I am overwhelmed with the emotions of life. My dad is dead, my daughter is in Africa, traveling and speaking French with a tribal chief and acting as the interpreter for her friends. She just turned 22.
Life has slapped me in the face and demanded I pause to take note of it in all its pain and glory.
God is my friend, God is my enemy.
Miracles are happening all around me and I scream at God for taking my Dad from this Earth.
My life is ironic, tragic and joyous.
I am human.
People who cannot write or express themselves are certainly the mad who walk among us. If I were unable to purge my soul of the pain life has brought and unable to share the overwhelming understanding and love it showers on me, I know I would walk with them.
The passing of my father brought the pain I expected. It also changed me forever. Life has an end now. My dad is gone from this Earth and he was always one of the constants in my world. He moved us to Florida and the pain of loss and separation forced an awareness upon me. All that was normal and taken for granted was ripped from me and I was never the same. Dad did that. It was a tough choice for a father who wanted a different life for his family. Now he’s gone and I reflect on the people who would not be here had we not moved, and the people I lost when we left.
I am still grieving the loss of my dad. Acceptance has not brought me peace. I have flashes of denial, my heart trying to dismiss the terrible pain that has become a part of my daily life. I don’t allow those flashes to become real, however. So I suffer his death over and over and over again.
I have a fire inside of me. It shows itself in all that is important to me. I try to nap but my brain won’t stop going a hundred miles a minute. It makes me wonder if I am crazy or does this happen to everyone?
Had we not moved away from Indiana when I was 14, had I not been forced to leave the first boyfriend I truly loved, where would I be today? Perhaps I would be half of one of those stories of high school sweethearts who stayed married forever. Or maybe I will meet him again when I am 80 and we will marry and make the evening news…a tragic love story about two people meant to be, ripped apart by circumstance and finally allowed to be together before moving on into the next life.
Maybe I need to get a grip.
A lot goes on behind my blue eyes. Those around me might be shocked to realize what I think about in a single day. Today, for example… I need to get life insurance and make a will because people shouldn’t have to go through my stuff and decide who gets what when my time comes. Dad signed his van over to his sister who cared for him for the last four years of his life, and not to his estranged wife who earned a wicked witch title from our family when we were completely unaware we had the power of such a title. All we had to do was love our dad and hate her for her for the odd behavior of a drunk, the ill behavior she displayed toward him – the kindest, most giving and straightforward man on Earth. If anyone taught us not to put up with bullshit, it was dad. How ironic. He tolerated her much better than any of us did. I guess that is what wedding vows are about. At least, he thought so. He told me she was his responsibility and he believed that and lived it. She tried to take his ashes and my brother, the diplomat, managed to get everyone to share. Now part of dad’s remains is mixed with the dirt above his mother’s grave in Kokomo. Another part is at the base of a tree planted in his honor at his sister, Pat’s house near Kokomo. I get my share of Dad. I get some ashes. In a vial. Goody for me. Thanks Howard.
The bedroom of my nine-year-old daughter smells of perfume. Her hamster is eating cat food and lettuce because money is tight. I hear Justiin Beeber singing over the speakers on the stereo her dad gave her tonight. It was going into the garage sale Saturday, but she needed it more than we needed the 20 dollars he wanted for it. It made him happy to give it to her and her happy to get it. Happier than the $20 would have made anyone.
My son’s two little boys live with me because he chose to take prescription drugs to alleviate his pain caused by years of falling from a skateboard and onto his back in the drive through at the bank in Milton, Florida. I sat on the hood of my car and watched a teenage him and his friends sliding on the curbs, jumping down from another parking lot about four feet above the drive through, landing it or not landing it – either way, some pain was involved, some damage caused and now I am raising his kids. The friends have completed college and become many different things: I know there is a lawyer in there somewhere… but my son made another choice about ten years ago to “save” another human being from herself. He may have learned that from me. I don’t do that anymore and neither does he, mostly. The fact is in saving another person, we sacrifice ourselves.
He spends his days doing God knows what, but he does come home to sleep at my house in the evenings. He was homeless and he looked the part. He smelled the part, but he didn’t accept the part very well and ended up in tears, stretched across his baby boy’s bed, sobbing his eyes out while they watched cartoons a few feet away. In years past, I would have wanted to hold him and comfort him but not now. I wanted to throw something at him. I felt the cold steel of motherhood conviction reign in my emotions and my love for him showed itself in harsh words and little sympathy. I gave him a place to sleep that night and told him the rules. He’s still gone a lot and his lack of involvement in the kid’s daily life frustrates those of us who do take care of them, but at least I get a daily reminder that he’s still alive when his car pulls up in front of the house or when someone starts yelling because he came home, ate all the cereal and drank the rest of the milk without a thought to who might go without.
The DEA arrested his doctor two weeks ago and there was light at the end of the tunnel for a short period of time. I saw flashes of sanity in his eyes and he spoke of the methadone clinic and what it would take to go there because the pills have dried up. What used to be $18 or $20 on the street is now $30 or just not available at all. Thank you God for the DEA. I went to their website, found the press release about all the people they were arrested and sent a copy via email on Facebook to his drug dealer with a note that said, “Can’t wait to see your name here.” He got pissed off and took it out on my son, so the story goes.
My son has problems. His ex-girlfriend, mother of my grandsons, is in jail for violation of probation on felony possession of prescription drugs without a prescription. She called my phone the other day but I couldn’t accept the charges from the jail, being on a prepaid mobile phone and all… When I heard her voice say her name in the recording from the collect jail call, I thought of how small and helpless she sounded and then I remembered the day she walked down the street 30 minutes before her kindergartner got off the school bus, got drunk with a stranger and stumbled up the street with the 3 year old in tow, covered from the waist down in feces, crying. I called the police that day after she attacked my son and his friend and banged on the hood of the car as they drove away and left her in the front yard. If the neighbor hadn’t been there to get the five year old off the bus, the bus driver would have taken him back to the school and tried to find family members or call the police. I never disliked her more and forgave her less for anything she’s done than the activities of that day and never appreciated my prepaid cell phone more.
It was so much easier when the bad guys wore black hats and the good guys wore white. I could tell who to shoot at and who to avoid, but now I’m finding both hats on the head of a man who was my precious little boy. It used to hurt more than it does now. I have been forced to take a more realistic view of drug addiction and child rearing. I don’t waste so much time trying to fix him. I focus my energy into the children and use few words on him, such as… “You are the only parent the boys have now that she’s in jail. Even though I’m here for them, they need their dad more than ever so it would be nice if you could come home earlier in the evenings and spend some time with them. They ask about you as soon as they come home from school.” He nodded. That was yesterday. Today it is 6:30 and he’s not home and I’m writing a bestseller, stretched across my bed with my laptop. Not only is it my therapy, but perhaps it will result in our escape from financial woes.
I’m on Facebook. The happy little posts of my friends and acquaintances that seem to have normal families eat at my soul. I know people put their best foot forward and I am as guilty as the next of posting photos of our good days…but the dysfunction that has become my son’s life…and the confusion and unhappiness that tried to take me down is screaming to become a Lifetime movie of the week. Every day is a struggle for sanity and every day has valuable and memorable moments. I get the sweetest kisses and hugs from these little boys and they barely seem to notice their mother is gone. I don’t want it to be this way. They love her and I saw the five year old withdrawal emotionally after a particularly bad few weeks with Mom. He’s better now, acts like a perfectly normal annoying five year old boy and as much as I long for their family unit to be operational and nurturing, it is not. I suspect it probably never will be, though only God really knows what the future holds. All I can do is try to keep it pure and put the kids first. I can’t make anyone else do what they should do or stop bad behaviors. I can refuse to be an enabler. I can refuse to play the game. And that is what I’ve done. At least I know where the kids are and who they are with: me. I know what is NOT happening to them and what they are NOT being exposed to.