Posts tagged ‘life’

I found you tonight, tucked away amongst books I haven’t read in years but love too much to throw away. I’m getting ready to move, packing books in suitcases and clothes in boxes because I can’t stay here forever.

I can’t stay here forever: trapped in the past–but I can’t move forward until I move out, can’t live until I leave the place where I tried to die.

I found you tonight, and I’m not sure which time I wrote you. What darkest of nights were you conceived in? You’re older now; the pen marks starting to fade, dust gathered around your edges as you’ve laid undisturbed, forgotten.

I shouldn’t be personalizing you, making you sound more poetic than you really are. Because there’s nothing poetic about your blood stained page, the tear marks from where my feelings escaped. There’s nothing poetic about the way I felt that night I wrote you.

But there’s poetry in the healing; there’s beauty in the midst of pain; there’s power in letting go.

I found you tonight, amidst the memories I’m leaving behind, amidst the baggage and the pain. And where I’m going, you can’t come. There’s not a place for you there: a one-bedroom apartment too small for elephants to take up residence in rooms.

The point is, I’m still suicidal. But these suicide notes, these letters of pain and despair, hopelessness and darkness have no place in my future. A future in which I’m moving forward. And this is not the post I wanted to write tonight. I wanted to write about the process of purging while trying to move, but I guess in a way, that’s what I’m doing.

I’m purging the memories. Years of memories are sitting in boxes before me. I’m purging the past, as I try to make space for the future, making space for love and happiness and laughter. There’s no room for you there.

Dear suicide note. You are no longer an “is.” You’re a “were.”

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“Honey, you ain’t been to a funeral until you’ve been to one with 3 ex-wives,” is not a sentence I’d ever thought I’d here in my life. But, here I was, in the trailer home of an 84-year-old woman who spoke “her damn mind.” She was, of course, referring to her ex-husband number 2, who left her for one of her girlfriends they met in a Camping Club. “The girl didn’t even like camping,” she retorted, “but she had the best camper, so we invited her.”

At the funeral, the husband’s first ex-wife came up to Anne and said to the woman on her arm, “This is the broad who stole my husband.”

“I didn’t steal your husband; he came running.”

A lot of what Anne told me yesterday has stuck with me, but perhaps the thing that’s stuck with me the hardest is something I say all too frequently: If I don’t laugh, I’ll cry. But she added to it, saying, “People will laugh with you, but they won’t cry with you.”

Who are you going to cry with today? Who are you going to support in their difficulties? Who are you going to sit with when they need it most?

I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for all the people who cry with me. We’re not meant to suffer in silence.

Anne sure doesn’t. Well, when she’s around people, that is. She spends most of her time alone in her trailer, with her books and her cat statues, and her real-life cat, Bella. She doesn’t want it to be this way; she wants to be able to help her neighbor who had breast cancer, whose radiation destroyed her hip bone, whose husband died on the road in front of her house. “She couldn’t even be there because she couldn’t get out of the house, and I so badly want to help her, but I can’t,” she said tearfully, rubbing her right knee, aching with arthritis.

“I can’t help my oldest son, and he can’t help me because he has COPD, and his two brothers live out of state.”

As we said our goodbyes, we prayed with her. She told my friend that introduced us that “she must be a pipeline to God because nothing hurts when they’re done praying.”

Nothing hurts when we’re done praying.

As we pulled out of the trailer park, my friend said to me, “It’s sad, isn’t it? Most people wouldn’t want to come here, but there are amazing people living right in our neighborhood that we would never choose to interact with because they seem different from us. But this. This is what it means to love your neighbor.”

Love your neighbor who’s different from you. Love your neighbor who’s struggling. Love your neighbor.

Love like Anne does: she loved her ex-husband so much, she went to his funeral, despite the two other ex-wives.

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Her name is Anne. I sit kiddy-corner from her in her trailer home’s kitchen dining area. Beneath her purple glasses and her aquamarine knit sweater, her cloudy eyes shine. She has the classic, comforting old lady smell: mothballs and cats. There are books and cats everywhere–cat memorabilia and other mementos, that is. Her hands tell her story–worn and tired, but strong and willing to fight.

She took a Creative Writing class 20 years ago; now, at 84, she wants someone to write down her stories. I’ve been chosen. I don’t know why.

But I go. I go, and I sit, listening to her tell stories–stories of times gone by and of times more recent: of walking to the library with her best friend during the summer, of watching someone die on the road outside her house. The circle of life.

“Why has God taken people so close to me who have lead productive lives and left me?” The big question she’s trying to answer, and maybe, maybe I can help her tell her story–we all have one.

She has carpal tunnel now, in her right hand, making it hard to type. The click-clack of the electric typewriter in her spare bedroom is silent. “I paid $40 to get electrocuted 9 times,” she howled, telling us how she’s received treatment for the pain in her arm, the pain keeping her from writing. “I’ll suffer,” she continued, “I’ll suffer, but at least I’ll have $40 in my pocket.”

There’s something admirable in the way she unflinchingly tells her truth, something humorous in the way she tells her life. And I want to be like her one day–feisty, a spitfire, even at 84.

She says she wants to be like me: young, and with the drive to write.

I see a lot of myself in her; she sees a lot of herself in me. Maybe we’re not that different–born in different generations, 60 years apart. But what is time but a social construct? Age is just a number.

“You may have lived many years in your short 24 years, but look at how many years you have left! Look how much you can accomplish.”

She’s been wanting to write this story for many years–the story of a penny. A penny that even years of adventures, years of being passed through people’s hands, years after being a part of numerous transactions, is still shiny. A certain soldier happens upon this penny and considers it lucky. He’s shipped to Germany, where, he’s shot, and the penny is dropped in the mud. Someone else stumbles upon it, but it’s no longer shiny. No longer clean. No longer fresh.

And I don’t remember how the story ends. I was too busy thinking about the poeticness of that: how life can one minute seem shiny and bright, and dull and boring the next. How people can think they’re like that: passed through too many hands, been through too much, are too broken to be beautiful.

But we’re not. I’ve been through so much in my short 24 years of life, but look at how many years I have left. I don’t want my funeral to be the result of driving into trees or taking too many pills.

I want my funeral to be because I died of old age, in my bed, after living my life the way I want to live it, not defined by other people’s expectations, achieving the goals I have set for myself.

She wonders why God’s taken so many people close to her when she’s the one that hasn’t been productive in life.

I think productivity is defined in different ways, and maybe her purpose was to cross paths with me. I sat with her for two hours today, listening to her share. I should’ve recorded it. Next time, I will. Anne, next time I will because your story deserves to be heard.

And I don’t want people to wait until your funeral to know what wisdom, humor, and wit you have to offer the world.

“Honey, you ain’t been to a funeral until you’ve been to one with 3 ex-wives.”

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