime writing out some things running through my head in preparation for my appointment on Thursday. If I can keep my eye on Thursday, I’ll be ok. It seems far but not too far that I can’t hold out.
*See note in previous post.
The alarm clock goes off, it’s 9:30am. I shove my face deeper into the pillow. The phone has been ringing non-stop since 5:30am or so. Well, actually there were two calls around 3:30am, a call around 2:15am, three around 1:20 – 1:45, and several around midnight. Ugh! They’re out there! There’s a loud pounding on the door, when it stops I count backward from ten waiting for the loud explosion that inevitably never happens.
I roll over and stare into the ceiling hoping either to be absorbed into it or that it will give signs that it’s finally going to come crashing down. Instead I’m shaken out of my day dream by a light tapping on the window of the side porch door. I sit up and slide my feet into ratty old baby blue slippers. As usual it’s my neighbor from across the street. I open the door.
“I got a good clear look this time! Do you want me to call it in this time?!” I just let out a groan, wave it off and say, “What’s the point.” I slink off toward the coffee pot that’s just spewing out the last few drops before its robotic alarm buzzes to tell my ghost body still in bed that the world is waiting. I grab two mugs and ask my neighbor, who even though this is routine for is still waiting at the door, if she’d like some coffee and breakfast. I grab two bowls, pour cereal and milk without even asking what my neighbor would like. She of course closes the door, comes in and sits down. She’s my only real friend these days. Not even a real friend though. I’m not sure anyone can be a real friend to me anymore.
I pull my baby blue bathrobe off the hook on the back of the kitchen door. I pull it on, sit down at the table and tuck the robe in around me. The house isn’t drafty for once, though maybe that was all in my head to begin with, the robe is more of a comfort item these days. I mechanically dive into my cereal, never taking my eyes off what’s in my bowl.
My neighbor goes on and on about neighborhood gossip, the latest town news. I just interject at the appropriate moments with the proper “mmhmm, I’m listening” noises, even if all I can hear is the loud crunching of cereal.
The cereal is just starting to get mushy when there’s a loud rat-a-tat-tat at the side door again. My neighbor opens the door neither of is us too surprised to see her husband standing there. He steps in as his wife sits back down to her cereal. “Good morning!” he says. “What are you two ladies chatting about?” “Oh, I was just telling Jessie about the new plans for the high school’s library addition.” his wife replies. Before she’s even half way through her sentence I feel the silence creep up. When it finally falls and the deafening sound of cereal smashing and sloshing in my mouth returns, I barely have to flick a glance up to know dirty looks are being exchanged between the couple. Finishing up my mastication project I wonder if in all forty some years of marriage their fighting has ever gone beyond this magnitude of deafening silence paired with an exchange of the ol’ stink eye.
“Well, I just dropped by to say the new window came in at the store and I’m on my way over to pick it up. If it’s ok I can come back and fix ‘er up in a few minutes?” I tell him that’s fine. Seeing my neighbor’s wife done with her cereal, I pick up the bowls and run them under the faucet before letting them clank to the bottom of the sink.
When the couple has left I grab up a loaded laundry basket and head for the basement. I haphazardly sort the clothes and then drag the clothes from last night out of the dryer. In my own little world I shove the dirty clothes into the washer and go back to folding the clean laundry. The familiar rat-a-tat-tat on the door comes, I shout up the stairs and rub my forehead as I hear the side door open and footsteps tap down the basement steps. My neighbor’s husband crosses to the far window, new window in tow, and yanks the boards off. His tool box has been sitting on the floor for nearly two weeks now.
The unfolded to folded laundry ratio well past the midway point I hear a voice say, “Well, that should do ‘er!” followed by the sound of fake dusting off of hands. Tools are packed up and a disguised groan comes as the heavy box is lifted. I hear my name, “Say, Jess…” my neighbor’s husband begins. I pause my folding and half turn my head in his direction, knowing too well he won’t say what he really wants to say. “…if you have any problems with it just give us a call ok?” He’s barely to the word “if” when I’ve folded two more shirts and remembered the dirty laundry sitting in the washer. I thank him as he heads back up the stairs. I hear the door shut and stare at the spout of the laundry detergent canister. “Damn it!” my wrist thud as they fall against the edge of the washer.
After I’m showered, dressed, and have grabbed the shopping list off the fridge, I hop into the car. I start the drive to the store that’s 15 minutes out of my way. I pass a familiar house and even though the day has turned out to be rather sunny, the house appears dark somehow. A “Happy Birthday, Trevor” banner from several days ago hangs pathetically on the porch. No cars parked in the drive or in the street in front, just a bicycle over turned in the yard and a seemingly lost pink boombox sitting patiently on the porch swing.
Three or four minutes later I pass the football field. I scan the cheerleaders shouting and leaping into the air but my eyes briefly on a single girl on the bleachers sitting with her back to the road. I watch as every now and then her left arm leaps from her side and into the air in time with her friends movements out on the field. In my rearview I catch her head turn briefly in the direction of my now fading car. She leaps from the bench, skips out to the edge of the field and begins to kick her legs high into the air with the rest of the cheerleaders.
I come to the front of the school where the too expensive, too under used LED message board still scrolls “Congratulations Creekside Class of 2010!” Semi aware I’ve just let out the Guinness Book of World Records winning entry for loudest sigh, I scrunch down in my seat a little further and press my foot against the gas pedal. Ten minutes later I find myself in a parking lot staring at my shopping list:
- frozen dinners
- ice cream
- frozen veggies
and scribbled tightly in the bottom margin, detergent.
Thankfully it’s the Fourth of July and the store is virtually empty save a few people who forgot their chips or hot dog buns. I grab my stuff, at the check out the clerk jabs my purchases into the crisp paper sack and tosses the bags into my arms.
At home I unpack my bags, then head back to the basement with the soda pop, detergent and frozen goods to store away in the large freezer. At the bottom of the last bag I unexpectedly find a bag of “Extra Seasoning! Spicy Fries”. I glare at them for a moment before shoving them into the freezer and slamming the door. I pour the detergent into the wash and start up the machine.
Heading up the stairs I grab my dusting and cleaning supplies to start in on the rest of the house. I come to the mantle over the fireplace and shove the duster between the large gaps between photos. In the hall I try to ignore the afternoon sun blatantly pointing to more faded spaces between photos as I vacuum. I shove the vacuum cleaner back in the closet. In the kitchen I start dinner, I always make too much. Dinner started I jog down the steps to change the wash. Upstairs the phone rings.
After checking the caller ID I pick up against my better judgment and as if controlled by some unseen force. Stupidly, I hear myself say “I thought I told you not to call…” The voice on the other end ignores me and drones on. Unsure how much later, I become aware of alien fingers twisting around the phone cord. I wonder why I’ve kept this old phone so long. “Look Jess, I know how you feel but this is FAMILY…” The deep voice launches into the standard speech. I suddenly remember the multitude of things I forgot to put on my shopping list and yet managed to pick up fries I won’t ever touch. I quietly curse myself. I let the voice know I need to go rescue my dinner before it burns. As I hang up I catch the voice something about “…the 27th…he needs you. You’re his mother, for Christ sake!” For Christ sake…right.
I watch the sunset out the kitchen window. The dryer buzzer sounds, when I come to I find an empty plate in front of me and near full pots and pans on the stove. Running my hands over my exhausted face I stand up, leave my dishes and head back to the dank basement that seems more like a prison today.
Pulling the warm clothes out one stray item lands on the floor between the dryer and my basket. I haul it up to find a t-shirt in my hands. The room begins to swim. Sobbing uncontrollably I rush to the wash basin to vomit. My legs give way, sinking to the floor my head strikes the basin but I hardly even notice the pain. I hardly even notice when the fireworks begin all I seem to notice is my own wailing, the sound of blood rushing in my ears, and the crumpled t-shirt on the basement floor. The message emblazoned upon the shirt staring back at me, one I had seen before but…I hadn’t really noticed…
It looks like I never finished the exact idea I originally had (think I thought I’d get this up quicker and thought I’d just remember from my chicken scratch outline). It looks like the original ending ended with her collapsing and hitting her head. I’ll probably monkey around with it again at some point.
Ok so this only took me so long to finally type up! The deal with this thing is that I picked up a couple random idea books for those day’s when I want to do something but I have no frakking idea what to do. One of the first books I opened had this suggestion to pretend to write about your day as though you have just committed some sort of crime the only catch is you could not mention the crime. So I thought about this from a few different angles, I have another idea for something similar filed away somewhere, finally one day I was having sort of a strange conversation with some people. The conversation was somewhere along the lines of if you were/or are a parent what is your worst nightmare about who your child turns out to be. I won’t get into it but it was one of those conversations I end up intensely disliking people. Anyway, for me my worst nightmare would be my child committing some sort of horrible crime against another person. Whenever I hear about things in the news or what have you I always at some point wonder about the perps parents. How does one react to that? What goes through their heads? So many questions. So that’s where this comes from. The ending isn’t really how I wanted it. Con’t at the end of the story in the next post.
I have my stupid story half way typed up. I’ve been so busy with so many different things I haven’t quite gotten around to finish typing and I wanted to make just a few changes. Anyway, I’m sure I have a ton of other stuff lying around I was gonna post but I stumbled over this just now and had to post it up. I wrote some things in the margins, not sure how I was going to fit in I guess.
Oh lovely Saturday,
You toy with my mind. You make me feel as if there is so much time left to get things done. So much time left to spend with someone [or something]. (dying/terminal) Then it all begins to slip away (life). I always think why didn’t I do it Saturday? I always say, “Oh, I’ll just do it Saturday”. But Saturday comes and goes, [sigh].
Sunday is not my friend, I know I can’t do this then. I thought you were my friend…are you just pretending? My fair weather friend. I always end up feeling guilty (after) with Saturday (one night stand) (end up so used. It was so lovely Saturday but what now… Oh, how awkward this is…)
Hmmm, still no reply from Saturday. I’m not surprised. Saturday, where are you!?