Posts Tagged ‘death’

What wonders August holds.

August 9, 2011

August is always the month of Big Happenings for us.

It features our anniversay, Coconut and Snort’s birthday, the anniversary of my grandmother’s death, etc. It is always a busy, full, kinetic month – I don’t know if this is something inherent about August, or just unique to our family.

I wrote last week about this being a scary week. Lots is going on, but I guess – for now – the only other thing I’ll mention is Thursday. That’s Snort and Coco’s birthday…..and also the day I have my first round of more invasive treatment for my SPD/PGP. I’m getting steroids injections as well as nerve blocks. The steroids, oh, the steroids. Multiple shots in my tummy, ass, lady bits. I have the second round in September; I’m not sure which shots are happening on Thursday, only that it’ll probably be my front or back. And I’ve been told they will be painful.

I tell you, I was actually more nervous about the driving test than these shots – on the test day, my hands were clammy, and my voice shook so hard at the beginning I almost thought I wouldn’t be able to talk. I should mention that this isn’t me. I know I come across in this blog as confident, outgoing, etc….and those things are true. The things that worry me about the shots are, really, the hospital they will be happening in. The place is a motherfucking rabbit warren. Lots of little buildings thrown onto a large piece of land in random order.

I’m having a sore week, and today is particularly painful. So I’m hoping we find the right place the first time round, as I can’t walk around searching for the operating theatre!

I’m hoping our pattern of changes in August holds true, and these shots make a big impact on my – and by extention, OUR – lives. Of course not all the changes in August have been good ones. Some have been soul destroying. But I figure the only way I can go from here in regards to the SPD is up. I needed a wheelchair on our recent trip to visit family on occasion, and I’m really ready to be able to plan a trip somewhere without wondering if we should hire a wheelchair for me. I’m ready for my life to expand again.

Within the little circle I live in – about a ten minute walk radius on good days – I have made friends and a life for myself and my children. But if that circle got bigger? Oh, it would be good. So good.

Anyway. On this particular August morning I am embracing the summer vacation ethos. Two little people are in nappies and are just doing whatever takes their fancy. For one bizarre moment they were just lying on the couch in a daze – picture to appear soon on facebook. They are in nappies, I’m dressed in all green like I’m in the fucking army or something, and no one has brushed their teeth yet. We are doing everything that little bit slower and it’s kind of nice.

Life & death are more than just bookends.

April 14, 2010

I can’t live my life as a servant to death.

My mother just called to say that Blondie (my sister) had phoned her in the middle of the night. Something has happened to my father and he is in hospital. My mom thinks it may be another heart attack, and it certainly involved a new stent.  She said he is in a stable condition. Blondie tried to text me, but for whatever reason I never receive her plain old text messages.

My mom said that Blondie said, ‘Did Existere call him on his birthday? Did she do something for his birthday? Won’t she feel terrible if he dies and she didn’t do anything?’


If he dies, when he dies, there is no doubt I will be supremely fucked up – for a lot of reasons. That being said, I don’t want to live my life pandering to someone who hurts me again and again, intentionally or not, just to lessen my own suffering when he dies. Life is too short, death will happen anyway.

Do I sound callous? I don’t mean to be.

But my life has always been about death. One of my first memories is my grandmother telling me that if I cried at her funeral, she would sit up in her coffin and punch me. She said this in a kind way, a loving way – trying to say that once someone is dead, that’s it. They are dead. She spent my whole childhood preparing me for her death. Sorting her jewelry,  telling me which pieces of furniture were destined to come my way.

I lived in terror of her dying. I spent my whole childhood with a constant prayer in my mind. ‘Please, God, let grandma and grandma and mom and dad and me and Blondie live to be well over 100.’ I would have this playing in my mind over and over and over. Every time I saw my grandmother I tried to get her signature. I would take along my journal everywhere I went, and was constantly tracing around everyone’s hands because it might be the last time.

Even now I am plagued by death worries. What if TMD dies? What would life be like? How could I ever survive if something happened to Snort and Coconut? Am I really going to die – but I haven’t chucked it all away and gone to live on a tropical island with my family yet!

My mother didn’t come to visit me when I moved to this country for years because my grandfather was very sick. She was afraid he would die when she was here. As it was, he did get even sicker just after she booked a ticket. But she came anyway, crying and upset most of the trip, and my grandfather lived for years after that trip.

I live in fear of death, and I am consciously trying to stop that. Despite my grandmother’s constant litanies of death and preparing me for it, when she died my world collapsed. I sank into a depression and just stopped going into work. I didn’t move off the couch once in about six weeks.

And here it is, 4.5 years later. My heart is still beating, I still miss my grandmother, I do not regret my life or hers.

But my father? This sounds cold, hateful even, but I am not willing to take the risk he may live years and years and years, and I will have to play nice and pretend my own feelings do not matter, just ‘in case.’

I wish him health, I wish him happiness. I just don’t want to be there at the moment.

That’s all.

The epilogue.

January 20, 2010

When I was a child, there was a stretch of railroad track suspended high above a muddy river. My father, his parents, my mother, my sister, my cousins – everyone loved to walk over the evenly spaced pieces of wood, perhaps because the feel of danger – but mostly because everyone believed there was no way anything bad could ever happen.

I did not. I hated those tracks, and the terror of creeping across them, hardly daring to breathe, the fucking relief when stepping onto grass on the other side. But the knowledge that I would have to turn around, at some point, and cross them again. No matter the sweetness of the smell of honeysuckle, no matter the sunlight dancing through impossibly green leaves. Every step forward was a lie, because I knew, knew, simply knew it would require me to turn back with a brave face and walk across those tracks again.

It never occured to me to tell anyone I didn’t want to, and even if I had, my father would have shamed me into it with his jollying along, his laughter, his head shaking as if to say, Who is this girl I have raised as my daughter?

But he didn’t, you know. Raise me. Oh, he shaped me. Every time I heard my mother pushed down the stairs, every time he hit me, every time he drank and drank and drank and decided he wasn’t going to bother coming home. Sometimes we walked in fields, exploring the world and me being given a chance to be me, in a way my mother couldn’t provide. Most times it was the laughter, the jokes, the cruel games I never quite believed were games. Even then, I knew he meant to hurt, to twist me up, to confuse.

His parents owned that house a drive away from the railroad tracks. My grandfather was a gentle, short, smiling soul. He had the misfortune to share his life with my grandmother, a hard, thin shell of a woman who didn’t understand how to give or receive love. She watched birds, he smiled and called my sister ‘Snicklefritz.’

They had a path behind their house, an escape I loved. Unlike the railroad tracks, so free and high in the sunshine, this path was crowded by trees, never walked on by anyone but me, it felt, and went past things dear to me. A little shelter that was never explained. An open meadow ringed by perfectly spaced pine trees. Peace and space away from everyone else and room to think, think, think. Space to be.

I have dreamt of that path this week, perhaps last night, though with a mother’s tired mind I cannot promise it is so. But this week, perhaps last night, I took TMD along that path. At first it was different, then I began to recognise things. Instead of grasping with my hands, my feet knew the way and we walked in the dappled quiet.

Upon waking, I thought, That’s weird. I haven’t thought of that path in years. Upon waking, I thought, I wonder if he is going to die.

This morning I heard the news: my grandfather, the peaceful teacher who had fought in the world’s greatest war, had died. Sometime between 2:30 and 5:30 am.

I have not seen or spoken to my father’s parents in over seven years. I heard the news, I felt the immediate shock of What? Death still exists? I felt nothing much after that, aside from a twinge of guilt for not feeling much. This man, this man who lost his memory at the end, had a picture of my babies hanging on the wall of his nursing home. It was the only thing on that board. I don’t know if he even knew who they were. Who I was.

I went through the day, not feeling much, feeling like I should feel more.

This evening TMD came into the bathroom. I was in a hot tub, I looked at her, and I started to cry.

For myself, for my healing, I wish the courage to walk those tracks. Or to say, You know? I like it over here. I don’t have to cross them if I don’t want to. Those tracks go in only one direction, and the rest of the ground can take me in millions.

For that man who died this morning, I wish peace, escape and freedom to be, solitude if he wishes, but a place in my memory worn as smooth as a path I once liked to walk.

…sun glinting off a river…leather couches.

March 25, 2009

In an altogether awkward, reflective mood today. Had a bad night last night, and a badish morning today. Every now and then these little bubbles of the unpleasant and unexpected pop up, and I wonder where they have come from and when they will go away again.

I also am thinking about my grandmother today. A few days ago my mother emailed me in response to my bump pictures and said, ‘I hope grandma can see you.’ I didn’t know what she was talking about – she was grandma, and hadn’t she just seen all the photos? TMD said, ‘She means YOUR grandma.’ A surge of something came over me – guilt for not remembering, loss for what I/she/TMD/the babies are missing, warmth at her memory.

This morning Chirp wrote to me about my grandmother, out of nowhere – with a quote of what she thinks my grandma would say about all these babies. It made me smile, and tear up a little.

The Polish Catholic part of me, the part of me who just started reading Eat, Pray, Love today (thank you, Tia!), thought for just a second – is this my grandmother trying to come through to me? Twice mentioned in one week after a too long absence? Then the pragmatic part of me briskly slapped me about the face and told me to gather myself in, to be real.

Today I am in the office for a little while in the morning, then lay down/eat lunch for an hour, then travel across the city to go to an afternoon training. It’s in a big, iconic building that every tourist will have seen – right along the river. I’m going to push myself out of the crowded public transport system and wind my way to the river, walking along the banks to go to the training. While it’s a slightly longer route and walking is not my friend these days, I long to see the sun bounce off the river, to see all the crowds, to walk along and marvel that I, plain old Existere from a countryish background in an ordinary backdrop, now live in this (mostly) extraordinary country.

Here’s hoping the sun cooperates.

After the training I’d like to find myself a little hole to curl up in with this book, sometimes reading and sometimes thinking about my very slipped Buddhist practice. My mother and I had a conversation last week where she told me to pray to God with  my worries, that everything was out of human control anyway. I said I thought most things were actually our choices, actions, etc.  We came to a somewhat happy compromise – an altogether interesting thing to happen when our spiritual views are (I think, anyway) far apart.

But whoever you pray to, whatever you believe or don’t believe, I suspect many things are actually one and the same. TMD’s strong atheism makes me nervous, people who are strongly religious make me nervous. I’m just here on my little island, wondering and curious and hopeful and pessimistic.

All things considered, though, I’m doing okay.

Cheerful, tangled memories.

October 22, 2008

Just realised that tomorrow was the anniversary I had with Jason (see x365 post a couple entries down). That explains why he popped into my mind.

I often find myself thinking of people and not knowing why; February is a month of my grandmother. This is when I flew out to be with her after the death of my grandfather. It’s also the last time I saw her healthy. I flew back six months later to sit beside her as she died.


August 22, 2008

My grandmother died three years ago this past Wednesday. I was just flipping through my old diary, and found something I wrote very soon after her death:

I guess the thing that’s hard is that life goes on. I mean, that’s the beautiful and correct idea, and also the way my grandma would have wanted it to be.

I’ve been thinking about life going on this week. About how I no longer feel full of razors and pain every time I say her name outloud, and about how I find myself surprised to be able to mention her life and death and just feel…okay.

I think feeling okay with feeling okay is the biggest challenge. The me of three years ago was in a dark place – the funeral would be tomorrow, TMD was still in this country, and I was just – broken. I would return to this country to lay on my couch for two months straight, never moving, not going into work, crying constantly.

It was my grandmother’s death that finally pushed me into therapy, but only once I had healed enough to be able to move. I wish I could hug my self then, but I think it would hurt the me of right now too much.

I miss you, Grandma.


August 12, 2008

Had what some therapists would call a ‘big dream’ last night/this morning. Kleinette was there as a main player; I suppose this isn’t terribly surprising as I have been thinking about her for a couple of days.

I’m not sure why, though. I have just thought that next week is my grandmother’s death anniversary, and Kleinette and my grandmother have been interchangable at points in my dreams.

No matter the why, it was an illuminating dream. It involved my father, abuse, and some unconscious bits becoming conscious. Rather than feeling terrified or overwhelmed, I remember (very vividly) feeling like a light bulb had clicked on. A moment of clarity that I knew would last, a sort of ‘so THAT explains it.’ Maybe a relief.

And Kleinette was there in a supportive way. I was quite mean to the younger version of M, a girl I went to primary school with. Kleinette was there to witness what might have been perceived as meanness (though it wasn’t, really). She was just sort of there while I spoke my mind to other people, a comforting presence. Can’t totally remember her connection to the whole understanding of my past, but I just remember a background sort of reassurance.

Weird to dream about her. Dreams featuring Kleinette, even when I was in therapy, were few and far between. I don’t want to be a head-up-their-own-analytical-ass type of counsellor here, but I do think this may merit thinking/feeling about. At any rate, it was nice to see her face.

That’s all, folks.

August 9, 2008

I don’t know what to write, except perhaps to say that I’m not sure when I turned into a worrier. I don’t like it.


July 29, 2008

I am so happy. I love TMD, I enjoy my work, I smile a lot. I just wanted to say.

I also know Epilady doesn’t read this (yet, how do you work into conversation that you like someone enough to let them read your blog?), but if she did I would want her to know she is fabulous.

And I won’t share anyone’s laundry up here (how different this blog is to my 1996 shit stirrer), but I think everyone reading this needs to pause a second and just appreciate their life.

Fifteen minutes – breast reduction the second.

July 12, 2008

Fifteen minutes of loving myself, my body, my breasts – why is it so much harder than fifteen minutes of painful memories, of stories I’ve told myself so many times they are bleached clean? I don’t think it’s because I have a hard time loving myself, though if I was my own therapist I might consider than hypothesis, refuse to drop it no matter how vigorously I protested.

I think it’s because the guilt I’d been feeling about my breasts was looming large, and I gave it a voice. Just speaking out can sometimes shrink things, excise the tumour. Hang on a minute…been reading a book and have a quote on this..

I remember that I spoke to her about the power of naming. What we cannot name, I said, we cannot talk about. When we give a name to something in our lives, we may empower that something, as when we call an itch love, or when we call our envy righteousness; or we may empower ourselves because now we can think about and talk about what is hurting us, we may come together with others who have felt this same pain, and thus we can begin to try to do something about it.  (Marge Piercy, He, She and It, page 66)

After writing that admission of the going-along-with nature of my breast reduction, I felt lighter. I stood in front of the mirror that evening, the black lace cupping my breasts, and as I pulled it off I felt an awe at my breasts. They are so beautiful, and they are mine. They have not been lessened by the surgery, but they have taken a long time to become mine. And they are the same, and different.

I wanted to come here to acknowledge all the things, great and small, that the surgery has offered me. Pretty bras, affordable bras, off-the-shelf bras. Breasts that are full and soft, but the exact right size for my body. Breasts that do not hang to my stomach, breasts that mainly stay in place when the pretty bras come off, except for the soft weight of time and maturation which offers them the shape of a woman.

My breasts are amazing, awesome. I look at myself with and without clothes, and they are one area I have no cause to find complaint with. I suppose that’s why I’ve felt bad, wondering what it meant to have breasts that were not the breasts I was born with. Though they were not shaped, were not changed in any fundamental way, though mass and weight was removed – what does that mean to my self? My body?

I had a connection with my grandmother through my breasts. I remember being a little girl and walking into her bathroom. She sat in a few inches of water, in that bathtub with the magical sliding glass doors that allowed me to create a whole space apart when I was a little older. My grandmother’s pubic hair was sparse, her body already that of an older woman. Her breasts coated her stomach, hid her stomach, were just the entire front of her body. She lifted a breast and rested it on her shoulder in order to wash her stomach. That image has stayed with me, though I must have only been about four or five when I witnessed this.

I will probably never have that experience, being in an aging body that has been mine for 89 years, taking for granted that my stomach is there, though I cannot see it. I wonder what pregnancy will do to my breasts, and I fear they may become smaller. I also fear them becoming larger. I wonder what stretch marks and pulled vaginal muscles and chapped nipples will be like. I want to hold a baby to my breasts, to allow her or him to get all the sustenance they need from my body – a miracle that my family never had. Bottles are all I ever considered, and now I am in this country with baby slings and breasts, handmade diapers and organic homemade foods.

My body will be changing again, and perhaps the key words are: my body. This is my body, this is the consequence, this is the sum of the years I have spent on this planet. I have made some choices, I have neglected to make others. I have gained weight, and lost weight. I have decided to have my breasts radically resized, simply by the omission of really thinking about what I was doing and making a conscious choice. My unconscious guided me to this place where I am right now, the afternoon sunlight shining across my hands. Shadows slide across the keyboard, dancing as my fingers shift and dance.

My breasts were what they were, then I had surgery. They grew back – not all the way, but most. I lost a lot of weight, and I lost a lot of breast mass again. This time it was an accident, to change my breasts as the result of changing my body. Once more my bra size changed, my body shifted, and once more it felt out of my control.

That’s been sixteen minutes. I’m surprised. This entry was to say that I could not fill six minutes this evening, let alone fifteen. Peace.