Trees, Rain and Magic

There is a tree outside our house that can be seen from my bedroom window, the kitchen window and the deck. It is big, strong, healthy, beautiful tree and last week it started to don its fall attire. In one small section. Not even an eighth of its foliage had slipped into crimson colors. Dandelion and pumpkin colors huddled together, like the cool kids in a clique in high school.

Late yesterday afternoon, I took my book and went to my bedroom and assumed my default pre-teen pose: lying on my stomach across my bed, my legs bent at the knee and ankles crossed. I lay the book on the bed, propped myself up on a pillow and began to read.

In the background, my subconscious heard a noise. It was a comforting sound but one I didn’t really pay attention to until I realized that it was the rain. It was raining hard. I popped up off of the bed and went to the window. It was dark at 5:00, very dark. I opened the window as far as it could go and leaned on the frame of the window, my head resting on the screen.

Immediately my eyes were drawn to the tree. I couldn’t take my eyes off of the kaleidoscope of colors, seemingly waving to me.

I thought of Natalie. How I wished she could see this, with me. My chest and heart were heavy with sorrow and I started my own downpour.

The rain was thick and cold. It hit the concrete patio with a slap. Slap! Slap! Slapslapslapslapslap!

“I wish you were here Nat” I said to myself.

Then it happened.

The rain that had been pounding the ground, the earth, the concrete stopped falling down and fell sideways.

It rained sideways.

For a few seconds, it was raining in my bedroom. The water droplets made their way through the screen and pelted my lips.

I don’t know if I’m crazy, well, I do. I am. But that’s beside the point.

I felt like I’d gotten a kiss from Heaven.

Immediately, the rain resumed the course of gravity and I watched a few seconds longer before closing the window.

Today. Today she would’ve been 38. I woke up around 7 and went downstairs to snap a picture of the tree. I wanted to post a photo of magic, but when I got downstairs and looked out the window, the magic was gone.

The colors were still there, technically but instead of brilliant, individual colors they all matted together and made an old rust color.

I wondered if the dark gray sky had made them look more vibrant but there was definitely something missing today…

It was you, Nat.

You are gone and the world is less colorful, less magical.

I know you are still with me and us and I do cherish the signs I get from you… I guess I will always just want more.

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International Overdose Awareness Day

I thought I’d share the free write I did on Friday with my writing group. We started off by reading the obituary of Brian Doyle, writer and longtime contributor to The Sun magazine. If you’d like to read the beautiful tribute to Brian, click here.

I felt some measure of pride hearing about how Brian Doyle was unashamed to cry in public. Maybe to tip the scale a little for how much embarrassment I feel when it happens to me. And last night was an ocean of salt water heart tears. Not just for me but the group- everyone at the Overdose Awareness Vigil, there on Crystal beach. Maybe it wasn’t so much embarrassment but the strong desire to wail, unabashedly. Not just from my eyes, not just let the saline trickle from my eyes but to let loose the riptide that roared beneath. The torrent of emotions, the physical-ness of it. Clutching my heart, swaying with the imagined image of her in my arms. The primal screaming at an unjust world, a life too short.

I’d love to “give darkness the middle finger” but right now, it has me so completely enveloped, I can hardly move at all.

A lot of mothers who’d lost children spoke. There was a common theme among them. Their child, whether the world saw them as an addict, a nuisance or a criminal- they were and always would be their little piece of perfection. Perfectly imperfect.

They were, these loved ones lost, when sober were the artists of the world. The musicians, the writers, the painters. The kindest, most generous of souls. The people this world needs most.

After releasing the balloons, we watched them float up, up and…together. Those balloons stayed together, stuck with each other and with one single balloon (Ian Selleck) as the lead, guided the grouping and our eyes, heavenward. We held our candles and a moment of silence but ended on a hopeful note. The facilitators had everyone who was in recovery to stand in the center of the circle and lead everyone out into the newness of another night.

I want to offer a big thank you to Joanne Kittridge and Pam Lanhart for hosting the event, to and Star Selleck for sharing and being apart of so many addiction related events… I know Ian is proud. And to everyone who attended Thursday evening. We are all in this together.

#NotOneMore

Love you Nat.

 

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Natalie Nicole Allen 9/11/1979-5/19/2016          9 Months sober

 

 

 

Natalie’s On My Mind

I don’t know if she’s here because I’ve been thinking about her so much or I’ve been thinking so much about her that she’s here… It doesn’t matter I guess.

It probably has a lot to do with the writing I’ve been doing. The sister piece last week and dealing with her loss for another project due Friday…

I had a dream about her last night. I don’t think it was a visit. It didn’t feel like one. I saw her, I hugged her, I yelled at her for making us all worry ourselves sick. Turns out she’d been lost in an oil field for 14 months (???) I cried so hard with relief and then, Justin (my brother) went missing. Once I noticed Justin was gone, Natalie was gone again too.

When I woke up, I had that moment or two of not knowing what was going on and that fleeting feeling that she was still here. I actually told my brain to keep it down because if I was allowed to fully think out that thought, I’d know it wasn’t true and I couldn’t pretend. Ugh.

Last night we didn’t go anywhere to see fireworks. Tayla didn’t care that much and I’m not dealing with traffic and mosquitos for myself. Don was actually home, I don’t remember the last year the three of us were together. We were watching Spongebob when the noise got SO LOUD. Then out of the corner of my eye, I saw flashes of light. I went out onto the deck and we basically had a front row seat. There was a line of trees but there was a dip in the middle, right where the fireworks were! They were beautiful. I even saw a few red hearts! I’ve never seen those before… and there were four. Not all at the same time but still…

Today we continued to pack. We did the front hall closet today which was filled with jackets and vests of Nat’s. Tayla and I tried them on and boxed them up. I can’t bear to part with them yet. Not even the ones that don’t fit either of us or neither of us would wear. There was a wave of sadness.

Onto my desk… I have a corkboard attached to my desk and a lot of pictures hanging up. I started to unpin them and put them in a photo album. Flipping through the pictures, there were more of Nat and me as little girls than I remembered… Another wave.

A song on the radio. An old card she’d sent. Memories. Wave after wave. I couldn’t get away from it. Even when we went to Don’s mom’s house. “Johnny Dangerously” was on TV. She loved that movie and we would quote it a lot.

God, I miss her so much.

I’m supposed to write about persisting and overcoming and I feel like a hypocrite whenever I start to write. I don’t feel like I’m overcoming this grief. I wonder every day if this will be the day and get swept up in the waves and carried away… I am persisting, I guess. I don’t feel very triumphant but I probably never will. Not when it comes to this grief. I’ll never overcome it or get over it… I’ll just have to continue living with it. Hopefully. it will lessen. I’m sure it won’t ever go away and I don’t really want it to.

“Grief can only live where love lived first”.

I Know It Was You…

This past Friday, May 19th marked one year since my sister passed away from addiction. I’ve been pretty preoccupied with it, with her… as usual.

I woke up Friday morning about 2:40 am. I cried and went back to sleep. I woke up again when it was time to take Tayla to school. I started to listen to some of the songs she sang and decided “nope, too soon”.

Back home I had to get ready for my writing class, which I didn’t want to go to but Jess texted and told me Nat would want me to go… ironically, it made me want to stay home all the more – (why should she get what she wants after what she did?) I was almost ready to go when I realized I didn’t have my glasses. My brand new pair of glasses. The glasses I’ve had for less than a week.

I tore around the house like a hurricane and enlisted Don to help me. After 30 minutes of searching and coming up empty, I decided I had to go without them.

I went on with my day, every so often reminding myself to breathe, not dry heave. Don made dinner, we watched some tv as a family (once again looking for my glasses, this time getting Tayla to help look too) and I went to bed early.

Saturday morning we had an appointment to look at a townhouse in Burnsville. The search for my glasses continued. I’m not kidding you guys, we turned this place up. side. down. Sweeping under the couch cushions, checking in the freezer, under the towels in the linen closet… places I KNEW they wouldn’t be but I’d already checked everywhere else, we all had.

Nothing.

I went to the open house with a backup pair and lived. Barely.

By the time Don had to leave for work, it was driving me CRAZY. I scoured the bedroom. I was in the corner by the window where I keep pictures of Natalie and in an exasperated tone said to her “I could use a little help, PLEASE!”. The corner was empty, as I expected. I flopped down on the bed, too tired to even cry.

A minute later, Don walked into the bedroom to tell me he was leaving for work.

“Hey, aren’t those your glasses?” he said.

“Where?”

“Right there…” he pointed to the wooden headboard which also serves as a shelf.

“Are you fucking serious?!”

I shot up and sure enough, there were my glasses, in plain sight.

“You have to be kidding me…” I muttered to myself.

“Those weren’t there before” Don told me.

“I know!” I said.

“They weren’t there yesterday, they weren’t there 10 minutes ago.”

“I know” I said.

“Well, I’ve got to go to work” he said before I heard the front door click shut.

A tear rolled down my cheek.

“Thanks, Nat” I whispered.

Me Time

It’s been a rough couple of days. Yesterday was the one year anniversary of losing Noah and today marks 11 months since Natalie passed.

Yesterday morning I woke up with tears in my eyes and reached for “Noah” (the reborn doll) and held him. I rocked him and rubbed his back while tears silently slipped away.

I looked over at Don, still in a dead sleep and I rested Noah on his chest, trying to remember what it looked like when Tayla was that tiny…

I indulged in my grief for a few more minutes and then got ready to start the day.

I had an appointment with the endocrinology department to follow up on my diabetes.

The nurse took me back to a room and asked if I wanted to have my A1c drawn. (The A1c is a blood test that measures what percent of glucose, or sugar has bonded to your blood cells. It changes every 3 months and I was told if I got it down to seven percent before I got pregnant, it would be like I wasn’t diabetic at all.)

“It’s only been three weeks” I told the nurse.

“So do you want to skip it? Shey said to leave it up to you…”

I thought about it for a moment before replying.

“I HAVE been kicking tons of ass these past three weeks, let’s check it!”

Why I volunteered to have myself poked again when I know damn well I have to do it to myself seven more times throughout the day is beyond me.

She pricked my finger and took my meter to download all the information and told me Shey would be with me shortly.

A couple of minutes later, she knocked on the door as she walked into the room.

“Did she tell you?” Shey asked

“Tell me what?”

“Your A1c, it changes and in what takes people three months to do, you have done in three weeks. You have dropped an entire percentage point! You need to find something really nice to do for yourself… this is great work. Some women get pedicures, others get flowers…”

I cut her off.

“I can have flowers or I can have cats” I told her.

Later that night I went to my group, it was good to be around people even though I didn’t feel very social. Sometimes anything is better than being alone with my thoughts.

“One down, one to go” I thought as I readied for bed.

I woke up this morning thinking about her. It was a thought I’m pretty sure I’ve had before, but this morning I felt it.

“God, I am so lucky to have had Nat in my life. Such a phenomenal person… I’m so thankful to have had what time I did with her.”

I actually did a double take, you know, to see who the fuck was thinking these almost foreign words… then, as cheesy as it sounds? I felt my heart smile. I felt at peace. It lasted only a minute as the flood of other memories came frantically on top of one another, all fighting for their 15 minutes but I did wonder how much of it had to do with the A.R.T therapy.

On top of it being the 11 month anniversary, it’s a damn dreary day… so, I decided what I wanted to do for myself and thought it also was something Nat would like too.

I went back to Empire Beauty School and had my hair done. I also listened to The Steve Miller Band, The Joker, and heard Nat sing along like she used to do-

“Cause I’m a picker, I’m a grinner
I’m a lover, and I’m a sinner
I play my music in the sun
I’m a joker, I’m a smoker
I’m a midnight toker
I sure don’t want to hurt no one”

“Well don’t you worry, don’t worry, no don’t worry mama
Cause I’m right here at home”

Sometimes when I think about her too much, I want to just hurry up through life and be done with it so I can be with her again… and as much as I miss her and how much it hurts, another song comes to mind…

See You Again.

Why did I just do that to myself?!?!? If you have kleenex nearby and want a good cry, check out the video above. It has the lyrics posted that that’s what broke me. Momentarily.

So, what did I do with my hair? Oddly enough, I was excited to get it back to my “normal”, natural, boring (no crazy colors) color with a few highlights. Again, they did a fantastic job! Really happy with the results!

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Not the greatest pic but good enough, dammit. And good enough is kinda what I’ve been going for… so… NAILED IT.

Sunday Update

Hello all-

I don’t have much to say tonight, nothing really thought out or prepared but I guess I usually don’t. I think it feels different because there’s sort of a lack of focus. There’s a lot going on, what with spending hours deliberating on whether or not to take a shower (not today) and getting ready for the move on Wednesday (which consists of me mentally packing).

Daily and Weekly posts are happening, for now. The word of the day prompt is me writing raw. I don’t put too much thought into it ahead of time, it’s mainly my initial reaction to whatever the word has to be. As time goes on, I’m sure there will be pieces that I can develop into longer, better pieces but for now, I just want to get into the habit of writing everyday. And twice on Sunday. And Wednesday. 🙂

I’m working on another endeavor though too. It will be a thorough look into addiction and the desperate places people have fallen into, consigned there, mostly by the doctors who were supposed to help them. I’m going to write about the heroin epidemic in general and get personal. I want to find out how and why this is happening, in addition to figuring out what I can do to help. This is a big undertaking as the use is so very widespread.

Saturday we signed our new lease. We’re moving the big stuff on Wednesday, yay! Back into an apartment. Leaving the townhouse life, which at first I was bummed about. I’m 38 years old. I think it’s time I had a house. Then again, I don’t like to be all that responsible. I guess I mean, I have enough responsibility right now to last me a long time and apartment living does have it’s benefits. I’m hoping sleeping will be one of them!

School is out on Thursday! Oh shit… well, there is a lot of stuff to do around the new place…

Work is going well. I still like my job. Working three days a week, it’s good for me.

My health is… ok. Had my blood sugars under control for a little while, then pregnancy and loss fucked them up. Got back into a good “normal” range and then Natalie passed. I’ve been afraid to check them because stress affects them so greatly. I am taking my insulin and other meds though. The psoriatic arthritis is acting up, again because of the stress but I’m managing.

People keep asking how I’m sleeping. If I’m sleeping. How can I sleep? Honestly? I was medicating for the first week to week and a half. I had to. I take prescription Xanax at bedtime but I try often not to… just because it’s one more pill and who knows how many more chemicals? I had exactly a week of dreamless sleep. On the eighth night, I had a dream, I know I blogged about it. Since then it’s been like I’m just trying to dial in the right bedtime. The later I stay up, the fewer times I wake up during the night. It looked like 1:30am was a good time. I’d sleep all the way through until 7:00. Last night sucked. I woke up at 2:30 am and haven’t slept since. It’ll be an early one tonight.

I don’t want to bore you with anymore mundane details of my life… what’s going on in yours? Anything exciting? Want to share? Let me know in the comments below!