The Sanctuary.

I can’t help but scowl as I approach the building.

Same structure – subtle differences.

Those same three trees, all pine,

Sprouted between the rocks we used to climb as kids.

Waiting for our mothers to end their conversations.

But that was years ago; we’ve all grown old now.

 

Walking inside, I remember every corner.

My mental map folds itself away.

There is no comfort in this familiarity.

 

I am here for a reason:

A gathering of mourners to my left.

But instead, I turn right.

Walking past new paintings, the same scent of stale coffee fills the air.

 

I pause at the wall of windows.

Looking in, I know I will be alone.

 

As I pull the door open, an all-too-familiar rush of air

fills my lungs with an intimacy I cannot explain.

Yet the sound of its emptiness completely takes my breath away.

The vacant seats feel as hallow as my heart was the last time I was here.

 

This was where we said goodbye.

This is where I exhaled, released.

 

But now I am gasping.

I cannot make my legs walk down the aisle.

I stand with my back against the door.

This room always felt as though someone left a window open:

Airy and unfilled and eerily brisk.

 

I feel the panic rising.

My heart races with the lack of yours here.

I whisper your name.

I want to cry out but I don’t,

For fear of an echo I’m not quite sure I’m ready to hear.

 

I whisper your name with each breath that I catch.

Collecting pieces of myself that I dropped on this floor six years ago.

Gathered, I turn and leave.

 

The wounds will heal with time

but right now, they need to open up and breathe.

Even though it hurts like hell.

 

To Be Alone.

Quite honestly, I suck at being alone. Ironically, I also hate being around a lot of people. It is truly exhausting for me to be in social situations. My ideal group of people is no more than six. Because of this, I have a chronic history of long term relationships. I enjoy settling in with someone and staying with them for a long, long time. I enjoy the feeling of comfortable. I am not alone, but often, I am only with the other person. When one relationship ends, I always find myself itching to fill the space that is left behind. While some of my itchiness is due to scar tissue I’d rather not discuss, it’s mostly there simply because the idea of being alone completely terrifies me. It’s a sad fact, but I’m pretty sure the longest I have gone without a warm body next to me is only about 2 months. Granted, I have always cared about these warm bodies; I’ve even loved most of them, but what I valued the most was the comfort and safety they provided me.

You see, to be alone you have to be honest. To be honest, you cannot lie about what you want or what you need.

And all that I want is to have someone who I can come home and vent about my day to. I want someone who will hold me when I’m sad and take care of me when I’m sick. I want someone who will let me do the same. I want someone who will go on adventures with me, but also chill out and be completely okay with relaxing in silence together. But I need someone who is patient. I need someone who understands the balance of pushing me outside of my comfort zone in necessary moments but also retreating into my comfort zone with me as needed.

When I really take a step back to fully evaluate what it is I’m searching for, it feels impossible to separate out my desires to be a mother from my desires to fall in love. I have such a strong urge to start a family, but I still believe that a family starts with the base of a trusting, faithful partner. But how the hell do I make that happen in the age of Tinder?

I do not want a one night stand. I do not want a fuck buddy. I do not want a friends with benefits. I want a relationship that is meaningful. I want a relationship that is actually fucking going somewhere. But in this day and age, that is too much pressure to place on someone. That is too stressful for most twenty-somethings to consider at this point in time.

So I’ve decided to stop waiting for something to happen. I’ve decided to stop trying to fill the void with a warm body and instead replace the emptiness with the little things that bring me joy. As cliche as it sounds, I am fully committed to this new journey of self love. I am living my life for me and no one else. As this page is designed to benefit me, and not necessarily other people, I have made a list of the moments in my day when I often feel lonely or alone. From that list, I have provided myself with ways to fill those lulls instead of moping around in my loneliness.

  1. Driving home from work – Call one of my people across the country and focus on their day instead of my own.
  2. After gym&dinner, but before bed – (Netflix helps to an extent during this time because I mostly just want to relax, but I’m also trying not to indulge too often.) Instead – Read a book, write a letter, organize.
  3. Saturday Afternoons – (The gym also helps but that only takes up so much time.) Instead – Work on my upholstery project, work on clearing out the house, visit Treasure Mart, and hopefully once it gets warm, go on hikes!
  4. Falling Asleep – This is the hardest part of my day. In college, my school work and job were exhausting enough to never need aid in falling asleep. I have found that reading a damn good book (Like “The Girl on the Train”) helps a fuckton. But unfortunately, I became reliant on nightly phone calls or texts from a significant other to help calm me before falling asleep. You see, I have this complex where I need someone to know that I am going to sleep before I can sleep soundly. Even when I was living at my old apartment, I always said goodnight to my roommate.  I’m not sure if it will help, and in a way it makes me sound a little insane, but I am going to say goodnight to my dad. I used to talk to him a lot before I fell asleep, especially in high school.

So there is it. I am filling my time with productivity. I am spending my time at work, at the gym, or cooking new dishes. I am focusing on me. Although that feels unnatural, I know that it is exactly what I need to be doing at this point in my life.

My Gravity.

During my freshmen year at Eastern, a creative writing professor suggested that I write out every detail I could remember from the night, and even the week surrounding my father’s death. As I did, I remembered the fear, the confusion, the terrible sadness that comes with the realization that someone you love is gone. Not for a day, not for a week, but forever, for always. You love them and they are gone and nothing you can do can fix or change that. For years after my dad died and years after I took that class, the only way that I knew how to cope or calm myself down was to relive the days surrounding his death. When I felt myself spinning away, I would read the words over and over again until I finally accepted them to be true again. It was a purge of all of the grief that I push aside daily in order to go on with my life. It was my coping mechanism. It was source of reality. It was my gravity.

Sunday September 20, 2009.

I went to the powder puff game.

But the game was long over.

I stayed out later than I should have.

I shouldn’t have been out with him at all.

I’m never out this late.

My parents didn’t call me to come home.

I got worried.

Something wasn’t right.

Ben drove me home.

There’s an ambulance in the front yard.

I ran inside.

Monica pulls me aside.

Mom is in my parent’s room.

EMTs came in.

Dad is lying on the bed.

Monica’s arm is still around me.

We’ve never touched before.

They move him to a stretcher.

He has a breathing mask on.

It reminds me of his snoring mask.

The one that helps him sleep.

The one that helps him breathe.

He is not moving.

Mom is crying.

Monica keeps saying, “Oh My God.”

They take him away.

I go to my room.

Mom and Monica drive to the hospital.

I wait for my brother.

I try to text Ben:

“I think my dad had a stroke.”

I call Brian.

I can’t breathe.

I call John.

He is at work.

He does not answer.

I call Bob. I call Tom.

Tom and Lindsay go straight to the hospital.

Bob comes running through the door.

He hugs me.

My brother never hugs me.

He looks like he’s about to cry.

I realize it’s bad.

We wait.

I sit on the stairs.

Like I always did, waiting for daddy.

Finally John comes home.

Tom calls.

But I don’t want to go to the hospital.

He puts mom on the phone.

She says

“Maggie, it’s not good. You need to come.”

We get in the car.

I don’t remember the drive.

We walk to the ER.

John tells us not to cry.

“Mom will lose it.”

We ask the nurse.

She leads us to a room.

Where is daddy?

Surgery.

We enter the room.

A wall of sadness hits me.

Everyone is crying.

Tom is holding mom.

Uncle Jerry is a wreck.

Uncle Jerry never cries.

I rush to my mom.

She is safe.

Mom is always safe.

We sit. We wait.

The doctor comes in.

Where is daddy?

Intensive Care.

Coma.

Brain Dead.

“There is nothing we can do.”

We go upstairs.

We wait.

Brian comes. His mom too.

She takes a cab home.

He stays.

We go home.

Mom stays.

We sleep.  Brian too.

Brian never stays the night.

Back at the hospital.

It’s still dark.

Extended family is there.

Another family too.

They brought pulled pork

We brought donuts.

Daddy loves donuts.

Daddy loved donuts.

We wait. We try to eat.

We never ate.

The doctors let us visit him.

We walk down a hospital hallway.

There are open rooms.

Crying families.

He’s at the end of the hallway.

He’s at the end.

My mom is sitting in the room with him.

There’s a window behind her.

I realize it’s daytime.

And she’s been here the whole time.

I sit down with her.

I don’t remember what John said.

I don’t cry.

Daddy looks like he’s sleeping.

He’s just sleeping right?

His arm twitches.

His chest rises.

My mom leaves the room.

The doctor is talking outside.

Brain Aneurysm. Organ Donor.

“But he’s ALIVE”

I want to scream.

I hear him breathing.

I can see him move.

He has tears falling down his face.

He’s alive!

And I am silent.

But mom speaks.

“Yes, I’ll sign the papers.”

The room is empty.

Mom comes to me.

“Do you want a moment with daddy?”

I nod.

And we’re suddenly so formal.

We are never formal.

They close the door.

It is just me and you, daddy.

I climb up on your hospital bed.

I lay my head on your chest.

Like I always do when we sit in the Lazy Boy.

When we watch CSI.

When you watch baseball.

And I watch you.

I remember the first trip to the hospital.

It was just a heart valve.

Easily replaceable, they said.

Blood thinners to help your heart pump blood.

Everything will be just fine.

Blood thinners to thin your blood.

So when you bleed, it doesn’t stop.

So your heart doesn’t stop.

Blood thinners to kill your brain.

To thin your blood so when it bleeds, it doesn’t stop.

I curl into him.

I don’t know what to say.

I am not sad, I am not mad. But I am sorry.

“Daddy?”

The door is cracked, so I whisper.

“I love you daddy, I know you can hear me.

There’s still a chance right?

I could just be dreaming.”

He suddenly felt too warm.

I felt uneasy.

I left the room.

I left my father.

There was a cart sitting outside the door.

With pre-made sandwiches, coffee, creamer.

Everything is pale.

Everything is dull.

I am numb.

Abi had arrived.

My forever friend.

It doesn’t matter if we’re talking.

Uncle Rich takes us to get food.

I am not hungry.

I sit. They eat. I do not feel.

Blank. Dull. Pale.

Someone made a Facebook event.

Memorial Service.

My friends are texting me.

Suddenly the world cares because it’s the thing to do.

It makes me sick.

We go back to his room.

Just us 6 now.

Me, Bob, Tom, John, Mom, and Dad.

We say goodbye.

Like we knew what it meant.

 

 

It’s Monday September 21, 2009.

And my mother is a widow.

I don’t remember.

Everything is jumbled.

I’ve been asleep for days.

It’s Friday now.

Memorial Service.

No one could call it a funeral.

The night before

We made poster boards

With pictures of him that we loved.

While looking through the boxes

We realized

Daddy always took the pictures.

He was never in them.

But we remember the memories.

And he’s in every single one.

The church is empty.

We are early.

Friends arrive.

Family lingers.

Suddenly its full.

Too full.

The choir arrives.

My whole school’s choir.

Here for me. My brothers. My parents.

No. My mom.

People talk. Pastors pray.

Memories are shared.

The entire time, my mom is silent.

My mom is never silent.

My brothers and I stand up.

Tom reads his memory.

I couldn’t call it a eulogy.

He was just telling a story.

About a broken dryer and the perfect amount of change.

About horses and Star Trek

And baseball.

Daddy loved baseball.

Detroit Tigers.

His home team, my tattoo.

I read my poem.

Watch me fly daddy.

I had written it years ago.

The choir sings.

The Irish Blessing.

“And until we meet again,

may God hold you

in the palm of his hand.”

Those words haunt me now.

And then I wake up.

Where is daddy?

Then I remember

And I miss him.

I will always miss him.

But that’s okay.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑