Must Every Day …

Must Every Day Be So Hard?!

“Maybe the truth was, it shouldn’t be so easy to be amazing. Then everything would be. It’s the things you fight for and struggle with before earning that have the greatest worth. When something’s difficult to come by, you’ll do that much more to make sure it’s even harder–if not impossible–to lose.”  ―Sarah Dessen, Along for the Ride

Five Years

Five Years

Today, as I do several times a year, I mourn the loss of my mother. Today is her birthday, a birthday she should have lived to see. This is always a really difficult time of year for me, but so is the date of her death, so is Mother’s Day, so is my birthday, and pretty much every holiday where her presence is missed. Don’t get me wrong, she is missed on a daily basis, but there are certain times when the loss is far more painful than others.

This past week was bad for me. Emotionally, physically, and mentally burned out are words I’d use to describe how I feel. Despondent is another, and mid-week I SNAPPED. I didn’t have some random, out-of-the-blue flip out, I didn’t have some public meltdown, I simply had something happen in my house that caused a few hours of clean-up, and about five minutes into the clean-up, I flipped the hell out. Words I would normally keep to myself, discuss in a better place, in a private manner, came tumbling out of my mouth faster than I could pull them back. Eventually I did just shut up and stop, but I also had to walk away from the mess and take a break. I had to turn to medication in my effort to “calm the !@#$ down”. I did apologize to the person who was on the receiving end of my vitriol, because I am a firm believer that when I’m wrong I should admit to that wrong-doing, but I’m also a firm believer in not apologizing to anyone unless I am wrong. I was wrong, so I did apologize because it’s the right thing to do.

The combination of a bad day, a bad week, a lousy few months, and all the other crap piling up in my life became clearer as I realized my Mom’s birthday was approaching and that instead of being excited beyond words over the perfect gift I had found, the person who received the gift each year was no longer here.

When I say that my Mom & I were close, that’s actually me being subtle in terms of expression. We were best friends first, mother & daughter somewhere underneath it all. My Mom had been raised a certain way, she had been raised in a way of that which is proper and improper, for lack of a better expression. She was determined to raise her own children quite differently, and as soon as she sensed she was having a girl, she started to talk to me throughout her pregnancy. When she was handed her due date she researched the two potential astrological signs and then she went into prayer mode.

My Mom understood that I’d be born into a “man’s world” (Not so much any more ladies, is it?), but that I didn’t have to allow that to rule me if I was a girl, which she believed I was to her very core. She silently prayed “If it’s a boy, he can be a Libra or a Scorpio, it won’t matter, but if it’s a girl she MUST be a Scorpio or she will not survive in this world. God, please let her be a Scorpio. Give her every possible advantage of strength to survive and succeed.” This was her mantra. “Please let her be a Scorpio.”

My Mom’s due date passes and the astrological signs shift from Libra to Scorpio, which is when my Mom announced that I was “allowed to come out now”. LOL. She’d been in labor for over a week, probably Braxton-Hicks contractions, but to no avail, I refused to come out. I still don’t do what I’m told to do 95% of the time. Her doctor told her I would arrive when I was ready to do so.

When my Mom’s water broke several days before I was born, her doctor said “You’re fine. That happens sometimes ahead of schedule, but there are no other signs that the baby is coming, it’s just your body’s way of letting you know that the baby will be here soon. Wait to see me at your appointment.” The night of the appointment my Mom went into official labor in the doctor’s office. The doctor covering for her doctor told her “Your child will be here around midnight.” Believe it or not, he was off by only a few minutes.

Less than a year after my Mom passed away suddenly, I found a note from her to me. She’d written it before I was born and while I eliminated some of the more private parts, I share this with you just as I shared it at my parents’ unveiling.

A message to my daughter: ” Be your own person, always be truthful. Be kind, generous, loving, compassionate, and understanding. Be a friend, be thoughtful. Some day you may want these qualities of others. Teach them to your children. Be honest, you’ll always be able to look at yourself with pride. Don’t expect a lot from other people, and you’ll never be disappointed. Enjoy your life, but don’t do anything you’re not going to be able to live with, or are not be prepared to accept as a responsibility. Vengeance belongs to the Lord, hate is a wasted emotion. It’s not necessary to get even. Appreciate what you have, and achieve to the best of your ability. Listen, sometimes all a person needs is your shoulder. Be gracious, don’t let life drain and break you until you feel empty. Sometimes you have to be selfish. Make your own space, don’t be swallowed by loved ones. Don’t be afraid to admit you’ve made a mistake, we all do. Always know I love you and that you can come to me with anything. Let me be your friend…” Every time I read it, it makes me cry. My Mom had a lot of foresight into what my life would be like.

She was a talented artist, writer, & musician, an amazingly devoted mother, an even better friend, and without a doubt one of my very BEST friends in the entire world. Essentially, she was my first friend, we were so much more than mere mother and daughter, and people definitely took notice of this wherever we went. We shared books, often fighting over who got to read the newest author’s books we followed first. I was quicker, would plow through it in hours, and then watch her pour over it for days waiting for her reactions to the storyline. We shared movies, both new and old, poetry, music, side-splitting jokes & laughter, a genuine love of art and various cultures, a love of nature, a divine sense of beauty in things so many people don’t understand, and a great many other things that seem small in comparison to the large, but are equally as important to me. We had the most telepathic relationship in the world. I know no other parent half as connected as my mother and I remain. She was my voice of reason. I know her recipes by heart because I grew up watching her cook and she let me start cooking probably a year or so before she explained the fundamentals of writing to me.

My Mom was not afraid to show my brother and I the world, to take us places both new and old, teach us things, explain and discuss difficult subjects, open us up to a wide variety of experiences, and answer our questions. She was always extremely honest with us, she didn’t sugar-coat anything or play games. She raised us not to accept the easy, to fight for what we believed in and truly wanted. Of the two of us, I’m the one most outside the box. She taught me especially to dream big, for the dream precedes the goal. In turn, I accomplished more by the time I turned 21 than most people do in a lifetime, and yet there’s this wiser part of me that knows it’s not nearly enough, for we’re all here on borrowed time and tomorrow is not guaranteed. I’m not afraid to live beyond the word “potential”, and I’m not afraid of other people’s opinions because everyone is entitled to have one, it doesn’t mean their opinion is the correct one.

Before my Grandmother passed away, she asked me to take care of my Mom. She made me promise, and I took that promise very seriously. A lot of people felt that was too big a thing for her to ask of me, that I should have been off living my life the way my peers were, but the difference between me and them is, I can live with myself every single day knowing that I was there for her, that I wasn’t self-centered or self-absorbed, that I knew what and where my priorities were. And thankfully, I WAS there. Not just as her daughter, but as her friend. I was there through both the good and the bad, the light and the dark, I never wavered because I was never afraid to be the strong one. That kind of loyalty cannot be bought.

Death and grief changes you. Do you know what it’s like wondering if each breath a loved one takes will be their last? I watched over my Mom like that when she returned home after suffering from several heart attacks and strokes because her doctor was convinced she would not live another week. I immediately went into nurse/doctor mode, I went without sleep for days on end. Whenever she slept,  I watched over her. I have been accused of being a walking Physician’s Desk Reference, but it’s SO true of me.

I tried never to go without telling my parents ‘I love you.’ I didn’t want either of them to die without knowing. I especially wanted my Mom to understand how very important she was to me and how lucky I felt that she was gifted to me as my mother. Your mind is constantly going over every stupid thing you’ve ever said to them, every ‘I hate you,’ and ‘You don’t understand’, every door slammed, every ridiculous, petty argument, or phone call ended in the heat of the moment, and you hate yourself at times for letting the little things steal your time. You don’t get how precious and fragile life is until you’re surrounded by death, and the regret is staggering when you realize that you can’t get back all the wasted opportunities, that there are things you will never get to do with them or say. It’s impossible to grasp the full impact someone has on your life until you fully realize that the person isn’t going to be there any longer. You don’t realize all of the dreams you wished that included that person. Life flashes before you, filled with the holes created by their absence. You know that once they are gone, nothing is ever going to be the same again. There’s never any peace. You can’t hold on to anything. You lose your hope, and your dreams, and parts of your future, and there isn’t a thing you can do to stop it. It’s totally out of your hands.

My Mom’s passing was completely unexpected and an immense shock to my system. Yes, she was battling health problems, but I still fully believed she would prove many doctors wrong with her desire to live, to see her Grandchildren, etc.

My Mom was one of the most laid-back people in the world. I often said she was too good and too passive, and definitely way too good to the people who least deserved it. A great deal of the passion and fire she did have, she completely invested in and passed on to her children. There is no fight my brother & I won’t start and finish. My Mom chose her battles carefully, was not afraid to walk away if something wasn’t worth the battle, an attitude I have adopted as well, and it took a lot to push her buttons. She & I were as alike as we were different. When we fought, we really went for the jugular with each other, but in the end we would apologize for whatever we said in the heat of the moment, apologizing was very important to us, and our relationship would go back to normal once we each said our peace to one another.

At the end of each day, I still thank God for my Mom. I didn’t get a real goodbye with her and it’s not something I’ve ever “gotten over” because I feel things quite intensely. Her loss is felt so deeply within me every single day. In the past few years she has sent me so many things to help me heal. I can’t explain what it’s like to fully sense the physical presence of a person, be the presence solid or spiritual ether. Explaining clair-sentience to people is a lot like trying to explain air.

People tell me that despite what I am going through, and that which I’ve already endured, I walk in a room and have a glow about me they can’t quite put their finger on. I attribute that to being happy with the person I am inside, despite all of the pain and sadness. To being proud of who I am, for knowing who I am, and being confident in my skin. My Mom helped foster those initial feelings in me, so I am fearless, supremely confident, and despite all of the pain I have endured, I always rise up out of the ashes better than I was before the pyre. I am the astrological sign of transformation and rebirth, and the older I get, the greater respect I have for those moments in my life that help make me better.

I was blessed with an amazing mother. I know not everyone gets to have that kind of relationship with a parent, but I am also a firm believer that everything we experience in life helps prepare us for the moments when we really have to step up. My Mom often said “I never have to worry about you. You will always find your way, you will never lose focus.” I have a lot of bad days, but she’s right, she doesn’t have to worry about me because she instilled so much in me that I know my strengths. Occasionally I have to remind myself what they are, but I don’t ever truly lose focus.

So on this day Mom, I want you to know that I know you’re always close by. I know you have probably saved my life more times than I care to count. I know you see that life is shit’s creek a lot of the time. But I also firmly believe that because you know me so well, you’ll always make sure a life raft gets sent my way.

Thank you for being my mother, but I thank you more for being the reason I am exactly who I’m supposed to me.

“We thought of you today, but that’s nothing new. We thought about you yesterday, and days before that too.

We think of you in silence. We often speak your name. Now all we have are memories, and your picture in a frame.

Your memory is our keepsake with which we’ll never part. God has you in his keeping, we have you in our hearts.” -Unknown

Excerpts of this are copyright © 2009 by Lisa Marino. Everything else, unless otherwise indicated, is copyright © 2013 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity. No portion of this may be reproduced without written consent under the U.S. Copyright Act.

The Dance

The Dance

I can’t begin to say how many times this song has come on when I’ve been on my way to a funeral or have just lost someone I loved. With tomorrow being what it is, knowing that the first time I heard it was with probably the most important person to ever grace my life, I share it today because tomorrow I’ve prepared something that is one of the most heartbreaking things I’ve ever written. Unless you can sing this in the right key, avoid singing it at all.

Tourniquet

Tourniquet

20 years ago today I lost someone very dear to me. I vowed that day to never get involved with drugs or turn to alcohol as a means to cope with anything. I have kept that promise and that vow, and while many people judge that choice, and judge me for holding strong, I know I have honored his memory by walking a different path.

Rest In Peace Kerry, for you may be gone, but you are not forgotten.

One Month

Mourning

Whenever we lose a loved one, we all require a mourning period in order to help us heal. I have lost over 60 people/loved ones in my life, but the last 10 or so have been swept up in a whirlwind of other problems, leaving me unable to mourn and unable to fully ‘heal’.

I bought my house about ten months after losing my parents. It took me several additional months to move in, even with a moving company and a couple of family members helping, it was still an extremely difficult time for me. Once all of their belongings, as well as my own, were locked behind closed doors, I needed rest more than anything else. I needed to be able to sleep through the night without constantly checking to make sure someone was breathing, or without waking up because I was expecting a call from the hospital, or hospice. I had been caring for two sick parents for almost eleven years. Way too many hours clocked in hospitals, in physical rehabilitation centers, at doctor’s offices, in surgical waiting rooms, etc. I can’t stand any of these places, so sitting still within the confines of places such as these annoys the hell out of me. It doesn’t matter if I’ve got a good book or my MP3 player with me, places like this eventually make me lose my mind. For starters, I have no patience. None whatsoever. My ability, or lack there of, to sit in a room with someone and hold their hand is not a measure of my love for them. Listening is one of my best abilities and I’ve always done my due diligence there, but here I am realizing that very few people listen to me, and it hurts.

Far too many people are happy to enjoy the highs of life with you, riding your coat-tails to pretty much anywhere, so long as they are getting their “fix” of whatever it is in life that you have and they do not. The false friends of this world all feel sorry for themselves when they fall out of favor with you, but they’re on to the next person as soon as possible, barely mourning the loss of your presence for 30 seconds. It’s an offensive process, but it happens to people on a daily basis. I see people for exactly who and what they are, and that has left me with just a handful of true friends, but it has also left me feeling like an isolated woman who just got out of prison!

I am an introverted extrovert. In the right situations I can definitely steal the limelight from others without trying to. Some people have magnetic personalities that others are attracted to, and while I never really pay much attention to it, I can see why people would be attracted to someone who shines as opposed to that which is dull. I will never be the most gorgeous woman in the room, but I will be the most interesting with the most to say. If I’m quiet, be afraid, because I am a girl’s girl to the core, but I am also a woman who can think faster than most of the people I know. I’d much rather someone find me funny or intelligent than anything else, and yet there are days when I have nothing to say. I think most writer’s can be that way at times. Our brains are working overtime in the creation process, and you’d be lucky if we noticed you were in the room at all. I’m a highly aware person, so anyone standing over my shoulder or standing behind me is liable to get knocked in the face. I have to stifle this instinct on line at the grocery store often, simply by moving where I am standing because it creeps me out when anyone is two inches from me and is a complete and total stranger. People seem to forget that there are boundaries regarding personal space, and lately people are all too willing to cross them.

So here I sit, a month after losing the most important being in my life. I have been avoiding people and social situations for the last week or so. I hate spreading my bad mood to others, and I also hate feeling isolated, but it’s keep quiet or end up in jail. If you knew how hard keeping quiet was for me most of the time, you’d realize what a concession this really is.

I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. I’m sick of taking naps, even though my body desperately needs the rest due to all the pain I am in. I’m sick of the herbal muscle relaxers because even though they work, I feel exhausted just looking at them since they have to be taken more often than prescription muscle relaxers. They’re supposed to be better for you, but I will have to get my kidneys and liver checked within the next few months to make sure they’re not damaged from this stuff. I’m sure I’d know if they were, I know my body, but right now all I know is pain. Physical, emotional, and mental, and I’ve had enough.

Today I turned to the two people who should be there for me no matter what. and was shot down by each of them. I am sure neither of them realizes just how much support I need right now, but I’m also positive that no one is taking the time to think that hard or care that much. When people behave that way around me, I take a huge step back from them and reassess whether or not I want them to be in my life. Yes, sometimes you have to do that with family too. It’s time I stop making the calls, it’s time I stop answering the phone, and it’s time I do that so that THEY worry. I’m tired of being treated like a cupcake. One minute you’re happy to have the cupcake, the next minute you’re throwing it out or putting it away so you don’t have to look at it. No one deserves to be treated like that.

I’m sure whatever I think and say today is wrong, which is why I’m trying not to leave my room too much. But I’m sick of everything. Music, movies, books, TV, people. There’s nothing that can distract me or take me away from what I am thinking and feeling, so I just need to own it and be myself.

Eventually, I’ll be fine, but right now? No, I am not ok.

Middle of The Week Rantings

Monday Mornings Indeed… And The Rest Of The Week Isn’t Looking Much Better!

What the hell is it with Monday mornings, or the day in general? Lately Mondays profoundly suck for me, in more ways than I could ever say. By the time 7:00 a.m. hits I’m usually throwing up, sipping ginger ale, damn near hyper-ventilating, and ready to come out of my skin. These last two weeks it’s been really bad, and even though I know it’s supposed to be to some degree, I never expected this.

Sometimes, but especially when you’re grieving, there’s only so much your body and mind can take. You start blocking things out without even realizing it, but in an instant you can end up in tears. I feel broken. I know I’m not, I know I will push through the darkness and come out a better person, but right now I don’t even care about being that other person. I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. We’ve all been there, I’m sure.

It’s taken me weeks and weeks to regulate my sleeping schedule, so I’m not going to bed as soon as the sun is up, and then spending the rest of my time writing as the stars and the moon take over where the sun leaves off. It’s all too easy to slip back into this mode of operation, especially when you’re upset, stressed, agitated, etc. I’ve never been great with happiness. I laugh a lot (as people always tell me, “You’re hilarious. You will say anything!”), I smile when I feel it, but the rest of the time I’m a pretty quiet person dealing with her own internal crap.

Over the last few weeks, other than the work on the first novel in the series I am writing, my only other major accomplishment has been with cleaning. Half of my loft space is almost cleaned out. I didn’t have a complete & total nervous breakdown when I found things my Mom had saved. I kept what was important to me, and I wasn’t afraid to throw shit out that no one will ever want, need, or use. A few hours a day and I’ve made a lot of leeway. At this rate, I see the second bedroom being half cleaned out by the time my “new arrivals” join the family.

One of the things I have discovered over the last few weeks is that not having a cat or cats makes me deathly ill. Did you know that owning a cat/cats lowers your blood pressure, boosts your immune system, and raises Serotonin levels? As soon as my little girl was gone, I got sick. I am actually somewhat allergic to cats, but now that there isn’t a cat with me 24/7, my body has damn near gone into shock. I am coughing, sneezing, my skin has reacted in some very unpretty ways (Not stress, I checked with a dermatologist.), and I’ve hit emotional lows that I haven’t had since just prior to the original adoption many, many moons ago. In my entire life, I have only lived without a cat for a short period of time, so when I have cats, I am healthier, but when I don’t, my body is like “What have you done to us?!”

So yes, I am adopting kittens. I said I would, I always knew I would, but this time I am preparing for them as though I am bringing home a newborn. After going over a zillion different things with a lot of the local (and some not-so-local) shelters I have decided to return to where it all began. I am going to take a few small trips first to give myself a bit of a break from my daily life, from routine, and because I’ve had a bad year or so. I am also going to make sure everything they could possibly need is already on-site, and then it will be about going and finding the right little babies. I am armed with a list of potential breeds, but in the end, it comes down to what I sense off of them. I am one of the most intuitive people you’ll ever meet, and I don’t fight that.

So, hopefully by the end of August/early September I will be feeling a LOT better once additional lives have been added into mine. As sick as I am, and as I’ve been, I am starting to think I AM a cat, but hey, I’m cool with coming back as one.

Think For Yourself, Don’t Be a Follower

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/30/hitler-rise-to-power-date-german-dictator-chancellor_n_2580994.html

I am proud to say that two of my cousins, both of whom lost their spouses and children in all of this, were part of the Jewish resistance and saved countless lives during the Holocaust. They have been gone many, many years, both buried in Israel, but I will never forget what those acts of defiance and heroism mean. Their memory lives on in me, and in everyone else in my family who has survived and continues to survive.

Never Again. Dictators prefer unarmed citizens, but times have changed and not only are we armed with ways to protect ourselves, we are also armed with knowledge. L’Chaim!

Belated Honesty

Is it really ok to just allow myself to be? I’ve been putting off errands for almost a full week because I’m afraid of losing it in public. Having no patience for people is a real thing. I try not to cast my vile mood on others whenever possible, because I really don’t think it’s fair to others. I’d rather snap at people I know, no need to take it out on strangers. <evil smirk> I’ve been paying bills at the very last minute, and just trying to survive.

Most people would say “You’re coping, it’s a process.”, don’t beat yourself up, but what they don’t seem to understand is that I’m doing this all by myself. I came to the realization that I am 100% alone a few days ago and someone acknowledged to me that I am right. But their “lets solve it” answer was for me to “travel while I can”, as if I am suddenly embarking on a trip to Barcelona with my frequent flyer miles. Not happening. In fact, just the thought of flying domestically right now isn’t emotionally in my wheel house.

I’m a great traveler, but I hate the nonsense. I pack my carry-on bag perfectly, happy to get my computer, make-up bag (which gets larger as I get older. Don’t judge me. LOL.), Kindle, and all other items you do NOT EVER want to check, and still be able to zip the damn thing, only for it to be completely dismantled the second I go through security. The TSA damaged my netbook during their adorable little “check out the single woman traveling” expedition. It will cost me more to replace it than it’s worth, yet they’re “not responsible”?! Yeah, I have a word for that too. Also, I got treated like a terrorist at Dallas-Ft. Worth International. If you’ve scanned my bags four times and cannot figure out that a coin purse has coins in it, you need to be doing something else for a living.

Moving on….

Having a support system is really difficult. I have had this issue for years as I cared for my parents, wishing I had more siblings, wishing I could have a break, and then suddenly they were both gone way too young. Almost a full five years later, when you have no one to call after losing someone you love, whomever it is you love, that feels like one of the worst things in the world.

Was this life you loved not loved by others? Probably not as much as you loved that life. Was this love unimportant because you were the one who gave all of your love? No. But it still hurts, and I’m not ok. I keep saying I’m ok, I keep saying I’m fine, and only the truly smart people I know realize that’s not true.

Very few people take the time to read between the lines or to really listen to my voice. If it’s easier for them to say “She’s fine. She’s strong, she’ll be ok.”, then that’s what they’re going to go with because “She’s not really ok.” takes too long for them and their daily lives. Don’t interrupt the shiny, happy people. <rolls eyes>

I can’t dump every little thing I feel on people who cannot physically be here. The one person who is here is so emotionally stumped that it’s like talking to nobody (Seriously, the walls have better answers!). And the nights are the worst.

I start off saying I’ll go to bed early, but then the anxiety, pain, and stress become so heightened that I can’t even focus on rest. I distract myself with a little TV (For the record, The Following is a seriously terrifying, twisted show that I haven’t decided if I should keep watching or delete from the DVR List entirely. Whose brilliant idea was it to air that on a Monday night?! People complain about Dexter, which they have the option of subscribing to or not, but this show is on network TV, has not an ounce of humor to it, it’s just one shocking second after another, and we’re just two episodes in with me saying “I KNEW IT!!”, “This is twisted.” “Oh.My.God.!! Kevin Williamson in a genius.”, “Does this remind anyone of anything?!” Please remind me to stop watching it when I can’t sleep!!). Then I toss, I turn, I get up constantly, I take honey to stave off my allergies and keep me from coughing all night long, and then I curse my doctor for taking me off medication that my body clearly needs in order to be able to function at night.

Chronic pain is no joke, stress makes it worse, and the end result is me barely being able to turn my head most of the time. Every once in a while I turn in the wrong direction and paralysis from the neck up becomes five to ten minutes of hell, praying that it dissipates. Praying that I’ll be able to get out of the shower without it moving down my spine.

The official diagnosis is that the nerves in my spine (at the top) are pressing down where they enter and leave my spine, causing excruciating pain. Eleven days ago muscle relaxers were the only thing helping me sleep without practically throwing myself across the room. Monday night it got so bad that I found myself researching herbal muscle relaxers. I found some that are supposed to work and work well, they’ll be here Thursday. How sad is it that I long for the days when I can move properly and sleep without waking up with a tension headache, migraine, and/or jaw pain from grinding my teeth due to stress? I feel like a nightmare because I often feel as though I’m trapped in some horrible movie that no one has been able to finish writing.

So script writer (God, Goddess), I am not amused. I have always been willing to put in the work and not take the easy route (I’ve been doing this way too long to think it’s ever going to be handed to me.), but once in a while you’ve got to work with me. I am not asking to be a billionaire, I am not asking to be Oprah, but I am asking to be able to live my life with a lot less pain and drama, a considerably larger amount of love, support, friendship, and people I can trust that aren’t going to turn on me for selfish, sick reasons, and something that is mine, and only mine. Something we all deserve that is untouchable because it’s part of the reason we are all here. We all deserve happiness that no one can touch. Period.

This might be a day late, but at least it’s honest.