Saturday, 3 August 2013

How we know

Intuition is much stronger than fear.

I knew my Father would not wake up from his last illness when, late one night, after returning from the hospital, I decided to ask a Tarot deck what the outcome of his hospital stay would be.

I drew this card.

The Three of Swords, Reversed, indicates a time in the querants' life when old pain can finally be faced and released. In very rough terms, in an upright card, the swords appear to be stuck.  They're embedded in the heart, and it bleeds tears.  In a reversed position, the swords are able to 'fall out', as it were.  I got a start when I saw that the biggest and most central sword has a snake wrapped around it.  My Father was the Chinese sign of the Snake, and 2013 is the Year of the Snake.

It's a flimsy set of signs to go on if you use the left side of your brain (and if you do, I hear you saying that it's a flimsy set of signs if you use your brain at all, period).  But I knew, immediately, that I would soon be coming up to a time - within hours or days - when that central sword would be pulled, painfully, out of my heart, and that it would bleed, and hurt, and I would rather it just stayed there, but that it would be pulled out nonetheless.

With my Father no longer alive, I can release the sword that was the fear - no, the terror - and sadness that accompanied my journey through his illness.

But I would pay, in swords through the heart, for him to be alive and here with me.  
I miss my Dad.  
I miss him.  I want to call, to hear his voice, to talk to him and feel his arms around me, to feel loved by him.

I read this post yesterday, which made me think about what it will be like many years from now.

Is this what life is like?  We never get over loss, so as one gets older, there is always a sad part in our souls?


Friday, 2 August 2013

I'm tired. 

I want to forget about everything that's happened this year, and everything it's done to me, and just have some fun. I want to go dancing, get piss drunk, lie in the grass on a sunny day, have sex in the afternoon, spend 1000s on clothes and get my hair done. 

Mostly, I want to sleep. A lot. 

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Comic Relief

The Times of India piece on women - the cached version

"We all know women are pretty, soft, sexy, and attractive" 

And its author

"Sex without love or passion happens only in porn movies. Men can do it but women can't." 

"The Times Of India, with a reported circulation of more than three million, posted "Weird, funny facts about women"to its website Monday, quickly prompting shock and outrage on Facebook andTwitter.It's not hard to see why."

Sweet Lord. 

Such things that go on. The sadness of it all, the absurdity of it all. 

Hospitals as sacred spaces

Think about it.

The walls of a hospital cradle the living and the dying. People in hospital drift into and out of heaven or the hereafter or the great beyond or the dark void or whatever you want to call it. 

Don't let those sick green walls, that smell, decieve you. Those brisk footsteps, those spotless white coats.  Hospitals are sacred spaces.  They hold up the living and dying to whatever is to come next. Heaven opens or closes above hospital beds and the walls are drenched with prayer. The prayers of those with eyes closed, forehead against the wall, begging for him to open his eyes, or her kidneys to start working again. For him to be born safely, for her hands to be steady in the operation theatre. For blood to be found, an organ, a doctor, a drug.  

Please, let him get through the day.

Please, please please, God. Thank you, thank you, thank you, God.

I don't know if I believe in you God, but if you're listening, please help me.
Please let it not hurt, please let me get well.

Promises, too.  I will stop smoking if I get out. I will be nice to her if she lives. 

I am sorry I said that. I am sorry I did that.

Please forgive me.

There are no more prayers more deeply felt, nowhere else are hearts as broken open, pouring forth to heaven.

Please, Thank You, Sorry.


Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Shock comes slowly

It's been a few months now, since my Father died. Sometimes I still think I haven't fully absorbed the sense of shock. It sometimes hits me: That Happened. 

And sometimes, it feels like I've absorbed it fully, and have moved through several of the 'stages' you hear about: sadness, anger, confusion, whatever. 

My point is that it's surprising how mixed up all of these passing emotions are. They appear in no predictable order for me, and they don't necessarily resolve before giving way to something else.  

My anger of the past few weeks has given way to a sense of hollow sadness, and horrible pain when I remember the sights and sounds of the hospital.  Even though they are in the past now, they hurt me much more than they did when I was actually in there.  I guess it's that way for everyone. You focus on getting through the thing you're navigating. You keep your head above water. When you're done, it all hits you.  

I wonder if it feels more momentous to me than it does to others?  I wonder if I'm going through all the run of the mill stuff that everyone goes through. That's what I told myself again and again during the weeks and months when he was ill and dying.  Everyone faces this at some point. Most people lose their parents. Everyone goes through this. I'm just going through it now. It's not a big deal. It's all totally normal.  

It is.  But it is also lonely and frightening and confusing, because no one talks about it. What is normal? How do you know you're okay? How do you know if something is too much?  

I am in a state of 'functioning' grief. I have relatively regular days and I sleep through the night. But what about that time that I got so angry I nearly passed out with giddiness?  Was that too much anger?  What about the time the Man hugged me and I couldn't stop crying? Is it okay that for weeks at a time I don't - can't - cry at all?  
And here's the question I kind of keep returning to: Does it matter? To me? To anyone? Is all this important? Yes, whispers my intuition. And no. 

A proposal: How not to feel alone in the things you've seen

Some people have seen things that others, who haven't seen them, cannot understand. There are no words to describe how it feels to have seen these things, and it seems important not to think you're the only one who has.

So I propose a tee-shirt that says I've Seen: __________ (wearer fills in the blank), tee-shirt sold with a fabric pen.  Others who have seen the same can nod, wink or smile at the wearer to indicate their presence in the world.

What would your tee-shirt read?

Mine would read I've seen my Father die. 

If this is idea has legs, I hereby give you permission to use it. 

Live-tweeting the passing of a loved one

Scot Simon has been tweeting about his last few days with his Mother as she lay in the ICU in a Chicago hospital.

The Independent had a piece about it, and I looked up his Twitter and read through the tweets (@nprscottsimon)

One tweet in particular took me right back, instantly, to the dawn of my Father's passing. 10 hours ago, Scott tweeted, Heart rate dropping. Heart dropping.  

I can recall those moments too.  I can recall the shape of the zigzag line of the ECG. I can recall the size of every peak and trough. I can recall how they changed.  I can recall the shape of the vein on his right temple. I can recall feeling my own pulse in the palm of my right hand, which was gripping the cold metal bar on the side of his bed. I can recall how mercilessly steady my own pulse was.  If I had counted it, I can bet money it would have been a perfect 72. It hasn't been 72 since.

I could not possibly write about how these tweets make me feel, because I don't have the words to do so. I don't think these kinds of emotions have names or words. They can be described in metaphor at best, and that too seems crude and cliche. Nonsense like a sword through the heart comes to mind, but those are the only words I have.

He is a better writer than me.
Go check it out if you want, and if you feel like it's all too recent and raw, and you're trying not to break apart, then don't.
I'm going to work.

Monday, 29 July 2013


Survival is made of little touches of magic.  Or at least, my survival is. 
I am completely unable to change the big things in my life which have wounded me so deeply. But today, I had dinner with friends, unexpectedly. It was one of those coffees that turned into a long conversation which turned into dinner.  I walked home at sunset.  The air turned golden, then rust, and a soft rain began to fall.  
It is these moments that gently lift my heart.  Softly, powerfully, tangibly. 

They happen un-asked, un-anticipated.  But they happen again and again, you can count on it.  Watch out for them and let them love you.  

The care-takers mantra

I tried something on for size yesterday. I said to myself: I am responsible for my well-being first. (Sure, caveats apply, but not right now). There's one way of finding out if you're a care-taker. If you're a compulsive care-taker:  This thought gave me anxiety, and a headache.  I found it difficult to relax, and didn't know what to do with myself.

Today, my head still hurts, but I'm having none of this. I'm taking a headache pill, turning my phone off, and doing my work.

Be kind to yourself, it's okay to just give yourself what you need first.  
Such easy words. I can write about not meeting my needs, and I can rant and whine. But I still can't practice actually meeting them, or allowing others to help me do so. 

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Compassion-fatigue is real and this is what mine looks like

A friend and I belly-laughed on the phone today, as we recounted the hateful, angry-making, mad-making, crazy-ass nonsensical antics of our parents.
The things that occurred at 10, or 12, or 16, which broke your heart.
The things happening now which, were you 10, 12, or 16, would break your heart but which now befuddle or anger, those two emotions sometimes acting as a wall against hurt.

At 10, and 12, and 16, I was able to listen for hours to my Mother, and empathize with her pain. Her pain at recollections of a difficult childhood, her pain at loneliness, her grief over this, or anger over that. I listened because I could feel her pain and wanted desperately to do anything I could to alleviate it.  I sensed that listening helped. Listening does help, doesn't it? I'm a good listener when I sense you're in pain.

I once held the hand of a boyfriend who had cheated on me with my sister (yes), and listened as he told me how confused he was.  I listened well enough for him to confess, for him to confess in every tiny detail. I didn't let go of his hand, and I didn't stop stroking his head.  I told him I'd forgiven him.  He held on to me like there was no tomorrow, and cried his eyes out. He said he'd be back after a short trip with friends, and we'd pick up where we left off.
Never saw him again.

It wasn't easy for me to be angry at him, but I have never forgiven him.

It is becoming easier and easier for me to be angry at my Mother.  I desperately want her to feel better. Because I love her and because (and here is the guilty-making part) I can feel her pain.  I can feel it.  I don't kid you.  I have a heavy heart and a tight, cold band of pain across my head when I listen to how much she misses my Father, or how "shattering" her loss is.  I feel crucified to her pain. So I try to offer a word of advice or a positive message.  I try to offer a different perspective because we are both trapped together in her sadness.

This is not what she wants.

She wants a listener. I can't listen to any more sadness, anger, fear or confusion.  I just can't. I feel it, and I also feel enough of my own to fill me right up.

I want to help - her and myself. But conversations don't go well, and my head and my heart hurt.

This week has been intense.  A research conference, a number of 'developments' at home, a visit by the Man's parents, a 4 hour meeting with the Boss, and a day-trip to a nearby town yesterday.  This morning finds me anxious (no. outright panicked.) and headachy.

Oh. And I told my Mum yesterday that if she didn't want to hear what I had to say, she shouldn't ring me.  

On reflection, I think, cancel out the paragraph of things that I think were too intense, and let's just stick to that last sentence. Uttering it took a lot out of me. 

Now of course, I'm torn between putting my phone off and wanting to ring her and say it was all a huge mistake, and she can ring me any time she wants, for any reason, to say anything, and I will always listen.

The person who asked people to be kind because people are fighting a great battle was on to something.  Except I hope all people are not feeling the way I feel at the moment. If you are, here, have a hug.