phases of me

//

{the phases of me in the story of my husband’s death}

1/ the me in my final moments with my husband before he left, the goodbye that I didn’t know was actually goodbye. he kissed my left cheek twice in a row and then rubbed my upper outer arms up and down and told me he was just trying to reassure me. he had gone to bed early tired, and this was the second time i had found him awake in the living room overnight saying he couldn’t sleep because his stomach was hurting. this final time was 4:30am. I don’t remember what I said in return after he said he was just trying to reassure me. I didn’t know what he meant and thought he was trying to get me not to worry about him not sleeping. I went back to bed to get some more sleep not of course knowing he snuck out the front door and drove away in the dark with his phone turned off about thirty minutes later.

  • Name: unassuming worried naive grouch who just needed more sleep. Wisdom: love is not all knowing no matter how deep and true it is.

2/ the me that couldn’t find him anywhere at 7:29am and knew immediately something was wrong, yet having no idea he was on a road trip driving three thousand miles to the farthest nw corner of america.

  • Name: silent screamer on high alert all throughout my body. Wisdom: there is only so much you can do at any given moment no matter how much you care

3/ the me that only slept 3 ½ hours the first six days he was missing.

  • Name: terrorized wife and mother in flight or fight mode constantly. Wisdom: the human body can survive extreme conditions we never thought we would face

4/ the me that called the police and filed a missing persons report in which they misquoted me and said I thought my husband had recently shown signs of depression, and that misquote hit the local news and newspaper.

  • Name: angry teary-eyed bitch. Wisdom: people sometimes push agendas onto the grieving to make themselves look and feel better

5/ the me that began having panic attacks for the first time ever.

  • Name: a little girl scared out of her mind and body. Wisdom: the body always speaks the truth, especially when the mouth can’t open wide

6/ the me that farmed out the children and tried to explain that maybe daddy was having a midlife crisis and just needed time away to think.

  • Name: wishful thinking denier. Wisdom: the kids needed to be shielded

7/ the me that never allowed suicide to enter as a blip on my radar of possibility of what was wrong. I thought the worst case scenario was that he wanted a divorce and we would co- parent well because he is such a kind man and we still loved each other.

  • Name: denial B sides. Wisdom: the he that I knew never considered it as an option either, he wasn’t himself anymore

8/ the me when the two strange cops came to the door at 6pm on the eighteenth day and told me very coldly on my front porch that my husband mr. wood had been found deceased in nevada by a gunshot wound to the head.

  • Name: holy shit mother of the god I don’t believe in. Wisdom: grievers shouldn’t have to educate and advocate all the fucking time

.
9/ the me that locked everyone out of the house and gathering my children on each side of me on the living room couch and told them their dada was dead while my older sister sat nearby.

  • Name: having entered hell on earth. Wisdom: you can actually do the unthinkable

10/ the me that sat overlooking a lake and somehow wrote a goodbye poem to him to be read at his military honors service.

  • Name: the great sadness melting my bones. Wisdom: love transcends all time and space and knowing

11/ the me that helped my children say goodbye to the body of their father in a casket and show them his right foot so our youngest would know for sure it was really him, because his hair was cut and colored and he looked like someone else we didn’t know.

  • Name: a wide awake nightmare I was sleepwalking through. Wisdom: you can actually do the unthinkable

12/ the me that went to nevada with the kids and father in law to talk to the detective that was first on the scene, clean out his impounded car, meet the citizen who actually found his body, and then to see where he died and paint a rock that his body was leaning upon.

  • Name: the love child of the twilight zone and an alternate universe. Wisdom: you can go into that dark place and kiss the ground and cry tears of blood and make it back out alive

13/ the me that never found any note but I wish I had found piles of letters for each child.

  • Name: raging tsunami. Wisdom: I know what he would’ve said if he could’ve said it, I know.

14/ the me with some factual probable answers mixed up with strange facts and odd particulars that only leave more questions.

  • Name: mad scientist. Wisdom: not everything can be known fully, or everyone, even that one

15/ the me as a solo parent.

  • Name: juggler and expert ball dropper. Wisdom: I am somehow enough even as I feel maimed and missing vital parts

16/ the me on two anxiety meds twice daily just to function on a decent level.

  • Name: dissociative dating sex bomb. Wisdom: people are fascinating and many are stupid jerks but touch and sex can really help the constant ache of cell deep grief

17/ the me mothering my oldest as he came out to me four ½ months after his Dad died.

  • Name: achy clueless anchor. Wisdom: a child knows themselves better than you know them. Believe them.

18/ the me losing two homes and moving out of state to attempt some kind of new start where we had never lived before.

  • Name: whirlwind survival mama. Wisdom: the stranger on the inside needed a strange land to live in, so that the inside matched the outside to bring some equilibrium

19/ the me that is sitting in darkness with some dusk evening light seeping in while birds chirp and dogs lay sleeping.

  • Name: tentatively hopeful. Wisdom: the silence isn’t always screaming now

20/ the me that doesn’t know me anymore, that doesn’t know the person that was born from this tearing away.

  • Name: Stranger in my skin. Wisdom: I would throw it all away to have him back but somehow the metamorphosis has some beautiful wings that are fluttering open and that slays me and bandages me all in the same movement. How can this be?

{zt 2019}

**inspired in part by prompts from isabel abbott**

hollow

//

hollowed out.

like walking around missing the middle of myself.

air charged with an energy at times that buzzes loudly around me, yet there is no sound or movement.

the random normal spaces you are missing in.

the way your name gets stuck in my throat and on my tongue, like a tongue twister- when really it is me stopping myself from it spilling out in place of another’s name, over and over again.

the tears that come in unexpected moments are becoming familiar, running tracks somehow through the hollowed middle of me.

your hands might hit air if you tried to wrap me in your arms.

there are days i’m barely here and the hollowness begins to creep up and down and eat me alive.

it is such a strange thing to know your existence in such a land as this, in such a stranger’s body as this, a stranger’s mind.

where did i go?
where did you go?

vacillation between numbness and stopping your breath pain, like i’m going in and out of grief as one goes in and out of consciousness.

will i wake up one day to my life? to myself?

trying to keep the tsunami at bay, there isn’t much left for it to take over.

like a lightbulb about to burn out, flickering on and off, how long will it hold out?

how long will i?

i think i’m running out of tears and I don’t want a refill.

i may even have run out of love, ask the hollowed woman, if you can find her heart.

i can’t.

{zt}

river

//

joni mitchell’s song “river” keeps playing in my head, “oh i wish i had a river i could skate away on”. but there is no skating away, no really getting away from this complicated and piercing life i live day in and day out. it is full of caves and underground tunnels of sadness that have no accurate name or description, of despair and loss that can only wander around in endless circles, never finding a way out, because the ugly truth is there’s not one.

this latest version of life that was written for me must be lived here in this unfamiliar and scary place. i often pretend all is mostly well even though i’m stumbling and struggling to catch my breath. i somehow put on a good face that projects a strength that really isn’t a strength, it’s a mask. can you see past it?

the dark is so dark, and those moments when i let some truth slip out i hate the grimaces that so often show up, or the sighs and uncomfortable shifts of eyes, or the clasping of hands and looking away, because the truth seems to hurt anyone it spills out onto. people say they want to know but then when the words fall out along with the tears they seem to often wish they hadn’t asked, because now their faces appear to say they really aren’t sure they want to know after all.

so i hide the grief most of the time, in order to somehow survive.

how does one come to accept this new existence devoid of a person who felt as half their soul? accept the mystery? the lack of answers? the absence of someone so needed there is no defining that depth of need accurately, it stretches beyond the bounds of language, just as the experienced grief does. beyond telling in all its fullness. i wish i had that river to skate away on…

{zt}

(pic credit: pixababy)

a constant goodbye

//

it’s a constant goodbye,
saying goodbye to you

it’s in the saturday morning coffees,
and the chili you aren’t here to taste and adjust it’s flavors. you were always a better cook than me.

it’s in the quiet moments as i hear my own breath and i try to imagine you being where i turn my head and look

it’s in the late afternoons wishing the door would open and i would hear your voice saying, “hi honey, i’m home.”

it’s in the evening couch time as i surf to find a show and you aren’t here to debate with and finally decide and then mute the violent parts for me because you just know.

it’s in the late night teen chattiness and little man snuggles where you aren’t here to give your incredible insight or wrap your arms around your kids and hold them tight.

it’s in the silence, your voice was loud and deep and carried throughout the house.

it’s in the moments i cry doing dishes and washing clothes, because you have no more dishes, no more clothes, because you aren’t here with us doing the mundane parts of life that need cleaning up.

it’s in the doctor’s offices where your input is needed, where i desperately need to know what to say or to just know i’m not alone in facing this for myself, or alone in facing this with him.

it’s a constant goodbye in the rising sun, the setting sun, and all the moments in between. the unsaid moments, the unsayable moments, the dark moments and the light ones.

it’s a constant goodbye because goodbye was never said, not really, although we tried at the very end, but the body and heart knew we were just going through the motions and the truth is goodbyes were really unable to happen. you were gone before we even knew you were leaving.

it’s a constant goodbye,
a constant love.

{zt}

tentative hope

//

barefoot boys and puppy snarls

dusk and costumes

imagination and possibility

teenage giggles and rare smiles

bright eyes and playful songs

i see their hope, their joy

they lay juxtaposed up against the angst

the knawing that constantly reminds me of who is missing.

i live for them, and slowly i’m beginning to live again for me, in tiny slow stretching moments when i am able to breathe just a little around the ever present knot in my throat.

but often the pain feels too great to ever coincide with real happiness again

there are things experienced which cannot be forgotten, things seen that cannot be unseen, things felt which cannot be unfelt, known with no unknowing, loved with no unloving, touched with no untouching.

tendrils of hope fall down around me

tentative, expectant, wanting, calling out to me, but oftentimes they turn to sharp shards of ice cold razors cutting me instead. bleeding is my job now, and the bleeding never stops, and i know i won’t ultimately actually for real survive this reckoning of love torn away in mystery by one shot that ended it all. there is no coming back from this, not really.

but they are still here. still here. still alive. still growing up. how can this be, this parallel knowing of hope and delights twisted around the monster that now eats me alive every moment of every day. is this the life i will live until i can’t live anymore? can i still somehow give them something beautiful and solid to take into adulthood, even with the endless canyon of loss and absence swallowing us all whole every day of our lives?

how does a human survive the unthinkable? how does a human then survive the remaining time on the other side of the unthinkable? because we didn’t die with him, he didn’t take us with him, and yet maybe he did.

i used to think i was pretty good at life, and i had an amazing partner always there to tell my secrets to, to whisper the inside jokes to, to love in ways that go beyond the telling. but he is gone. and i cannot get over the trauma of it, the gut punch that still is punching, like running into a wire and being knocked backwards losing my breath, i am forever caught in the space just before fully catching my breath again. i can’t get my breath back.

{zt}

nothing

//

nothing looks right,

feels right.

directions skewed.

spaces altered.

colors confused.

thoughts duplicated and running together.

words missing.

hope on the run.

love twisted in knots.

knowledge of not knowing.

of never really knowing.

caustic tugging.

ghostly echoes.

blipped sightings.

tears caught in a swollen throat.

lost so far away,

no destination plotted or conceived.

nothing feels.

no way out upside down.

an inverted heart.

it is gone.

there is no resolution.

okay doesn’t exist here.

{zt}