Thursday, October 22, 2009

We aren't supposed to be here, today. (Reflections - Part I)

That's what the Rabbi said today. We aren't supposed to be here. We're supposed to be anywhere but here.

But we were standing in the gloriously warm sunshine, on an unusually stunning and beautiful day. The grass was bright green. The leaves were gold and amber and fire and dancing in the breeze. We were gathering together. We were unified. People from all over, all walks of life were here. It was incredible!

But, he was right. We weren't supposed to be here today. We were supposed to be at work. Playing with kids in the park. Scrambling the halls of a school somewhere. Wrestling with bundles and shopping carts at Costco. Getting our nails done. Playing squash. Going on a hayride. Flying to that very important place. Anywhere but here.

It's not that we should never be here. It's inevitable. But certainly not now. It was clearly too early. Not that there is ever a good time to say goodbye. Not that there is ever a good time to say goodbye to flesh and blood.

Nor is there ever a good time to watch a parent bury their child. A wife bury her husband while holding their infant son.

Although, tell that to that precious baby, who relished the attention, laughed with delight, clearly without comprehending the gravity of the day, and the fact it was the last time he'd be in the physical presence of his father.

His mother understood, though. From the rushed, hurried eulogy she gave, that was amazingly interesting, but difficult to understand with the speed of her speech, clearly not wanting to share these stories, and having to hurry before keening, to having to brace herself in the embrace of her older in-laws to keep upright, it was very clear she understood the gravity. Perhaps understood is the wrong word. She clearly comprehended.

You never understand something like this. There is no understanding in death. There is comprehension. There is acknowledgement. But no understanding.

It's a remarkable thing to see a boy cry past the age of being a toddler. Even when we, parents, tell our little boys it's ok to cry, society intervenes and teaches them otherwise. It's difficult to see a grown man cry. It's incomprehensible to describe what it's like, however, when you see a man your father's age sob and weep like a baby, like his grandson, in fact, bowing his head, lip quivering as a child's may when they fall and bonk their head, and weep into the arms of his living sons and daughter.

As a mother, we are the emotional center of the family. We know that we have to be strong, however, when no one else can be. And we mourn later. We weep later. At least we try. It's our job to take care of everyone else. Our children, our spouses, our parents, our friends, our guests, our... everyone. Today was no different. I watched as a mother thanked the officers that served with her son in the local coastal auxilliary who spoke at his funeral, shaking their hands, trying to be courteous and gracious. Until what was happened around her hit her, once more, and, she went from standing upright, shaking their hands from a distance, to collapsing into their strong embrace, allowing her to compose herself, sob into their uniforms, catch her breath, and continue down the crowd, attending to those that needed attending.

I felt I had to be there. I wasn't a close family friend. In fact, I hadn't seen my friend, whose brother passed away, for years. I didn't even really know her brother. I'd known of her brother. His brilliance was somewhat legendary. Of all her brothers, I had seen him the least. He didn't poke his head into her room, or try and annoy us when we were getting our homework done before "Rap with the Rabbi". But she was a good friend to me during very difficult school years for me. She helped me with homework. She never played the vicious games most of my classmates did at my expense. So how could I not attend? Besides, only 2 of us from a class of 18 people that spent 9 years of our lives together could attend. Again, how could I not? Did she recognize me? I think so. Her father didn't, but that's ok. I wasn't there to be seen or recognized or reunited. I was there to be part of the collective energy, to be another face, another body another presence to reestablish a world that seems unfair and unkind. I couldn't help but feel like an outside, though. I kept my distance. I watched. I listened.

Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya (Reflections Part II)

You really don't know what you have until it's gone. Or, in this case, who. And I never had him. I didn't know him. But I really wished that I had.

Strange to say about the person whose funeral you're attending, isn't it? I wish I'd known him. Based on what I learned about him at his funeral, I wish I'd known him. I really am struggling with the ironic and, possibly, inappropriate thought that I'm sorry I didn't know him. Is that dumb? Perhaps.

In some ways, obviously, I know him. He was my friend's oldest brother. He was an example of the brilliance that alumni of our school share. Well, I knew of him.

I learned today, however, we had a lot in common, and I really would have liked to have known him in life. I know people like him. I am in the process of "revamping" the friends I have in my life - upgrading, in a sense, and he's the type of person who is near the definition of who I am looking to befriend. (I know, this must be as strange a blog entry to be reading as it is for me to be writing, let alone to be thinking. At least we share that.)

In some ways, I know him without knowing him, too. There was a moment, today, as I was scanning the attendees at the funeral for familiar faces when I saw two faces, well, not faces, backs, that were familiar but did not belong. Two men in uniform. But not just any uniform. Not just any military uniform. A specific branch of the military. A branch most people wouldn't recognize. But I knew it immediately. Those blues are distinctive to me. And, as my wandering mind referenced the person I associate with that uniform, the words describing the deceased started to ring way too familiar.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel a wee bit overwhelmed with the connections my clearly damaged synapses were making. Neurological sparks were flying, and I closed my eyes and ran through an exercise. I didn't listen to the specific name. I listened to the stories. I kept shaking my head in disbelief.

Whose funeral am I at, right now? Because, except for the age, the company he worked for, etc, I had the distinct feeling I was at someone else's funeral. Who, ironically, should have been attending someone else's funeral today. (Which makes this moment even weirder, but thus I digress.) I was listening to eulogies for one person, that would fit another like a glove. I kept trying to shake it off, thinking, "Look, you're just making up these connections. You just want these words, these revering stories to fit this other person. Stop it, you're being stupid." I'd shake it off, mentally, and then I'd listen the the eulogy.

And it would happen again.

It was the strangest thing.

Was it because Jonathan was the kind of person that I wanted to get to know because I'd already gotten to know someone like him? And what I was hearing reminded me of the other person? Or did these two have a ridiculous amount of commonality?

Either way, the net result was the same. I was left terribly sorry I didn't know Jonathan in life. But clear that I might be able to get to know him, through his family, in death, while helping do what he wanted - to be remembered for his zest for life, appreciation for unconventional challenges, and generosity. I may have a venue for his spirit to live on to share.

And I was left with an even greater appreciation for someone else. Because I realized I already heard his eulogy today. There is no need for me to hear it a second time. Because I've lost him once, I kind of lost him again today. And I don't want to lose him once more.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

There are no words

There are no words to describe the exhaustion, fatigue and overwhelming overwhelm that has come over me. I sleep, and it gets worse. I stay up, and it doesn't matter. The cloud that followed me, and only rained on my head before has become a foggy shroud.

I function... I go to work, get my job done, get my ideas together, get the day-to-day done... colleagues are none-for-the-wiser. I don't really see myself as having a real family, so they are as oblivious as I choose them to be, which is pretty oblivious, as I really could care less what they think.

The people that I do consider my family aren't really. And those that I did, well, I don't think that I can.

I find that what I relied on being familiar is in fact, nothing but cardboard cutouts. That I clung to locations and places and things as being "rocks", when they crumble in my hands when touched and sift between my fingers.

Nothing "real" around me was real in the first place, was it?

And that which isn't real, is?

My office is my home. My home is more draining than my office. My desk, my computer have become my bed, and my bed, which I haven't been able to sleep in for months, is a tomb.

Everything good is now tainted. Every hope I had for myself is now a haunting. Invaded by memories and wishes of him.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Yet another reason I just want to curl up under a rock and cry

There is no place that is safe. Home, work, the past, the current. Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, the internet. Bars, restaurants, the grocery store, the private beach.

I have no place to be safe.

Not even in my mind.

The minute that I feel like it's ok to come out, I'm reminded of why I went back under in the first place.

And God only help me if I come out, happy, and ready to take on the world. That's when it hurts the most.

They are out there.

The predators.

The wolves in sheep's clothing.

The naysayers.

The scum.

The bullies.

The cheaters.

The oblivious.

The loves ones.

The entrusted.

The protectors.

The haters.

The manipulators.


They are all out there, waiting to pounce. Just waiting for the moment I set off the trap.

Can I get away before I get stabbed? Rarely.

They change names. They change their approaches. They change faces.

They get older. They mature.

But they are still the same.

It's still them.

They are out there.

They are in here.

There is no escape.

Friday, October 9, 2009

I am a leaf

Cold weary...

In the dead of winter, an ember lay dormant. I resisted. I resisted with what little I had within me.

I rejected it. I turned it away. But, as we revolved closer to one another, I grew tender to it. And I let it inside.

Spring started with a promise. A boost from within, a wave of warmth and light from an unexpected, yet familiar place shot me into the sun.

I was strong. I was firm. I was young again. A new spirit that was so familiar, but had gone missing surged through my veins.

I brightened from dull drums.

Come Summer, the youth and vigor wore off a bit, but I was still strong. Strong as always.

I had a mission. I had a goal. I had to prove worthy of that ember. Of that youth. Of the messenger that embedded itself in me in Winter. That brought new life to me in the Spring.

I was a flag of power. Of fighting. Of determination.

But then that ember turned away from me. It withdrew from within my now thin skin. And I began to crumble.

Slowly. That vibrant color that shone from within me in Spring, that signaled joy in Summer, fades. I see that warmth, that light, what made me feel alive disappearing into a cold distance.

You are turning away from me.

And it's killing me, bit by bit. Cell by cell.

I ache every time another molecule falls apart.

I'm hanging by a thread.

The exact thread I was dangling from when you found me almost a year ago. When you begged me to let you enter my world.

I can't hold on much longer. I want to. Or do I?

I only want to hold on for you. In hope that you'll return. That, when the cold and the bitter winds slash your face, and tears are forced from you... when you need a source of warmth... shelter... that you'll remember the cozy comfort of my embrace.

But it's getting colder, dear friend.

Without you, the gales strip me of what little I have left.

If I let go, where will I go? How can I not fall and rot away?

If you return, what will be left of me? Will you even remember? Will there even be a trace? A bare tree with no sign of where I've gone?

Will the breeze that fanned your heart a year ago in mine be kind to me? And sweep me North to you? So that I may be an ember in your heart?

Or is that too much to ask?

I can't let go. Not yet.

I don't know where to go if I do.

But I don't know, this late in the year, if I have the strength to hold on.

Please, tell me what to do? I've held on for so long for you.

I'm afraid to Fall.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Write about a boy who made you believe in yourself without even trying...
Who could climb a spider's web into the heavens
and drove you to do the same.

and then clipped the thread.

but demanded you keep climbing.

who kept gliding up that silken fiber as effortlessly as a seagull riding the wind.

Write about a boy who was made of gold and earth...
who was capable of dazzling with wisdom beyond comprehension
who taught you
things no one ever could make you understand

and made you believe that you, too, could learn things previously a mystery

and then closed the book.

dashing your confidences

and moving onto the next untapped mind.

Write about a boy that could fly on two wheels
who made mountains crumble, seas part with rubber and steel
whom you could feel with every stroke

haunting in the wind rushing through your hair

a voice telling you to move forward, not to quit

who, at the end

wasn't there.

Write about a boy no one really wanted to understand
who begged for someone to love him as he was.

who wanted so badly to be a star
for whom you'd give up the limelight

who gave of himself for everyone

but you

(but you DID love him for who he was)
(and you DID give up the limelight)
(and you WANTED him to be a star)
(and you never made him beg)

and then shoved you into the pit

begging and pandering for shallow and empty praise

from anyone
from anyher

but you

and made you watch in awe, wanting to genuinely applaud.

yearning to make him see that you meant everything you said
to make him feel what you felt

so he could believe that you really believed the way you believed in him
so he could believe in himself the way you really believed in him

so he could believe

but he left your hands bound.

Forever silent
Forever blind
Forever not ever.