I'm holding on to a love of yesterday.
A love so strong, I thought it would never fade away.
A memory of a partnership that was joined between two.
A sudden wind with a fragrance reminded me of the who.
This feeling that sinks into my soul, is a rapid reminder in my mind.
This memory of yesterday haunts me, wraps me in bundles like twine.
I want to be awakened early one day and notice that the love has faded away.
A sign of change
It was another Friday night in the flat on the canal. It had become my second home after my catastrophic reentry from Greece and four months of boozing and working for pennies and falling from churches and nearly dying. It was warm and full of characters, not a lick of privacy, a mini commune if you will, but there was no other place I would have rather been. I had gotten used to the constant comings and goings and on the quiet days when I found myself with only one or two friends, I felt nearly lonely.
People started arriving in dribs and drabs , each one helping themselves to the kettle and to the dwindling supply of tea bags. Some came from work, or study or like the majority who were on the dole from the day drifting in and out of pubs waxing philosophically about life and trying desperately to find a point to it all. The evening got underway as usual, from tea we moved onto tins and flagons of cheap cider. We were waiting patiently for a very important person to arrive, Fergus, he was the man who brought our smoke. A quiet fella with piercing eyes and a tough yet gentle way about him. Of all the people who passed through that flat, he was the most interesting. He had a respectful day job and just did this on the side and did enjoy the company even though he wasn’t part of the ‘inner circle’. We had become a rather large clan and as happens with clans, cracks in the equilibrium were starting to show.
Within the group a few couples had formed over the years and through no fault of their own, simply growing up and changing direction and perspective they began questioning their futures together. Some had gotten together after a drunken night together, I had been victim to that. Two wasted years thinking that was what you were supposed to do. A one night stand can’t just be that or can it? The girls seemed more together, some were nurses, others studying and working and others still planning on the all illusive and difficult immigration to the paradise land of Australia. The lads seemed to be stuck in a sort of limbo, the refusal to accept jobs they deemed beneath them left them on permanent dole payments and angry discussions about how things should be.
It was about ten o’clock when we heard ranting coming from the front garden. I ran to the bedroom window and looked down to see Brendan, probably the most charismatic human being I had met up until that point in my life, arms wide singing a Neil Young tune between laughter and senseless ramblings. He had obviously made a few pit stops before his arrival and was looking worse for wear. We welcomed with the usual camaraderie and swiftly handed a pint. Brendan had dropped off the radar recently and from what we knew had some family things to sort out at home in Tipperary. Dublin then seemed as far away as London. Some of the group we had already lost to far corners of the world, Phil, who had actually witnessed the taking out of non other than one of Irelands most infamous criminals, The General, had disappeared to New Zealand. Antonella went to Australia and others joined the long line of ferry immigrants to London. Totsie, the scruffy, mousy and mouthiest of the clan had gone to New York with high hopes of becoming a barman. He bragged that he already had a job set up and that he would never set foot again in rainy old backward Ireland.
My former best friend Nathalie arrived with a couple of new acquaintances. We had had a massive falling out, typical girl stuff, random jealousy involving a guy. I hadn’t seen her in quite some time so we sombrely saluted each other then went about revelling with others. The flat was full to the brim with people and the smell of smoke and drink had thickened the air. Conversations that night were intense. The country was at the tail end of a long recession and we were all weary from it. The shine had gone off the suffering melancholy which had inspired many of us over the years to write poetry, songs and to share moments of solidarity. We now wanted a change and the anger and anxiety over our futures had begun to show its horns. Waves of laughter mixed with sharp sparring of ideas and opinions cut through the evenings atmosphere. I spent a good portion of that night talking to the smoke man, Fergus. He wasn’t either way about anything that night, just observing the spectacle and I was in need of a quiet corner to myself.
Gus arrived home around eleven and he was well oiled as usual. His thick accent, often mumbling half arsed tales and floppy hair which covered his eyes made him our groups teddy bear. Many an evening was spent laughing uncontrollably at one of his nonsensical stories. We asked him for news about Totsie, they were best mates and we expected him to have an update, it had been 4 months since he had left for New York and no one had heard anything since. Around the room there were several joints being prepared. I was working on one next to Fergus when I realised I ran out of papers. I tried to get Hillary’s attention but she was in fits of laughter over something and the music was too loud so I went across the room to Brendan. Someone started knocking on the door. It was the flat downstairs. There was a phone call for Gus. He staggered downstairs closing the door behind him, trying not to let the smoke waft out into the hall. Brendan hand me his last two skins and I finished my joint with Fergus. We started sharing before passing it around to the others.
Gus came back and closed the door. He also turned off the music and appeared to have lost 5 pints of blood. He typically pale skin had gone three shades whiter and he trembled while he mumbled something about just having received a phone call. We all stopped what we were doing and asked him what was going on. Totsie had been found dead. Beaten to a pulp outside the pub he had been working at in New York. His father was on his way to identity the body. We all sat in silence. The news just wouldn’t sink in. Gus stood and cried. The room seemed to fade in and out. It was as if a ice cold wind had come in and blown us all frozen. Someone went to put the kettle on. Gus sat down on the couch and we gathered around. He had apparently pissed a fella off that evening, the wrong fella, by drunkenly hitting on his girlfriend. He was set upon after hours, alone on the footpath with no one to defend him. We had always said his mouth would get him in trouble one day. It chilled us to think that he died like that and so far from home.
The flat that night had begun to feel claustrophobic and after the news of Totsie I started to look around the room at the faces that had become my day to day for so long. The habitual meetings, the pub crawls, the nights spent aimlessly drinking and smoking until the wee hours of the morning only to sleep in and get up and do it all again. It wasn’t just me, the others felt the same I know they did. The looks on their faces said the same thing that was going through my mind. ‘Its time’. For so long we had lived a cloistered existence, protecting one another, maintaining this safe little world. Exploration had become our enemy and we were stifled. I started remembering the dreams and ambitions I had before letting myself lull into this placated state. A writer, an artist, going back to university. Everything had been put on standby, yes by the economy, the country our circumstances, but also by fear. It was easier living this way, the clan moved together, thought together, drank together and stagnated together. The phone call that night had brought a clarity that I was not expecting.
It was about four in the morning when we all crashed and I found myself nestling in Fergus’s arms. Reflecting, we had spent nearly the entire evening together. And it was as if this ‘new’ person, different from all the rest, symbolised my break. A breath of fresh air, a light at the end of a tunnel that so many of us had created around us. I was saddened for the loss of one of us. But I thanked that moment for setting me free. That morning when I woke, the bodies strewn about the place and the stale smell of smoke and half drunk tins made my stomach turn. I wanted nothing more than an empty house. Fergus awoke and grabbed his hoodie. I walked him downstairs and it was at the door that he asked the question that would be the key to the rest of my life: “Do you fancy meeting for a coffee later?”. And the answer that would seal my fate: “Yes”.
Memories of My First Love
I met him when I called a local radio station to request my favorite song. That man had a voice as smooth as fresh, warm honey, and I was a seventeen year old girl.
I was singing the song playing when he answered the phone. I guess he must have liked that, because even though he couldn't play my song we launched in on a conversation about music.
I began to make it a habit to call every chance I got, and he made it a habit to play my song whenever he could.
These conversations with this man became the highlight of my very life. How could I possibly survive without speaking to this magical man with the voice of warm honey?
I thought for sure this man would be with me forever.
We finally decided we would meet. Oh my heart was fluttering like a butterfly with brand new wings. It was finally time to sweep him off his feet!
I was never more crushed than I was when he first looked in my eyes. I could see the tears begin to well up as he asked me.
"Baby, how old are you?"
I thought I would surely die of a broken heart when he said, "You're too young, baby. I'm a thirty year old man!"
That promptly ended all thoughts of my magical man with the voice of honey running off with me.
I hold on to those memories of that short amount of time I had a man in my life that I could discuss everything with.
I'm listening now, and I would love one more chance to meet the man who was mature enough to listen to my every thought without judgement.
The golden child,
The rule follower,
The role model.
Never a toe out of line.
But what if,
There’s more to life,
Than doing everything right.
What if it’s a benefit?
What if perfection,
Or the goal of it,
Is a curse and not a blessing.
Change your career,
Say something stupid,
Toe the line.
Because only in failure do you learn,
Or so I’m told.
My brain won’t let me do it.
Maybe one day,
One day I’ll let lose,
Run free of the rules I’ve set for myself.
But not today,
Today I hide in my false perfection,
Aching to be someone else.
Mirror mirror out the door
Why am I holding onto you, when I should let you go? Why am I afraid to let the real you show? She made me this way you know, (Mother), it was never me... I never had the chance to know you not at all, not since you were three. My dear friend, my only truth, my mirror, my honesty, can you see the real me? Of course not, but that's not true, I stand before you with a plain naked canvas, every morning! You are the witness to my before, my process and my perfection. Who am I without this exquisiteness? Who is beyond this reflection, if not the made-up make-up dressed in pretence?
It's you that has to go, you that draws me near, you that I pose to, that I sing to, that I smile falsely to - It is you dear mirror! I will hide you for a moment, into the background you shall fade... But I know I shall be back for you because where would I be, without the one constant in my life, who shelters me from my faults and sends me on my way out the door, looking flawless.
Don’t Make Me Let Go.
Grief is one of those things.
You know, one of those things.
Everyone deals with death differently, and everyone grieves in their own way. Sometimes grief is quiet and unassuming. Sometimes it is loud and in your face. Sometimes, it doesn't feel like it's existent, and you're just numb to it all.
But that's still grief.
My Grandpa died 5 1/2 years ago now, and I still find myself absolutely sobbing at the thought of him being gone. I'm not just grieving him, but the house that he used to walk around in everyday. I'm grieving the Thanksgivings where he isn't present, forking down my Grandma's incredible green bean casserole that just doesn't taste the same anymore. The long weekend visits where he'd reach into his pocket and run his finger down the fine toothed comb he kept in his pocket when he walked by me, knowing the reaction I would give him and the sharp look that always made him smile. The big family Christmases where the seat next to my Grandma is empty in honor of one of the most important people in her lives.
Add another chair empty next to my Grandma at Christmas. This one is to honor my Aunt who died of cancer last March. It's been a year and 1/2 since she passed, yet it hits me like it happened yesterday. It hits my mom so much harder. I'll never forget what my Grandma said to my mom as Lisa passed, "I am almost 90 years old. I shouldn't be watching my own child fade before I do." Cancer is another one of those things.
I work in a boarding kennel, where dogs and cats come and go with every family vacation. Sometimes they stay for a night or two, sometimes they stay for a week or so. The relationship I have the privilege of building with these pets is rewarding, but it is also just as devastating for us as it is for the owners sometimes. Every so often, we have an older dog who comes to stay with us, and we are the last friendly faces they see. Not their owner, not their housemate. Us; Me. Jamaica had a heart attack and passed away right there in my lap. I found Biggie the next morning, still as a stone in his run, his housemates blissfully unaware of his passing in the runs nearby. Zima... well... yeah.
There are some phone calls that I have taken whose pups have passed after a good, long life, and they wanted to thank us for taking such good care of them while mom and dad went on vacation. There are phone calls that I have taken whose pups passed after 2 or 3 years of living in this world, and were abruptly taken in awful or unpredictable ways. They all thank us for our help and the love we had for their pets and they hang up the phone, hopefully feeling a little bit better for having talked about their pet with us and sharing those good memories. People don't always realize that after we hang up that phone, we cry just as hard.
Mishka passed away last summer. I babysit his owners kids, and I am friends with his people. I knew Mish from the kennel, and I knew him at home, too. I will never forget my coworker running up my driveway after her shift, tears streaming down her face. She didn't have to say anything. I knew it was Mishka who'd passed. Something in the universe had told me it was him. Months later and I walk through their house to finish making dinner for the kids, and I'm slapped in the face with a memory that I forgot that I'd had. Talking with their mom about him even now, a year later, and we both find ourselves crying about his loss.
I will never, ever forget sitting on the floor of my boyfriends living room, Minnie happy to be surrounded by everyone she loves. You wouldn't have known anything was awry with her. Looking at that smiling greyhound with her paws crossed so elegantly. Her eyes full of love and full of life to be lived yet. But what you couldn't see was the intense pain she felt every time she tried to stand up. You didn't see the countless mornings that one of us woke up to her letting her stool go because she couldn't hold it longer than an hour or two anymore, and it was nowhere near solid. She looked so embarrassed and guilty. Her incontinence was getting worse and worse, and her pain was unmanageable, no matter how many different medications we had tried. Her quality of life had diminished significantly, and it was too much for her, let alone us, to go through all of that with no true ending in sight. Watching the vet administer that gooey, pink liquid and Minnie slowly slipping away was one of the hardest things I've ever had to witness. And then having to be strong for her family, since she wasn't my family pet was even harder; Bringing her things to my place of work to donate to a dog who could really use it during their stay. I still see her bed in our stack of dog beds that we use for those older pups who need just a little extra cushion and it's like I'm transported back to the day she died. That was Minnie's. It will always be Minnie's.
Losing loved ones is never easy, but its even harder knowing that eventually, you have to let them go. I can't let myself let them go. Letting go means exactly that- letting them go. People tell me, "You don't have to let them fade away. You can honor them with the love you had for them."
I can't just let them go. I can't just grieve and expect to heal with time. I can't talk about those that I loved who've passed without feeling that scar on my heart reopen and bleed again.
This isn't going to end with some positive, lighthearted comment about how their memory will forever live on in my head and in my heart. It doesn't change that those who I've lost are gone. It doesn't change that the pain and grief I feel from their loss is so great and so heavy.
Maybe I will move on from it all some day. Maybe it'll have happened enough to where I feel more comfortable with the notion of letting go and pushing forward without them physically here.
Until then... Grief is just one of those things.
There was him.
He wasn't what everyone thought he was.
He was everything that everyone thought he wasn't.
There was they.
There was a "they" to him, but nothing but a him to her.
She thought she loved him.
He knew he loved her.
There was fear.
A fear that developed slowly, but not expressed.
It kept her coming back.
There was the fear of leaving and the fear of staying.
There was it.
It was hard to describe, a barely noticeable manipulation.
It was so microscopic, it made her think it didn't exist.
He made her think it didn't exist.
There were punches.
A car hit so deeply it felt like it was her.
The last time the fear of staying outweighed the fear of leaving.
There was time.
A final decision to use time and space to bring her back.
Time to start again, so she did.
There was her.
She wasn't what everyone thought she was then
She was what she thought everyone wanted her to be.
But now, she's free.
I know you're always there, as if you were a chunk of pure terror that had been chilling in space but had one day decided to dive down to Earth and had buried itself into my heart so that it became a part of it. Sometimes I feel like I could cut open my chest and cut it out and it, and all its heaviness would be gone and everything would be solved.
Sometimes it's fine, we're fine dude. I forget about it, I get distracted, and for once, I feel okay. But even though I feel as fearless as a lion, and on the top of the world, it pulls me back to the ground and I don't know who I am.
Sometimes, it takes control of me, melting down into a liquid and entering my veins, flowing through my body like water on a prayer wheel, powering it even more as it flies with my red blood cells. It makes me go crazy, and I feel as though I was going insane, and the world is bent and swirling around in ways I do not understand because it looks the same but it doesn't.
Sometimes I feel like it is the only thing that makes sense even though it casually drops a bucketful of irrationality into my mind and that doesn't make sense. But it's the only thing that's keeping me from going over the edge and I cling onto it until it becomes who I am. Which is terrifying to be honest. Yet, if I let it go, I'd crumble into dust as the rubber bands that had been holding me together the whole time snap.
the good old days
To this day, I still like to believe that someday. Maybe not soon, but someday, life will be as sweet and easy as it was when I was a child.
The days where running around in the sun without a care of sunburn.
When thunderstorms, and things that go bump in the night was the only things I feared.
When hugs and kisses were purely innocent and everyday was a new adventure.
When the only real problem we had was: understanding math, passing exams and making it to the next grade.
When falling off a bicycle or from a tree and breaking an arm was the most painful thing ever experienced.
I have so much hope in maybe having the easy life i use to have. Although, I know I'm only fooling myself.