RSS

Tag Archives: wife

The Well

There are still tears
For you, around corners
I have avoided, nested into objects
Unexpected, curled up in words.
They well under memories
Until released, into the open,
Jostled by a stray scent,
Nudged by a colour,
A page of a book,
A wind in leaves.

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 2, 2014 in Family, Poetry

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Nightshirt

Nightshirt

Originally Published in Elephant Journal.
(For Lee, 9/8/13)

For the first few weeks,
once I would return to the bed,
I’d lie on my side
arm on your pillow
your nightshirt tucked
under my cheek,
One of the few pieces of your clothing
I kept. The body is a just a shell
You said. But your lab coat,
the suit you wore to your graduation,
your nightshirt.

The one you wore to hospice.
The one you were comforted in,
the one, the last one.
Your favorite,
cornflower blue
Bamboo fiber,
soft and light,
unwashed
the scent of you
still smooth upon it,
the smell of your skin-
the gentleness of
the small of your back,
the familiar comfort
between your breasts
where I would rest my cheek,
the collar that still
carried the nape of your neck.
Each breath, a calmative
against the cruelty
Of the sudden solitary sleep,
the life, a brain, that was built around
your existence
suddenly
without.

And, sometimes, I would sleep.
and sometimes not,
but over the days,
the scent diminished,
disappeared,
like your ability to walk,
speak, see, remember,
until little was left and,
fearing it’s loss,
as I still fear yours,
I put it in a plastic bag,
removed the air, closed it tight,
put it away in the dark.

A perfume, almost gone,
of days past,
that brings a flush or joy,
a smile, a sigh,
that, for fear of being used up,
isn’t used at all.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 15, 2013 in Family, Poetry, psychology, Social

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Link

Enter to win the Songs from the Well revised and Expanded edition, in paperback.

Enter to win the Songs from the Well revised and Expanded edition, in paperback, to be release on Yom Kippur, 9/8/13, along with my latest book, Yom Kippur as Manifest in an Approaching Dorsal Fin.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 19, 2013 in Books, Culture, Family, Religion, Social, Suicide

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Love Means Never having to Apologise for Saying “Sorry, You don’t get to treat Me like that.”

Loving someone, even deeply and completely, does not automatically confer a sprinkling of pixie dust that creates compatibility.  It takes work. And even then, work will not make two people fit who do not. Like sanding, it may take off rough edges, but will not make something into a new shape. That would be to make a new person in a shape that fits. Such love is not for the person, but an image or ideal, an imagining. Work will not make a miss-sized or miss-shaped shoe fit. You may get it on, but it won’t get you anywhere.

There have been a spate of “Love me as I am” graphics on the Internet lately. The latest says “The person who really loves you sees what a mess you can be, how moody you can get, and how hard you are to handle. But still wants you in their life.” Bad punctuation aside, this is a load of trite, treacly tripe not worth the pixels it takes to render it. The “hard to handle” part of the poster is the part I find most, well… hard to handle. Sure, no one is perfect. As one friend said, we are “Perfectly imperfect works in progress.” But the poster isn’t saying that. Basically, the poster is saying this : “Hey, even if I’m a complete and utter basket-case that makes you crazy, so inconsistent that you cannot even build trust in me,  if you love me, you’ll put up with whatever the hell I do to you.”

There is a quote that has been going around that is attributed to Marilyn Monroe. “I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.”  Let’s look at this. That’s a bit like saying “You love me, so I’m going to feed you fishsticks. If you don’t like eating fishsticks, you sure as hell don’t deserve to eat fresh salmon.”   What we should be saying, both men and women, to our lovers, is this. “You love me and you deserve my best all the time. I love you and want you to have my best. But sometimes, like all people, I’m at my worse. And thank you for dealing as best as you can with that as well.”

Love doesn’t mean putting up with abuse. And love should mean doing our best to modify the inconsistencies, the moods, so there is stability.  Without stability, nothing can be built.

Look at is this way -these posters usually come with graphics that have beaches, and hearts, and flowers, denoting femininity in some way, so we know it is aimed at men and regarding women. What if we changed the graphics to denote something that is culturally understood as masculine.  For the sake of argument, perhaps a garage. Or a beer can. Telling women that, as a guy, I can be unstable, inconsistent, moody, snappish, and hard to handle but, if you love me, you’ll put up with my lack of desire to control myself, lack of interest in seeing how my behavior affects you, and whatever nonsense I dish out.  How far would that get?

And a guy who puts up with that, no matter how much he loves a woman? And, to be fair, any woman who puts up with that from a man? We’d say they have a lack in self-respect. Maybe they don’t love themselves or respect themselves enough. Or perhaps they feel they can’t do better or don’t deserve to be treated better.

These posters perpetuate an idea that any feminist, female or male, should rail against. The idea that a woman isn’t responsible for her behavior and, if a man loves her, he’ll just deal with it. That men are, by duty, stable and consistent – the emotional anchor in a relationship – and that women are creatures of emotion only and may be absolved of responsibility for upheavals in a relationship. Upheavals that men must simply weather. It’s time for these posters to go and for women to stop posting them. They owe it to their daughters. They owe it to their sons. They owe it to their lovers. They owe it to those who fought for women to stand on equal footing.  They owe it to themselves.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 13, 2013 in Culture, psychology, Social

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Leaving

It is possible there is a perfect time to die. A time when the stories told of you would be of kind compassion and rambunctious joy. Those are the times. When you are filled with love.

Not when you are alone. Not when you are filled with despair. A time when people think of you and smile, not shake their heads and ask why. Not too late when you have been lingering. But when you are active and happy. Die dancing. Die walking the beach. Not in front of a TV.

But most people don’t get to pick their time, it seems to me. And those who do often pick the time of despair and loneliness, leaving more despair behind them.

The perfect time would not have been the time that I picked. And, realizing it in time, pulled back. No, that was two weeks too early. The prefect time would have been as I lay on my wife’s body, having just heard her last heartbeat and felt her chest fall with her last breath. That would have been the time. Hearts and minds. My broken heart for her broken brain.

That would have been understandable. That would have been beyond reproach. Something worthy of writing about.

When people ask me how I am doing, I say I am ”integrating.” I can’t take credit for that. Unena said that. Right after she beat me at a word game. She is one of the people who saw me disintegrate, fall apart, helped keep me alive, gave me reasons, motivations for staying, put me back together, kept me together. She knows. I know. There is no healing. No moving on. None of that. It is integration. Synthesis. She is correct.

Leaving. It causes such pain. Such emptiness as can be understood only by those who experience it. And then, each relationship, each love, feels different. Yet  we do reintegrate.

And so, now, there are moments of joy. Much of it, actually. There is laughter and love. So much love. So many reasons to be here. Yet, I can’t help but feel my reason for being has passed. Come and gone. And it is just now a game of waiting.

I haven’t written much since then. I try but there is nothing there. So there is that. I started writing about the last year, the discovery and treatment and loss, assistance, love, frustration and loss, but got bogged down, torn up. So I set it aside. I am not ready yet. I might never be.

I have lost so much of my drive. My get-it-done-yesterday-ness. I walk. I exercise. I ride my bike. Sing. Play my ukulele. I actually watch some TV which is new for me. I am contemplating fishing. I actually bought the lures and hooks and I got a pole at a garage sale. There are six-pound bass a hundred feet from my house, so, hey, why not? I am relaxing for the first time in, well, I am not sure. But it is new to me.

My ambition? Studying for the GRE seems silly. Maybe it was an ego thing. I can imagine myself with my PhD and still just wanting to find the time to write. So that must be what I should do. Which makes not being able to write at the moment feel particularly distressing.

My ambition? What to do? Why? The only reason to stay is for the joy one can create in our own lives and the lives of others.  To enjoy the ride. To see our loved ones happy. To love. To bring love. To be loved. Getting things done is secondary. Only as much as it allows time and energy to love the people around me.

It is cliché to say we could all be dead tomorrow. But it is also true. The idea that we live on is delusional. It is a functional delusion. One I no longer have. So I want to treat people like, when I see them, it could be the last time. Tell them I love them before they go because it might be the last time. Deny no impulse to charity, no matter how small or large, because why not give what I have. And why not sit and watch the fish?  And play with my granddaughter. Why not? I could not be here tomorrow.

And any time would do. Today. Tomorrow. A week from now. Ten or fifty years. One day or the next. Dying any day is still dying and I will still live up to that day. Because you never know.

Lee didn’t. I didn’t. And look now.

All is well with the people I love. Or at least all is static. Some have grown so they can move on without help. Some thrive. But all are getting along without Lee. Even me.  And so, what of the stories of the devastation left by a death.  Pain, suffering, sure. But devastation?

I was told how horrible it would be if I died. The suffering it would cause. The pain. The ongoing emotional trauma. But, if I left now, my book would still come out. My son would still buy his house. My daughter will still be in medical school. My friends will still work day to day, care for their children, plant their gardens. They will reintegrate.

Maybe they said that because suicide is different than an accident or disease. Truly, I am not sure. But the thoughts I go to bed with, the love and joy, that would be gone. But so too would the day-to-day cares. IRS, money owed, fixing the car, all those things. Rebuilding the business, eating right. All gone.  Personal needs and drives. Gone. Gone the joy and delight in their satisfaction but so too their frustration.

Loneliness. Gone.

And I know now people would reintegrate. And go on. The only thing missing is that perfect moment. It passed. It passed. And I am still here.

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

The Boy Ain’t Broken

As a father of a teenage boy and, in times past, a teenage girl, I am well and used to having a house that, from time to time, is composed of kids. Wall to wall kids. Kids piled on the couches, on the chairs, pressing against the walls, filling the kitchen. Daytime, nighttime.

Often there will be teens sleeping over. Nearly always my son will ask and rarely have we had any reason to say no. One teen, three teens. If they fit they can stay. Once in a while, though, someone will sleep over we weren’t prepared for. Alek will come in late with a friend too tired to drive, or not feeling well and, as we get out of bed in the morning, as I amble into the living room to stretch or Lee grumps into the kitchen to make coffee, we’ll be surprised by a kid on the couch. Sometimes both couches are full-up with teens supine.

If we see them, we’ll go back and put clothes on. Sometimes they see us first. Our house, right?

One of Alek’s best friends is Tyler. Tyler is great. He can hang around our house anytime he likes as long as he likes. Two years ago, Alek had two friends name Tyler. The way Alek and his other friends differentiated one from the other was to call this Tyler, the Tyler who is still around, the Tyler Alek travels with and skates with, Gay Tyler. The description was not inaccurate and was suggested by Gay Tyler. When the other Tyler disappeared, for good reason, Alek tells me, Gay Tyler became Tyler.

For some reason Tyler likes me. I have no idea why. He did before I met him. Alek tells me my reputation, spread word of mouth student to student, made it from middle school to high school and a bit beyond. He introduced a sixteen-year-old Tyler to me like this:

Tyler: Hi, Mr. Tritt. (I had to break him of the Mr. Tritt habit. He calls me Adam now.)

Alek: Dad, this is Tyler. He wants to date you.

Me: And who doesn’t?

Across from our bedroom, Lee has an office that doubles as a guestroom. Some nights, when Lee feels restless, she’ll leave our room for fear of waking me, go in there, open the bed, turn on the TV and go to sleep. Sometimes she sees it coming, unable to quiet her mind, and will open the couch to a bed before we go to sleep. I tell her not to worry about waking me, but she does.

Last night was one of those nights. It was an exhausting day starting with a ludicrously early start. Our son was out for dinner and a local band and Lee and I were in bed by ten. Not normal for us at all but it seemed a good idea.

Sometime during the night, Lee woke and could not get back to sleep. The next minute, to the best of my three-in-the-morning extrapolation and recollection, looks like this.

Lee gets out of bed. She walks across the hall, knows the couch has been laid out, pulls up the blankets, lies down, covers herself. Moves toward the center of the bed.

That’s the extrapolation. Here is the recollection.

I hear a scream. I wake. Wonder. Hear another. Was it Lee? Was that two screams from different voices? Jump out of bed. It’s coming from Lee’s office. It sounds like two voices, definitely. Lee is standing there, I flip the light on at the door, she is in front of me. In front of her, sitting up in the bed, against the wall, panting, is Tyler.

Apparently, Tyler was too tired to drive home and, not wanting to bother us by being in the living room in the morning, thought sleeping in the guest room would be the polite, proper thing to do. Good thinking. Right he was.

But we had no idea. Lee crawled into bed and, when she moved over, rolled onto Tyler.

Did I mention we do not sleep with clothes on? I’m almost certain I did. If your picture of the event did not include that, let’s replay it.

A naked Lee crawls into bed and rolls over onto (remember his original name) “Gay” Tyler. She then jumps out of bed, and stand there. I run in and stand there. Have it now.

Lee’s just looking at him. Someone has to say something. Might as well me be.

“Tyler? So,… did she… fix you?”

I don’t think so.

 
6 Comments

Posted by on January 25, 2009 in Culture, Family, Social

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

A Better Wife

I am posting this, originally a response to a post on Route 153, a blog by a woman I know only by the name Indigo Bunting. She lives in Vermont, several universes from here, and is an editor friend of an editor friend. That is a double editor. I’m not going to argue with that. So when Craig said try writing short form and Indigo suggested posting my reply, a bit long, to her blog entry “Girl” as an entry of my own, I complied. I know what’s best.

“If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.” Audre Lorde

My wife claims I am a much better wife than she.

I am not sure she has worn anything but dungarees in over two decades with the exception of three occasions. I can recall each of them. One wedding, one bar mitzvah and one charity event. I wish to point out that wedding was not even our own. To that we each wore dungarees and t-shirts. If I count pagan festivals, over the course of the last twenty-five years I think I might actually have worn skirts and such more often than she. Makeup? Ha! Cooking? My territory.

Sewing the holes in the clothes? Mine (after she threads the needle for me).

Her shoes are as sensible as can be – Merrels made for standing. The blow drier is never used except by my son. She is a pick the clothes from the pile, wash’n’go, no frills cheap-date of a gal I adore more than the bright stars and the loamy Earth.

And I don’t dare take her into a lesbian bookstore or I need to fight to keep her. I do this as often as I can.

If there were continuum for gender-behaviour, with guyishness staff and girlishness distaff, my Lee would be a bit right of center. I would be a bit left. It all balances out to who the hell cares.

But she does like her purses. Stone Mountain, Dooney and Bourke, Coach. She looks and looks and looks but never bought. She tells her patients they need to ditch their purses and use backpacks. She follows her own advice on this.

Last birthday she decided to treat herself to a purse she had long wanted. A Stone Mountain bag. She spent nearly two hundred on it. She used it for two days and returned it. Not worth what she spent. She was cured.

Then, a few months ago, I found at a local auction a Prada bag. I grabbed it for $35.00. She is delighted. She has her girlie-bag. It is a back pack, of course.

As far as myself, well, I don’t build, I do garden a bit but I do not do lawn work. Fix the house? HA! My father and wife, many years ago, got together and sold all my powertools while I was on a trip. For my own good, they told me. I didn’t argue. Of course, that is the same way I ended up moving in with my wife. That is a different story.

I love opera, but I always retranslate the songs. They are all about cows and barnyard life.

I would rather have a migraine than watch football. Really. I find them less painful and more interesting. They also don’t last as long.

I’ll play soccer but watch sports? Like on a TV? No thank you.

I use the same Jansport backpack my wife complained I overpaid for, at $35 dollars, when my daughter was three. That was twenty-three years ago.

I don’t tinker with my car. I sold my truck a few weeks ago. The truck festooned with breast cancer awareness magnets and a sticker that said “Real men change diapers.” You know, a real guy truck.

Not fitting into a set role makes it easier to allow other people not to fit into roles either.

Ok, now to rebuild what feels to be my diminishing masculinity, I’m going to go tell my wife to cook something and have her get me a beer.

I’d better go buy some beer first. And make dinner reservations.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on September 14, 2008 in Culture, Family, psychology, Social

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: