Maelstrom

r.druatemer.drowning.                                                                                                                  ~ illustration by Rebecca Dautremer

Do you wish sometimes you had never met me?

No. I wish you had never left me. 

I had to… you would have never left me.

* Maelstrom: A powerful whirlpool in the sea or river. A situation or state of confused movement or violent turmoil.

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Remembering three boys I never knew

A year ago today, thirty minutes from now, three boys died. I hit them with my car, and they all died. I know it wasn’t my fault, most days. I was in the wrong place at the worst possible time. But there are still those moments when an undercurrent of guilt won’t fully submit to logic.

I think about them a lot, although not as much as what might be considered normal. Not because I am callous or unaffected by it. That’s not it at all. I just had to implement an emotional amputation of sorts; this was only one of a series of events that was so unbelievably heartbreaking, distancing myself from it mentally and emotionally was simply what I had to do for survival purposes.

But I think about them, especially on holidays. I think about their families trying to just get them over with. I picture the empty spot at the dinner table they pretend to ignore and the memories that must haunt them when they think about what they were doing this time last year. I think about what I was doing this time last year, which was sitting alone on a balcony in Arlington, Texas, just trying to get it over with, wondering why it was me who lived and not them and kind of wishing it was the other way around.

But this isn’t about me. It’s about three boys who had their whole lives ahead of them. It’s to send out love to them (wherever their souls reside) and their families and friends who miss them terribly. It’s to say that I truly know the pain of having to wake up every morning the first year without them and think about what you were doing that same day last year…when they were still alive…. when they still had their whole lives ahead of them.

It’s to say that I fully feel the weight of it all today, that it breaks my heart, and that I’m so very grateful that it wasn’t me and I still have my life ahead of me.

… but what I wouldn’t give to know that this Thursday there were three less empty spots at the dinner table.

Original Post: The accident (warning: it’s graphic in some parts)

I tried, but it’s raining

I decided this weekend I was going to write something funny. (I am, you know. I mean, I can be). But it’s raining, and it’s been raining for two days straight. Who can be funny when it’s raining?

I contemplated putting this off and being funny tomorrow. Forecast for tomorrow: rain, all day.

So funny. Okay, well, I made an honest attempt to ride my bike while holding an umbrella. That might have made someone laugh. I didn’t, though. Because it’s effing cold, and my rain jacket and favorite boots are in the bottom of god knows what box.

So I arrived at the coffee shop later than I wanted to, wet, cold…and not funny.

I’m sure there is some eye-rolling going on. It rains here like 2 days a year. Most people are almost giddy, relishing in the anomaly and blatant reminder that fall is upon us. And all I can do is think of the last time I was cold and wet.

It was January. I was in Texas, completely alone and utterly heartbroken. And it almost took me under.

I had fallen for the wrong person, risked everything and lost so much more. So there I was, packing up all of my things, yet again, trying to figure out where to go. Did it even matter? There was no home to go back to and no one waiting for me to come home…except Biscuit.

But it’s not January anymore, Brooke. It’s September, 9 months later. And it’s fall. You love fall. It’s your favorite. People associate it with death and decay, but for me, it’s pumpkins. It’s crisp mornings, chunky sweaters and my favorite boots. It’s Halloween decorations and the crunch of leaves under my favorite boots. It’s snuggled up next to a warm fire with the person I love. And it’s Biscuit, sitting on top of a big pile of leaves, his red-orange fur blending in with the autumn colors all around him.

But my chunky sweaters and favorite boots are still in boxes that I admittedly haven’t had the stomach to unpack one more fucking time. And I got rid of most of my decorations because, to be honest, when your packing up all of your shit for the 7th time, they seem like the perfect thing to not have carry up another flight of stairs or cram into a 400-hundred-something square foot space. And the warm fire, well it’s in the house I used to live in with my amazing husband, who is no longer my husband. And Biscuit, well, he’s dead.

So I guess this year, fall is about death, because most of the things I loved last fall don’t exist anymore.

This isn’t funny, is it? Like not at all. But shit, it’s still fucking raining outside.

Okay, let’s shelf death and heartache for a beat, shall we? I wanted to make you laugh, not cry. Which I will say is one obvious perk to this weather. It’s hard to differentiate tears from rain drops.

Tears and rain drops. It really is kinda funny in a crazy, can’t really get my head around it way. It’s all water, which literally dictates whether life exists or not. But it can also take it away in a matter of seconds. It can wipe out entire villages, kill tens of thousands of people, and take you under with a force that makes breath seem like it was never an option.

But it can also bring you to a state of complete bliss within seconds. A cold sip of water on a hot day, or a hot bath on a cold night. Watching it dance across the rocks of a river bed or letting the sound of the waves kissing the sand lull you to sleep.

The ultimate paradox. You need it to live, but it’s responsible for so much death. It can bring you sheer joy or cause excruciating pain. It often can’t be seen but is always present. And it never dissipates. It changes, adapts to its circumstances, but it never diminishes. It is everywhere, all around us, but so many die because they are deprived of it. As it turns out, it is disturbingly similar to the very thing that always seems to end with tears, at least of late.

Which brings me right back to fall. A love, a dream and a precious puppy all synced up with the season, their decomposition swift, and all I could do was stand by, completely powerless, and watch…. and cry and scream and completely fall apart as they slipped further and further away until all that was left was a mound of dirt covering up a hole that I so desperately wanted to crawl into.

So here I am. Staring at this puppy next to me who is snuggled up under his person’s feet, looking down at my feet, wishing I had my favorite pair of boots on because mine are wet and my toes are cold. And I’m right back to the last time I was cold and wet. And I think of Texas and my puppy sitting in the leaves, and…

It’s funny in a it’s not really at all way, how predictable it all is. The whole cyclical thing: water, seasons, life, love..

Love, that’s what it always comes back to, where it all started. The impetus that seems to always propel me into motion, the very thing I live and breathe for, a joy like I’ve never experienced, followed by a pain so unbearable I almost wish my heart would stop, the feeling at least.

The ultimate paradox, like water, I need it to live, but it has resulted in so much loss. Some days, I feel completely depleted, yet none of it disappeared. Not a drop. It has changed, it had to; circumstances have changed a bit. It can’t be seen anymore. But it hasn’t diminished. It’s just as it was before, filling me up completely and leaving me gasping for air.

Okay, so missed my target with this one. But I’ll try again next week.

Forecast: Sunny, all week.

—-

An Addendum of sorts: Please take a minute to read Brandewijn Words latest post, Perspective. I’m beyond honored to be a part of it and think his perspective is beautiful and kind and so very needed. It just gets so easy to slip into judgment mode, to drift towards entitlement and self-righteousness contingent on our vantage point.

He ends with this, and it absolutely humbles me, but is also was a beautiful reminder. We truly are all in this together.

I make this promise to Brooke and to all of you. I will dig…deep…into her honest “telling of events” to find her and try to understand her world of this or thats. Because that is her world and her perspective… And those are the only ones that matters and the only ones I need to know.

That’s sums it up, right? Not his promise to me, but his commitment to question his vantage point, to do his best to know someone’s story and check himself when he makes an assumption or judgment…ultimately, to come from a place of empathy. Because we each have our story, right, with so many layers it gets complicated and messy, and we fuck up and do things that we regret. We hurt people, we hurt ourselves. intentionally or unintentionally. But the beautiful thing is, we get the gift of and have the capacity to step back and check ourselves, to shift our position and do what we can to understand why someone says or behaves the way they do. To practice empathy.

Desert Curmudgeon sums this up so eloquently in Yippie! We’re all Gonna Die:

Those of us who care do so because we can’t but feel otherwise if we are being honest with ourselves. There is no escape from the vulnerability of interdependence. I breathe because you do. 

alone-anime-drawing-girl-Favim.com-2444548

 

Father’s Day: June 21, 1992.

My dad died on Father’s Day.

I can’t imagine how many times I’ve said that throughout my life. It feels like a punch line to a worn-out, twisted joke. It’s not though. I guess it could be the punchline, but it’s not a joke. That is really the day he died.

I can’t remember the exact day we found out he way dying, but I remember the day exactly. It was a school day in early January. But I wasn’t going. I called in sick, because my dad was, and I was taking him to the hospital to find out how sick.

I helped him out of the car and waited until he got his bearings. I casually linked my arm through his so he didn’t have to ask for  more help. His pace was painfully slow. But because he was in pain, or because he didn’t want to find out why?

I just wanted him to hurry. I wanted to get this over with. There was a party I wanted to go to later, and I needed to study more for my SAT exam the next morning. I wanted to see my boyfriend before he left town, and I needed to go by my friend’s house to pick up the jeans she said I could borrow.

I just wanted him to hurry, so they could start the surgery, so we could find out what was wrong with him, so they could fucking fix it.

Three hours later I woke up on the hospital floor, my head propped up on my study guide. They said it would only take two hours. It had been over three. I opened my book back up to the algebra equations, shut it, opened it again, and flipped over to the vocabulary section. I had learned a good trick for memorizing vocab words. You take the word and use it in 3 different sentences, but sentences that will stand out in your mind, like something funny to make them memorable.

Aberration: a state or condition markedly different from the norm

  1. My dad’s health is an aberration.
  2. A 17-year old girl without a father is an aberration.
  3. Sitting in a freezing cold hospital lobby by yourself waiting to hear if your dad is going to die is an aberration.

I laughed. I’m pretty confident that I’m the only person using death as a study tactic, which is in and of itself an aberration.

He snuck up behind me, asking if I was William Breazeale’s daughter. I jumped up, throwing my book up in the air, which sent my notes flying in all directions. We both paused for a minute, watching their graceful descent. I looked up at him, embarrassed, and tried to smile. He didn’t smile back. He just told me, matter-of-factly,  that the surgery went great and my dad was dying from pancreatic cancer.

I slammed the front door behind me. His head shot up. He hated it when I slammed the door. “Sorry, dad!”. Shit, did I wake you up? How are you feeling?”

Why did I keep asking him that? What the hell is he going to say. “I feel amazing. That last can of Ensure you shot into my veins tasted awesome and is digesting perfectly. I can’t get up by myself anymore and have been waiting for you to get here so I can go to the bathroom. Other than that, I feel great.”

He attempted to smile. “I’m fine. How was school?”

“Fine. I have to go back, it’s only noon. I just came home to check on you”.

“It’s only noon?”

“Yeah. You hungry?”

“No.”

“Well, were you able to drink some of the juice I bought you?”

“No. I haven’t felt like it.”

“Dad! You have to eat, whether you are hungry or not! You can’t keep going to chemo if you aren’t doing anything to build yourself back up. Have you looked at yourself? You are literally wasting away!”

I stormed into the kitchen and brought him back a glass of orange juice. He tilted his head forward to take a sip, giving me a look that made me sit down next to him and gulp the rest of it down myself.

“Dad?”

“Yeah?”

“Will you make sure I’m here when you go?”

“I’ll do my best, but I can’t make any promises.”

“No dad, you have to. You have to promise you won’t leave me until I can get back here”.

“Brooke, I can’t promise that you will be here when I die. But I promise I will never leave you.”

I acquired this slight obsession with our calendar. Every morning I scrolled across the row of days, then down the column of weeks, looking for, I’m not sure what, an aberration I suppose. Which day was it going to be? I flipped to the next month and my eyes landed on the only words on the page.

Father’s Day.

I actually laughed out loud. You’ve got to be kidding me. He’s going to die on fucking Father’s Day?

Of course I didn’t tell anybody this. How morbid and sad. What was even more so was that I actually felt relieved. I had a date. This was going to end at some point, and it was going to be soon. I started planning the things I would do after that day. I could leave the house again without having to find someone to watch him. I could go to parties with my friends without worrying about him or having to leave early to go take care of him. I wouldn’t have to give him morphine shots anymore, or clean up after him when he didn’t make it to the bathroom, or sleep outside his bedroom door hearing him moan in pain, crying myself to sleep because there was absolutely nothing I could do to stop it.

I wouldn’t have to do any of those things anymore. Because on June 21st, my dad wouldn’t be dying. On June 21st, my dad would be dead.

I spent the morning with my best friend and his family. I reluctantly agreed to go to church with them, cringing at every forced metaphor reiterating the importance of celebrating ‘the father’.

I asked if I could stop to buy him a card before we headed to the movie and spent longer than I should have picking it out. He obviously wasn’t going to read it, but I wanted to read it to him, and it needed to be perfect.

We made it to the front of the line just before the previews started. I grabbed my ticket, and then turned to his dad and told him to take me home.

I closed the front door behind me, making sure not to slam it. I nervously peeked my head into his room to see if he was still breathing, and then plopped down next to him to sign his card. The pen was out of ink. Of course it was out of ink. I went into the kitchen and started digging through the drawers, and then stopped for some reason.  I heard something, like a moan or a whisper. But I kept digging. He’s ‘fine’, he can’t be in pain, he has a constant stream of morphine going and he hasn’t made a sound for days. I grabbed a pen, then dropped it and sprinted to his room.

He was dead.

“No, no, no, no. Dad, NO! You promised! Did you seriously just wait until I left the fucking room to leave me? I sat down next to him, studying his face for some sign of anything. There was nothing. He was gone.

I just started yelling at him. “I came home for you. I made everyone miss the movie for you. You were supposed to wait for me to get back, that was the deal. We made a deal!”

The tears I had been stuffing down for months unleashed. I was actually grateful I was alone, but I was furious with him, with myself. He was leaving me for good and he couldn’t just give me this one thing. He couldn’t just let me say good-bye. But maybe he did? Maybe he finally worked up the courage to let go, and I then I left him?

I felt something, a gentle squeeze of my hand. I stopped crying and quickly looked back up as one final tear made its way down his cheek.

That was 25 years ago. Yes, it was terrible, but it was so long ago, I don’t really even think about it anymore. The reality is, I haven’t had a dad longer than I had one.

Now that I see my friends worrying about how badly they are fucking up their kids, I wonder what issues of mine are directly linked to him. My dad was an amazing father, but not always a great one. He, like all of us, had many demons, which he never quite figured out how to conquer. Whether he was drunk or sober, wealthy or broke, in love or lonely, I just never felt like he ever really found happy.

I’m sure this negatively impacted me somehow I’m sure all of it did, But it also what made him and our relationship beautiful. I’m not sure if he was truly happy, but he made sure everyone else was. His life could be in shambles, but he would make sure yours was going to be fine. He could be reckless and stubborn, but he was the person you went to when there was nowhere else to go. He was patient and kind and generous. And although he was guarded with his words, you never questioned how he felt about you. I say ‘you’ because he wasn’t just my dad. He was my friends’ dad and my neighbors’ dad, and he was everyone’s friend.

Now, for me, Father’s Day is just another day. But for the first time in decades, I actually felt a twinge of guilt when I realized what day it was. I  haven’t thought about him much lately, not at all, really. I kind of just feel like he isn’t a part of my life anymore. He’s just gone.

This actually made me laugh. Was I really that far gone that I couldn’t see what was so blatantly obvious? My dad has never been so present in my life as he has over the past few months- in the people who have come into my life, the beautiful places I have landed, and the books that have ended up in my hands; in a smile that made me feel, or a word that made me hope, or a sunset that assured me this pain was going to stop.

I truly believe he thought he was going to lose me, so he immersed himself so fully in my day to day that there could be no doubt in my mind. He was going to wait until I came back… to remind me that he never left.

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The D-word: Part I

“You did too much. You tried too hard. The only thing you didn’t do is walk away. So walk away. It’s going to hurt like hell, but do it anyway. Do it with grace. Do it with love. Do it knowing you did everything you could”.        – b.breazeale

I have admittedly been avoiding this one, but it was inevitable, really. It’s pretty much why I’m here writing this, why I keep on writing this, why some of you have asked me to keep writing this.

Divorce. It’s apparently one of mid-life’s sidekicks. A lot of us are starting to wonder if these two now just go hand and hand. We see it happening all around us, yet it still feels like we are the only ones going through it.

I thought I would find it reassuring each time one of you confirmed that I’m not alone in all of this. It’s not reassuring. It’s heartbreaking. When I hear your stories, I just want to push fast forward so we can all arrive safely, unscathed, on the other side.

I think most of us have an idea why we are going through this at this point in our lives. There is growing evidence that our age bracket (40 and older) has the highest divorce rate. Clearly there are multiple factors, but most theories attribute this to the ‘empty nest’ phenomenon. I will try to tackle that one next week, at least my thoughts on it since my experience is only from what I have read, hearsay, and observation.

Regardless of age or the children factor, we all pretty much have different versions of the same story. We are the ones who cheated or the ones who were cheated on, the ones who are hated or the ones who hate, the ones who left or the ones who were left. Either end is excruciating and feels terrible.

For me, it was the months before- the unraveling of what I thought was my forever, when I knew I had to do it- that was by far the most painful part. The moment of truth, of trying to come to terms with the fact that I had to leave, of trying to find the courage to do it, of trying to prepare myself for the look on his face when I finally forced myself to do it- to turn my back on him, open the fucking door and close it behind me.

It is the hardest thing I have ever done.

I try to reconcile the guilt and regret with the fact that I truly did fight for us. And I know he did too. We all did. Not one of us wanted to give up on our person, on our relationship, on our lives as a couple or a family unit. We didn’t want to be the cause of pain for the person we still love. We didn’t want to be alone or bear the thought of them being alone. We didn’t want to hurt our kids and our families.

So we tried longer and harder than we should have, prolonging the inevitable, trying to forgive or waiting to be forgiven, trying to conjure up what had been missing- to fix it or force it or fake it. It seemed an infinitely better option than being the one responsible, or being the victim, or admitting to ourselves and the world that we had failed.

We all know the statistics: ‘Approximately 50% of marriages end in divorce’.

For most of us, the statistics were irrelevant. They certainly did not apply to me. I, unlike the other 50%, would beat the odds. I didn’t get married out of desperation or the desire to be the status quo. I wanted to be with the person who I had chosen to grow old with. I wanted to solidify our commitment to each other in front our closest friends and family. I wanted to build our own family and community. I wanted to have the happy, fulfilling, normal life that I assumed all of my friends had. The ‘other’ 50% were getting married for the ‘wrong’ reasons. But I wasn’t in that bracket. I was by no means going to be a statistic.

We were together for around 7 years before we got engaged. And yes, it became an issue. I began to question whether he was in it for the long-term or if there was something wrong with me or if there was some glaring reason why he didn’t want to get married that I wasn’t seeing. When we did get married, I distinctly remember wanting to tell everyone and probably made sure the ring on my left hand was noticed. “See, there is nothing wrong with me. I am lovable. Someone does want to be committed to me for life. You thought I wasn’t, but I am. I am normal”.

We did in the end become a statistic. But we were so much more.  I don’t regret one second of our marriage (except for hurting him), nor spending over a decade of my life with him. I married him because he was everything I wanted and needed at that point in my life. I married him because I wanted to spend my life with him. It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t.

I hate that I couldn’t save it, that we couldn’t save it. But I think we both know we would have been saving it for the wrong reasons. I didn’t leave because I didn’t love him. I left because I did love him and I knew I was no longer giving him the love he deserved. I also knew that I wasn’t getting what I needed anymore. That wasn’t his fault. He did every possible thing he could to give me what I needed and more. But what I needed, from life, from my partner, had changed. Staying wasn’t fair to either of us. We would have been living a lie.

Although divorce seems to becoming the norm, there is nothing about it that is normal. The unfolding, arrival, and aftermath is different for everyone. It is rarely mutual or fair, it never just ends, and it is always painful. Most days I know it was for the best. But there are still so many days I wish we were still together and just feel like I made a colossal mistake.

I think it just takes time and perspective to get to the place where we know that we made the right decision, that we didn’t fail, that sometimes failing is actually staying. But we are not there yet. We are in the thick of it and have little access to those on the other side- the ones who now can see that they did the best thing possible for everyone involved. This is why we are still fighting when we know it’s time to stop. This is why those of us who stopped are now riddled with guilt because we did.

But you can only fight for so long. And when you realize that you are the only one fighting with conviction, it is time to lay down your sword. It is time to fight for you, to have faith that time and perspective will reveal in the end that you did the best and most courageous thing you could have done. You walked away.

“One of the hardest parts of life is deciding whether to walk away or to try harder.”

Articles regarding divorce rate statistics: 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/pa/article-3330435/Divorce-figures-drop-except-50s.html#ixzz4cRuDEekC 

https://www.mckinleyirvin.com/Family-Law-Blog/2012/October/32-Shocking-Divorce-Statistics.aspx

Eternal Sunshine

“How happy is the blameless vestal’s lot! The world forgetting, by the world forgot. Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind! Each prayer accepted, and each wish resigned.”        – Alexander Pope
I have been staring at this blank page for what seems like hours. I can’t stop thinking about a movie I saw over a decade ago. For those of you who have seen Eternal Sunshine, that should set the tone here.

Yesterday, I caught myself laughing, like really laughing. It felt strange but vaguely familiar. A glimpse of color. 

And then today happened. Today there is no color. Grey doesn’t count as a color.

I can recognize that a bad day isn’t cause for panic. Progress has been made. I think. But the severity of it, of this, when it starts to forge its way to the front. Nothing else can be seen or thought or felt.

In my defense, there are moments that are beyond serendipitous. A song I haven’t heard for a decade is now suddenly everywhere. No, it’s not a coincidence. On the favorite playlist of my local coffee shop. Okay, fair. But the hardware store. Really? Three people in three weeks have introduced themselves with the same name. 480 Facebook friends, a tribe I have been building for almost 40 years. Not one of them has his name. Not one.

Depending on the day, I find these coincidences either comical, or I find the rabbit hole. The dissent is quick, and anything but painless.

Now no place is safe. A friend suggests my favorite tapas bar. Oh shit, no, sorry. Okay, how about that place we love on Broadway? Fuck, right. Seventeenth street work? Wash Park? We went to a movie instead.

It’s not always like this. Until it is again. Someone next to me has cinnamon on their latte. The grocery store. Utter disaster. Thrift store. Nope. A fucking bubble gum wrapper. Fallout.

Yes, I have developed some effective coping mechanisms- some healthy, some not so much. But the prospect, the hope, of arriving at the other side intact, unscathed, seems almost laughable if not impossible right now.

Maybe the initial shock has worn off and now I am just acclimating to the resignation. Well this feels worse. The flashes of color and feelings that would normally presuppose happiness, or at least some sense of peace, are now juxtaposed against the prolonged darkness that looms over the relinquishing of hope for something that will never be and never was.

Never was. I close my eyes sometimes and try to imagine it. Eternal sunshine.

Would I do it? Would I erase the past 9 months if I could? The first 3 would go too. Even better, there would be no reason to waste the 6 months that followed trying to replicate them. All the time spent creating ‘us’, memorizing each other’s every thought, expression, scar, and curve would no longer be the justification for spending twice as long trying to fight for it and even longer trying to forget it. If I could get almost a year of my life back without ‘us’ ever happening. Would I?

I know, this is absurd and pointless. There is no ‘erasing company’ to speed up this forgetting process. And yes, I would consider it. And yes, that goes against everything I have been encouraging myself, and you, to do.  Find the gift. Take the lessons learned. Be grateful for the strength, insight, courage… all of the amazing attributes you gained because you went through fucking hell and survived.

All still apply. Just not today.

My dear friend sent me this quote this week. It physically hurt to read because it is absolutely true.

“The feelings that hurt most, the emotions that sting most, are those that are absurd – The longing for impossible things, precisely because they are impossible; nostalgia for what never was; the desire for what could have been; regret over not being someone else; dissatisfaction with the world’s existence. All these half-tones of the soul’s consciousness create in us a painful landscape, an eternal sunset of what we are.”
 Fernando Pessoa

The same day, another dear friend forwarded me this article. I was only able to skim it, precisely because it was so not what I wanted to hear…because it is absolutely true.

“Love is rarely mutual, which is why when it is, magic explodes in the brilliance of stardust…For when a man falls in love with a woman [or a woman with a man], nothing can stand in the way. Not life, obstacles or even one’s ideas of readiness or worthiness. Nothing. Because as much as we’d like to think otherwise, there is no real reason that he’s not be beside you this evening, other than the fact that he’d rather be somewhere else.”  – Kate Rose

Stings doesn’t it? To the point that you start to cycle right back to the denial phase. It can’t be that he/she would rather be somewhere else, with someone else. It’s the circumstances, the timing, the whatever other possible reason you can come up with that will justify why he/she isn’t here.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, I am not at the denial stage any longer. I am very clear that he does not want to be by my side. I’m not interested in denying it anymore. But I’m not ready to accept it either. I’m clinging to the absurd.

I want the sun to shine again. And that’s all I want to remember. Just the sun. Not the grey.

I guess this is what we do for awhile, a morbid dance of sorts. We can’t erase the memories, so we have to manipulate them a bit, maybe leave out the parts that still can’t be felt or insert a lens that will shift the focus, change the interpretation to something more manageable. 

Eventually, though, the reality of what really occurred will be very clear and we finally won’t want to manipulate anything. That is the hope, anyway. We will remember how we really felt when they were beside us. The feelings that we are still allowing to dominate our memories- joy, happiness, comfort- were so few and so fleeting.  They were almost always tainted with insecurity and an underlying fear of what we knew was to come. That is what we will remember. And that is why we will be with someone with whom we will experience what is truly love, in the moment, not in a memory.

So for the sake of progress, I’ll leave you with this.

If we had not endured the very worst, we would have settled for something other than the very best. He/she was not the one we have been summoning. A master at disguise, no question, but absurd, impossible, and absolutely necessary to pave the way for what is to come. And it won’t be painful, and it won’t be fleeting, and it most certainly will not be grey.

Read Kate Rose’s entire article here: If He Wanted to Be with You Then He Would Be: https://www.elephantjournal.com/2017/02/if-he-wanted-to-be-with-you-then-he-would-be

The Last Fight

“You did too much. You tried too hard. The only thing you didn’t do is walk away. So walk away. It’s going to hurt like hell. Do it anyway. Do it with grace. Do it with love. Do it knowing you did everything you could.”        – b.breazeale

My dog is dying. I didn’t want to admit it. But I knew it. It is why I postponed my move to Paris. It is why I just signed a lease on the same street where he lives. I knew our time was limited, but I thought we had more time, more walks to the coffee shop- ‘the B’ sitting outside with me, tucked under my legs. He was supposed to be my wingman for this new chapter. He was supposed to be my rock while I try to heal and start over.

I am absolutely furious with myself for spending his last six months away from him. I left him when he needed me most. The irony is almost comical. I left Biscuit and moved to Arlington, Texas for a guy who left me a week later, then left Arlington, Texas to come back to Biscuit, who is now leaving me a week later.

When Eric told me he wasn’t doing well. He calmly said, “I think you should consider moving back early”. That is all I needed to hear. Eric never wants me to worry or hurt. I know that. I knew that every day I called to check on Biscuit, he wasn’t being 100% straight with me. But I still called every day. The guilt I felt because I wasn’t there, when I knew I was losing him, was excruciating. Deluding myself that he was going to be fine was just easier.

So I packed up my apartment the next day and drove out of Arlington, Texas, back home. He is what motivated me to do one of the hardest things I have ever done- give up on a dream, on love. It was the first time that I had to move away from something I love instead of toward something I love.

Two days and 781 miles later, I walked in the door of my home that is no longer mine. Everything had changed, except for Biscuit’s reaction when I walked in the door. He slowly got up and came straight to me. Tail wagging, huge smile, nose forcing its way into my hand for some long awaited pets. Eric said he hadn’t done that in weeks. Within 2 days we were back to our routine- him patiently waiting for me to get myself out the door, our walk to the coffee shop, that now took twice as long , him stopping at his favorite rock, then his favorite bush (pine, totally obsessed with pine), the realtor’s office where he bolts in, pummels the poor man trying to get his work done, relentlessly begging until he gets a treat.

We get to the coffee shop, take our normal spot next to the tree, and our day continued as it had so many times before. And for two days, that is exactly what we did. I knew I had made the right decision. Maybe he was just waiting for me to come back?

And then we began our walk back home. I could see the pain in his eyes with each step, even though he had his normal elated smile on his face that he always had when we were on our walks. By the end, I was literally holding him up, almost carrying my puppy that weighs more than I do. We barely made it inside the gate. And that was it. I slept outside with him until we finally had to take him in on a stretcher. He hasn’t moved since.

Maybe he was just waiting for me to come back.

And yet, I still hope. He has done this before and he came back. If we do the unthinkable and he could have come back…

So, when do you call it? When do you throw in the towel and do the unthinkable? When do you walk away and give up the fight?

It feels absolutely impossible.

The fact of the matter is, I’m so very tired of letting shit go. I don’t want to anymore. I have let so much go in the past year. They say things come in 3’s. This is the 5th terrible, heartbreaking thing that has happened this year. This has to stop at some point, right? A person can only take so much. I don’t care about the whole ‘you only are given what you can handle’ bullshit. Isn’t there a breaking point? Isn’t this why people snap and truly do throw in the towel? I don’t want to break. I have shit to do. And I’m tired of crying. And I’m tired of fighting the urge to ask, ‘why me’? I’m just tired.

So do I call it?  Do I give up on him?

Clearly, he can’t tell us that he is in pain, or if it is to the point that he just wants it to stop. What if he isn’t ready? What if he gets better? What if he wants to keep fighting and we gave up on him too soon.

That is not what I do. I don’t give up. To a fault. I fucking fight- for love, for life, for dreams, for people…I fucking fight.

I know we all have to do this. It’s the whole courage thing. We have to face our fears- our fear of being alone, of failing, of admitting defeat, of being the one who gave up, of never seeing the person we love the most again.

I have always tried to use pain as a guide. If I am causing someone pain, or if I am experiencing pain beyond what is acceptable, if there is little chance of transforming it back into something beautiful, then I know it is time to let go.

That is the intention. That is not what I am able to do when dealing with the latter. I hold on too long- to love, to life, to a dream or a person. I stay too long. I fight too long. Even when that person has long since stopped fighting for me. Even when all hope is gone. I know this is selfish. That person is trying to let go of something that isn’t serving them anymore- my dad holding on, for me; my husband holding on, for me, my puppy, for me. And I encourage them. I make them keep fighting, when I know what they really want is for me to just let go.

He is telling me he doesn’t want to fight anymore. It is clear. And he is holding on, partially for me. And I am letting him.

I think, for the first time in my life, I just don’t want to fight anymore.