Size of Sorrow

My sister and I have noticed some changes in our father.
Whenever we talk to him about ‘old times’ (instead of just sitting there staring vacantly out the window) his eyes fill with tears. He’s not totally crying but something is definitely going on.
We wonder what’s really going through his mind?
It was this thought and some help from the band “Tears for Fears” that are responsible for the inspiration behind this post.
I didn’t plan on posting tonight but sometimes you just have to let some of your writing go.


the Size of Sorrow

Carbon-copy days
Stain my mimeographed life
Wondering if today is some strange and future tomorrow

Time meanders away
some perpetual 36-hour day
But what is the size of sorrow?

a Fool on the hill
a sad silhouette of your absence
what remains breaks the heart of the borrow

Tomorrow is near
like an invisible tear
I’m wondering what is the size of your sorrow?

~m

Not a chance . . .

“I think I may be beginning to disappear.” – Fiona (Away from Her)

Last night was a deeply emotional night for me.
For the longest time I’ve put off watching a movie called Away from Her
based on the Alice Munro short story called, “The Bear Came Over the Mountain”, a tragic but uplifting tale of a husband and wife of 50 years coming to grips with Alzheimer’s Disease.
It was all too familiar territory for me and I knew instinctively why I hadn’t seen it in the theater.
Sometimes I hate when I’m right.

The internal walls I’d previously built for emotional protection were deteriorating rapidly, waiting patiently to be torn down.
New and stronger walls were waiting in the wings.
Seeing yourself in virtually every scene of a movie is a powerful (and devastating) experience and something has to give.
My already shaky walls began crumbling before my very eyes.
Seemingly insignificant scenes were like storms in the night, moments of illumination exposing moments of denial, the mind’s premeditated closing of the eyes.
I was watching my mother and father on the screen as years of pent up heartbreak gently poured out of me.
And truth be told, it felt like prayer, a long forgotten Hail Mary . . .
I’ve written much about my mother’s many moments of clarity, the small gifts I believe are given to us from up above.
The last minute of the movie contains such a moment, an incredibly beautiful moment.
I could only sit and watch the credits roll by,
letting this “thing” happen, if that makes any sense.
I apologized to my wife for being so weepy.
She hugged me as I knew she would and said, “I understand. It’s okay.”
All the ancient walls inside me came crashing down and as of this morning I’ve already begun new construction, my Extreme Internal Makeover, if you will.
This post isn’t so much about my tears or my outward showing of intense emotion.
It’s about the willingness to ultimately set some of my shadows free.
And so far, it’s all good.
You’ll have to watch the movie to understand the significance of the post title.
I’m not giving anything away . . .
~m

Hemorrhage

Broken bones
dark, fragmented, an unknown cause

Where’s the why?

What’s the how?

When was the when?

Questions re-surface again and again, blisters of a blind faith lost
with answers that mean little to nothing, because it’s all shit
But where is the truth?
and the truth turns into it
With my back against the wall, I fight a blackened and diseased system
I kick, and I scream for ice
to soothe a bursting violet bruise, an ever so slightly discoloured rip in the delicate epidermis

And I bleed.
thick, tepid and red,
And for the blessed life of me, I just can’t stop . . .

~m

the heart remembers

I received a letter today from my sister dated January 21st (one day before my last post).
In it was a poem she’d found many years ago when our mother was entering the late stages of Alzheimer’s.
As twins, we’ve always had an uncanny ability to surprise each other in ways unimaginable.
In light of my recent post, the Frozen Man, I could only smile when I read this poem.
My sister’s timing was perfect. Go figure. ;)
If you have a family member suffering from this disease, print out the following poem and read it often.
My sister said reading it always makes her feel better and she hoped the same for me.
Thanks, m~
Yeah, it works for me, too . . .

~m

 

Heart Memories
by Louise M Eder

I remember you with my heart
My mind won’t say your name
I can’t recall where I knew you
Who you were
Or who I was.

Maybe I grew up with you
Or maybe we worked together
Or did we bowl together yesterday?
There’s something wrong with my memory
But I do know you
I know I knew you
And I do love you
I know how you make me feel
I remember the feelings we had together.
My heart remembers
It cries out in loneliness for you
For the feelings you give me now.

Today I’m happy that you have come.
When you leave
My mind will not remember that you were here
But my heart remembers
The feeling of friendship
And love returned.
Remembers
That I am less lonely
And happier today
Because of the feeling
Because you have come.

Please, please don’t forget me
And please don’t stay away
Because of the way my mind acts.
I can still feel you
I can remember with my heart
And a heart memory is maybe
The most important memory of all.

Letting Go

I find myself once again at a crucial and necessary point in my life where a situation leaves me with no turning back and no time left for second chances.
If this post comes across as somewhat cryptic, it should,
I’m in camouflage mode right now.
There’s a part of me that wants to run away if only to spare myself the inevitable emotional turbulence most likely to be encountered . . . but I can’t run away anymore.

It took a conversation with a very special friend to help me see the proverbial ‘forest through the trees’ and there will be no turning back, no gazing in the rear view mirror.
The time has come for me to sit one on one with my dad and tell him it’s alright to let go.

He’s holding on for reasons that only he knows.

I’ll take his aged and creased hands in mine and tell him as lovingly as possible that my sister and I are fine, that my mother waits patiently on the other side, that he can finally rest his weary head.
There’s a selfish part of me that never wanted to experience a scenario such as this, a part of me that wanted some silly miracle, an impossibility and medically improbable wish upon a non-existent star.

The little boy in me just doesn’t want to give his father the blessing he truly deserves, and though I understand it I’m having a very difficult time with the goodbye part.

I just can’t let go.

In my heart, I see my mother as I did that day long ago, on
Mayflower Beach but this time she’s not walking away she’s holding out her hand to my father.
They’ve both been alone for far too long and I know my father’s heart can’t take much more.

I have to tell my dad, ‘you can let go now‘.

I want him to touch the stars, and be that long forgotten prayer I’ve held inside me since they both got sick; I want them to once again be together . . .
Maybe I just needed time to understand that.

There will be a crystal winter night in the not too distant future that will find me gazing at the mysterious night sky.
A star will sparkle in such a way that it catches my eye.
As I look a bit closer I’ll notice that it’s not one star, but two.
Maybe then I’ll be able to let them go.
Though I doubt it . . .

~m

Paradox Found

Ten years ago, the world as I’d previously known it began crumbling before my very eyes. With Alzheimer’s disease slowly sinking its insidious teeth into the flesh of two of the most important people in my life, I could barely hang on.

My interpretation of the world surrounding me was one of suffocation and predicated horror as I watched two innocent lives wither away; their “golden” years sucked into an invisible vortex of utter blackness.
There would be no vacations for them; no candlelight dinners, anniversaries, holidays, spontaneous I-love-you’s and oddly enough no tears for what ultimately should have been.

The blackboards of their lives had been virtually erased, their accumulated memories falling away like the New England autumn leaves my mother so loved.

Back then, I was filled with bitterness like I’d never known.

I was mad at everyone: God, the mailman, the guy that pumped my gas, the moon and the stars, my girls, my wife and a life that was spiraling out of control.
I was mad at the incomprehensibility and odds of the total clusterfuck I was in.
Close friends knew I was not doing well.
Advice was offered and thrown away, unused and scattered like junk mail.

One day, someone close to me said, “He’s trying to teach you something. Maybe you should listen.”
They were pointing upwards towards the heavens when they said it.

After a particularly heart-shattering day I found myself once again mentally “on the ropes”. I recall having a pen in my hand. I looked at it, scratched my head and began writing. There was no planning on my part, it just kind of happened.

Thousands of words and feelings later I looked up.
Over two hours of my soul were permanently on paper and I felt good.
The inner voices were gone and the world was quiet.
I was given a way out of this thing.

I think of all the people I’ve been blessed to know because of my writing; Annie, Moe, Kel, Fuzz, Evyl, Matty, Lolly, Bella, Spaz, Carnealian, Snot, Lass, Deb, Kelsey, Kim, Melanie, and Red . . .
{I love everyone on my blogroll, I really do}

But, how do you spell “sacred moment”?

Maybe He was trying to teach me something after all; I just had to discover it on my own.

Through my writing I was doing something that my mom and dad could no longer do; I was learning how to remember them.
Paradox is occasionally a bittersweet thing.
At least I like to think of it in that way.

~m

my mother, lost…

I posted this when I was at Blogspot and thought I’d re-post it here.
It’s one of the nice memories of my mother.

I can’t remember the last “real” conversation I shared with my mother.
I’m sure it was your indispensable ‘what’s new with you? Ah, nothing’ variety.
She’s now moving through the late stages of Alzheimer’s and there’s nothing much left to talk about, nothing to be said that can be understood—at least from my vantage point.
I’ve all but lost her.
I sit quietly and listen as she innocently tries to carry on a dialogue that only she can speak and understand.
The last time I visited her at the nursing home, we sat and looked out the opaque windows of the rec room listening to the rain pitter-patter on the long rectangles of glass.
The sound of the rain seems to have more of a calming effect on her than I ever could. Sometimes when I’m sitting there next to her, my mind drifts and I look back on our life and all that we shared, ultimately coming to the sad realization that there’s not much left in the sharing department either.
It was as I was leaving one day that I bent down to kiss her forehead (my own ritual) and absentmindedly asked if she needed anything.
She replied, “How ‘bout a cold one next time?”
That brief moment of clarity, if that’s what it was, caught me off guard and I laughed out loud.
She looked up at me from her wheelchair (where she spends most of her time these days) and began laughing as well.
I smiled; amazed that after all her weary, cobwebbed mind had been through, she could still laugh.
I took comfort in the fact that the simple act of physically expressing happiness still lives and breathes somewhere inside of her.
For now, I’ll settle for those rare moments of laughter that still unknowingly connect us.

~m

Grace, revisited

I’m running short on time and thought I’d re-post this small piece that was published in The Sun.
The ‘Readers Write’ section is a space devoted to writing from various subscribers based on a one word prompt from the magazine.
Topics range from A to Z with many in betweens.
This was my spin on the prompt “Grace”…
~m

It’s a Sunday morning and I’m kneeling in the Church of the North American Martyrs, a house of worship I’ve gone to for the past 20 years.
It’s always the same old prayers, same old pew, same old church, the same old me.
My wife and at least one or two of my three daughters are next to me (one is always an altar server these days).
From the outside, I appear to be in a state of deep prayer, and maybe I am.
I’m usually praying for two parents that are steadily approaching the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease, praying desperately for money that I can never seem to make enough of, praying for people that I don’t even know, maybe selfishly praying for myself – but sometimes I am just praying.
It seems fruitless and shallow some Sundays, but I do it anyway hoping that in some small and insignificant way my life will spontaneously be easier to bear.
The crosses I carry in life are there, so I’m told, for reasons unseen and I usually pray to Mary for the strength and vision needed to make sense out of my life, maybe to just do good.
With my daughters growing older and away from me, to my own health (physical and mental), to the mortgage payment that’s habitually late, to a wife that’s never gotten what she truly deserves, it’s on Sunday mornings that I kneel and pray for some divine intervention to make sense of it all, to make everything in my life suddenly understandable.
I’m reminded of a recent incident in Colchester, Ct., where a propane leak inside of a church ignited and blew it quite literally to pieces.
Nothing was left save for a statue of the Virgin Mary, standing virtually untouched and unblemished – a visible prayer, my rock.
I sometimes see the wreckage of my own life strewn about me, the shattered and lost minds of my sick parents, promises broken, missed soccer games, unspoken ‘I love you’s’, and I pray for the wisdom and grace to still be standing amidst my own ruins, like the solitary statue of Mary.

© michaelm 2005