Well SOMEBODY Must’ve Said It…

Just be yourself. I’m sure someone told me that. Then again, I can be pretty out there, so maybe I made it up? I don’t know. The point is, I’ve been sitting here for the last three hours trying to think of what to blog about that’s not super depressing. But I can’t. It’s September 29th. Noah’s due date. Even though I know he would’ve been here already (he was going the same route Tayla did, swimming in sugar, getting all huge and “moose like” and would come early via C-section. I can’t even talk myself into thinking things are better off this way, for the time being. Grieving is a full time job, hellish hours, almost NO PAY… I’m not sure how equipped I would be to handle and infant, a teenager, a death AND post-partum hormones. It doesn’t matter. My heart has a boo-boo and I want my mommy and my baby.

It’s also grandma’s birthday. Happy birthday “guccum”. I’m sorry I probably won’t get around to my usual releasing balloons and making a card ritual but maybe I’ll take Tayla to Dairy Queen and the fountain. I’ll try hard not to cry as she runs around the water, splashing and smiling because it’ll remind me of Natalie and I chasing each other around and around that Shelter fountain. The colored lights changing the hues of the water. Finally resting, able to eat that Blizzard and cuddle up with grandma just enjoying that sweet Columbia MO air… it always smelled better there. Probably all the flowers.

And it’s Thursday. Another fucking Thursday.

I’ve been trying to give myself pep talks, not wanting to ruin or waste a day (even a Thursday) having a pity party but I haven’t found anything that works yet.

I actually keep going back to that advice from a football player… (I know, right? In my defense, he was on America’s Got Talent- as a magician) and one thing he said that really makes so much sense to me is: “Don’t listen to yourself; talk to yourself”. When I listen to myself… oh man. I can go down the rabbit hole, FAST. But talking to myself? That sounds like a good idea… but maybe I’ll start tomorrow.

Daily Prompt: Pretend

via Daily Prompt: Pretend

Today I was a nurse. Well, someone thought I was a nurse. I was at an Asian restaurant tonight, grabbing some lemon chicken. At the register, the cashier asked me how my night was. “Fine” I replied.

“Do you have any plans for the rest of the night?”

“Oh, um… I’m going to go home, eat and try to stay awake until it’s time for bed.”

He asked “Are you a nurse?”

I squinted in confusion as if the sun were in my eyes.

“No” I said, shaking my head slowly.

He nodded toward me, the left of me and I realized I was wearing my sweatshirt with the End the Epidemic logo I designed.

“Oh, because of the syringe?”

“Yeah, that and you look tired. And you mentioned trying to stay awake until it was time for bed…”

“Got it” I said. “No, I’m not a nurse. I just wear this sweatshirt because I lost my sister to the heroin epidemic in May.”

As I was speaking, I was also thinking, “wow, that was almost completely painless”.

“Oh my God” he said. “I’m so sorry. I have two sisters that were heavily into drugs in the 70’s. One has cleaned up, the other… she’s still kind of a mess.”

“I’m sorry to hear that” I said.

We talked for a few more minutes and by the time I got home, I realized the opportunity I’d wasted. Here’s how I imagined the conversation went, had I been a nurse.

“Are you a nurse?”

“Yes” I would say

“Where do you work?” He’d ask.

“Um, at a hospital?”

“What do you do there?”

“What is this, the Spanish Inquisition?”

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“Sorry, just trying to make polite conversation…”

“No, I’m sorry, didn’t mean to snap at you. I change bedpans, start IV’s, bring people ice chips… that kind of stuff.”

He would nod, thoughtfully.

Wow. That was WAY LESS INTERESTING than I’d imagined. And really? The first thing I think of for my job description is changing bedpans? WTF?

Signs?

Sunday’s post was admittedly very depressing. I thought about ending with a joke or in some other way, discount or invalidate my feelings- to make other people more comfortable. I write to honor my experiences, myself. It’s for that reason, I ended it the way I did.

Understandably, my mom was worried. “I want to discuss your post” she texted shortly after it was published.

I told her I was tired and asked if we could talk tomorrow.

“Of course” she said.

First thing Monday morning she called and asked if I was feeling any better. I was, I guess, maybe a little bit.

We talked about Noah and about maybe he is just waiting for me to get healthy… I liked that idea. I thought again of how relieved I was that I lost Noah before Natalie. I didn’t need to blame her for anything more than what I already was.

I guess I need to back up a bit. The other day mom and I were talking about symbols and the which ones in particular we were going to use for the expo. “Rainbows” she said. She kept getting rainbows. Seeing them show up in her paintings, finding “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” song etc. Ok, I thought. Is there anything more to the rainbow? Are we just using it because it symbolizes something beautiful after a storm? While on the phone with her, I googled rainbow symbolism.

It stands for unity. Bridging Heaven and Earth. This felt better… Right.

I thought of it Monday morning on my way to work. I got a text of Natalie singing “Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey.

“Don’t stop believing what? In Natalie? In life after death? What?” (Yes, I do routinely talk to myself, especially when I’m in the car.)

Just then, I caught the license plate on the car next to me. 444 NA(w?). 444 Is a sign for angels. I was hoping that the last letter would’ve been a T, I know it was not. Still initials? the triple 4? Signs, right? They had to be.

So you saw a license plate and that to you is a sign? Not everything is a sign! (This is the cynical part of myself, taking the wheel, momentarily.) I’m reading too much into this, I thought. Just then, a Rainbow Taxi cab pulled up next to me.

“Hi Nat… Thanks” I said.

The next morning, on our way out to the car to take Tayla to school, there stood two deer. They paused from chewing their grass to give us a minute or two of eye connection. Once in the car, I googled what a deer as a spirit animal represented.

I don’t remember now the exact meaning but the point of it was that Don asked what I was doing. I told him and he let out a huge sigh. “Why does it have to be a sign or mean anything?” He said.

“Do you know how common it is to see deer out here? Where in the middle of some pretty heavily wooded areas…”

“Yeah?” I asked

“How many deer have you seen here? Since we moved in?”

He was silent.

Was it a sign? Was it a message? Am I making things out that are not necessarily there? Is it possible that it IS a sign or message? Why is THAT so hard to believe? Yes, you can probably make a lot of sense of otherwise seemingly nonsense but today, I am of the opinion of Roald  Dahl who said “Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it”.

If you’re looking for answers, you will find them. Who knows, maybe this post is a sign for you!

Longing For Nothing

The past couple of days I’ve been feeling down. More so than usual. I wondered what had happened. Is this just another part of the grieving process? Feeling like you’re coming out of it before getting the door slammed in your face, a picture of what you lost taped to the back? I fell. Hard and into the basement of grief.

Natalie’s birthday pushed me to the edge of what little plateau I’d managed to climb upon. The four month anniversary tomorrow. And the 29th. Noah’s due date. The womb is not empty but full of sorrow. Longing. Aching.

I am holding on, making it through, as if there was another choice. There is, but there isn’t really. Not for me.

I have been keeping busy but the nights are the hardest. I don’t sleep well and there’s no one to talk to. Even if there was, I know I wouldn’t feel like saying anything… just wishing someone could take it away. I know the only way out is through and I am trying to honor the process and the pain. I know it will go away. Not completely but it won’t feel so heavy, leaving me longing for nothing.

Daily Prompt: Fragile

via Daily Prompt: Fragile

Yesterday I felt fragile. Small and breakable. It started out that way because I was putting the finishing touches on the “End the Epidemic” brochure for the expo on the 15th and spent a lot of time finding the right photos and making them the perfect sizes. Writing her name and her dates and a little of her story…

I had an appointment at 1:00 and I was grateful for the break. Afterward, I planned on going to Sally Beauty to get some hair dye. Once in the car though, I realized how badly I needed to pee! I knew Sally’s didn’t have a restroom, so I opted for Unique… hey, at least they’ll have ONE thing I need! I finished washing my hands and dried them on my jeans on the way out. “I wonder if they’ll have anything that reminds me of Natalie…” I looked up to see this:

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“Ok, fine. You’re here. Thank you very much AND I’m still pretty pissed off.”

I wandered a bit because I had a little time to kill before picking Tayla up from school. Because of Halloween coming up, the store is laid out a little differently than I’m used to. I was perusing the kitchen gadget isle (our toasted WAS toast last week) looking for a toaster but found myself in the movie section.

I’ve been trying to get more in tune with my intuition and so I tried to “feel” which way to go, what message I was supposed to get. Standing in front of shelf after shelf of movies, I quickly became overwhelmed. “I know Nat. You love movies but seriously, you loved them so much, I’ll never know which one I’m supposed to find!”

I saw The Crow. Is it this one? Oh, Pulp Fiction- that has to be it, right? But no internal alarm sounded, no sensation was felt. My arms were getting fuller and my calculated cost grew with each title. “Sorry Nat. I can’t buy all these. Then watch all of them? I guess the only way I’ll really know if I’m on to something is if I see a movie like Somewhere in Time…” I actually laughed at the prospect of finding such a movie, in such a place.

Guess what? Not a minute later, my eyes found this:

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Somewhere in Time

The sensation of a brain freeze took hold of me and I clutched the movie to my chest, trying with all I had not to cry until I got out of the store (which I did!).

I had a big cry and pulled myself together before turning the car on. As I looked around, checking for cars, I saw three black birds circling overhead.

“Show off” I thought.

But there’s more. The first song I heard was “Save Me” by Shinedown.

I got a candle
And I’ve got a spoon
I live in a hallway with no doors and no rooms
And under a window sill
They all were found
A touch of concrete within the doorway
Without a sound

Someone save me if you will
And take away all these pills
And please just save me, if you can
From my blasphemy in my wasteland

How did I get here
And what went wrong
Couldn’t handle forgiveness
Now I’m far beyond gone
And I can hardly remember
The look of my own eyes
How could I love this,
My life so dishonest
It made me compromise

Someone save me if you will
And take away all these pills
And please just save me, if you can
From my blasphemy in my wasteland

Jump in the water
Jump in with me
Jump on the altar
Lay down with me
My hardest question
To answer is why
Why

Someone save me if you will
And take away all these pills
And please just save me, if you can
From my blasphemy in my wasteland

Someone save me [Repeat: x2]
Somebody save me [Repeat: x2]
Please don’t erase me

Hearing that made me hungry for more…

I turned to Siri and Apple Music requesting “music by Shinedown”.

Here is what came up, in the order it played:

Cut the Cord (to self harm) so you can survive “don’t be a casualty, cut the cord”

Second Chance “sometimes goodbye is a second chance”

Save Me

Through the Ghost

Sometimes, ok, a lot of times, I feel like a toddler throwing a tantrum. I want her to be with me, show me she’s here and when she does, it’s not good enough. It’s coincidence. It’s an accident. My mind is filling my life with “signs”, it’s all in my head because that way I don’t have to forgive her. If she abandons me, it’s ok for me to still be so angry… Even though deep down, I know she’s sorry. She didn’t mean to abandon us. She is still around. She will always be around and it’s ok for me to be angry.

A Boy and His Dog, A Girl and Her Cat

As many of you know, we have two cats… two and a half if you take into consideration Bert’s enormous size. They’re great cats and Bert especially, is attached to his human -Tayla.

It was all well and good until dun-dun-dun… I volunteered to take Deano, my parents’ teeny, tiny, dachshund.

We were all excited. It’s been so many years since we’ve lived in a place that actually allowed dogs, all of Tayla’s life, that I’d forgotten how awesome they are. We had been casually discussing getting a dog of our own, a: once we were able to afford one  and b: we wouldn’t be over the allotted number of pets in the apartment. Obviously, it would have to be a small dog, so Deano was a perfect “test drive” for life with a dog.

Since we are only allowed two pets max (even if only one is visiting) one of the two kitties had to go on vacation to grandma’s house. Unanimously, it was Bert. Nemi (who lives at grandma’s) and Frankie NEVER got along. She needs more attention and stimuli during the day while Bert prefers to chill near a food dish or nap in the linen closet… whichever part of him that fits in the closet.

Yesterday was the BIG day. Don and Tay dropped off Bert, in the most undignified way imaginable… He’s too big for a carrier, so they put him in one of those mesh laundry bags. Half way to the car, his feet and half his ass fell through the bottom. Anyway, he makes it there and is fine.

I pick up the doggie, who cried the whole way back to my place- which is expected, I’m not complaining, just observing. I call Don to ask him to meet me downstairs because I have multiple bags and need help carrying everything.

He and Tay meet me in the parking lot. Deano is still crying but not as loud. His head is poking up out of his carrier and I pet him. We get upstairs, Frankie sees Deano and her tail poofs out like a puffer fish or a life preserver when the rip cord is pulled. She runs away, gone for the remainder of the evening.

I set out his food and water dishes, toss his squeaky ball and feed him a treat. It’s close to bedtime so I decide to take him outside before settling in. I opened the front door to the building and he ran with a purpose. I was surprised, since he’s never been here before, where he thought he was going… to my car. He found it right away and sat down next to it. “They’ll be back honey. You know that. Let’s go potty and then snuggle under the covers.” He basically nodded in agreement before trotting back to the apartment. He had no issues with the elevator which surprised me for some reason. He just got in with no fuss. That’s very unlike him. He’s endearingly the weeniest of the weenies, scared of most everything… except elevators, I guess.

I laid his blanket on the bed, helped him up and he licked my face a couple of times before burrowing under his blankie.

I woke up at 3:00 which is not all that unusual, but I discovered in the living room/kitchen two piles of “cigars” on the floor. One on the hardwood, the other on the carpet. At first I thought Deano (sorry buddy) had left both presents for me but realized the litter box hadn’t been used since I changed it that afternoon… Now I knew what I was looking at: dueling stools. Instead of a pissing contest, they were having a shit-off. Man, in retrospect, I really wish I knew who left which pile… someone has skewed the balance of my opinion on who should be pooping and how much. Note, neither of the piles were very lady-like, Frankie…

Today, he and the cat circled each other. In the morning there was a lot of back and forth barking and hissing that dwindled down with the hours left in the day. Towards late afternoon, they were able to both be in the same room, fairly close in proximity to one another, merely giving each other the death stare. They’ve started to circle each other, trying to sniff out what the other is, without getting too close. Like watching a boxing match, trying to figure out which one is Mike Tyson and who is Evander Holyfield… I hope they’re not BOTH Tyson’s but I guess I’ll let you know whose ear I find in the morning… maybe I should set up a camera because even if someone is missing an ear, there’s no guarantee that the animal didn’t pull a Vincent van Gogh…

Oh boy, I’m loopy. I’d better Van Gogh to bed! Shit. See? Sorry!

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My 9/11

Fifteen years ago today, the United States experienced a national tragedy. Nearly 3,000 people lost their lives on September 11, 2001 when terrorists hijacked four passenger airplanes, crashing them into the Twin Towers in New York City, the Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia, and the fourth plane, headed toward Washington, was diverted by the passengers of United 93 and crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. The world knows this and will remember and honor those who died that day, as well as the loved ones they left behind. This blog post will most likely be the extent of my thinking about that day in 2001.

While my heart breaks under the enormous weight of this anniversary, it is also somewhat removed from the situation.

September 11th is also my sister’s birthday. She would’ve been 37 today. I find it somewhat ironic that I will be consumed with thoughts of her death on the day she was born…

Terrorist Attack – Dictionary Definition: Vocabulary.com

Type of: act of terrorism, terrorism, terrorist act. the calculated use of violence (or the threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are political or religious or ideological in nature; this is done through intimidation or coercion or instilling fear. coup de main, surprise attack.

i.g. heroin.

Though the rise in death attributed to heroin is no doubt difficult to calculate, it is undeniable. The ideological goal being to escape pain.

Thank you drug companies who value money over the wealth of life.

In a way, I envy those who lost their loved ones in the 9/11 attacks. They will never hear anyone question their families’ choice to take any of those particular flights.

“Well, they DID know that planes can get hijacked, right? So in a way, it’s kinda their own fault” said no one ever.

That may sound unfair but seriously, does anyone need a lecture on how life isn’t fair?

Last year at this time MY twin towers were still intact. My siblings, our New York, stood tall and proud.

Today the public will come together to mourn in unity, while I will mourn a similar loss in private.

Today the country will honor the loss of people and places and ideas of safety and trust. I will mourn Natalie, now an urn full of dust.

“We” will get stronger. “We” will share how in spite of the loss, “we” have grown. I will grieve the loss of my beautiful sister, her talents will largely go unknown.

I will acknowledge but not focus on the 9/11 victims but of drugs’ addiction.

Heroin is a terrorist, hijacking an addict’s body and mind. It causes collateral damage by taking not only the life of the addict but the promise of recovery and less affliction.

Grief has flown into my psyche, exploding, coating my happy memories in black and white ash.

There will be no holographic replacement, nor a place to leave flowers, just a painful reminder of addictions powers.

I will take a moment to honor the bravery and courage of all who no doubt went to Heaven, as I sit in my own hellacious 9/11.

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Am I a Masochist?

I’m really starting to wonder…

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Me

Masochist:

noun
1. Psychiatry. a person who has masochism, the condition in which sexual or other gratification depends on one’s suffering physical pain or humiliation.
2. a person who is gratified by pain, degradation, etc., that is self-imposed or imposed by others.
3. a person who finds pleasure in self-denial, submissiveness, etc.

I’m asking myself this because of a series of events that happened today.

Sometime during the morning, around 8 o’clock, I made a playlist. I copied the lineup of the Overdose Awareness Vigil and put it into my phone.

Here’s the playlist prior to the vigil starting:

Katy Perry – Unconditionally
Susan Boyle – Wild Horses
Lukas Graham – 7 Years
Ruth B. – Lost Boy
Israel Kamakawiwo’ole – Somewhere Over the Rainbow
Adele – Remedy
Katy Perry – Rise
Mariah Carey & Boyz II Men – One Sweet Day
Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here
Wiz Kalifa – See You Again
Janet Jackson – Together Again
Dani & Lizzy – Dancing in the Sky
Everything But the Girl – We Walk the Same Line
Daughtry – Home
Puff Daddy & Faith Evans – I’ll Be Missing You
Michael Jackson – You Are Not Alone
Idina Menzel – Let It Go
Demi Lovato – Stone Cold
Tenth Avenue North – Worn
Prince & The Revolution – Purple Rain

I’m pretty sure it was Boyz II Men that got the tears going and Wiz Kalifa that kept them flowing. Puff Daddy proved instrumental (pun not really intended, but whateves…) in the transition from crying to sobbing to screaming. I grounded myself to the car until I could pull myself together.

At least I could take a small amount of solace around this thought:

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In case there is anyone out there who STILL DOESN’T KNOW, I HATE the Beatles.

I hate the news too.

That evening, I started talking to people about the Jacob Wetterling case and how awful it is that Danny James Heinrich will not face murder charges. I know the family signed off on it. I probably would’ve too, if it meant getting answers I’d waited 27 years for. I think… and I think about what I would’ve done in Patty’s position. Why? I’m grateful to not have to be in that situation, why do I keep trying to imagine what it’d be like on that side of Hell?

And I over schedule myself. A lot. Tomorrow morning I’m expected at a Recovery Breakfast at 7:30. Like a.m. As in the morning. Couldn’t we have a brunch instead? It’s not even so much the hour but having to fight traffic to top of the earliness. I need to get going on that invention idea for a horn that honks at the people behind you and also has an extendable middle finger to salute any deserving drivers…

Implement Evil Idea and watch the look on my face.

I also told someone I’d drop off needles for the exchange program. In Brooklyn Park. It’s a bit of a hike.

I have therapy on Thursdays too.

Fridays are my writing group.

Mondays are open mic night at Acme, after I work.

Tuesdays I usually work and then have group.

Wednesdays are my volunteer day

And then it’s back to Thursday.

I don’t HAVE to be this busy. Like I said, I think I may be a masochist…

therapy

PS!

I write blog posts on Wednesdays and Sundays and occasionally on other days… like this past Thursday. Did you see it? It was titled “Sometimes I’m an Asshole”. If you didn’t catch it, Please “follow me” and get an alert each time I post! Never again will you have to miss one of my many witty musings or bitch fests… What could be better than that? Nothing, right?

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Another Loss

The picture of her is blurry, I know. Fuzzy or out of focus, I know. I’m using it anyway, maybe as a way to let go -just a little bit. Dull the pain, just a touch.

Like most of the state, I heard yesterday about Jacob Wetterling. Don had called and when I answered he said “Did you hear about Jacob Wetterling?”

“No. What?”

“They found him.”

I was holding my breath and waiting for more but nothing came…

“Dead or alive?” I asked.

“Oh, dead.”

“Shit!”

“That’s not why I’m calling though…” and I didn’t hear or don’t remember what he said after that because nothing else mattered. Not in that moment. In those few moments, I remembered Jacob. His aunt taught my home economics class in middle school. I was about the same age as Jacob when he was taken. I, along with everyone else, waited for news of safe return of the boy with the bright smile and yellow t-shirt.

A statement released by The Jacob Wetterling Resource Center said in part: “We are in deep grief. We didn’t want Jacob’s story to end this way. … Our hearts are heavy, but we are being held up by all of the people who have been a part of making Jacob’s Hope a light that will never be extinguished. It shines on in a different way. We are, and we will continue to be, Jacob’s Hope.”

Really? Deep grief? Still? It’s been 27 years… It sounds harsh, I know… I think I was trying to be optimistic? As backwards as that sounds. I guess I was hoping that after a certain number of years, it wouldn’t hurt so much… I’m sure finding the remains brought up all sorts of horror I don’t want to imagine…

We went to Natalie’s friend’s house yesterday to clean her stuff out of his garage. I figured it would be emotionally draining and it was. I only broke down twice though. Once when cleaning out her nightstand and I found a couple of pictures of Tayla as a baby and the other time, when cleaning out her desk and I found one of the books I had a story published in and a hand written letter I’d sent her in November of 2010.

For six hours we sorted, moved, piled and hauled. We finished up (for the day) at 6:00 pm and I was a zombie. I drove home in silence and once upstairs, I flopped onto the bed. I balled up a couple of her shirts and held them to my chest and buried my face in them and tried to remember her scent.

Don made dinner. I wasn’t hungry but ate a little bit. I don’t remember what triggered it… whatever we’d been talking about, he said something, something “once in a blue moon”. The song she sang for the high school talent show, Blue Moon of Kentucky. I heard her voice in my head and felt her absence in my heart.

I cried. And cried. And cried until I couldn’t breathe. I went to bed. Of course, I couldn’t sleep. I turned to Facebook. News of Jacob Wetterling was everywhere.

In many of the comments I read in reaction to the news of finding Jacob Wetterling, almost everyone said something to the effect of “at least now they have closure”. I guess it sounds like a good thing but after 27 years, to find out this is how it ends? I think I’d rather hang on to hope, no matter how slight.

Today, I worked. I was still tired and achy from yesterday but it wasn’t busy, I didn’t have to do much. Afterward, I’d made plans to meet up with Shar. On my way there, I heard that song “Lost Boy” by Ruth B. I listened to the whole thing without even tearing up! I was proud of myself… for about two seconds.

The song after that, was “Can’t Help Falling In Love” by Haley Reinhart. The significance of this song comes from a session of healing I took with my mom, lead by Laurie Wondra. She told us that the frequency of Reinhart’s voice was optimal for connecting with angels or spirits on the other side… man, I really hope I’m remembering this right… Anyway, I cried in the car. The crying turned into screaming. I screamed and screamed. NATALIE! No! Nooo! This is NOT the best time to be flying down 35E at 70 mph when you can’t see shit… but, I didn’t have much of a choice.

Thankfully I calmed down by the time I got to Shar’s. My throat hurts, my emotions are stirred up and I’m left remembering Justin’s phone call to tell me Nat was dead. Why couldn’t she have been in a coma? I wondered over and over again. Because I wanted that hope…

I guess hope is my new drug of choice.

But now I have to have hope for other people. Help them to have hope for themselves.