The Beginning of the End?

I was getting ready to finish the blog post I started last night and it just hit me. Out of nowhere, like a ninja, grief attacked.

I was going to write about politics, so maybe it’s not so bad I was derailed… but a photo of Natalie stopped me.

Since the expo ended on the 15th, I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop…

 

It had been getting close. I had a few close call with crying fits but hadn’t really been able to let it out and I don’t know why.

I do know what pushed me over the edge though…

We The Kings have a song called Sad Song and it tore my heart in more than half…

*This video is NSF, unless you don’t mind ending up a puddle on the office floor*

Maybe I should’ve had the warning above the link… sorry.

It’s just that everything hurts all over again. Again and again.

I thought that once the expo was over, I could go back to meditating. It’s a new thing for me, at least it was. I’d felt calmer, more centered and most importantly, closer to Natalie. But, the expo ended and… I. feel. like. shit.

Physically I don’t feel good. Part of that is my Grave’s disease (couldn’t they have come up with a name not so… dismal?) is kicking in again. That means I’m dealing with exhaustion, an intolerance to heat and irritability (no shit). On top of that, depression is settling into my bones. The past several days it’s been almost impossible to get out of bed. I’ve made it to work, the one shift I’ve had so far this week. I’ve gone to my therapy group and not much else. I didn’t do my volunteering that I usually do on Wednesdays. I haven’t answered the phone or email. I just feel so heavy.

I kinda feel the equivalent of drunk. Like, sloppy drunk. Praying to God from inside the toilet bowl, trying to hold your hair back without moving any other body part for fear of vomiting… Once you do start puking, you just lay down on the cool tile floor and wait for the next wave of nausea to peak.

I lay in bed, my head propped up against the wooden headboard and wait for the next tsunami of tears to sweep me away. After the hysteria subsides, I fall into a light sleep with my eyes swollen shut and my throat dry and scratchy until the next little trigger starts the cycle again.

Like an alcoholic, I have to take this one day at a time. Remind myself that through is the only way out, when I beg God to tell me how long this is going to last. How much more do I have to endure? How many more hours and days will I walk around with a piece of myself missing…

While looking for an image to go along with this post, I came across this poem… it’s slightly modified to fit this particular situation.

I’ll Meet You In the Light

I know that you can’t see me, but trust me I’m right here.
Although I’m up in heaven, my love for you stays near.

So often I see you crying, many times you call my name.
I want so much to touch your face and ease some of your pain.

I wish that I could make you see that Heaven indeed is real.
If you could see me run and play, how much better you would feel.

But our loving God has promised me that when the time is right,
You’ll step out of the darkness and meet me in the light.

Written by Maureen Bauer

 

Actually, I Need a Break

I think. I am struggling with grief and am going to take heart the advice I was given very early on about not pushing myself. Taking it easy. Before, I didn’t want to stop, couldn’t stop… now I’m finding it difficult to make sense of anything.

So, I will plan to blog on Wednesdays and Sundays but I’m not going to force myself to do it. I need my sleep. I need to rest.

Thanks for understanding.

Cheating 

Late & cheating! I’m not quite done with my blog post, yet I find myself falling asleep quickly and repeatedly…

Guess I’m trying to say, I need more time! 

Will post before Monday is through.

Thanks for your patience!

Hugs!

Borrowed Time

I should be writing, I mean real writing. I mean, writing or working on a piece to be critiqued and/or sent out to various publications. What happened? I needed a break and … the internet.

So, I’m clicking around, trying desperately to avoid anything related to politics and I see Pixar has made a new short. Oh good! A cartoon! I’ll just watch this six minute video, be recharged and get on with working.

It’s called Borrowed Time and it’s the most depressing work of animation I have ever seen… I think. Please don’t start recommending other terribly sad productions for me to compare it too, I couldn’t take it.

This is not a kids movie.

It’s a movie about family and loss and life, going on, even if you haven’t moved on.

It was appropriate for me to watch today. Driving around for work today, I almost had to pull over several times. Yesterday was the 19th, five months since Natalie passed. The expo is over and I’ve lost some focus. Prime time for memories and grief to jump in and take the reign, right?

Anyway, I’m trying hard to balance the grief process. Grieve and then contain. There’s just so much…

I click play, I’ll put the link in the title, and watch wide eyed.

Borrowed Time

What. the. actual. fuck.

Why would Pixar do such a thing? They wanted to show people that animation can be used as medium to tell any story, not just kids stories.

Um, I would’ve taken your word for it!

Aside from the shock of how depressing it was, I found it to be visually stunning. They’ve always done such a fantastic job or animating facial expressions, movements (like dust clouds, pebbles falling etc) background and getting right into the heart.

I’m not in a place to speculate what the message of the short was, only to appreciate the shortcut I took toward my emotions that have been bottled up and granted release through the film.

What do you think about it? Let me know in the comments section below!

End the Epidemic Expo- Recap

Oh shiitake mushrooms… (My way of saying I messed up on Sunday and I’m sorry, see how much shorter it can be?)

I started this blog six months ago and have written faithfully, twice a week. I did it when Noah died. On Mother’s Day. Right after Natalie died. What could have possibly kept me from the practice that I hold so dear?

Disappointment. Sounds pretty lackluster but I assure you, it was a SPECTACULAR disappointment.

I’ve spent the past several days looking for my spin doctors. After spending the better part of three months pushing myself to get this “End the Epidemic” Expo going, I’d expected big things. Or, at least bigger things.

Here’s how the day played out:

Saturday a.m. I am up and moving by 6:00. I type out a very rough draft of the timeline for the days’ events. I am a little panicky about the open slot from 4:00-6:00 but overall, impressed by how much came together.

Call from dad.

“Can you swing by the shop and pick up the little table and chairs that sit outside? Mom wants them for her tarot reading.”

There is some finalizing of details and the enlightenment that we don’t have to wait until 10:00 or 10:30 to start setting up.

“Great! I’ll see if Justin can help with that part then.”

A little time goes by and there is a follow up call.

“Ang has got a ton of stuff. My car is packed. I can’t fit one more thing inside. Can you find out if someone is coming over to help haul the rest of the stuff? I think Barb was going to help out…”

I call Barb. Voicemail.

I nervously hope she’s not answering because she’s driving.

I send a text, not realizing that’s probably worse.

I call my mom. Voicemail.

Text. No reply.

I’m supposed to pick up Shar at 9:30 and I still have to make copies at Kinko’s.

She can meet me at Kinko’s.

I forget to make the fucking copies.

I sit in the car, not knowing if I should go to Minneapolis to help the set up or head towards Eden Prairie for the rest of the display stuff.

I figured since I hadn’t heard anything… things had gotten figured out.

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Just as we’re pulling into the church parking lot (a little after 10:30, expo starts at 11) the phone rings.

Honestly at this point? I don’t even remembered who called. The just of the convo was there was too much stuff to fit everyone in the vehicle and Mary Grace (17 year old cousin in from TN, super sweet & incredibly talented) needs a ride.

I turn the car around. I look at the time and it’s 10:45. I start laughing. A big, full, hearty laugh. Tears were not far behind, I was laughing that hard. Shar and Tayla look at me with a mixture of curiosity, amusement and a little bit of fear.

“What is so funny?” one of them asked.

I coughed the words out like a cat with a hairball. Between bouts and new waves of laughter, I say “It’s 15 minutes until show time and we’re driving AWAY from the church.” It reminded me of the time Don and I took a road trip to see my grandma. The nine hour drive ended up closer to 14 hours because we got lost in Iowa. Seriously? How do you get lost in IOWA? Anyway, the was an electric blue house that we’d passed several times before. Once we rounded the corner and saw the white trim of that fucking blue house… Don started to laugh. Hysterically. “We’re never going to find it” he said. “We’re never going to get there. May as well get comfy in the car, we live here now.” So, it was THAT kind of laughter. The laugh of desperation.

I pull into my parents driveway and see a large SUV with all the doors and trunk open. The two little wiener dogs come outside and spill down the steps, anxious to greet us.

Barb is inside, sitting on the bottom step of the staircase, shaking her head.

I start to call for mom.

“There’s still two more crates downstairs that need to go…”

I pack the two containers in the back and that’s all I can take. I can’t put the backseats down because I’ve got two kiddos in the back.

So I floor it, go as fast as I can (within the legal speed limit, of course) and we make it back to the church by about 11:30. My only saving grace is that the itinerary I posted earlier didn’t show much of anything scheduled until noon.

Finally through the Sanctuary doors to find things… looking pretty good. A lot of stuff is set up. I grab a card table, tablecloth and set up my own stuff while trying to slow my breathing and reminding myself I didn’t need to rush anymore.

The first speaker is scheduled from 12:30-1:00. By 12:20, I haven’t seen or heard anyone come into the church. I’m starting to get nervous.

Instead of Natalie’s music playing, it’s some kind of religious muzak. The 14 foot (approx) big screen is still rolled up (instead of a slideshow of photos of Natalie or the music video for Soldiers of Love by Sade).

There are people in the church, maybe a dozen? They are all here to help us set up, offer services or be emotional support (or all three)

“It’s five minutes until the first speaker is scheduled to go on… where the hell are they?”

“Oh, yeah. He’s here. He’s here. He uh, locked his presentation and notes in his car. The locksmith will be about 20 minutes.”

FanFuckingTastic.

I had someone else scheduled to go on from 1:00-2:00, so my stomach is knotting up. In a weird way, not having anyone there was a saving grace. There was a lot of flexibility.

Locksmith shows up, speakers grabs his stuff and does his thang. He was from Progress Valley and knowledgeable with how the brain reacts differently to opioids than other drugs. It was fun! As odd as that sounds, it was interactive, informative, engaging, so interesting. I learned a ton! He spoke to our small group, which may have been smaller than 12 as people rotated smoke breaks…

The next presenter, from Valhalla Place, I was so excited to have come. I’d only met her once before and it was very brief but she is so good at what she does! So much to offer and share. She had to be somewhere at 2:30. I don’t remember what time it was, but it wasn’t looking good. Until a couple of coworkers showed up and were unwittingly volunteered to take her place. Because the day got off to a rocky start and we didn’t start on schedule, time slots were running into other time slots.

Jesse Seward, the musician who came to perform (and later I found out, actually knew Natalie) had also come early to help us set up. I had him down to sing from 3:30-4:00, he thought it was 3:00-3:30. There is a minor hysteria as I’m searching the church for the pianist (whom I hadn’t met, didn’t have a name so how would I know him/her if I saw her?).

The volunteers heard they got bumped back to 4:00 and had to leave. I wanted them to stay but there still wasn’t anyone there, not who didn’t come with us… I told them I appreciated their willingness to come and apologized for the confusion. He told me he felt bad and told him (in part to reassure myself) that this is merely a learning experience. It’s not going to run perfectly the first time out on the floor…

Jesse sang. It was beautiful. My phone ran out of memory and I didn’t get any of it.

 

“If anyone needs me, I’m going to my car to cry for five minutes, have a cigarette and come back in.”

There were a lot of sympathetic nods.

Tayla asked if she could come with. I told her of course. It’d been a long day in those few hours.

I get to the bottom of the stairs and start to push on the door when I heard a sickening crack and a thud from behind me.

Tayla had fallen down the stairs. She didn’t get up right away and she seemed very, out of it. She kept falling asleep. She didn’t look good. Someone suggested I take her to the E.R., sadly, this was the high point of the day for me. I was ready to change the name from End the Epidemic to End the Expo!

We drove to Fairview Southdale hospital where we received the fastest visit in history. Seriously, it was so fast, I considered pushing her down a bigger flight of stairs. Just kidding. Mostly.

I dreaded going back to the church. To dealing with the emptiness. The deep well of sadness that was threatening to overflow.

We were pulling into the parking lot just before 6:00 and almost everything was packed up. People were leaving, the people who came with us. “There just wasn’t anybody there” someone said in response to the question I didn’t ask.

I dropped my head back and saw through the partly dark clouds, a rainbow. A rainbow that I saw both end of. It felt right, to see it but not in response to how the day went.

It wasn’t just how much time I spent making the flier or how many people got them, it’s that almost everyone was EXCITED to come. “I’ll for sure be there!”, “Oh man, I’ve got a couple of friends who NEED this, we’ll be there”, “This is a wonderful thing you’re doing, see you Saturday” … it just didn’t make sense that from 11:00-6:00 no one. showed. up.

In the car on the way home, Tayla asked me if the day was a complete failure.

“Ya know honey, it kinda looks that way doesn’t it? But we don’t always (in fact, rarely) see how our actions or words might affect someone. At the very least, there are now seven more people who have Naloxone and can possibly save a life. I personally got a lot out of the first speaker. Who knows what someone else may get out of having gotten a flier? They didn’t make it this time, but maybe it planted a seed… maybe they acknowledged on a very small scale that they have a problem and need help… You just don’t know.”

So that’s the story I’m sticking with…

Once Upon An Alcoholic

A painful piece, written beautifully.

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On October 5, God willing, I will have been sober for 31 years.  That’s just about half of my lifetime.  And what a journey it has been.

People get sober for various reasons.  I remember going to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and standing near an open window sipping a cup of coffee.  There was a commotion at the window and in tumbled a man.  As I happened to be the closest person, he staggered a couple of feet to me, grabbed my arm for stability and said “my wife told me to get in here or I can’t come home.”  At least that’s what I thought he said. It was garbled. I in turn signaled a man near me and said “he’s yours.”  It’s encouraged to have a man help a man and a woman help a woman from the get-go.  omg-i-need-help-gif

I should mention that the window was about…

View original post 1,136 more words

Do You Hear Me Now?

I read a story today that… unfortunately, I believed. The title was “Plane Crew Nearly Lets Passenger Die Because They Couldn’t Believe A Black Woman Was A Doctor”. You can read the full article here. The just of it is she was discriminated against because she didn’t look like a doctor. The flight attendants were rude to say the least and potentially dangerous. I can’t even imagine a situation where I’d volunteer medical advice or intervention without the proper “credentials”. What were they thinking?!

Natalie didn’t look the part of an addict, either. She had the behaviors for sure but just by looking at her, you probably wouldn’t pick up on it. She had expensive taste. Ever since I can remember… What kind of kid orders LOBSTER and escargot? Anyway…

I feel like at least some part of the the world’s population needs remedial kindergarten classes. Hold up a photo of an African American. “Doctor” I would say while pointing at the pic. Hold up a photo of Nat “Addict”. Either forget any stereotype you have or, if that’s not possible, imagine everyone you know in every role you can think of. It is possible. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around “us” being able to send men to the moon, to Mars, wherever but still question whether or black woman can be a doctor? WTF dude.

I guess it’s bothering me more than it normally would because of the chilly reception I’ve gotten from most everyone I talk to about the expo. More specifically, about hanging a freaking flier on their community board or slip them into the break room for anyone to see.

“We don’t do anything like that”

Like what? Like nothing? Just wait until I leave to throw it away if it bothers you… Lie to me. Make me think for a second or two that I might make a difference to someone. (I’m getting super tired, I can tell because I know I’m making a difference and I’m letting the little things get to me). Take the Go Fund Me page for example. Tons and tons of requests for money to cover anything from a dream vacation to funeral expenses. A surgery or a gift to start out married life right. The pet section is heart wrenching. People as a whole have a soft spot for animals, many of them valuing the life of an animal over the the quality of living for a human.

So. New campaign strategy. Help raise money to keep our animals with their humans! Pets need to be taken care of, who will do it once the addict is gone? I don’t want them (or anyone) to suffer through that… What’da think?

Maybe this will help. Natalie Patterson’s spoken word poem, “I Know Someone” is an emotional offering of sympathy and understanding.

We’ve GOT TO STOP THE STIGMA that goes along with drug addictions & mental health issues. It is my job, my goal to keep peoples’ focus and attention on love. Loving yourself, loving others, being decent and kind… and I can’t do it alone.

compassion1

Shit That Pisses Me Off

Please excuse the vulgarity so early in the post, I’m not even watching the debates and they are having an effect on me! Grrr.

What I meant to say, kinda, is the things that frustrate me… You know how YOU can lovingly bash yourself, your family, spouse or bff but if anyone else does it, they’ve crossed a line? Well, it’s along those lines.

When people patronize me. It’s an especially difficult time for me as half the time I really DON’T understand what people are saying and need things spelled out, step by step. That being said, I found a video online that offers “11 Little Things You Can Do To Take Care Of Yourself“.

The first problem with this is the title. I mean, the title would be fine if they actually provided 11 ideas but they don’t. The video should be called “8 Little Things You Probably Already Thought Of But I’m On A Deadline, So Maybe If I Make A Video, That Will Be Impressive Enough To Get Me By Until My Next Assignment”.

I’ll go through the list here, tell me if I’m missing something.

  1. Get Enough Sleep- Every Night. Like, every night? Is that even possible? Even if it is possible for most people, it isn’t for me. I’ve been exhausted my entire life. I’ve never had a real great relationship with sleep, even with the use of rx meds. So, I’d LOVE to get enough sleep, even some nights, but that’s not a realistic goal. What else have ya got?
  2. Exercise- Even If It’s Just A Brisk Walk. Brisk or not, everywhere I walk is an exercise. I don’t have a mode above “easy” anymore. Having arthritis has limited the amount of activity I can do, although I was making it to the pool nearly every day- I live in MN. I can’t afford a gym membership and our apartment complex has closed the outdoor pool for the season. My current exercise plan is forgetting my anti-anxiety pill until my leg shakes so bad, something falls off the kitchen table to remind me how stressed I am. Does that count?
  3. Eat Real Food- You Deserve More Than Vending Machine Snacks. I also deserve a full night’s sleep, what’s your point? I’d love to eat healthy/ organic and home cooked meals… Can you help me afford groceries? Help me cook said groceries when my back gives out and I’ve only been standing in front of the stove for a couple of minutes? That’d be grrrreeeaaatttt. Thanks.
  4.  Take A Break- From Your Phone. No. Just, no. What if I miss another eye opening video???
  5. Ask For Help- When You Need It. Hahahahahahahahaha. Just FYI, asking for help can actually exacerbate the stress when repeated pleas go unheeded.
  6. Keep A Journal- It’s A Great Way To Work Out Your Feelings. Hey, ya got one! Good for you.
  7. Read A Good Book- And Escape Into Fantasy For Awhile. Yep, I’ve spent the last several years in therapy learning how to KEEP from escaping reality. I’ve been practicing how to stay grounded and mindful. Yes, I understand reading a book and drinking (or whatever bad behavior people use to medicate/escape) are different things AND I’d like to point out, I’m just taking the advice you recommended in strategy number six.
  8. Call Your Family Or Friends- To Vent. Why bother them with a phone call when I can just post it on the World Wide Web?

I’m sure these are all good suggestions bur are there any you haven’t heard of? Can you see where maybe the author (or video person) just whipped out some stale regurgitation of anyone’s common sense list? God, I hope they didn’t get paid for that…

What’s it to me, right? I guess it’s because I give a shit about the amount of work (and passion) I put into projects (even this one, although not my most refined pieces) and for people to just … put so little thought into it? It pisses me off.

At least change the GD title to the correct number of “things”.

This Will Be My Last Post…

Breathe. This will be my last post, written as a 38 year old.

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Saturday is my birthday. Last year at this time, I had a psychic reading done. It was an emotional experience and I recall her telling me that my New Year’s Day should be celebrated on my birthday day. It is the beginning of a new year, for me.

And this year? Man, am I ever ready to be done with THIS year. It has been a difficult year, more specifically, a difficult 6 months.

It has been a year of greats. Greatest year of loss. Of grief. Of growth. Of curiosity. Of finding purpose. Of productivity. Of creativity. Of dancing, ever so carefully as to not disrupt the balance of things. Crying when I need to cry, screaming when I’m angry, asking for help when I can’t do it on my own. I have lived more life in this year alone than in all of my 37 previous years combined.

I am grateful. I am angry. I am sorrowful. I see more beauty and focus less on the ugly. I try to understand it rather than judge it. I have a long way to go AND I have come a long way.

October 10th will be the one year mark of my working. It’s not a lot of hours but it’s what I can do to feel good about myself and it beats the hell out of being unemployed.

I have survived (thus far) raising a teenager… (and a husband).

I have lost a son and a sister.

I have gained the strength, confidence and trust of strangers because some part of each of our stories intersect.

I moved from a townhouse to an apartment and have actually MET some of my neighbors, as in more than the ONE I knew at the townhouse we lived in for five years.

I started this blog and have written consistently, twice a week, since March. I have begun writing a book.

I deserve the t-shirt I saw the other day. It had a picture of a Buddha sitting on a Lotus flower and it reads “Mindful As Fuck”. Yep, that sums it up.

I had been feeling nervous about turning another year older… like it was going to somehow sneak up on me and take me by surprise. HA! IN YOUR FACE. YOU’RE ALMOST 40! By now, you should be living in a house. Working a job that pays at least minimum wage for 40 hours a week. Know how to change my own oil in my car. You know, adult stuff. Do it. All. Right now. Or, you fail. You fail life.

As you can see, sometimes spending too much time by myself is not a good thing.

Just as I was having trouble breathing, I got an email. “Another 9 Inspirational Older People Who Still Kick Ass”. There was a video link for one of the examples, watch it now, here. Seriously, go watch it. Are you watching?

Wasn’t that INCREDIBLE? A.Fucking.Mazing! And one of the judges said something to the effect of “I hope I can move like that when I’m your age” What? I’d hope to be able to move like that at ANY age!

Anyway, watching that video… it was inspiration for me. It eased the tension and anxiety. Helped me to see clearly, life isn’t over. Sometimes it can feel like that but I do know how to navigate (for the most part) and I have two more guardian angels to watch over me as I do my/our work of being our best selves and leaving the world a better place than we found it.

 

 

What Can I Say?

I’ve been thinking about today’s blog on and off, all day. What should I write about? What do I have to say? What can I offer? It doesn’t feel like much… In terms of writing I mean. I feel panic a lot of the day. A pressure in my chest about what’s left to do for the expo (a lot!), have I made all the calls? Covered all the bases? Weekends suck as far as trying to get anything done- few people hold business hours on Saturday and Sunday.

I am afraid. Afraid of not being able to pull this off. Of putting so much of my heart into this, at nobody showing up. Of October 16th, when it’s all over and I lose another part of Natalie, again.

I’m struggling to find balance. I’ve been run, run, running until I crash. And then start over. I need to learn organization. Time management. Meditation. Calm. I’ve worked really hard at seeing beyond just black and white.

We’re trying to get a CD put together and I’m reminded how far her talents stretched. How many genres she reached. How much she accomplished… And I think of how much more could have come.

I struggle to find meaning for her life, meaning that extends beyond her death. She brought happiness to people. Inspiration. Hope… and if that’s all I do in my lifetime? I’d consider it a life well lived.

-Photo by Kate Powell