Fooled You

Grief is a horrible tormentor. It mimics dementia, insanity, depression and at times, serenity.

Friday was the 19th. Three months since my sister’s passing. I’d had several days without crying. Without too many painful memories. Without too much emotion… This is where the serenity came from. It was the three month marker and the final writing group for two very talented writers. The prompt was “goodbye”. I cried silently as the gel ink flowed across the paper, as the tears slipped from my eyes, dripped from my face. It was quiet. And quick.

I wrote about Natalie, of course. And about losing these  two dear writing women to the promise of bigger, better and brighter futures. I wrote about seeing my brother less and less as he grows into the role of business man, promoting his livelihood, planning his life. I even wrote about my therapist, as he took a couple of days off to travel out of state (WI) to watch a football game with his wife.

I felt abandoned. Silly, I know. Irrational, I could feel it. I couldn’t help it. And, it was over quickly. I felt relieved… and like I was getting a handle on things.

These were a normal part of life. It was ok to be sad… and I know you “get to go there, you just don’t get to stay there”. I felt my “visit” was an appropriate amount of time and that I was really getting the hang of grieving.

Jessica called me after an out of the ordinary Friday shift at work. I’d just gotten home and was looking forward to staring blankly at the walls. I saw her name come up with a photo of her and Natalie. I reflexively pushed the phone away from me. After a few seconds of debate, I answered.

She came and picked us up, Tayla and I. We got to walk in the rain and play with her adorable puppy. We had good food and better conversation.

She also had the memory cards from Nats phone that the investigator FINALLY returned. (Three months they had it and did jack shit.) I spent the rest of the night pouring over 1,000 plus photos she’d taken, committing them to my memory before falling asleep.

I made it. I’d gotten through The Day, survived it with very little hysteria.

Saturday I worked on some comedy and managed to get to the pharmacy to set up “convince packaging” on my meds. Shar came over and we had great time, just sitting on the deck, talking.

Today was fairly productive. Unril late afternoon. I don’t know what triggered it, talking about the new found photos with Don I guess… but I cried. In the car, as I hugged the steering wheel close to my chest. My body shook with grief but even this lasted only a few minutes before I was able to calm down and go into the store for a quick for the necessities.

At home, Don made dinner. I turned on some music and smiled when I heard Natalie’s voice fill the kitchen.

“I’ll be there, I’ll be EVERYWHERE…”

The tears started, as they usually do and it got a little harder to swallow. Memories of her last text to me, “whatever you need my darling, just call, I’ll be there. I love you” filled the empty space inside me until I shook with uncontrollable sobs. I chucked the phone and grabbed a handful of tissues before running into my bedroom and crumpling to the floor on the side of the bed.

I grabbed “Noah” and cried into his tiny chest.

“How could she do this?” I wailed

“I don’t have the answer” Don replied

After what felt like hours, the cries subsided into a whimper.

Until I thought of Noah.

I clutched the replica tight to my body and rode another wave before pushing the lifeless, dead weight from my arms to the floor.

“He” lie there, face up and because I’d held him so close to me, my tears were in his eyes.

Then the screaming started.

The moving pictures in my mind danced in a collage.

Gone. They are both gone. GONE.

I briefly thought of suicide. Not so much the act of it but the longing to be out of pain. To be with my sister and baby. And grandparents and friends…

It was more of a fantasy than an actual thought. I couldn’t inflict this kind of pain on the people I loved. Neither Natalie or Noah did that intentionally…

The phone went off.

“Reminding you to send me the info on your comedy dates and times”.

I’ve been debating on if I’m actually ready for this. I have material written out but haven’t been able to concentrate on memorizing it or becoming familiar with it as to pull off a smooth routine.

At this point, I’m not ready. I don’t want to do it. It’s not funny, nothing is funny.

I took the day off of work tomorrow (now today) to give myself enough(?) time to prepare but I don’t know if it’ll do any good…

I’m caught between healing/growing and just wanting to pull the covers over my head, waiting for life to be done.

I don’t mean to end on such a heavy note but this is my life right now. It won’t always feel like this (I’m told) and I look forward to those days as I go through these days, looking for the gifts they too must hold.

 

 

 

It’s Complicated

The word of the day is complicated. Is that ever an understatement! Life has always been complicated, hasn’t it? I mean, always as in, after kindergarten? Post high chair, I think it’s safe to say. Then you had to start making choices. Decisions. Even if it’s not about anything important. What should I eat for lunch? Some days that question is enough to send me to my room, bury me under the covers and just avoid food altogether… Stupid food, demanding I choose… The nerve. That reminds me, actually, of the million dollar breakfast idea I had this morning. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich only the build would be: strawberry jelly, peanut butter, grape jelly! Aha! I’d call it the peanut BETTER and jelly!

But anyway. I’m avoiding. I’m avoiding because it’s complicated! What is it you ask? Well, today it is money. Money and addiction. More addiction than money but both are in play.

Most of you know by now that I have started a GoFundMe campaign. I started it in my sisters name, Natalie, to help combat heroin use. To raise awareness that opioid use is on the rise and the effects are deadly. Three months ago, it was being cut with fentenyl. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control) Fentanyl is 100 times more potent than heroin.

!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

I remember in highschool, heroin was *the worst* drug. Ever. Only people who wanted to die, used heroin. It was the end of the line.

To learn that it is being cut with a drug 100 times more potent? And that was three months ago. More recently, THREE DAYS AGO, the Washington Post reports the latest trend in heroin: carfentanil. An elephant tranquilizer. Ten THOUSAND times stronger.

The fatalities are skyrocketing. Because, unfortunately, addicts are addicts. What I mean by that, being in recovery myself, is that when I heard there was something stronger than fentanyl? My gut reaction was “Oh my God, where can I get some?”. Immediately I snapped out of it and was thinking “WTF? Where did that come from?” The addict in me. The “I feel fucking miserable and I will do whatever it takes to NOT feel like this” in me. That thankfully does not rear its head too often, but more often in these past three months than in quite a while, if ever.

I guess my point is, I understand. I don’t know how many people understand addiction. Up until about two months ago, my daughter thought it was a matter of choice. Of willpower. She’s a teenager. There are plenty of adults who think the same way… To that I say:

If poker is a sport? Addiction is a disease. No, wait… Did I just make my point or undermine it? I don’t know…

Who knows, to the people who don’t understand, maybe they don’t want to understand. It would sure make life a lot easier to think addicts could just stop using if they REALLY wanted to…

But I know better. A lot of people know better. Which brings me back to my other point, money.

I started this campaign to raise money to host a fundraiser. To make products that advertise “Hey, heroin is a PROBLEM! Shame, is a PROBLEM” Let’s get it out into the open and stop the stigma! I’ve been updating the GoFundMe page daily. Here’s where the complicated part comes in. I hate talking about money. Did I already say that? Even if I did, I hate it strongly enough to warrant another mention. So everyday, my friends on Facebook get another update and … I guess I’m worried about annoying people. I don’t want to badger people. I get that money is tight. I really do. AND on GoFundMe’s homepage, people have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for sports, honeymoons, getting out of debt etc. and I guess I kinda feel like I must be doing something wrong. Did I piss someone off? Do people in general not care about this epidemic? Is everyone I know as broke as I am? I guess that last one is plausible…

I’m going to just keep doing what I’m doing. That campaign is like this blog to me. Come Hell or high water, it’s getting done.

Anyway, that’s my rant for Sunday.

What causes are close to your heart?

One More Quick Post

I’ve been wracking my brain trying to think of all the possible ways to publicize my “Shame End with ME/End the Epidemic” campaign.

I’ve Facebooked. I’ve Tweeted. I’ve Tumbled. I started a Go Fund Me account in hopes I can raise money (and awareness) around the horrible heroin epidemic. My family and friends and are planning on hosting a fundraiser. We will be selling various products, t-shirts, mugs, water bottles, hand painted cards, artwork… there will be music, both live and Natalie’s recordings. There will be AT LEAST one energy worker available for a healing session.

The goal is to get addiction out into the open. Disrobe shame so people can get help. It is KILLING people.

Planning for the end of September or beginning of October but it depends on the venue availability, I will keep you posted.

In the meantime, please check out the GoFundMe page at: End the Epidemic

I will be forever grateful if you could donate, like or share (or all three!)- Thanks!

ETE shirth2o bottle

Stages in (my) Life

Five or six years old, watching Annie, the broadway play.

Natalie’s face, wide-eyed and hypnotized.

The back of her dress, red and rippling as she ran toward the stage.

Dads arm barley misses her white, laced collar.

The dress matches Annie’s and suddenly, unsuspecting Annie’s solo turns into a duet.

Third or fourth grade,

standing in a flower pot, because I fit the best.

Swaying in the fabricated breeze, I scan the rows of metal chairs in the gymnasium for mom and dad.

At 18, I stared at the empty stage.

I closed my eyes and imagined walking across, to the podium, accepting my diploma instead of settling for my GED.

A college cafeteria, a makeshift stage.

My name is Melanie and I’m an alcoholic.

Last year, back stage.

I forgot my notebook.

I’m sure I looked pretty cocky being the only comedian NOT last-minute cramming before my name is called.

Under the spotlight

This is the first time I felt like I’d ever been on stage and I never wanted to leave.

After years in the shadows and the darkness, it was my time to envelop myself in the arms of artificial light and shine.

Next stage?

Being an advocate for Natalie and others. Giving a voice to those who have lost their own.

“All the world’s a stage”

What role will you play?

My Heroes

For the past couple of months, I’ve been talking to a friend of Natalie’s. Apparently we went to school together at one point but me and memories of school are eh… not generally on speaking terms. Suffice it to say, for all intents and purposes, I met him at Natalie’s funeral. Really a nice guy. A great guy. And, he (like everyone else) loves? Loved? Loves. Loves Natalie. This is a huge thing we have in common. There are probably more but we haven’t finished talking about Nat yet so I can’t tell you what they are.

Anyway, he can be a talker. (Ryan, I say that with love) Like, talks on the phone. Anyone who knows me personally, knows I can’t stand to talk on the phone. I’m not entirely sure why but I’d rather do math than talk on the phone. I’d rather watch a golf tournament than talk on the phone. I have a phone call? Sorry, paint is about to dry! You get the picture.

So, I figure it would be easier to just get together and talk face to face. I hadn’t been feeling the greatest so Friday’s coffee date got rescheduled to Saturday and Saturday turned into a threesome instead of a twosome (as I was still a little iffy feeling and didn’t want to drive so Don became my chauffer).

We pulled into his driveway and I hop out of the car to ring the bell and let him know we’re here. He greets me and tells me he wants to show me some things. I follow him inside and see his mom at the bottom of the stairs. She stands, walks to the bottom of the stairs and stops. I think maybe she has arthritis like I do and stairs are not always an option. So I start to introduce myself and make my way down the stairs. I made really good time as by the second step, I slipped and fell down the stairs. Not exactly “fell”, more like rode down the steps, on my butt. Think Christmas sledding. Like that’d been my plan, minus the saucer/toboggan.

“Mel! Are you ok?” I heard it in stereo, as both Ryan and his mom were simultaneously asking.

And, like Christmas time, my face was a red as Rudolph’s nose or Santa’s ass.

Laughing I replied “I’m fine. Other than being completely embarrassed, I’m fine.”

We talk for a few minutes and she tells me how sorry she is for the loss of my sister.

It felt like I’d been punched in the stomach. I was used to hearing “I’m sorry about Natalie”. Natalie, was, someone else. Someone not necessarily my sister. Not so fucking close to me. At least that’s what I could pretend. The tears pricked my eyes and my throat started to close up.

Mercifully, Ryan changes the subject and we go upstairs to look at a couple of pictures.

Once that’s done, we pile into the car.

“Oh shit. I forgot something” Ryan says.

“What?”

“I don’t want to make you guys stop. I just forgot to go to the liquor store.”

“It’s no problem, it’s close by?” Don asked

“Yeah, are you sure you don’t mind? I feel bad, I know you don’t drink…”

“Positive. Don’t give it a second thought.”

We pull into the parking lot and Ryan jumps out.

I, still stinging (literally from the rug burn) from before, get out to smoke. I grab Natalie’s zippo and flick the wheel. Nothing. Damn it. I just fucking filled this thing.

“I wonder if they sell lighter fluid inside?” I asked Don.

He was busy trying to get the lighter to catch a flame and I disappeared into the shop.

“Mel. What are you doing?” I heard Ryan’s voice.

“I need a light. I don’t know if they sell lighter fluid in here but they’ve got to at least sell lighters…”

“Oh, God. I thought you were coming in to buy… I just would’ve felt so bad if…”

I don’t remember if I laughed or not but it was sweet how concerned he was about my sobriety. Honestly, I had zero desire to drink. I needed another lighter like I need a hole in the head but that demon I’m willing to wrestle with…

Outside, I finally get to smoke. I hadn’t smoked in a year and a half, until Natalie died. Then, even with that, I didn’t smoke that much. I almost had to force myself in the beginning. I’d lite a cigarette and burst into tears. Maybe get two or three drags off the smoke before it was all ash. I kept at it though. Determination, right? Gotta have a focus… One day I might smoke as much as once a day… but for now, it’s nice to not have the pressure of being a non-smoker.

After a little small talk, once each of us had finished our cigs, we get back into the car. As we’re pulling out of the parking lot, something catches Don’s eye.

“Did you leave anything on the hood of the car?” He asks.

“What? No. Why would I do that?” I pat my pockets, make sure I have my phone and my smokes… and the new lighter I just purchased. I unintentionally take on an accusatory tone

“You have Natalie’s lighter, right?”

He feels in his pocket, satisfied.

“Yep. Right here.”

I shake my head and chalk it up to Don’s overactive imagination when it comes to my car and things breaking, making a funny sound or flying off the hood.

“Turn left here” Ryan directs us to a coffee house.

We pull into a Dunn Brothers with loud music, bright lights and louder laughter.

“Wow. Someone’s having a party!” I say.

There’s a brief discussion on if we should stay or not. We decide to stay and I reach into my purse to grab my wallet.

There is a sinking feeling in my stomach as I grab a pen case, my insulin kit, a spare pair of glasses… no wallet.

Did I leave it on the hood of the fucking car?

You bet I did.

Fantastic. I turn on the flashlight on my phone to search the floors and under the seats, knowing damn well it wasn’t under there.

We retrace our steps and pull into a nearly empty parking lot. This looks nowhere near like where we were (to me) when Don commented on something catching his eye before disappearing.

Son of a bitch. I JUST got my bank card in the mail yesterday! Pretty much the only money I have right now? Is in that wallet. I’m thinking of the photos and the insurance cards… all the personal info and trying not to vomit.

“Don’t worry Mel. It’s on the highway somewhere. It maybe a little beat up, but it’s not gone. It’s too dark out for anyone to be able to tell what it is.” Ryan tried to reassure me.

“Hey, guess who would think this was fun and funny?” He asked.

“Yeah, I’m sure she’s doing a hell of a lot more laughing than I am” I thought.

Just stay here, we’ll go look for it.

Don and Ryan disappeared into the tall grass and the darkness.

May as well smoke. I lit up, took two drags and thought I was going to be sick. I snuffed it out with my shoe and looked to the sky. I imagined my wallet on the road. A tire mark tattooing one side of it. A tire track, right through the center of the picture of Natalie. There was also a place for a pen and I imagined that being flattened as well, spewing ink all over everything…

What. Am. I. Going. To. Do?

A couple of minutes later, I heard familiar voices.

“We found it!” one of them said, holding it up high for me to see.

I couldn’t believe it. It didn’t have a mark on it. Everything was in its place, save for my pen (which Ryan offered to go back and look for).

 

“Who’s ready for coffee?” Ryan said with a grin.

 

Why I Write

Sorry I’m kinda phoning it in tonight, long weekend equals little brain power and almost zero original thoughts. “Why I Write” is written by Terry Tempest Williams and sums up exactly how I feel. This brings me to tears each time I read it. I hope you love it as much as I do!

I’ll try to post an original entry before Wednesday!

Why I Write by Terry Tempest Williams

I write to make peace with the things I cannot control. I write to
create fabric in a world that often appears black and white. I write to
discover. I write to uncover. I write to meet my ghosts. I write to begin
a dialogue. I write to imagine things differently and in imagining things
differently perhaps the world will change. I write to honor beauty. I
write to correspond with my friends. I write as a daily act of improvisation.
I write because it creates my composure. I write against power
and for democracy. I write myself out of my nightmares and into my
dreams. I write in a solitude born out of community. I write to the
questions that shatter my sleep. I write to the answers that keep me
complacent. I write to remember. I write to forget. I write to the music
that opens my heart. I write to quell the pain. I write to migrating
birds with the hubris of language. I write as a form of translation. I
write with the patience of melancholy in winter. I write because it
allows me to confront that which I do not know. I write as an act of
faith. I write as an act of slowness. I write to record what I love in the
face of loss. I write because it makes me less fearful of death. I write
as an exercise in pure joy. I write as one who walks on the surface of
a frozen river beginning to melt. I write out of my anger and into
my passion. I write from the stillness of night anticipating-always
anticipating. I write to listen. I write out of silence. I write to soothe
the voices shouting inside me, outside me, all around. I write because
of the humor of our condition as humans. I write because I believe in
words. I write because I do not believe in words. I write because it is
a dance with paradox. I write because you can play on the page like
a child left alone in sand. I write because it belongs to the force of the
moon: high tide, low tide. I write because it is the way I take long
walks. I write as a bow to wilderness. I write because I believe it can
create a path in darkness. I write because as a child I spoke a different
language. I write with a knife carving each word through the generosity
of trees. I write as ritual. I write because I am not employable. I
write out of my inconsistencies. I write because then I do not have to
speak. I write with the colors of memory. I write as a witness to what
I have seen. I write as a witness to what I imagine. I write by grace
and grit. I write out of indigestion. I write when I am starving. I write
when I am full. I write to the dead. I write out of the body. I write to
put food on the table. I write on the other side of procrastination. I
write for the children we never had. I write for the love of ideas. I
write for the surprise of a sentence. I write with the belief of alchemists.
I write knowing I will always fail. I write knowing words always fall
short. I write knowing I can be killed by my own words, stabbed by
syntax, crucified by both understanding and misunderstanding. I write
out of ignorance. I write by accident. I write past the embarrassment
of exposure. I keep writing and suddenly, I am overcome by the sheer
indulgence, (the madness,) the meaninglessness, the ridiculousness of
this list. I trust nothing especially myself and slide head first into the
familiar abyss of doubt and humiliation and threaten to push the delete
button on my way down, or madly erase each line, pick up the paper
and rip it into shreds-and then I realize, it doesn’t matter, words are
always a gamble, words are splinters from cut glass. I write because
it is dangerous, a bloody risk, like love, to form the words, to say the
words, to touch the source, to be touched, to reveal how vulnerable
we are, how transient.
I write as though I am whispering in the ear of the one I love.

Ouija Believe?

I talked to Natalie? Sorry, very bad pun. Not punny AT ALL. Got it. Weak intro to tonight’s post. Just wanted to give readers a heads up, as I know religion/spirituality/magic (light and dark) are controversial topics to some people and a big joke to others. I am not going to judge you for your beliefs, please do the same in return.

With THAT out of the way, we made contact with Natalie on the other side yesterday!

My mom and I are believers in the many different ways there are to communicate with loved ones on the other side. Electronics are HUGE. Music is a popular one. Signs, which I’ve gotten on a regular basis since Natalie’s passing.

We’ve done the Ouija board many times over the years and have never had a bad experience. There is a ritual to do beforehand. Light a candle. Say a prayer. Meditate. Ask God and the angels to bring forth only those with the highest and best intentions. We bless the board. We surround ourselves in a protective white light. This was the case yesterday.

After more than an hour of preparation, we sat facing each other, fingers on the planchette (aka the mouse).

Mom: Is anyone there?

Nothing. For a couple of minutes, the was nothing.

Then the planchette started to move. Haphazardly.

Mom: Nat? Is that you?

The planchette struggled to manuever towards the corner “Yes”.

I’m not sure I blogged about it, I don’t think I did but when we saw a medium to seek out answers and make contact, she (the medium) told us since Natalie had passes so recently, she wasn’t sure how to move her energy just yet. There are certain time periods when they are more accessible to us. Right after they pass, for about two weeks because they hang around for the funeral and after that, it’s about six months until they can connect again. So, we were surprised that we were still able to “hear” from her.

Me: Is it still hard for you to move your energy?

Nat: Yes

Nat: Sorry

Mom: For what?

Nat: My death. Total acci-

Me: (Trying to save her some of her energy) Are you spelling accident?

Nat: Yes

Mom: We were wondering about triggers….

Nat: VW.

Mom and I look at each other, confused.

Nat: A3, A3, A3, A3, A3

It was a very rhythmic, soothing motion and I started to wonder if she was tired.

Me: Are you tired?

Nat: ZZZZZZZZZZ

Mom: Can Jeff (her brother) help?

Nat: Yes

Mom: Jeff?

Jeff: Yes

Then

Jeff: LAMONT (grandpa’s name)

Mom: Oh, hi dad. She said it laughing through tears.

Grandpa: X Ray, Ray (grandma’s second husband)

Mom: Ray!

Me: There’s quite a party going on up there!

Mom: You’re surrounded by loved ones, aren’t ya Nat?

?: Yes

Me: Is Justin ok?

Justin, for those of you who don’t know, is my brother. He’s had a hell of a burden when it comes to death and being the messenger. I don’t spend enough time with him to know if/how he’s grieving… Plus, he’s a guy, so emotions are hard to come by as it is, right?

Nat: Will B

Mom: What about dad? He has to hear from you.

Nat: ZZZZZZZZ

Me: That’s a cop-out.

At this point, I think the planchette was heading towards the NO and then it hit me.

Me: Oh! You’ll see him in his sleep? A visit in his dreams?

Nat: Yes

Mom: Soon?

Nat: Yes

Me: Who knows what that means, time is irrelevant where you are…

Nat: SOON

Nat: ZZZZZZZZZ

Either mom or I: Ok, we’ll sign off. Rest up for next time!

We love you

That was amazing. I’ve never had such a clear and concise reading before last night. We weren’t sure she’d be able to come through at all but then again, have YOU ever tried stopping Natalie from getting what she wants? Doesn’t happen.

I left shortly afterwards and as I was driving home, I saw this:

FullSizeRender (4)

Ps. The medium also told us that Natalie would send hearts as a sign that she’s around.