Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Radio silence


I've been going over last will and testament details with my mother for much of the week. DNR's, Final Directives, etc. A wise and necessary activity, but one full of so much sadness and grief. I'm not much of an escapist but sometimes you just want to turn it off for a while, you know? And this is rife with many old wounds: she has been suicidal my entire life, filled with so much despair. A sometimes constant cycle of deep black periods followed by the usual laundry list of methods/attempts.

Work has been blessedly busy (though last Saturday, I was so tired, I overlsept and MUNI ran late and I was late to work by 15 minutes even after jumping off and taking a cab...grrrr.) but even the brief respite has a backlash as I start feeling light and forget to ignore the big elephant in the room or something happens to trigger a memory and I'm momentarily blindsided.

She ruefully signed off her last letter with the observation that life is a 'series of hellos and goodbyes' I wanted to yell at her, asking, "But how many times should you have to say goodbye to the same damned person?" It's not like it gets to be old hat or something. As breezy as I am, it doesn't hurt any less, it still cuts to my core. Every. Fucking. Time. But you just don't say that kind of stuff to someone whose soul has been tormented by demons and pain you can never fathom, never want to fathom, though you see it writ in every tired line on their face and resignated shift of their prematurely aged body. You just don't.

You don't remind them of the 'false alarms' of terminal diseases before, where they led you on for weeks, sometimes months. You don't out of compassion and out of the knowledge that every breath is one closer to the brutal and incomprehensible fact that someday that end will be very real. Most of all, you don't say this to someone who is now too tired and broken to even fight for death as life has now, finally, succeeded in teaching them to wait. Day after pain filled day and one day that breath will be the last. And religious and philosophical speculation aside, there are no do overs. One day the proverbial wolf will be there and Peter will die.

This is inevitability in its purest form.

I wrote this several years ago; it's funny how some things just don't change:

The Anatomy of Grief

Consider now the anatomy of grief.
The heartbeat dead stop
swell to burst and
buck in the chest.
Breathe deep to alleviate this
but only succeed in the
Stomach working a syncopated rhythm with the lungs.
Feel the body shudder and shake
no that's not what I meant
that's not what I need
Reaching for something, anything,
to refute this.
Hands shaking
dropping items once so easily held.
The sound of breaking glass
is beautiful.
Knees buckling beneath the weight of a
reality that comes crashing down around me.

Could I turn this gaping wound in my soul
into a suckling mouth that would
draw forth life and strength from the universe?
Shoot oblivion like heroin
into the heart of this pain.
Could I, for one blessed minute,
reconstruct a time and a place
where all ends were tied
and everything made sense again?
Could I, for just one moment,
bridge the distance between
pleasure and pain
past and present
sanity and mayhem?
Pretending that you were still only
a phone call away,
to immerse myself in the passionate love
beneath all of your bitter words.
Hold you close to me just once more.
Flesh of my flesh
blood of my blood,
knowing my own past and present in your breath.
But the only thing I can do
and keep repeating I love you
I love you
as I pray this love will see me through.
And hold this love so tightly
as once I held you.


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