Friday, November 27, 2015

The Ramblings of a Depressed Human Needing Love Words

It has been four months since I have wrote words on this page. And although I haven't decided if there is purpose in continuing this blog or in which form, tonight -  I felt compelled to put digital ink to an illuminated screen.

My heart is held together by Elmer's glue, and little scraps of embroidery thread, it beats with a broken rhythm - I think they call it depression- and it feels - literally, not figuratively- like a heavy weight in the middle of my chest.

For four months I have wrote thousands of words. Thousands of words that were actually read by ten of thousands of people. An accomplishment I never thought I would see.

I wrote about food and I interviewed a finalist from the CBS reality show Survivor. I talked to pastors and chefs, and master gardeners.

I talked to professionals and your average joe. I was given mugs of steaming coffee and warmly invited to sit in their living rooms. One photographer I interviewed I had admired his work since I moved out here, years ago- never imagining I would have a chance to meet with him.

I offered people a chance to talk and sometimes the stories I heard never made it on newsprint, but I learned further about fragile hearts and sensitive souls and came away realizing that there's not enough hugs in the world and we are all so imperfectly human - each with our own story, shaped by tears and laughter and heartbreak.

One article I wrote was about how the non-profit social organizations in my Western small town had set themselves on a new path to change poverty. How instead of throwing more services and financial assistance at the needy, they were going to teach real skills- tech school or college - instead.

Instead of handing them fishes - they were going to teach them to fish.

One day, if I continue with this blog, I will write about how writing about interviewing people who deal and help people with poverty made me realize they can't feel it. Empathy- yes.  But to understand poverty you have to experience it. Pawn off useless crap to feed your kids. Or visit a food pantry.

Feel it. In the rumble of your belly. And the red stain of shame flushed cheeks when you're three dollars short for hot dogs and the small business owners sells it to you for the dollars and quarters and pennies in your pocket.

For four months I have avoided this space. I have filled my head and my fingers with words about my community and other people's stories and I have avoided my own.

My grandparents died and then I was thrown away by a loved one who never in her life has thrown anything away, but she could toss me and the rest of the family away like an old box of cereal. 

Nah, she keeps old boxes of cereal.

And I have to admit it hurts like hell to not even be as valuable as an old box of cereal. And I have to admit in my imperfectly humanness, I hope the holidays are just lonely enough to hurt. And then I try to remember love, but anger can be louder sometimes.

For my friends and families who have lost dear, dear loved ones this year, I worry and pray for you. And my heart swells with tears that I don't know how to express- because despite being a writer, I can be pretty lousy with spoken words.

But I have a wonderful friend who has taught me to say something anyway. So I stumble, stutter, but I speak clumsily and I have found that my far from graceful offerings of comfort aren't as rejected as I feared.

And I have seen the light, and I know even in our darkest hour we are never, ever alone. And of course, Bean reminds me how do you know it's your darkest hour...

 Ah, shit. I was trying for something hopeful and poetic and worthy of a life coach. But freaking me, truthfully that's not me.

Let me speak frank and with the anger I keep carefully contained under lock and key.

 Life can fucking suck and we don't always understand the reasoning behind what happens.

 It can be tough and fill us with hard words.

It can drag us down into the murky water to drown. And we do. We try to drown it with drugs, drink, food, and reckless sex. We numb ourselves and medicate ourselves and we turn away from the Divine.

And we forget to breath.

WE FORGET TO LIVE. And then Bean reminds me that she doesn't understand why people keep telling everyone to live - do more than survive. Aren't we living?

Are you? Am I?

 And in the meantime, the world shifts in imbalance - back and forth along the broken edge of a cliff, dividing people and we can feel it in our collective emotions. And if a hashtag could fix the world, then things wouldn't be falling apart like a snowman in summer.

And it's not that I'm writing about anything that hasn't been discussed since humans made a written language, and our ancestors understood hardship and death.

It's just us in the Western world we have been coddled and lived within an illusion, shopping while we sip lattes (and I do enjoy a good latte)  and now I realize that one of my main jobs of being a parent was not just to teach them compassion and empathy, but strength.

Because this world will kick you in the ass. 

And since us imperfect humans love to find solace in words - words from songs like the Beatles, and quotes from deeply spiritual people like Mother Teresa and from words handed down through centuries like the Holy Bible - one theme remains clear -

The world may kick you in the ass but

Love kicks back.

And that's how I am going to finish this utterly too depressing narrative about ass kickings, old cereal boxes, and how cancer is pretty much the most shitty deal ever.

We always find love words to give us strength.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Time Out- I'm on Base and You Can't Get Me

I officially declare a time out from life. Temporary, mind you. I'm not sure how long I'll need, but if I'm to prevent part of my heart from growing cold and hard, I need some time. - I really don't know how much more strength I can find- at this point I am digging deep.

And damn it, my shovel was smashed to pieces yesterday by someone I love dearly.

This is the part in the story where I start digging with my hands, on my knees in the mud, having a Captain Dan moment.

Except I don't have a shrimping boat to tie myself too and scream at the heavens for a few hours.

Although, if God can hear my screaming thoughts inside my head, then I don't need a shrimping boat and a storm to communicate.

I listened to Abu cry herself to sleep last night,  because she couldn't believe that someone she cared about with all the graciousness of her heart would choose an inanimate object over her. She would give the shirt off her back for this person- had nothing but nice things to say, and the hurt she feels cuts me to the core of my mommy heart.

The Vikings were brilliant- burn the shit with the owner. I told my girls- when I die- burn all my shit with my body- I don't want any fighting over scraps of my life.
Bean pointed out she might be arrested for doing that, but she would do it for me anyways.

And the ironic part of the matter, is this person was getting the items, there was no question -  but for whatever reason she freaked out, acted in such a way that even I with my big, sensitive heart can not excuse with grief- and tore my family apart. And destroyed her relationships with my girls.

I hope it was worth it.

As Doc said in Back to the Future 3- Shot in the back over a matter of 80 bucks.

That line has bugged me since I first watched the movie, because what sort of person would shoot a person over something as tiny as 80 bucks?

And then I found out. Unfortunately it wasn't a nemesis, but blood. And I have to admit that hurts in ways that are crushing.

Betrayal. It stings. That's why it plays such a big part in books. We hate what we can not fight, the stab in the back.

On top of that - Hero Hottie had a doctor's appointment and was told he is really sick, as we knew, but they don't know what's wrong with him. More tests are ordered.

More. tests. are. ordered. - Translation: we don't know what the hell is wrong with your husband.

As a child I loved to read mysteries...

As an adult they are starting to lose their appeal.

My Grandpa died last week. He lived 54 days after Grandma. He would be so disappointed to know what has happened this week.

Knowing my Grandpa, he would have burnt his shit, rather than have things transpire the way they have.

My Mom asked a nurse how could she work at the hospice house, working with people when they're at their worse.

A few days later she came back and said she had thought about Mom's comment.

"I don't work with people at their worse. I work with them at their best. This is who they are."

Because dying strips us of all our facades and walls we have built around ourselves, exposing our true, naked selves.

Media has it wrong- we don't live like we're dying. We die the way we lived.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Hospice House

Details of a Short Stay at the Hospice House

       Two years ago when my Grandma had surgery for colon cancer, she could see the hospice house from her hospital room. During her two week stay in one of the tallest buildings in our small town, she could peer over the parking lot, the drainage field and the row of pine trees, to the hospice house. And for two weeks she watched people go in and out, visiting their dying loved ones, and she decided that she didn't want to die there. She wanted to be at home. 

     Unfortunately, life doesn't  never goes as planned. I'm starting to believe that you need some sort of plan - like a goal- so you don't wander aimlessly around waiting for life to happen to you, but plans are more like suggestions. 

  One time I toured a college, and the college mentor was explaining to me that she had been there for seven years and just couldn't leave because she didn't know what to do with her life when she left. 
     Completely forgetting the fact that she was in fact living her life at that moment she was wasting it, while she decided she had to 'be something' in order to live life. -

   But back to Grandma- not even two weeks after we sorted shoes, water retention in her body made her limbs too heavy for family members to care for her at home. And when my sister pulled her shoulder trying to help her- she knew she had to make a decision and she entered hospice house via ambulance and being lifted down her porch stairs in her kitchen chair by two strapping EMTs.

And that image of her sitting- all frail and both bones and skin from wasting away from cancer and swollen and puffy tissues from water retention- wearing a nightgown and robe- knowing she would never return to her home- in her own kitchen chair- makes me cry. I wasn't there when she left for the hospice house, but I came that night to see her. 

I had never been in the hospice house before. I'd heard excellent things about it.- My Mom and I went together, quiet in our thoughts. The building is right behind the hospital and off a main road, but they designed it in such a way that you feel like you're in the woods. It's an illusion- but it's peaceful and relaxing, and one can pretend that death is a quiet, separate affair from the busyness of life. 

The interior is designed like a lodge, floor to ceiling windows allow you to peer into the strip of pine trees, concealing the hospital tower just on the other side. A stone fireplace, and comfortable chairs fill the lobby, like you've just come in from skiing. Books, a television, a piano, and a kids area invite family members to stay. The next room is a large dining room, with enough chairs to seat large families. And a kitchen is open for anyone to use. 

Laminate floors that look like polished wood floors, dim lighting, and exposed beams with plenty of natural light, make the surroundings seem less like a hospital and more like a home, except for the nurses station in the middle, the beeps and rings that accompany any medical setting, and the harsh cleaner smell in the air. 

Grandma looks so small and vulnerable in her bed. A bed that is rumored to cost $50,000 and can take her vitals, and will sound an alarm if she gets or falls off it. 

The bed - For being a fancy example of medical genius and technology, Grandma complains and says the bed is stiff and uncomfortable. The nurses agree, and say they have heard that from other patients. One sassy nurse says maybe admin should have to sleep on the beds before they buy them. -

I'm at a lost of what to say- shouldn't you have the most comfortable bed when you're dying?

The room is beautifully decorated- with exposed beams, triangle shaped windows above the doors leading onto a balcony, which has a bird bath and bird feeders on it. Perfect for my Grandma who used to feed the birds, until health and budget prevented her. 

Grandma is a little lost, confused- her wrinkled brow scrunched together, my Mom having to remind her how she arrived there. Which Grandma recalled quickly, once we starting talking about it.

And my Grandma being my Grandma, notices the tiny smidgen of dust collected above the Cove Heaters.

No one knows it at the time, but in less than two weeks, Grandma will be gone and Grandpa will occupy the room across the way. 

I visit the next day and Grandma is sitting up in her rocking chair, watching the birds eat at the birdseed. My Mom had tracked down a volunteer to fill it up so Grandma can enjoy birdwatching. She never turns on the television, once while she's there, using her time to read a bit, watch the birds, and visit. She is rarely without someone there with her.
My great Aunt D, who is Grandma's big sister by eleven years, is constantly by her side, and she doesn't say it, but no big sister thinks they're going to help their baby sister onto the next path. Every time she brushes Grandma's forehead, or grabs her hand, or tries to make sure she has everything she needs, she is smiling and encouraging. But occasionally, you can see the pain when she loses control for just a nano second, and the heaviness of her heart dampens her eyes. 

And then it's gone, and she smiles and tries to chat. 

I ask if Grandma needs something else to read, but she says she has plenty of magazines at home that she hasn't had time to read, plus a couple of books she's in the middle of reading, so when she's done with the two magazines she has brought, she'll have me go get them.

She doesn't even finish the magazines she brought, and later when I read them, I find her blue post it note, holding her place, stuck in the middle of a story. 

For the book lover in me, the child who would sneak out of bed to finish a book by nightlight- I'm having trouble with imagining what it must feel like to leave this physical world without finishing the book you are reading. I think it might drive me nuts on the other side. I'm afraid I will not be able to die without all books finished- or I will end up haunting a library. 

It's amazing how much life less than two weeks can contain when you realize that time's almost up- and so I will have to finish the rest of Grandma's hospice stay in the next blog or two. 

I'm still trying to figure things out. But I do know Tim McGraw is wrong. Riding a bull and jumping out of a airplane isn't what makes your life worth living. 

And a bucket list is only as good as the love it contains. And perhaps just a little bit of the meaning of life- comes back to the hand that is holding yours when you journey into the next world.