Friday, June 19, 2015

Dirt Roads

I lost my childhood at the age of 38. Or maybe it was a few years before then when I felt the small twinge of a snap from somewhere within my aging soul.

What started it all?

A walk. Nothing more.  Nothing less.  I tried to duplicate the same walk I took many years ago as a child.  I tried to find the dirt roads that used to make my feet black and calloused from the hard, hot sand. I longed for a puddle to play in. One that would come all the way up to my knees and would allow me to submerge myself until I was soaked from head to toe.  But, there were none to be found.

I ventured to the corner store. The one where I would walk in barefooted just to get a bottled pepsi. My grown feet walked in with shoes on and all the sodas come in plastic now. It's just not the same.
The nice lady, who worked behind the counter, who knew me by name, well she has since been long gone.  Someone did something bad to her one night and she has since moved on to something else.

There are only two dirt roads that are familiar to me that still exist. The one I live on and the one that was named after the old barber shop that served clients Wednesday thru Saturday. It's closed down now. The barber shop that is.

Between the dirt roads was a trail that lead thru woods. It was a path that changed my life. A path that caused my heart to grow to grow up just a little faster than need be. That small path, now over grown with vines and shrubbery, represented another world to me.  It was a path where possibilities were endless.  This was where secrets were told.  Dares were made.  And kisses were exchanged.

He was older and taller than I.  He represented the world to me.  I fell in love with him in the only way a young girl can. 

Dirt roads.  Wooden paths.  They are magical, aren't they?  As time passed by, more kisses were kissed. More mischief was created.  We stole a care with the drunken owner laid in the back seat unaware of what was going on.

I had my first drink on that dirt road. And my first joint.

When you're young you believe the foot prints you leave behind will always be there.  As an adult you realize that memories are replaced by new ones.  And sometimes they're not yours.

Thee dirt roads no longer know my foot prints.  The path has long since said goodbye to the kisses that helped my learn to love.

And the boy, that beautiful golden haired boy, passed away before his time.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Simple Prayer

His arms were big. Strong. They wrapped around her as they both laid in his bed. Their breathing synchronized in the dark room. The air was chilly outside of the covers, and as she snuggled closer into his bare chest, she could feel the protective armor of his arms tighten around her thin body. She had folded her arms into her chest, and her long legs laid tangled within his. Periodically, he would gently kiss her forehead. He'd rub his beard across the top of her head, signalling his need for her to know his affections for what they really were.

Honest. Love. Concern.

He whispered to her, hoping she could hear him over the silence between them.  "Are you ok?"

She didn't respond. Confusion clouded her mind and her little hamster wheel that rotated inside her cluttered mind would not slow down long enough for her to decide whether or not she was.

All she knew, all she wanted, was him. His heat. His strength. She wanted to be him in that moment. The complexity of his life was tame compared to hers. She needed that. Craved it even.

She lifted her lips to the sweet spot on his neck that she so often sought out. Her tongue played across his skin. It tasted the sweet saltiness that was him. She could feel his body shiver while a sigh escaped his parted lips. She moved her mouth across his neck to his adams apple.

His hands.....palms large....fingers larger......squeezed the muscles of her back. She met his mouth, breathing heavy, panting under the excitement of her touch.

To him, her tongue was sweet inside his mouth. To her, his tongue was massive.....filling the confines of her mouth. They kissed for what seemed like hours. But was actually only a few minutes.

"Your mind is going a hundred miles a minute," he said to her after her finally broke free. "I can feel it."

She responded by pulling him on top of her. As she guided him inside, she whispered a small prayer somewhere within the back corners of her mind.

Please let me be ok one day. Please let me become independent one day. Let me take care of myself. If I must hurt. Then I will hurt. I will carry the pain like a badge of honor.  Every sting, every stab of electricity that shoots thought me, every tear that falls will be endured quietly. And with grace. I won't complain. I won't wish for a different journey. An easier life. Just let me be ok. Let me become what I once was.......Independent.

When he finished, they both laid in a tangle or arms, legs, and sweat. He remained on top of her, forehead to forehead, hoping to absorb her thoughts. She allowed him to stay as close as he wanted.

When at last their breathing had slowed, and the magic of the moment began to subside, she spoke in a clear voice. A strong voice.

"No. I'm not ok."

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Three Days.

She stares intently at the pot on the stove. She can feel their eyes staring at her. The air hangs heavy with the questions her friends have gathered, but are too afraid, to ask. She hears the forced conversations going on behind her. The laughter that holds no happiness circles around as she silently stirs the contents of the pot. Her eyes, brown and dead, fixate on the wall as she raises her left hand to grab the yellow bowl that sits within the cabinet right above her head. Her mind registers nothing around her, nor does it pay any heed to her actions. Rather, it is her subconscious that had taken over. Intent in seeing her through her robotic movements of the day.

Least she forget to eat or bathe.

After she fills the bowl with the contents of the pot.......macaroni and cheese......a part of her mind kicks in and reminds her that this particular side dish is not a favorite of her's.

I know. She says to that back corner of her brain. But, I need it. 

And she did need the orange noodles that had no flavor for her. She needed what the food represented. She needed the warm feelings of years gone by more than the calories or the nutrition. (If macaroni and cheese even had any nutritious value at all.) She held the warm yellow bowel, the sides faded and the edges shipped away from years of use, and that little corner of her mind took her back to a time when she was eight years old. Her mother, single and hard working, would fix the boxed food for her and her siblings two to three times a week. She remembered sitting at the oblong wooden table, surrounded by everything and everyone she knew, bathing in the warmth and the aroma of her meal. Her plate, more mac and cheese and less vegetables than her mother would have liked, sat in front of her younger self, almost forgotten as she absorbed the laughter around her. During those days, her only worries were winning at the pick-up kick ball games, dancing with her friends in the street to the newest Top 40 songs, or making it home to their tiny apartment at break neck speeds before the street lamps turned on, illuminating the way, thus signaling an end to the her day.

Oh, how she longed for that part of her life. She wanted it all back. The innocence of youth. The belief that it would all be ok just for the simple reason that it had always been. She wanted......needed......the simple arguments that she and her older sister always engaged in. The older girl wanted to watch soap operas; while she, still too young to understand the life of the adults on TV, fought to watch Tom and Jerry. She resisted the urge to call her brothers, one older and one younger, and ask them when was the last time they had gone outside just  to play as adults. 

She needed a simpler time. She needed it in the same way her heart needed the blood that carried oxygen to survive.

But, she wasn't going to get it. She was stuck in this life, carrying the memories she carried, and there was nothing she could do about it.

Suddenly her mac and cheese wasn't so appealing.

Oblivious to the change in the sounds surrounding her, she turned just in time to see the man she loved standing at the counter.

His eyes were brown. Like hers. She had memorized the tiny flecks of gold that played about his irises along time ago. His eye lashes were black and held the natural long curl that most women would kill for. There was no need to look away from his eyes to gauge the rest of his body. She had him memorized.

He was taller than her 5'8. She believed him to be at least 6'2, but she never cared to actually find out. His arms were thick and strong. Strong enough that when they engulfed her, she felt a sense of security that she'd never known anywhere else.

His hair, black and curly (when he didn't shave himself bald) was her second favorite thing about him. She wished he'd grow it out. Her fingers were dying to play within his locks.

But, his eyes. They searched her's as he stepped to her and gingerly tried to take her bowl of memories from her. She held on tight. Just as she was holding on to the yesterdays that contained the innocence and happiness she so desperately craved.

"Are you ok?" He asked. His voice was velvet. Sweet like the candy corn she would gobble up as a child on Halloween. Her mind took notice, for it was the only voice that could unlock her and make her spill the anguish she felt over the past few days.

"I mean," he stammered. "I....I....know you probably aren't. I mean, who would be?"

Who would be indeed? She looked about the kitchen for the first time that afternoon and saw all those around her.

She knew the small group of five had all assembled in her kitchen to keep an eye on her. They all knew the events of the past three days. And, although no on would say it, there was an underlying consensus that no one wanted to hear her speak the details. None of her friends had lived a life like hers. And no one could even say what they would do if they stood where she stood now. Each one of her friends held beautiful happy lives. They didn't want her ugliness in their heads.

They just didn't want to say it out loud.

Everyone, that was, except for him. He knew what it was like to have the evils of the world knock on your door and demand in. He knew the crushing blows of life; having experienced it so many times himself. That was probably why she loved him so.

"I'm hungry," was all she could muster.

"Good." He said. "You need to eat."

She was grateful to him for not challenging her dietary choices at the moment. In the past, he was known for trying to direct her to the nutritional area on the food grid. Of course she resisted.

"Do you want to sit down?" He asked. His eyes searching her's for any sign of life.  Of a rational being that knew to sit down when she was eating.

"I......I don't know." The bowl of mac and cheese seemed to take on extra weight and felt heavy to her. Too heavy, in fact, to carry the long way to the table. Four or five steps to everyone else in the room, but to her, the journey to the eating table seemed to stretch longer.

The others in the room continued to stay put in their respective spots. They all swallowed against the lump in their throats, against the need to beg her not to let the dam she'd built against her mind break.

Heavy. Her hands and arms began to sway under the weight of the bowl. A burden crept up on her shoulders, laying on her like a warn out coat. Droplets of sweat formed on her forehead and on the back of her neck.

I'm going to pass out. She thought.

No you're not. Her mind informed her. But I am going to move the boulder. Let the dam break.

"No," she shouted out loud.

"Hey," he reached out to her. Fear clouded those beautiful brown eyes of his. "You ok? When's the last time you slept?"

"Three days ago," she informed the room.

I slept three days ago. She repeated it again silently to herself. She heard the gasps from some, while others shook their heads, knowing three days was a long time to keep your eyes open.

"You need to sleep. Or at least rest," a voice said from somewhere over there. She kept her eyes on his, least she dropped her bowl of the now cold noodles.

"I can't sleep," she told him as if he were the only one in the room. "I smell it every time I close my eyes. And I can't stand it."

He didn't have to tell her to explain. He gently removed the bowl from her hands and then stood there waiting for the inevitable.

"It's so heavy. I can't take it right now. Not when everything is so fresh." She never took her eyes away from his. Instead, she silently pleaded for some kind of understanding from the man she loved more than her own self. "You see, I can't deal with it. The gun powder mixed with her flesh. It's something unholy. Slow motion. I see it when I close my eyes. And you would think that the sight of the white wall splattered with her blood.......and.......oh God.......but that's not the worst thing.  The smell is what gets me. What stays with me."

They stood there, locked in a gaze of fear and defeat, while the others stood to the side, held captive by the image she was creating. Her tears, held at bay for the past three days, slid down his cheeks. He could feel her despair, and no matter how strong he was, he knew it would be no time before his knees began to cave under her weight.

"But, you know," she continued, "I feel relief. So much relief. Her pain was so great. Her anger was justified. Strong. Her rage.....dear God in Heaven.....the way it moved about her. I sat on her couch and expected my own skin to burn from it. Do you know what it's like to have your own mother pull a gun on you?" She asked already knowing the answer. "Do you have any idea what it's like to have your very own mother, the one who gave birth to you, the very being who nursed and loved you, held you in the night, kissed you every morning, do you know what it's like for that person to train a gun on you? Do you?"

He was silent. They all were. None of them knew what it was like. They'd never experienced that sort of anger coming off of anyone they knew. And, deep down, she knew that. Yet, she also knew that, just like her mother, her pain and anguish were becoming too great just for her. She could hear those around her cry softly at her words.

Still, she kept his eyes, now shedding tears openly and freely, locked in her gaze.

"I don't know what to do with all of this. I hate her so much. But, at the same time, I understand why she did it. I know what she was feeling."

The silence, save for a few sniffles here and there, was more than she needed to allow her to look back, beyond the last three days, back into the dark part of her world. The images of a childhood filled with laughter and crisp summer nights were replaced with the more recent ones of her teenage years. The years that she'd tried so hard to forget.

Now everything was closing in around her. Her own anger and fears were mixing in with her mother's. She couldn't stand it. More than that, she couldn't bare the thought that she was once again alone in her own tragedy. Before her mother had taken the gun, before the woman who once cooked her macaroni and cheese more times a week than she probably should have, had decided to let go of everything and everyone, she had known what it felt like to be damaged. To see ghosts where only shadows stood.

Three days. For three days a conversation had taken place between mother and daughter that should have never been. Her mother had sat in the recliner facing the TV. Her reflection seemed alive even after the fatal shot had been fired.

"I'm empty now," her mother told her that first night she visited. "I'm empty of everything. I should've never opened that door. It's my fault."

She tried to reason with her mother. She tried her damnedest to explain what had taken years for even her to understand. That it was never the victims fault. Especially in situations where the only move the victim made was to open the front door. Her mother had been such a victim. When that ill fated knock had come, her mother had opened the door without hesitation. After all, there was never a reason for caution. Her mother had lived in the same area for close to twenty years without anything ever occurring. People.....strangers even.....had knocked before. There was no reason to believe this day would be any different than any other.

But, she was wrong. That day was different. It was as if evil, itself, knocked the three raps that brought her mother out of her recliner and into the door way.

She had no intention of telling the room full of people what that man had done to her mother. She felt she owed it to her to keep those conversations leading up to the gunshot a secret. Yet, the more she looked into the tear filled eyes of the man she loved, the more she felt the need to let the words spill out.

"He held her down," she told him. "It couldn't have been too difficult of a job to hold her flat on her back against her will. Momma wasn't in the best shape, ya know. She always wears.....I mean wore....this light cotton nightgown. Even during the day, she's have that gown on. I have no idea how she kept it so clean. But......"

He took a step towards her as she took a step back. They seemed engaged in a cha-cha of some kind. One wanting to touch the other. She could feel the dam loosening up and feared that his touch would be her ultimate undoing. Just as a precaution, she took two more steps away from him.

"She said he was there for hours. He took his time with her. I think her actual words were: 'You woulda thought we were fuckin lovers or something.' It took me a minute to process what she said. I don't think I'd ever heard her use the word 'fuck' before."

Her mind took her back to that living room with the sofa and recliner. She placed her hands on the counter and began to run them back and forth. In her mind's eye, she was caressing the rough fabric that was the couch.

"I can't stand to breathe," her mother continued. "I can't stand to feel my heart beat. I can hear it beating now. Right now. I hear the thump thump thump in my ears. It's driving me crazy. I'm an empty shell. I shouldn't have a heart beat. I shouldn't be breathing."

She had tried her best to soothe her mother's rage. She told her how she understood that empty feeling that came along with the violation that had occurred. She knew, in the deepest parts of the mind where only such things are known, what it was like to accept death right as life was being granted. She understood the struggle of living with something like that. She knew that her mother would never be the same. She knew because she was never the same after her own violation. After the moment she had looked Death in the face right as Life was saying hello once more.

"Momma, you'll get through this," she whispered. "We'll get you a therapist. Someone for you to talk to. You'll see. This won't beat you."

Three days and three nights of this continued back and forth. Her mother refused to eat. Refused to drink, bathe, or even nap. By the third day, both women were beyond exhausted. The mother's rage grew as the daughter's fears deepened.

"Why didn't he just fucking kill me?" Her mother screamed. "Why did he have to leave me like this? Half dead? The coward......that no good for nothing coward. Why didn't he finish what he started?"

She had no answers for her mother. These were questions she had asked her own self over and over again through out the years. She was no closer to an answer then as she was now.

"Momma, I know what you're going through." She said. "I've been through the same thing. I never told you. But, if I can get through it, you can too."

Her mother looked at her with dead eyes. "You got through it? Are you sure? You're nothing like you once were. I bet I can tell you what age it was that you were raped. I bet I can pinpoint the exact month.....if not the week. You ain't over it, you moron. You just buried it. You buried it and you keep it with you at all times. You're just too weak to face the truth like I am now."

The truth of her mother's words stung. She wrapped her arms around herself and began to cry. She made no sound and she closed her eyes and tried to calm herself. She figured she'd be of no use to her mother if they were both hysterical.

"I don't know how or even when she got the gun." She said to her silent audience. "All I know is that one minute I'm trying to get a hold of myself and the next I'm staring down a gun."

"Do you want to die?" Her mother asked her. Her mother sat there, in the recliner with that soft white cotton nightgown on, with the gun pointed at her face. Her mother looked her in the eye, never flinching, never showing any emotion.

The woman was, indeed, empty.

Her voice shook with each word as she explained that she wanted to live. She told her mother that death would not solve anything. That both women were strong enough to face the coming days together. They could get through this. They would.

But, it was all a lie. And she knew it even as she was speaking it.

Ever since that fateful night when she was fourteen and was left pleading and crying for help, she had wanted to die. She could remember, clearly, the days as they laid out in front of her as she tried to find some courage to take her own life. She had never wanted to live. For years she had sought out Death as if it were a cure to a mysterious disease that she possessed.

She never was able to do the job herself.

As she stared at her mom, the gun trained at her chest, she said a silent prayer. Please pull the trigger. Please don't leave me to live out my life like this. I do want to die. I know your pain....Your emptiness. Please. Please. Kill me.

 Her mother nodded as if she heard her daughter's silent prayer. And in that instant, her heart beat raced in anticipation of receiving the sweet gift of Death that she had been longing for for years.

Please don't miss. Please don't let it hurt. She silently begged.

When the shot rang in her ears, she recoiled instinctively. She waited half a heart beat before opening her eyes to see what was left of her mother still sitting in the recliner.

The wall behind her now dead mother was a wash of blood and debris. Her dead body sat, slumped, like it had finally found the rest it had desired for so long.

She sat there waiting for her brain to accept what her eyes were showing her. She felt her own emptiness as she finally got up to walk over to grab the cordless phone that sat to her dead mother's right.

Quietly and calmly, she called the police.

Now back in the kitchen, surrounded by the ones who claim to love her the most, her body shook at the memory. She wasn't sure if she could voice her intent. She knew these people would try to stop her.

"I thought she was going to kill me." She exclaimed. "Do you understand?" He nodded to signify that he did. "But, she didn't. When she pulled that gun out, she made a promise to me. She promised me that she would take me with her. But, she lied. Don't you see that she lied?"

It finally dawned on him what she was saying. His eyes widened with the realization that the woman standing before him, the one he knew loved him just a little too much, had actually wanted to die.

And still did.

The words he felt she needed to hear escaped him. The others, standing there shocked as their own realizations hit them, gasped quietly. They looked at one another and then back at her. No one made a move to comfort the now openly hysterical woman.

She nodded her head, more to herself than to anyone else. And retreated from the kitchen. Macaroni and cheese forgotten.

The rest of the group remained in the kitchen. No one knew what to say or how to calm her down. And as the minutes began click by, each person began to imagine how they would've handled the past three days, had they been in her shoes. They wondered what all they did not know about their distraught friend.

Most of her friends that stood in the kitchen knew very little about her past. They knew she had experienced tragedy in her past, but they knew very little of the details. And they preferred it that way.

To say the gun shot stunned them all, is to put it mildly. They weren't simply shocked to hear the gun shot; they were confused as to where the noise had originated. Bewilderment colored each expression as they turned to one another to ask the silent question: Did you hear that?

He was the first and only one to run to her room. The howls of pain that floated down the hallway were enough to answer the question of whether or not she was dead. Each person stood still, trapped inside panic inside terror.

Time passed. No one could say how much, but they all knew it was passing them right by. Finally, he drifted down the hallway. Blood soaked clothes stuck to his skin. His hands, big enough to quiet the rage that had filled her days, were covered in her blood.

"We need to call the police," he told the room.

Friday, November 28, 2014

My Dearest Friend: What Dreams Flow Through

My Dearest Friend,

I don't really know how to start off this letter. I'm not sure how much time has passed since I received the phone call that told me you were no longer with me. With us, rather. I know I'm not the only one that loved you. That still loves you.

I wish I could recount my activities, minute by minute, for you so that you would know that I'm living my life to the fullest without you here. But, I was never one to lie to you. All, I can do is inform you of some of my activities. My memory is bad, as you well know. I am unable to recall it all.

It's Thanksgiving. Rather, yesterday was. I sat at the oval table that my Great-Grandmother once sat at, and listened to my family talk and laugh. I swam in the voices as they drug up old memories that I had long forgotten. It was almost like my sweet Granny was sitting there with us. And when it was time for me to leave, to take my children to their father's, a heavy sense of loneliness swept over me. I wanted so badly to call you. To tell you that my mind is still full of so much loss.

But, you're not there. All I can do is speak into the night and hope that there is a God above that can carry my tears to you.

I dreamed about you last night. The dream felt as real then as this computer feels to me now. I dreamed that you had not really died. That, instead, you had been carried off to some secret government mission.   The mission had ended and you had come home to me. You greeted me, hugged me, then seated me on your lap as I recounted every misstep that I have taken since we last spoke. You listened and kissed my forehead as you used to do, and then offered up your own bit of wisdom. The dream seemed to go on forever. When I awoke, you of course, were not there. And it was like I had to process the grief all over again.

How many times do you have to die before I can accept that you're gone? How many tears must fall before I can carry your memory without feeling the weight of all that was lost on my shoulders? I miss you in the same manner that I would miss oxygen if I were to be deprived of it. And, I am almost ashamed to admit this out loud, I am so tired of missing you. I've lost people before. Why are you harder to shake than the others?

I know a lot of it has to do with my memory. How you can remember what I can not. But, that can't be all that it is. I love you so very much. I keep hoping that love with fade with time. Turn into something less harmful. If you were here, you would hold me and tell me that I need more time. But, I am too impatient. It's been two years at least. How much longer must I swim within your void?

I must go now. The pain has set in and it tends to control me at this point. Please know, hear, read, or whatever the spirit world allows you to do, that you were loved when you were alive.

And you are loved even more now.

As Always,


Sunday, May 18, 2014

For Mitch

At first he seemed alien to me. He was tall, pale under the lights of the church where I saw him most weeks, and he wore a baseball cap close to his eyes. To me, his whole demeanor was odd and a little off putting. I would nod at him as he came around to get the trash from the tables where the rest of sat and ate. My eyes, always scanning the room, would meet his gaze briefly before quickly looking away.

I'm too shy to say more than hello, I would defend myself to no one.

His walk was mechanical, purposeful as if his body had been held under stress of something far too long. I knew his story, sad and tragic as it was, just like everyone else did.

I don't want to intrude on his life, I'd say silently. Give him his space. He'll speak if he wants to.

But, he never did. A friendship never formed. We never had the chance to know each other through any type of good times.

It wasn't til later, when I heard his father's voice that I sought him out. I tucked my shyness away, and summoned courage that I really didn't have, so that I could approach him during the most intimate and devastating time of his life. I looked at the man, with the pal skin and long legs, as he lay in the hospital bed, and smiled. Introductions were made. Chit chat was exchanged. An instant friendship was formed.

It never occurred to me to ask if it were ok to intrude in on the last moments of his life. It did not cross my mind in the least that he may want to spend his last remaining months away from the prying eyes of an unknown girl who was just as odd as he was.

Our friendship was formed over silences and holding hands. Oh, how I long to have the moments back where I would lay my head on his chest, listening for the heart beat that spoke to me the bitter truth that lives in us all. That time is counted down from the moment we inhale our first breath. That tomorrow will never be promised. And that love, no matter how brief it is felt, should be cherished above all else.

Had I known then, as I watched him move about the people at the church, that he was not so different than me, I would've said more than just a casual hello. Had I known how much I would miss our talks, the laughter, the blessed silence that sealed our affections, I would've held him through the good times as well as the bad.

When he finally passed, I laid my head on his chest and heard our silence resonate throughout his body.

So, I'll file away our time together and tuck it back where I once had to place my shyness so we could speak.  He's in a better place, I tell myself. Don't be selfish, I whisper into the night. It's been a year.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

My Dearest Friend: Me

My Dearest Friend,

I haven't written in so long. I feel almost guilty, like a thief returning to the scene of the crime, trying to return the priceless jewels before any one takes notice that they are missing. I feel guilty for the life I am leading as opposed to the life I should be living. I lay here at night, on this couch that does not belong to me, under a roof that will never be mine, being less than what I can be. I think of all the missed opportunities. All the unspoken "I love you's", not just between us, but between so many out there. I close my eyes and focus on the many stories floating through my mind, begging to be written down, struggling to be told, and I wonder why I refuse to share them. And then I feel guilty once more. For my life has before stagnate by my own hand.

I am not happy, My Sweet Friend. I look at my children, and I find evidence of God in their smiles. The Almighty speaks in their laughter. I try to tuck my sadness away from them, fearing that it may contaminate the innocence they are still cloaked in. I'm scared to hold them too tight. Look into their eyes too long, least they themselves get lost in the darkness that have enveloped my life.

I look down the road ahead of me. The decisions I will be facing in the upcoming months leave me tired and restless. I can not always live on some one's couch. I can not grow old under another person's roof. And while I've always known that I would face this delimia: how long to stay vs when to leave, it fills me with a heavy sorrow to know that when I move my children under my own roof, it will be a roof that I will grow old under alone. This realization is not new to me.
But, the emotions that accompany it are.

I've always been ok being with myself. Once upon a time, I looked forward to the days unfolding ahead of me, with just me and my thoughts. But, not anymore. I know that upon hearing  the news of your death, a switch flipped inside my heart, a switch that made it possible for me to be content with just myself. I saw myself as an old widowed woman, having loved and never going to love again. Was I in love with you, My Dearest Friend? We were best friends. And aren't friends of that caliber in love with each other just the tiniest bit? Wasn't there something besides a shared traumatic past that kept us together? I know there was.

You held me like there was.

But, then you died. And a switch was flipped. And, now......well now, things have changed yet again. And I don't want them to.

I want my old self back. The one that was satisfied with the silence that surrounded her. The one who sought out solace in writing and photography. I don't know who this new woman is. This new woman who runs from anything creative. Who shys away from all people, known and unknown. This distrusting woman who longs for no one.

Well, that's not quite true. Even in death, I can not lie to you.

I fell in love once. I don't believe I've mentioned him in any of my previous letters. I only speak of him now because he is what has changed me.

And not for the better.

His voice is soft like velvet. Yet, it thunders when he speaks out of anger. He is cemented in his convictions and I can only dream of one day becoming as good a person as he is. At one point, this man seemed to occupy the majority of my thoughts. I wanted to share everything with him. I longed to open the dark shadowy corners of my imagination and let him crawl through the jagged spaces that very few have seen. But, he didn't trust me to take him there. And it left me feeling like the weird girl in the corner. Naked. Alone.

I still love him. I want to reach out and tell him that my heart is still open to him. But, I can not. I want gently remind him how short our days truly are. How tomorrow is not really full of promise. That it's all one big lie. Tomorrow is void of everything. It holds no purpose. There is nothing after today. When we open our eyes to the morning sun, we must grab onto every opportunity we have to love those around us. And allow ourselves to be loved by those who are willing. Because tomorrow is nothing.

You taught me that.

I need to climb out of this abyss. Start living again. Put the pictures in my head down on paper. Accept the fact that this is my life, and while my address will one day change, it will always be just me. I need to find a way to flip that switch back and lose myself in words again.

I need to find me......

As Always,


Sunday, November 17, 2013

My Dearest Friend: Memory

My Dearest Friend,

How are you on this bright Sunday morning? How do you spend your time in Heaven? Are the streets lined with gold as the scriptures suggest? Or is your Heaven more tailored to you? I imagine the roads to be made of soft dirt, like the ones we spent our child hoods playing on. I can see you swinging on an old porch swing, all the while looking out on the horizon, planning your day. A little fishing, perhaps? A good book, maybe? I envision your heaven to be a subtle one, less glam than the one the good book refers to.

I thought about you the other night. I was jolted awake by a sharp pain somewhere in my torso. My mind, struggling to locate where my body was, found a noise tapping against the window. When I had fully awakened, I realized it was sleeting outside. Just the thought of the frigid temperatures made me shudder and I quickly pulled the covers around me tighter. Unable to fall back into a slumber, my mind conjured you up.

And that's when the loneliness and sadness set it.

I know that time is a silent thief. It takes memories and runs with them, never leaving a clue behind as to where it is going. Or where it's hiding them. Had I known in the years of our friendship that I was going to lose you like I did, I would have photographed you ever chance I got. I can not remember what you look like. My dreams of you, once vivid and in color, are now dull and gray. You are a shadow, a voice spoken offstage, that I can not see. How can a person who once met the world to someone become nothing more than less than a memory? And now that I can not remember you, it is like I am grieving all over again.

I can recall experiences with you. I remember how you held me at night, wrapping your arms around me, telling me that my hair was in your way and how you'd threaten to cut it while I slept. We would laugh, and when I tried to move away, you would only hold me tighter.

But, what color was your hair?

I remember standing at the bathroom sink, fresh from the shower, clothed in only a towel. My hair was dripping wet and I was just about to perform my daily hair routine. You stood in the doorway. Watching me. Studying me.

"You're beautiful Wes," you said.

How handsome were you? Did you turn heads when you walked into a room? I want to say you did. But, I can not recall exactly. My eyes are brown. Weren't

I don't know why this is so important to me. I can recall, without much effort, our many times together. So what if I can not say how big your cheeks were. I know you were tall. Taller than me. I know, because I remember looking up at you and shaking my fist in your face many times. I remember you throwing your head back and laughing at me.

You always laughed at me.

And I remember your laugh. Deep. Loud. It would start in your gut and rise up like lava bursting out of a volcano. It was musical. It startled me the first time I heard it. The first time you laughed at me, I felt how personal your laugh was and how you ought not share it with just anyone. I thought you to be too open. Too vulnerable with it. I wanted you to keep that laugh of yours hidden from others. Not everyone deserved to hear it. When I tried to explain this to you, you just laughed even harder.

"Look at the pot calling the kettle black," you'd say.

We spent hours on that subject, didn't we? Me being so open. Me wearing my heart on my sleeve. I try to cover it up. I try to be the stoic individual, but I get lost when I attempt to be who I'm not. My emotions tend to swim within me, they invade my mind, making the simplest task the most difficult. So, I let everything go. Free my mind of whatever it needs to be unburdened of. I speak and lay waste to the unsuspecting victim that is standing nearby. I pray they are strong enough to hear the words that I must speak. To shoulder the message that I must convey. A lot of times they aren't.

That might explain the reason I'm alone a lot.

But, I could always talk to you. No matter what was on my mind, I could say the words to you and you would hear them. You would digest the message with ease. But, more importantly, you would give me feedback. You knew that was what I craved. Feedback. Dialogue.  Someone to keep my ball rolling.

I just wish I could remember what you looked like while doing it.

A funny thing has been occurring at work these past couple of weeks. My imagination has been cutting into my day job. It has been knocking on my mind's door and refusing to go away. Worse than a cop serving warrants, it knocks, then when I refuse to answer, it beats on my mind, until I drag out a sheet of paper and begin to write whatever it has to say. Sometimes it's just a couple of lines that seem to make up nothing. Other times it's a whole poem that speaks volumes of where I'm at in my life. My imagination seems to resent my day job and I can't blame it. I have been lazy when it comes to writing lately.

Lazy in my depression anyways.

I hate that I can't conjure you up like I used to. I'm sure that it's best that I can't. I'm sure there's a blessing hidden somewhere in all this mess of grieving. After all, it's been over a year. Surely, I should have let your soul rest by now. Surely, these letter should have stopped by now.  Surely, I can say you're in a better place.


I miss you so much at times that I can not even speak. It is like my soul has stepped out of my body and wanders aimlessly. And how awful is it that it continues to search for you. I long to be whole again. To be able to rest. To feel complete and not out of sorts like I'm the only one that daydreams monsters into existence.

If only I could remember what you looked like. Maybe then I would feel a little better. A little more whole.

As always,