He has been there for me and my sister by choice for years before marrying my mom.
He was there through my surprise pregnancy, abusive marriage and subsequent divorce. He was there while I learned how to parent a premature baby, and walked me down the aisle at my second wedding. To be completely honest, I wish he'd been the one to give me away at my first wedding.
I have seen him work tirelessly to care for his dying mother, all while still supporting my mother through a difficult career change. He constantly validates and supports his children's passions, and revels in his grandchildren. He loves his family deeply.
But last week his heart betrayed him.
Dave is the last man I would ever expect of having a heart attack. He is extremely health concious and exercizes daily. But Wednesday of this last week, he was in surgery, having a quadrupile bypass.
He is slated to recover, and is in good spirits. But the thought of losing him has scared all of us.
I've been focused on so much, work, school, parenting, and writing. But now he needs me.
I've been taking care of the house and animals while he's been in the hospital so my mom doesn't have to leave his side. I've been gathering estimates from repairmen since their back fence fell down in this past weeks storm.
The man who has given so much for us needs us more than ever now.
This will be my last post for this competition. I wish you all the best, and ask that Gary accept my sacrfice.
Love to you all.
Every sound freezes me in place, frantic for for a place to hide. I've never been outside at 2am before. It’s dark and cold. My back pack weighs me down when I jump behind a bush to avoid being seen by a cop. I don’t want to go back. I’ve just turned 14 and the fingerprint bruises are still fresh on my skin where my father’s hands have been.
I told him I was afraid of him after he hit me. His anger exploded, a geyser of searing insults. If one of his students had said that about their father he would have to report it to the authorities. How dare I say it to him.
I snuck out the window that night to run to my mother’s house, crying when I left my sister and brother behind.
Another cop car comes by and I rethink my plan of running. How would his anger affect them if I was not there to bear the brunt of it? How would my grandmother react to finding me gone in the morning, the window of her bathroom left ajar?
I turn back.
The window sill cuts my palm open as I climb back in to the house, the red blood damning evidence on the white metal. Another wound that I stay silent about for two more years.
I can’t catch my breath. The blood is pounding in my ears, my husband’s face towering above me. His body leans toward mine, blocking the exit to the house. My hands are shaking holding my suitcase.
I tell him I am afraid of him. I want a divorce. In response he backs me into the bedroom.
He takes my suitcase away. He takes my clothing away. He takes my voice away.
He does not take my fear away.
Afterward, he lies sleeping. I dress, gather my belongings, and leave.
I kept the mantra repeating in my brain, ignoring my hands shaking on the wheel as I drove to work.
You can do this, he's just a blow hard. If you didn't make him angry you would be just fine.
Two years of near constant abuse from my boss had turned my daily commute into a nightmare. Every inch closer to the parking lot made me more nauseated. I swallowed hard as my skin prickled with cold sweat and kept driving.
"You're incompetent and useless." His voice began to interrupt my thoughts. "Get the fuck out. What is wrong with you. Are you special needs?"
I began to panic, his voice crashing in my mind like an endless ocean. "You're worthless, you're terrible, you're -"
I felt the crunch of my tires on the gravel and the tilt of the car as I broke free of the panic, just in time to see the telephone pole and ditch I had been aiming my car towards.
I immediately corrected my car's trajectory and pulled over to the shoulder.
I sat in silence for a moment before bursting into tears.
I had purposely aimed for the pole.
I called my doctor for an emergency appointment, called in sick and never went back.
"I will, Grandmama, I have to go now, but I'll see you soon. Love you!"
I don't want to hear these words right now. Seeing my grandmother in this nursing home bed is too much, too painful. I kiss her forehead, all too aware of the contusion on her brow, and the pain in her arm from a recent surgery. The guilt hits me immediately when I leave. I could spare a few more minutes, no one would mind if I was a few minutes late, but I don't go back.
A few days later I get a call from my mom, who has my daughter overnight. My grandmother has been in the ER 3 times in the last 24 hours. My mom is going in to advocate for her admittance rather than this back and forth from ER to Rehab Facility. I ask if I should come, but I am assured that its ok. Grandmama will be going home on Tuesday, nothing to worry about.
24 hours can change so much.
My husband is driving us home when my mom calls again. "Grandmama is going home tomorrow, it will be harder for you to visit when she is an hour away again, could you stop by the hospital to wish her well?" I can tell that something is wrong.
Logan speeds all the way there.
The family has gathered in the fifteen minutes it took me to get to the hospital. I open the door with my customary "Hey pretty lady-" and thats as far as I get before the tears come. My grandmother stares vacantly at the door, face slack and unmoving. Her breathing is shallow and punctuated with little sighs. I swallow my shock and go to hug her, to hold her hand, to tell her I love her.
My daughter walks into the room behinds me, and for a moment, my grandmother is back, a smile completely changing her face. But still no words. My mom whispers to me that she will be going home with a hospice nurse tomorrow. I nod my understanding, and turn away with a lump in my throat.
This isn't a get well visit, this is a goodbye visit.
That night, I toss and turn. I can't shake the grief, and the feeling that something else is coming. I finally sleep, mildly comforted by the knowledge that tomorrow my grandmother will go home as she has asked to do so many times.
I'm beginning to dread phone calls.
My cell begins to buzz insistently at work. My mother again. Grandmama is not going home. The doctors say she will not survive the trip, I start to cry while she speaks. I can hear my step-father in the background, telling his mother that it is ok to go, that she doesn't have to hang on. I tell my mother I am on my way. Thank goddess for my wonderful, understanding boss.
I make the hour and a half drive in fourty-five minutes.
I hold my grandmother's hand, listening to her struggle for breath. It is difficult to listen to the gasping. Each exhale is punctuated by a gurgling rattle. My mother tells me that the last time Grandmama had any response to anyone, was her smile for my daughter.
My tears drip on to the paper thin hands in mine, and think of all the things my grandmother has done in her life.
Rasing her sister's children
Becoming a Nurse
Coming to America
Losing her husband
Raising two children alone
Volunteering at the place I now work
And so much more...
Her breathing slows, and she slips away.
"Life is too short, Mija, focus on the now." I can hear her words echoing in the beat of my heart, and in every moment that I hold her hand.
This entry dedicated to my grandmother Elsa. I love you always
But then I had a little surprise my junior year and so I dropped out.
Then I decided that I would get married. 7 years and hundreds of pounds of heartache later, I was a single mom. Forever turned out to be more like for now, just until someone better comes along.
I resolved that it would just be me and my child. Us against the world. My anger burned bright, singeing those closest to me.
But fires burn out. And sometimes the answers you look for are on a different path.
Fourteen years later, I still wander the labyrinth of life. Nursing school is on the horizon, and my little surprise is in Middle School. My new husband's business is growing and I am working in a job that I love.
All things discovered far from my declared path.
I found my happiness, by getting lost along the way.
- Current Mood: happy
The migraine behind my right eye has not yet blossomed into full strength, but the steady rythym of my pulse echoes in throbbing bursts, clouding my vision with each heartbeat. I don't have long before I lose sight in that eye. I switch the phone to the other shoulder and begin to dig through my purse, hoping to find the pain meds before it's too late.
"I don't see why you can't just agree with me on this. You're such an inflexible bitch." My ex husband's voice rises to a screech as I shakily thumb the cap off the prescription bottle, and grab my water bottle.
Yes, I am the inflexible bitch. The one who adjusts timing of visitation when he's got a booty call, or when his parents telephone to add another few days to their already month long with my daughter. I bend to their whims and smile while doing it, knowing that arguing makes Kendall anxious and upset. I refuse to put her in the middle like I was when I was a child.
I straigten up, swallowing the pill down as my vision greys.
"I'm not going to have the layer revise it again. I do not need to tell you when I leave the city with her, I do not need to tell you when we go camping, my time is my time, and the activities that happen during it, are not to be dictated by you." I know this is retaliation for taking Kendall to a pagan family campout one county over last weekend. Enough bullying is enough.
"Well I want to pick her up Friday then."
My eyesight tunnels down until only the vision in my left eye remains.
"That's fine, you just have to sign the paperwork and it will go into effect immediately."
"Fuck you and fuck this. I should just take you back to court." I hear him slam down something that sounds suspiciously like a beer bottle on the other end of the line. "I'll sign the fucking papers. Just mail them to me."
I hang up the phone, and cross the call off my to-do list.
I sit in the quiet dark, documenting his slurred curses into an ever growing notebook of incidents. Last time it was telling Kendall he curses at her because she makes him angry. She had panic attacks for a week about it.
I can't do much but continue to document every call, every email, every tear he makes her cry.
Hopefully someday it will be enough to end her visitation, but until then I'll keep crossing every "t" and dotting every "i".
The vines and bushes I’d planted to keep my garden safe became unruly; thorns and brambles would prick and pierce the skin of those trying to enter to nurture the tender young plants beyond their green grasp. I’d let them grow tall, strong and unyielding, feeding them on paranoia and guilt.
I was safe from anyone trying to get in, but I’d trapped myself inside. The jungle that enclosed me grew and grew until it choked out the light and my garden and I began to die.
It was a slow realization. At first I enjoyed the refreshing shade and security the garden walls had provided me. I could tend to the roses that bloomed in vibrant colors in safety. I didn’t notice the colors beginning to darken and fade as the sun was hidden. I didn’t see the seeds I planted withering as they were starved for light. I did not know, until it was black and I was alone.
I ran to the thicket of wild branches, tugging at them bare handed, trying to break free, to feel warmth on my skin again. I succeeded only in bloodying my hands, and so I lay down and wept.
My husband, confident and jovial, offered me a ladder so I could climb over the verdant wall. But I could not see beyond the vines, so I refused, afraid to leave the garden.
My mother, strong and graceful, offered me gloves and pruning shears in order to clip my way free of my imprisonment. But the walls seemed so vast; I didn’t know where to start.
My child, gentle and calm, lay down opposite the wall and whispered to me words of love and compassion, her voice finding small holes in the defenses I’d grown. She reached her hand to mine through a gap and grasped my hand, passing me a small lit candle to combat the growing darkness.
And in the light of her small candle, I found the handle of an axe.
I hefted it, feeling its sturdy weight in my hand and began to work, chopping my way through years of guilt surrounding abuse, rape, and more, until I’d cut a mighty hole in the brambles, and could feel the sun on my face, and my roses had the first hints of color again.
I have plenty more work to do to chop the rest of these walls down, but I’m ready to feed the garden again.
Here I go Again!
I have a hard time saying no. I hate confrontation, and am terrified of hurting people’s feelings or alienating them. This is particularly difficult when said person occupies a position of authority. And right now that’s the only thing keeping me in my coven.
I started studying Wicca and paganism when I was 14 years old. I hid the books from my uber catholic mother by stashing them between the mattress and the box spring of my bed. I devoured these books and practiced in secret, all the while still attending Mass on Sunday and singing in the choir.
I left the church when I was 21, and began working at a small pagan bookstore. I loved my time there, but still felt that something was missing. The sense of community.
As a solitary pagan, I felt isolated and miserable. So I went back to the church, and found myself hating it. This cycle would repeat itself several more times until a little over a year ago, when I finally found a coven to join.
The leader of our coven is a very charismatic man. Logan met him once, and refuses to come to another ritual where he is present. Logan warned me that my teacher is skeevy, and probably teaches so he can sleep with his students. I laughed it off. I couldn’t see it happening. But I started hearing the stories of him cheating on his wife with members of the tradition, with students, his wife’s fragility, his so called power. Everyone within the tradition seems to have heard of the rumors and yet, people dismissed the allegations idly.
Then one of my fellow dedicants started sleeping with him behind her husband’s back. He called it initiating her into the inner circle of the coven, an exclusive group that would practice more serious and deeper energy work. I was also invited into the circle, but refused. I began to realize the truth of what Logan had said.
Lately it feels like things are falling apart. My friend seems like she’s lost herself, like she’s afraid to leave. She talks about how strong his energy is and how quick his temper flares. I ask her if she wants out, if she needs help. But she says those oh so dangerous words, “I love him.” I still offer to help. His wife seems broken, gone. I can see pictures on the walls when we have classes of how pretty and vibrant she was at one time, but she seems an empty shell now. I try to talk to the other coven members, but they act as if nothing is wrong, after all, he sits on the Elder’s Council, surely they would know if something was wrong.
I’ve started to distance myself, only to be met with hostility and my dedication to my religion questioned. I want to leave, but I am afraid to speak out. I don’t want to rock the boat. I don’t want the confrontation. But people are being hurt, people I care about. More and more girls have joined our coven and dedicated themselves to this tradition since my own dedication a year ago, and I have to wonder if anyone will do anything to stop it before one of them is the next object of his attention. It seems that no one else has the will to stand up to him, including the council.
So if I don’t say something, who will?
Based on the definition of the missing stair as found here:http://pervocracy.blogspot.com/2012/06/m