Death is Hard

 
Image
 
It’s the strangest feeling…
 
I’m looking at my cat, sleeping peacefully at my side. He’s curled up, paw covering his mouth and nose, so that I can only see his soft white fur and his eyes closed tight. His breathing is slow and steady. I look at him and fight the tears. I look at him and in a childish way wish, deep in my heart, that he could get better and live longer. Nineteen years he has been my buddy, traveling with me from 13 to 32. I look at him, imagine life without him, and daydream that he makes a surprise recovery and continues to sleep at my side for a while longer. Memories run through my mind of times past, funny stories, battle scars and like photographs they flip in front of my eyes.
I’m looking at my cat, sleeping soundly by my side, and think about the last few weeks and the next few. I see his soft white fur, his steady breathing, and quietly wish that he could just go like this…peacefully in his sleep. No more suffering, no more decay, no more cancer, no needles, no dreaded moment hearing the veterinarian’s car pull up in the drive way – just peace.
In the same breath I want him to live forever and die in his sleep.
Death is hard.

August 27, 2011   9:59 pm

 


Today’s Helping Hand….

 
The fortunate thing is that these moments, despite how often we feel we may “waste” them, come every now and again….
 
http://www.elizabethgilbert.com/thoughts-on-writing/
 
“We need more creation, not more destruction. We need our artists more than ever, and we need them to be stable, steadfast, honorable and brave – they are our soldiers, our hope.”
 
Thank you, thank you…. I hope this finds its way to someone and makes them feel the hope and determination I feel right now.

An answer of sorts….

 

Anyone who knows me well would confidently tell you that I am afraid of getting married and having children. I have been with my guy for a very long time (more than ten years) and according to the state of New York I am actually married… But the idea of going through the motions just stops me in my tracks, and more often than not I just don’t think that much about it. The subject of children on the other hand, is front and center because that is one of the few decisions that as a woman you do not have forever to make. As every year passes I know that the time has come, and that sooner or later it will be do it or miss the train. Sorry…but that is the scientific truth. I am not going to be comforted by the fact Mariah Carey had twins at 40-something. I am NO Mariah Carey.

A good, good friend of mine has had her first baby and from time to time tries to get me to “talk it out” and help me find some sort of peace with my apprehension. Up until recently the best I could come up with was “I just don’t want to be sorry that I never had one.” I could verbalize that I didn’t NOT want one, but I couldn’t find it in me to say, “yes, I want to have a baby.” Then, sometimes the heavens shine a ray of light at just the right time and a moment of clarity appears.

 

Dear A….,

So, I think I have come to a better description of what I, we, were trying to say the other day when you asked me to tell you why I felt I wanted to have a baby. I think I managed to say a half sentence about something like, “being very loving and not so crazy,” and then the bit about “an opportunity lost”.

At some point over the last couple of days I thought back to last Thursday evening, when my sister and I had gone to have dinner with our parents to celebrate my father’s birthday. Under the circumstances it had be done delicately: not to celebrate too much or be too chipper as that would have probably made him break down crying, but not let the day go by without any sort of acknowledgement at all either. So we picked up food and had dinner together, I brought some sunflowers (along with these beautiful little white flowers that I have never seen before, but were so pretty that everyone asked what they were) and my sister brought the most perfect card ever. It was nice…it was perfect.

After dinner my sister and I were standing near the table laughing when my mother, who was standing back by the kitchen, looked over at us and shook her head with a wide eyed look on her face. Seeing the gesture – I made eye contact with her, which was as good as a question, and she answered, “I’m just so amazed that you’re mine. I look at you girls, how you are with us and each other, how beautiful and how funny, and I can’t believe that I made you; that you are part of me…all these years later. Its amazing really, you girls are amazing.”

This thought then led to my thinking about how much I loved my sister and how grateful I was for her, which then immediately led to thoughts of you, and how grateful I was that you were in my life. In one of those “slide-shows” that happen in our brains from time to time, I saw big brown eyes, shiny long brown hair, big silly smiles, a long drive on an amazing coast, climbing out windows with snacks and dogs and a bunny hopping around on the living room floor, a “that smells bad” face as you pulled a moldy pair of shoes out of the deep back corner of your closet in apartment five, running around in that big Victorian in Vermont we had all to ourselves, making faces at each other at the Medeski Martin and Wood concert…then venturing off into the back and looking at the details of the old theater, sitting up at the top of the fire tower, drinking wine….borrowing each others clothes, cooking together, walking together….an infinite number of words exchanged….

I am so much more complete because you exist.

If your mother and father never had you, if your mother never gave birth to you, never worked her way through the baby stage and the crazy times, the exhausting long days and the abrasive teenage years and gave up some of her freedoms, I wouldn’t have you. I thought about that for a long time, and then there it was. Having a child is giving that gift all over again…that someone might be so happy that you exist. That your life might mean so much to someone else…that love, that indescribable feeling of connection and companionship; that is (one of the reasons) why I think I want to have a baby. I imagine, naturally, that I will love my baby with all of my being, but it goes beyond that. It is the idea, the possibility that one person can mean something to so many people, and in turn find people whom they love so much; that amazing journey. If my mom and your mom didn’t do it, we wouldn’t be. Not just you and me, but we.

Love you…


A clean home…

My mother has always kept a very clean home. The kind of clean where you could be an occasional guest in her home, go into the bathroom and not be the slightest bit afraid when you accidentally drop your ring and it rolls behind the toilet. In anyone else’s house (who does not have a stellar cleaning woman) you would think, “oh shhhhhhit.” You would clench your jaw; squint your eyes as if it helps with the nastiness and, holding your breath, reach in to reclaim your valuable. But not in my mother’s bathroom….no sir, no ma’am. You can confidently reach back there, even sit down on the floor if it makes you more comfortable and take your time because back there – it’s clean. There are no forgotten corners in her home, where eventually someone must go and discover a pile of something questionably grey and sticky.

 

Lately I haven’t been home much. Between the holidays, my birthday and other people’s events, Juan and I have been out more than in, and when we are in we haven’t been all that productive. Without fail, when I go through a period like this, there comes a day where I just can’t take it any more and I need to do a proper cleaning. I need to spend a day, on my own, and tidy up, dust, vacuum, cook and organize. My mother, always the hard worker, is nothing but supportive and kind to me, saying things like, “oh honey…you work so hard, you’re always running around and doing this or that. Don’t feel bad! You deserve it; go out and have a good time, then make sure you rest.” I, quietly, always think the following:

Yeah, ma, right. This is coming from the woman who, with a weakening illness managed (at my age) to have a job, keep a home in tip top shape with no help at all, raise two kids, help them with their homework, keep close tabs on them AND cook every single day trying to keep her husband happy. All this and you could peek behind the television and find clean organized wires and no dust. Sure ma. I should rest…because I’m so busy going out and socializing after work. Sssssure.

No! What happens if you come over and drop something…..anywhere???? You’ll find…well, I just don’t want to say. But no ma, today is “clean up my shit” day. No funny business.

So today that is exactly what I am doing. I reached far behind the toilet, under the radiator and cleaned it all. I removed the light fixture cover and cleaned it (eeeew) and now, I am happy to say, that you can come over and drop marbles if you want, because no matter where they roll, don’t be afraid. It’s all good.

These moments will always remind me of her, and how I was raised. The best part of being an adult is being able to part with the difficulties of being a child and remember the core things that you now know made you who you are. Whenever I am tired or just lazy, and think that I don’t have time, I think of her and know that is just not true. It doesn’t mean that I always then do whatever it is that I am putting off, but that I know. Knowing, as they say, is half the battle. There will never be any room for denial in my life because my mother taught me, by example, otherwise. 

 


Success Disclaimer

11:01 am 
 
Success
 
Some days, I feel the need to ask my “successful” and “do-er” friends to sign a disclaimer that they will still want to be friends with me even if I don’t do anything impressive or noteworthy with my life.
At 33, I battle the fear of loosing my focus on a daily basis, sandwiched between going to work because I need money to live and doing all the normal stuff that needs to be done for our lives to run smoothly (like clean clothes, towels and apartment, food to eat and so on). I have a few friends in my circle that are very busy people, always getting something done and pounding past those milestones like fucking champions. Their stories speak of houses, renovations, trips to the vet, new cars and car payments, refinancing, retirement investing, babies, children, second degrees, job promotions and salary increase negotiations. There are times when I stare at the phone, my faced all screwed and folded into a look of anguish: what will I say if I call them? When they are done filling me in, what will I say? “I made these amazing blood orange muffins the other day, my asshole boss at the job I said I was going to quit three months ago is still an asshole, I’m still working on “the change” we spoke about a year ago and hey, I’ve been posting to a blog no one knows about!”
 
Ah yes, the conversation of champions.
 
I mean, don’t get me wrong: I love these girls. They are no joke…good looking, strong, successful and amazing in general. But I do sometimes, in the irritating insecurity that plagues the girl part of me, want to just put it all out on the table: “do you want to talk to me if I don’t have anything impressive to report? Please sign this disclaimer that you will like me even if I don’t find my way. As long as I don’t go dumb and useless, you’ll love me, right?”
 
But nothing is black and white, and my memory reaches out to put a stop to my nonsense, recalling a certain moment past with one of my “power girls”:
We lay facing each other on a twin bed in her in-laws house with the door closed as I watched tears stream down her face. Her beautiful blue eyes were red and so sad, the injured girl in her breaking my heart. The pain we know from love is like no other, except perhaps for death, and I searched for something to say to make her feel just the tiniest bit better. When the sobbing slowed and we just looked at each other in silence, I told her that even though we couldn’t explain it now, I truly believed that everything happened for a reason. I told her how amazing she was, how proud I was of who she was, that she was part of my life…and that she was strong. Then I joked about myself: I pointed out that at least she wasn’t like me, wandering about life in circles, asking herself questions over and over and never making any progress. She had accomplished so much and had come so far from where she began. It was then that here eyes snapped to attention for just a moment, and sternly she said, “at least you’re happy. At least you laugh and can be silly, you move around in circles but see beautiful things: you’re living.”
That’s why we all need each other, like pieces of a puzzle. If we were all the same shape we could be side-by-side at best, but not united. With that I will go and be on with my day off, letting myself be proud for small things like eating a meal that does not contain cheese, actually putting all of my clothes away, putting the recycle out before midnight and crossing something off my list that has been there since last year.

Thunderstorms

 

I woke this morning to the sound of a booming thunderstorm. This wasn’t the “boom boom growl crack boom” sort of thunder. No, this was “revert to being a five year old curled into a ball in your parents bed; oh my god- is it going to rip a hole in my roof???” kind of thunderstorm. As I lay there with my eyes peeled open wide and tense, listening to the nonstop crack, strike and immense booming, I imagined what was going on in my neighbors’ house at that same moment. Next door they have a little boy, just about two years old, and downstairs are five-year-old twins. Were they frightened? Were they in their parent’s bed? Were they crying? Is it possible for kids to sleep through something like this?? I hoped that they felt safe, and had no idea that their parents were probably a little afraid themselves.
 
Or were they? Am I strange to feel a knot in the pit of my stomach? Nah…Can’t be.
 
These moments remind me that we are at the mercy of the gods, or the skies, or the earth…whichever you relate to, much more of the time than we may realize. While we run around, stressed because we missed the train to work for totally careless reasons, making phone calls to pay bills and arrange for the cable guy to come and fix the service…in one moment all that could be rendered meaningless by a shift in the skies above us or a shudder in the ground below us. As the lightening and thunder built up in intensity, my heart beat harder in my chest. You can feel it happening around you, above you….far beyond anything you can reach. You can’t run to try and stop it from falling, or move quickly out of its path, you can’t see it about to happen and yell. It is the very existence of all that is around you that expands and contracts, delivering to you the message, “you are very small.”
 
(… the kids downstairs are back to running around like pachyderms…I’m guessing they’re fine now.)
 
The sky is finally starting to lighten up a bit and the rain has resumed a more friendly rhythm. I feel safe now, to get up and start my day, filled with errands, lists and important things, beginning perhaps with some breakfast. I fully pay my respect to how fortunate I am and nod to the skies in acknowledgement, “thanks for not ripping a hole in my roof…giving me this morning moment to debate: peanut butter and apricot preserves or egg on toast?”

Accountablity

Accountability.
That, according to many different people and institutions, is an essential key to success in matters that require a significant amount of discipline. Weight Watchers, school, work, clubs and teams: they all hold us accountable for something. For each of these, there are things that you personally are responsible for, and the idea that people are looking to you to do these things gives you point of reference. Your conscience is alerted. How many times have you wimped out on a promise you made to yourself? How many times have the items on your “to-do” list, like making a dentist appointment, joining the gym or signing up for a class, gone undone? These things you let go, yet you find time somehow, to do things for other people – right? The reason this happens is that when someone asks you to help them with something, we feel the responsibility to come through for them. When a professor gives a deadline for a paper, you know that if you don’t hand it in on time there will be negative consequences; knowing that you will be stepping on a scale in front of other people at your weekly Weight Watchers meeting makes you think twice before going off course and eating those cookies.
So there it is.
And today I am going to jump in, head first. I am going to pledge to start posting on my blog more frequently, and more importantly am going to write about all the things that I am trying to accomplish, hurdles I am trying to surpass and fears that I need to face. The thought that someone out there might actually read it will be my first step towards accountability. This brings me closer to a lot of things I have been thinking; particularly the idea that perhaps the answers to some of my questions and concerns lie in others. We are all connected on so many levels, and people have been helping each other thrive since the beginning of time. Plus, keeping all of this to myself has brought me to only one solid conclusion: I have been saying the same things, over and over, for a very long time. Whenever I read back through my journals I see the same recurring themes, the same frustrations and the same “longings” come up again and again. Like whispers they dance across the pages, spinning and twirling, taunting me…laughing ironically at the girl who keeps watching their show instead of moving up and onward.
 
And, since the odds of someone reading this one blog, amidst the immeasurable blogosphere are very, very slim, I will write all sorts of stuff, perfect or not, annoying or not and see how it goes.

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