writing

UnresolvedĀ 

When you witness a suicide, you’re changed forever. You’re altered. It’s almost as if your DNA has been changed because things are no longer the same. The way you think, the way you feel, the way you approach life. The things people say. What once meant nothing to you now has more meaning than breath itself. Because sometimes you are left breathless by the tiniest of happenstances. 

I navigate around tall buildings and size them up. Where is the roof? Where would a body land should someone decide to kill themselves? I approach my own and plod forward, pushing myself to walk where she died. At times I am sleep deprived, still afraid of silence, still waking up to non-existent people standing over my bed. I still feel her around me, no longer a pest but a guide. It is not actually her that I feel but the shadow of her, burned into my soul. She is with me, always. 

Tonight, so close to her anniversary, a contractor needed access to the very roof she used to end her pain. I asked one of her (former) coworkers where the roof access was and advised there’d be contractors accessing the roof. 

I don’t know if they’re as hyper aware of people being on the roof since she died but I know I would be were I them. 

But then the contractor jokingly said to the coworker that when they were done they’d jump off the side of the building. 

Something changes inside you when someone you know kills themselves. You are forever altered. And the look on her coworkers face was evidence of that. He is forever altered. I bit my tongue and didn’t tell the contractor off because how was he to know? How could he? You don’t know what another person has seen or felt and we cannot traipse around the world, for all our given years, on egg shells. Life is meant to be lived, enjoyed, loved. A simple comment that has such intense meaning for us but none to him. It shouldn’t be held against him. 
And yet, it affected me still. More than I wish it could. And so I cried, losing my appetite as my tears fell into my pasta, I cried because I so wish his comment and her death could wash over and away from me. There is no 12 step program to death and grief. There’s no timetable of expectancy when it comes to loss and suicide. It just exists within you. Your DNA. Your fibers. It’s as much a part of you as your freckles and scars. 

Tonight, after I took that first step in overcoming my fear of heights, I sat down for my lunch break and cried. When I could breathe again, when I let it wash over me, I checked my email. There was a message from a complete stranger who had read my writing – not even the good writing that has been hidden from view – saying that my writing was a gift. How could you have picked today, of all days, to contact me?, when I chose today, of all days, to take that step out there?

I am forever altered, yes, but on this day my heart is full. 

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memory and memories

Time is a thief. I have memories of my childhood that are beautiful and sweet but minute details have failed me. How a lamp looked. How tall someone was. What their teeth looked like when they smiled. Details that seem unimportant are lost to me. 
Feelings we remember. We’ll never forget how something or someone made us feel. And we’ll never forget what it feels now to look back on a memory, as we remember it, as we experienced it, and as we experience it now. 

Smells can instantaneously bring back to us our forgotten memories. The sandbox in our kindergarten class. The smell of my Nana’s perfume. The smell of my grandparents property in the springtime. I remember these things and suddenly feel in awe of how amazing the universe is. 

But I feel cheated when I cannot remember, without assistance, the dimple in someone’s smile. When I can’t recall what my favourite lamp looked like. What hung on the walls above a couch. What the upholstery looked like on a favourite chair. It feels as if my brain and memory are cheating me out of a piece of my heart. These memories are insignificant in the grand scheme of things yet these minute details are the pieces of a larger puzzle. To lose those means to lose a piece of magic from my life. 
It’s tragic that you can forget something that was so beloved for so many years. It’s a reminder of how easily we forget, and how much we take for granted: memory and memories. 

Acres

My memories are woven through the blades of grass; they are strung like garland through the trees; they are planted firmly in the ground with each tree trunk; in the depths of the earth where the flowers were taking root, preparing to bloom yet again, they, too, rise as the flower rises, meeting the heavens with upturned faces.

My memories are in the house that no longer stands. The lamps that hung from the ceiling, dimmed bulbs behind frosted glass. The carpet, thick between my toes. The chesterfield, long enough to stretch with my child’s body and arms outreached, trying to touch the other end. The stockings that hung by the woodstove, filled with fruit for me to relish. Christmas lights are faded, out of focus, as we played games while the adults talked. The snow fell outside, while the coyotes hunted rabbits, each of us oblivious to the other.

Where do these memories go when the mind is no longer alive. When the body has ceased to exist, what happens to the conscious. My memories of my childhood are dear sweet friends, the knick knacks of my heart. It seems a shame to not will them to someone. I feel like I should wrap them up and gift them to my children, and their children after them. To keep them, my memories, alive. And, me. And, by extension, the child I was. The hope that came with Her. All she could’ve been, as she played games, and read stories late into the morning, and ran around chasing fairies in the yard, long after the sun has gone down.

What happens to the memories that are tied so closely to the land? That even as the land changes, the memories remain the same and become stronger with each passing day. The memories and the land, so intertwined that they course through the veins. The blood that is, I swear, painted with the same colour as the earth of the island.

The earth is vibrant with the memories of my life. So vibrant that I can feel it humming deep inside me. She is beautiful.

642 Things To Write About #1

What Can Happen In A Second.

*

Five years ago, Lily’s life changed in ways she could never have imagined.
Her son, Jaden, was four years old when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and, two months later, he passed away in the arms of her and her husband, Jacob. They didn’t have time to process the diagnosis, never mind his death. Jaden’s absence became more and more heavy on their hearts and his room, untouched two years later, marked the grave they refused to purchase. It marked the death they couldn’t acknowledge yet sat in every room they existed in, dancing in their peripheral vision.

On the third anniversary of Jaden’s death both Lily and Jacob took the day off from work but didn’t tell each other they’d done so. They each spent the day in solitary meditation. Lily had gone to Jaden’s favourite beach and Jacob had walked through Jaden’s favourite playground. Jacob felt the eyes of each parent staring at him, silently telling him to keep his infectious death away from their children. His heart heavy with pain and sorrow, he got back into his car and drove to a pub close to his old apartment and drank in the corner of the bar, where it was dimly lit and no one, but the waitress, could see his tears.
Lily, back from the beach, her face stained with tears and her feet wet from the ocean, turned her cell phone back on. She had 27 missed calls on her phone, all from the Queen’s County Medical Hospital. Her husband had been in a car accident and could she please come quickly.

When Lily arrived at the hospital she was out of breath. She’d been yelling the whole way to the hospital, “Not this day, not this day, not this day…” It had become a mantra, to keep her remaining family intact, to try and cheat Death from taking more of her heart away. After Jaden died she was sure Death had taken the whole thing. That her chest was nothing but an empty cavity.

The doctor took her to her husband’s room and pushed papers into her throbbing chest, asking her to sign it for organ donation. The nurses were saying her name but all she could see was her husband, tubes coming from his mouth, blood all over his swollen face and chest.

Lily could hear nothing but a roaring noise in her ears. She was sure this was Death, coming for her husband. Though she couldn’t see Him, she felt Him in the room with her. It was a dance she knew too well. She heard the doctor’s voice speaking to her, explaining the accident, as he knew it to have been, but she comprehended little. All she knew was that her life had ended, this very same day, three years ago. How she had managed to carry on, how either of them had managed to carry on, she could never fathom.
Now, she could see very little. Her vision was blurry and all she could hear was her own heart beating in her ears, her own blood coursing through her veins, the beep of the machine that was keeping her husband alive and out of nowhere, her name, a question. “Lily?”
The priest, Father Patrick, who had sat with her and Jacob when Jaden lay dying, was here now. She blinked when she looked at him, the tears starting to flow freely now, and said, “Jacob…”
Father Patrick took her in his arms and, as they were going to take her husband away for his organs, her knees buckled and the reality of her grief, of her empty heart and sorrowful soul, knocked the wind from her chest. She couldn’t breathe.

Almost a year later, after speaking with Father Patrick before the anniversaries of the deaths of her husband and her child, she had made a final decision. She’d spoken to Father Patrick about the decision she’d made and asked him if it was selfish. He could only tell her that she had to do what she felt was the right decision.
For years Jacob had been promising to take her to the Grand Canyon. She decided to take the trip herself, carrying both her husband and her child in her heart. As she slowly climbed to the top of the cliff, the wind was roaring in her ears. She could feel Death. Again, they were doing this strange, yet familiar dance.
She spent quite a few minutes sitting at the top, looking over the beauty of the land, taking it in one last time. Her first, and her last sunrise in the Grand Canyon, had been spent camping here. She’d never seen anything so breathtaking. She was sure she’d never see anything so beautiful again.
Finally, at the same time that her husband died, she took a step and leaped off the cliff. The wind, Death, roared beautifully in her ears and she laughed. She laughed until she cried and screamed goodbye. She screamed goodbye to her dead child and husband, she screamed goodbye to the house she’d sold a month before, she screamed goodbye to the life she’d lived.
She closed her eyes for she knew the end was near. She could see it coming and braced herself. In the darkness behind her lids she replayed her favourite memories of when they were still a full family. Full of love, full of laughter, full of life. She smiled softly and the tears, locked behind those closed eyes, made the memories seem like a watercolour painting. “Goodbye,” she whispered.

The snap of the bungee cord forced her eyes open and, as she dangled there, she said goodbye to the ghosts of her husband and her child, the life she’d lived with them, and the life she’d lived in their absence. She apologized to them both for choosing life.

Creative Inspiration

So I received the coolest gift ever.

Ok, I received several coolest gifts ever but this one pertains to my writing. One of my bf’s sent me a birthday present and it contained this gorgeous nugget of a gift.

photo belongs to: yellowshoesinthecity.com

photo belongs to: yellowshoesinthecity.com

Since I have been having serious writer’s block for quite a while now, this is so well received by me. Not to mention the fact that this is just cool beans!!! Have you seen this before? No? (If you have then be patient as I fill in everyone else)

It’s basically this book of writing prompts and you fill in the answer, by simply being your creative, bad-ass self. Some prompts?
“You’ve had a really rotten day, you’re mad at the world, and in an evil moment you decide to give a classroom full of impressionable, hopeful young writers all the worst possible advice anyone could give…”
So now you come up with what that horrid advice is.

Another prompt:
“The smell of a place you love.”
Describe that smell. What is it? Your parents home? Your favourite getaway? Your bedroom? Work room?

Another prompt (and I love this one):
“Elvis Costello said that writing about music is like dancing about architecture. Discuss.”

This book was “written” by 35 writers from the San Francisco Writer’s Grotto and is a creative’s dream. I am so looking forward to how fun, hard, easy, frustrating, sad, hilarious, enlightening this project could be.

So here’s what I’m going to do. Since my writing is better typed (as much as I prefer to look back over a book filled with crinkly, written pages, the sound of which is music to my ears, I can type faster and keep up with the ideas that flow through the grey matter) I’ve decided that I’m going to do one or two entries a week (I’d prefer more but I’m a realist) and post them here. Is there anyone else who is also doing this? Or has done this? I’m super excited to get started and I hope you’ll follow along. I’ve googled and the hashtag #642thingstowriteabout is what everyone is/has used.

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Notes from my cell

In my previous post I wrote about writing little things on my cell and saving them.
This one I wrote with the intention of putting it in my book. It never made it in, though god knows I have plenty of time.

My book is about abandoning your home, and your parents, and yet we always come back, even when sometimes we shouldn’t, because there’s this blood tie.
Salt water runs in my veins and I never feel it more than when I am “home”, or when I am away too long.

Here is what I wrote, late at night, emerging from a painful experience. I was thinking about my first visit home after leaving my island, believing at the time that running away was my only salvation, the only way to keep my sanity.

“I was like a child defiantly running away from home because my mother had asked me to clean my room. After I’d been gone a year I realized just how much I loved and missed that home, the island, my earth mother, with her soothing ocean washing clean my pained soul. We never realize what beautiful gifts we have until they’ve been taken from us, or until we discard them like broken toys, and I dearly missed the caressing fingers of her sands as she tickled my toes. But it was too late and I knew it. The child inside me had died and I was left empty, hollow and lost. Only when dipping my feet in her ocean did I again feel whole.”

Book quote – Help!

Quite frequently, when I’m reading or listening to music and I stumble onto something I like, I write the quotes into the notes on my cell phone but I never manage to write down the source. I know, I know, always cite your sources. I’d get a failing grade, for sure.

What also sucks is that I quite frequently write down, also in the notes of my phone, my own writing. I don’t have to cite my source as I am source enough. It’s my phone and I am the writer. What more could I need??

The only time it becomes a problem, however, is when I’m unsure if I’m reading something I’ve written or something from a book/movie/song. I then have to google the quote and hope to god I can find it somewhere online. When I can’t, though…

Case in point. I’m PRETTY sure this is from a book. SO sure, in fact, that I think it was at the top of the left hand page. Possibly it could’ve started on the previous page but the quote ended on the left page, at the top. Think you can help me? I know I didn’t write this (though I wish I did) and hopefully you can tell me what book it’s from. It’s driving me buggy!!

“Heaven isn’t about choices but everlasting love. Life, this is about choices. Choose happiness. Or misery. Or both. Choose whatever you want so long as you choose.”

Alright, kids. There’s your quote. Feel free to comment when you’ve got the answer, at which point you will be my hero. I will reward you with … public gratitude and … many thanks, made publicly … and oodles of gratefulness… ?

Also, happy new month! (or white rabbit, if you’d prefer, though I fear we’d lose the darn thing in the snowbanks)