Neptunian

how deep can I go? I ask myself, wondering if there’s a bottom to my mind.

Maybe my brain is like the ocean

and the further I dive in,

the more fascinating creatures I get to see

until I get so far down in the sea floor

death becomes palpable

I can eat it for breakfast even

like a zombie worm I feed on

the carcasses of the old versions of me

in order to stay alive

in the dark.

 

yes, my mind is like the deep sea-

an extreme environment

where only the strong

survive.

the day a fly won

I was throwing some wine back when I noticed a small fly of sorts

at the bottom of my glass.

I saw it slowly move its tiny legs and immediately

my heart began to fill with empathy, so naturally

I decided I would save it.

Since I sat pen-in-hand, I dipped the fine tip of my black sharpie

in the deep red and urged the fly to take hold of it,

the act transforming my pen into a

literary lifesaver any writer would appreciate.

Thankfully the fly seemed to cooperate

as it clung to my writing instrument

allowing me to rescue it from the booze and place it

down on the balcony floor.

I laughed a little then

noticing how disoriented my friend seemed

as it stumbled around, getting perilously close to

falling through the cracks with each step it took.

“Maybe this fly has a death wish I know nothing about,” I thought.

Feeling good about my gracious deed

I wiped the Monastrell off the pen

and tried to write again

but to my dismay-

my pen was dead.

I guess it just goes to show that in the end

you can’t save everything.

 

Today the fly won.

the everyday tragic

You lose people.

sometimes to death

and other times not.

You lose them in coffee shops

and through telephone wires

and sometimes

you even lose them in bed.

You lose people

before they even know it,

at times you can even lose them

in the most ordinary moments-

the walk to the store,

the deposit at the bank,

the shower you take before bed.

You lose people.

Some may even lose one every day.

But the ones worth keeping

will always find their way back to you

somehow.

You lose people.

But sometimes when you lose someone

you also find yourself.

Loss can be a win

if you let it.

You lose people

and other times,

people lose you.

and so it goes, round and round,

losing and winning

join forces

and in the end

the only thing that matters

is that you don’t ever

lose yourself.

 

Merry Grinchmas

My first Christmas with grief
was a mere three months after Paul passed away.
I didn’t even have time to prepare,
I didn’t even know such a thing was impossible yet then-
the pain was palpable,
cold and on the surface,
the loss starting to etch itself in my eyes and skin.
I barely remember it, though I do remember drinking my way through it
and at one point booking a tarot card reading. I recall that the reader said
“you’re trying your best to celebrate but you’re depressed”
to which I replied
no shit.
I went to have dinner at his parent’s house on the 25th.
His mom was sick and after saying a cordial hello,
spent the rest of the evening upstairs in her bedroom.
I didn’t blame her.
It was unbearable to try to celebrate without him there.

My second Christmas with grief was better.
Mainly because I decided to skip the whole thing all together.
I didn’t send anyone any gifts. No christmas cards. I wished everyone a merry grinchmas and allowed myself the freedom to do as I pleased with my feelings.
The only celebration was an intimate Christmas day spent with my then-
roommate and her immediate family and her boyfriend in Fort Collins.
Christmas morning I woke up to snow and tears.
Merry White Griefmas.
But they didn’t last all day, the snow and tears- and they didn’t keep me from getting dressed and playing white elephant for the first time with everyone else around the Christmas tree.
I felt loved.
It was nice.
But it all was still heavy. To me, anyways.
Probably because I was sad and sadness weighs a ton.
The thing about holidays is that they make the loss feel fresh all over again,
it’s like the scars are picked by the fingertips of
each encounter forced upon you,
each table you sit at surrounded by couples and family members,
and then there’s that damn empty chair beside you,
the thought of the perfect gift you would’ve gotten him this year,
the memory of your very own christmas tradition you had created together-
brunch with a lot of Champagne and just a little bit of Santa,
just to say you celebrated it properly,
a balanced holiday affair,
if you will;
Fresh tears and blood start to flow with
each christmas card that arrives,
joy and love so clearly stamped on your friends’ faces
it’s so awful and conflicting
to feel so happy for them
and so sad
for me.
Self pity comes easy then. Automatically, even.
But that was my second Christmas with grief.

My third Christmas with grief was 4 days ago.
I spent Christmas eve at his parent’s house, with his immediate family and growing parts on his brother’s side.
His mom and I were in high spirits.
We spent the day cooking up a feast and she ordered a special riesling
to go with dinner and she even baked a pie from scratch!
The house was decorated with wreaths, the Christmas tree hung with vintage, curated ornaments his parents purchased in different parts of the world,
shelled nuts ready to be cracked near the fireplace…
it was the image of a Scheffler Christmas.
It may have been missing my favorite Scheffler of all, but there was joy
in that house that night,
and it felt good to be able to actually feel a bit of that infamous holiday spirit again.
But no one talked about him.
We didn’t want to remember his death on Christmas eve or day.
The afternoon and evening of Christmas was reserved for a close group of friends, a night spent drinking and eating, surrounded by good people.
I came home around 10:30 pm.
I was starting to feel worn out from all the holly jolly,
I could feel the sadness starting to seep through…

On the 26th, when my third Christmas with grief was supposed to be over,
that’s when the pain hit.
that’s when the loss refused to be pushed aside any longer,
that’s when it took over,
the wave I have come to know so well, knocking me down,
bending my body forwards,
making my bones heavy
and cold.

The next three days were a blur of takeout, hot tub dips, wine and beer, absolutely no exercise and 12 hours of sleep each night.
For dinner one night I ate a 12 inch pizza, 8 chocolate chip cookies,and half a pint of ice-cream.
I was desperately trying to make myself feel better, instinctively, in any small way I knew how.
I couldn’t talk to anyone.
I couldn’t deal with anything.
I felt exhausted and sad and fat and
alone.

Then, on the 29th,
I woke up and noticed I didn’t immediately dread
the fact that I was alive.
I fed myself a healthy breakfast and sang some songs
and worked on the book, and took some pictures
to remind myself that I’m beautiful,
and cleaned out my closet, vacuumed the carpets,
drank a green juice for my afternoon snack,
witnessed a sunset from the hot tub
and thanked the heavens
that the holidays were almost over
and that today,
I was feeling better.
That meant the wave was passing,
the worst had been felt,
there was lightness of being to look forward to again.

It’s not that my third griefmas was easier than the ones prior,
it was just that the days of sadness were fewer than those of happiness
and when grief hit, I knew
it was just another wave I had to ride through.
By then, I guess you could say,
I had a bit of experience
with grieving during the holidays.

watch me own it

I’ve started to own this grief

I’m not going to let it kick me off field any longer;

I’ll bring it up on first dates, share it like

small bites of chocolate with my roommates on the couch,

drown in it as if it were a giant glass of red wine;

I’ll scream it out of me and into pillows and

bring the subject with me to dinners and various bars

across town, neatly tucked in my clutch

like my favorite lipstick.

I’m going to own this grief publicly

and you’re going to watch me

so that the next time they ask me how I’m handling things

I can look them in the eye and say

I’m handling it just fine, thanks.

 

enigma

I know what loss and grief and sorrow feel like but I can’t imagine what it’s like to realize you’re dying. Is it a long, drawn out realization, or does it take your entire body and world over in one split second? Do you feel afraid for the unknown, or is it more like relief? Does your life play out in parts, your memories connected by flashing neurons strung together like pieces of clothing hanging on a clothesline? Do you think of love? Do you hope for the warm hands that touched you last? Do you pray, even if you don’t believe in God? Do you say whatever words you have left in that last breath out loud? And if you only have a second of life to spare, how long does that second really seem to last?

What is it like to know you’ve reached the end and might never again get another beginning?

Questions without answers and answers that don’t make sense once asked.

If life is such an enigma, can you imagine death?

 

IPA

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”

I finally understand that saying now, how life can break you just to remake you- stronger, wiser, aware of the beauty in my own breath and the importance of love.

And still.

The last 365 days without you to share my accomplishments and failures with have been the hardest. I have no regrets of things left unsaid like so many others because my words always belonged to you. And the ones I kept locked away you read in my eyes. But what do I do with my words now?

I wish you were still here so I could tell you how much you changed my life, how your love gave me strength, how I finally learned to see myself with your eyes. But the only thing left to do now is remember, celebrate the years of life you had by drinking your favorite IPA. And it all still doesn’t make any sense. You were once a lover but forever my best friend. You challenged me to be better but loved me at my worst, and among all of the things I still don’t understand are your unwavering faith in me and neverending love. You were my soulmate and I was yours, no matter what, we decided. You made me angry, you disappointed me at times, and you were awful with directions and going to bed instead of falling asleep on the couch. And yet. The mornings when you brought me coffee in bed and danced with me on top of your feet in the kitchen and hid from the world underneath piles of blankets in our own grown-up fort and held me close to your heart the first time I let you see me cry and told me it would all be alright… THAT’S what I remember when I think of you now.

I remember you and I remember love.

But I still hate the fact that all I can do is remember. All I can do now is sit here, drinking your favorite beer and writing honest words you’ll never read.

365 days later and I still feel everything.

 

after all

You would’ve liked the woman you saw if you had seen me last night- my skin sun kissed, hips swaying back and forth to the rhythm I learned in the only home I’ve known, to the songs I used to spend hours dancing to alone on the patio on days when the sun shone too hot and there was no one around to talk to.

You would’ve liked the way my mouth molded over the notes, my tongue dancing, vocal chords ringing, my spine standing strong and upright. You would’ve appreciated my small efforts at comedy and human connection sent to the crowd over the twisted microphone wires and afterwards I’m certain you would’ve declared that I had been born for the stage.

You were, after all, my biggest fan.

You would’ve sat right in the first row but you would’ve stood up to dance, even if your feet never did quite learn all the right steps to take.

That’s what you had me for, after all.

You would’ve liked what I have done with this life I realized I took for granted when you died.

Why have I wasted so much time?

I have learned to ask myself the hard questions even if I don’t have answers to so many of them.

Yet.

What I do know is that it isn’t enough to just breathe and pay the bills and kiss new lips every now and then. Not anymore.

You would be proud of the woman I’ve become.

If you could only see me now.