I would rather die first

February 25, 2014 § Leave a comment

We were watching television, a completely irrelevant program, when I paused the show and threw myself on the floor. First I sobbed suddenly, a puppy yelp of ridiculous sorrow, and said, “I don’t want you to die!” The word “die” was long and desperate, I held that vowel sound like a hot ember and carried it flying across the sky, leaving a white jet line of cartoonish sound. Yes, I was a cartoon as I threw myself down, with the anvil weight of picturing my lover dying, my friends dying, my family, everyone around me crumbling like buildings over a bomb, and me, left standing dirty and alone. I wailed, “Everyone is going to die,” sailing past reason with that vowel again, and he looked at me in disbelief. He was surprised as hell, and so was when I saw the horror reflected in his face. An eye somewhere deep in my mind saw this happening and even now, I still believe that it would be much less painful to die first.

It would be less painful if I died first. Right? After picturing everyone I know die, after seeing their skin stretched across their bones and then see that skin rot away in the speedway of time, I felt horribly guilty. With similarly morbid obsession, I imagined my own death. I’d like to go first, I sobbed, I hope I can die first so that everyone else is spared (even though they will eventually die) and so, selfishly, I won’t have to experience the torture of loss. It’s not bittersweet, this thing we call grief, it’s fucking painful, and it’s time we started getting more real about that.


Keeping secrets

May 8, 2013 § Leave a comment

It was her stillness that moved me. I could tell that she was keeping secrets. Momentum had been dammed in the illusion of her fresh beauty. Fuchsia tie dye t-shirt, tiny acid-washed denim shorts, white high-top sneakers with rainbow laces, and her long long golden hair and long long summer legs. I was puzzled. Why was this gorgeous girl sitting separate, away from her peers, in a state of stillness normally reserved for the hunted? Under the  rain forest canopy of high school, she was a tropical bird in shadows but still, still, she reflected light. I scolded myself, don’t assume that pretty girls can’t be ostracized from the social group. But no, it had nothing to do with her radiant physical appearance. It was more like I recognized myself in her stillness. I kept secrets too. I held my body in a tight frame of fear, I took short, careful breaths, I looked away when caring people asked me questions with knowing eyes, I kept my face blank and smooth, I pulled the shades down, I shut the blinds, I was the hunted, and I shook loose at night.

Grief or Memories of Sally

March 28, 2013 § Leave a comment

Grief lurks in the most unexpected places. Like the lecherous single man in the seamy bar, it leans in the creepy corners of our bodies and comes lurching out of the dim light to startle us out of our busy, happy moments.
When I get sick in the car, always as a passenger, most often on winding roads, I usually experience the unpleasant shock of the most particular smell. It’s the stench of my childhood dog, Sally, panting at the back of the car as she gradually dried out after a swim in a river or creek. On long road trips my dad would stop at some spot he had noticed while coming around a bend, never a designated rest stop with signs, toilets, garbage bins and picnic tables, never assigned social encounters with other people wearing wrinkled country traveling clothes and eating humid snacks. We would stop at his spot and get out to quietly explore a place that felt like ours for fifteen minutes. Sally was allowed the most uninhibited enthusiasm for the experience and she would run over her own legs just to get into the crisp water as fast as possible. I always envied her as she splashed, plunged, and grinned her way through the rushing stream named something like Otter Tail River or Castle Creek. On the hotter days I longed to join her and feel the rocks on my feet as I submerged myself in the clean, wild relief. Oh sometimes, we took our shoes and socks off, or gathered handfuls of water to our faces but no one was as free as the dog. « Read the rest of this entry »

I’ve got grief, wanna see it? or Personal progress

March 18, 2013 § 6 Comments

I wrote this ten months ago in a fit of insomnia, sadness, unemployment and some surprising 4am clarity. You know what it proves? That what we call personal progress is slow and circular. We make concentric circles in our efforts to be better people and we come back to the same stuff, the same issues, over and over again. Beautifully frustrating.

May 2012

I would describe it as a mental health week. That’s what it has been, this past stretch of days. We like to name sequences of time so that we can remember them or feel like we’ve learned something, made the most of it, or maybe we’re just self-absorbed. So while I was busy being so aware of myself it happened. My mental health week crept in through the backyard even though I had been watching carefully from the front porch, thinking I’d see it strolling down the street and get ready for its arrival. Five or six days later and there it is, boozing and smoking it up on the back patio, like I had been entertaining it on purpose. It was taking up space without my even knowing it. Although, that’s why I’m writing this. I know it. And it’s real. And once again, I have to face myself, my situation, and say, yes I have a mental…I live with mental…I have a low grade depression called…this is who I am. « Read the rest of this entry »

Grief for R.

July 24, 2010 § 4 Comments

Grief descends swiftly. We circle and swoop towards each other, arms outstretched, cheeks red and swollen from crying. Our mother, daughter, sister, aunt, lover, friend has gone. Is gone. Is. Gone. Gatherings occur, food is warmed, the air is soaked with the scent of grief and everyone moves slowly, allowing small escapes of low laughter in the dim kitchen light. People call. The phone is both a comfort and a wound. Words seem to drop out of our mouths like worms, and every sentence seems to echo too loudly with the obvious. There is a strong awareness of tense. She was so brave. She will be remembered. « Read the rest of this entry »


March 12, 2010 § 2 Comments

A dark, rainy Friday morning makes me miss him quite a bit. He would have said, “Let’s go for a drive, Trout.” He would have written a note the night before that said, “Will do dishes in the morning”. Instead, at five a.m., he would arrive over my bed, like the first bit of sun at dawn, and say, “Feel like pancakes?” The dishes would wait.

There would be a nice lull of a hum in the truck and the trees would appear and disappear through the passenger window as I stared up at the fading indigo sky. The stereo would speak to me at just the right volume and his fingers would tap the steering wheel softly as though he could play the guitar, the drums and the bass all at once. In my mind, he could. And when we drove in the hushed winter before light, I would feel full of all the seasons that had not yet sprung; I felt full of all the days I did not know I wouldn’t get to have.

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