today i read a good – but difficult – book. and i cried. and cried more. and wondered why the world is the way it is. why life is like this. why do we have to have death and loss, sorrow and anguish? but even while wondering this, i knew that i wouldn’t trade my sorrows. all of my hurts and pains have made me stronger, or more compassionate, more diligent, or more wise. all of my losses have made me grateful for what i do have, and hopeful that i can appreciate the beauty in life while it is in front of me, instead of worrying about what MIGHT happen, or focusing on the hardships.
and hopefully, as i focus more on the good than the bad, more of the good will come to me, and remind me of the wonder of life, in all its challenges.
still, i wish i could write some decent poetry when i’m NOT depressed
What can I say? Some days there is no way to process life but through writing.
My morning walk started so beautifully, with the overcast sky, the cool air, and the scent of flowers on the wind. A beautiful mourning dove hovered over my head, looking for her nest, I thought. Unless she was hovering over me to bring me a message, which is quite possible because these birds are connected to my grandmother. I saw it as a good sign, along with the three silly squirrels who were playing a fierce game of tag, and a happy black butterfly that smiled at me as she flew by.
The second park I try to visit on my morning walk is something of a fairy wonderland, if you disregard the droppings left behind by the resident alcoholics. After I picked up an empty booze bottle, a can of worms from a fishing excursion, and an empty six pack carton, I was able to sit on a bench and enjoy the water for a while. Many of my Monday mornings start here, at the water’s edge. We have a little river ‘round here, and at this park I can watch it head into Old Town, and sometimes see people out fishing in their boats. Or I might just stand at the edge of the park, like today, and look out over the drop of the dam, staring at the frothy build up as the water cascades over the edge. It’s a fun little drop – not a Niagara Falls or anything – just a little waterfall that makes the view interesting.
I have imagined it as a good murder site for some time. I am forever thinking of plots and ideas for the many novels I intend to write one day, that are all on a slow-cook right now, back in my brain in some kind of Dutch oven. Today, as I stood over the railing looking into the water, I felt for sure this was the scene for the first murder of one of my mysteries. The fencing that I leaned over was made of stone and a wrought iron gating material, making it look rather a lot like a cemetery structure. The water drop below showed debris I don’t usually see, like a giant tree stump, a soccer ball, and bottles of booze or tea. For a while I was worried that there might really be a body in the water – there is a sign right where I stand, after all, that warns about the undertow, and how strong it is; that it can pull a body under and drown a victim, so careful, careful, it warns. Maybe there was an argument over the World Cup already, and someone tossed his drunken friend over the edge, along with his Nerf soccer ball.
Still it was a beautiful day, so I resigned myself to enjoying the moment. Little cheeps were close at hand, and I looked around to find four little ducklings chirping away. All in a clump, they cheeped loud and long, ‘till mother duck found them finally, and helped guide them away from the dangerous edge of the falls. It was the cutest, sweetest site, as mother duck and her three ducklings were re-joined by the four stragglers. And off they swam. But I kept hearing more cheeping. Are these just extra loud ducklings, who are destined for a life on the stage with that kind of lung power? No, actually, there were two more ducklings that hadn’t yet braved the water fall. Seeing mom and the others sailing off without them, the final two ducklings race toward the fall in a panic, trying to catch up to the troupe.
Over the edge they flow, and then bobble up and down in the frothy, tumultuous water at the bottom of the falls. Both of the ducklings struggle in the fierce bubbling mass – the water is high today, and the current is strong. One of the ducklings manages to find the large tree stump, and struggles his way onto the wood, finding purchase at last on the floating device. But the undertow is strong, and the stump wobbles, tossing him once again into the violent water. He bobbles, and struggles, and rights himself again on the wood. The other duckling has already lost his battle with the angry river god. I watched these two ducklings struggle for their lives, swimming and tossing, going under and resurfacing. They spent so much energy on surviving, they couldn’t even cheep out for their mother to find them, so I called to her, trying to tell her where they were. But at last, they both were under, and didn’t come back up again.
I started crying. I looked in vain for their little fluffy heads. I waited, and worried, and cried some more. And finally, I plucked two white wild flowers from off the vine on the ground, and tossed them into the river, mourning the loss of the innocent little lives.
I thought I lost another innocent last week. We have a situation of strays, at our house. My sister is something of a cat magnet, and we’ve had strays visiting us for years now. Axel, Xander, Sneakers, Bear. Some strays we make attempts to adopt, like Petey McGee. (actually peanut butter cup, but Petey stuck pretty good) Petey is the offspring of two other strays, Tiger and Smokey Joe. Tiger makes good kitties, so we also have Piglet and Ozzie now as porch kitties, because we already have Siris, Bunny, Doodle and Petey indoors. Christ. We made attempts to adopt Zorro, which ended badly, and are now feeding Snaggle Tooth as well.
Snaggle is the one I thought we lost the other day. He’s something of an old cur, we don’t know if he belongs to someone or just roams the land looking for fights and women. His legs are broken and crooked, making him walk like a wounded cowboy, or more likely, a pirate that should have a peg leg. His fur is long and mangled, and his eyes are distant and wild. He howls when he is hungry, and growls at you when you bring him food. But he’s the cutest damn thing. So we talk to him, and tell him how cute he is, and he’s been around a couple of weeks.
Last week he was howling so loud, and walking so badly, I thought he had the Death. I went out in the rain, and stood as close to him as he would let me, across the street on the neighbors lawn. I told him it was ok to die. I told him he was a good kitty, and loved, and that it was ok to die, because I was right there with him, and I loved him. He howled another howl and then fell silent behind a bush, while I stood in the rain and wept over a cat I hardly knew.
Of course those surly pirate types don’t go that easily, so he came back and got into a fight with our Piggie (Piglet, named after the character in Winnie the Pooh) so we called him a sonuvabitch and told him we would stop feeding him if he pulled this crap again. We fed him anyway the next morning, but still, you can’t treat our porchies like that! But other than the miraculous resurrection of Snaggle Tooth the Ferocious, Death has been all around me lately, though I imagine it is always all around me; I’m just usually too distracted by life to notice, or too caught up in myself to see Death’s claw marks in the sand, or his scratches on the trees.
Friends that I love have watched friends that they love die in their arms. Colleagues of mine have had parents and uncles die. And what can I do to ease their pain? Nothing. Nothing helps this kind of thing. All I can do is love. Love those around me that are hurting, and hold them to me as close as I can. Love those that are dying, and send them off with as much positive energy as I can muster. Love the world, and the earth, and the precious moments we have right now. Love in the here, and the present, and stop holding it inside me like I’m a stingy old miser who is hoarding it all for himself. I want to love strongly, and fiercely, passionately and well. I want to love deeply and many and for no apparent reason other than I love to love. Because I don’t know how many tomorrows I will have. I don’t know when the tide of life will pull me under and keep my head below the waves. I struggle and I fight to live on, and live well, but I don’t know, do I?
So I must love today. And hard. And much. And I just pray that those I care about will embrace me, accept my gift, and allow me the beauty of now.
This weekend started off in a pretty interesting manner. I was at work minding my own business when someone I know (but just barely) asked me if I could tell when people were going to die. This may SOUND like a bizarre question, but it isn’t really, when factoring me into the conversation. I am a bit of a psychic. I don’t know if I should say that, because it’s not like I’ve been tested and approved, like some of those new commercials or adds brag about. Still, I’ve been known to acquire information accidentally. Like which player on the team is going to get the winning touchdown, or what your favorite sexual position is, or who has a problem staying away from the “ladies”. So the question didn’t surprise me, and I told her that even if I DID know when someone was going to die, I wouldn’t tell them. I mean, come on. “By the way, you have a week to live. Hope you have something planned”.
Her response was curious. “Oh, well I’ve been thinking about killing myself, and I just wondered if that showed up”.
Well obviously, this freaked me right out. She wasn’t telling me she was headed off to Rite Aid to get a fresh razor blade, or off to KMART for a load of ammunition, but it was unsettling nonetheless. And it’s not like I don’t understand these issues; depression, insanity, the call of a nice shiny pointed object. I get it. But this sounded to me like a call for help.
I was rattled by this open bald-faced admission, and went to another friend for a word of advice. Do I give this person my home phone number, so they can talk to me about this issue? Do I call the police? Do I alert her immediate supervisor? We settled on me giving her a hotline number, urging her to email me RIGHT NOW, and setting up a date for coffee NEXT WEEK, emphasizing that she WILL be around still next week. I was encouraged not to try to handle this situation myself, but to try to redirect her to a professional.
Still, that night I cried for quite some time. I was worried. I felt responsible. I thought that if she DID kill herself, and I was the only one that knew about it, I was totally culpable. What should I have done differently? I ended up calling her on her cell phone, and she was very flippant and nonchalant about the whole situation. “Oh, this is something I’ve been dealing with since I was fifteen. I think about it all the time”.
She wasn’t REALLY going to kill herself. She got depressed. She thought about her mortality. She cuts herself and takes pills sometimes, but not deeply enough to sever anything of importance (relatively) and not so many pills that she whacks herself off. So what, is this all just about the drama? Are you bored? Do you just want to give people around you nervous breakdowns?
No really, I very much understand this whole situation and way of life. But I just seriously think you need to get some help. Life can be better than this. You CAN be happy, if you want. Eventually. With pills. Or booze. Or a credit card that allows you to do a lot of shopping.
So I’m worried about this girl, and the next day am still bothered about the situation, and then yesterday talked to my therapist about this, and even today had to discuss the issue with several other people. Because this is serious. This isn’t like suddenly changing your hair color, or radically altering your physical appearance with tattoo sleeves or facial modification. This is the end of your life. This is you laying this death on someone else’s shoulders … potentially.
Sometimes people kill themselves, I understand that. I get that some people find this a viable option and a necessary evil, and I’m not advocating it nor am I denouncing it. It is, and has been, a part of life. But seriously, you need to think about WORDING people. If you talk casually about suicide on a regular basis, in front of people you barely know, you will likely get a reaction. If it isn’t really something that is a “big deal”, maybe you should consider just saying you’re depressed. Or angry. Or that you hate life. Actually going so far as to say you are thinking about killing yourself is a bold statement that will likely be met with some sort of response involving your immediate supervisor, the police, or a mental health professional. People DO care; but please, if you are just bored with your life, or looking for a way to pass the time, or just don’t have anything interesting to say, then you need to think up some new lines. It just isn’t good suicide etiquette to fake people out about your mental desperation. Next time, I might just hand you the extra gun I have in my glove compartment.