Nightly laundry

Sometimes I wonder if all I’m doing is collecting guests for my funeral. Which sounds macabre but if I don’t expect to see a return on my life’s work in terms of money, fame, or power, what is the alternative? I really do actively try to help people better their lives. I imagine all the people I’ve kept close over the years and I think about the times where my happiness has come second to theirs and I think, ‘if I died tomorrow, would they show up?’

I’m not a martyr. I just think back to the friends and ex boyfriends and family whose happiness I helped guide. My ex boyfriend for example will lead a tremendously happier life because of all the things he learned from me and through me. He learned a lot about himself and his values and his goals in life. He came out of it a better person and so did I. There are a lot of times I think to myself, ‘I’d be at theirs’.

There’s a song by WHY? that has a line that when I first heard it a few years ago, shook me. “Yours is a funeral I’d fly to from anywhere”. Recently at an orientation for work, we watched a TEDtalk about the impact your actions can have on other people. It was really inspirational but it emphasized the value of expressing your gratitude when someone has helped you change for the better in some way. It could be any minute action, it could even be inaction. What rings true each time is the ripples it affected on a person’s lifetime.

My brother’s dad died when I was a teenager. I remember being so sad for my brother because my mom was in jail and his dad died young. He lost both parents that day and I still wonder how much happier he might be if he didn’t know that kind of loss.

But the thing I remember most about the funeral was how many people showed up to mourn him. The church wasn’t small and there were hundreds of people there. They stood in rows against the walls, people crowded in from outside. There were countless stories about his life and the impact his actions had on the world around him and I can’t help but think about all the people at his funeral. I don’t know if this makes me a narcissist or selfish but it’s not like I’m going out of my way to accumulate guests. I really do just want to help people at the end of the day. I’m not seeking recognition beyond knowing that because I tried everything I could, someone out there is going to find their own happiness too. But also sometimes, it’s nice to know if what I’m doing has any real value at all for anyone but myself. This isn’t about self doubt because I know that what I do does help people. I guess it’s just a passing thought as I do laundry on a Sunday night.

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10/5/18

They say hearts grow fonder with distance

I know mine would not change

Tomorrow as it feels today

It would not grow stronger or deeper

It is already stretched too full

And when you’re gone,

It simply goes to sleep and wakes again with your touch

The feeling of your skin

Your sweet smile

I know no other hands than your fingers in my mind

I see no other eyes than yours in mine

I am stronger with each parting

Missing is weak

In comparison to this feeling now

Missing is not real

Because I keep you so close

7/31 9pm, the red moon and the man I met at mom’s

You think you see kinship in my eyes

You do not recognize me

You think you see your struggles mirrored in me

You do not see me

You think I am the solution to your pain

A shared existence

Someone who understands

Experiences that are similar to your own

But I see anger

I see rage

I see sadness and the pitfalls of lashing out

I see arrogance and pride

I do not see the softness of myself

The compassion, acceptance, and forgiveness

I see competition and pity

I see conflict

I do not embrace your worries

I see your performance

Even authentic intimacy escapes you

You wonder why you are lonely

Why you are angry and sad

And misunderstood

I see it all

You could hold a mirror to my youth

And see yourself

You may be older

But I am wiser and stronger

And self aware

Where you see similarities, I see immaturity

One day, we may stand side by side

For today, we are miles apart

Keep working

You see, I do not need to get to know you

I’ve been looking at your face my entire life

Charlotte I think I’ve posted this with you in mind before

For the love of a tree,

she went out on a limb.

For the love of the sea,

she rocked the boat.

For the love of the earth,

she dug deeper.

For the love of community,

she mended fences.

For the love of the stars,

she let her light shine.

For the love of spirit,

she nurtured her soul.

For the love of a good time,

she sowed seeds of happiness.

For the love of God,

she drew down the moon.

For the love of nature,

she made compost.

For the love of a good meal,

she gave thanks.

For the love of family,

she reconciled differences.

For the love of creativity,

she entertained new possibilities.

For the love of her enemies,

she suspended judgment.

For the love of herself,

she acknowledged her own worth.

And the world was richer for her.

Charlotte Tall Mountain (July 1, 1941 to May 6, 2006) was an artist and poet of an Iroquois Native American heritage.

I need dogs

Ever since my dogs started aging, my pops has made it his mission to recant the tales of his own furry friends. Mostly, he talks about how the heartbreak was eventually too much for him to handle and so, has never found it in his heart to make room for more pets. The duration of the stories change each time he goes through them. First, it took him six months to recover then it was six weeks. It may seem like a huge difference but I don’t think he’s wrong either way.

It’s been 10 days. The time that has passed already feels like a lifetime. We still haven’t even gotten her ashes back yet. The vet said they made a clay paw print at the crematory.

Seemingly insignificant things bring me to tears. We saw the new Avengers movie and when Vision is telling Wanda it’s okay to do what has to be done “I’m so sorry it had to be you”, I broke. I was a wet mess in that theater. My dad turned to me, confused that I would be so emotionally affected by this movie. In my defense, I cried for the last twenty minutes of Guardians of the Galaxy. Groot’s sacrifice to save his friends totally decimated me.

I started watching Grey’s Anatomy again the other day and remembered something very vital about myself. Maybe I’m still high off of volunteering at a blood bank or maybe my hormones are out of whack but I don’t think either of those are true. Watching shows like Grey’s or movies like Guardians of the Galaxy remind me why I love living. They remind me to have hope in the world and accept that bad things will also bring good things. The cycle must continue and we should laugh. Laugh a lot.

I’m still recovering from my baby’s passing but I looked at my dog today and thought for the first time in a long time “god, I love dogs”. He just looked at me with these big round eyes and sort of asked ‘what’d I do?’ And it made me laugh and I instantly felt surrounded by love. I don’t know how my dad could be so blinded by his anguish that he would close himself up like that to all the goodness that dogs bring even if they steal away parts of our hearts we’ll never get back.

I wouldn’t trade my heartbreak for anything.

Rest now, baby girl

Little Lou passed today. She ruptured something internally because of the cancer and there was nothing more we could do for her. I stayed up with her all night until my sister got home and we took her to the vet. It all happened so fast. It was so sad. She’s cried maybe a handful of times in our 10 years together. Last night, she cried a lot.

Just 7 hours ago I was still holding my little baby. I miss her so much already. Her presence is everywhere. I did the math wrong, we had her for about 10 years. 10 years she gave us, just love.

I think she sent me a dream. My sister sent me a video of me and Lou at the beach. I remember thinking in the dream, ‘See! We went to the beach, I forgot about that. We did take her places. She did feel happy.’ We were swimming in the ocean, the water was clear and warm and inviting. It was all peaceful. Lou kept getting swept up in the current and I kept saying “Lulu! What are you doing little girl?” and laughing and catching her. Finally I picked her up, she kept sliding out of my arms and rolling around my body but I smiled in the video and started walking back to shore. My legs were still knee deep in the beautiful water (that really looked more like a pool than the ocean) by the time I woke up.

From that, I realize that she felt safe with me always. She trusted me and she loved me and she was never scared because I was with her the whole time. She wasn’t afraid to die because she was in pain and it was her time. She knew I did everything I could and she didn’t feel like I cheated her out of a good life. She was happy and she loved, all the while knowing she was loved.

We aren’t a trio of little dogs anymore. We’re two.

Little Lou

My dog is dying.

That concept is really hard for me.

I know a lot of people who say their dogs are like their children and while I believe them, these dogs have been through a lot with me. For many years, they gave me the will to live. Sounds dramatic but it’s really not an understatement.

My little one is dying and that’s harder for me to grapple with than my mom’s release in less than two months. I know my little Loulou’s absence will hit me harder than my mom’s presence.

She’s got late stage breast cancer because when we found her (she was a stray), she was already so old we thought any surgery would be a risky undertaking. Plus I’ve read up on it and even if we had fixed her, she still would’ve had a high risk of cancer because she was part of a puppy mill and then abandoned on the street. After the first heat, it’s all statistics from there.

I feel guilty because she’s sort of the black sheep of the family. We have 4 dogs and 2 cats. The 2 cats and the biggest dog have their place with my parents. My sister has her little pup and I had mine. Then came Lou.

My uncle Mike named her after his crazy ex-wife and his daughter (my cousin) brought her home. My sister and I took her in the day we asked, “has she eaten today?” and he responded by throwing a raw steak on the floor. That was it.

I have the hardest part of the job now. She’s gifted me with 8 years of her life and love and now I’m her caretaker. Things wouldn’t be so stressful except one of her tumors became infected a couple months ago and she’s been in a lot of pain. Even through the pain, she was still her chipper, sweet self. As of last week, she’s had 7 seizure/strokes (the vet doesn’t differentiate, it’s the same medications either way).

Now she can’t walk or stand. Which means I hand-feed her with a spoon, take her to the bathroom, give her water on a plate, and ultimately do everything for her. I haven’t thought twice about it. Anything she needs, I’m there. I can tell she’s so depressed and it breaks my heart.

I made a clay impression of her paw. I got it shipped overnight when she had her first stroke. I wasn’t sure how long she’d make it. My sister wants to do an ink print so that we can get tattoos together. I’m onboard.

I started this post because I wanted to mention the realization that came to me about pain being universal, regardless of the issues motivating it. This experience has been excruciating and while it won’t last as long as my mom’s incarceration, it has reiterated that idea that we are all human, we all feel the same things. The spite and resentment I used to feel because of my teenage classmates threatening suicide -over what I believed were tremendously silly things to be upset over- has long since dissipated. But I think now, I question it a little more. Was I really that judgmental? I know I was angry. I’m really not that angry anymore.

I am grateful though that the stuff with my mom happened first and then all the “normal people” problems came afterwards. I mentioned in class what was happening with my dog and I had this bizarre “moment” with a girl who I thought sort of hated me. People really do want to connect to one another. Be it for egoistic reasons or not, they do and that lifted me up a lot.

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