Month: August 2018

Five Years Ago

Five years ago today, on a beautiful late-summer day in Northern Oklahoma, I wrote some letters to my family.

Five years ago today, I kissed my almost-three-year-old for what I was sure would be the last time.

Five years ago today, I washed down the bottle of pain pills with alcohol and prayed for Death to come swiftly.

Five years ago today, I drove my van erratically downtown, hardly able to see through the tears, and parked near the train tracks.

Five years ago today, I staggered down the empty sidewalks, planning to lay on those tracks until the train came.

Five years ago today, I called my brother Matthew to say good-bye.

Five years ago today, he hung up on me and called my husband, Jim.

Five years ago today, Jim raced from his office building and, using the iphone locator app, tried to find me.

Five years ago today, Jim stopped beside a police car that just happened* to be idling by the side of the road to request an ambulance.

Five years ago today, I was intercepted by my distraught man, who clasped me in a bear hug as I beat my fists on his chests and demanded release, cursing him for trying to stop me.

Five years ago today, I was taken to the hospital, handcuffed to a bed in the ER, and given liquid charcoal to drink until it cleared the drugs from my system.

Five years ago today, I entered a mental hospital and stayed for a week, listening and learning.

Five years ago today, I wanted to end the pain. The endless litany of darkness in my mind. The relentless accusatory rhythm of my heart.

Five years ago today, Death beckoned, promising relief.

Five years ago today, I took Death’s hand and walked with him, just for a little while.

Five years ago today, I didn’t think I could ever feel better.

I was wrong.

I am glad.

 

*make of that what you will

 

 

 

Ingredients

Our hearts are made
of earth and clay
of cells and blood
and DNA

a tree is made
of cellulose
of branch and leaf
and breeze that blows

the stars are made
of fire and light
of wishes made
on summer nights

and oceans come
from storms and rain
from ancient tears
no one can name

but mostly I
am empty space
and dismal thoughts
I can’t erase

I wish to be
an unnamed star
a tree, a raindrop
yet here we are

a soulless thing
I cannot be
and so I sit
myself and me

and try to hope
and strive to stay
this human thing
for one more day.

Award

Oh wow, for me?

It’s for me? Really? I’m overwhelmed, I’m startled, I’m completely amazed!”

*stands up, smooths dress, strides to the stage*

Yes; yes, of course I’ll accept it!”

*takes award, smiles, waves*

Oh my, I can’t believe this. Let me just catch my breath here for a moment, I never imagined this moment would come for me.”

*breathes deeply, waits for applause to die down*

Thank you, Father Time and Mother Nature, for awarding me this enormous milestone. Without your continual persistence and steadfastness, I wouldn’t be here today. FIFTY. Wow. It never occurred to me that I might actually make it!

I’d like to take this opportunity, if you would indulge me, to thank some people who have given me incredible gifts throughout the years. Their contributions to my life can hardly be fathomed. 

First, the Sun, for the hours of pleasure beneath your rays, for the vitamin D, and the great tans. Also for the crepe-y skin, wrinkles, and abundant freckles. Hey man, you’ve been more than generous. Maybe enough is enough now, though? Haha, yeah. No, seriously.

Next, Aunt Flo. Girl, we’ve known each other for, what? Thirty-seven years? And you’ve been such a consistent companion, always showing up at the exact wrong moment. You’re amazing. You and your partner, Hormones, always kept it interesting. I know you’re planning to leave me alone completely in the next year or so, and can I just say one thing? Don’t let the door hit you. Thanks for the parting gifts, too: hot flashes and hair loss. Nice.

To my Muse, hello! Hello? Muse? Where is she? I’d like to thank her for being a flighty bitch, but I see she didn’t bother to show up tonight. Typical.

Also, I don’t want to forget Medication. I see you there, don’t blush! Don’t know what I’d do without you. Thanks for being there. We won’t mention the side effects now, it’s not the time.

But seriously, folks. I have, surrounding me, some of the best companions on this journey a girl could ever have. They pick me up when I stumble, they encourage me forward, and they bandage my bloodied knees when I hit the ground. For instance:

My parents. You taught me how to work, how to live, and how to laugh. Without you I wouldn’t be here (literally). I love you and am grateful for the opportunity you gave me to walk this earth.

My friends. You who have stuck close beside me through the good times and the bad. You who have prayed for me, wept with me, and laughed at my razor-sharp wit. Yes, you. You know who you are.

My sister Pam. She has demonstrated a determination to reach for the stars and never quit, a bull-dog like ferocity to achieve her dreams, and she has shown me there is no shame in doing so. She would drop everything to help someone out, even when she herself is hurting. She loves me unconditionally, keeps my secrets, and forgives my lapses. Thank you, dear sissy.

My brother, Matt. Steadfast friend. Selfless hero. Generous giver. Faithful encourager. I have no doubt this man would strap me to his back and carry me if he had to, just to get me to safety. He has given me gifts I will never be able to repay, shared with me his abundant talent and creativity in more ways than I can count, and I miss him desperately every moment he is not near me. Thank you, Machu.

My brother, Paul. Your wisdom and compassion, paired with your inimitable style and confidence, have buoyed me along throughout the years. The music you create inspired (and continues to inspire) me to find my own voice amidst the hubbub of life and the chaos in my own soul. Yours is a singularly calming influence, and I am forever grateful to have you in my life. Thank you, Pauly.

My brother, Chris. When you came along, you instantly brightened my life, and you continue to do so every day. Your sense of humor, your love for humanity, your relentless courage, and your determination to follow your own path teach me lessons I never could have learned otherwise. You love so big, and we would all do well to follow your example. Thank you, TTFer.

And lastly, the brightest star in my sky, my husband, Jim.

What do you say about a man who would step in front of a bullet for you? He has saved my life, both literally and figuratively, more than once. I would not be here if not for his love. He never once has given me cause to doubt his desire for me, which, for a person with as many deep-rooted insecurities as yours truly, cannot be overstated. He sees every tear that I cry and always tries his best to stay tender towards me in spite of my own harshness at times. This award is as much for him as it is for myself. Thank you, darling man. I love you eternally.

Thank you again, Father Time and Mother Nature, for the chance to achieve this, the big 5-0, and may I persevere to reach the next milestones set for me in life. May I ever endeavor to improve with each passing day, and never forget to give thanks for the many blessings that envelop me.”

*lifts award overhead and shakes it for emphasis before proceeding to fall down the stage steps*

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