Today the Tears

June 30, 2021

Another possible blog post shunted off to the drafts folder, well really, sitting there for weeks. I may come back to it, but today the tears want out. Not hard sobs, Jack, like when I first learned you drowned. These are worn, frustrated, disoriented tears. The kind that shiver through a body too drained for emotion, but ripe with it. I can picture them, tiny trails gasping their way across scorched rock, cracked clay. Winding through evidences of distress or trauma. Ridiculous. Hope filled lines, tiny breaths rushing between scenes trying to avoid excess anything.

I slept three hours again between noon and three. Not true. I set the alarm, but my body fought letting go at the beginning and surfaced confused, too soon at the end. There wasn’t really a plan for the day anyway. Good thing. There was a brief hour or two of clarity at the beginning where I looked at my journal, reviewed some poetry, and made notes for longer writing.

But phone calls. I’m not over remembering the call, ‘silence’, him assessing the wait as I sobbed. Already knowing why he called. “Jack drowned this weekend.” Memory is tactile for me. It’s how I process. I still feel your body warm beside me, your hands gentle, your kisses soft, and one desperate upon my mouth, before you left. Wanting me. Loving me.

It’s hard feeling things intensely. Touch is important. I joked for years that I listen through my hands. They spent enough time with language falling off them. ASL. My smile at your forming ILY and smiling proud you got it. I love you. Those memories I want to feel. But lately, my body listens too hard. It yells over the memories of smiles. It yells loss.

May long weekend. I felt your heart stop touching mine. I felt it going, fighting it leaving. I tumbled with your heart. I felt it go. I begged to be wrong. And words. The call. I hate words. I love them. I want you Jack, your words, love, laughter, and all the joy I had remembering them. Waiting for you to come home. I have the memory, and words telling me you’re gone. They hit my chest in a wave of imbalance, a tug of fear. Shock.

Why is grief so much fear? Loss such a chasm?

It crashes in where it doesn’t belong. The dentist’s office calling. Jacob’s appointment. Another kind voice, explaining, rationalizing, insisting I understand. I do. But the telling, and retelling. Reasons they may not see Jacob, may not keep him as a client, flood over me. I can’t hold memory together. Focus. Listen. Their email bounced back. No way to call. Who do they email? Why they are calling me. No way to reach his staff. Simple. Fact. Context. Clear. I want to hear what they are saying. That it isn’t because they don’t like him, that it isn’t because he doesn’t need them. That they just need connection. But all I hear is the swish and score of water dragging rocks. Heaving me over the edges. My body. My head swirls.

I apologize and excuse myself. Promise to follow up with the group home. Let them know if I can get through. And even though their words say not my responsibility, I’m awash in words on why they called, I can’t hold them separate. They are loss over loss.

I can’t. Not today. Why? I slept. I’m sure I slept.

Did I sleep? I don’t know. And so I sleep again. After the call. After my text. And two or three emails, to group home manager and staff. Searching out clues. Who do I tell? What do I ask? Why is there an email address I haven’t used and dentist said bounced. And the answer comes back. Adamant. The address is right. It’s the one everyone can access. So I try. But it bounces. Flings itself up and over, bounces back without any sense of why. So I email again to the manager and dentist. One note combined. One clear, concise ask – why? I don’t know. It doesn’t work. Why? Apology. I hope they talk.

And all of this means nothing to the day to day I need to heal. I’m working at it. My head. My heart. My job. Go back to work. Jump box to box, work and home, go back to it all. Rocks I can’t miss. My body complains. At more than this drudge of tears that won’t come.

Why is so much of life about disconnecting? Losing and loss.

I wonder if the motions of my day mean anything at all. Shoppers stuffing buggies with mis-labelled essentials. Pop. Chips. Multi-buys of chocolate bars. Wanting baby clothes we used to share. They say things are opening up. I wonder. Logic disappeared months ago in swirls of ideas like water down the drain. I don’t know anymore what I don’t know. I pushed hard the last months, all my best storytelling used up on pictures drawn in the air. ASL categories, this one and that. Grocery and garden centre, front end with online, eventually curbside. Store areas mapped out as claw-hands drop in locations separate but all there. And cell phone, photo at the ready, curbside number to call. Will it still be that? Wipe, wash, story to spin. Swish. Swirl. A rock falls in, dropped from the air. Ideas weighing. Nothing that helped me hold you. Not Jacob either. He went, but isn’t gone.

I want to hold on, hold together. Know my hands are worth more than grasping at air.

There is no guarantee. No one who can promise me what will come. Just me, in the river. Thrashing. Nose above water. Flailing imagination. Covid brought colours and labels like waves over rocks. Bruises piling up. Mapping the years. Last year and this, promise and pain. Have I ever held on? Has anything I ever wanted held together? Why does it feel like so much repetition? Loss. Longing. The distance between. And always I’m reaching for a solution, a way to hold it together.

She’s right. I come back to it. The sound of her voice, rushing like water. Like she said, it’s not my responsibility. But responsibility isn’t what I was trying to hold. I wanted your love. I wanted time. Not these tears. They come and they fade. Evaporate in air.

Breathe. I have your love. I do. That I will hold.

Imperfections

February’s been a rough month. March too. I ping between okay and ‘oh so over it’. I’ve hit the wall. All I have left is to write about it.

On one hand, I have a small box called apartment. It’s crammed full of left over bits of past life and the one I’m trying to live now. Creativity wages war with it daily; art and writing supplies, music all fight for space.

I write regularly, paint occasionally. Mostly my keyboard and guitar cower against one wall, asking me to practice. I paid for a month of guitar lessons, tossed a penny into the well of expectation and hope it brings good things. Last week, encouraging words from my teacher assured me that regardless of my frustration with ‘only’ practicing one song and one scale, I have done a good job. Okay. I’ll bite. I’ve done well. Now believe it.

I want to improve my art. Create paintings I love and learn to part with them. To do that, I need a better grip on money and budgets both for home and sales. Even if it’s just for fun, I’d like enough to replenish supplies, I need to let myself learn the basics of give and take, hobby or business.

I want to release things I’ve written. Send them further out. Not just the one or two places I know who are open to it. I want to push past the barriers and broaden my reach.

What scares me about writing? People tell me I’m good, I have a raw way of writing. It draws people. They see it in pieces I’m doing for a memoir. Say, I have a strong, staccato style to my poetry. I read a list of possible literary magazines suggested to me. I probed their online offerings and re-read. Decided to write a cover letter and choose some poems to send.

But then, a tangible restraint on my arms. typing has weight. sleep falls upon me, passing out like with a migraine. and less obvious shut down, internal, my body folds in on itself, origami folding into invisibility. impossible. i need to move. i need to …. submit …. ringing past intentions, rules that bind. breathe swallowed up within lungs that strain hesitation.

Words. They lean towards poetry. They leap at opportunity, but cringe at expectation. Dear words, can you help? I want you to know full expression. I hope this year to let you fly.

Fragile

Posts have gotten behind. Wanting yet not wanting to be said, things I think and say to myself. Here inside my room, they are safe. But outside in the world, hopes and fears become more real.

I still think about uncertainty. Around me and in the news. Up close and farther away. The shifts in attention, lens contracting, opening, closing, its focus shifting between my life and world.

Racism. Covid. Politics. Beliefs. Trust. Lack of trust. Distancing. Not distancing. Numbers. Decisions. Fear. Uncertainty. Anger.

Exasperation. I hear it in the people around me. Those overfilling carts, taking more than they need, some out of fear and some greed. Those who will post it for sale online at greater cost to those who couldn’t get it in the rush, those stuck in low pay or waiting for a monthly cheque. Selfishness and fear. I feel it in the tension of shoppers distancing, not distancing. Not sure what to do or where to look. Some little faces, tense behind their masks. And I think of my little ones, now grown. Our lives our hopes. Past, present, future.

A customer comes through buying a coat. He’s working here today and didn’t bring one. He scans the coat as he talks, then gestures towards the nail salon.

When did the real estate leave? I shrug. He tells me he used to live here.

I’m not sure. I only lived here a few years.

Oh, where did you live before?

He turns as I tell him. And gives a nod.

Oh, Acton. Did you live there when the KKK sign was on side of the highway?

OMG yes. I told people there was a sign there, but they didn’t believe me.

No. It’s true. It was there. My friend lived nearby. I saw it often when I visited.

I’m not sure how to feel. A short, quick conversation in the rush of day. It rattled me. Rattled some memories and my sense of truth. I shook my head as he left. Disbelief. I’m thrown a distance, a former place.

I think, or want to think, I live in a good place, a good country, but every day I see or learn things that question it. I try to stand tall, believe in hope, smile and treat everyone with respect. I lived through abuse and like to think it’s not common. There are kind people, generous people. But I’ve also heard horrible things said by shoppers going through my work area. Some just generally bad, others more ugly, targeting people; family, friends, strangers. Some wanting me to agree with their caustic beliefs and behaviours. I won’t. And I cringe at how little impact my determination towards good has on them. It shakes my faith in people. It shakes my faith in myself. I think of some little faces, unsure whether to smile at me, and I wonder if it’s a natural shyness or the colour of my skin.

Memories kicked loose skitter through my thoughts. There were skinheads at my son’s school. His justice raged against their presence. I was shocked when he told me, shared some of the words and attitudes he ran into there. We lived in a tiny town. Seven churches. Good people. I couldn’t understand the dichotomy, the smiles and kindnesses, yet ugliness interwoven. It shook my faith. It shook his faith too. I watched the grief and anger go through him every time injustice appeared. Watched his heart break.

Our hearts broke so often through the years. Gentle justice is not an easy place. Home was hard enough. The world is a weight that needs many more hearts and much love.

Perception. I feel naive. There are bad things everywhere. Racism, hatred, abuse hurts everyone. Even where we think we are sheltered, there is no shelter. These things shake the ground under our feet. Put us off balance, impact our actions. Seeing and doing nothing dulls us like the frog in a pot, the end comes but all we see is the illusion.

At times things seem calm, the news is busy with other things. I wish that was an indication of change. I’ve prayed for change longer than a decade or maybe two. On a personal level, for our family to move beyond the abuse we faced. On a community level, for equality to be given a fair chance. For attitudes to shift. For strength to fight for it. To stand firm. I wanted and feared the process.

Change feels so fragile. My efforts like wisps. They blow with every wind. Dust kicked up in their place. Please G-d send some love on us. Hope for a new day. At times it’s wanting. I know you’ve heard it too many times, but believe me, we are so fragile and hope is getting sparce. Fill us again.

Uncertainty

Certainty. Words. Ideas. I’m always curious. Tilt at will. I love etymoligy.com, the story of words, of their history. But sometimes what I seek is less clear, a bit uncertain. Chasing it, I get stuck.

Day trips ideas this summer. I feel resistant. In the midst of Covid and the amount of self isolating I do, coming home after the many unknowns of work, I’m just not sure I want to take on those places. Knowing has never felt so exhausting.

For me, that’s a strange place. I spent 30 years researching, knowing: deafness, autism, surgeries. A constant flow of decisions to be made for my son. I went at them with every ounce of energy I had. I learned a new language (ASL), made many unexpected connections (hospitals, therapists, agencies), drove to a different town for a preschool geared to both Deaf and hearing, then moved to another community when he entered kindergarten in one of the provincial schools for the Deaf.

Exhausting in the moment, these things all upped my energy and activated my curiosity and love of puzzles. I threw myself into believing he would catch hold of the things I was teaching and run with them. There were unknowns. Uncertainty was just part of the journey.

Lately, I watch others struggle with uncertainty. It feels heavy. An unseen weight pushing in so we cannot breathe. Blocking our way so we cannot move or get around it. Our sense of time has tipped, an unknown pattern whose end we can’t predict. Days and weeks drag. There is no normal, just the stretched out bits taking their run at us. Statistics bombard. No matter how we graph it, the ends have their way.

I guess I’m left with this, I’ve been through uncertainty before and I’ll do it again. Uncertainty is an ongoing journey. I may not have every resource yet, but when I needed them for my son, friends, family and my own curiosity found a way.

Certainty. Uncertainty.

I choose to believe, stubbornly if necessary, that what I need for this round will find a way.

Faith

Asked, “what is faith?” I .. hesitate. /A tiny voice / alive in me, raises itself / just enough to whisper, /”faith is life.” // Curious, I lean in to see, and /earn a smile. /This tiny bud beams at me. There /beneath its childlike form, crayon in hand, /a drawing, incomplete /but shining.

So I’m playing with the idea of pauses, line breaks, my relation to the words written and reflecting on them.

I wrote these before the shutdown …. before …. well, before.

Faith has been on my mind frequently the past few years. Divorce, breaking a life, learning to open, look inside. Not wanting to see. Some places are dark, a little bruised, torn, struggling to heal. Some places still unexplored. It’s hard to venture into the unknown. Trust. Especially hard to trust myself.

I made a mistake, entered into a relationship that wasn’t one. I am the one who stayed and stayed, who had to move away, shift, push my mind, my heart and my body off the known edge. I am the one.

Those are hard words to say. Words I once knew as insult or assault, now given some time and space, a little faith allowed some elbow room. These same words ‘the one’ become freedom.

I can let go of the accusations  Told there’s always ‘the one’. Oh yes, always the one who …. fill in any sin, error, wrong that could be dredged up.  An odd turn of phrase yet clear judgement and penalty. Faith. It was often the source or reason for anger turned against me, for judgement, for penalty. Faith. Having it too often required me to forgive,and  forgive again. To be the one who lived faith, who walked it out regardless any truth in the actions being forgiven.

Still. Faith hopes. It’s hard to kill hope. Faith comes with every new day, a light in our darkness. I think it’s stubborn, like me. Faith insists on living, even in the darkness, even in disaster, even in hatred and disgust, demeaning moments that try to beat me down. I may pause, let tears come. But like the image, though tiny in form, faith stubbornly sees colour and light; draws hope where there is none.

Faith. Is willing to be the one.

Faith.

Ides of March … where will you take me?

The world is rushing by this year, my year of anticipation … good things to come. Growth. Art. Trusting in self expression. I haven’t ignored those things. I did follow through on my goal of submitting some pieces to a mental health Art Gala. But, then the world came crashing down and the builders, the inventors, the optimists and engineers, in all walks of life, are putting it back together. Meanwhile, those of us willing to venture on in trades deemed ‘essential’ try to hold it all together.

In the wild this looks like chaos. Pirates and schemers, then fools and fearing, take centre stage, briefly I hope, while the brave and desperate struggle on bearing the load. Love, grace, kindness are qualities of life in these times. There are so many working to bring hope.

I’m not sure where I fit. My job is front line, monitoring and managing retail lines, encouraging and frustrating shoppers in turn. Some need the encouragement, others want to take more than their share. I get both sides of the feedback, not always in polite turns. But I come from difficult times, lived in abuse quite a while, so it’s not all unfamiliar or as shocking as it could be. Still there are days …. I sing or I cry. Both are gifts to myself. Expressions of dignity saying I’m here, I’m alive. I made it through all the tough years and I’ll make it through this. Hope is life. It’s the one true thing. I’ve learned to listen, to be open, and in my darkest moments, if I pause and look up, there is always someone willing to share some hope or some laughter. A reason to smile.

I have quirky humour, it helps. Not sure why, but ‘Ides of March’ came to mind writing this. I looked it up – that and the date.  March 15th … Shakespeare’s reminder, a bad day for Caesar, and one that caught my quirk on the Lenten calendar. Key quotes for March 15th this Lenten year:

The Google note said – https://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/texts  John 4:15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.” It caught my eye and curiosity. It fits my day and it’s demands. So I looked. Read that, and a second, Exodus 17:2 The people quarreled with Moses, and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?”

Oh dear … water, water, where’s the water?  Again, I have to smile. I’m so sorry Moses. Today, I know how you feel.

 

 

Thoughts on Poetry

Some days I release my thoughts in poetry, sometimes just poetic thoughts. My sister told me once I think in syncopation. It may be true. I like the offbeat places in life and play with it at times.

The piece below, written as we inched into the New Year, is like that and suited my mood.

I get told how young I look and act, but time passes, things change. Some days, I worry about the future. We age, life fades, fears arise. Other days determined, I announce I’m 20 still and all life’s possibilities are mine to own. For now, poetic words can have their day. Let’s see what spring will bring my way.

***

Christmas, tinsel coming down, wreathes and ornaments packed away. The busyness behind us now. Glittery moments come and gone. Welcome at first, the season has lost its shine.

Like a little angel, I wobble and wait, halo askew. I know I will be boxed up too, packed away, and left to hope on another year to shine again. The day may come you tire of me, my glory lost. I dread that day.

Each year I cringe a little more, lest you hesitate, your hand withdraw. Excitement comes, you reach for me. It brightens as I’m set in place. Again a crown upon your tree.

Nanowrimo

white and green wooden house miniature

Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

Nanowrimo – National Novel Writing Month – a 50,000 word run at completing a novel in one month. Last year I participated, even though I don’t write novels, and keep mostly to very short poetry and prose pieces that I’m still learning to identify … are they essays, short story, micro story, random thoughts? Happily designated as ‘my little pieces’, they are learning to creep out into the broader world.

Doing Nanowrimo both years surprised me. 2018, I tried a novel, moved my target three times, then quit 2,000 words short of my final goal of 25, 000. Typing hurt too much. Injuries old and new get in the way. It was hard acknowledging I had to choose between my goal and my health. I’m learning it’s okay to adjust goals. It’s important to guard my health. I have written poetry and other pieces using less than 100 words. With the lofty goal of 8,000 for my first Nanowrimo goal, I surprised myself by achieving it early in the month, so increased it to 15,000, and upon reaching that again upped it to 25,000. Without the pain, I could have reached it. My health was worth more, and that was hard to acknowledge.

2019, I set new goals, sent poems and short pieces out several places. I was adamant there would be no Nanowrimo for me this year. I don’t do long writing. But, true to form, I surprised myself by beginning a memoir in the summer. Prompted by friends saying write my journey, put my words on the page. September and October, I wrote and shared. I read what I had to several writing groups who encouraged me to continue.

Then, it happened. A writer friend prodded me into joining the local Nano group.

You’re writing anyway, why not keep writing but join … for the fun, for the challenge, for encouragement.

Yes. Why not? I might add a few hundred or even a few thousand words to what I had, but I would not push myself. I didn’t push, but I did write. I wrote a lot … near 30,000 words to add to what I’d done. I’m sitting on 50,000 editable words and more to come. I had no idea there would be so many in so few months.

Doing this memoir pulled up stress from the past, but it’s healing and a challenge, and I like challenges. I like numbers. Watching them grow. I’m a good saver, enjoy the accumulation of things. Nanowrimo and watching the word count took me back to number drawings we did as kids … connected the dots … each one numbered for us to follow and in the end, an image, the surprise (which really wasn’t).

Part way through Nanowrimo, I realized I was letting the image come, seeing my life, letting the story appear. It’s not 100% yet. It will have more revisions and stages of growth. But I’m not fighting it as much, I’m learning to let the story appear, let the memoir teach me, say what it was and what it will become, who I was and who I will become.

Why am I writing? It may be as simple as that – learning to find myself in the story.

Memory. Memoir. It’s an interesting journey.

Memoir

I began a journey in memoir this summer. Three months in feels much longer and a lot harder than I’m prepared for every day.

Putting words to page isn’t hard. At present, I have 27,000 words which may realistically be around 20,000 when I weed out repeats, notes to self, and edit what I keep. For someone whose natural pace is 500 to 1,000 words, that is amazing. I practice telling myself that and leave room for the book to tell me its plan.

At the same time, I’m reading memoirs and a book by Mary Karr on writing it.

I spoke to someone recently whose family just released a joint memoir that based itself around journal entries. I could do it too; journaled for years. Something else is the stuck point.