On The Death Of…

On The Death Of…

“On the death of a friend, we should consider that the fates through confidence have devolved on us the task of a double living, that we have henceforth to fulfill the promise of our friend’s life also, in our own, to the world.” ―Henry David Thoreau

*In Memory of a family member that passed away last night. I just got the news… I’m saddened and stunned, and I don’t know how long it will take for this to sink in.*

Another Year…

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Another year has passed, and I am, once again, sitting here memorializing my mother. I’m going to try and do that each year, for as long as there is still some semblance of life left in me. One day my own children will be able to look back on what is written about their Grandmother, they will be able to see photos of her, and they will know. Maybe that’s what is most important, that they know, that her memory lives on through me.

I come from a very large family. On one side of my family, I’m one of the only girls. On each side of the family though, I’m like the female black sheep. I was looking at photos recently, from when I was a little girl, and my expressions and body language let me know that even then, I did not fit in with everyone else. Some people might say “That was your choice.”, but children KNOW exactly who loves them and who does not. I have always been highly intuitive. No one ever spoke baby talk to me. I was always spoken to like a little adult, from day one. There are photos of me looking at people oddly whenever they DID break out the “goobly goo” shit that was not used around me. There are photos of me where, when adults spoke in my presence, I was always listening. The other children were always playing and running around being kids, but not me, I was always paying attention to my surroundings and the people in it.

There’s a little bit of everything in my family. Doctors, therapists, lawyers, professional athletes, musicians, singers, politicians, photographers, jewelry designers, electricians, technological geniuses. And then there’s me. I’ve always been a highly creative individual. I started off as a gymnast, it was everything to me. My Mom encouraged this, as I jumped, leaped, tumbled, twisted, did back hand-springs, splits, and things that most normal people do not do from parallel or uneven bars. Somewhere in the middle of my journey, I became a writer.

My Mom turned my quiet, shy, introverted voice into a strong, “in your face”, confident human being, someone who was not afraid to speak up and speak out. She gave me rules, structure, and taught me boundaries that I use to this day. She always said I wrote with a supreme sense of fairness, but that I’d knock a person down with 50 words if I had to, or 100, however many it took. All of these things are still true.

She would always say “The pen is mightier than the sword.” Somewhere along the line, the pen became my sword. I became a living, breathing fencer of words. I don’t just write that way, I speak this way. Every once in a while I will look back on a letter I have written in a situation and I’m floored by my own way with words, or how I handled a particular situation in the moment. Occasionally I cringe at the words that come out of my mouth and how harsh they sound, and other times I know I am completely justified in my words, as well as my tone. Unfortunately, much like my mother, people often meet me and their perception is way off base. I’m not nice, sweet, passive, or gullible (my Mom was nice and sweet to a fault, but if you pushed her, she’d push back HARD.). I don’t play games and I don’t back down. I might take a step back so as not to end up in jail, but I have a supreme sense of right and wrong, and I will fight that to the death. That is exactly who she raised me to be.

In so many moments and situations, my mother would look at me in awe of how I handled myself, or she’d look at me with pride. I now see my brother look at me with similar awe in how I handle certain situations and people, and how I don’t back down or take no for an answer. I was born this way, it wasn’t something anyone taught me, but whenever I do it, whenever I am completely myself, I am reminded of who I am and how proud it always made her.

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These last six years have been torture without my mother. I still find myself thinking “I must tell her about this book…” or “I must tell her about this show.” and then I get emotional, because she’s not here. I made an immense deal during my move about the movers not breaking my Mom’s Tiffany lamp. I was obsessed with it. All of her other things I personally moved myself, lest I have anyone else to blame, but myself. A few months later, I bumped into it and banged it into a bookcase in my living room, leaving it partially damaged, but still in working order. I burst into tears, as if I’d just killed the woman. Not because it was a lamp, but because it was something that meant so much to her, and I’d ruined it. I was heartbroken. I later found out that since I’d saved all of the broken pieces, it can be repaired and I don’t need to agonize about it. One less thing to cry over. It still works just fine and even though I have yet to get it fixed, whenever it acts up, I know it’s my Mom looking out for me. Baby V has taken to watching it, so I know she can sense my Mom too, but that she doesn’t know who she is, so she becomes protective of me and gets angry at the lamp. It’s not easy explaining the spirit world to a kitten that doesn’t quite understand yet that I get a lot of visitors. I tend not to explain that to most people, or even say it, but it’s a huge part of who I am, so why pretend?

My Mom & I always had an agreement about “the other side” and getting messages to one another. I don’t think it took her three days after she passed away to let me know that she was ok. People can discredit that to their heart’s desire, but I know my mother and I know exactly what I experienced. I didn’t study what I studied for anyone to come along and say “I don’t believe in that.” That’s fine for you, don’t believe in it, but don’t try and take it away from those that know it exists, and know that it’s real. Because that is fucking rude and disrespectful. I wasn’t raised to be either, but was I encouraged to stand up for myself and speak up? Absolutely. Having a voice as a writer helped me overcome my shyness. I still have my quiet moments, but I am by no means shy.

Being a woman in this world can be incredibly empowering, and it can be an immense hindrance at times as well. The intense side of me is a fighter that can do anything, and the Fibromyalgia side says “I’m sick, I need help, I am staying in bed today.”

I’ve been sick for over two weeks from the stress of all that I am currently going through in my private life, and I can only say that I am truly grateful to the people that have kindly helped me through this disaster, and those that have listened to me bitch and moan. I’ve learned in the last month who is really with me and who can go screw themselves, and that extends to both WordPress and my daily life. Right now, I have a list and I’m checking it twice. If you’re not on the good side, I strongly suggest a trip to another planet where my reach simply isn’t that good. You might want to try one of the newer ones with the ridiculous names that are basically one alpha-numeric code away from being someone’s extremely bizarre password.

The song I posted today, The River, was read at my Mom’s funeral. It may not have been her philosophy for herself, but it was definitely a message for her children. It’s a reminder not to give up on yourself or your dreams, and not to let anything, not a single moment, fall by the wayside. I wish she had taken her own advice just this once.

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Six years ago, I lost my mother. She would have been 67 today, and it pains me that she is not here. Today is my mental health day to mourn her loss a bit, and take stock of where I am going and how I want to handle everything. I’m not having an easy time. I am slaying dragons and demons and sometimes I feel like my swords are dull, and I am too tired for this shit. But then I hear her voice in my head, and the blades are suddenly sharp again and the fierceness of my personality returns in full effect.

I’m my mother’s daughter. I’m going to LIVE. I don’t owe anyone anything, but I do owe it to myself to be the very best version of who I am supposed to be, who I am meant to be. My mother only ever wanted me to be myself, but she firmly believed that was a person who would succeed. On a day like today, I need to remind myself that the potential and possibility is there and always will be.

I love you Mom. Thank you, for everything.

“Seek the sweet surrender of simplicity. Listen to the sound of faith like a flute playing inside your chest. Go within. Serenity lives always within your reach.” -Ching Qu Lam

I Cannot Say……

I Cannot Say…

He Is Not Dead

“I cannot say, and I will not say
That he is dead. He is just away.
With a cheery smile, and a wave of the hand,
He has wandered into an unknown land
And left us dreaming how very fair
It needs must be, since he lingers there.
And you—oh you, who the wildest yearn
For an old-time step, and the glad return,
Think of him faring on, as dear
In the love of There, as the love of Here.
Think of him still as the same. I say,
He is not dead—he is just away.”
―James Whitcomb Riley

Dad…

Dad…

It’s been six years today since you passed away. I still remember the phone calls that morning. I remember every day after it so vividly, even the months of not being able to get out of bed or function after burying you. I never want to re-live it again, yet it plays out each year in ways I never imagined.

Growing up I wanted to be as little like you as humanly possible, and you know why. I chose to separate myself and be my own person, because I couldn’t fathom having your blood running through my veins.

Our relationship was a difficult one, but in the end, I made sure you got the best medical care possible, I planned your funeral, and gave the eulogy. I did everything you asked of me. I spoke at the memorial service. You had battled cancer bravely for 15 years, and I chose to honor you instead of pointing out your many flaws. I can always discuss those in therapy. I wasn’t about to embarrass you in front of friends, family, or your co-workers. Lets not talk about your extended family, because you should be utterly ashamed of them. I know I am.

Today, I can hear your voice whenever my brother says certain things, and I can see your expressions when he does certain things. You live on in your son, with his twisted sense of humor, good heart, and firm belief that every single year is going to be a winning one for the New York Giants and the New York Yankees (Not this year M, sorry.). I’m sure you’re rolling over in your grave knowing that Mariano Rivera retired this Fall.

Unfortunately for my brother, he also picked up a lot of your bad habits and a great many of your issues. I have tried my best to help him, but now he’s on his own. I won’t allow myself to re-live my childhood and adolescence with another person with abusive tendencies who doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with the things he says or does, who refuses to take responsibility for his actions. I won’t let him become the worst of you, and I won’t allow him to hurt the people that you hurt for so long. If he ever treats a wife and children the way you did, I will put a stop to it. I won’t allow the cycle to continue.

Fortunately, at the core of who he is, he’ll give someone the shirt off his back and save a life. I have seen him do it countless times, and I am in awe of that calm, patient, gentle soul that is caring and accepting, that shows genuine concern for others, that listens to people and shows such immense kindness, it’s incredibly endearing. But when he turns on a dime, I hear and see you, and I probably always will.

Yes, you had your good points. You were smart & sharp, educated, and possessed a warped sense of humor, and a deep and abiding love for cats. You had amazing work ethic. You passed those things on to your children. Bravo.

In fairness, I know you were a product of your own childhood and the traumas you endured. I get it, I really do, but it’s no excuse. I realize you never wanted children, and to that I say “Then you never should have gotten married, and if you did, it should have been to someone who also did not want children.”

For years after your death, I decided to let it all slide. What difference would it make now, carrying around all the anger and hostility I felt and still, to this day, feel? I don’t want to live in the past and carry any of this forward, but the truth is, it does remain. Lingering around forever, like bad perfume.

I have always been very open and honest about what I’ve experienced in my life. I’d be more ashamed if I didn’t discuss the things that have shaped me into who I am. Nothing was perfect, but my mother came pretty damn close. She had to carry the weight of two parents, after all. You may have been physically present, you may have been home each night after a long day of work, but you did not raise your kids. That fell to my mother and Grandmother, and later the responsibility also fell to me. It continues to fall to me to this day.

I can forgive you for what you put us through, and some day that forgiveness will come to fruition. Not today, maybe not in a year or ten years, but eventually I will forgive it, or at the very least, make peace with it. I will NEVER forgive you for what you put my mother through. She deserved a husband who was everything she was, and God, did you fall short in every possible way, to the point where it actually pained me to bury her next to you, for in death I felt she deserved some peace and space that you did not also inhabit. I know eventually it’s just bones, but it still matters to me. She will always matter, for she is a part of me that is deeper than blood and bones.

This was not what I intended to write today, but somehow pain has risen to the surface and I do not possess the ability to “let it fly”. To fake it would be falseness of self, and I cannot abide by that. For today, I may not be able to “let it fly”, but I can certainly “let it be”, because to ask any more or any less of myself would be to court more madness and that is something I do not want, nor do I deserve. For today, it is what it is.

‘Six years can change everything. It can change how you see the world, how you see yourself, how you see your relationships, and how you see the future. I have hardened. I have softened. I have strengthened. I have focused on myself, and I have grown. I have fought battles, and won. I have fought battles that weren’t worth fighting, and walked away unscathed. I have tended wounds, and worked on scars. I have loved and been loved. I have seen beauty, and I have seen the dark underbelly. I have accomplished things people told me I would never attain on my own. I have risen out of the ashes, as the infinite phoenix of my own destiny. Most importantly, I have stood on my own two feet. No matter where life takes me, I know who I am. I know my worth and value.

In Memory of my father, who knows why these things are all so very important. …May You Never Be Broken Again.’

Young IDF Soldier Killed

Young IDF Soldier Killed

This story is all over the news in many forms, so I’m sure some of you have heard it, even if only in passing.

It’s heartbreaking to me that Palestinians are being taught such violence and hatred at such a young age, whereas Sabras (Israeli born Jews) and Jews born outside of Israel aren’t taught hate. I was not raised to hate, I was raised to treat every individual on a case-by-case basis. To this day, that is still how I treat people. I don’t spew hatred and I don’t like carrying around hatred within myself. In times likes these, it simply hurts me that there is such a lack of compassion for humanity in this world.

So many of us have passions and interests that we support in so many different ways, but in turn, we forget to support each other. That’s unacceptable to me, and I hope that one day that changes and people start to see the error of their ways.

In the Jewish religion, we light Yahrzeit to light the way to a happy after-life. Even those who do not believe in reincarnation still do this, especially after the passing of a loved one, or in remembrance of someone we may have never even met. Having lost both of my parents and over 60 friends, family members, and pets, I could probably burn my house down with the amount of candles I’m supposed to light on a yearly basis and on the High Holy Days. I can’t always do it because it fills me with a lot of pain at times to do so.

In light of this tragedy, I hope that some people will purchase a candle (Yahrzeit usually burns for 24-30 hours straight, each one is slightly different in terms of how long it lasts) and light it in honor of a young life lost. One day, there will no longer be a need to light candles for tragedies such as this.

No matter who you are, no matter your religious or spiritual beliefs, remember that you are still a human being.

Rethinking Mental Illness

Rethinking Mental Illness

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jazmin-kay/running-from-crazy_b_4201264.html?utm_hp_ref=healthy-living&ir=Healthy+Living

I came across this and I do agree that we need to talk about it. It needs to stop being treated like something we can only speak of in hushed tones. The increased rate of suicide in people being treated for various forms of depression has drastically increased over the last few years, and yet, when you tell a doctor or a therapist that you think of suicide often and that you have a plan, they don’t take you seriously unless they believe you need to be hospitalized. The truth is, if someone is going to follow through on suicide, they aren’t going to discuss it with anyone. It’s a very personal, private thing.

I lost someone very dear to me to suicide 20 years ago. One of my brother’s best friends committed suicide eight years ago, less than a year after being discharged from the Army Rangers. I have very close friends that have lost siblings and other family members to suicide, so I don’t find it a laughing matter in any capacity. I, myself, am extremely open about these topics and I discuss them at length in the most direct fashion possible. I detest the stigma placed upon people who suffer from depression, and the labels and whispers that follow in their wake. It enrages me.

Don’t be afraid to get help or to talk about what you feel. Be afraid if you don’t talk about it.