Feb. 14th, 2006 12:44 am
dianadragonfly: (Default)
Oh hell... long ass navel grazing day isn't over yet.
"Beside you" came on the random Ryche mix.

I've tried to give to you.
What you'll need to get you through.
I'll always be beside you.

I know that my Feb. stuff isn't over yet, anyway, because little things, like songs, etc., are affecting me more than usual. I drove around to finish listening to a song today, and I don't do that much. Cut here because this is a disjointed friggin book )
dianadragonfly: (Default)
A year ago today, I was mock-screaming in fear on a mountain road in Tahoe with [profile] vulturechick, going to see the Ryche. (P.S. Made into an essay here.
Six years ago today, I was huddled in a house meant to hold 3 with my 12 teammates in Pittsburg, wanting to die.
Twelve years ago today, I was at a basketball game, selling Tshirts for the club I was in, hoping someone would cover for me on the game tomorrow because I wanted to go to St. Joe and see my dad in the hospital then.
As it turned out, there would be no dad tomorrow.
I am sitting and doing my homework when Mom's cousin Etta Mae and her daughter Sandy come in.
It's about 10:30.
An hour before, my dad had stopped breathing.
There was sort of blur after that -- I remember that my little sister just screamed like people do on TV. I'd never heard anything like it. I still forget how young she was, how hard it was for her. She was 14.

But.. me being me, I knew that the house would soon be full of people. I turned the coffeepot on. I got tea ready for mom. I picked up my school books. I went in the bathroom and threw up, then dug out some softscrub and cleaned the sink and toilet. I went outside and fed the dogs. The whole time, I kept repeating in my head "my dad is dead" like I was practicing it. I made mom and dad's bed and then climbed in on his side, where his pillow was, but I was aware that I had be up by the time they got home. I couldn't look sad. I couldn't make them worry about me....

I look at this 100 pound 18 year old now in third person, like I was looking at a stranger. I know some of these details are wrong, that I've filled them in to part of my personal mythology. What was I wearing? I don't remember, but when I see it, I see me with black leggings and a long tshirt, maybe my Rage for Order shirt -- an outfit I wore a lot. (Early 90s -- I know I know). What was the homework I was doing? I see it as world history, see the lime-green colored book, but really, god only knows. I don't think I took world history that year and I'm damn sure I didn't do homework on Friday nights. What else could I have been doing there at the kitchen table, though, with my back to the sliding patio door, the house quiet because, as usual, just the two of us were home? It had to be homework. I remember how empty and quiet the house was, how it felt the way it felt whenever we were alone because he was in the hospital. It felt different when we were alone because they were at work, or went to town, or went to the store. But when they were in the hospital...

I was scared.
I was sick and I couldn't drive and I lived way out in the country.
I could barely walk, although my health had gotten much better at that point.
The horses might get loose and I have to catch them.
The dogs might drag up a dead possum and I'd have to go out and try to pick it up with a pitchfork and throw it over the fence.
The pump might freeze, as it often did then, and I'd have to go shut off the water and call my uncle.

I wasn't alone though....
My uncle lived up the hill, 1/8 mile away, and I could have called him for anything. (I frequently did -- everything from shutting off the water because the pipes under the sink were leaking to helping me take care of the horses)
My grandparents were in town, 5 miles away. My grandpa was also dying in earnest then, so their ability to help was limited, but they were still able to do things like pick me up and take me to town. My little sister stayed with them whenever we were gone for a long period of time.
My friend Amy lived in town and I could call her. She was about 30 and a police officer, so I felt pretty safe when she was around. But, now I think she didn't start hanging around until after he died. She was around, but not every night like she was that summer.

I still feel unsettled in an empty house. I like being alone, but the feeling that the world outside is something slightly sinister and filled with battles that I'm too weak to fight still creeps up on me. That knock at the door is going to be bad news -- when the world comes back, you'll have to be "on." That feeling can creep up at nights that I'm alone in the house and hubby is working in the office. I wish to god I'd been facing the goddamn patio door -- I feel like I would have had some warning.

As I get older, that feeling only comes back once in awhile -- when my mom or stepdad or hubby or sisters get sick, or go to the doctor for some sort of tests, or when hubby is out too long and doesn't call. It comes every now and then....

This time around hasn't been so bad though. It wasn't like last year when I ran to get away from it and it still managed to find me in a hotel in Tahoe. I miss him. I want to do something -- light a candle or something at 9:30. I've been in bed all day, fighting a cold and catching up on my sleep.

I think I want hubby to leave for awhile so I can listen to music, light a candle, and maybe talk myself into crying, although I don't think I will cry.

I wish I believed in heaven, Dad. Wherever you are, I hope it's peaceful. You were always restless, I see you pacing and worried when I picture you. I think that you have a big brown lazy-boy and a direct TV system, and your bratty kid never argues with you over wanting to watch MTV while you want to watch ESPN.
dianadragonfly: (Default)
One more brain dump, but it makes me happy.
Mom said that a group of students came in to see Dad at the hospital and they said "This is Jerry. He has three teenage daughters at home by themselves. Doesn't he have a lot to get well for?" when they introduced him and everyone, including my dad, laughed. :)
dianadragonfly: (Default)
Dear hubby is coming into a bit of inheritance from the grandmother that passed away. Not much by most people's standards, but for us, it's about two year's worth of combined income. But he feels funny about it and so do I. We don't actually think much of it will lend up being ours.

The reason he and his sister are getting the money is that his dad is in so much debt that the father's creditor's will get everything the minute it gets put in his name... so hubby and hubby's sister have it in their names. Hubby's dad has been battling terminal small cell lung cancer for 5 years now.

The man (my dad in law) has chained smoked his whole life. In 2001 or so, he got diagnosed with a type of cancer that infects smokers, mostly. He went on chemo, shrunk it 90%, felt like shit, decided, within a year, that he was going to start smoking again and quit chemo. I guess it's a quality of life issue, but he would have beaten it if he'd only stayed on chemo and off cigarettes. So, since 2002, he has had no chemo, no doctor's treatments, etc. No income as well. He had one really bad incident and almost died, but other than that, he's amazingly healthy. There is no reason he should be alive, frankly. I've watched him smoke cigarette after cigarette and when we leave his house, everything smells like stale smoke. He gave us a Polar Express Santa for Christmas two years ago and it smelled so bad we sat it on the porch for a few weeks, then wrapped it in a bag with dryer sheets and put it away. This Christmas, it was tolerable, but still smoky.

He figures, hey, he's dying, so he won't pay bills or anything. To be fair, he doesn't have any income but disability, and ex wives and ex girlfriends and hanger-ons take him regularly for everything he has.

I have no idea what sort of things hubby and sister will liable for when he dies. They are setting aside 1/2 to 3/4 of their money to take care of him and his debts. So, it's not our money really, and we know it. But still, it means at the least, we will be able to travel to Europe this summer.

My counselor asked me a few weeks ago how my dad let me know I was loved and I couldn't answer. Now I can:
He fought his cancer hard, with absolutely everything he had.
He was terrified to fly, but he flew to Houston for chemo every few weeks. I have the postcard mom sent us when they went there for the first time and she said "Dad really liked flying. Who knew?"
He hated doctors, but he let himself be poked and prodded and subject to every indignity in the world.
He went on experimental drugs, even though he hated to even take an aspirin.
He hated travel, hated to leave home, and found himself spending two weeks out of every month in a strange city with people he didn't know, and he learned to accept that.
He let his wife stick him with a needle every night at 9 pm. I can remember years before, mom digging a splinter out of his foot with a needle and what a baby he was about it. Mom made him do it himself.
The thought of dying scared the shit out of him, and he was a family where you didn't talk about that sort of thing, but he went and set up all of his money in a trust so that no matter what happened to him or mom or the business he left behind (which ultimately failed) we were taken care of.
He loved us enough to fight. He wanted to be around.

Hubby's dad walked out on the family twice and was really never around, but the fact that he can leave his kids to mop up his mess astounds me. I would want to know that I was enough to fight for. Hubby is used to it, but I think that would fucking floor me if my dad had decided he loved his cigarettes more than being alive for me.

My dad was terrified but he fought. And he lost. But I got two extra years with him because of that. Mom was still paying off the bills 5 years later for all the drugs and hotel rooms and plane tickets. But I got my daddy for two terrible, tense, but wonderful years. He got to my sister start junior high. He got to see me get better. And I have to tell myself whenever I see studies on interferon and interleukin that my dad was part of that.

It's a small comfort. I think most of the trauma was not from his death, but from those two years of leaving with such tension. He was so miserable toward the end. But still...two years of him driving me to school and dozing in his recliner and yelling at me to turn down the music and arguing over politics with me. I'll take it. Those were the years between 16 and 18 -- I got to have him during those crucial years. My little sister got to have him as a teenager, not just as a child. My older sister got him until she was 20. I think of hubby's dad, and then I think of all those scary trust documents in my parent's basement, and I thank god for my dad. What he went through for us....

My dad wasn't great at making me feel loved. That wasn't what he grew up with and I was always just alien to him -- some weird complex creature that could burst into tears at some imagined insult and he'd have NO IDEA what he'd said wrong. But I always knew I was taken care of and until now, I didn't realize what kind of love it took for him to do that.

It's my parent's wedding anniversary, btw, and the anniversary of the day they told us that he'd die and they had to cut his wedding ring off his swollen hand. He lost full consciousness and never really regained it. I hadn't seen him since groundhog day, where I kissed him goodbye and teased him about the bald spot on his head. I made him smile.

For years, I'd focus on that last week, when he was moaning and had dry lips and half-open eyes. Now I can remember that the last time he was really awake, the last time I really knew he saw me, I made him smile. Again, it's small, but I'm learning to accept that.

the rug

Feb. 2nd, 2006 10:31 pm
dianadragonfly: (Default)
I need to be productive...
I need to ..
I need to...

So much I want to say and sometimes I feel like it won't come. The difference between being depressed before the zoloft and after was before was a frantic depression/mania that made me want to get things OUT -- however I could. It was active, it was pacing, it was biting my arm in frustration, it was panic attacks on the airplane and after seeing GT in Starbucks.

This, though, is different. If you drew a thought balloon over my head, it would be empty. I want to ... want to write, want to do anything and I keep thinking I'll type myself into it.

I have my obsessions because they are nice warm comfortable places. I have my Watchers. I have my characters that appear in and out of short stories. I have my kids to think about and muse about and to print off communication cards and picture schedules for. I have my writing and my research for my writing, when suddenly, something clicks. I have my comfortable places inside my head, whether they are inhabited by Queensryche or other fandom or some project or lj friends.

Tonight, though, they are just failing and things are just blank.

I'm tired.
I forgot my predisone so I've probably shocked my kidneys into failure. The only thing I've eaten today is a Wendy's out of a bag as I sped toward school, late. I had 2 Dr Peppers. I had a bag of candy. No wonder I feel like this.

I'm just searching for that comfortable place in my head and I cant get there. My Ryche obsession seems silly and childish. Research -- unproductive way of wasting time. Cleaning -- do I really think I can even make a dent? What I usually do when I feel like this, losing myself in some stupid TV show, seems unbearable. Yesterday I napped while A&E played that Flight 93 movie and I had terrible dreams about being interviewed because I put someone on that flight and said bye to them and I didn't know who I left. Then I was in the front seat and got my throat slit.
Then, after shaking it all off, being up for a few hours, I went to bed and that shit was on AGAIN! And I watched it this time.

I watch TV NOT to feel. A manipulative made-for-TV drama about the last hours of some people's lives isn't fair to spring on me, bastards. I kept thinking of what my phone call from the plane would be.

Is that what's behind this? That movie? It is February, after all. I heard "Wish You Were Here" on my drive home. I was really into Floyd when all that happened...
How I wish
How I wish you were here.
We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl
year after year.
Running over the same old ground.
And how we've found
The same old fears.
Wish you were here.

Same old ground.... ten years ago, I was listening to that same song, trying to figure out how grief can be so impersonal -- how it's not about him anymore, but about my loss and this sort of void that sometimes, especially in February, creeps in and makes all of my comfortable spaces, well, uncomfortable. That's what I don't understand and that's what seems so selfish... how it's not about HIM, or even ME, or anything else, but just this shadow.

[livejournal.com profile] paperflowers and I once talked about the hole in the middle of the floor that is deep, "this might break me" grief and how, having fallen in it once, we do whatever we can to avoid it. There's a rug over my hole in the ground and most of the time, I walk around it. But in February, the corner of the rug gets kicked around a little and I have to be careful not to trip.

She says that for her, just knowing the hole is there is enough and the awareness of it bugs her. I can see that, see how the carpet over it, the wallpaper, the couch, people talking and acting like it's not there, can just seem like a terrible lie. I used to feel like that.

But most of the time, I'm okay with the rug there. I can accept that it covers something horrible and still appreciate the beauty of the room.

Except for days like today, usually in February, when it's easy to trip over the corner, pull back a little bit of carpet, and see just a shadow of what I know is there.
dianadragonfly: (Default)
I have a student that looks just like Billy Boyd. I was actually surprised when he wasn't speaking with a scottish accent. Considering my Billy Boyd thing that lasted for quite awhile, this could be baaaaaaddddddd.........muwahahahahha

On the same subject, but seriously...Read more... )
dianadragonfly: (Default)
Oh yeah, that thing that I usually do every year.
That December-March, all death, all dad, all the time. It's been mild this year, though I've had a couple of just pangs of nonspecific melancholy. This journal is great for the sort of purge that this sort of feeling requires. There was a guy at the grocery store at home that looked so much like him that Mom and I both kept staring. I wanted to walk up to him. Usually, when that happens, I stare until the person does something I don't recognize -- does a mannerism that ISN'T my dad, so I don't walk away with this feeling that I just left my dad at the HyVee deli counter. But I couldn't shake this guy and neither could my mom.

And today, I listened to this song, from Little Texas, popular the year he died. Yeah, it's a country song. Sue me. Not all of it is applicable, but some is:
What Might Have Been
Little Texas
Sure I think about you know and then.
But it's been a long long time.
I've got a good life now; I've moved on.
So when you cross my mind.

I try not to think about what might have been.
That was then; we have taken different roads.
We can't go back again.
There's no use giving in.
And there's no way to know.
What might have been.

We can sit and talk about it all night long.
Wonder why we couldn't last.
These might be the best days we will ever know.
But we'll have to leave them in the past.

I try not to think about what might have been.
That was then; we have taken different roads.
We can't go back again.
There's no use giving in.
And there's no way to know.
What might have been.

The same old look in your eyes.
It's a beautiful night.
I'm so tempted to stay.
But too much time has gone by.
We should just say goodbye.
And turn and walk away.

Yeah, it's country. But it speaks to a fantasy that anyone who has grief issues struggles with: the what-ifs. What if he hadn't got cancer at 42? What if my dad were still alive? What would change?

That question becomes more complicated the more you heal -- you would have to give up some wonderful people that wouldn't have been in your path otherwise. I think when that question is too complicated to answer, it's a good sign. I think of AmeriCorps, my step-dad, my hubby, my life since 1994. What would I sacrifice? Who would I sacrifice? My gut instinct is to say "all of it" but I can't make that decision without some very real losses, and I know that. That's good... I think that's a wonderful thing that my life is too varied now to make this a simple decision.

But still... every now and then, it's overwhelming, just briefly. What would have happened? Who would I be? Who would he be?

But...well... to quote the wisdom of Little Texas "We should just say goodbye / And turn and walk away"
dianadragonfly: (Default)
This seems like a Reader's Digest cliche, but it was real.
My dad, like his dad and brothers, dealt in antiques. It was a way to make a little extra money, before he started the plastics business. I grew up playing with hand crank telephones and heavy old toy firetrucks. Nothing really stayed in our house long -- it was in and out the basement, or the back porch. People would come by and look at them and sometimes, the china cabinets and chiffarobes would be taken to Arkansas by my grandpa or one of my uncles, latched to the rusting construction racks in the back of that black Ford pickup.

A few antiques did stay though... my mom's pitcher and bowl wash set (although my dad sold the stand), the thing we've always called "the china cabinet" although we know it's a display cabinet, the secretary full of secret pull out drawers, and my college bottle. It was a 5 gallon glass water jug, raised letters spelled "International" upside down. It was behind the T.V., back when T.V.s were huge things with built in cabinets. Dad would empty the change in his pockets into that jug.

If I were to go to Reader's Digest route, I would say he did it every night. But I know he didn't. I would also say that he would look at me and say "this is your future." If he did, I don't remember that. I don't know how I came to understand that was my college money in there. I just knew. I never questioned that I'd go to college -- something that seems incredibly presumptuous now. My dad barely graduated high school and my mom would rather die than sit in a classroom now because school was such a mortifying place for her. It wasn't a "you'll get us out of this poverty" type thing. I didn't know if we were poor. I just knew that was my college money and that was how my daddy knew to send me there.

He started the business, invested, got us life insurance and a trust fund -- something I don't think about because to deal with that trust fund would mean that my mother has died. I know the bottle was emptied for less-noble endeavors -- business expenses, school clothes. My dad liked to tell the story about applying for a business loan and running into my mom at the bank. She was carrying the bottle to be cashed in. They didn't get the loan.

I hadn't thought about the bottle in a long time, until a few years ago when I spotted it in my mom's basement. I wanted it. So did my little sister. I bartered for a butcher block washstand that was understood to be mine, but I really had no interest in. It was a piece of furniture -- this bottle was more.

My husband and I have filled it, emptied it for trips, shaken it down all over the living room for vending machine money. For our wedding, his parents bought us a huge vase with $300 of quarters in it, which we promptly shook out and put into my bottle.

I came home from work two days ago and the bottle was in pieces. My husband had tried to move something behind the t.v. and he knocked off a glass dragonfly candle holder I have. It hit right at the curve of the bottle. He had the thing halfway patched up with superglue, but it's still not the same and the glue isn't holding. There are too many pieces.

Please, guys, help me out. I can't even find one anywhere to buy. I can't even find a picture of one online to show you -- the closest I can find is here. Mine had raised letters on the side that say "international" and more of a raised spiral around the mouth. If everyone does a search, I can hopefully find one like the one I had.

It won't be the same -- it won't be my dad's bottle. But still, I love looking across the room, seeing the bottle, and feeling loved.


Nov. 18th, 2005 03:34 pm
dianadragonfly: (Default)
So, I hear a fellow T.A.s dad has died.
Suddenly, I expect. If it wasn't sudden, it wasn't long and lingering either.
I can't believe how much grief I have for her -- I KNOW what she is up against and it makes me hurt for her.
There's a message from her on my machine asking if I will take care of her cat over Thanksgiving.

I call her back.
Answering machine.

I act like I haven't heard anything -- chipper and tell her to take care and of course I'll take care of her kitty.

At this point, sympathy or if she even suspects sympathy, would be awful. I imagine she's trying to maintain and get shit together so she can get out of town. I've been there, accidentally or because I was sought out, for many people's surreal moments when the rug gets pulled out from under their lives. I remember mine. I remember running into a classmate the day after her cousin shot himself. I told her I was sorry. That was it -- that was what made her start crying when she was miserable and just wanted to be anonymous in Walmart. I remember former neighbors asking about my dad the morning after he died and how I had no words for them -- no way to even answer.

When Susie's mom died and her aunt and uncle met her at the dorms, I helped pack her suitcase while the rest of our friends just stared in horror. They wanted to cry and hug her, but she was so calm.

When my dad died, I started the coffeemaker. Then went downstairs and threw up.

I guess my point is that there's a lot of hurt to had and soon. Me telling her I'm sorry at this point is one more stab at the numbness that is going to enable her to function for a few more days. That numbness enables bags to be packed, coffee to be made, cats to be fed. If I told her how sorry I am, that would fill my need more than hers.

I am amazingly sorry and there will be time to tell her that. But not on this phone call.

Is this a cop out?

i feel...

Oct. 26th, 2005 11:08 pm
dianadragonfly: (Default)
Just strange.
I slept for like 15 hours yesterday.  note to self -- take the provigil.
I just feel...weird.  Can't explain it.
My sister's here.  S's parents are here.  Tomorrow and Friday are dedicated to wedding stuff.  But man... I don't know.  I guess I need a good nights sleep.

I miss my Daddy suddenly.
That's part of it.

dianadragonfly: (Default)
Hey, can any of you think of a really classy way to honor people I've lost at my wedding?
(I talk with my students all the time about arranging the sentence so that the time element is logical. I'm keeping that one as an example.)
Let me try again:
At the wedding, I'd like to set up something to honor people I've lost. Anyone have ideas?

I'm thinking of a display table with a rose and a picture of each indivdual and a flower in front of each. I associate certain flowers and colors with each person's funeral. I know that's crazy. But I'd like a picture of me and Donna with a white rose, me and my grandpa with a red carnation, me and my Uncle Farrell (any flower), and one of my grandma and grandpa (something pink for Gma -- pink rose).

Then Dad.
If I had a good picture of me and my dad, I would use it. But the best one I have, I'm a year old and sleeping on his belly.

Maybe my collage of him.
And a small bouquet.
That's classy, right? Not too morbid?

I wonder if Dave wants anyone on the table. He has lost his grandfathers too.
dianadragonfly: (Default)
Speed reading Rushdie because I have to present on him in a few hours.
The quote of the day, so stunningly accurate that it floors me:

"After he died she went on seeing him in the mirror. She was her father's ghost."


If you cover up the nose and chin on my drivers liscense picture, I see my dad and it freaks me out.
I have his serial killer eyes. I used to tell him that.


dianadragonfly: (Default)

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