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Posts Tagged ‘Death’

I accidentally spent most of the other morning in tears. Not one, not two, but cheek-soaking, hair-matting amounts of tears. Tears chased by gulps of air between grabby sobs—-tears squeezed from the epicenter of my very sad heart.

 

I started out upbeat. Honest. House to myself—an almost impossibility nowadays—I lay in bed, my hands rubbing together greedily as my head flooded virtual To Do blanks with productive and satiating tasks. 
Now, you may be surprised to learn that although I do treasure my time alone, I do not love the absolute silence that comes with it, so, for comfort, I often turn on the TV. But this particular morning, that was a mistake of epic proportion.

 

I need only say three words – Marley and Me.

 

Sure, I’ve seen it before. We took our kids to watch it back in 2008, so no big deal, right?

 

Not right.

 

Life, perspective, time, age, loss, choices, experiences…all of these things can change the way we absorb and process things.

 

Big time.

 

I didn’t choose. I didn’t flick. The TV came to life and there it was. Dropped instantly into a world with a family much like my own. Complete with mom, dad, (who happens to be a writer—score) two sons, a daughter and a dog they all dread, but mostly plain old adore.

 

And, after many years of loyal shenanigans, he, the dog, simply dies.

 

I lie. It wasn’t simple. Far from it. They, the family, had to decide to let him die. And, much like my family’s past ordeal, it was not so much optional, but a surrender of suffering, a kindness. No matter though. Once it’s in your hands, you always, always feel like you chose to end the life of a living being and it’s utterly breaking.

 

I could hide the remote. I could cancel my cable. I could ban all pets. I could avoid attachment. I could toughen up. Or, I could embrace what it is to be compassionate. And human.

 

It’s okay to be emotional. It’s alright to take time. It’s okay to let it linger. (Now don’t be singing. We all love the Cranberries, but this is a serious post) It’s alright to feel. It’s okay to love. And it’s acceptable not to move on any faster than the pace of a slow moving cloud.

 

You’re allowed to well up every time you see a Beagle…or a box of Black Magic at Christmastime…or a jogger…or a brisk walker sporting an Irish cap…for as long as you like. Forever even.

 

It means you’re not a dick.

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Two years ago today…

As all good things must come to an end, I thought life with Rowan would go on forever. No, you’re not confused. You needn’t read that sentence again. It’ll still say the same thing.

You see, I’ve been known to remark once or thrice that she really must be the World’s Worst Dog. I haven’t hidden my rants or rages. My sputterings and spews have been no secret. I have openly complained and cried in frustration. I’ve fallen and forgiven for all to see. I’ve been a martyr at best.

You understand, right? I mean, she filled my life with insane and unnatural amounts of hair and stained my carpets to the brink of despair. She chewed up precious belongings and sabotaged our prized Wisteria. Her incessant howls cost us neighbors and got her ixnayed from our camping roster. She dragged garbage out over the floors and snatched lavish steaks off the barbie. Walks were harrowing horrors as she pulled and strained with all her might. She vanished when unleashed and ignored our frantic pleas for her return. Yes, without a doubt, she was the world’s worst dog.

But this week, she lay at my feet, panting and whimpering, immobilized and pained. Helpless.

And all I could remember were her ears flapping in the wind, her saucer eyes and her soppy, sweet demeanor. As my family spread out to sleep on the couches and the floor because she could no longer make the trip up to our rooms, I thought of the way she once guarded our house and made us feel safe. While we set our alarm for her 3am meds, I envisioned the way her legs splayed out to the sides as she scrambled to meet us each time we came through the door. While we hand-fed her a homemade turkey and quinoa mix with little sips of water, I wished for the once annoying click of her nails on the wooden floor. And as we changed out the cool packs soothing her collapsing neck, I swore I heard all the laughter she’d brought into our home over the last seven and a half years.

This week, she could do none of that. She simply lay, gasping, blinking, scared and scarred and I realized what I must’ve known all along. She wasn’t the world’s worst dog. She’d be my family’s best memory.

Rowan aka: Ro, Rowey, Rosa and The Ro Show January 23, 2006 ~ August 22, 2013

Rowan aka: Ro, Rowey, Rosa and The Ro Show January 23, 2006 ~ August 22, 2013

Note: Rowan was taken from us by an inoperable case of Intervertebral Disc Disease

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You will eventually have had enough of my grieving process I’m sure, but for the moment you may be finding comfort in walking alongside me. This is what keeps me going. Perhaps you’ve lost someone or perhaps that hasn’t happened for you yet and you’re trying to understand what to expect.

 

Expect nothing.

 

I can safely say that although the journey will hold similar jumps for all of us, the method and speed with which we get through (not over) them, will not be the same whatsoever. Emotions and reactions are dependent on so many things—age, proximity and support for example, come immediately to my mind.

 

I tried to tell you a story today, but couldn’t find the words. Everything else seems trivial right now and even though I know that’s far from the truth, I can’t seem to muster the creative backbone needed to spin a tale.

 

But I did visit my girlfriend this weekend. I’ve known her for twenty years and she moved to what I’d call far away a couple of years ago. I miss her terribly, but it’s also nice to be able to make an excursion out of seeing her now.

 

So off we went, my daughter and I, painlessly driving the three-hour jaunt, stopping only for cheap gas and cheerful wine. (The wine was for me. My daughter is not allowed to get cheerful just yet.) Once settled and after eating (a delicious Thai meal courtesy of Leslie’s hubby) we sat on the couch and the dreaded reared its inevitable head. We hadn’t, of course, seen each other since my Papa’s passing and she asked how things were going and how everyone was doing. We talked for some time…well into the night, and as we headed off to bed we were still pondering what happens on the other side.

 

I told her that as much as the idea of a guardian angel seems comforting, I don’t like the idea of them having to watch over us. After all, what kind of torture would it be to see our children but be unable to touch or talk to them?

 

“No,” I said. “I like to believe they take a version of us along for the ride and that way, for them, not a thing has changed.”

Cool-memes-living-life-in-the-clouds

 

 

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Bear with me.

 

It’s a long journey around so many messy things and I lack the stamina to run it in one tidy breath.

 

Opening your eyes to the realization that somehow you must lift your burdened self out of bed so the show can go on. Peeling potatoes and stirring gravy so your children won’t think of this as the year they lost a Grandpa and Christmas Day. Stoically wading through a sea of memories that now contain a foreign element of hurt, so others can remember him the way you do. Battling tears and the desert that has become your mouth in order to send him off with the dignity he very much deserves.

 

Worrying someone will bring him up and then hurting when they don’t, planning only outfits with pockets to hold your twists of unscheduled Kleenex. Finding a way to preserve voicemails you’re so thankful you never deleted, fighting the guilt that you have saved the last ten, subconsciously aware you would come to rely on them one day soon. Holding on to the last time you saw him healthy and ruthlessly reliving the last horrible day that he wasn’t.

 

I used to think death was this obscure thing—a convoluted end that was hard to understand—marred by emotion and murky in its meaning. I was so wrong. Death is concise. It’s clear. It’s forever. And it’s final.

 

So I fumble for a bright side.

 

Hazy always ends in a positive spin. And although I’m desperate not to let her down, I’m having a really hard time grasping a silver lining through all of these ominous clouds.

 

I wish you heartache such as this in your life. Because despite the crumbling cliff it leaves you dangling from, it’s a true blessing to have loved someone this way.

th

 

 

 

 

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What was once decent in life, can, like magic, become disproportionate in death.

 

Our memories switch off the ability to recall missteps, unpleasantries and altercations. It takes those things by the neck and drags them deep into the folds of our conscience, tucking them in for a Snow White sleep.

 

The brain, nature, survival, whatever we choose to call it, takes over, and we remember solely the good—the kind words said, the times they made us smile, their soars and their successes.

 

But for the majority of breaths—theirs and ours—we brush our teeth, drive to work, eat our dinner and wash the dishes. One day comes after the other and we forge on, comfortable in the knowledge that we simply like, and contently love.

 

It’s that very love that protects us. It shields. It transforms what’s now gone into only what we need to remain—good deeds, helping hands and a softness of spirit.

 

And this is understandable. After all, less is more. We tend to scrape away disagreeable to accommodate the palatable on our plates.

 

But this wasn’t my Papa’s way. In life, as in death, he had no tolerance for waste.

 

That’s why he only made room for extraordinary his whole life long.

In loving memory of John Martin Murphy Sep 6 1927 - Dec 24  2014

In loving memory of John Martin Murphy
Sep 6 1927 – Dec 24
2014

 

 

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A solution for nothing and not a thing to be solved, death loses him.

From the top of the hill, the tall fawn grass waves in the wind like the fringes we used to cut into the bottoms of our brown-bag puppets. We’d slice deep into the paper openings, my sister and I, making long hula skirts for the girls and stunted choppy shorts for the boys. Our stage, a bent up box, fashioned a Broadway buzz we’d only ever heard of, with its wide-open flaps draped in red.

The audience, made of the few neighborhood kids we’d manage to rope in, would wait while we tried desperately to remember our lines. More often than not, we’d end up filling the theatre that was our backyard with unplanned garbles and hysterical giggles ⎯both theirs and ours.

I look down at him now, from my perch on the hill, and although his feet are firmly set in the dark tousled dirt, he doesn’t know where he stands. He can’t fix this, so his hands are lost at his sides, compulsively ducking in and out of his trouser pockets. Weight shifts from one side to the other, but stays with him. Unable to shake it, he glances uphill, towards me.

We’d fought this morning⎯today of all days. Awakened from my fitful sleep by haunting catheter fuck-ups, I was tired and beyond sensible words, dreaming of broken needle tips, embedded and unreachable beneath her veiny skin. I’d envisioned the consequential surgeries and probable infections they would cause and the nightmare had stirred my sleepy heart, sending it stampeding through my ribs.

My eyes raced to find his for comfort, but as soon as he’d seen my sweat-glazed face shrouded in twisted sheets, impatience had crossed his own.

“You don’t have to worry about this anymore, Syd,” he’d said. “No more long days or late nights. We should move past it. We can move on.”

I’d looked away, sobbing. Crying until my softened soul frosted into a hard shell, like melted chocolate over ice cream.

“We?” We can move on?”

“Syd, I…”

We can’t do anything, Mark. Including care for my sister. That was me, not we.”

“That’s not fair, Sydney. I was here.”

“Yeah, here. Not there.”

I’d wanted to run. Put a literal distance between us, but I couldn’t. The day had different plans.

He became unrecognizable through my tear-clouded gaze and I’d dug my heels deep into the mattress, pushing against the headboard as tight as I could.

He’d sighed.

I’d buried myself in the useless warmth of the duvet, hoping he’d slide under and hold me, but when I heard the shower running, I’d dragged myself out to face the black buttoned blouse and matching skirt that darkened my closet door.

The stalky grass tickles my legs and I lift my bare feet up in the air. My toenails, normally primped and polished, are chipped and ragged⎯the skin on my shins, dry and scaly and suddenly, I can’t remember the last time I’d had more than a sip of water to wash down a Valium. My mouth is as dry as the Sahara.

“Do they make me look fat?” Stacey had joked as she slipped them over her long, twiggy fingers. I’d spent hours picking them out. Trying on pair after pair, imagining how they’d feel if my fingers were half the width. Finding a pair slim enough had been a challenging task and I’d taken great care so as not to stretch the fine black leather. But when she’d pulled them over her own hands, they’d fit, quite compassionately, like a glove.

“Well, they’re beautiful, but so are your hands.” I’d said. “I don’t think you have anything to cover up.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Stacey had balked. “I could be a hand double for Skeletor.”

As dramatic as she was, she’d earned it.

And, it was the truth.

I hold my hands up to the sun and study the opaque bones nestled inside the tangerine translucence of my own plump flesh⎯like Stacey’s hands are a part of mine. I slide back into my shoes, slap my sister’s well-worn gloves across my palm and for the first time in months, I’m light as I walk down the hillside.

After all, death is a solution for nothing and not a thing to be solved.

I can move on.

hands holding the sun at dawn

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Some time back I held an “appreciation” for the growing audience my blog was accumulating. I had hit 400 followers and in my euphoria I offered Stephen King’s book “On Writing” to the first person to like and comment on that particular post.

A man named Jim over at “Life Choice” won, but when I contacted him for an address, he, very generously, asked if I could please donate the book to someone who may not be able to buy it for themselves. He also asked that I name him and myself, and include the story of how the book found its home.

I was thrilled. And then…

I waited.

Why? I don’t know. Procrastination, had a headache, needed coffee, had to go buy gum.

It took me way too long a while, but with the help of a friend, I decided to gift it to our local library. The way I see it, many, many people will then have access to a wonderful book they otherwise might have never come across.

February 2nd, 2014 Dear Reader, This book was gifted to you by a man named Jim. We both have blogs on WordPress and a while back, I held a contest of sorts ~ the prize being this book. Well, Jim was the winner, but when I contacted him for an address, he, very generously, asked that I give this book to someone who may not be able to buy it for themselves.  The library was decided upon as it may now fall into the hands of many who might otherwise have never come across it. It’s one of my favorite books on writing and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Happy reading from: Jim  http://jimlifechoice.wordpress.com/  and  Hazy  www.hazyshadesofme.com

February 2nd, 2014
Dear Reader,
This book was gifted to you by a man named Jim. We both have blogs on WordPress and a while back, I held a contest of sorts ~ the prize being this book. Well, Jim was the winner, but when I contacted him for an address, he, very generously, asked that I give this book to someone who may not be able to buy it for themselves.
The library was decided upon as it may now fall into the hands of many who might otherwise have never come across it.
It’s one of my favorite books on writing and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Happy reading from:
Jim http://jimlifechoice.wordpress.com/
and
Hazy http://www.hazyshadesofme.com

I’m happy with this and I hope Jim is too.

The air is cold and crisp, the sun is bright and I literally woke to birds singing. It’s a stunning day. The kind of day that shouldn’t be taken for granted because tomorrow there is a Celebration for a life that ended far too soon.

Appreciate today. Don’t live to wait.

 

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