Category Archives: Grief

When September Ends

It’s September first.

Those of you who know me, know that September is a tough month. My SAD usually gut-punches me right about now, as I get fed up with feeling overheated, itchy, and achy from the summer heat and dryness. Add to that the anniversaries of my father’s death in 1999 and my sister’s disappearance in 2003, and September usually bites pretty hard-core for me.

So, I’m checking in. I figure today is a good day to take stock, to assess, and to look forward.

I’m generally doing well. This summer hasn’t been so hot, so there has only been a few bad days for my heat-related issues. I had one bullshit low day… Started out down, my daughter got sick so I had to scramble to cover my shift so I could be home with her… It was a bad bad day. Usually, I can feel my antidepressants catch me, and that day I felt like I fell through a hole in their safety net. I called on my lifelines. I texted with Ziggy and Mr Awesome. I put out a call for help on Twitter, and finally, I made it through my day, ending it with an Ativan and reading the Bloggess until life didn’t feel so awful anymore. I woke up the next day feeling fragile, but better. I pulled through.

I’m meeting new people and making New friends. I got a new tattoo, a gorgeous tigress on my right calf. My relationships are going so, so well. Ziggy lives nearby now, and we get to see so much of each other. I’m even going on a trip with him next month to LA and I’m going to meet his family. He’s staying with me this weekend while Mr Awesome is camping with his girlfriend. Mr Awesome and I are doing so very well.

It’s been almost a year since I started the Cymbalta. The unremitting pain I was in is a memory. The brain fog and bullshit lies of the Bitch are pretty much gone, too. I’m stronger, braver, and more fierce.

I feel alive. And there is joy in being alive. My life is full and fascinating. My kids are unbelievably amazing.

I am happy and strong.

I still dread September and its hurts and its bad memories. I know September 10th will be a tough day and the memory of my father’s final hours will be more with me than they sometimes are. There is a hole in my life that is shaped like the aunt my children will never know and that is a heavy weight for me. Maybe, this month, I will take the kids to CapeDisappointment and tell them stories of my father. Maybe I’ll buy some Cindy Lauoer and Madonna albums and dance with my daughter who looks so much like my sister that it hurts me to look at her sometimes. And in sharing the stories of the good times, maybe I’ll make the sad memories hurt a little less. 

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bad brain

For clarity, my long distance boyfriend decided he liked the idea of me calling him Ziggy, here. I will update the cast of characters accordingly, when I get around to it. I hope.

Ziggy has ADD. This is helpful, as he is pretty understanding about what it’s like to deal with mental issues and the ins and outs of daily medication. He’s also gifted my life with a phrase that I really love.

Bad brain day. This is, for me, a day when things are off. When the meds aren’t quite cutting it. When the world is a little blue, and everything is a bit muddy and weird.

Today is a bad brain day, and I’m not really sure why.

I feel tired, foggy, grumpy, and a little blue. The tasks on my plate seem too big, too hard, too much.

And I’m ok. The best thing about bad brain days is that they simply are days. I can get through them. I’m at ronger and better than I was. I have tools at my disposal, and friends to help when the tools aren’t enough. Hell, even just writing all this down is helping a lot. 

Why am I sad? I don’t know. My cat died last week. David Bowie and Alan Rickman both died. And old friend of my husband’s is sick with cancer and in the hospital. Work yesterday was really tough. I’m in the middle of an extremely painful cycle this month. The yarn I ordered isn’t here yet. I had to take Ziggy to the airport this morning. I feel my son growing up and growing away from me. I spilled my hot cocoa while I was at new seasons this morning. 

All of these are valid reasons to feel sad, and I know what I really need to do is sit down and sort them. Process them, worth through them. I feel sad because my lap is empty when I sit down to knit. I am frustrated with my coworkers for not being more flexible with the scheduling, which causes long days and weird hours for myself. It was hard to drop Ziggy off at the airport today because he is going to a convention I want to go to, and I always miss him  when he is in a different state. I’m hurting for a old friend who was dealt a shitty hand and just, fuck cancer, all the way around. And I am more emotional because I am hurting physically and the physical pain is big and scary now that it is mostly gone. Because physical pain reminds me too much of the darkest times and I am terrified of those monsters coming back, now that life is finally getting so good.

So, today is a bad brain day. But I’m gonna make it. Because that’s what I do. And I’m gonna turn this around. Life is too precious and sweet to let one bad day ruin the rest. 


Lost girl

She hadn’t been doing well. I could tell this, even though I got a terse, “I’m fine…” The couple of times I asked.

Once, she asked to leave the sales floor for an unscheduled break, clutching her stomach. She’d just worked with an eccentric customer, an aging hippy wearing John Lennon glasses and a tie-dye shirt.

I knew, without her telling me, what was going on. But I didn’t want to push, for all that I wanted to be there, knowing that to get it out of her system would help the most.

I asked again, after the store was closed, no threat of customers or phone calls interrupting a conversation.

“I’m fine.”

Clink, clank, the rattle of money being counted into a till. The smell of one dollar bills and fresh printed paper from the nightly numbers.

I turned to my other register, closed it out, and handed her the till to verify the funds. Tears rolled down her face. And like a rainstorm, the words poured out.

I asked if she needed a hug, and held her there for a moment, while she loosed the demons inside.

That customer reminded her of her dad.

I was her, once. I lost my father young… 20, like her. And I remember being 24 and missing him terribly. A customer would remind me of him, or I’d smell Brut aftershave in the grocery store. And I’d feel like I was punched, hard, in the gut. My breath would leave me and I’d lose him all over again. I remember an older coworker who had lost her father young, telling me it would get better, hurt less, fade with time. And I remember thinking I didn’t want it to fade. That I didn’t want him to be a memory, because he is a person.

And now, years later, I come up against September 10th and I can’t remember why it should feel significant. Then, something will remind me of flying from San Diego. My layover in San Francisco and reading my bible and desperately praying that he would live long enough for me to see him one more time. Of my brand new in-laws driving me from the airport in Portland to my childhood home. Of the hospital bed that held the shell of the fiery, fierce man who raised me.

And now, I have more years of memories without him than I have with him. And he feels, a little, like a character in a book that I read a long time ago. I have to work hard to conjure up his face, although, oddly, I can remember his scent in an instant. Cheap beer and Brut, and a metallic overlay from all the coins and keys he carried in his pockets.

That’s what she was afraid of. That her dad would become just a memory, no longer a real person. And I assured her that as long as she had his memories, she carried him with her always. But I couldn’t tell her the awful truth… That someday, all she would have is his essence, the feeling of someone she used to know well, like a well-loved character in a book.

I couldn’t break her heart again, not as her tears dried and she gripped my hand and looked, achingly, like a lost little girl.

So I brought out that time-worn cliche and simply told her it would all be ok. That it would get easier, eventually.

Because it’s a cliche for a reason. It’s true, sort of.

And it was what she needed to hear.


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