When Death Comes for Me

Dearly Beloved,

One day I will die.

I won’t be here to tell you what that means to me. So I write this in the shadow of Death, lurking over my shoulder as he pauses his busy, busy work long enough to say hello. He and I are friends, you know.

When I die, you will want to know about me and Death. You’ll find evidence strewn across these pages and wherever you see my name. My most intimate relationship is with his loving caress.

I have documented our dance well. He has taught me not to leave empty pages to fill. Start a new page every day with all the words that need to be said carefully etched into eternity. Do not live with any Unspokens. Death swallows them whole.

When he comes for me, I will embrace him. I am safe in his grasp. I do not fear the Reaper.

Today, dearly beloved, as the world dies in a coughing fit and we find it hard to breathe, I write Unspokens I did not know I had.

My lungs are strong, my skin is white but I do not play roulette with air I am still privileged to inhale.

Dearly Beloved,

One day I will die.

I would like you to be holding me when I do, to grasp my hand and whisper whatever you’d like.

I know it will make it easier for you.

Stroke my face, close my eyes and take the time you need to say goodbye.

One day, when I die, give my voice to my sisters to shout what they want across the empty space where I used to be. Their voices need to be loudest of all.

When I die, do not tell my children who they are because of me. Let them know I am me because of them and they can be anything.

And when I die, bury me with a sturdy seedling so that the memory of me will last longer than a whisper.

Grieve the way you choose but do not choose in my name. Your mourning rituals are meant for you alone.

When I die, let all of me be exposed; shame will not follow me to the ground.

When I die, live your life free, knowing that my heart does not need to be fed.

When I die, remember that whatever life I lived was every bit deserved to live.

Remember to sing.

Remember to laugh.

Remember not to be afraid to cry.

Remember to fill your page with words Unspoken until Death shines his light on you.

Starved.

My battle for self rages on.

I am parts of me and all of me, separate and whole all at once.

My mind, always racing, pulls ahead of the heaviness in my heart.

But my heart comes in a million broken pieces, able to extend beyond possibility. It does not know it has to follow any rules. It can be lagging behind while leading.

My body… my body has crashed and burned in a spectacular show exposing the fragility of skin and bones.

And I am left starved.

Hunger is a passion.
It sears and claws and begs…
Feed me… touch me… consume me…
Take this part of me that wants.
It is dying to be free.
Feel it, smooth and soft, and jagged.
Breathe in the scent of discontent.
Embrace the folds of tenderized skin.
There is beauty somewhere here;
it is dying to be seen.
Stoke the flame, stroke the shame
bring me to my knees.

Please.

My heart and mind race past my body, flapping in the breeze.

They do not stop.

They do not see.

They do not want it to be me.

15

When I was 15, I had lived forever.

“You have an old soul,” they said. “You are wise beyond your years.”

And I would nod knowingly because I had lived forever and seen a lifetime.

A lifetime of hurt and fear. A lifetime of loss and neglect. A lifetime of wondering what the point of a lifetime was.

When I was 15, I had seen a lifetime of living badly.

It didn’t get better. It got worse, but I expected that.

So at 20, worn out and weary from living, I created a file.

Compress a life, zip it tight and send it to the cloud. Be wary of exporting it; it may be too much for you to handle. Save it, though. Save it so that you can unpack it when you have cleared up the space you need to view it properly.

Don’t forget to label it. Categorize it under the past and add a description so that when you die, the world will know this is the life you lived before, the life you didn’t have a say in, the one where you were born and left to figure it out for yourself while poked and prodded and exposed for all to see. That life lasted forever.

When I was 15, I had lived forever.

You can see the file seared into my skin. I have clicked on it to view what it contains and spilled the parts I could not hold over these pages. But decompressing hurts, and I don’t have a lifetime to relive.

There is space between the life I lived and the door I closed. A small lifetime. Five years of something deeply wounding and healing. A lifetime most people never get. It birthed me.

I emerged with him.

We have been living another lifetime. We have gathered another 15 years. I am struck by the passing of time, how much can fit into the space of who we are together, how much is still left.

Love is not a story to tell. It is a journey to take, a moment to hold, a lifetime to live.

We are 15, and we have lived a lifetime.

A Painful Softening

My vulnerability is vicious.

Covered in thorns, it whips around me like a crusted bandage stroking open wounds.

Once, when I was someone else, it was buried deep where I could not go. It hid under cold black blood, waiting for me to remember. But memories are cheaply made, and mine always arrived broken.

How can you remember what never was?

And so the softness I never had remained lost to me.

You met me when I was bold, fearless, and empty.

And I was enough.

You held me when I weakened – when my voice cracked, and my words stumbled and felled by the realization that I needed substance, I found myself crawling at my own feet.

And I was enough.

No one could love me the way you do. No one could accept every sliver of broken glass trailing behind me the way you do. No one.

Not even me.

Especially not me.

And then my vulnerability rose from the dead. Birthed from loss and grief, raised on weeping pain, I filled with the fragile blood of the stranger I’m meant to be.

I walk around in my old body, pretending I am still enough.

But I am not enough for me.

And so if I am enough for you, how can you see me?

 

Isolation

It feels selfish to say how I feel, to let the world know that I am melting when the world is barely holding on.

But…do you need to have a sense of self to be selfish? Is it selfish if I am losing track of me and all the parts I thought I was made of?

Isolation is not new to me. I’ve embraced her wholeheartedly, craved her even! She protected me for so long, let me wallow and scream. She caressed my broken soul and told me it was ok to be away – good to be away…

Alone is where I find how I fit.

Alone is where I hear the silence.

Alone is where I cherish peace.

Alone is where I can finally be.

Isolation has betrayed me.

She is choking me, pressing into me, making me want to escape her comfort and explore who I am when I am not alone.

She is making me forget how safe she is.

She is showing me how vulnerable I am.

She is forcing me to see how RELIANT I am, how small and insignificant I am…

And I am so fucking scared.

Inhale…hold…2…3…

There is bubbling inside me

rising panic

calm pushing down

rising fear

serenity pushing down

and I am reminded of the breaths I forgot to take

as I rode the waves of birth

pushing

holding

pressing

rolling

squeezing

ripping

no air

no space

no end

until there was a scream.

But the first time

there was no scream

and I saved my breath

for round two

and only let it go

when I heard the second cry

the third time around.

When it hurts to live: leaving Orthodoxy

When you leave Orthodoxy, you leave everything behind. If you are lucky, you can find a way to anchor yourself to love.  But mostly, you are tethered in place by the family that wants to accept you but believes that you cannot be accepted. I cannot imagine the anguish of a parent who can not separate from belief enough to love their child unconditionally. It is a brutal thing to be faced with. Still, when you abandon your child and refuse to see them fully, you are guilty of taking away the stability necessary to walk this earth.

**********

I do not want to write this.

I do not like to hurt people. I do not like that my words are sticks and stones that break people I love.

But I am bound by the dead, bound by the silenced, to give these words life.

I will never be able to take it back.

I owe that to the memories of those who drank their pain and swallowed comfort. I must write for those who wrapped their necks and flew off buildings and let their blood flow to release themselves from the devastating hurt of abandonment.

I owe them something that will live forever.

To those who raised children who are not the same as you to only be the same as you

To those who took part in shaping children who did not want to be shaped

To those who conditioned their love to meet their faith

To those who held belief above all

To those who will not listen

To those who will not accept

To those who will not ADJUST

To those who refuse to apologize

You are guilty.

You have brought your son to be sacrificed. You placed him on an altar, bound his hands and feet, and did not have the courtesy to slit his throat. You have let him lay exposed before your judgment, and you have rained disappointment down like a sea of arrows. You have scraped his skin, pierced his heart, and did not bury who you wanted him to be.

You are guilty.

You threw your daughter to be eaten by the wolves you fiercely protect. You let her cut her flesh and offer it to others again and again while you sat on anger and expectation and allowed the wolves to feed.  Her skin turned inside out, and you refused to see her. You left her with nothing to hold on to.

You are guilty.

You did not mean to do it.

And so we forgive you.

But we will not live another day this way.

So we will try to be free.

Some of us will learn how to be alone.

Some of us will find each other and live in perpetual grief.

Many of us will not have the strength.

As we fall, please know;

You are guilty

You are guilty

You are guilty.

Settled

Do you know where

You are?

Have you found the place

you fit?

Do you like it there, between the what and the who and the when?

Do you feel settled where you are?

Or are you like me

Floating through it all

knowing that the strings

that tie me in place

also weigh around my neck.

If my feet

stop twisting between beats

the noose will raise me up

and I will be found

but not free.

Time, Untethered

Her hand is in mine; clammy because it is hot on these streets that smell of burgers, oil, and urine. She tries to lace her fingers with mine. I pull away slightly, aware of the implications.

“My mother didn’t like holding my hand,” she tells the therapist casually. “Sweaty palms triggered her.” She is old enough to understand everything now. The therapist is helping her process the hugeness of it all.

We are on a family outing. She skips ahead with her brother as my husband wraps his arm around my waist. We look like an adorable family. I dress casually. My hair is cut short; shaved on one side. My husband’s Batman t-shirt attracts the attention of the crowds of teenagers gathering in the streets for a comic convention. My daughter dances when she walks. There is a constant beat in her head. My son follows her steps like a disciple. He worships her. Today she is 11. He is 8 and 16 hours. His devotion twists me up inside

and I am following him down the steep staircase because I would do anything for his attention. He is my god, and when he throws me aside, I am turned to dust. His love burns through me, shredding my sense of self and every future moment I feel a fragment of this moment poking into the bubble I will have to form around me so that I can breathe.

I love that they love each other. I love that we all love each other. I lean forward a bit so that I can have a lead on the time capsule that forever pursues me. I lean too far 

and I am holding my son in my arms and telling him he is big and strong and capable and it is ok for him to leave me. I am shattering my heart with a mighty hammer of lies. I am pretending I am able to let go. I have made a life of imaginary corridors I conquer with a presumed strength because I could not let the only grounding facts of my life weigh me down, drowning them with me. My home is emptying of the now and I am left without reasons to keep the monster at bay. My husband will feel the wrath of the past. He will welcome it and accept it as he has all the pieces of me throughout our love story.

I lower myself onto the grass, inhaling the end of summer. They are playing, the three parts of my present, while I 

run. He is chasing me with a hairbrush, screaming that I left it and he just wants to talk. I push past my friend and pull the door closed behind me. I bolt it and sink to the floor. I can still smell his desire. I am 15, and I am 8, and I don’t know where I am anymore as I

pull the blades of grass and run my fingers through the earth while my husband stretches out a stable hand to me 

and lifts me onto his lap and opens my mouth with his teeth and demands I learn to kiss because that’s what all brothers do

and I walk along in this postcard of a family full of joy 

and I don’t know how to be a grownup. My children resent me because they found out all the truths I still can’t say and ask me why I never told. My parched lips part

I scream in silence into time

and his tongue is in my mouth, and his hand is clammy, and I hate the body I am in and wander up into the lights where I hide the child I will never be

I am mother, wife, child, sister, friend, and I am worthy

and people are asking questions that confuse me so I stutter and they call me a liar 

and I take her hand in mine. It is clammy. I want to pull away.

My past, present, and future line up to challenge my memory bank. The transactions are mixed up. The numbers are wrong. I can’t find the point that is me on a timeline because once upon a time when time still ran its course, I followed the devil down to a place where time stands still and runs away, always and forevermore.

She is 11 and he is 8 and I am every moment I ever was and ever will be.

 

If a Mother Falls to Her Knees, Does She Even Make a Sound?

Some days, like today, I wish I could just step out of it all just for a moment, long enough to catch the breath I lost somewhere between becoming Woman and becoming Mother.

Some days, to be Mother is to press flat against the packed mud I left indented in my rock bottom.

Some days, to be Mother is to dig and dig beneath what is left of my forgotten corpse and reveal the remains of what I longed for, the bones of my selfishness, and the chains of my distended freedom.

Those days, when to be Mother means the opposite of Mother, my toe traces the line that keeps me from the edge, curling over sharp loathing holding me back.

Oh, I talk about it. I am honest and open and so fucking real.

I hide behind this realness. I confess it. I shout it so that it will not linger in darkness, shining light like a cloak, and I pretend I’ve exposed myself.

I even reach out to others with comfort and love and understanding… so much understanding.

Because I get it, I really do.

I know these days well.

I should know that on those days I am not looking for love and attention. I am looking for reprieve. And no one can give it to me.

If a Mother falls to her knees, does she even make a sound?

If a Mother breaks free, does she ever hit the ground?

If a Mother is not a Mother, what is she?

everything

to everyone

peck 

need

peck

desire

peck

comfort

peck

love

peck

faith

peck

trust

peck peck peck

Nothing left

for me.