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Tag Archives: grief

There Is Too Much

There is too much-
The coming and going of pixels, products, and personalities,
Demands, desires, deadlines, debts,
Bandwidth saturation and buffering,
Buffering, always,
While the world continues to clickclick.

Who hears anything?
Who sees anything?

Pay attention—a friend of mine just died. I didn't write acquaintance. I wrote friend.
He needed things. Not much.
I couldn't pay attention.
It isn't all my fault, but
Really it is.
Not his death, but
He could have left with more love and
Care. Instead of waiting…
Waiting for the buffering to clear.
 
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Posted by on December 22, 2021 in Poetry, Social

 

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Today is my Anniversary

Today is my anniversary. The clock moves on, pages pulled from calendars,  life moves on, people move on. But dates remain, along with the people for whom they mean something. This date means something to me. But not to anyone else. Not anymore.

And so the day goes on. Lisa is at a funeral. I am at work. I’d be at the funeral too, but today is the last day of mid-term exams, and the last day before the winter break. Taking off today was simply not going to happen. People move on.

Bob was a friend. A radical in the style, location and times of the Chicago Seven, a musician, a photographer, and political activist, Passover and Hanukkah at our house, jam sessions – his funeral is today. Cancer. Everyone seems to die of cancer. Ryan wondered what to do with his anniversary with Joyce, after she died. He didn’t have to wonder long. He died a week ago just about two years after she did. Cancer. He is no longer worried about his anniversary, how it will feel when it comes around, how it feels when it’s here, whether to mention it, not mention it, toast it, ignore it. Bob was older. Early 70s. Ryan was in his 40s.

And I’m in my 50s now. Late 50s. I was in my mid 40s then, when I first wondered what to do with this date. Lots of people have died since then. But not me. So I’m still wondering. Like my father wondered. His father, too. Now, no more wondering.

And wondering how much longer I will feel this way. How much longer will this date still have this charge? If the answer is for the rest of my life, how much longer will I still wonder what to do with it?

I’m not looking to leave anytime soon, but I do want to know what to do. How to notice it, and give its proper due without tripping over it, without ignoring it, which I could not do. Would not do. Would not want to do. Could not forgive myself if I did. 

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2021 in Family, psychology, Social

 

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What’s In A Name?

What’s in a name? For a rose, very little. Roses don’t care. But people. People care, and why would they not? Identity, history, connection, and potential futures can come and go with a mis-identification, mis-recognition,or mis-spoken name. Names have power. Names have weight.

But old patterns die hard. They weigh more. Life changes, but old patterns don’t. The brain changes but the patterns are still recognised. Still followed. They are the watercourse.

Know a girl since you are fifteen, marry, have children, grow older, support each other, change with each other, be happy, develop patterns of speech, strings of words, ways of communicating, watch her die. Old patterns – they don’t die. 

Life is relentless. Keep promises. Be happy. Grow. Change. Love again. Love well. Love fully and completely. Be happy together. And, always, yet, the danger of the old pattern. The name. The slight halt before the saying. The self-check. The nearly unconscious pattern of words as it nearly slips out. Nearly, corrected. Not always. Not even often. But sometimes. And sometimes, even seldom, is enough to give wary pause always.

Don’t make the mistake, though, sometimes the name is half-out before you catch it. Don’t make the mistake, though sometimes you know you must have.  Hope you have not, but know you have. No one deserves that. 

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2021 in Culture, Family, psychology

 

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The Vigil

This is the vigil-
To protect you from the wolves
After the nights
Sitting up,
Singing to you
Heart Sutra.
“Don’t leave me.”
I won’t.

Holding your hand,
Touching your heart,
Fingers in your hair.
“You don’t get tired.”
It isn’t time for me
To rest.
For you though –

Watching you breath
Watching you stop.

Open the doors.
Sunrise.
Keep the wolves away.
Wait.

Feel the sudden change.
“Where is she?”
Gone. Gone. Beyond gone.
Beyond beyond.
To the other shore.

Let the people roll in,
Roll out.

Gather the sheet,
Tie it around your body,
Carry it away.

Carry it away.

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2021 in Family, Poetry, Religion

 

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Don’t Lock the Door

The difference is I didn’t lock the door.

The difference is I knew I wasn’t in a mind where I could make my best decisions. That, for a time, It was best to let others decide some things for me. 

But Jym is dead now. He died alone. He didn’t have to.

It wasn’t much more than a year since Denise died. At home, from seizures associated with her MS. She had trouble affording her medication and rationed it. Then, when she needed the hospital, they were too busy with Covid patients, and told her not to come unless it was an emergency. Then it was, and the paramedics arrived too late. Jym was there. She died, but she didn’t die alone.

Jym drank a bit. But then he began drinking more. He stopped eating.

Jym was well over six feet tall. Look at his pictures from his younger days. Thor. When I met him, he was wearing a kilt, had long white hair, long white beard, and a long plaid kilt with high leather boots and a long-sleeve khaki twill button-down shirt.  It turned out he knew many of the same people we did. He was the wacky neighbor any of us would be lucky to have but rarely appears outside of a sit-com. He was also kind, helpful, and had so many of the best stories. He was 59. Today, he is 62. He will always be 62.

Denise was so much shorter that it was hard to guess her height when next to Jym. Next to me, it was easier. Five foot tall, maybe. A Mohawk, she was proud to tell us. She matched Jym for kindness, and story for story. Jym gave us a painting of hers he thought we’d like. He was right.

A few months ago Jym wasn’t answering texts. He seemed in rough shape a few nights earlier. No answer at the door. His ex-wife came to the house. He didn’t answer. I called the police for a well-check. He told them to go away. They did. Even though he was on the floor. I called the paramedics. They broke the door in. He went to the hospital for nearly a month. Supposedly, he’d not be able to take care of himself and would need to go to a nursing home, starvation and alcohol had done such damage. But he recovered, came home, and even came over a few times to watch something on TV, to talk, bring us a Hanukkah present. But he always refused to join us for dinner. He never wanted food. He did ask us to pick up Gatorade and cat-food for him. We did.

He made his will. He told me about it. He didn’t want to stay. He told me all about that too. He also told me how he walked away from a bomber crash in 1943, England. He told me about being an American spy during WWII. He told me… so many things. I listened.

Then, last week, he didn’t tell me anything. He stopped texting me. He didn’t answer mine. Perhaps I should have banged on the door. Perhaps I should have called the paramedics again. But I think not. He wanted Denise or he wanted oblivion. If he couldn’t have the one, he’d take the other. I understood. I had been there. I couldn’t blame him.

And then he was gone.

I don’t know which he got.

But he didn’t have to die alone. Alone. The loneliness, I understand. Even in the midst of friends, loneliness.

And the difference between he and I is I didn’t lock my door.

The difference is I knew I didn’t know better. 

The difference was fifteen minutes and a thought of my daughter.

The difference was a dance with my oldest friend’s daughter at her bat mitzvah the day I had planned to be my last. 

The difference was a well-timed phone call from someone who somehow knew. 

That he starved himself to death… I knew that wouldn’t work for me. The longest I had ever gone was eight days. People would notice. Sometimes it is better to care what others think. Sometimes.

Some years ago, a student wrote me a letter. I don’t know who it was. But, if they ever read this, please know how much you are appreciated. Please know you are appreciated more than any words can express. Please know I kept that letter. Please know that I heard you. I heard you. I heard everyone, even when it didn’t seem like I did. Even when I couldn’t respond. And I’m here. I’m here.

I appreciate everyone who stayed with me, even when our relationships changed over time. That you are still here. Thank you. That I am so surrounded by love, I will never be able to explain. Thank you. That I am still here – thank you. I am under no illusion I saved myself. I know better than that. The only thing I did was to know when my own inner-voice was not the one to listen to. And to not lock the door.



 
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Posted by on June 15, 2021 in Food, Suicide

 

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Masks

I buried your masks
Today, in the warm sun,
In the shade of the oaks,
Where one day
There will be laughter,
Where the squirrels play,
Where the woodpecker nests,
Where the songbirds drop seeds.
First the gauze and plaster mold
That rested against your face,
Then the plaster decorated
As though you were a queen.

Now that there is a house
I am safe in,
I can stay in, and
No one can make me leave,
I can bury them.

A deep hole and a kiss
Longer than expected—
The contour of your lips,
A pause, a deep breath—
And no words.
There is nothing left to say.
Everything said
Has been said before.

I had thought to bury them
Under the plumeria,
Though you always loved trees
Far more than flowers.

But I might plant some flowers anyway.

 
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Posted by on June 21, 2018 in Family, Poetry

 

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I think I Am, Maybe

I think, maybe,
I’m made of fog,
settled overnight,
In the dark,
Seems solid
From afar, look,
Walk through it.
There is no substance.
It dissipates into
Air, the sun rises,
There is nothing there.

Do you remember fogs?

Or a ghost, maybe,
An accumulation.
An aggregate of
Used tos, weres
I remembers,
Definitions,
Suppositions,
And faint ideas.
Walk through it.
There is no substance.
It dissipates into
Nothing, the sun rises,
There is nothing there.

When no one is around,
Who notices a ghost?

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2018 in Poetry, psychology, Suicide

 

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Let’s Burn Something Down Tonight

Let’s burn something down tonight.
Let’s find something old,
Something we used to think
We could not survive
Without, something significant. Let’s
Set it on fire.
An edifice we marveled at,
Something we looked up to,
Tall and strong, in
Admiration of power,
Importance, and potency.
Something we knew was forever,
Now, wondering
Why we ever thought
We couldn’t do without it?
Let’s burn it down.

Let’s set fire to something
That used to be the foundation of
Our being. Something
That would never occur to us
Could sink, erode,
Decay beneath us,
Leave our feet with no solid ground.
Something we built our entire lives on
But fell away. Let’s watch what’s built on it
List and lean,
Topple and crash by our own hand
Instead of the slow destruction of
Sand and rust.
We can be our own gods,
And end it with our own hands.
Let’s burn it down.

 
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Posted by on September 1, 2016 in philosophy, Poetry, Social

 

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When I Wake in the Morning

When I wake in the morning I want to do yoga.
When I wake in the morning I want to go for a walk.
When I wake in the morning I want to spin wildly.
When I wake in the morning I want to lay in bed and bless the day.
When I wake in the morning I want to wash in dew.
When I wake in the morning I want to make a slow breakfast.
When I wake in the morning I want to stretch.
When I wake in the morning I want to recall my dreams.
When I wake in the morning I want to do tai chi.
When I wake in the morning I want to run on the beach.
When I wake in the morning I want to sit and write.
When I wake in the morning I want to meditate.
When I wake in the morning I want to putter in the garden.
When I wake in the morning I want to do qigong.
When I wake in the morning I want to sing praise songs.
When I wake in the morning I want to greet the sun.
When I wake in the morning I want to be glad.

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2016 in Poetry, Social, Uncategorized

 

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State of Being

Verbs are words that show a state of being—present, past, future. Transient or continuous. When we use the verb “was/were,” we mean something that has passed. It happened in the past. It is done. It is over. When we use the verb “is/are” we speak of something that is present. Something that exists now, current. An action that is going on right now. This moment.

For the purpose of my question, tense is not important. Past participle, continuous, perfect—none of these important to my question. What is important are simple tenses. Past and present.  

And so I ask, why do we say someone is dead?

We can say someone is alive. To be alive is a continuous state. Continuous, until it ends, either abruptly, or slowly, slowly over a period of time. Suddenly, or counting down, day, day, day. One hand. A few fingers. Done. Present becomes past very easily.

Someone is alive. Then they are not alive. But they are not dead. If we insist on using present tense we should say something that is an actual ongoing state. Something that is active. Her body is in the ground. She is decomposing. Her ashes are disappearing into the snowy stream.

Death is not an active state. It is not something someone does. It is the end of doing. She is alive. She is laughing. She is loving. She is healing. She is holding your hand, raising children. She is putting her feet on the dashboard on a long ride, talking, laughing, singing.  Under your hand, her leg is warm.

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2016 in Culture, Family, philosophy, psychology, Social

 

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